Kate Bowler

Associate Professor of the History of Christianity in North America
Office: 
211B Gray

LEADD
1121 W. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200
Durham, NC 27701

Degrees

Ph.D., Duke University
M.A.R., Yale Divinity School
B.A., Macalester College

Kate Bowler is an associate professor of the history of Christianity in North America. Her book, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford University Press 2013), received widespread media attention and academic praise as the first history of the movement based on divine promises of health, wealth, and happiness. She researched and traveled Canada and the United States interviewing megachurch leaders and everyday believers about how they make spiritual meaning of the good or bad in their lives. Her work on the prosperity gospel has been featured in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Guardian, TIME Magazine, The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Post, NPR, and the BBC.  

In 2015, she was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage IV cancer at age 35. In her viral New York Times op-ed, she writes about the irony of being an expert in health, wealth and happiness while being ill. Her subsequent memoir, Everything Happens for a Reason (and other lies I’ve loved) (Random House, 2018)—a book Bill Gates lauds as “belonging on the shelf alongside other terrific books about mortality” and includes on his must-read list—tells the story of her struggle to understand the personal and intellectual dimensions of the American belief that all tragedies are tests of character. Dr. Bowler subsequently staged a national conversation around why it felt so difficult to speak frankly about suffering through her popular podcast, Everything Happens.

She received a sabbatical grant for researchers from The Louisville Institute to write her third book,The Preacher’s Wife: Women and Power in American Megaministry (Princeton University Press, 2019). It follows the rise of celebrity Christian women in American evangelicalism. They go by many names: co-pastors, executive directors, or, more commonly, pastors' wives. They pitch their expertise in any number of ways, from women’s ministry directors to singers, bloggers, parenting experts, sex therapists, prophetesses, life coaches, and television hosts. Whether they stand alone or beside their husbands, they are leading women who play many parts: faithful wife, spiritual authority, and Hollywood celebrity.   

She has appeared on the TED stage, NPR, The TODAY Show, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and TIME Magazine. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, Toban, and son, Zach.

For more information or to contact Kate Bowler, visit katebowler.com