BILLY GRAHAM: The Man and His Ministry by Mary Bishop

BILLY GRAHAM: The Man and His Ministry

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A chatty, superficial, lavishly illustrated (250 photos) trifle from the gee-whiz school of journalism. Bishop, who writes for the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, tries to steer a middle course between adulation and debunking. She gushes over Graham's sex appeal (""his majestic Charlton Heston handsomeness"") and his phenomenal success, but she also looks into the vaguely corrupt finances of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and makes passing references to various critics of his theology and politics. The information she dishes up tends to the trivial--e.g., Graham has a grapefruit, an egg, bran flakes, grits, and two cups of coffee for breakfast; his blood pressure, without medication, runs about 135/90-- but that's not all her fault: Graham keeps his private life under wraps, and whatever unedifying secrets he may have, his public image precludes his revealing them. Nevertheless, a reasonably clear picture does emerge from Bishop's artless report. We see a simple, honest, unimaginative man, propelled by chance and his golden tongue to a prominence he enjoys but can't altogether handle (witness his fiasco with Nixon). Graham's mythic stature says more about America than about the man himself, and future historians will doubtless study him as a symbol of conservative values in the Fifties and Sixties. In the meantime we'll have to make do with timid, banal biographies like this one.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1978
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap