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

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

by Kate Bowler


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Friday, December 3


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 carved out unofficial positions of power in their husbands' spiritual empires or their own ministries. The biggest stars—such as Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, and Victoria Osteen—write bestselling books, grab high ratings on Christian television, and even preach. In this engaging book, Kate Bowler offers a sympathetic and revealing portrait of megachurch women celebrities, showing how they must balance the demands of celebrity culture and conservative, male-dominated faiths.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691179612
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 728,908
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kate Bowler is the author of Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel and the memoir Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved. She is associate professor at Duke Divinity School. Twitter @KatecBowler

Table of Contents

A Personal Note ix

Glossary of Important Terms xv

Acknowledgments xix

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 The Preacher 21

Chapter 2 The Homemaker 65

Chapter 3 The Talent 117

Chapter 4 The Counselor 153

Chapter 5 The Beauty 192

Conclusion 237

Appendix I Megachurches in the United States 253

Appendix II Researching Megachurch Pastors' Wives 257

Appendix III Some Demographics from the Profiles 264

Appendix IV Women in Conservative Seminaries 270

Appendix V Women on Staff at Megachurches 275

Appendix VI Highlights of the Timeline of Women's Ordination 279

Notes 283

Index 329

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"I cannot overstate the effect this book had on me. Whether you are a student of American religious history, a follower of popular Christian culture, or someone who has never thought twice about the women who grant legitimacy to the powerful men they marry, Kate Bowler will take you places you could not have gone on your own. She is a scholar who knows how to tell a story, a theologian who can make you laugh out loud, and the kind of listener who earns the trust of her subjects and readers alike. She won't tell you what to think, but she'll introduce you to people you'll never forget, and you'll be the better for it."—Barbara Brown Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of Learning to Walk in the Dark

"This is a surprising book: scholarly yet accessible, critical yet kind, feminist yet not ideological. Kate Bowler managed to help me understand these women, marvel at these women, and even respect the creative tenacity of these women, when on my own, and without her guidance I would have only ever criticized these women—and for that I am grateful. She is a marvel."—Nadia Bolz-Weber, New York Times bestselling author of Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint

"With her characteristic blend of sympathy and searing analysis, scholarly rigor and utterly absorbing prose, Kate Bowler explains how enterprising women in 'megaministry' built their own theological kingdoms by embracing strategies of celebrity—a Faustian bargain that has exposed them to the starkest vulnerabilities and trade-offs. This is a masterful book."—Darren Dochuk, author of Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America

"The Preacher's Wife is a smart, thought-provoking account of contemporary women in megaministry, but it's also a book about the extraordinary pressures faced by all women, religious or not, today. With empathy and humor, Kate Bowler paints an unforgettable portrait of a fascinating group of evangelical women."—Catherine Brekus, author of Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740–1845

"With the accuracy of a historian, the insight of a scholar, and the heart of a Christian leader, Kate Bowler explores an influential phenomenon within Christianity in this challenge to today's church leaders. Readers of Bowler's previous books will not be disappointed."—Phil and Debbie Waldrep, founders of the Women of Joy ministry

"Filled with vivid human portraits, The Preacher's Wife is an absolute joy to read. Kate Bowler's account demonstrates, with great insight, the difficult balance megachurch women must constantly maintain, stepping into the limelight but never appearing to monopolize it. The book advances our understanding of evangelicalism and women's role in modern American religion."—Margaret Bendroth, author of The Last Puritans: Mainline Protestants and the Power of the Past

"Kate Bowler provides an extraordinarily rich portrait of Christian female celebrities who are breaking church barriers on women's roles even as they uphold a carefully crafted stance of holy obedience. With generosity, perceptiveness, and wit, Bowler analyzes these women in all their intricacy as they manage beauty, sexuality, family life, and money on a public stage. A truly splendid book."—R. Marie Griffith, author of Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics

"Fascinating, insightful, and utterly illuminating, this book shows why historians need to be involved in all of our theological conversations. Kate Bowler throws the lights on, bringing us a desperately needed perspective on the invisible rules governing how, when, and which women lead in the religious marketplace. As a woman in public ministry, I'm grateful for the clarity and challenge of Bowler's findings as well as her kindness, camaraderie, and wisdom. I won't see my work the same way again."—Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist and Miracles and Other Reasonable Things

Customer Reviews