The Religion Of 'O'

If, like me, you've filled up your sabbatical time this year logging countless hours of watching The Oprah Winfrey Show's Season 25: The Farewell Season, as well as its behind-the-scenes sister show on OWN, the Queen of All Media's brand new cable network, then you'll probably find it hard to select just one favorite moment from a season so awash with the spectacular celebration, tender adoration, (self-) righteous vindication, and tearful adulation of the most successful woman ever to work in the television industry. How to choose between the mega-"my favorite things" two-day gift giving extravaganza (an event that our lady of sumptuous philanthropy likened to the beauty of good things happening to good people) and the "come-to-Jesus" estranged friends truth-and-reconciliation episodes featuring Whoopi Goldberg and former self-help protégé Iyanla Vanzant?

But the scene that stands out in my memory, and the scene that crystallizes the arguments of Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon, Kathryn Lofton's arresting new study of "the good news" delivered and commodified by the "symbolic figure" that is Winfrey, is one in which the talk show host looked out tearfully across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia and registered her awe at seeing a garnet red "O" emblazoned in lights at the center of that country's national landmark.