Former newspaper editor publishes book on Billy Graham

by: Blair Miller Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - In one month, Rev. Billy Graham turns 95 years old and next week, he has a new book coming out.

He still has a lot to say, but others in the area have a lot to say about him.

They are writing their own books about the man known as "America's Preacher."

Ken Garfield, former religion editor for The Charlotte Observer, read from a letter that Graham wrote him 10 years ago.

It was about the same time when Garfield got the idea to write a book about the evangelist.

He spent years covering Graham.

"What I wanted to write was sort of an unabashed appreciation, not over the top but sort of an unabashed appreciation of a lifetime that was amazing," Garfield said.

The book, "Billy Graham: A Life in Pictures," is a collection of photos and stories from Graham's childhood in Charlotte to his adult life and worldwide ministry.

"There is this growing focus and appreciation of Graham," Garfield said. "Let's do this now, let's put it out even before he passes away and celebrate his life while he is still with us."

Anne Blue Wills, associate professor of religion at Davidson College, agrees.

She's working with professors from two other universities, to write their own book about Graham that points to his dynamic preaching, particularly in his early days.

"It's just magnetic," she said. "And a little bit scary, and you also have the sense that he's talking directly to you."

Blue Wills thinks that magnetism is lost on today's youth and her students know little, if anything, about Graham.

"If they're from the area, they will at least be able to come up with Billy Graham Parkway," she said. "But beyond that, there's really not an awareness."

Garfield said most people younger than 30 years old do not understand Graham's legacy, which includes preaching to more people than any other evangelist in history.

Garfield said the world will never see anyone else like Graham.

"The world is too distracted," Garfield said. "There are too many TV stations and too many distractions for one person to galvanize everybody, religiously or otherwise."

Graham's book, "The Reason For My Hope," comes out next week and there will be a national broadcast Nov. 7 on his birthday.