The Church of Oprah

May 13th, 2011

 The Church of Oprah Winifrey

The purpose of this blog is to discuss the Church of Oprah in it’s final season.  Oprah changed her show format in 1994 from dysfunctional family drama to promoting the goodness in people and individual spiritual revolution.  At first the switch had proven to be unsuccessful but soon after Oprah became a pop cultural phenomenon and one of the most influential people in the world.  As her following rose so did the presence of her “prosperity teachings”, which are based on having success in your life versus the acknowledgement of a higher power, like traditional organized religion. She has a magazine, a book club, network, and a television show that is in its final season to guide you along the way.

Oprah Winifrey’s Ten Commandments for Success

This is an excerpt taken from Oprah Winfrey Speaks: Insight from the World’s Most influential Voice, by Janet Lowe.

1. Be nice.

2. Be persistent in pursuing your dreams

3. Don’t depend on forces outside of yourself to get

4. Don’t live your life to please others.

5. Get rid of the backstabbers – surround yourself only with
people who will lift you higher.

6. If money is your motivation, forget it.

7. Never hand over your power to someone else.

8. Rid yourself of your addictions-whether they are food,
alcohol, drugs or behavior habits.

9. Seek harmony and compassion in your business and
personal life.

10. Surround yourself with people who are as smart or
smarter than you.

The Church of Oprah exposed



The Magazine


Gayle: Without giving the story away, why does [an upcoming episode] symbolize what the show means to you?
Oprah: It speaks to the essence of what the show has tried to say all these years: that you are not the product of your circumstances. You are a composite of all the things you believe, and all the places you believe you can go. Your past does not define you. You can step out of your history and create a new day for yourself. Even if the entire culture is saying, “You can’t.” Even if every single possible bad thing that can happen to you does. You can keep going forward.

Gayle: …do you regret having told [people about your past]?
Oprah: I don’t regret having talked about my life. The show has been my therapy…I’ve never had a day’s therapy, but I’ve had many days of listening to really excellent therapists, starting with Dr. Phil, who is beyond excellent at what he does.

The Book Club

“In her luminous new new novel, Faith (Harper), author Jennifer Haigh has much more on her mind than religious belief; faith in your God may well matter, but so does faith in those you love and in yourself. With the sexual abuse scandal that rocked Boston’s Catholic archdiocese in 2002 as the backdrop, narrator Sheila McGann recounts a chain of events that shattered her older half-brother Art’s life as a priest when he was accused of fondling a young boy. “And the evidence either way—of his guilt or innocence—was very slim,” Sheila says. The novel has the magnetic, page-turning quality of a detective thriller, but the clues here lead not to objective proof but to insight into a family both vividly specific and astonishingly universal—a family full of secrets, resentments, and divided loyalties. Sheila, another brother, and their mother react to Art’s situation according to their own needs for self-justification, while Art refuses to fight the charge, not because he abused the child but because “in his own eyes he was not blameless. He was simply guilty of a different crime.” Almost everybody in this wise novel has trespassed in one way or another—and everyone needs forgiveness. As Sheila reminds us:  “Faith is a decision. In its most basic form, it is a choice.” And every choice, we learn, has its consequence.”

— Liza Nelson

The common thread between Oprah booklist choices for the month of May are transformation.  Some are true story and others are fiction but they all have some kind of transformation whether in love, self- help book, or a biography, the lesson is a problem that needs to be fixed through a transformation for the better.  You read these books, realize that your life isn’t as corrupted or terrible as some of the characters from the book, and understand that success is not impossible for yourself.

Link to Oprah Wnifrey’s booklist for May 2011

The Oprah Winifrey Show

Jessica simpson\’s prom makeover

Kathryn Lofton talks about an episode of Oprah , where you made deserving women a ”Princess for a Day”.  Recently Oprah along with Jessica Simpson rewarded seven young ladies with prom dresses after their teacher, Gabby Sullivan wrote to Oprah about their circumstances on Harpo Hookups.  The young ladies who were in and out of foster care didn’t have the means to purchase prom dresses, so Oprah gave them all prom makeovers.  This is important because Oprah believes that when you give to others you receive in abundance, along the idea of success through triumph.  These young ladies who didn’t choose their life but played the hand they were dealt have success through all their hardship and because of their hardwork, they are being rewarded with what they couldn’t attain.




Academic Articles

Decker, Jeffrey L. “Saint Oprah.” CUNY Office of Library Services Homepage. June 2006. Web. 10 Apr. 2011.

  • This article discusses how Oprah uses her power to change the morality of American culture.  The article refers to this as Oprahification of American culture.  The article stresses how book clubs and television programs like Oprah contain morality and are leading people away from the church.  Since they emphasize individual responsibility, morality, and are so influential.  The confessional format of talk shows is replacing churches, with testimonies and self-realization.  They also discuss the fact that women are always searching for ways to improve themselves. 

Lofton, Kathryn. “Practicing Oprah; Or, the Prescriptive Compulsion of a Spiritual Capitalism.” Journal of Popular Culture 39.4 (2006): 599-621. Print.

  • This article discusses how Oprah uses spirituality to practice an even more American tradition, capitalism.  The article discusses how Oprah uses the notions, “find truths for your revolution”, be your best self, and “Behave your way to success”, as a means to advertise for her products and the products of others.  Kathryn Lofton explains how Oprah does it, when she displays such spots on her show, and  how people use the products Oprah advertises as a way to buy spirituality.

Peck, Janice. “The Secret of Her Success: Oprah Winifrey and the Seductions of Self- Transformation.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 34.1 (2010): 7-14. Sage Journals Online. Queens College Library, Jan. 2010. Web. Apr. 2011. <>.

  • This article discusses how powerful of an entity that Oprah is.  She examines how Oprah’s brand is making her into a prophet and she is rarely criticized for her methods, and beliefs.  Peck goes on to criticize Oprah being a guru and having the remedy, being the “mind-cure.”  Peck questions Oprah’s role of hero as a conflict of interest with her role as “media mogul.”

Hang. Laurie L. “Oprah Winfrey: The construction of Intimacy in the Talk Show Setting.”  Journal of Popular Culture26.4 (Spring 1993): 115-121. Print

  • This article was about how African Americans on television are accepted into homes because of the construction of intimacy.  Oprah Winifrey and Bill Cosby are both used as examples of how this style of communication on television makes people feel comfortable, and gives a personal connection to the character.  The Oprah’s life story and the female norm of conversation increase this level of experience in talk shows.


Academic Books

Crowley, Karlyn. “Chapter 3: New Age Soul – The Gendered Translation of New Age Spirituality on the Oprah Winifrey Show.” Stories of Oprah: The Oprahification of American Culture. Mississippi: University of Mississippi, 2010. 33-46. Print.

  • This essay discusses how Oprah has emerged as a spiritual guru across America for women.  “This essay shows how Oprah Winfrey blends New Age culture with a racialized “sister sensibility” to create a unique female-centered ministry for her largely female audience”.  Crowley discusses how Oprah has become a spiritual teacher that promotes her own gospel, which is the New Age of spirituality.  They emphasize how the church is being undermined and people are looking for new spiritual outlets.

Einstein, Mara. “The New Televangelists.” Brands of Faith: Marketing Religion in a Commercial Age. New York: Routledge, 2008. 137-46. Print.

  • This particular section in the book compares Oprah to Joel Osteen saying they simply promote and sell products.  Einstein looks at Oprah from the point of view of a televangelist.  She emphasizes Oprah’s excelling secular religion stand point, and explains how her shows are lessons and the guests are teachers.  There is an explanation of how much Oprah is involved in, showing just how much she rules the world.


Lowe, Janet. Oprah Winfrey Speaks: Insights from the World’s Most Influential Voice. Canada: John Wiley and Sons, 1998. Web. 13 May 2011. <>.

  • This book is about Oprah through the years and how she has transformed the world of talk shows.  It discusses her ups, downs , criticizes how much longer Oprah the brand will be around, and the future of the Oprah empire.  The book gives a step by step analysis of the principles that Oprah follows.


Internet Sources

Samuels, Allison. “Oprah Buries the Hatchet.” Editorial. Newsweek 20 Mar. 2011: 1-2. Newsweek. Mar. 2011. Web. Apr. 2011. <>.

  • This article examines Oprah Winifrey in the final days of her television talk-show and the reasons why she is bringing all her famous enemies back on to make amends.  They question whether it is for the sake of ratings, or is she trying to genuinely show her viewers the art of friendship.  This is important to me because it appears her brand is more so for money then for spirituality as she claims.

Lawrenz, Mel. “The Secret Exposed: Why Oprah and Millions of Readers Can Be Wrong.” Chiristianity Today June 2006: 71-72. Gale Cengage Learning. Web. Apr. 2011. <¤tPosition=5&userGroupName=cuny_queens&docLevel=&docId=A164871009&noOfPages=2>.

  • This article discusses how the book “The Secret” and Oprah’s way of thinking are wrong.  This article uses amore religious stance and explains why so many people are unhappy after reading “The Secret”. You have to believe in God or everything will simply crumble.  Also that is ideology is spread as a means to make money.  This is important to me because I believe this will help me prove my point why lived religion is important.

Stein, Joel. “Life After Oprah.” Time 25 Mar. 2002: 1-2. Web. <,9171,1002066-1,00.html>.

  • This is article discusses Oprah’s affect on men and how they are insulted there isn’t a male version of Oprah for them.  The article also does an interview with a woman and asks her how she is going to get her spirituality after Oprah goes off the sire? She responds she is just going to go to church, as if church isn’t good enough.  The article also briefly discusses who will be the next guru for daytime.


Rabey, Steve. “Oprah’s Gospel.” Christian Examiner Online May 2008: 1-3. Web. <>.

  • This article discusses how Oprah is losing some of her Christian viewers because of her New Age religion.  Rabey states, “Oprah’s theology seems to be a version of America’s secular theology of self-improvement”.  He further discusses Oprah’s power over women in America and that people have to realize the difference between entertainment and faith.


Birkenhead, Peter. “Oprah’s Ugly Secret.” Salon 5 Mar. 2007: 1-5. Web. <>.

  • This article discusses the defects from the book , “The Secret”.  He relates some of the charities that Oprah supports and if they were to apply the analogy she uses to solve problems.  The article also stresses how teaching religion should be important to a person who is constantly preaching spirituality.

The River

March 28th, 2011

I seen an advertisement on the train for a place called The River.  The River is “non-denominational Christian church in downtown Manhattan that is seeking to be…spiritually powerful, biblically thoughtful and culturally relevant.”  This Church is actually attempting to serve the needs of the actual Church individuals and the brand of spirituality that I recently discussed in my paper about Oprah.  They offer testimonies, classes, community service projects, and emphasis the “life in all its fullness“ through God.  There are classes actually offered for you to be able to “openly” ask questions about spirituality.  The Church started in 2004 and one of the most interesting factors is that the church staff is extremely diverse.  There are three pastors, one an Asian male, another a White male, and another who is an Asian women.  Each offer a different aspect with the lead, associate and pastor of kids and family.  Like any other Church you can volunteer to assist with hospitality, be teachers, assist with set up, and provide visual support.  They offer community groups in Brooklyn and Manhattan, where you can discuss and grow in spirituality,like other Church organizations. 

Do I think this idea will work in the long run? I actually do and I applaud those who created this new type of church because they are combining both aspects of actual religion and spirituality to help others grow closer to God.  I appreciate that the main goal is to grow closer through your faith and they work with you to understand.  Their statement of Faith includes the Apostles Creed and they  do something called the “40 days of Faith”,where they fast and pray for Lent.  There is a User’s Manual to help you understand exactly what the “40 days of Faith” are.  It gives you guidelines on how to set religious oriented goals, pray, and fast.  You can also listen to the service online and email any of the leaders of the church, in any program.

Listen to the river:


Afghan Government Controllling Women’s Shelters?

February 20th, 2011

This article responds to the relationship between politics, religion, and the media.  According to Alyssa J. Rubin, the Afghan Cabinet wants the women shelters in Afghanistan to be ran by the government.  The government began take a closer look at the women’s shelter after a child bride from one of the shelters, appeared on the cover of Time Magazine.  Her nose had been severed off by her husband after she tried to run away.  This humiliated Afghanistan and made people across the world pay more attention to what was occurring in this country.  This was the turning point that made government want to seize control over the shelters.

The Controversial Cover

The shelters are currently operated by Women for Afghan Women, which is a privately owned and funded organization.  The Afghan government believes that these shelters for battered women and children are “fronts for brothels”, that encourage women to run away from home.  Some members want to completely close the women’s shelters all together.  The women’s shelters are allegedly destroying traditional Afghan values, with modern ways for women.  The Woman’s Affair Ministry in Afghanistan agrees with this policy and has started drafting new rules for the shelters.  The first major change is women will no longer be able to seek refuge at the shelter without reasonable cause.  They will first have to appear before a government panel of eight members, who will determine whether she needs the shelter’s facilities, should be sent to jail, or go back home.  She must also “undergo a physical exam”, that includes a virginity test.  Keep in mind that if she isn’t granted permission to stay at the shelter, after running away she faces mutilation, murder, and even being disregarded from her family when she returns home.

The main concern with the Women’s Affairs Ministry and government taking over the shelters is not what they can provide, but what they can’t provide.  The Women’s Affairs Ministry will be responsible for the women’s shelter; however they don’t have the efficient resources to run an operation of this size.  They can hardly find the appropriate staffing for their offices, because the women face threats and assassination attempts.  So how can they find the necessary staffing and expertise for the shelters?  Another issue is that the members of the Ministry are easily manipulated, they have a say in government but want to keep it peaceful for themselves at the same time.  If this is the group that will now be responsible for the women in these shelters, who is going to look out for them? Who is going to stand up and speak out for the rights of these women?  Who will protect them?  This ministry is not able to provide all the protection, empowerment, counseling, and other resources for these women.  They can hardly provide for themselves.

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February 14th, 2011

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