by (@hallekiefer)

Oprah Is A Religious Icon, Yale Professor Claims

We’ll admit it. Sometimes when we’re watching Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things episode, we get so excited we start speaking in tongues. According to Yale professor Kathryn Lofton, when it comes to Oprah Winfrey, religious figure might not be too far off. According to Lofton, Winfrey is similar to a religious icon in that she employs a sermon-like structure in her show, uses speech patterns similar to preachers, and offers a cohesive message, or gospel, to her followers. Then again, nobody actually thinks Mr. Winfrey can walk on water. Unless she’s been saving it for the show’s finale. In which case, brava for saving the best for last.

All joking aside, there is cultural significance in the fact that millions of viewers find meaning in the talk show host’s message of self-esteem and hope, including those fans begging Oprah to save soap operas from their untimely fate. “Gospel is a word that means ‘good news,’ ” Lofton explained. “Oprah says that the good news is ‘you.'” Think about it: if I described a religious figure who teaches people hope, gives stuff away, and has great hair and sandals, who do you immediately think of? Throw in a best friend named Gayle, and we are looking at Jesus 2.0 here.

[Photo: Getty Images]


Time To Ditch The Red String: Madonna Reportedly Has Left Kabbalah

This is hard to believe, but Madonna has reportedly quit Kabbalah in order to join an even more secretive religion, Opus Dei. The star made the red-string-bracelet-loving sect of Judaism prominent when she began following the faith several years ago and several other celebs like Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, and Victoria Beckham followed suit. The Opus Dei, on the other hand, has no celebrity followers that we know of because it’s incredibly clandestine. (And oddly, a form of Catholicism, the religion Madonna grew up in and has always been critical of.)

The religion was famously written about in The Da Vinci Code and controversially involves practices like “mortification of the flesh,” or self-mutilation. Joining the religion even involves a secretive process.  Madonna reportedly had an exploratory meeting at the London Opus Dei headquarters last week but she’s not a “fully paid-up” member yet. Which begs the question, between Kabbalah, Opus Dei, Scientology, and the Mel Gibson Megachurch – are there any celebs who belong to religions that average people are a part of?

[Photos: Getty Images]