Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Billy Graham's book on aging well due in October

Thanks for stopping by on Day 1 of my brand new blog. My plan is to post a few times a week: I'll tell you what I'm hearing, reading, and thinking faith-wise.

For my debut post: News about Billy Graham, author.

The Charlotte-born evangelist will turn 93 on Nov. 7. And a few weeks before that -- Oct. 18, to be exact -- the Thomas Nelson publishing house will release Graham's first new book in five years.

"Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well" will focus on how to live -- and how to prepare for -- those twilight years.

Or as Graham spokesman Larry Ross told me: The book will be about "what it means to grow older with grace and how to find the guidance to finish well" in this life.

It's a subject that's real to Graham, as I reported in 2008: "As a Christian, I know how to die, Graham has told family and friends, but nobody ever taught me how to grow old."

Ross offered a preview of some of the themes in "Nearing Home":
  • The time to prepare for our senior years is now -- no matter our age. While we often think of preparing financially for retirement, it's even more important to prepare spiritually and emotionally.
  • If we make into old age, it's because God still has a purpose for us. Find out what it is. Moses and other biblical heroes made their mark late in life.
  • Part of the joy and fulfillment in this late stage of life is discovering God's strength in sustaining us.
But I had to ask Ross: Given Graham's physical limitations -- his eyesight and hearing are fading or worse -- how does he write a book?

Mostly by coming up with the concepts and some examples himself and talking it through with staff, Ross said.

"Then one of his long-time associates helped to put it into manuscript form, drawing on those conversations as well as some of Mr. Graham's original writings and sermons on the subject," Ross said. "Then, as that was read back to him, he made significant changes. He was very involved in the process."

It's a process that took years -- it began in earnest in 2007, after Graham's wife, Ruth, died.

I also talked to Jean Ford, Graham's little sister, who lives in Charlotte.

She visited her brother three weeks ago. And she found him up to the task of authoring a book -- as long as he didn't have to do the physical writing.

"He can't see much. And he can't hear much. You have to yell at him to be heard. And he can't walk much. But his mind is very clear," she reported. "He was remarkable -- very engaging and interacting with us."

Ford said she reminded him of the times in the late-1930s and early 1940s when she used to look for his car coming down Park Road to the family dairy farm. In those days, she said, only four or five cars would drive down Park Road all day.

"I told him, 'I'd look for your car to come home.' And he told me, "That's the way I felt when you were coming to see me today,'" she said.


Anonymous said...

It's pretty easy to endure the twilight years with all the money folk have thrown at Graham for so long. For others? Probably not so much.

Lambie said...

It's so sad that "anonymous" thinks life is all about money. I know many very elderly people with little money who are coping with old age about the same as Rev. Graham. It's not money that sustains Rev Graham or my friends, it's about attitude about love.

Anonymous said...

One final money grab by this shameless huckster.

Anonymous said...

Greatest con man ever & still going.

Anonymous said...

I'd still rather die a poor, young atheist than a rich old preacher.

Anonymous said...

If you want to age well, you had better be a slab of prime beef!

Anonymous said...

Apparently "aging" and "growing up" are two different things. One ages by getting older. One grows up when he quits believing in childish fairy tales. Too bad Graham couldn't write a book about growing up.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ July 28, 2011 6:35 AM.

One also grows up when he stops going out of his way to criticize others for having a belief that he doesn't share.

Anonymous said...

A book about aging well should be written by George Beverly Shea. He turns 103 in February.