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Kate Bowler, Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity in the United States

Kate Bowler

Please note: Kate has left the "Graduate Program in Religion" group at Duke University; some info here might not be up to date.

Kate Bowler, PhD is a three time New York Times bestselling author, award-winning podcast host, and an Associate Professor of American Religious History at Duke University. She studies the cultural stories we tell ourselves about success, suffering, and whether (or not) we’re capable of change. In her twenties, she became obsessed with writing the first history of the movement called the “prosperity gospel”—which promises that God will reward you with health and wealth if you have the right kind of faith. She researched and traveled across Canada and the United States interviewing megachurch leaders and televangelists and everyday believers about how they make spiritual meaning out of the good and bad in their lives. The result was the book, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, which received widespread media attention and a lot of puns about being #blessed. 

At age 35, she was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, causing her to think in different terms about the research and beliefs she had been studying. She penned the New York Times bestselling memoir, Everything Happens for a Reason (and Other Lies I’ve Loved), which tells the story of her struggle to understand the personal and intellectual dimensions of the American belief that all tragedies are tests of character.

Her third book, The Preacher’s Wife: The Precarious Power of Evangelical Women Celebrities follows the rise of celebrity Christian women in American evangelicalism. Whether they stand alone or beside their husbands, they are leading women who play many parts: faithful wife, spiritual authority, and Hollywood celebrity.

On her popular podcast, Everything Happens, Kate speaks with people like Malcolm Gladwell, Beth Moore, Archbishop of Cantebury Justin Welby,  and Anne Lamott about what wisdom and truth they’ve uncovered during difficult circumstances. 

In her memoir, No Cure For Being Human (and Other Truths I Need to Hear), Kate grapples with her diagnosis, her ambition, and her faith as she tries to come to terms with limitations in a culture that promises anything is possible.

Kate has also written a devotional with her co-producer, Jessica Richie, which is called Good Enough: 40ish Devotionals for a Life of Imperfection. In this book, she takes what she has learned about our self-help-obsessed culture and written reflections on what it would mean to embrace our imperfect, good enough lives.  Kate and Jessica’s latest book  is called The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days. In this book of blessings, they continue to focus on gratitude and hope while acknowledging our messy and imperfect lives. 

Kate’s work has received wide-spread media attention from The Today Show, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NPR. Her TED talk has been viewed more than 10 million times. She lives in Durham, North Carolina with her family, and continues to teach do-gooders of all kinds.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  209 Gray Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:

Teaching (Fall 2024):

    Westbrook 034, Tu 05:45 PM-06:45 PM; Westbrook 034, Tu 06:55 PM-07:45 PM; Westbrook 034, Tu 05:45 PM-06:45 PM

Ph.D.Duke University2010
M.A.Yale University2005
B.A.Macalester College2002

Christianity • Church growth • Church history • Gender • Pentecostalism • Religion • Television in religion • Wealth

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