Thursday, April 10, 2008
Oprah: Philanthropic Celebrity or Preacher of Heresy?
The other day I was leisurely perusing cyberspace when I came upon a link that one of my friends had posted. I was curious, so I clicked on the link and watched the youtube video that came up. The video, which I'm also posting here, is a short video (6:54) containing clips of TV talk show host and "philanthropist" Oprah Winfrey speaking about religion, specifically addressing her Oprah's Book Club selection "A New Earth" by spiritual writer Eckhart Tolle which Oprah claims has changed her life, despite the fact that it can't be reconciled with Christianity. The video is an anti-Oprah propaganda video clearly containing some pretty cheesy images and a voice-over, but the actual content I thought was pretty interesting.
For the sake of this fascinating blog, I'll give you a few highlights of the video. First, a clip that looks like it was from a much earlier show rolls along like this. Oprah preaches: “There are many paths to what you call God…For [this woman] there might be something else and when she gets there she might call it the Light…There couldn’t possibly be just one way….” When an audience member cries out, “There is only one way and it is through Jesus,” to which a round of applause spread through the audience, Oprah again shouts, “There couldn’t possibly be just one way.” End of clip.
After that clip my thoughts were, well, maybe poor Oprah's just a little confused. She just loves everyone so much she wants Christians and non-Christians alike to be able to enter Heaven and experience eternal joy. Or maybe my thoughts weren't exactly like that. They might have just consisted of my heresy alert sounding at maximum volume. I was going to include a lengthy quote from http://www.catholic.com/ to clear up the teaching on Salvation outside the Church but it's not really that relevant. Straight up, the Catholic Church is the way to salvation, however, God's mercy is so great we can't comprehend its reaches, and there's "baptism of blood" and "baptism of desire." The thing that really is no good is "knowingly and deliberately (that is, not out of innocent ignorance) commit the sins of heresy (rejecting divinely revealed doctrine) or schism (separating from the Catholic Church and/or joining a schismatic church)" (From http://www.catholic.com/library/Salvation_Outside_the_Church.asp), which sounds like what is going on here. In other words, I'm pretty sure that Oprah is trying to make her own religion.
Let's move on to the issue of the Oprah's Book Club selection "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle. A little bit of research on good old Wikipedia revealed that Tolle is an extremely popular "spiritual writer" (meaning, what?) not associated with any organized religion (meaning that he has no foundation for anything that he says). From my research, Tolle doesn't seem to preach anything new, or anything extraordinary for that matter. Then why is Oprah so obsessed with him (and intent on spreading his "teachings" with all of her fans? Because Tolle's substitute for religion is just the kind of touchy-feely, "spiritual" rather than religious, me, me, me, garbage that people eat up. Why is this accepted so easily, even though it has no foundation or solid belief-system? Because there is no concept of sin. In a "religion" that states that "Man has created God in his own image" (Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth) there can be no sin if you are your own God. It is interesting that Tolle's spirituality is built upon the concept that God is a feeling experience, not a believing experience, and yet Tolle and Oprah are telling people what they believe through an online class reaching 2 million people and through New York Times Bestselling books.
This is the sort of relativistic fluff that our society laps up so easily. So why am I devoting my time to it? I think that the most dangerous part about this spirituality, and the fact that Oprah is attempting to spread it, is because she claims that this spirituality doesn't stop her from being a Christian. However, she makes statements that are absolutely irreconcilable with Christianity. And she urges Christians that admire her to believe the same things. A few examples: “God is. God is a feeling experience, not a believing experience. If your religion is a believing experience, if God for you is still a belief, then it’s not truly God.” And the classic "I am a Christian who believes that there are many paths to God other than Christianity.” Cool.
However, this one really takes the cake. “I understand…that what I believe is that Jesus came to show us Christ’s consciousness. Jesus came to show us the way of the heart and that what Jesus was saying to show us the higher consciousness that we’re all taking about here. Jesus came to say, 'Look I’m going to live in the body and show you how it’s done. These are some principles and some laws that you can live by to know that way.' And when I started to recognize that, that Jesus didn’t come to, I don’t believe that Jesus came to start Christianity.” What??? What does that even mean? From what I can understand, Oprah thinks that Jesus came to give us an option of how to get to Heaven. Ok. Find that in the Bible for me and we may be ready for a discussion.
Here's what I have for you, Ms. Winfrey (I would have more quotes, but I'm a Catholic, after all). Matthew 16:18- "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." (Didn't come to start Christianity.... yeah ok). John 14:6- "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (reconcile that with “I am a Christian who believes that there are many paths to God other than Christianity.”-Oprah). Apparently, neither Oprah nor Tolle really take the Bible seriously, and my Scripture quotes wouldn't mean much to them, though they do attempt to, as far as I can see, confuse Christians by saying that there are many "jewels" in the New Testament, and that religion can open the door to God or close you off to God. Mostly close you off to God if you begin to actually believe in God instead of just feel God. If you believe in something, then there becomes the possibility that you may disagree with someone else, and that just can't be tolerated. There's no objective truth, because how can a "feeling" be wrong? Who's to tell me that what I feel is wrong?
This activity has served mostly to leave me disgruntled and angry, as usually happens when someone makes completely no sense and manages to spread a nonsensical Christian heresy to several million people. I can only hope that the people being taken in by the untruths promulgated by Oprah will realize that though the things she says sound attractive (perhaps for 1.3 seconds or so), they are lies, through and through, there's nothing to them. If you're looking for the Truth, look to Jesus Christ. If you're looking for Oprah's lies, you know where to find her.
(Picture from abcnews.com)
Edit: It's been pointed out to me by someone smarter than me that because Oprah is not Catholic she really can't preach heresy. I really thought rhyming celebrity with heresy in the title was clever so I'm not going to change it, but I suppose it makes more sense to write that Oprah could be leading Catholics to commit heresy, (like the caller Kelly in the clip, who was Catholic). I think I might get a little excited when I think heresy is involved.