Every weekday at noon I take an hour break from work to eat a sandwich and some little carrots. During that time, the availability of two NPR-affiliate stations affords me a radio choice between two excellent news analysis programs: Boston WBUR's Robin Young, who hosts Here & Now, or Philly's WHYY presentation of Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross.
Today I chose to listen to Terry's interview with evangelical Christian leader C. Peter Wagner, and I'm glad I did.
I am a Christian who happens to live in the USA, which is a nation that cherishes freedom of speech, and respects a multiplicity of opinions. Although I frequently discern a gulf of difference between Terry Gross' worldview and mine, I have often admired the sensitivity and skill with which she conducts interviews. Terry chooses her interviewees from a wide array of philosophically diverse personalities. including some persons who are markedly different from herself. This was one of them.
At no time has Terry's respectful sensitivity been better demonstrated than it was today in her conversation with Peter Wagner.
Mr. Wagner represents a charismatic Christian subculture with which I have some common history and familiarity. Terry Gross represents a free-thinking secularist intellectual culture that is, in many ways, antithetical to Peter Wagner's.
The inquistive exchange between their two gentle souls today was an example of civility that is sorely lacking in today's cacophany of combative discourse.
I'll not say much more about their discussion. You can listen on the link above. I will, however, quote from Mr. Wagner's final comment to Terry, which was "I really congratulate you for the good research you've done."
In other words, Terry took the time to explore what fundamentalist preacher Wagner really stood for, instead of forming her interview strategy on caricaturized stereotypes or political exaggerations. The result was exquisitely instructive, and an example of the exploratory enquiry that public media should aspire to.
As for Mr. Wagner, this apostle, who was chosen to represent the so-called dominion theology movement of contemporary Christendom... I commend his unique optimism, founded upon a love-centered faith that is rarely seen these days. At one point he said to Terry: "I think the world is going to get better and better...He (Jesus) will return to a very strong world...reflecting the kingdom of God-- not the miserable world we live in today."