Bowler's take on the Prosperity movement is hardly boosterish or all-embracing. She questions its inclination to lean toward short-term answers to economic problems while ignoring systemic solutions. Additionally, she is troubled by the movement's penchant for end-times speculation and near-unquestioning support for a Zionist vision of Israel. Throughout her book there are anecdotes and examples of biblical interpretation that will no doubt leave those outside the Prosperity movement shaking their heads.
Nonetheless, in its overall trajectory, Blessed serves as a corrective to dismissive stereotypes. It reminds us, as well, of the Prosperity movement's internal coherence, as well as its important function in the lives of many American Christians as a source of hope, values, and personal and communal improvement.
Larry Eskridge is associate director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College. He is the author of God's Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America (Oxford University Press).