Oct 19, 2011

Where Has Oprah Taken Us? - A Book Review

Recently I received a copy of Stephen Mansfield's new book "Where Has Oprah Taken Us? The Religious Influence of the World's Most Famous Woman."  I was excited about the opportunity to read this book.  For a long time, I have been very concerned about the deep influence that Oprah has had in our culture and her dangerous spiritual beliefs.  I was not a regular watcher of Oprah's show.  However, the few times I did watch it, I could see why she was so popular.  She has an engaging personality that draws you in.  She is a rags-to-riches story.  She is not afraid to tell you about her baggage and how she's working through it.  At the same time, she has made no apologies for her religious beliefs.  She has stated more than once that she thinks it's arrogant for Christians to believe that Jesus is the only way to God.  She has held some very troubling New Age religious beliefs under a veil of the appearance of Christianity.

Mansfield's book is a timely read.  It will probably trouble many who call themselves Christians who have given Oprah a pass for a long time.  However, Mansfield is very fair in his portrayal and crituque of Oprah and her religious beliefs.  He praises her for her benevolent work around the world.  He vividly paints a good picture of the painful situation that Oprah was raised in.  He has done his homework both on Oprah's biographical past and on the troubling religious transformation she went through before her audience's eyes.  He has shown how, through shifting cultural influences and timing, Oprah rose from media personnel to someone who has had religious influence in our culture that closely resembles that of Billy Graham, the Pope, and Rick Warren.  It's a telling and troubling fact that someone who holds no formal religious study has in many ways become a religious guru for millions of people, especially women.

While painting a detailed expression of Oprah's widely diverse religious influences, Mansfield also does a good job bringing solid, biblical truth to counteract those beliefs.  He leads the reader to understand the implications of Oprah's beliefs on society and how those same beliefs diverge from Scripture and orthodox Christian teaching.  He also asks serious questions that force the reader to see beyond the surface of Oprah's beliefs into the deeper ramifications.  In each chapter he also has an aside where he interjects his own personal beliefs and critique.  In doing so, he keeps most of his opinions out of the regular material and maintains the fair, impartial, and helpful reporting of an author of his stature.

I would highly recommend this read to most Christians, especially laypeople.  There are millions of people in the church who have been poisoned by Oprah's deadly religious mix and need to step back and see through a biblical lens what she really believes.  This is not a character assassination on Oprah - far from it.  It is a book that shows the powerful and helpful influence she has had while questioning the religious dogma she has espoused for the last two decades.  If you're an Oprah fan, give this book a fair reading and see where you may have been influenced.  If you are not an Oprah fan, read it and equip yourself to have an honest, helpful dialogue with those who are.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”