Heidelcast 120: D. G. Hart On H. L. Mencken

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) was one of the most influential writers of the 1st half of the 20th century. He was a skeptic about religion but had a keen eye and a sharp tongue. It was he who described Sister Aimee’s religion as “magic and noise.” He was a newspaper man, a columnist, and a scholar of the English language and he did it all without so much as a college education. Mencken has been a fascination of Darryl Hart’s for a long time and now he’s gone and done something about it: He’s written a new religious biography of Menken, Damning Words: The Life and Religious Times of H. L. Menken just published by Eerdmans and available on Amazon and at good book stores everywhere.

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  1. Mencken was also a singularly unattractive individual. His private diaries, released after his death, show him an admirer of Hitler. He, along with George Bernard Shaw, Clarence Darrow, and other “luminaries” of the early 20th century show the era to have been a golden age of cleverness devoid of wisdom, perhaps a warning of where proud defiance of God leads.

    • Peter,

      The list of people who admired Hitler in the early days of the Reich would be very long indeed.

      Are you suggesting that we should not read these people or pay attention to them or learn from them? E.g., Perhaps had the Christian response to Darrow been more like Machen’s and less like Bryan’s things would have gone differently in the years after?

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