I hear that Oprah Winfrey is boasting that nearly 3/4 of a million people are signed up for a free online course that she is offering on “spirituality.”
It’s titled A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (based on a book of the same name by Eckhart Tolle). It invites participants to “connect with others who are seeking to become more aware of themselves-and the world around them.”
750,000 participants is nothing to sneeze at and I am not making light of what Oprah is offering. I think she genuinely and sincerely wants to help people. I put quotations marks around the word “spirituality” because I’m not exactly sure how she defines that and my guess is that it is not necessarily how we would define spirituality in the Catholic Tradition.
I suggest that we pay attention to Oprah’s online course, look into it, and see exactly how the Catholic Tradition can and does offer us opportunities to “awaken to our life’s purpose.”
If any folks, especially catechists, are participating in Oprah’s course, I invite you to share your thoughts, insights, comments, reflections, and questions here. I am not about to hold Oprah’s efforts up to ridicule. My goal is to explore what it is in her message and method that is attracting so many people and to see how we as Catholics, and especially as catechists, can develop more effective strategies for inviting people to consider the spiritual path given to us by Jesus and his Church.
Lately, I have been wondering about the attraction of these kinds of authors and speakers. I visited the Crystal Cathedral while at the L.A. Congress last week, and I wondered what it was about Robert Schuller that attracts so many adherents. I have the same question about Joel Osteen. What seems common among folks like this is an ability to tap into the general population
Nick, thanks so much for your excellent comments. I think that it’s good that we are paying attention to these phenomena so that we can learn how to more effectively communicate the Catholic Tradition to this day and age.
Congratulations on TeamRCIA. I urge folks to visit your site. http://teamrcia.com/
p.s. I viewed Oprah’s 1st session yesterday and will comment on Friday.