Picks and Pans Review: Son of a Preacher Man

updated 02/19/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/19/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Jay Bakker with Linden Gross

Televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker (now Messner), 61 and 58 respectively, have generally been portrayed in the media as stick-figure jokes or villains. In this memoir their son Jay, 25—a pastor whose own ministry, Revolution, targets what he calls "punks, skaters and hippies"—attempts to rehabilitate his parents' image. He proclaims Jim innocent of his 1989 fraud conviction, blames others—Jerry Falwell, in particular—for his parents' ruination and repeatedly describes his father's dalliance with Jessica Hahn as "a fifteen-minute affair," as if that excuses it. Even worse are Bakker's cliché-ridden takes on his bout with alcoholism and his spiritual struggles. "I could have given up," he writes of one religious crisis, "but Jesus found me." Well, that was convenient. (HarperSanFrancisco, $23)

Bottom Line: An unholy mess

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