Opinion | Oprah: Prophet, Priestess … Queen? New York Times

Is Oprah Winfrey “our most important religious leader”? New York Times columnist Ross Douthat makes that case in his op-ed article below.  It’s an interesting argument. He finds Oprah a prophet of “the soft, squishy, unifying center” of America’s spirituality — where segments of religious secularism and traditionalism overlap.

Douthat is clearly not a fan of this spiritual worldview even though it “cuts across partisan lines and racial divides.”

I’m not a fan of the squishy center or, frankly, of Douthat’s more traditionalist views. But he has a helpful observation here for the liberally religious. What degree of Oprah-ness can we tolerate, what degree of a “do-it-yourself form of faith that encourages syncretism and the pursuit of ‘your truth’…in defiance of the dogmatic and the skeptical alike”?

I’m a Unitarian Universalist and Buddhist. This blog’s co-founder, Rev. Kate Braestrup, is a Unitarian Universalist minister who is comfortable with Christian language and traditions. I know that each of us finds comfort in a sacred tradition while at the same time enjoying a religious community that embraces the questioning mind.

What about you? Where is your anchor in the liberal religious voyage? — MHP




  1. I admit I’ve really never watched Oprah’s show. I like some of the books she recommends in her book club, and she is a good actress in the movies I’ve seen her in. I’m not a huge fan, but I admire her for her business acumen and her success starting from humble beginnings. She has overcome a great deal, and she has done it honestly and ethically within the framework of the US political and economic system. I am not a big fan mostly because I am not a celebrity watcher in general, but I’m happy to tolerate a pretty large degree of Oprah-ness in the culture at large. Like Thomas Jefferson said, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. But that said, I’m not enthusiastic about her running for President. I think Dahlia Lithwick put it very well: “It is one of the great sins of this celebrity age that we continue to misread this message as a call to turn anyone who tries to deliver it into our savior. When someone tells you “I alone can fix it,” you should run screaming for the emergency exits. When someone tells you to get off your ass and fix it yourself, you should think first about running for office yourself.”

    Liked by 2 people

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