Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

Happy New Year! Here’s  today’s dispatches from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Oprah’s OWN network struggles. From The Huffington Post: The cable channel, which marks its first year Jan. 1, is trying for a fresh start after executive turnover and missteps that proved OWN lacked a solid foundation on which to build, this despite a Discovery Communications investment of a reported $250 million and counting. Viewers snubbed the lineup that skimped on programming and, surprisingly, what should have been OWN’s unique weapon of choice: Winfrey herself, whose limited on-air presence will be boosted Sunday with a new weekly series, “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” OWN has failed to improve on, or in some instances even match, the modest ratings and small audience earned by the low-profile Discovery Health channel it replaced.

Comment: I’m definitely rooting for OWN to work. I don’t always agree with Oprah Winfrey’s political opinions but I do believe that she does, in truth, bring a genuine commitment to positive programming that actually lifts people up.  That’s all too rare in an entertainment industry that too often seems awash in anything-for-a-buck exploitation and in the promotion of anger.  While some daytime talks elevated discord, Oprah (to great success) promoted ideas like forgiveness, compassion and gratitude. So, I’m also glad to see that she’s taking a more hands-on attitude as the the network bearing her name enters its second year.

I, personally, have some ideas on how she could turn things around, the first being to focus like a laser on her positive brand which she defined quite well on the closing edition of her long-running syndicated talk show.  These quotes from that final telecast speak eloquently of that brand, a brand that can be successfully carried forth in the years ahead at OWN.

1. “Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it…You have to make a living; I understand that. But you also have to know what sparks the light in you so that you, in your own way, can illuminate the world.”

2. Each one of you has your own platform…Maybe it’s 20 people, maybe it’s 30 people, 40 people, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your classmates, your classroom, your co-workers. Wherever you are, that is your platform, your stage, your circle of influence. That is your talk show, and that is where your power lies. In every way, in every day, you are showing people exactly who you are. You’re letting your life speak for you. And when you do that, you will receive in direct proportion to how you give in whatever platform you have…Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world.””

3. “Nobody but you is responsible for your life. It doesn’t matter what your mama did; it doesn’t matter what your daddy didn’t do. You are responsible for your life. … You are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself, and you’re responsible for the energy that you bring to others.

4. “I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire. They want to know: ‘Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?…Try it with your children, your husband, your wife, your boss, your friends. Validate them. ‘I see you. I hear you. And what you say matters to me.’”‘

5. “People often ask me, What is the secret of success of the show? How have we lasted 25 years? I nonjokingly say, ‘My team and Jesus.’ Because nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me. … I know I’ve never been alone, and you haven’t either. And I know that that presence, that flow—some people call it grace—is working in my life at every single turn. And yours too, if you let it in. It’s closer than your breath, and it is yours for the asking.”

6. “I have felt the presence of God my whole life. Even when I didn’t have a name for it, I could feel the voice bigger than myself speaking to me, and all of us have that same voice. Be still and know it. You can acknowledge it or not. You can worship it or not. You can praise it, you can ignore it or you can know it. Know it. It’s always there speaking to you and waiting for you to hear it in every move, in every decision. I wait and I listen. I’m still—I wait and listen for the guidance that’s greater than my meager mind.”

7. “God is love and God is life, and your life is always speaking to you. First in whispers.”

8. “Whispers are always messages, and if you don’t hear the message, the message turns into a problem. And if you don’t handle the problem, the problem turns into a crisis. And if you don’t handle the crisis, disaster. Your life is speaking to you. What is it saying?”

9. “Connect. Embrace. Liberate. Love somebody. Just one person. And then spread that to two. And as many as you can. You’ll see the difference it makes.

10. “Gratitude is the single greatest treasure I will take with me from this experience…To God be the glory.”

A TV network that promotes positive faith, gratitude above anger and hope over pessimism may be just what audiences are seeking, especially in difficult times. Everything on OWN should in one way or another promote the ideas she expressed so beautifully during her final broadcast show. I’ll have some more specific thoughts on how that can be accomplished tomorrow.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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