In his recent biography of Billy Graham, Grant Wacker nicknamed the Baptist preacher “America’s pastor.” Owing to a prolific career that began in 1949 and has now spanned nearly 70 years, which saw him as the spiritual advisor to multiple U.S. presidents, the moniker is arguably fitting. Graham began his career at a pivotal time in American history, as Cold War anxieties pitted American piety against “godless communists.”
One of the characteristic idiosyncrasies of Americans is that they are always fretting about their identity. They are a people constantly asking themselves, what does it mean to be a “real American”? There are certain literary figures we can instantly associate with the issue of American identity.
Matthew McCullough argues that the Spanish-American War signaled a crucial turning point in American self-understanding and self-justification.
As the imam spoke, it struck me that a whole generation of Muslim Americans would grow up feeling the weight of self-consciousness.