Is Oprah Winfrey a Religious Icon?

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A Yale professor’s book argues the talk show queen not only focuses on self-improvement, but also uses speech patterns of a preacher and a sermon-like structure for her shows.

NEW YORK – Oprah Winfrey’s success is, at least in part, due to her use of the techniques and language of a preacher, according to a new book from a Yale religion professor.

Winfrey became more than a daytime TV show host when she transformed herself into the equivalent of a religious icon, Yale professor Kathryn Lofton argues in her book Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon, the New York Post reported in time for Good Friday.

"Gospel is a word that means 'good news’," Lofton, who claims to have studied nearly every episode of Winfrey’s show as well as her print publications, told the paper. "Oprah says that the good news is 'you'."

OWN, the joint venture network between Winfrey and Discovery Communications has focused on the theme of self-improvement.
The Yale professor also points out a Southern preacher's rhythmic speech patterns and a sermon-like structure of Winfrey’s shows.

Lofton argues that Winfrey became a religious icon of sorts in 1994 when she focused on what the professor calls The Gospel of You. "The time has come for this genre of talk shows to move on from dysfunctional whining and complaining and blaming,” Winfrey said back then.  "I have had enough of people's dysfunction."