A misspelling of her name led to the name that has made her famous.
Nelson suggests that Oprah's influence is based in her gift for listening and her knowledge that self-disclosure and personal testimony offer a means of liberation.
Of course, this dependence upon disclosure and confession also makes for good ratings--and Oprah understands what interests a television audience.
Oprah's television audience of ten million (according to Nielsen ratings) and her magazine readership of 2.7 million together represent a massive media phenomenon.
As Nelson explains, "Oprah's whole enterprise, which includes many media that provide platforms for her gospel as well as sources of income, is vast." Nelson's book epresents an effort to understand Oprah Winfrey as an exemplar and prophetess of a new form of American religion.
She recently celebrated the twentieth anniversary of "The Oprah Show," and is committed to a contract that will take the show through its twenty-fifth season. Nelson sees Oprah as a major American religious leader.