Friday, May 27, 2011

The Church of Oprah & the Good News of Suffering

Mark Oppenheimer, in "The Church of Oprah Winfrey and a Theology of Suffering," considers the idea that Oprah Winfrey, on her TV show:
  • might be a false prophet... because her stable of self-help gurus treated suffering as something beneficial
  • "turned the black church’s ethos of self-reliance in the face of suffering into an exaltation of suffering itself" so that "suffering becomes a desirable experience"
Women, according to Oprah, can transcend their sufferings by trying harder. If this is so, "then people have only themselves to blame for their misery.”

On "Oprah" “guests are forced to admit their worst transgressions.”

Oprah's self-help partners included:
  •  Louise Hay, who once said Holocaust victims may have been paying for sins in a previous life.
  • Caroline Myss, who claims emotional distress causes cancer.
  • Rhonda Byrne, creator of the DVD and book “The Secret,” who teaches that just thinking about wealth can make you rich. (I read this despicable, misleading, money-making book in an hour sitting in a Borders. At one point I imagined someone walking up to me and giving me $10,000. It did not happen. And, I wondered why I did not wish for more?)
  • “Psychic medium” John Edward, who helps mourning people in her audience talk to their dead relatives.
Oppenheimer failed to mention outrageous New Agey pop mystic gazillionairre Eckart Tolle (not his real name). I reviewed Tolle's shallow book here.