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What Bill O’Reilly Taught Me

Passionate Civility
By: Jonathan Harris

After watching a clip tonight of Bill O’Reilly exchanging heated words with some liberal guy (frankly I don’t remember his name) defending a position quite contrary to Bill’s, I realized something– Bill and his guests have an interesting habit. Of course, I’ve seen this sort of behavior many times before, but tonight I really grasped something new.

Two, can have a spirited debate, while at the same time remaining civil.

This struck me as significant. I mean, think about it. O’Reilly is the highest rated show on cable news, and yet he exhibits what is thought to be one of the most undesirable qualities in the extreme. He’s controversial! Some, who have redefined the word, would also assert that his show is rather “offensive.” Offensive or not, it’s interesting that after a debate ends, both parties generally share a laugh, shake hands, and crack a couple smiles, as if they shared peanut butter sandwiches in their kindergarten years or something. It’s obvious that both O’Reilly and (pick any of them) virtually all his liberal guests are very “intolerant” (by the modern definition) of each other’s positions; yet they can still remain civil on a personal level. While I am not in favor of the “harsh answers” or shouting fits, there’s something beneficial there. Namely: We don’t have to agree to get along. As a Christian, who has heard numerous times of my intolerance precisely for my lack of consensus on a certain topic, it’s good to see that a large part of the culture (O’Reilly viewers) understand that agreement and friendship can be on two separate plains. This is something many Christian’s need to learn as well. (Yes, I’m referring to all those who get bent out of shape every time someone disagrees with you on speaking in tongues, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, or eschatology.) This is one talking point, Christians can factor into their lives. Thanks Bill.

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