How to Embrace COVID-19's Uncertainty in a Culture of Invincibility

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Ahead of Mother's Day, New York Times bestselling author and historian of Christianity at Duke Divinity School Kate Bowler and Rev. Jim Wallis dig into a meaningful discussion about what being human looks like amid a global pandemic. From waking up in the morning to parent and raise a child to navigating the inevitable suffering life brings, Bowler provides a clarifying voice and perspective for how to live through these trying times. 

Her scholarship in American heresies, like the fallacy of the Prosperity Gospel, make for an interesting investigation into America's unique, and sometimes upsetting, response to our current crisis. 

Bowler says, "In the end, bad things happen to good people because there is no cure to being human. And the world will not mete out its punishments in relationship to our faithfulness or whether we don't cheat at golf. And if there is math, we don't get to see it. So the problem is of course, is that we're left with suffering without apparent meaning. That's scary for us because we derive a lot of purpose from meaning."

Full transcript below:

Jim Wallis:

Hello, this is Jim Wallis and you're listening to a special edition of The Soul of the Nation, a podcast about how our faith should shape our politics and not the other way around. You'll find Soul of the Nation on iTunes, Google Play and at sojo.net. For more news, resources and reflections about the current public health crisis, visit sojo.net/coronavirus. We've had some great episodes over the last couple of months about all this and I can't wait to add another excellent guest to this roster. Today, I'm speaking with Kate Bowler about living with uncertainty in a society that likes to avoid it. Living with uncertainty in a time wants quick and easy fixes. Well, Kate Bowler is a New York Times bestselling author and podcast host and historian of Christianity at Duke Divinity School. And her bestselling book, the first one was called Blessed: A History of the Prosperity Gospel in 2013. I might say one of the best things ever written about the prosperity gospel in my view. A book that's a prosperity gospel of theology full of many of our, I would say, American heresies. And then she was diagnosed with stage four cancer in 2015 with a young toddler. And the book that came after that was called Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I've Loved. So she, I think, brings some life experience to us right now, going through in our lives, a lot of uncertainty and learning how to live with that. Kate, thank you for joining us here at Soul of the Nation today.

Kate Bowler:

I'm so grateful to be with you. I really am. I've been looking forward to meeting you for a long time. So this is a beautiful treat for me.

Jim Wallis:

Well, here we are meeting in this new kind of way, right? But I've been aware of your insights for some time now and been very grateful for them. Let me just start with how's your spirit, Kate, in these days. How's your spirit?

Kate Bowler:

Aw, what a thoughtful question. Right now I'm feeling a bit low to be honest. I think there was this the moment at the beginning of orienting to a new season and sort of trying to, I'm pretty good at setting horizons, cause I've gotten used to living between scans and so I was like, oh, I know how to do this, I know how to do this. But lately I've just lost more people that I know than I care to. So this week just feels heavier than usual.

Jim Wallis:

I have a little notepad next to my computer here on the desk of those people, my own personal prayer vigil list and it grows and grows and grows. My sister and family went through this and they've gotten through it, but, you know, the kind of tweet beeps would happen all day long when I'm even doing podcasts. Something new had happened. I started my career as an antiwar organizer a long time ago. And during that time, I thought a lot about American culture and how it had contributed to a senseless war based on a lot of lies that really killed a lot of people. In a recent New York Times piece, you wrote something that I was struck by how that sort of, those sense of those falsehoods continues to contribute now to the mismanagement of COVID-19. You said everyone else in the world will suffer too, but I don't think they will suffer nearly the same cultural disillusionment because they don't have that account of exceptionalism. Unpack that a bit. What do you mean by that?

Kate Bowler:

Well, I mean the story of American individualism, this founding myth of bootstrapping and righteous self-starters, which we've now morphed into a story about side gigs and hustle and #GoodVibesOnly, we've had a story told that is as much a story about people, individuals, we should do better as it is a story about the nation, that there is this deep American cultural script that tells us that there is supposed to be more than enoughness here. That we're supposed to live our lives with the assumption that we have all of the resources and the social structures and the provisions that will be required to live your best life now. And we know, of course, I hope by now that that is false. That we don't have the health structures we need. We don't have the economy we need and we certainly don't have the communal structures we need. And that structurally we're not actually in a position to be the bootstrappers we wish we were. And then we feel terrible when everything comes apart and we blame ourselves. And so, I'm just so concerned that the stories we tell ourselves are not serving us well, especially now.

Jim Wallis:

So, your story really helps to show us some of that because, you know, I've often thought that in this country there's a history of religion leading to certainty or religion leading to reflection. In my view, it's the latter, but often it's felt to be the former in this country. And there was a certain kind of, there's a certainty to what's been called the prosperity gospel, and all of a sudden your life was interrupted by a whole lot of uncertainty with the cancer and a small child and you were flourishing in your career. Everybody was talking about how amazing you were. You were doing well.

Kate Bowler:

Yeah, I was doing well for a minute there. No, I was almost a winner before I was suddenly a loser and that, that was a big and sudden fall. And yeah, I mean, I'm not even American. I'm Canadian. And yet somehow I've always wondered if I just, I felt so at home here because of its famous love of efficiency and bigger and better. And I just, you know, I was doing that thing where I'd worked really hard in graduate school. I had gotten a great job. I married a good person and like finally had the kid I'd always wanted and I just, as sophisticated as I think I am, I think I'd gotten confused there for a minute and thought that maybe I deserved the good things in my life. And, so when it all came crashing down, I really had to ask myself like, I'm sorry, did you think that you were like the exception to the rule that bad things happen to everybody and, like what stories were you telling yourself where you imagined that you were always pressing toward a better future? And I'm sure it's just part of the hubris of like being alive. We breathe and we assume we'll always keep breathing. But I was horrified and I think I was horrified because of my own little version of the prosperity gospel. And I think I was also horrified because almost immediately the cultural scripts that were being used to explain me like, oh, that I had to, what was the lesson I was going to learn and did I deserve this? I realized that all the frameworks around me had made it almost impossible for me to come to the right conclusion, which is that I had been lucky and then suddenly I wasn't.

Jim Wallis:

As a scholar, an American scholar of history, you learned about this prosperity gospel and you wrote so eloquently about it. And then now I wonder from you, how does the prosperity gospel, how it's at such odds with living in our present uncertainty in this pandemic.

Kate Bowler:

Yeah. Oh yeah. Well, man, and so like as a scholarly definition, right? The prosperity gospel is we look for health and wealth and happiness. We just try to figure out like who's winning in our culture? And if so, it's likely they imagine that it's their faith and their positive words and positive actions that have led them to be rewarded by God. And I mean one of the weirder parts of a moment like this is suddenly we realize that we are not actually constituted primarily by our thoughts and our attitudes. Like someone with a great attitude is still stuck at home in the pandemic. Someone with an amazing spirit and faith has still probably lost their dad and couldn't hold his hand. Like there will be no distinction between us because of our ability to be this super Christian. But the problem is that the prosperity gospel actually does really well in a time like this because it promises people like a return to certainty. Just like you were saying, like certainty is such a drug. And it just says, look, let me give you a couple tools and I swear to you, you can get out of this. And like this being the human condition for which I'm guessing based on my experience, there is no cure. So it's hard. It does really well in poor times and it does really well in wealthy times. And there's a surrealness to that.

Jim Wallis:

Why is American culture at large so resistant to uncertainty?

Kate Bowler:

Oh man. I feel like we could talk about that forever. Yes. Well, and you and I share a love of, well, okay, so we love our certainties, right? Evangelicalism got hooked on the idea that they could prove their faith. There was always a Bible verse. Always a reason. Always approved text. Always a day on the Bible, man, ready to wage war against confusion. And that's one kind of certainty. The other is it's a country of plenty. And so it, it always felt like if we fell, we'd never fall all the way down. And so our faith and our lives were never really going to be disproven, not in this country. So I do think it's been, it's been hard because it's ... and the other thing I'll just say is this is a faith that got hooked on metrics. Like I study megachurches and so the amount of times I've heard Christians explain why their church is better than others because it's, you know, a guy named Jeff and a 20,000 person multi-site model and like the numbers are always supposed to do the work. And we, we always just imagine that our faith is going to prove itself. And all of that has been a kind of endless reinforcement that, that we will always know that we are right. We will always know that we are good. And then all of a sudden when you're surrounded by all this disconfirming evidence, you're like, wait, are we not? Aren't Christians supposed to have more?

Jim Wallis:

Yeah. All of us now could tell stories about our dinner tables are full of conversations about, with our kids, about uncertainty. We don't know what's going to happen or when and it's such a difficult time to live with uncertainty and live with suffering rather than trying to explain it away or fix it or deny it or say it's going to be over and different by this time.

Kate Bowler:

Yeah. But I think we're scared though, honestly Jim, that if it doesn't mean something in the way that we need it to, that all this suffering is for nothing. And like, you know any woman who's been in labor knows that they are just like counting the seconds till the pain is over, but they're doing it knowing there's a baby at the end, right? Like every pain gets transformed into some great and beautiful gain. And like that's just how we're wired and that's, that's how our hope is directed. Like, okay, no problem. I'll deal with this horrible thing, but just tell me it's going to get better. But better is a word that no one can promise anyone right now. And so we need to find different faithful language that is able to say ah buddy, your life can still be good and true and beautiful, but good and true and beautiful isn't always better.

Jim Wallis:

You wrote in the New Statesman that you shared how people had a hard time relating to you on an emotional level after your cancer diagnosis. What are the parallels now from that experience to a time like this?

Kate Bowler:

I guess maybe I hear it in like, you know, if somebody, if you hear that somebody is, you know, been infected or if they're in the hospital or if you read an article about, you know, somebody who passes away and the circumstances seem strange and then you hear all the first questions like, well, you know, was there any underlying conditions? Well, how old were they? You know, like they're, they're trying to run the math, which is natural, but there's a cruelty to it, which says, why them and not me in order to get back to that safe feeling. And I didn't know. I mean, other people have experiences and bodies in which people always question whether they get what they deserve. I had not had that experience in a sustained way before. And so the second I got sick, I was stuck with like, yeah, but was it in your family? Or maybe it was something you were eating. And so we're just like rushing to find the reason so that we can return to that lovely feeling of safety. I think.

Jim Wallis:

it's like we want to find the answers when really maybe what's being put on us are the questions. COVID has laid bare so much. Everything. Three times African Americans and Hispanics are getting sick and dying of COVID than white people. Well, why didn't we know this before? And all of our systems, healthcare, economy, education, and yet now it's been revealed. This is a fact, a disease as you say, which doesn't hit different people biologically, ethnically, but people are in a position, in a vulnerable place, in the conditions of their lives so much more if they're black or Hispanic and they're getting sicker and dying.

Kate Bowler:

There's this like fault line between the exposed and the sheltered. And this is just like revealing it in a way that we were, we were just much quicker to explain away I think before.

Jim Wallis:

So, this could lead us to a deeper reflection and it's going to change us for sure in different ways. We're not going to be the same after all this. So how does the reflection take us to another place which we could go forward instead of how to fix it? How to reopen, how to do all that quickly and get this thing over?

Kate Bowler:

Yeah. Well I think, I mean one of the, one of the most painful ways is to, is to give up on the narrative of like back to before, you know, all I have to do is, I mean this is something I went through right away is I was like, okay, how do I get back? How do I get back to the person I was before? The health, the certainty, the, you know, going to sleep without worrying. Like how do I get back? And like I think you're exactly right. The question is how do we get through and then who are we at the end? And transformation is not fun as far as I can tell. So I think it is, it is the challenge being required.

Jim Wallis:

"Who are we at the end" is a great, great question. Say more about that. How can this help us look at and wonder and maybe even change. Who are we at the end of this?

Kate Bowler:

Oh man. I would love it if people were less willing to use their faith as a substitute for certainty. I mean we love the gospels part where Jesus does a lot of hard things for us and we're less thrilled with the martyrdom of the early church. Cause I think we were just hoping there was a little asterisk there. I think our, our desire to instrumentalize our faith, to hope that we're always on a path to self-improvement. I think one of the big bads of this, like one of the great enemies of being changed is, is what therapeutic culture has done to us. I really think we've gotten used to describing Christianity in terms of emotional benefits and sort of clarity of mind. We sort of returned to like epistemological and psychological rationales, which is bananas. It really is like come for the Jesus, stay for the self-esteem. And you know, it's made a lot of pastors into fake therapists. So I wish we would just stop trying to use our faith as like an end run around like how it feels to be a human. Like yes, everyone should go see a therapist. Totally. But like there's a reason we go to church. It's cause we're fragile. We're dumb half the time and we need each other's wisdom and guidance. And we mostly go for the Holy Spirit, which is just God showing up among us and trying to make us different. So none of that is going to be therapeutic in the ways that we imagined. But gosh, I hope that we can live without that language.

Jim Wallis:

You know, around the world, particularly a lot of the body of Christ, as we say, places like Duke Div. school is the most diverse human community on the planet and all around the world. Christians are used to things like suffering and uncertainty and even risk. They don't expect that not to be a part of their lives. And somehow in this country, we think we either are or should be exempt from all of that.

Kate Bowler:

Yeah. But not me, God, I have plans. I've been hooked on the ... I mean, okay, seriously, the other day I realized that almost all the new Christian books were all coming out in the New York Times category for self-help/miscellaneous. So the fact that all of our wisdom is put in the same category because we put it there as self-help manuals and recipe books I think shows us that we are hooked on formulas that we think will get us out of where we're at. And like, if we could just take a minute to imagine that we are much like everyone else, I think it would do us a load of good.

Jim Wallis:

You've often championed knowing our own bandwidth and being comfortable with our limits. My boys came in last night and said, dad, next Sunday's Mother's Day, here's our plan. So Mother's Day is approaching. What is a reminder that you'd like to give to moms or any parent really trying to raise kids through all this uncertainty right now and how can we be reminded of our own limits?

Kate Bowler:

Well, I only say that stuff because I'm terrible at it. That is a full disclosure. I'm like the absolute worst at naming my own boundaries before I fall all the way down. But one of the kind of moral confusions I had when I got sick was that if bad things were happening in the world that it was somehow my job to protect my kid from it. And that was like the number one thing about being a mom was putting my kid in a hamster bubble and just like pushing him around. And it took me a while of realizing that there was going to be no escape, you know, for him or for anyone from terrible things, but making, I don't know, just having a minute to realize that as moms it's not our job to be either superhuman or to insulate our children. It's our job to like to be so fully human that when they see us go through this stuff with courage and the willingness to take naps, that they learn a little bit more about how to manage the pain and inevitable suffering that's ahead of them. And it's not fun, but that is surely like they get to see us walk through it instead of just imagining that we can all skip it. So I'm hoping we all can be a little less superhuman and a little bit more willing to accept presence and breaks.

Jim Wallis:

You know, it's like we always want to say to our kids or someone who's gotten ill or into a difficult circumstance, it's going to be okay. It's going to be okay. And it depends what we mean by that.

Kate Bowler:

Yeah, that's right. And like I want to skip it. I do, I want to skip it. And I every day, I wish that there was nothing to protect my son from, but it does make me feel a lot less disoriented to look at the world clearly and say like, alright, that's the day ahead of us and in the meantime would you like to count these jelly beans with me and make up a silly song. Like cutting back and forth between reality being like the terrible thing out there and reality also being the wonder and ridiculousness of a six-year-old's mind like that. That does give me a little sanity.

Jim Wallis:

So, this notion of invincibility. I had my own bout with, some of the listeners know, with prostate cancer about five years ago. And I remember the doctor calling as I was running between appointments, "Well we have your, we got the results of the biopsy. Would you like to come in?" And I said no, just, just tell me, cause I had a meeting. "Well people like to come in sometimes and talk through this." No, I'll be fine. "Well you have prostate cancer." Oh my first response was, are you sure you have the right biopsy? Cause I don't think I do. You know, and I wrestled particularly, I think men struggle with this as we're older, we would never say, never say, that we're invincible. Cause that's the wrong thing to say. You would never say that or think you think that. But your schedule and what you wake up thinking you can and should change every day requires someone to be invincible and we're not. And then it takes something for me, it really was, I woke up to that ... I've talked to lots of men in particular men who are very, you know, high-level performers who think they should change and can change the world and something like this hits them. And the first thing you realize is you're vulnerable. You're not invincible. You're human somehow. You really are human and, and you schedule yourself and think and act like you're invincible. Cause you'd have to be to do all the things you think you should do. Right? So, but you really show that in your writing, which is eloquent by the way your writing and speaking that that invincibility is an illusion. And we as a culture have that too. And the prosperity gospel has that too.

Kate Bowler:

Yes, totally. But Jim, I love that argument. I think, I think if you're like, what? So like what's your theological anthropology, right? Like, what's your view of yourself as a person? Like don't ask, don't ask for your beliefs, just look at your calendar. I think that's a great idea. And if we did, I bet you anything that we would, we would show ourselves to be wonderfully delusional.

Jim Wallis:

You said in the Jesuit Review last year in May that you have discovered since your diagnosis of cancer and given your expertise on American religion that America is a, here's your quote, country of individualists endless triumphalist and the American Christianity, particularly with the prosperity gospel, reflects American individualism. And how are you seeing that play out right now in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic?

Kate Bowler:

Yeah, well, I hate to agree with myself, but I'm like, oh yeah, I do think that's true. I think much of the thinness of our language to explain that the abiding loneliness people are describing, people feel really thrown by how living as individuals that they, that they think they should have the emotional, physical, financial, social reserves to do this kind of extended isolation project. And that's because all their supporting stories are supposed to confirm that. And then I think there's been a huge confusion about why loneliness feels so awful. Why it's at the root of, you know, that social isolation leads to all kinds of other tragic dimensions of failed health is we just didn't have enough language for why we were never supposed to do it alone in the first place. We're just, we're not. And like, you know, unless you're like a Quaker or lefty in the fun ways, even the lefties are, it's just like wild individualist for the most part. It's a cultural disease, I think. And replicated by all of our ways of interacting. All of social media is just personality has given megaphones. There's so few group projects we get to be a part of where we feel held and understood and if we like lean against each other, you know, we think that we're just being codependent. So I think there's, I think there's a real disorientation about that right now.

Jim Wallis:

So, there's a book that I'm sure you're aware of. A famous rabbi, Harold Kushner, wrote a book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. You contemplated that question a lot in your work, in your life. Any answer yet?

Kate Bowler:

Right, right, right. I totally figured it out, Jim, I'm so glad you called. I'm here to give you the answer. Well, there's lots of scriptural attempts to answer it. There's a lot of railing against God and wondering. Then there's some chippy remarks in there in Proverbs about never have I seen the righteous go hungry, which I would love to know if they thought about revising. In the end, bad things happen to good people because there is no cure to being human. And the world will not meet out it's punishments in relationship to our faithfulness or whether we don't cheat at golf. We just, and if there is math, we don't get to see it. So the problem is of course, is that we're left with suffering without apparent meaning. Like that's scary for us because we derive a lot of purpose from meaning. It's hard to sit in something we don't deserve, or we feel like we don't deserve or even if we do and find a way of talking about ourselves lovingly and our God. So I've kind of given up on the lessons and I've just decided that like, the weird gift of life in the ashes is that God shows up. That's just like God's very strange A game is like all this stuff about God being close to the prisoner and the widowed and the orphan like that wasn't because there was, you know, that like they had this special access. It's because they were living with the artifice of independence. So God was there and that's where we need to be too.

Jim Wallis:

So, you have said that the gratitude is the virtue of attention, even if things don't inherently become better with being grateful, how does finding thankfulness, gratitude help you in the midst of a crisis like this?

Kate Bowler:

Yeah, well, I struggled a lot with gratitude because people were always telling me to be grateful. So I was like, screw you, I'm not grateful anymore. You know, there's all sorts of John Piper books out there telling me to be grateful for my cancer and not to miss it. If we don't find a place for gratitude, the problem is we don't get to figure out our own math about what counts. Like, like when I was really sick, I, there was like, absolutely nothing that was going to be very good. You know, I was worried about going bankrupt with what my cancer treatments were costing my family. My family was like busy appraising their homes, to figure out if they could pull money. I was not expected to live out the rest of the year and I had a two-year-old and so there wasn't on the surface, there wasn't like a lot to be grateful for, but I just, I realized that there was something in counting up all the small things like the way my kid's hair smells and, and how my dad's tummy feels. He has this nice soft tummy that like you can really just sink into if you're having the absolute worst day. And like today is nurses appreciation day and like that I walked into an oncology center that I was absolutely terrified to be in and I found this like spritely little nymph called Meg and that Meg was about to make my life a thousand times better. So it was all the little things that once I realized it was never actually gonna like cancel out all the bad stuff, but it could still add up to something really beautiful. Then I started to think like, alright, like that's, that's still really good math.

Jim Wallis:

I like that language of what your math is about, what counts, what is my math about, what counts? And I read about Meg in preparing for this and she at one point just said to you, you know, I lost a child and all of a sudden that was, that was the bridge between her life and yours.

Kate Bowler:

Yeah. I felt like she was saying like, we're the same, you know, and that's the feeling when the bad thing happens to you is you feel like you're different than everyone else and that your aloneness will just kill you if it's not the disease. It's just sheer loneliness. And like when people just say like, I'm on the same side, it really builds a bridge that makes a lot of suffering, feel bearable.

Jim Wallis:

You're a teacher at a divinity school. And so liturgy is part of what your students look at. We're in Easter isn't a day. It's a season. We're in the Easter season now. And this will come out still in that season. And I was talking to my dear friend Richard Rohr on Good Friday and he said, Good Friday is, he gave me this image of Jesus' arms stretched out nailed to a cross saying to our world right now, I can't stop your coronavirus sufferings but I'm with you in it. I'm with you in them. And then Sunday I had a very powerful image that I used for Sunday of the hands now beckoning us and saying, Jesus says I can make all things new. What have we learned from this that needs to be made new? What broken systems and relationships and structures and the unequal suffering that we're seeing from this pandemic. So now we're in the season. Okay, how do we make things new? What needs to be made new? I think the worst part about the White House decision to have Easter be the opening of the economy and the country was not just a public health recklessness. It was that, but it's a fundamental misunderstanding of Easter. Easter was never to go back to normal. Easter was always to make things new. So what do we make new now in this coronavirus we can't control and time and we're either denying or we're controlling or we want to be able to predict and we can't. But we are learning from this some things and how does that allow us to enter our lives into making those things different and better and new going forward.

Kate Bowler:

Yeah. That's lovely. Yeah. Yeah. And I think the role of witness is so important I think in the contemplation of what Jesus has done for us. And it feels important now because I think, you know, we're all, we're all stuck in our perspective and we're so much more separate than we've been before and we really need that experience of, of trusting each other as witnesses, witnesses to both the injustice and the things that require wholeness and saying, I believe you and I'm willing to stand alongside you. And also the ability to like sort of gather up all the little breadcrumbs of hope so that we can all see it too. Because otherwise the not yetness of the kingdom of God is going to really kick us in the throat at a time like this. It's hard to even imagine things being new when you know, when you just lost your mom or you're one of those exposed professions and you have such an acute sense of all that is being lost. So yeah, I think the cloud of witnesses sounds like a really good idea right now in figuring out how to be Easter people.

Jim Wallis:

You know, I have the cloud of witnesses in my office here where I'm talking to you. It's a whole wall of the ... when Vincent Harding, who was a disciple of Dr. King and mentor of mine talked to me about how they're all faces. They're all the, you know, the ... Dorothy Day and Martin and Malcolm and Bonhoeffer. And if you look at them, they all inspire us. But none of them were great stories of success that they changed everything about their circumstances. But faithful is what they were. And the text says, you, you talking about that, that idea, it's they're invested in us. They're almost ... Vincent Harding would call them our, they're our cheerleaders up in the stands we're down in the field in the mud and the dirt. And they're wanting us to be faithful and their ultimate destiny is tied to ours. And they're, you know ... they're our cloud of witnesses that, they're not known for their success finally, but for their faithfulness and somehow there's no way they'll say, I shouldn't suffer. This shouldn't be happening, or I can fix it or deny it. No. How do I respond to it by being a follower of Jesus is always the hardest, the hardest thing for us in a time like this.

You have a podcast called everything happens. What did you mean by that? How does that open all this up for you?

Kate Bowler:

Well I guess I was just, I was thinking of, you know, in my own life there had been such a big before and after and after was when I knew like, oh, everything happens. And sometimes there's no great lesson. It just happens. And I found that the two communities that I love to be in connection with most are all those like me who are living in their kind of after life, like the, the life after the things they didn't choose. And then a lot of the folks that listen to the podcast are people who are really very purpose seeking. They picked professions that emotionally tire them out, they're pastors or doctors or nurses or social workers and they're looking for more of that language and community that helps us find a little, a little richer narrative for how to live in that place. So it's, yeah, it's just kind of a gathering place for those of us who want to know that we're not alone, even when life isn't perfect anymore.

Jim Wallis:

Well that's a great way to finish this conversation. It's like this time of social distancing where churches are going virtual and on the one hand we're physically distanced. On the other hand, I think in some ways we're getting closer. When I hear things people are doing around the country, connecting, really connecting, wanting to connect more deeply with each other and with the most vulnerable in particular. And how could this time of distancing could actually help us overcome some of the social isolation and build the community that you're talking about.

Kate Bowler:

I hope so.

Jim Wallis:

Well, we, we often don't know what the reason is, do we? But we know that finally in what happens, we find each other and we find God. And maybe that's the lesson this conversation teaches us today. So Kate, thank you again for joining us. To hear more from Kate, go to katebowler.com. Follow her on Twitter @KatecBowler and check out her latest book, The Preacher's Wife. We've got to talk about that sometime soon. All by itself. The precarious power of evangelical women celebrities. Interesting. Bless you. And thank you for the way you're helping to be a good professor by teaching us and maybe a bit of a pastor by encouraging us to, so thank you so much.