Monday, February 06, 2006

Oprah preaches a sermon (by Dallas Jenkins)

This was in my e-mail as sent by RELEVANT Magazine

I thought it very interesting....

I’m not a huge Oprah Winfrey fan. I think she’s a genuine and sincere person who has done some wonderful things for many disadvantaged people, and her success is remarkable and to be admired. But in general, I don’t find her all that exciting or compelling, and I don’t think she says or preaches anything radical. There’s not anything necessarily wrong with that; it just doesn’t draw my attention five hours a week.
But last week, she did a show that was radical and incredibly compelling, and she said things that you’d normally expect from a C.S. Lewis or Os Guinness-type. Of course, what she said was quite a damaging blow to her own worldview, but hey, it’s progress.
As you may know, there’s a book titled A Million Little Pieces, a memoir about the recovery from drug addiction by James Frey. It became a publishing phenomenon, especially after Oprah added it to her book club. Millions of people testified that they were inspired or changed by his raw, unflinching look at the horrors of drug addiction. Several stories were so graphic and shocking that some readers had to turn away from the page, but the stories still moved them, especially considering that he survived them and recovered.
Problem is, many of the stories were embellished or never happened. I won’t get into all of them here, but the point is that the guy lied in the book, lied about his past in subsequent interviews and lied on Oprah’s show. After this was uncovered, he went on Larry King to discuss it, and Oprah chimed in with her two cents. She said that because so many people were affected by the book and because the core themes were relevant, she didn’t feel the book should be invalidated.Fast-forward to her remarkable show last week. She got on the air and apologized, offering no excuses or conditions. Pretty rare. She said that her comments on Larry King implied that “the truth doesn’t matter.” She added, “But the truth does matter, and I’m sorry for suggesting otherwise.” She had Frey on the show, and she laid into him, rebuking his lies and expressing her humiliation and anger. “I’ve been duped,” she said, on the verge of tears.As a Christian, I was thrilled to hear her say this. I’ve always been confused by which situations the pop culture elite deems as “fact-important.” Bill Clinton’s lies about sex with an intern? Not really important. Mel Gibson’s supposed historical inaccuracies in The Passion? Dangerous. Scorsese’s inaccuracies in The Last Temptation of Christ? Artistic expression. James Frey’s lies to Oprah Winfrey? Embarrassing.But most importantly, the key issue where truth doesn’t seem to be vital is religion. “What’s true for you may not be true for me, and that’s OK” is a popular phrase. Many are hesitant to define Islamic culture as "wrong" because it they're simply coming from a different perspective. I’ve even heard non-Christians say that it’s not important that the Bible is inaccurate as long as it’s helped people. Jesus said He was the only way to heaven, which many, of course, believe is a lie, yet He was a “good man.” I remember during the Ellen DeGeneres furor, Oprah responded to a girl’s charges that homosexual behavior is sin by saying, “But that’s just your perspective.”But now, when faced with the embarrassment of being “duped” on national television, Oprah declares that the truth “does matter.” Even though millions of people were helped by Frey’s book, it was under false pretenses, and that suddenly made a difference. Nationally respected commentators and journalists were brought on the show to examine how tragic this was, and what steps must be taken to ensure “that something like this never happens again.”A question I would have asked Oprah is, “Why?” Why does the truth matter so much if a lie was helpful? What if Frey had never been exposed as a liar? Oprah not would have felt duped or embarrassed, and millions of people would have continued to be inspired by his book. And the pretty standard belief that “absolute truth isn’t relevant” would continue to thrive.Well, as Frey amazingly says in his own book on two occasions, “The truth is all that matters.” The Jim Garrison character in Oliver Stone’s collection of fabrications, JFK, said the same thing. Because man is so capable of inconsistency, failure and evil, we don’t want a world where a man or woman decides which truth is important and which lie is helpful. As Oprah said, we’d prefer to decide for ourselves whether we can handle the truth or not; we don’t need someone else “duping” us because they think we’ll be better off.The website that uncovered Frey’s lies,, did it in a couple of days and with little effort. The Bible has been scrutinized for thousands of years, and a charge of factual inaccuracy has yet to be proven. It’s a pretty good feeling not only to believe that “truth does matter,” but that in having my life changed by a book I base all my beliefs on, I haven’t been duped.

Dallas Jenkins is the president of Jenkins Entertainment.
He is also a director and producer of several features and short films.

Check out his website at


Debbie said...

Truth and lies have always been an interesting topic for me.
What are your feelings on Necessary deciet? Does it exist?
Is it justified?

For example didn't Rahab lie to protect.

iggy said...

Great question
how do I answer this...

part of me wants to say... I don't know. Which is most likely the truth of the matter.

I do see it though as in the case of Rahab, it was not that Rahab lied out of deceite, but rather fear. I see that see had heard about the God of these spies and was terrified they had come to her. When the choice was to turn them over, or possibly be destroyed by the "spies" God... she chose to lie.

Rahab was spared because the spies made a vow not to destroy her if she did not tell of their plan.

Rahab trusted and put her faith in the spies... a sort of proxy of putting her faith in the God of the spies...

That was her act of faith.

As far as lying...such as in the case of the people who hid the Jews from the Nazis. Again, mostly out of respect for God, or at least what is truly good is why these people "lied" to the Nazis. It was appealing to something higher.

I do have a post on my blog about this as it pertains to lying.

I may not fully agree with what I wrote back then, but it is a thought....

We want to see things in black and white. But I think God judges things in high spectrum color.What is only grey to us, may in fact be different shades of goodness or evil we cannot even fathom. I think at times it is presumptious of us to judge another at time, if we do not take into account grace. I think Grace is sort of like that color spectrum... like the rainbow.

Truthfully the only "goodness" i beleive we can do, is the goodness that Christ does in and through us. All else will burn.All that remains is Christ.

I am not saying we can go around an lie and expect it to be good. Yet, I do see that at times some have gone to do good by not lying and have done evil. Think about Nazi Germany... it was "good" to turn in the Jews... especially if you were in the State Church. Yet, the evil that came was the death of millions of jews.

The only source of Truth is Jesus Himself. For He is Grace and Truth. If we abide in Him, then what we do, will be done in Truth.

I hope that made some sense.


leviathen said...

its funny that we spend so much time figuring out rights and wrongs. when really it all comes to fruittion at some point... right? It's so much bigger than that.

i think that's what Jesus' whole point was. we spend so much time trying to figure out if what we are doing is right or wrong that we forget about moving forward toward christ. sitting at his feet like mary. we get so worked up over "sins" that our faith muddles its way down into religion. and then......then it is dead.

that is the real sin.


iggy said...

I guess to me, truth detatched from Jesus is often delusion. To be seperated from the Head the body is in a state of death... blindness due to the darkeness.

I find that even most Christians do not get this... they think that they can tell right from wrong... but all we are told is to seek what is good.

I really just liked who Dallas just said some things that most people are afriad to even admit they thought.