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Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon
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Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  60 ratings  ·  9 reviews
"Today on "Oprah,"" intoned the TV announcer, and all over America viewers tuned in to learn, empathize, and celebrate. In this book, Kathryn Lofton investigates the Oprah phenomenon and finds in Winfrey's empire-Harpo Productions, "O Magazine," and her new television network-an uncanny reflection of religion in modern society. Lofton shows that when Oprah liked, needed, o ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published March 2nd 2011 by University of California Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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While this book at times infuriated me with its descent into theory and imprecise scholarly jargon, mainly it was a delightful examination of Oprah and her empire as a lens through which to see religion in modern America. As such Oprah is both unique, as product and preacher, and is an archetype for the modern religious/spiritual experience amid a world of choice. Spiritual experiences in Oprah's world are intimately tied to consumer purchases and personal conversions and Lofton's chapter title ...more
Kristian Petersen
In December of 2011, Oprah Winfrey appeared on The Dr. Oz Show to talk about her new big plans and her inspirations for the future. Oprah replied, “For me at this particular time in my life I recognize that everything is about moving closer to that which is God. And without a full, spiritual center — and I’m not talking about religion — I’m talking about without understanding the fullness from which you’ve come, you can’t really fulfill your supreme moment of destiny. And I think everybody has a ...more
A serviceable cultural history of Americans' abiding conflation of spiritual redemption and material acquisition, of which Oprah is the modern-day avatar. Lofton's evidence suggests that what both Oprah and the earlier preachers and writers in the same vein had in common was not theology or religious practice; rather, it was that all of them represent separate reactions to the abiding pecuniary incentives created by Americans' abiding demand for a gospel of success.

Yes, cultural history; but wha
Wes Bishop
A solid study of the media empire "Oprah" and how it relates to American religious history. Exploring the interplay between capitalism, American Protestantism, and "self-help" spiritualism, Lofton offers a way to rethink our common misunderstandings of the purported divide between the "secular" and "sacred."
In a first book so influential that it earned her a full professorship at Yale, Lofton interrogates the relationship between the sacred and the secular, arguing that Oprah - the icon, the product, the myth, and the empire - comprises a modern American religion. Drawing from primary sources garnered from throughout the Oprah empire (the TV show, the magazine, the website, the store, etc.), this work is positioned at the intersection of religious studies and studies of American consumer culture. A ...more
Good. Lively prose. I buy the overall arguments about religion in modernity. I wish there had been a little more theory and abstraction; without those, it's difficult to get perspective on something so current. The situating of oprah in traditions of ritual, missions, etc. was persuasive, though.
It struck me that this book is dated in that Oprah is not the giant she was when she appeared on TV daily. I'm not sure if the hoards of women who adored her still have that same strength of attachment to all things Oprah.
An interesting book, but it is dense and a bit harder to get through.
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