‘An Odd Cross to Bear’: The choices Ruth Bell Graham made as Billy Graham’s wife
"An Odd Cross to Bear" by Anne Blue Wills. - William Eerdmans/TNS/TNS

She believed in the death penalty and said that in countries where they have it, “I feel safer walking down the street.” Yet in 1978, Ruth Bell Graham befriended North Carolina’s death row inmate Velma Barfield, convicted of murdering seven people, including her own mother. And while there was no question about her devotion to her evangelist husband Billy Graham, Ruth lived much of her life apart from him, believing a good wife needs to be a happy wife. In a new and enlightening biography of Ruth Graham, “An Odd Cross to Bear” (William Eerdmans, $24.99), Davidson professor and chair of religio...