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In its most populist form, the prosperity gospel conjures up images of Houston megachurches, multi-million-dollar mansions, and pastors with perfect teeth making promises they can’t keep. Beyond the stereotypes, however, we find something far more human and universal: a desire to make sense of pain, suffering, and divine intervention. Kate Bowler, author of Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, sees the so-called “health and wealth gospel” as a response to those who want “an escape from poverty, failing health, and the feeling that their lives [are] leaky buckets. . . . It is an answer to the questions that take our lives apart: Why do some people get healed and some people don’t?”
In her new memoir, Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved, Bowler, an assistant professor at Duke Divinity School, encounters this nexus point of faith and affliction as she confronts terminal cancer at the age...
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