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Oprah: icon of spiritual but not religious

Oprah: icon of spiritual but not religious

Elizabeth Tenety, writing at the Under God blog of the Washington Post proposes that Oprah is a spiritual leader, especially of those who claim to be spiritual but not religious:

Winfrey may be tapping into her higher power, but she’s also connecting with trends in religious behavior in American culture at large. We are a nation of seekers who increasingly report being unaffiliated with any particular religious tradition. A 2010 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life found that “more than one-quarter of American adults (28 percent) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion – or no religion at all,” and that the ranks of the unaffiliated are the nation’s fastest growing group. Oprah proves to her fellow seekers that you can leave religion behind but keep the spiritual journey



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H. E. Baber

I’ve been invited to write on this for a UK publication so I’ve been researching, and trying to make Oprah and the SBNR phenomenon intelligible to British readers.

I don’t find it intelligible. What is the motive? To me religion means liturgy, art, mysticism, all the juicy stuff. “Spirituality” as Oprahites seem to understand it seems seems to be all the boring, tedious stuff–edification, self-improvement, “taking responsibility,” therapy, whatever. What is going on here?

Richard E. Helmer

There is much to admire in Winfrey, but the article makes very little mention of the choice and power her vast wealth can buy.

“Spiritual but not religious” is often a choice of the privileged, not so much the choice of those who need community to survive: that is still most of the human family.

Criticizing the “gospel of you” might miss the deeper problem that we face: the gospel of privilege.

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