Pope-rah. . . Some Final Thoughts. . . .

Yep, I did it. . . for about a half an hour. I watched Oprah’s final minutes on TV. Well, on her show. There’s no way she’s anywhere near done with TV. Those last 30 minutes of Oprah teaching her captive audience sparked a very emotional wrestling match inside my head. You see, in a world where we rejoice when someone of influence who is highly respected boldy and gracefully stands in front of a captive audience to proclaim truth and give glory to God without being obnoxious. . . well, that’s awesome.

Oprah did that yesterday. She gave credit to Jesus. She testified to her faith in God. She talked about the role of prayer in her life. She pontificated on grace. She gave a lesson on calling. So much of it was so, so good and seemed so, so right. But then I’d have to smack myself back into the reality of realizing that all this good was embedded in a muddled and confusing mix and mess that Oprah believes and promotes. . . and which plays well in our postmodern world. It’s spirituality on my terms, the way I want it, and the way I like it.

As I watched, I was reminded once more of just how influential this woman is. . . in many good, good ways I might add. But then the term Pope-rah jumped into my mind as I thought about her influence and her followers. That’s really the legacy of Oprah’s 25 years. Oprah is poster girl for what I’ve long called “smorgasbord faith” – a term that describes a plate full of spirituality that’s self-created in the moment from all kinds of stuff in an effort to satisfy one’s spiritual hunger at that moment. Over time, you develop favorites that are always part of the plate you make up for yourself at the buffet table. That same idea was explored in yesterday’s USA Today by Cathy Lynn Grossman in her article, “Oprah’s big hug of spirituality will outlive her show.” I love the opening line of Grossman’s article: “Oprah, the prophetess of post-Judeo-Christian America who brought us big hug spirituality — love yourself, save yourself — leaves the daily stage today to run her media empire.”

So, instead of getting excited about Oprah’s mentions of God, Jesus, prayer, and grace, I’m wondering if we shouldn’t be a little bit uneasy. Why? Because the one who opposes all that’s good, true, right and honorable couldn’t promote his destructive agenda more effectively than to disguise it by wrapping it in a covering or facade of truth. Think about it. An out-and-out lie is much more obvious. But put it in a Trojan Horse and we readily open the gates.

I’ve been scouring the internet this morning in an effort to find a video of Oprah’s preaching segment from yesterday’s show. I haven’t found it yet. But when I do, I will watch it again. I was thinking about suggesting that you show it to your kids, then talk about it. What a great teachable moment. Maybe even more necessary is watching it with the large number of Christian adults who are Oprah fans. Sadly, I’m guessing that exercise would yield compelling insight into how our discernment filters have weakened, and why we so easily open the gates to the Trojan Horse.

Until then, check out this clip from yesterday’s show on calling. It too, is an interesting mix of a wonderfully engaging woman with a huge heart who does good stuff, promotes feel-good fluff, and sometimes preaches baloney. As with a lot of what Oprah says about spirituality, it sure smells and tastes pretty doggone good. . . but when you chew on it for awhile, you have to start wondering if there might not be something a little bit askew. . .

8 thoughts on “Pope-rah. . . Some Final Thoughts. . . .

  1. Walt, I share many of your sentiments regarding Oprah. Your use of the Trojan Horse image got me thinking, though – if it’s a Trojan Horse that sneaks into Christian homes and waters down Christianity, then obviously you have to question it. But I imagine it’s also a Trojan Horse that snuck into secular homes and introduced them to the concept of God and perhaps set them on a path that might lead them to truth.

    I don’t know – this coming from someone who never watched an entire episode and, like I said, shares your same concerns.

  2. A classic example of what we know to be be “common grace.” The experience and ability to know and participate in certain truths related to God without necessarily knowing God Himself. While I am reluctant to say that Oprah doesn’t know God, she clearly doesn’t believe in the exclusivity and fidelity to the Christian God. Still in many respects, not a talk that could have been delivered without some lengthy deep and personal soul-searching… Perhaps the kind that will draw her, “nearer, still nearer, close to the heart of God.”

  3. Thanks, Walt. I stopped watching her years ago, just for the reasons you stated. I just don’t have the facility for words that you have! 🙂 I have often been saddened by her choices as she led many down a path of feel good religion… a little bit of the health and wealth gospel that America has become a little too fond of.

    Thanks again for your wisdom, I always appreciate it!

    Kerry Smelser

  4. Its easy to mix doing good stuff up with being Good News. There’s also a big difference between how TV does good stuff like Oprah giving away cars and college and giving things in Jesus name.

    I applaud Oprah or her hard work and all of her success, but like you mentioned, I hope people can discern between Jesus-like and the real thing.

    In our house, we don’t watch Oprah. So her retirement is about as significant to us as say… The NBA finals!

  5. Very, very well said, Walt.
    Thanks for the courage to write this.

    And I love Adam’s comment! Ha! The NBA Finals. Indeed.

    Bob Irvin

  6. Oprah may give credit to Jesus, but if she gives away things publicly so people admire her, the defeats the purpose. I could never be as rich as she is without giving most of it away. What she gives is a drop in the bucket of her worth.

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