Today’s Secular Priests
"... Whether on TV or radio, the talk show host has emerged as a modern-day priest. They are confessors to whom guests share their sins of adultery, drug abuse, compulsive eating and ‘mommy rage’. They are counsellors dolling out advice on phobias, depression, child-rearing and ‘love matches’. They are preachers delivering homilies on taxes, welfare cuts, injustice and ‘moral decline’. One sociologist has described such TV hosts as ‘revivalists’ who put sinners on stage, call them to repent, and offer conversion through the ‘religion’ of therapy. Christina’s father might well agree.
Some hosts recognise and cultivate this semi-religious status. ‘I’m very clear about what my role and purpose is,’ says the Queen of talk show hosts, Oprah Winfrey. ‘I am the messenger to deliver the message of redemption, of hope, of forgiveness, of gratitude, of evolving people to the best of themselves.’ Often described as the high priestess of religion-less spirituality, Oprah has been lauded as an oracle, a prophet, a spiritual leader and even a religion herself. On The Oprah Show she often resembled a preacher on a mission, spreading a ‘be all you can be’ gospel to an audience hungry for transformation. With god-like power she created other talk show hosts in her image. In saint-like fashion she blessed the work of many New Age authors. Oprah’s farewell show was described as a ‘sermon’. To her devout audience Oprah’s thoughts on life, love and fulfilment are tantamount to revelation. Oprah has been, and remains, a spiritual guide to millions.
We seek out other priestly voices too. Artists have long been hailed as spiritual guides. Poets like John Milton and William Blake, singers like Bob Dillan and Leonard Cohen, the cartoonist Michael Leunig and the graffiti artist Banksy have all been described as modern-day prophets.
And if the artist and talk show host can claim the mantle of secular priest, so must the writer—especially the memoirist, and especially the memoirist who documents their spiritual life…
Q: Who do you think are today’s secular ‘priests’? Who else do we look to to find guidance and wisdom for our lives?"
For the full version of this blog from Sheridan Voysey go to http://sheridanvoysey.com/who-are-todays-secular-priests/