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Damning Words

Provocative, iconoclastic, contrarian—words D. G. Hart uses to describe both himself and H. L. Mencken. These shared characteristics, plus a stint in Mencken's home town of Baltimore, have long drawn Hart to the famous journalist as a subject of study, and that study has now culminated in the new book Damning Words: The Life and Religious Times of H. L. Mencken, the newest volume in the Library of Religious Biography series.

Darryl Hart

For all their similarities, however, there are some striking differences between the two—differences that make Hart's new book all the more interesting. Mencken was a notable, and vociferous, agnostic—much of the sharpest criticism from his famously sharp wit was directed at Christianity—while Hart, his biographer, is an equally staunch Presbyterian. Though Mencken's vocal opposition to faith and its public forms might seem to make him an odd choice for a religious biography, Hart argues that it was Christianity that largely framed his ideas, career, and fame, making his relationship to the Christian faith at once antagonistic and symbiotic.

Darryl Hart is distinguished visiting assistant professor of history at Hillsdale College and the author or editor of more than twenty books, including Calvinism: A History and From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin. Hart holds an MTS from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD from Johns Hopkins, and he has also taught at Wheaton College and Westminster Theological Seminary.

Learn more in the recent EerdCast interview with Hart:

 

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