Summary: She is one of the most influential people in the world today, but how is she influencing people?
She is the quintessential rags to riches story. She started life without any of the breaks that you normally associate with those who will go on to dominate their field and she has made it all the way to the top. Probably one of the most powerful and influential women in the world she is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama rolled into one. Some people have said that she could be President if it wasn’t for the cut in pay and influence.
And every one has an opinion about her, you might love her or hate her but it is very difficult to be ambivalent about Oprah Winfrey.
Born to Vernon Winfrey and Vernita Lee in 1954 in Kosciusko Mississippi her life didn’t have the most auspicious beginning. Her story is that she was the result of a one time sexual encounter between two young people in rural Mississippi, as a matter of fact her father, a twenty year old soldier who had been home on leave found out that he a daughter when he received a newspaper birth announcement in the mail at his army camp along with a note that said “Send clothes.”
Her name was supposed to be Gail Orpah Winfrey, she was named Orpah from the book of Ruth in the Old Testament but the midwife misspelled her name when she was filling out the birth certificate. And I always thought it had been chosen because it’s Harpo spelled backwards.
Shortly after her birth her mother moved to Milwaukee to work as a maid and baby Oprah stayed in Mississippi to be brought up by her grandmother Hattie Mae Lee on the family’s small pig farm. At the age of 6 her mother reclaimed her and she lived in Milwaukee until she moved in with her father in Nashville at the age of 14.
Beginning her media career in radio at the age of 19 she quickly made her way into local television first in Nashville, than in Baltimore and finally in 1984 she moved to Chicago and began a talk show that eventually went national and the rest as they say is history.
According to Oprah’s web site, the Oprah Winfrey Show is the highest-rated talk show in television history, seen by 46 million viewers each day in the U.S. in 205 television markets, and in 134 countries. In fact, it has been the number one talk show for 21 consecutive seasons. Since it’s beginning in 1986 it has received 32 Emmy awards.
Sometimes thought to be the richest woman in the world she’s not, and neither by the way is Queen Elizabeth, J.K. Rowling or my wife. She is however the richest female entertainer with assets estimated at 1.5 billion dollars. Although she is 54 and the Olsen Twins are worth 100 million dollars and they are only 20, although there are two of them so they are like 40 between them.
Oprah is now one if not the most influential woman in the world. Vanity Fair Magazine made this statement “Oprah Winfrey arguably has more influence on the culture than any university president, politician, or religious leader, except perhaps the Pope,”
When she puts her seal on a book in her book club it is guaranteed to become a major best seller and when she smiles and nods at a guest who is teaching any manner of spiritual content people take it as a personal endorsement from this lady whom they invite into their home like a friend on a daily basis. And because she offers such a hodge podge of New Age, Eastern, contemplative and past life teachings she has the potential to influence people’s spiritual life and consequently their eternal life.
On the opening page of her website is the statement: “Want to Get in Touch with Your Soul? Oprah sits down with leading spiritual thinkers and authors to talk about matters of the soul. Watch every Monday night at 9/8c exclusively on Oprah.com and XM Channel 156.”
With Oprah’s last foray into spirituality, the ten week video course she is offering in conjunction with Eckhart Tolee, I decided that I should give the good folks at Cornerstone a heads up with what’s involved in that, after all according to demographic and survey guru George Barna “Oprah has a 83% favorability rating among born-again believers”
So what would Jesus say to Oprah?
I think that the first thing he’d say is 1) Way to Go I don’t think God has anything against success and I think that in the same way that it pleases us as parents when our kids do good that God enjoys seeing his creation accomplish all they can. I think we have all been created for personal greatness. I don’t think God expects us all to be Mother Theresa’s or Billy Grahams, or Ghandi’s or for the matter Oprah but I think he expects great things from us and I truly believe that we all have the capability to accomplish great things. That might not translate into become independently wealthy and famous but it will mean doing the best we can at what we chose to pursue as a career, being great parents and committed Christians.