No one has to tell Marcia Nelson about America's rising number of "nones" -- people claiming zero ties to a religious tradition -- because she meets them day after day while working as a hospital chaplain in Chicago.
"Lots of people want you to pray with them, but they'll also make comments that let you know they really don't like the institutional church," said Nelson. "They want you to pray, but they don't want traditional religious language. ... When you're in that situation, what you have to do is try to pray like Oprah."
America had another Oprah Winfrey moment the other day, when the 63-year-old billionaire media maven delivered a Golden Globes sermon that created rapture in Hollywood and a heady buzz among journalists and politicos.
NBC gushed on Twitter: "Nothing but respect for OUR future president."
During her remarks, Winfrey pushed many buttons that have defined her career, noted Nelson, author of the 2005 book, "The Gospel According to Oprah." Surrounded by a media storm about sexual abuse of women, Winfrey also offered praise for journalists, appeals for social justice and criticism of corrupt tyrants. She didn't need to mention the former talk-show host in the White House.
It was a secular speech, noted Nelson, but had the "pastoral touch" that the young Winfrey displayed in services at the Faith United Mississippi Baptist Church, where other girls called her "Miss Jesus."
"Oprah has always had a gift for reading what's on people's minds and this was one of those times," said Nelson.
Winfrey raced from the birth of the Civil Rights Moment to today's headlines, while focusing on the pains and triumphs of abused women.