Published by Oxford University Press, 2013
Religion Newswriters Association Nonfiction Book of the Year
“Pathbreaking and gracefully narrated.” —The Nation
“This is a book to be reckoned with. In terms of its comprehensive grasp of the evangelical movement, its detailed research, and its serious approach to understanding the evangelical mind, Apostles of Reason stands nearly alone… Any serious-minded evangelical should read it.” –R. Albert Mohler Jr., The Gospel Coalition
“Beautifully written and compellingly argued, it should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand American evangelicalism or the broader religious tension between head and heart.”–American Historical Review
“Worthen’s a beguiling portraitist.” —Slate
“The most exciting history of evangelical intellectual life to appear in decades.” —Books & Culture
Evangelical Christianity is a paradox. Evangelicals are radically individualist, but devoted to community and family. They believe in the transformative power of a personal relationship with God, but are wary of religious enthusiasm. They are deeply skeptical of secular reason, but eager to find scientific proof that the Bible is true.
In this groundbreaking history of modern American evangelicalism, Molly Worthen argues that these contradictions are the products of a crisis of authority that lies at the heart of the faith. Evangelicals have never had a single authority to guide them through these dilemmas or settle the troublesome question of what the Bible actually means. Worthen chronicles the ideological warfare, institutional conflict, and clashes between modern gurus and maverick disciples that lurk behind the more familiar narrative of the rise of the Christian Right. The result is an ambitious intellectual history that weaves together stories from all corners of the evangelical world to explain the ideas and personalities-the scholarly ambitions and anti-intellectual impulses-that have made evangelicalism a cultural and political force.
In Apostles of Reason, Worthen recasts American evangelicalism as a movement defined not by shared doctrines or politics, but by the problem of reconciling head knowledge and heart religion in an increasingly secular America. She shows that understanding the rise of the Christian Right in purely political terms, as most scholars have done, misses the heart of the story. The culture wars of the late twentieth century emerged not only from the struggle between religious conservatives and secular liberals, but also from the civil war within evangelicalism itself-a battle over how to uphold the commands of both faith and reason, and how ultimately to lead the nation back onto the path of righteousness.
Published by Houghton Mifflin, 2006
“This is one of the most artful biographies I’ve read….compelling…told with the language and sensitivity of a novelist.” –John Judis, editor-at-large for Talking Points Memo
“Engrossing…I highly recommend it.” –Henry Kissinger
“[A] subtle, penetrating, and completely absorbing portrait.” —Boston Globe
“Fascinating…It is a story that often reads like a combination of Philip Roth’s ‘Ghost Writer’ and A.S. Byatt’s ‘Possession.'” –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
A brilliant new voice— lively and contrarian—turns biography on its head in this remarkable story of a diplomat and his disciple.
As a college freshman, Molly Worthen wrote the words “Charles Hill Is God” on the inside cover of her history and politics notebook. Hill was her professor, a former diplomat and behind-the-scenes operator who shaped American foreign policy in his forty-year career as an adviser to Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, among others. Hill’s Grand Strategy class (taught with John Lewis Gaddis and Paul Kennedy) developed a cult following at Yale, and Worthen soon found herself caught in his aura.
We’ve all had a teacher, at one time or another, who showed us the world, clarified our fuzzy thinking, and made us grow up. At Yale, Hill was worldly-wise and never afraid to tell students how to think or what to do. For a generation adrift, he proved irresistible—sometimes dangerously so—and Worthen was determined to get inside his head.
The Man on Whom Nothing Was Lost is the story of Worthen’s quest and the man who fueled it. She began in his classroom, recording his every word in her spiral notebook, allowing him to shape her. Years later, as his biographer, she found that she was shaping him.
Surprisingly, Hill granted Worthen full access to his life, meticulously documented in over 25,000 pages of notes on everything from the Iran-Contra affair to the dissolution of his marriage. In the end, she was forced to reconcile the teacher she admired with the man she learned was brilliant, but fallible.She put Hill’s classroom lessons to the ultimate test: she applied them to his own life.
The result is a genre-busting book—one that charts the intricate relationship between biographer and subject, student and teacher, even as it illuminates a momentous period in American history. Psychologically astute and passionately written, it lays bare the joy as well as the heartache of coming to know someone you once revered.