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Letter to the editor

To the Editor:

In its Aug. 26 issue, The Waltonian reported the sudden death of radio talk show host Irv Homer, who suffered a fatal heart attack on the stage of McInnis Hall last June.  The Delaware Valley will miss the acerbic wit and pluck of a man who fearlessly addressed controversial subjects.

A few years ago, I had an interesting encounter on the air with Mr. Homer.  En route to campus from visiting University donors, I tuned into his show.  He invited audience comments about strident Christian proselytizing tactics, especially with Jews.  Apparently, he’d been a victim of such over-the-top tactics and understandably found them a turn-off.  A cadre of callers related similar tales of being harangued by vociferous evangelicals.  It was a dark morning for those close to Christ’s Great Commission.

From my office, I called the studio and told the producer I was a Christian and thought I could contribute to the topic.  A few minutes later, I was on the air.  Mr. Homer was respectful of what must have been transmitted to him as “an opposing view,” but I could tell he was ready for battle.  He was probably disappointed when I shared my belief that evangelism is effective only when it is inviting, warm and considerate—and that hard-nosed tactics of argumentative bluster were both wrong and ineffective.  He concurred that Jesus never engaged people that way.

Mr. Homer didn’t cut me off or take me to task—not even when I offered a capsule summary of the truth of the Gospel to his listening audience.  He stopped me short of expanding on it but couldn’t have been more respectful and open in his demeanor.  That’s not easy for a radio talk show host who spends so much time sautéed in topical controversies.  We closed the call with mutual thanks and appreciation.

This brief encounter demonstrated to me afresh the importance for Christians to share their faith in ways that don’t cause nonbelievers to feel they’ve been bludgeoned with the Bible.  I’ll miss Irv Homer.  There were things he espoused with which I disagreed, but I found him fair and open-minded.  All of us could take a page or two from his distinguished book.

– James G. Rogers
Vice President
Eastern University

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