STRENGTH FOR THE JOURNEY: An Autobiography by Jerry Falwell
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Mr. Moral Majority uncloaks his past in this lively, outspoken, sometimes sentimental, sometimes preachy autobiography. ""We are born into a war zone where the forces of God do battle with the forces of evil,"" thunders Falwell. This admonition lends high drama to his tale, as he evaluates each person he encounters not only by outward acts but in terms of an invisible spiritual history, the ""lifelong human struggle against sin."" Perhaps the most remarkable figure here is Falwell's alcoholic father Carey, a wily entrepreneur who sponsored cockfights, bootlegged whiskey, ran a dance hall, and fell prey to the barb-tailed ""Enemy"" when he shot and killed his younger brother in 1931. Falwell inherited some of his father's: wildness--an ardent practical joker, Jerry once dropped a three-foot alligator into the family tub minutes before his wife went in for her bath. But he also inherited the religious leanings of his mother, a sturdy Baptist piousness that came to fruition when he was ""born again"" in Lynchburg, Va. in 1952. A few years later, he established the Thomas Road Baptist Church and began his spectacular TV preaching career. Falwell moves swiftly through the expansion of his evangelical empire, which grew to include homes for alcoholics and pregnant teens, Liberty University, and, of course, the Moral Majority. The book concludes with an examination of the PTL scandal, highlighted by a harsh attack on Jim Bakker. Despite the hot PTL material, the appeal of this book lies not in Fatwell's recountting of his public career, but in the details of his warm family life, the blunt sermons that punctuate the action, and his confessions--about his father's alcoholism, about his own struggle against his long-held racist assumptions. At times, the Jerry Falwell that liberals love to hate emerges: of the press's handling of the PTL crisis, he writes that ""One more time, the Enemy used the media in his attempt to conquer and to divide the body of Christ."" But for the most part, this is a hard-headed, engaging self-history by a man who sees the world in black-and-white and is proud of it.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1987
Publisher: Simon & Schuster