The Los Angeles Review of Books recently reviewed TIF editor-at-large Kathryn Lofton’s book Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon. The review compliments Lofton’s thorough examination of Oprah as an icon, commodity, capitalist and the embodiment of the spiritualization of American culture:
It’s true, as Lofton points out, that Oprah Winfrey, the person, eschews the rigidity of religion. Winfrey’s Christian roots notwithstanding, she has shied away from organized religion in favor of a non-denominational spirituality, in accordance with which “[w]e can choose whether to go to church or not, we can worship as we please — or we can lounge in bed on a Sunday morning, wearing the very cutest underwear.” Who needs the formality of church when you can find the sacred in everyday tasks like laundry, or stumble upon an “A ha! Moment” while trying to start your car? The world of ‘O’, it appears, makes “you” the master of your spiritual life.
Lofton’s deft consideration of this world, however, reveals one awash in its own commandments, consistently telling audiences “[w]hat to do, what to say, what to wear, what to hear, how to listen, whom to date, whom to dump, when to dump, when to buy, what to buy, how to improve, what to practice, what to read, when to take a break.” ‘O’ impels you to become the master of your own life, your best life, but in the ‘O’ way. Guidance toward self-love is coupled with goading toward self-improvement — a ritual cycle that can make ‘O’ a circle more vicious than divine.
Last May, The Immanent Frame hosted a comprehensive conversation about the book, which included an interview with Lofton, and commentary by John Lardas Modern, among others. Read the full review here.