I believe that most everyone has heard of Oprah Winfrey. Over the past twenty-five years, her daytime talk show has been wildly successful, while at the same time a roller coaster ride at best. In the beginning it was one of negativity, trash, filth, and the very worst of societal topics, thus earning her the name, as Stephen Mansfield writes, “Slime Queen of daytime television.” At the end of its run her show had become positive. Her daytime talk show had become a launcher of careers, an influencer of people, and an encouragement for good around the world. What happened? Oprah started dealing in religion.
In “Where Has Oprah Taken Us? The Religious Influence of the World’s Most Famous Woman”, author Stephen Mansfield takes an honest and in-depth look at the events, people, tragedies, and successes that have made Oprah Winfrey the cultural icon that she is today. Although she has influenced many in many areas, Mansfield chooses to write about her religious influence upon Americans and those around the world. Mansfield begins by looking at Oprah’s early years growing up in the Baptist church. He shows what was the basis for her conservative evangelical faith and then what forces began to challenge that faith. As Oprah become more successful in her broadcasting and television career, she began to open herself up to and eventually embrace eastern religions. Mansfield explores her shift from a biblical faith rooted in the worship of God to an eastern type, meditation-driven spirituality rooted in the worship of self. Mansfield writes, “It is not going too far to say that spiritually she is the composite of all that her gurus have taught her and that to know her one must first know them.” He then lists who those influential gurus are. They include Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, Gary Zukav, Depak Chopra, Rev. Ed Bacon, and Iyanla Vanzant.
“Where Has Oprah Taken Us?” is well written, thoroughly researched, and intentionally balanced, allowing Oprah’s words to speak for her. I found this book very informative and intriguing. I believe that with great influence comes greater responsibility. I believe Mansfield is right when he says that Oprah doesn’t know who she is. Mansfield describes Oprah’s faith system this way, “She found no tension in blending a Hindu version of reality with ancestor worship with chanting Hindu mantras with The Secret’s Law of Attraction with yoga with an animistic honoring of the spirits in nature with a belief in self-divinity with channeling with astrology with karma with the Bible with the certainty that right spirituality is rewarded with wealth and well-being with prayer to whatever force is god with the confidence we create the evil we experience with the unwavering assurance that a super-natural destiny rules human affairs. This was the buffet of beliefs she had chosen for herself and that she urged others to embrace as well.” I believe this book will be especially helpful to Christians. Anytime someone has the stage to influence millions of people, especially in the area of religion, to understand their beliefs is vital to defending a true biblical faith. If you place your convictions and standards on the altar of pride and self, you allow everyone else to define who you are. I recommend this book to all.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”