Kate Bowler standing in Duke Chapel with the organ in the background

Kate Bowler

Kate Bowler is a big fan of truth-telling. She likes to say, “if you have ever ruined some perfectly good small talk at a party with your honesty, we’re already friends.”

Well, here’s a tip: If you ever run into Bowler at a party, skip the small talk. Her personal tale is fascinating, and she has a lot to say. And a lot to ask.

Bowler, a Duke Divinity professor, gained national recognition for detailing her Stage IV cancer diagnosis in four best-selling books including, Everything Happens for a Reason (and Other Lies I’ve Loved) and No Cure for Being Human (and Other Truths I Need to Hear). She also wrote about it in The New York Times. She is now cancer-free and subsequently started the Everything Happens podcast about life and the human struggle.

Bowler did undergraduate work at Macalester College, earned her master’s degree at Yale and her doctorate at Duke, where she is now an associate professor of American religious history. In the classroom, she discusses the cultural stories we tell ourselves about success, suffering, and whether (or not) we’re capable of change. On her podcast, which has run for 12 seasons and been downloaded more than 18 million times, she talks to funny and wise people about how to live with the knowledge that, well, everything happens.

Kate Bowler recording in a podcast studio at Duke

Her guests are a diverse bunch: Comedian Rob Delaney discussed humor and truth-telling in the wake of his son’s death. Cardiologist Haider Warraich talked about managing his chronic pain. Actress Minka Kelly shared about being raised by (and forgiving) a complicated mother.

The range of topics, guests, and stories seems appropriate given Bowler’s mantra: “Life is so beautiful, and life is so hard. For everyone.”