Dec. 10 – Kate Bowler – Everything Happens… [Advent Calendar]

The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2018
Advent Calendar
December 10


Everything Happens for a Reason:
And Other Lies I’ve Loved

Kate Bowler

Hardback: Random House, 2018
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*** Best Memoir of 2018


When Kate Bowler was thirty-five years old, a doctor delivered her with news that quite literally changed the course of her life, diagnosing her with stage IV colon cancer. For Bowler, a wife, mother, and
professor at Duke Divinity School who specializes in the study of the prosperity gospel, the diagnosis contradicted not only her life’s work, but also deeply ingrained Christian belief systems.

“What would it mean for Christians to give up that little piece of the American Dream that says, ‘You are limitless’?,” Bowler asks. “Everything is not possible. The mighty Kingdom of God is not yet here. What if
rich did not have to mean wealthy, and whole did not have to mean healed?” (21). Of course, you don’t have to have grown up in a prosperity gospel church to adhere to this conspiracy of belief within Christianity. I, for one, did not: the little Baptist church we trekked to every Sunday morning and Wednesday night, the one on the corner of Liberty and Miller, didn’t promise us health, wealth, and happiness if only we believed more and gave more.

But somehow, I still believed the riches of my crown would be made fuller and shinier and maybe even holier, too, if I trusted and prayed and performed for God a little bit more, too. In a sense, it was my own version of prosperity, a version that benefited me and people who looked like me—a version that didn’t understand wholeness and true riches in the least. In this way, an interweaving of Bowler’s intimate understanding of the prosperity gospel threads its way through every page of the book, this slice of Christianity so innately a part of her story she couldn’t help but let it help guide her story. In a sense, these musings made me feel like I’d been invited to sit in and observe one of her classes, fingers scrunched tightly around pencil and notebook, eyes transfixed on her presence and on the passion with which she speaks. 

  • from our review of this book by Cara Meredith
    in our Eastertide 2018 magazine issue
    SUSBSCRIBE NOW to the magazine)



LISTEN to the author’s NPR interview with Terry Gross



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