Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel – By Kate Bowler

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Goodreads Synopsis: How have millions of American Christians come to measure spiritual progress in terms of their financial status and physical well-being? How has the movement variously called Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, or simply prosperity gospel come to dominate much of our contemporary religious landscape?
Kate Bowler’s Blessed is the first book to fully explore the origins, unifying themes, and major figures of a burgeoning movement that now claims millions of followers in America. Bowler traces the roots of the prosperity gospel: from the touring mesmerists, metaphysical sages, pentecostal healers, business oracles, and princely prophets of the early 20th century; through mid-century positive thinkers like Norman Vincent Peale and revivalists like Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagin; to today’s hugely successful prosperity preachers. Bowler focuses on such contemporary figures as Creflo Dollar, pastor of Atlanta’s 30,000-member World Changers Church International; Joel Osteen, known as “the smiling preacher,” with a weekly audience of seven million; T. D. Jakes, named by Time magazine one of America’s most influential new religious leaders; Joyce Meyer, evangelist and women’s empowerment guru; and many others. At almost any moment, day or night, the American public can tune in to these preachers-on TV, radio, podcasts, and in their megachurches-to hear the message that God desires to bless them with wealth and health. Bowler offers an interpretive framework for scholars and general readers alike to understand the diverse expressions of Christian abundance as a cohesive movement bound by shared understandings and common goals.

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I can’t remember now how I first found out about this book, I do remember thinking it would be an interesting read into the history of Christianity specific to America. I had limited ideas of what the book would actually be like, but whatever I expected this was not it.

To start I have to say that this book is so boring. It started out as a dissertation and very little was done to change this tone, it reads like a student’s regurgitation of all they learned over a term. And the times the author actually gets personal with us or attempts to add some narration, are few and far between and have little personality to them. Everything about this book was just so freaking boring.

My other disappointment came from the fact that I had hoped the author would be looking at the prosperity gospel with more of a critical eye.  But I obviously should have done my homework and looked into the author. Kate Bowler was a teacher of history for a christian university and from what I gather a christian herself.  She shows little interest in examining this topic with the critical eye that it needed.

I found it hard to read all of this book, and eventually gave up because it felt pointless to continue. I gave Blessed 2 stars on Goodreads and I don’t recommend it.

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