I heard a classic example this morning. While I drove to work today, my favorite morning radio hosts, Tim & Al on KJSL (AM 630 in Saint Louis), interviewed Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine.
Bear in mind, now, that Tim Berends and Al Gross are conservative evangelical Christians, men who believe that the Bible is true from cover to cover, and Larry Flynt is the millionaire publisher of some of the raunchiest pornography available over the counter. (As a young news reporter in Chicago, I was at the courthouse when Flynt arrived for his famous First Amendment case wearing the American flag as a diaper.)
When Tim announced their guest, I reached for the tuner. I didn’t want to listen to what was bound to be an uncomfortable confrontation. Surely, I thought, Flynt has no clue he’s about to be interviewed by Christians.
I’m glad I didn’t change the station.
Tim & Al managed to keep the interview on a very genial level, even when they challenged Flynt’s atheistic beliefs. For his part, Flynt conducted himself like a gentleman, even though he must have realized that he’d been ambushed in a low-key way. And to their credit, Tim & Al got Larry Flynt to agree to read a book they’re going to send on the scientific proofs of the Bible’s accuracy.
Wow. Who knows what might happen?
Anyway, Tim Berends and Al Gross deserve congratulations for the interview. It was gutsy, and it probably rubbed some of their listeners the wrong way. But this is exactly the kind of engagement we’re supposed to have with those around us. Most of the people we encounter this way won’t agree with us, and many of them will get angry. That’s okay.
Tim & Al conducted themselves in a biblical manner, addressing Mr. Flynt with gentleness and respect. It was a great lesson, and I’m glad I listened today.