Damning Words: The Life and Religious Times of H. L. Mencken
D. G. Hart
With a Foreword by Mark A. Noll
H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) was a reporter, literary critic, editor, author—and a famous American agnostic. From his role in the Scopes Trial to his advocacy of science and reason in public life, Mencken is generally regarded as one of the fiercest critics of Christianity in his day.
Superbly portrays an influential figure in twentieth-century America and casts telling new light on his era.
In this biography D. G. Hart presents a provocative, iconoclastic perspective on Mencken’s life. Even as Mencken vividly debunked American religious ideals, says Hart, it was Christianity that largely framed his ideas, career, and fame. Mencken’s relationship to the Christian faith was at once antagonistic and symbiotic.
Using plenty of Mencken’s own words, Damning Words superbly portrays an influential figure in twentieth-century America and, at the same time, casts telling new light on his era.
D. G. Hart teaches history at Hillsdale College and has written several books on the history of Christianity, including Calvinism: A History and From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism.
— University of Pennsylvania
“H. L. Mencken has finally met his match. Darryl Hart has a high intelligence, an ability to write, and the sensibility of a Roger Williams Calvinist. He puts them all to use in this biography of one of America’s most notorious non-believers. The result is a delight to read, illuminating Mencken and the journalistic culture of the United States in the first half of the twentieth century.”
— editor of The American Conservative
“Darryl Hart shows why H. L. Mencken is exactly the critic Christian conservatives and New Atheists most need to hear—a foe of progressive pieties who’s unafraid to laugh at the culture war.”