Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Take Me To Your Leader-Or To Oprah...

Our local newspaper recently ran this article on Oprah as a kind of spiritual teacher in our age. My first reaction to these kinds of religious realities in our day and age involves a knot in my stomach and a growing sense of depression and inevitability. I find it extremely telling that many people find someone as religiously uncommitted and yet spiritually so public as Oprah to be their best spiritual guide. How did we get here?

I would not be surprised if the church has brought some of this upon itself. We have become so “relevant” to pop culture, I wonder if most simply don’t see a substantial difference between their local mega church and Oprah. Add to that the dismal statistics on the church’s trust level with the general populace, and you have a recipe for invisibility.

Additionally, it speaks to how shallow our culture at large has become. People no longer grasp the depth of spiritual and eternal issues, and they feel perfectly comfortable learning about them in the same places they learn decorating and personal hygiene tips.

UPDATE: Some further thoughts on the big O and the "theological stupification" of American christians can be found at the ever-thoughtful Culture Watch.


Bob Robinson said...

Thanks. I found myself nodding when you wrote, "it speaks to how shallow our culture at large has become. People no longer grasp the depth of spiritual and eternal issues..."

I guess I live in a sort of environment where inquiry and deep thought thrives. So I'm always amazed at how completely out-of-touch so many people are to deep issues of spiritual significance. It's like I'm talking a different language with some people, like the deepest issues they ever think about are things like how the plot will twist next on "LOST" or if the Browns will win this week's football game or if the mall will have a sale this weekend.

And I wonder if the church is dumbed down because of this or if it is feeding it (probably both).

If our culture is in a negative level of spiritual interest and understanding, then what is the best tactic for moving it up into the postive? It can't be "talking above their heads," but it can't be capitulating to the ignorance either!

Steve said...

Hey Phil-

Great thoughts as usual!

So my question after reading your post and Dr. Groothius': How do we change it? Whenever I critize different teachers on TV or radio (Oprah, Joel Osteen, James Dobson) I am playing precious chips with my congregation. It seems they buy so much of this stuff hook, line, and sinker! How do we change that?

Janet Lingel Aldrich said...

I was used to seeing this kind of attitude in the World (after all, do they really know better?) but to find it in the Church is truly depressing.

Anonymous said...

First of all who decides who a postive leader for a church. Oprah exemplifies more religious chracteristics than many people I many of your churches donate their money to people who need it....other than the ones they see in the media.....Oprah Winfrey, is one of the most influential women in the world today. Oprah is a leader because she uses her power to influence millions of people everyday through her television talk show and magazine. She touches millions and helps countless others. She helped initiate the campaign for the National Child Protection Act in 1991. President Clinton passed the “Oprah Bill” into law in 1993 creating a national database of convicted child abusers. She formed Oprah’s Angel Network which has raised more than 35 million dollars, with all of the proceeds going to non-profit organizations around the world. Oprah encourages her viewers to help others and make a difference in other people’s lives. She knows that she has the power and ability to influence her viewers and she uses this for good. Now if that is not exactly what a preacher does than you let me know.