you can make it on Oprah.
After the initial battle over Love Wins died down, Bell seemed to disappear from the public eye. He left his Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids and headed out to California to work on TV projects.
The Rob Bell Show will premiere Dec. 21 on the Oprah Winfrey Network, a one-hour show that features Bell and is co-produced by him. He also recently toured the country with Winfrey on a Life You Want Weekend.
In many ways, some elements of typical evangelicalism are a good fit for Oprah’s lineup of public confession and personal transformation, said Kathryn Lofton, author of Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon. The difference, however, is that The Church of Oprah incorporates as many religious concepts as possible, while evangelicalism commits to exclusivity.
“I think an interesting way to think about Bell and Oprah here is to observe how easily she incorporates him into her pantheon of spiritual advisers. She remains, as ever, the determining corporate deity,” said Lofton, a professor of religious studies at Yale.
“One way of looking at this is less a merger of two equal powers than it is the acquisition by one large corporation of another small business.”
To be sure, Bell still holds his evangelical credentials, with degrees from Wheaton College and Fuller Theological Seminary. And like other leading evangelicals, he’s trying to stake out some ground on marriage.
Did I miss something? When did Oprah become hip?