Spiritual guidance for anyone seeking a path to God. explorefaith.org


Explore God's Love Explore Your Faith Explore the Church Explore Who We Are  

> Bookshelf > The Gospel According to Oprah
Join our mailing list
Join our mailing list
Send this page to a friend

Support explorefaith.org

Give us your feedback

Bookshelf home

Modern Classics

Popular Fiction
Commentaries on Religion and Culture
explorefaith.org books
History of Faith
Author Interviews
Online Book Group
Living Your Faith
Memoirs and Biographies

Bookshelf Index


The Gospel According to Oprah
by Marcia Z. Nelson
Westminster John Knox Press, 2005

review by Kevin Miller

Coming rather late in the game in terms of the “Gospel According to…” genre (which has featured books on The Simpsons, Harry Potter, and Dr. Seuss, among others), one might expect The Gospel According to Oprah to fall into the “day late and a dollar short” category. Far from it. Seeking to discern the mystery of Oprah’s allure to millions of viewers and readers around the world, author Marcia Z. Nelson has written a taut little book that is bound to appeal to Oprah fans and foes alike.

The first thing that struck me about this book is how much it resembles Oprah’s show: Pleasant to look at, emotionally and intellectually engaging, conversational and yet not too familiar, nutritious and yet easily digestible, and just long enough to whet your appetite for her subject matter without making you long for a commercial break.

Considering that Nelson’s research involved watching Oprah’s show for one year, reading dozens of O magazines, and corresponding with fans via Oprah’s web site, it’s no surprise that her tone and format are so ideally suited to the Queen of Daytime’s following. And yet, it is an achievement worth noting, since few people have been able to emulate Oprah’s ability to give the people what they want. Perhaps it won’t be long before Oprah, herself, comes calling… (which would be ironic, due to the fact that Oprah’s people would not allow Nelson access to her during the writing of this book.)

The other thing that impressed me about this book is the clarity of Nelson’s thinking. Neither overly gushy nor overly critical, and without wasting a word, she accurately—I think—discerns “ten reasons why Oprah is a compelling and successful spiritual teacher in spiritually eclectic and ever-practical America.” Some of these reasons include Oprah’s humanness, the way she provides community for her viewers, her ability to listen, her emphasis on generosity, gratitude, and forgiveness, and her ability to keep things simple. These ten reasons form the skeleton of Nelson’s book, with a brief, insightful chapter devoted to each.

Beyond simply explaining Oprah’s appeal, however, Nelson goes a step further by seeking to understand what function Oprah plays in society. Is she an entertainer? A preacher? A confessor? A self-help guru? A scam artist? All of the above? Also, what does her popularity mean? What does Oprah’s appeal say about her? What does it say about us? I won’t divulge all of Nelson’s answers to these questions, but I will say that she comes out with a decidedly positive verdict, and her reasons for doing so are definitely worth the read.

Love Oprah or hate her—Is there really another option?—I can guarantee you will enjoy this book. In fact, as was the case with me, you may discover that your opinion on Oprah reveals as much about yourself as it does about her, which merely proves Nelson’s fourth secret to Oprah’s appeal: Oprah encourages self-examination. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Copyright ©2005 Kevin Miller

The Gospel According to Oprah
To purchase a copy of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO OPRAH, visit amazon.com. This
link is provided as a service to explorefaith.org visitors and registered users.



(Return to Top)


Send this article to a friend.

Home | Explore God's Love | Explore Your Faith | Explore the Church | Who We Are
Reflections | Stepping Stones | Oasis | Lifelines | Bulletin Board | Search |Contact Us |
Copyright ©1999-2007 explorefaith.org