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

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Overview

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, an acclaimed historian of religion and the author of the bestselling memoir Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved, 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.

Whether standing alone or next to their husbands, the leading women of megaministry play many parts: the preacher, the homemaker, the talent, the counselor, and the beauty. Boxed in by the high expectations of modern Christian womanhood, they follow and occasionally subvert the visible and invisible rules that govern the lives of evangelical women, earning handsome rewards or incurring harsh penalties. They must be pretty, but not immodest; exemplary, but not fake; vulnerable to sin, but not deviant. And black celebrity preachers' wives carry a special burden of respectability. But despite their influence and wealth, these women are denied the most important symbol of spiritual power—the pulpit.

The story of women who most often started off as somebody's wife and ended up as everyone's almost-pastor, The Preacher's Wife is a compelling account of women's search for spiritual authority in the age of celebrity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691179612
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 170,278
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 New York Times bestselling memoir Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved (Random House), which she wrote after being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer at age 35. She is associate professor at Duke Divinity School and lives in Durham, North Carolina. Twitter @KatecBowler

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

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