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Forget About Oprah: This is the Year of Rick Warren!

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It has only been four short weeks since I predicted that theologian, Rick Warren, was going to be a hot commodity in 2009. Sure enough, last week the Wall Street Journal (which somehow has become a major source of my entertainment and celebrity news) reported that Rick is launching a quarterly magazine called (drum roll, please), what else, but Purpose Driven Connection.

The folks at Readers Digest have teamed up with the Warren Purpose machine with high hopes of reaching publishing nirvana by literally connecting millions of readers around a common interest, that of being purpose-driven Christians. The idea is to bundle the magazine together with an online social-media web site and multimedia resources to leverage a captive audience of evangelical Christians.

According to the WSJ, “The idea is to envelop subscribers in a multimedia web of Mr. Warren’s message.” Very sticky, indeed.

This is all just fine with me because I am so tired of Oprah’s omnipresence, and it’s high time someone else steps in to dethrone her. She has somehow saturated her watered-down brand of self-help spirituality through every possible media outlet imaginable. I wouldn’t be surprised to find her in my underwear tomorrow morning. Now I hear there’s an Oprah store? Well that just about did it for me. Enough already with Oprah. Come on people, let’s make room for Rick!

“But kind sir,” you say, “Isn’t this a bad time to be launching a major media publication, what with the global economic sinkhole in my back yard and all?” Au contraire, mon ami! These, in fact, may be terrific times to launch something like this.

Think about it. People can no longer tap into their home equity lines to find meaning and purpose, and the troubles of the world are causing more anxiety and depression than we’ve seen in 50 years. Americans are probably more in the mood for spiritual substance than ever before (another one of my 2009 predictions), especially if the offer of online community comes with it. Plus, the publishers say they don’t have to rely on advertising to make it successful at thirty bucks a pop for a one-year subscription. Get it?

The premier issue presents Rick Warren on the cover sporting a casual smile. He is happy, but not too happy. We are in a severe recession, after all. The feature story promises an interview with President Obama. Like this type of thing happens every day here at Purpose Driven Connection. No big deal. See? Freakin’ Obama has even bought into this thing!

The magazine cover also promises articles rounded up from the usual suspects of Christian gumbo fare: Lee Strobel, Bill Hybels, Max Lucado. Which reminds me; the Christian publishing industry sure could use some new blood, but that’s another conversation for another day.

One more thing – just between you, me, and this post. I think this high visibility publication might be an ideal opportunity for Rick to undo the one-size-fits-all perception of Christians. You know what I’m talking about; that we are all politically identical right wing, rigid, hateful, homophobic, elitist, stone throwing warmongers.

Perhaps this is a chance for him to use his public persona and media influence through this publication to recast the world’s impression of Christianity as a more diverse group of caring and loving people. More like Jesus was, I guess. Maybe that thought is a bit too edgy and post-modern-emergent for some of you, but I’m just wondering out loud.

So there you have it. The Rick Warren train has left the station. Keep an eye out for the Rick Warren TV show next. And don’t say you didn’t see it coming.

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About Bradley J. Moore