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A divinity professor and young mother with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis explores the pain and joy of living without certainty.

Thirty-five-year-old Kate Bowler was a professor at the school of divinity at Duke, and had finally had a baby with her childhood sweetheart after years of trying, when she began to feel jabbing pains in her stomach. She lost thirty pounds, chugged antacid, and visited doctors for three months before she was finally diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.

As she navigates the aftermath of her diagnosis, Kate pulls the reader deeply into her life, which is populated with a colorful, often hilarious collection of friends, pastors, parents, and doctors, and shares her laser-sharp reflections on faith, friendship, love, and death. She wonders why suffering makes her feel like a loser and explores the burden of positivity. Trying to relish the time she still has with her son and husband, she realizes she must change her habit of skipping to the end and planning the next move. A historian of the "American prosperity gospel" - the creed of the mega-churches that promises believers a cure for tragedy, if they just want it badly enough - Bowler finds that, in the wake of her diagnosis, she craves these same "outrageous certainties." She wants to know why it's so hard to surrender control over that which you have no control. She contends with the terrifying fact that, even for her husband and child, she is not the lynchpin of existence, and that even without her, life will go on.

On the page, Kate Bowler is warm, witty, and ruthless, and, like Paul Kalanithi, one of the talented, courageous few who can articulate the grief she feels as she contemplates her own mortality.



About the Author

Kate Bowler

Kate Bowler is an assistant professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School. Degrees:Ph. D., Duke UniversityM. A.R., Yale Divinity SchoolB. A., Macalester CollegeHer book, (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, (Random House, 2018) , tells the story of her struggle to understand the personal and intellectual dimensions of the American belief that all tragedies are tests of character. She recently received a sabbatical grant for researchers from The Louisville Institute to write her third book, (Princeton University Press, 2018) . It follows the rise of celebrity Christian women who go by many names: pastors, co-pastors, executive directors, or, more commonly, pastor's 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 continues to write, teach, and travel while undergoing cancer treatment. The following is a link to an interview with Kate Bowler on NPR's "Fresh Air" radio program.



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