David Burchett Christian Blog and Commentary

Note to Self...Don't Tick off Oprah

I would not be surprised to turn on the Simpsons TV show this week and see Bart writing on the blackboard…

I will not lie to Oprah
I will not lie to Oprah
I will not lie to Oprah
I will not lie to Oprah
I will not lie to Oprah
I will not lie to Oprah
I will not lie to Oprah
I will not lie to Oprah


Was I the only guy sweating as I watched discredited author James Frey (A Million Little Pieces) get taken to the woodshed by the Queen of Daytime? Comedians call some laughter the "laugh of recognition." I would call my response last week as the “squirm of recognition." Any guy who has ever been caught in a lie knows the helpless feeling that Frey experienced. We understood that deer in the headlight stare, the stammering, and the defeated body language. The only thing I could not relate to was having to experience this on national television with a studio audience cheering for my demise.

I was very surprised that Oprah's initial reaction to the controversy was benign. She called the early stories "much ado about nothing" and had actually called Frey during the Larry King Show to voice her support. I had written about the author’s difficulties in a post on January 13th. At that point I wrote, “the problem with the revelations about some of  Frey’s book is the pall that it casts over all of it. An unknown writer said to "beware of the half truth.  You may have gotten hold of the wrong half." Unfortunately Mr.Frey has called all of his recollections into question because he misrepresented some of them. Some of his descriptions are indeed powerful. But did they really happen as he describes?

I was originally planning to do a followup post today about this story. I was going to write about the ho-hum response to the revelations and how accepting lies and calling them embellishments was a dangerous sign of our societal ills. Oprah changed my storyline when she got a good dose of that old time religion and Frey felt the fire and brimstone of the wrath of Oprah.

"I feel duped," she said Thursday on her syndicated talk show. "But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers."

James Frey did betray his readers and Oprah's trust. But more importantly he betrayed himself. I wrote in the previous post about Steven Soderbergh. He had chillingly noted that "Lying is like alcoholism. You are always recovering."

But then I confessed that I am in the same boat as a follower of Christ. I am always recovering from the natural instincts (aka sin) that separate me from a Holy God. I must address those issues moment by moment. Frey’s bravado led him to write in his book that "I have been to AA meetings. ... The meetings themselves made me sick. Too much whining, too much complaining, too much blaming. Too much [expletive] about Higher Powers." Yesterday James Frey looked like a man who could have used a hug and a reminder that Jesus loves him even though the audience might not. Newsweek noted that Frey "ultimately cured himself without any sissy 12-step program." His prescription for recovery was to rely on self. The limit to self-help is that you are relying on the same self that got you in this mess. 

I need a little more help to deal with my issues than just self reliance and determination. I need a daily relationship with Jesus to keep my ongoing construction project on track. I admit it. I cannot do it on my own. James Frey cannot either and I pray that last week's demolition will not destroy him but will help him see his need for a Savior. King David was man who had to squirm uncomfortably in front of the Lord God after his sad detour with Bathsheba. But David was also described as a man after God’s own heart. He wrote these words in Psalm 51.

Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives
and do what is right,
speaking the truth from sincere hearts.

Those who refuse to slander others
or harm their neighbors
or speak evil of their friends.

Those who despise persistent sinners,
and honor the faithful followers of the LORD
and keep their promises even when it hurts…
Such people will stand firm forever.

Would you pray that James Frey will understand that truth? I kind of feel sorry for him today. Because as I was busy squirming watching his humiliation I realized that it is only the grace of God that keeps me out of that uncomfortable place. It is only the grace of God that forgives and restores me when I do stumble. Paul wrote that all of us have the ability to fall flat and the responsibility to help those that do.

If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.  (Gal 6, The Message)

So pray for James Frey.

And don’t ever lie to Oprah!

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