Some of you know I am not a huge fan of Oprah. Oh, I recognize that she is an immensely gifted television personality as well as the highest paid and most powerful woman in the world. If she decides to mention your book or your product on air she can make you an instant millionaire. She virtually invented Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil and arguably even Barrack Obama. And God help you if you ever criticize her publicly. I unwisely made mention of this fact in one of my sermons saying something like, “Oprah is one sacred cow you don’t dare touch.” Apparently a bunch of my viewers thought it was a cruel reference to her weight. Imagine anyone thinking I would be that insensitive? Purely unintentional I am sure.
Millions, mostly women, tune in everyday to see what her and her gang are up to. She will often have interesting guests and fascinating human interest stories. She doles out practical down home advice that often makes sense and she genuinely seems to care about her viewers. So what’s not to like? Well for starters, for someone so influential it is distressing that she lives unapologetically out of wedlock with her long time companion Stedman. I consider it a terrible example for someone who is clearly a role model for millions. However my biggest beef with Oprah is her spirituality. In many ways she is the postmodern priestess of church-free spirituality. Though she claims to be a Christian (I believe to appeal to her middle America core) there is really nothing Christian about her belief system. She is deeply entrenched in New Age philosophy. Oprah sponsored a Course in Miracles by New Age author Marianne Williamson on her satellite radio program and then a 10 week webcast with New Age author Eckhart Tolle who wrote a book entitled: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. Both books are chocked full of dangerous and unbiblical teachings that essentially declare that God can be whatever you want he/she/it to be.
Here is Oprah’s explanation of what Christ came to earth to do; “Jesus, came to show us Christ-consciousness…Jesus came to show us the way of the heart…Jesus came to say, ‘Look I’m going to live in the body, in the human body and I’m going to show you how it’s done.’ These are some principles and some laws that you can use to live by to know that way. I don’t believe that Jesus came to start Christianity. What Jesus said is much deeper than what you… how the church interprets it. There’s a depth to it. And it reflects your own depth when you read it (A New Earth). So there’s no conflict between this teaching, which is purely spiritual, and any religion.” Understand this; she does not believe that Christ came to die for our sins or that there really is any such thing as sin. She also believes that there are many many different ways to get to God… which of course is defined as an ‘inner consciousness’ not as a Creator.
The other week I came into the house after work and there on the TV was Oprah’s big Christmas give away show ‘My Favorite Things’. I had heard about the fact that every Christmas she gives each member of her studio audience 10’s of $1000 worth of gifts but I had never seen it. Honestly, I was dumbstruck. As she pulled out watches and jewelry and purses and shoes and cameras and finally a 2012 VW beetle the crowd went into an absolute pathological froth. Notwithstanding her generosity, which I understand is all donated by her advertisers, I felt it brought out the very worst in these people. It was a giant gob-fest of greed and consumerism that left me sad and dismayed. It was everything that is ‘wrong’ with modern Christmas. If you missed it, have a look here and decide for yourself.
Oprah ends the program by saying “It is all about hope, believing something magical can happen when you least expect it. Happy holidays everybody.” No mention of Christmas and no mention of Christ. This is not a jealousy rant because I can’t afford to outdo her and give away Hummers on my show. I am concerned with how easy it is to miss the point. Oprah’s give away show is really just a reflection of modern Christmas. It holds up to our culture one of those carnival fun house mirrors that makes everything look out of proportion. Most of our Christmases look something like Oprah’s… just on a much smaller scale.
Oh, I am a big believer in giving during Christmas. We give our kids smallish gifts, mostly practical but also something fun in the mix. More importantly we should be looking for meaningful gifts to give away during Christmas. Gifts of true value… love, friendship, kindness, goodness. I have a friend who takes his family to the homeless shelter Christmas day to feed the poor. I need to wrap this blog up here as I am heading down to the Red Cross to give blood in half an hour. The greatest gift of all, of course, is not the one we give, but the one we receive. For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe on Him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Remember… Jesus is the reason for the season and wise men still seek him today. From our house to yours, Merry Christmas everyone.