Sally Quinn, Meet Fr. Brown

News from Dept. of What?!? All the election stuff distracted me from telling you that at Eldest Weed's most recent orthodontist appointment I picked up the latest edition of "O" magazine (that's Oprah's paean to herself, for international readers).

Oprah started as a lowest-common-denominator daytime talk show smut peddler. Then she had something of a spiritual awakening and decided she was going to be a force for good (which I sense she actually was for awhile, although since I have never watched daytime television, I don't know) by banning smut and focusing on positive news and encouraging good deeds. Her latest incarnation, however (and I chose my term carefully) is as new-age spirituality guru and she has gone off in a weird direction.

Permit me a digression for a moment on how puzzled I am by the day-time tv phenomenon. Who is avaialable to watch such programming? Oprah is a show I have seen only during pregnancy when intense sickness has had me up at 4:00 am and needing fluff to distract me from nausea. It's by definition fluff: why is she taken seriously? (I am similarly amazed when blogs and radio obsess over whatever silliness has lately been uttered on The View. Who cares?)

Regarding the authors and self-help mavens she plucks from obscurity: we have a close family friend who was the secretary for one such Oprah "discoveries." This particular person advocated soul health through pared-down lifestyle --with accompanying journals and merchandise. I won't "out" the person as his or her particular schtick isn't harmful, but it is schtick. Even the author's name is a pseudonym; the person's "personal story" is contrived and the lifestyle being lived on receipts from Oprah's audience is anything but pared down. An entire movement --and product line-- created from whole cloth by a talented marketer. To what degree Oprah is in on this and to what degree she buys it I've no idea, but I'm always a bit astonished that people allow their lives to be changed by an interview on television.

Anyway, here's the column I read from Sally Quinn, wife of Ben Bradlee and Washington hostess, who has been having a spiritual awakening of sorts of her own. From doctrinaire atheism she's become much more open to "spiritual things." Here she's promoting the labyrinth mostly. Far be it from me to question anyone's path towards God, but read the incident at the top of page two. Did she just say --in utter seriousness-- that her dead mother sent her a scintillating sexual experience from beyond the grave? And we're supposed to think that's inspiring rather than absurd --and depraved?

Truly those who believe in nothing fall for anything.