Oprah’s “gift is not her interviewing strategy but her confessional promiscuity.” While claiming only to tell you what she herself believes, Oprah “converts you to an idea, to the idea of her biographical revelations as a model for the world. She is the divine pervasion.” This is a largely passive religious practice. One watches the consumption and eclectic conversation of Oprah and her guests. The viewer participates by buying into Oprah’s interpretations and by buying the goods that Oprah offers and affirms. Paradoxically, the sure pathway to valuing oneself and finding one’s own truth is to follow in the way of Oprah, believing what she believes and possessing the cashmere sweater sets, elegant journals, and teak serving trays that she recommends. It is, in Lofton’s words, “the hegemony of her sway” that is the core of Oprah’s spiritual power.Read the rest of “The hegemony of her sway”.
Jeffrey Mahan holds the Ralph E. and Norma E. Peck Chair in Religion and Public Communication at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. His work has focused on religious and theological studies engagements with popular culture and religion in media cultures. He is the author or editor of Religion and Popular Culture in America, Shared Wisdom, A Long Way from Solving that One, and American Television Genres as well as numerous essays. Dr. Mahan was founding co-chair of the Religion and Popular Culture Group of the American Academy of Religion. Currently he serves on the National Steering Committee of the Center for Media, Religion and Culture, University of Colorado at Boulder and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture.