Grant Wacker is Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Christian History at Duke University Divinity School. This interview is based on his new book, America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation (Belknap Press, September, 2014).
JF: What led you to write America’s Pastor?
GW: A suggestion from historian Mark Noll that the time is ripe for a fresh look at Billy Graham’s relation to broader trends in American culture.
JF: In two sentences, what is the argument of America’s Pastor?
GW: The book argues that Graham’s success is at least partly attributable to his extraordinary ability to appropriate trends in the culture and then apply them to his purposes of personal evangelism and moral reform of the nation (and world).
JF: Why do we need to read America’s Pastor?
GW: I hope that it supplements the excellent biographical work of William Martin and others with a focus on the relation between Graham and post World War II America.
JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?
GW: I went to Harvard Divinity School hoping to become a philosopher of religion, but I took a required course from William Hutchison, and found myself hooked for life!
JF: What is your next project?
GW: I am working with Harry Stout at Yale and Laurie Maffly-Kipp at Washington University on a study of American religious history with a clear focus on religion’s embeddedness in the wider context of American life. Differently put, we hope to show that the adjective American really counts.
Thanks Grant, sounds exciting!
Thanks to Megan Piette for her work in facilitating this installment of the Author’s Corner