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The Church of Oprah Winfrey and a Theology of Suffering

The Church of Oprah Winfrey and a Theology of Suffering

By Mark Oppenheimer, New York Times…..
“The Oprah Winfrey Show” ended Wednesday, bringing despair to booksellers who relied on her book club, television programmers who needed her ratings, and religion scholars who for a decade have tried explaining how this child of poverty became the leader of a worldwide cult. They have worked just as hard to define that cult, which is at once Christian and pantheistic, African-American in origin but global in reach. The scholars found conflicting sources of Ms. Winfrey’s spirituality. It began, but definitely does not end, with the black church of her youth. In her 2003 book, “Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery,” Eva Illouz, a sociologist, quotes Ms. Winfrey as saying: “Since I was three and a half, I’ve been coming up in the church speaking. I did all of the James Weldon Johnson sermons” — Mr. Johnson being the poet whose “God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse” was published in 1927. “I used to do them for churches all over the city of Nashville,” Ms. Winfrey said.