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The Preacher’s Wife: The Precarious Power of Evangelical Women Celebrities

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  70 ratings  ·  20 reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author of Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved, a fascinating look at the world of Christian women celebrities

Since the 1970s, an important new figure has appeared on the center stage of American evangelicalism--the celebrity preacher's wife. Although most evangelical traditions bar women from ordained ministry, many women have
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Princeton University Press
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Gretchen Rubin
A thought-provoking look at celebrity evangelical women. Elizabeth and I are going to interview Kate Bowler for the Happier podcast, and while her other book (see below) is more directly related to happiness, I found this book fascinating.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Working on a full review for Fathom Mag. There is a lot to unpack here & I'm looking forward to any conversations that will sprout up from the ground laid by Bowler's excellent research.
Bronwyn Lea
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well written, brilliantly researched, and more than a little uncomfortable to read - Bowler has named much of the confusing terrain surrounding christian women leaders and cast light on its shadowy parts.
It was probably beyond the scope of an academic work, but what I found missing from the book was acknowledgement of the inner world and motivation of some of the women described. I don't believe Beth Moore, for example, set out to build an empire or become a celebrity (as the marketplace model
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So much of this book is what I have lived and experienced growing up in American evangelical and Pentecostal culture in the 1990’s. It was uncomfortable for me to remember in many parts, and yet there glimpses of hope and equality laced throughout.
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How much did I love this book? I highlighted the very first sentence of the pre-introduction. I highlighted and marked up (my kindle!) every single chapter. I even highlighted parts of the acknowledgements.

I grew up a southern baptist preacher's daughter and long-lived in the evangelical world that has strict rules and (small) departments women are allowed to "lead" in. It is a song and a dance and a mental gymnastics I am all too familiar with- that I have even mastered on some leve
Catherine McNiel
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an important book, and I want everyone to read it. It shows how patriarchy has impacted both the church and women (who make up half the church). The focus isn't actually on Preacher's wives, but on the ways women in conservative Evangelical churches are kept from having institutional influence so instead find ways to influence in the marketplace... and all the trouble that comes before and after.

These dynamics are very real and deeply problematic, and this book is well-resear
Glenn Wishnew III
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oct 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was a slow read. Lot of statistics and information. Subject fine, but not a fun read.
Robert D. Cornwall
I grew up in the Episcopal Church, which back then didn't ordain women (I had moved on right before they changed the rules), and then joined a church that was part of a denomination founded by a woman (Aimee Semple McPherson), but which had ambivalence about women in leadership (a lot of submission talk). Over time I ended up in a denomination -- the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) -- that has elected as its General Minister two women. I am a married preacher, so my wife could be called a ...more
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I will try not to go overboard but I loved this book. Unlike EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON, this is more an academic book and not a spiritual memoir like the last book (which was also great). Still, because of what she learned from writing for a broad audience last time, this is a much more accessible, interesting, and compelling book than it would have been. Anyone interested is the issue of women in ministry should read this book, since it provides depth and substance to how to understand th ...more
I can't remember a book that I've read recently that I've talked about so much in the weeks immediately after reading it. The title and subtitle are shorthand for the larger theme the book plumbs -- it is not just about preacher's wives, nor just about evangelical women celebrities, but more broadly about women in "megaministry" -- that is, women in position of influence in churches with 2000 or more worshippers on a typical Sunday, which have and outsized influence on American church culture, a ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I was really interested in this book because I am quite sympathetic to part of her premise - women in evangelical circles have to find ways to teach and lead outside the church because of too restrictive views of women in ministry. Even as I consider myself to be conservative on this topic, too many churches take a hard line that usually ends up creating these strange results of women who still "preach" or "teach" with huge followings, just outside the church structure.

However, Bowle
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An academic history that has qualities of a page-turner, Bowler lays out that the celebrity women of megaministry rarely have authority, but they do have influence. And in the game of influence—getting it, keeping it, growing it—everyone has to pick a role.

These roles are the organizational frame for describing and exploring the role of Christian women leaders in the late 20th century. The priest, the homemaker, the talent, the counselor, and the beauty are the archetypes for women with their d
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating insightful read I highly recommend to anyone raised evangelical/southern baptist/ or on Christian radio (CCM) or Christian broadcasting. It's definitely a heavier read but still completely accessible. I loved learning the history behind evangelical women and just how precarious power is for these women. Dr. Bowler has a great deal of both sympathy and humor as she weaves this history together. For those who are curious some women she discusses are: Victoria Osteen, Beth Mo ...more
Allyson Neighbors
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Informative, powerful, thought-provoking.
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Possibly one of the hardest books I've ever consumed. The topic made me squirm. It was utterly uncomfortable. I'm still digesting it's content and it's impact will be indelible.
Rachel Coyne
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Meticulously researched, thoughtfully written, interesting analysis from beginning to end
Jill Kleis
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I feel like I see the Matrix now. 🤯
Tammy Alexander
Oct 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I would have rated this higher if Kate Bowler had been the narrator as she was in Everything Happens for a Reason. She has such enthusiasm, which comes across in her voice.
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Kate Bowler is an assistant professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School. (currently on sabbatical)

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

Her book, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford University Press, 2013), received widespread media attention and academic praise as the f