Posts

Showing posts from May, 2015

American Atheistic Materialism: A Creed of Despair?

Image
From American Atheistic Materialism…Good Lord Deliver Us. And the plea is appropriate because prayers for deliverance are a kind of exorcism, and if any society needs exorcism it is the American Atheistic Materialistic society. Pope St. John Paul II said there were two atheistic materialistic societies: Communist Russia and the Unrestrained Capitalism of America. The philosopher pope asserted this not because he hated America or was against capitalism per se, but because he was against the kind of unrestrained capitalism which is a form of atheistic materialism. “Materialism” is a popular nickname for greedy consumerism. We say a woman is “materialistic” if she does nothing but go to the mall and shop until she drops. We call a man “materialistic” if all he cares about is his financial success, his career and the prosperity, power and pleasure his success will buy him. These forms of materialism are symptoms not the disease. The disease is far deeper and more incur…

Live by the Screen, Die by the Screen: The Perils of Reality TV

Image
by May 29, 2015
It’s been a rough couple of weeks in the world of Reality TV. Bethenny Frankel is back on the Real Housewives of New York, inciting botox-compromising levels of rage in her fellow housewives. She even has a hashtag touting her return: #theBisback. Yes. Yes, she is. And Fox cancelled American Idol after 14 seasons, which, in Reality TV years, makes the show a million years old. In its way, this is sobering news, like hearing that the fossilized remains of your favorite museum dinosaur finally disintegrated, unable to endure the harsh light of the 21st century.
Most dramatically, the Duggar family fiasco has come to light — in which it was revealed that the now-grown oldest son, Josh Duggar, was guilty of molesting several girls when he was fourteen. This led TLC to pull 19 Kids and Counting, finally bringing to a halt the Duggar-franchise juggernaut. Something was bound to go wrong with 19 Kids and Counting. It’s the Law of Reality TV. Whether wha…

It’s Time for Moneyball Church

Image
May 29, 2015 by 0 Comments

Religion is notoriously behind on nearly every societal curve there’s ever been. some say that’s a good thing, as it’s supposed to be counter-cultural.

But there’s a difference between pandering to cultural trends and being tone-deaf or willfully ignorant. And as One of my old grade-school counselors once said: when you know better, do better.
If we look around us we know that there are better ways to employ the resources we have to affect positive social change, deepen discipleship and strengthen community of many kinds. But we adhere to mid-twentieth-century models and understandings of how the world works, then look around, asking ourselves why no one cares anymore.

It’s time for Moneyball church.

If you’re unfamiliar, “Moneyball” is the title of the bestselling book my Michael Lewis (one of my favorite authors) about how Billy Beane, a controversial (some said washed up) manager not only turned around the perennially mediocre Oakland A’s on a m…

Weak, Sick, Poor and Tired: A Story for Losers

Fr. Stephen Freeman 6 Comments

The American Dream is embodied in strength. Gen. George Patton famously said, “America loves to win and cannot abide a loser.” The spirituality of winning is probably the fastest growing and most attractive version of “Christianity” to be found on the American scene. Mega Churches, seating 10’s of thousands have sprung up as temples of success.

Nobody wants to be sick. The dependence it fosters, the way it changes and shapes a life are a form of powerlessness that holds no attraction. Poverty (however it is measured) is a massive struggle against forces that steal human dignity. Most homes in poverty include children and are headed by women. Their daily efforts to pay the rent, work a job (or two or three), tend to childhood needs and face another day are quiet works of heroism that fall beneath the radar of most. They are not only poor, but tired (working jobs and raising children alone is a formula for perpetual exhaustion).

So, who wants to be weak, sic…

Pentecostalism in a Postmodern Culture

Image
by Wes Granberg-Michaelson 05-26-2015 | 9:27am       It's a new form of Christianity,” explained Opoku Onyinah, “now also living in the West.” He’s the president of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, and also heads the Church of Pentecost, begun in Ghana and now in 84 nations. Onyinah was speaking at a workshop on “How Shall We Walk Between Cultures,” and explaining how African Christianity is interacting with postmodern culture. It was part of Empowered21, which gathered thousands of Pentecostals in Jerusalem over Pentecost.
Molodec / Shutterstock.com I’ve found this idea intriguing. Pentecostalism, especially as it is emerging in the non-Western world, is a postmodern faith. Often I’ve said, “An evangelical wants to know what you believe, while a Pentecostal wants to hear your spiritual story.” Perhaps it’s an oversimplification. But Pentecostalism embodies a strong emphasis on narrative and finds reality in spiritual experiences that defy the logic and rationality o…

Political Giantism: The Threat to Democracy?

Image
To the size of states there is a limit as there is to other things, plants, animals, implements; for none of these retain their natural power when they are too large or too small, but they either wholly lose their nature or are spoilt. - Aristotle The great Aristotle is always worthy of our deference and respect. When he speaks we should listen. We should, therefore, consider what he teaches about the proper scale of things, especially with regard to “the size of states.” Is there a politics of scale, much as there is an economics of scale, favouring the competitiveness of large states over small? More to the point, does this politics of scale contribute to the freedom of the citizens of such states or does it militate against political freedom? Is big-is-better where the size of nation-states is concerned or is the small both better and beautiful in politics as in business? In short, what are the political implications associated with scale? Read more at http://www.theim…

We Did It, They Hid It: How Memorial Day Was Stripped Of It’s African American Roots

Subscribe Subscribe
Written by: Ben Becker

What we now know as Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day” in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. It was a tradition initiated by former slaves to celebrate emancipationand commemorate those who died for that cause.

These days, Memorial Day is arranged as a day “without politics”—a general patriotic celebration of all soldiers and veterans, regardless of the nature of the wars in which they participated. This is the opposite of how the day emerged, with explicitly partisan motivations, to celebrate those who fought for justice and liberation.

The concept that the population must “remember the sacrifice” of U.S. service members, without a critical reflection on the wars themselves, did not emerge by accident. It came about in the Jim Crow period as the Northern and Southern ruling classes sought to reunite the country around apolitical mourning, which required erasing the “divisive” issues of slavery and Black citizenship. These iss…

Our Mania for Hope Is a Curse

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/our_mania_for_hope_is_a_curse_20150524/
Posted on May 24, 2015By Chris Hedges


The naive belief that history is linear, that moral progress accompanies technical progress, is a form of collective self-delusion. It cripples our capacity for radical action and lulls us into a false sense of security. Those who cling to the myth of human progress, who believe that the world inevitably moves toward a higher material and moral state, are held captive by power. Only those who accept the very real possibility of dystopia, of the rise of a ruthless corporate totalitarianism, buttressed by the most terrifying security and surveillance apparatus in human history, are likely to carry out the self-sacrifice necessary for revolt. 

The yearning for positivism that pervades our corporate culture ignores human nature and human history. But to challenge it, to state the obvious fact that things are getting worse, and may soon get much worse, is to be tossed out of the …

Why Do We Experience Awe?

Image
MAY 22, 2015 By PAUL PIFF and DACHER KELTNER campaign: nyt2015_sharetools_mkt_opinion_47K78 -- 271975, creative: nyt2014_sharetools_mktg_opinion_47K78 -- 375123, page: www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/opinion/sunday/why-do-we-experience-awe.html, targetedPage: www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/opinion, position: MiddleLeftHERE’S a curious fact about goose bumps. In many nonhuman mammals, goose bumps — that physiological reaction in which the muscles surrounding hair follicles contract — occur when individuals, along with other members of their species, face a threat. We humans, by contrast, can get goose bumps when we experience awe, that often-positive feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world. Why do humans experience awe? Years ago, one of us, Professor Keltner, argued (along with the psychologist Jonathan Haidt) that awe is the ultimate “collective” emotion, for it motivates people to do things that enhance the greater go…

The Red Pill of Pentecost

"You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."
Morpheus to Neo in "The Matrix"
Christian faith takes the red pill down the rabbit hole of the kingdom of God into reality.
Christian religion takes the blue pill of reality avoidance with a veneer of religiosity.
Pentecost is our annual celebration of God's offering this choice to each of us anew: “Red pill or blue pill?”
The red pill is the Holy Spirit.
The blue pill is the nominalism of moralistic conservative and cause-driven liberal “Christianities.”
The red pill is the bread and wine of communion that makes us the bread and wine broken and poured out for the life of the world.
The blue pill is the bread and wine of communion as unintelligible ritual exercised as an individual devotional exercise.
The red pill is a whole different life in Jesus through the Spirit…
Image
Seven Spirits of God: A Pentecost Exhortationby Peter J. Leithart5 . 22 . 15 What do we have when we have the Spirit? We have everything. All the treasures of God, hidden away in the depths of God from before the foundation of the world, become ours through the Spirit of Pentecost. He is the Gift from the Father and the Son, the Gift above all gifts, the Gift containing all gifts. At Pentecost, God gives God: What more could we ask? He’s the sevenfold Spirit who works through the seven days of creation and throughout the week of history. The Spirit hovers over the waters to form the formless emptiness into the ordered beauty of the cosmos. When Israel is a dry and thirsty land with no water, Yahweh pours out his Spirit to make the wilderness a fruitful field and the fruitful field a forest. The Spirit hovers over the womb of Mary and recreates humanity, and the Father breathes the Spirit onto the corpse of Jesus to raise him to resurrected life. http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusi…

Why We Should Stop Talking About the Founding Fathers

Image
Posted on May 20, 2015 by

The following guest post is by David Sehat, associate professor of history at Georgia State University and author most recently of The Jefferson Rule: How the Founding Fathers Became Infallible and Our Politics Inflexible.

On the night of his 2012 presidential victory, Barack Obama stood in front of a large crowd at McCormick Place to rejoice in the prospect of four more years. The speech was in many ways unremarkable. He thanked his wife, his daughters, his campaign, the American people. He pledged to finish what he started four years before. And in looking forward to four more years, he simultaneously looked backward. Way back. “I believe we can keep the promise of our founders,” he told his audience, “the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, or what you look like.”

That Obama referenced the Founders was not unexpected. It’s what politicians do. I only remember this instance because I…

The Cruciform Human

Image
Fr. Stephen Freeman1 Comment In my March lecture in San Francisco, I made an assertion that is worth isolating for an article. That assertion is that we are created in the image of the Crucified Christ, and that this is essential in understanding what it means to be human. I have been asked where I got such an idea. The most simple answer is: the Scriptures. Arguably, the first reference to the Crucified Christ occurs in Rev. 13:5. All who dwell on the earth will worship [the Beast], whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8) The Lamb, slain from the foundation of the cosmos (τοῦ ἐσφαγμένου ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου), is St. John’s reference to the pre-existent Christ. This is easily familiar from his description in the gospel: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (Jo…

It is a Puzzle … Ḥērem Never Practiced?

Image
May 21, 2015 @ 5:56 by 5 Comments Chapter 2 of Walter Moberly’s book Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture concludes with a section asking the question “What kind of law is the law of ḥērem?” The question arises for a variety of reasons. Many people read the passages in Deuteronomy and Joshua and wonder about the kind of God who would condemn children to death without mercy. It just doesn’t seem right. Scholars see another problem as well. Quite simply, there is no evidence that ḥērem was ever practiced in any significant manner.  As Moberly puts it: The puzzle relates to the scholarly consensus that, despite the specific way in which Deuteronomy 7:1-5 and 20:16-18 promote the practice of ḥērem, they in fact promote something that was not actually realized within Israel’s history. (p. 64) The Canaanites were neither expelled nor exterminated. Ḥērem warfare was never carried out except possibly in limited military battles. Outsiders play important r…

Why is Jesus Human?

May 19, 2015J. R. Daniel Kirk

For the past six and a half years I have been working on a book whose end is now in sight. I’m calling it A Man Attested by God: the Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels.

The question that has pushed me to endure through all of the trials and tribulations of the writing has been this:

What does it matter that Jesus was fully human?
Through no fault of the churches I grew up in, I think that I had a fairly flat understanding of the identity of Jesus and what it meant:

Jesus is God. Therefore, all of the awesome stuff Jesus does he does (a) because he is God and (b) for the express purpose of demonstrating his deity. Jesus is human. This is because (a) we suck, so (b) Jesus has to be able to die for us.

The only value to be found in his humanity was his death. Or, if we wanted to expand it a little bit, as in Hebrews, we might say that he occupied the same sucky existence we have (temptations to sin and the like) but managed to get to the cross unscathed.

So…

The Difficult Task of True Theology

Image
Fr. Stephen Freeman2 Comments
Nothing is as difficult as true theology. Simply saying something correct is beside the point. Correctness does not rise to the level of theology. Theology, rightly done, is a path towards union with God. It is absolutely more than an academic exercise. Theology is not the recitation of correct facts, it is the apprehension and statement of Beauty. It is this aspect of liturgical life that makes it truly theological. It is also the failure of most contemporary Christian worship efforts. Gimmicks, emotional manipulation and a musical culture that barely rises above kitsch reveal nothing of God – and embarrassingly much about us. This is equally a failure of theological argumentation in most quarters. Authoritative sources, managed like so-many hands of trump cards, are deftly played in order to dominate and destroy. But words have a divine origin, having preceded all of creation. They have a right relationship with every created thing. Just as in the beginni…

Claims on Bonhoeffer

The misuse of a theologianMay 13, 2015 by Karen V. Guth
In a 2002 speech in Berlin thanking Germany for its support of the war on terrorism, President George W. Bush invoked none other than the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He compared the fight against terrorism to Bonhoeffer’s “stand against Nazi rule,” thereby aligning his stance with that of one of Christianity’s most beloved modern martyrs.

Bush was hardly the first and certainly not the last to claim Bonhoeffer for his cause. In July 1993, pro-life advocate and abortion clinic bomber Paul Hill cited Bonhoeffer’s involvement in “plotting the death of Hitler” to justify Hill’s actions. For Hill, murdering abortion providers was the only way to stop what he regarded as America’s own holocaust of innocent life.

In 2005, Christian televangelist Pat Robertson invoked Bonhoeffer, “who lived under the hellish conditions of Nazi Germany,” in calling for the United States to ass…

A Christian Gives Thanks That America Is Not A Christian Nation

Image
Posted: 11/24/2011 12:31 pm EST Updated: 01/24/2012 5:12 am EST
alamy We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
--The Declaration of Independence
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
--First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

These foundation stones of American democracy were laid a century too late to save Mary Dyer's life. Dyer, a middle-aged mother of six, was hanged in 1660 for defying a Puritan law that banned Quakers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Christians who cruelly deprived this woman of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness were dead certain (so to speak) that they were on a mission from God, protecting their "divinely ordained" civic order against Mary Dyer's sediti…

Mad Max’s apocalyptic world tells us where we think we’ll find salvation

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Google PlusShare via EmailMore OptionsShare on Pinterest By Alissa WilkinsonMay 15 at 10:01 AM
Theatergoers will flock this weekend to an imagined story set in a steampunky dystopian hellscape.
Or will they just be looking in a mirror?

We’re all about the apocalypse and its aftermath these days, from “The Walking Dead” to “The Last Man on Earth.” So it’s not surprising that the 1980s dystopian “Mad Max” franchise has been revived, this time with actor Tom Hardy swapped in for Mel Gibson as the wandering eponymous hero. “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which releases this weekend, is the rare blockbuster that will likely please critics and action-loving audiences alike.

It is a little surprising that we spend so much time and money on watching stories about all the horrible ways our civilization will end. But the preoccupation is not new. Since humans started telling stories, we’ve been imagining the end: how it will come, who will survive and what will h…

Jesus, Drawing Muhammad, and the Idolatry of Free Speech

by Adam Ericksen 05-12-2015 | 9:50am
Pamela Geller had every “right” to host a conference in Texas that mocked Muhammad with a “Draw Muhammad” contest. The United States gives her that freedom – the freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to defiantly ridicule whomever she wants. Geller is apparently not a Christian, but many Christians have come to her defense of the conference.

Let me be clear: There is no Christian defense of a conference that mocks Islam, Muhammad, or Muslims.

Please, tell me, when did Jesus ever endorse ridiculing others? Let me answer that for you: never.
In fact, Jesus says the exact opposite. When he was asked which commandment was the greatest, he responded,
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. As if there were any doubt, Jesus extended the …

What does the resurrection say about the body…?

The body matters. That God raised Jesus bodily from the dead says something powerful about the body. Jesus did not consist simply of spirit. What was important about Jesus was not simply spirit. Jesus was body, mind, and spirit. It all mattered, but without the body perhaps there was nothing worth keeping? Why else would God raise Jesus bodily from the dead?

The brothers in 2 Maccabees 7 who courageously faced execution at the cruel hands of Antiochus confidently asserted that the God whom they trusted would restore physicality to them post-post-mortem.

2Mac. 7:10   After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands, 11 and said nobly, “I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again.”

The physical body, our bodies, my body; these are integral to resurrection. Without the physicality of our bodies resurrection is nothing of the sort. …

Who Has the True “Limited” Atonement?

Talk about “limited” atonement (LA) seems to have resurfaced in certain reformed circles these days. Did Christ die for everyone? Or just for the elect (those God chose from eternity to be saved)? Let's call this LA1. That's an important issue to be sure (and I'm on the Christ died for everyone side) but there's another form of LA that is less apparent and less talked about yet at least as important as the version I mentioned above. Let's call this LA2. Actually, I think it is more important because it answers LA1 for us.

What is this other version of LA, LA2? A question will help us get at it. Would Christ have come incarnate among us if humanity had never sinned? In other words, was there another purpose to his incarnation than dying for our sins (let's call this reclamation)? A purpose God had in mind apart from reclaiming us sinners (or at some of us depending on how we answer LA1) from perdition and hell? In yet other words, is Jesus' incarnation dep…

Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.

The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon istock/photo illustration by lesley becker/globe staff
By Jordan Michael SmithOctober 19, 2014

The voters who put Barack Obama in office expected some big changes. From the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, candidate Obama was a defender of civil liberties and privacy, promising a dramatically different approach from his predecessor. But six years into his administration, the Obama version of national security looks almost indistinguishable from the one he inherited. Guantanamo Bay remains open. The NSA has, if anything, become more aggressive in monitoring Americans. Drone strikes have escalated. Most recently it was reported that the same president who won a Nobel Prize in part for promoting nuclear disarmament is spending up to $1 trillion modernizing and revitalizing America’s nuclear weapons. Why did the face in the Oval Office change but the polic…

Authority and Alasdair MacIntyre: What Learning to Fly Airplanes without Engines Reminds Me about the Moral Life

May 12, 2015
by Lee C. Camp, host of Tokens

I am learning to fly sail-planes. It is a fine hobby for someone who enjoys an adrenaline rush. I feel like a little kid, a 48 year old kid, when I am coming in on final approach, and know that there is no throttle which can be advanced, no engine upon which I might rely.  There is just gravity, and a glide path, and the energy stored up in height and velocity, the graceful lines of the sail-plane gliding toward the almost mile long grass strip at Puckett Field, Eagleville, Tennessee.

Sitting in the cockpit before our second or third tow one day, my instructor asked me to run through the check-list. He is a very fine instructor, and I come away every time having learned something. I was particularly pleased in the immediate flight prior to have learned how to do wing-overs, a marvelously graceful move in a sailplane, that makes a novice like myself feel all the sudden like I’m flying a fighter jet.

So I dutifully and quickly ran through the …

Does the Doctrine of the Trinity Matter?

11 May 2015 Posted By: Greg Boyd

Jesus reveals the greatest, most beautiful, and mysterious aspect of God when he, despite being himself God Incarnate, relates to God as his “Father” and refers to God as “the Holy Spirit.” There is, of course, only one God (1 Cor 8:6). Yet Jesus reveals that God somehow exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We find God’s threefold personality revealed throughout the New Testament (e.g. 2 Cor 13:14, Matt 28:19, 1 Cor 12:4-6). It’s not just that God plays three “roles,” as some have taught. Rather, the New Testament reveals that God eternally exists as three distinct divine Persons. God is, in some sense, a loving divine community.

Throughout church history the threefold nature of God has been referred to as “the Trinity.” The word “Trinity” isn’t used in Scripture, but it’s a convenient way to summarize that New Testament’s teaching that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

As with the Incarnation, it’s impossible for us to understand…

Christ’s Death and the Fate of Western Lowland Gorillas

Image
Essay / Art byAdam JohnsononMay 11, 2015Paul Fryer’s striking art installation is a beautiful and realistic work… of a crucified gorilla. At first one might think his “Privilege of Dominion” is little more than a parody of the Christian faith, a repetition of ancient graffiti portraying Christ crucified with the head of a donkey. And in fact there has been some debate over whether Christians should take offense at this, with varying levels of insight into how non-Christians can and should interact with Christian beliefs and symbolism.

I, for one, am not at all inclined to take offense. Rather, I am enthralled with this image, having taken the artist at his word. As far as I understand, Paul Fryer sought to “highlight the plight of the Western Lowland Gorillas, and to challenge the Christian notion that animals do not have souls.” And of course those are great things to highlight and challenge. At the moment, however, I would like to point out a further dimension of Frye…

7 fallacies about hell

Mon, 11/05/2015 - 15:45
Hell

Like a lot of people who promote the doctrine of hell as a place of eternal suffering, J.D. Greear insists, in a recent post on the Gospel Coalition site, that he would happily erase the belief from Christian teaching if he could, but he can’t because it’s in the Bible, so we have to live with it. Moreover, in his view, we can’t fully understand God and his world unless we come to terms with the doctrine. To that end he sets out “seven truths” that he thinks should frame our discussion of the topic.

The problem is that the fact of hell is merely taken for granted—we are asked to take C.S. Lewis’ word for it. You would have thought that a set of seven framing truths would have a demonstrable biblical or theological relationship to the doctrine that supposedly sits in the middle of them. But they don’t. They are arbitrary and incoherent; they don’t appear to frame anything in particular; and where scripture does come into the picture, it is speaking about some…

Homosexuality and Romans 1

May 11, 2015May 11, 2015J. R. Daniel Kirk

Over the past few weeks I have been taking occasional soundings into questions surrounding homosexuality in the ancient world.

Just to clarify what has not been clear to some: it is obvious to me that Paul did not approve of (some sort of) same-sex coupling. The question I have been probing is what did he not approve of, and why?

I regularly hear that the things Paul stood against were pederasty and temple prostitution. In a couple of previous posts (here and here) I questioned whether these forms of same-sex relations existed, and/or might have otherwise been the object of Paul’s scorn.

Last week I took up a third possible target for Paul’s same-sex polemic: slave sex. This was a ubiquitous reality in Rome. And, it was built on a system of social hierarchy that was deeply embedded in not only “pagan” Greco-Roman culture, but also early Judaism and nascent Christianity.

Jewish and Hellenistic

A couple of people have pushed back against the idea that…

Oprah Winfrey: one of the world's best neoliberal capitalist thinkers

Oprah is appealing because her stories hide the role of political, economic and social structures in our lives. They make the American dream seem attainable

Nicole Aschoff

Saturday 9 May 2015 08.30 EDT Last modified on Saturday 9 May 2015 16.50 EDT

In Oprah Winfrey lore, one particular story is repeated over and over. When Oprah was 17, she won the Miss Fire Prevention Contest in Nashville, Tennessee. Until that year every winner had had a mane of red hair, but Oprah would prove to be a game changer.

The contest was the first of many successes for Oprah. She has won numerous Emmys, has been nominated for an Oscar, and appears on lists like Time’s 100 Most Influential People. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She founded the Oprah Book Club, which is often credited with reviving Americans’ interest in reading. Her generosity and philanthropic spirit are legendary.

Oprah has legions of obsessive, devoted fans who write her letters and follow her into publ…