The World and Everything in It: April 12, 2024 | WORLD
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The World and Everything in It: April 12, 2024


WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It: April 12, 2024

On Culture Friday, moral clarity about surrogacy, gender, and abortion; a review of the new film Civil War; and for Word Play, guarding against clichés. Plus, the Friday morning news

Wagner Moura in a scene from Civil War Associated Press/Photo by A24

PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like me, Dale Hermann from North Prairie, Wisconsin. I’m the executive director for Compass Wisconsin. I hope you enjoy today’s program.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning! Today on Culture Friday: a declaration on human dignity, a good week and not so good week for women’s sports, and the Trump compromise on abortion.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Lots to talk about today on Culture Friday. Katie McCoy will join us in a few minutes.

Later: a new movie set in a dystopian future that reminds Americans that we’re capable of a war against ourselves.

AUDIO: Okay. What kind of American are you?

And George Grant with Wordplay: what Orwell has to say about the dreadful cliche.

BROWN: It’s Friday, April 12th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

BROWN: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Wray, Sen. Jordan on Section 702 » House Republicans will try again today to advance a bill to reauthorize government surveillance powers set to expire next week.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified Thursday:

WRAY: An absolutely indispensable tool that Congress can give us in our fight against foreign adversaries is the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Intelligence and law enforcement agencies say the authority is a critical tool for detecting dire threats from terrorists or foreign adversaries like China and Russia.

The second attempt comes just days after a group of Republicans revolted, blocking the bill.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan says GOP holdouts are not trying to kill Section 702, but …

JORDAN: The way our system works is, you’ve got to go to a separate but equal branch of government and get a probable cause warrant if you’re going to go look through people’s stuff. We think it should apply to this program as well. That’s the hangup on the legislation.

Wray argues such a provision would—his words—“gut” the program.

Former President Donald Trump has called for an end to the program, saying it was used illegally to spy on his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trilateral White House meeting » At the White House on Thursday President Biden met with the leaders of two critical Asian allies united by a common threat.

BIDEN: Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, today we mark a historic moment, the first ever leader summit between the United States, Japan, and the Philippines.

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida joined Biden in the East Room. They sat at tables arranged in horseshoe fashion in front of a row of cameras.

Marcos said the three nations share common purposes.

MARCOS: We seek to identify ways of growing our economies and making them more resilient, sustaining our development progress, and forging a more peaceful world for the next generation.

But the common purpose that chiefly brought them together on Thursday is China.

BIDEN: The United States Defense commitments to Japan and to the Philippines are ironclad. Any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels or armed forces in the South China Sea would invoke our mutual defense treaty.

Tensions are high in the region with repeated skirmishes between the Philippine and Chinese coast guards in the South China Sea with Beijing making more and more territorial claims.

And China’s furious push to build up its military has Japan doing the same thing for the first time since World War II.

Kashida addresses Congress » Hours earlier on Capitol Hill …

AUDIO: Mr. Speaker, the prime minister of Japan [Applause]

Prime Minister Kishida addressed a joint session of Congress.

He told lawmakers that American leadership on the global stage still matters.

KISHIDA: I detect an undercurrent of self-doubt among some Americans about what your role in the world should be.

He said the United States, “When necessary,” has made “noble sacrifices to fulfill its commitment to a better world.” he said American leadership is as vital as ever.

Biden gun show rule » The Biden administration has announced a new rule that the White House says will close the so-called ‘gun show loophole.’

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says it will save lives …

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: By requiring background checks for all gun dealers engaged in the business of firearms dealing.

The policy requires anyone selling a firearm at a gun show to become a licensed gun dealer and run the same background checks on potential buyers that brick-and-mortar stores have to perform.

But the rule is expected to face legal challenges with some gun rights advocacy groups saying it runs afoul of the Second Amendment.

Harvard reinstates mandatory standardized testing » Harvard University is bringing back standardized testing requirements for all applicants. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN: In 2020, the Ivy League school made tests like the SAT and ACT optional in the admissions process.

The school said the testing requirements were unfair to minorities and low-income students. But the school now cites research indicating that standardized testing makes the process less biased and is predictive of a student’s success.

And Harvard is reinstalling the testing requirement … beginning with the class of 20-29.

Other schools reinstating standardized testing after ditching it include Yale, Dartmouth, MIT, and Georgetown.

For WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

OJ Simpson » O.J. Simpson has died of cancer at the age of 76. The football star was a Heisman Trophy winner and six-time Pro-Bowler who went on to a successful acting career.

AUDIO: This list isn’t for replacements. It’s to build new jobs if the plant expands.

Simpson heard there in an episode of In the Heat of the Night.

But in 1994, he became more famous than ever for all the wrong reasons. He was accused of a brutal double murder in what many called the ‘trial of the century.’

AUDIO: We, the jury, in the above-entitled action, find the Defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder.

After his controversial acquittal, Simpson was found civilly liable for the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend. He later served 9 years in prison on unrelated charges.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: Culture Friday with Katie McCoy. Plus, this month’s Word Play.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday the 5th of April, 2024.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I'm Nick Eicher. Time now for Culture Friday. Joining us is author and speaker Katie McCoy. Katie, it's always great to see you. And welcome back. Good morning.

KATIE MCCOY: Good morning, Nick and Myrna!

EICHER: Hey, let's begin with that declaration that came out on Monday, the Vatican statement, a declaration on human dignity. It identifies what it calls “grave violations of human dignity.” It is a rather lengthy list. It includes abortion, euthanasia, and surrogate motherhood. Now, none of us here is Roman Catholic. I think, though there's a lot to appreciate in terms of moral clarity. And especially when you consider some mixed signals that have come from this pope. I assume you've seen the document and you have some thoughts on it. So tell us what you think.

MCCOY: I did. And it was some welcome clarity on these cultural issues. Now, we certainly are aware of the moral issues like abortion and euthanasia. Surrogacy is something that in some ways we Protestants are catching up with in terms of a moral and ethical issue. We tend to think of surrogacy as a friend maybe bearing the child of another friend who can't physically have a baby. But in real life, real world circumstances, that is a rarity. So much of surrogacy has to do with commercial surrogacy, particularly in third world countries, where women are impoverished. And having a baby is a way to really sustain and provide for themselves financially. And one of the ironies here too—especially in our socially justice conscious world—is that there are a lot of wealthy white people who will effectively rent the womb of an impoverished third world woman. And so the pope bringing this up and putting it on the same plane as offense of human dignity as abortion and euthanasia is bringing some very needed conversation as we talk about this as an ethical issue.

BROWN: Well, Katie, this was a pretty good week for women's sports. And I want to ask you about a comment from one of the coaches. But I want to begin with this first: the National Association for intercollegiate athletes said, “NAIA athletes can compete in the league's male sports competitions, but only biological females can compete in the league's women's competitions.” Now, it seems like we're close to being on the other side of the eclipse of reason on this issue. It's getting brighter, I think. If if you'd seen this six months ago, would you have been more surprised by the announcement than maybe now? 

MCCOY: Yeah, love that eclipse reference there, Myrna. Yeah, this is some, also some welcome news from a very different sphere of society. In some ways, it's a surprise. But in others, I think we have been leading to this place for several years. And now we're seeing some organizations start to speak out and create policies. I hope that we will see that pattern continue in international sports, as well. Now, the thing to watch, though, is how this issue continues to become politically partisan and entrenched on different sides of the political aisle. Because really, people see a news story like this, and they don't think about it in terms of the biological differences between male and female, they're thinking about it often in terms of the political camp, in which they find themselves fitting. And so that's just one of the ways that we have to keep going back not only to facts, but reasoning with people who have been inundated by a lot of messages that fit one particular political slant, and have been silenced by another.

BROWN: Okay, well, now, Coach Dawn Staley, the head coach of the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks and women's NCAA champs, so a reporter asked her if men ought to be able to play in women's sports. And here's what she said:

DAWN STANLEY: I'm on the, I mean, I'm on the the opinion of, of if you're a woman you should play. If you consider yourself a woman and you want to play sports or vice versa, you should be able to play. That's, that's my opinion. You want me to go deeper?

REPORTER: Do you think transgender women should be able to participate?

STANLEY: That's your question, I mean, you want to ask? So I'll give you that. Yes, yes. So now, the barnstorm of people are gonna flood my timeline and be a distraction to me, one of the biggest days of of, of our game, and I'm okay with that. I really am.

BROWN: Katie, I can't imagine she'd want to jeopardize her winning streak. Right? Taking a terrific women's team and having them compete against men?

MCCOY: Ironic, isn't it? You know, it reminded me of when Megan Rapinoe, the female soccer player, advocated for biological men in women's sports after her competitive career was over. So after she didn't actually have to compete over a biological male. And then of course, we hear about world famous athletes like Serena Williams talking about how there's no way that she would be able to beat a guy, because of these ingrained cellular differences between male and female. Interesting, the coach talked about it in terms of both, if you are a woman, and if you believe that you are a woman, or consider yourself a woman. And that really is if you're going to boil it all down what the debate is over. So the only defining factor in whether someone is a woman or not, culture says, is your self perception. And so, interestingly, she she kind of codified the whole debate down into that one statement.

EICHER: Hey we really, I think, need to talk about former President Trump, Katie, and his statement on abortion politics this week. Let's take a quick listen to some of what he had to say.

DONALD TRUMP: My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, to states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both. And whatever they decide must be the law of the land, in this case, the law of the state.

EICHER: So in the statement, Trump also endorsed in vitro fertilization, and he suggested that the Republicans really need to be careful not to politically overreach on life issues.

TRUMP: Now, it's up to the states to do the right thing. Like Ronald Reagan, I am strongly in favor of exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. You must follow your heart on this issue. But remember, you must also win elections to restore our culture, and in fact, to save our country.

EICHER: Trump did take credit for appointing justices who overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the issue back to the states. And he added that Democrats were the ones who are the radicals on the issue for supporting unfettered abortion. So here's my question for you, Katie, we listened to the terrific Abby Johnson this week. She spoke with our colleague, Mary Reichard. You know who Abby is. She's the former Planned Parenthood abortion business director, turned pro-life activist. When we talked to her she did not sound open at all to the Trump pragmatic argument. Here's what she said, and I'll, quote, "I would rather lose 25 years of elections, if that meant that people will finally stand up and stop compromising on the issue of abortion." Now, I know you have a slightly different perspective on that, and I'd love to hear what you have to say.

MCCOY: You know, I think this story, or people's reaction to this story, is reflecting the degree to which we believe our government should reflect our absolute beliefs. Now, Abby Johnson is one of the leading voices in the pro-life movement, with good reason. I so admire her idealism, and I'm grateful for her uncompromising commitment. 

But consider this: to lose 25 years of elections means losing 25 years worth of judicial appointees, judicial appointees whose jurisprudence can lead to overturning unjust laws, like Roe was, or judicial appointees who can legislate from the bench and overturn lawful popular pro-life votes. So even if the public was swayed to a right view of the dignity and legal protections for preborn infants, by the time we could have inherited that view, we could also have inherited a judicial system that legally circumvents that.

Now, neither candidate is particularly stellar, to say the least, right? And follow your heart is hardly a policy. It certainly isn't a very good policy. But I'm of the belief that incremental legal wins are still wins, similar to how Wilberforce abolished slavery without a war through incremental legal change. I wouldn't want to lose elections with judicial appointee power in the name of idealism necessarily. But that's just what that is. 

Keep in mind, it's a legal win, not one that changes the hearts and minds of the people. We are always going to have the mandate as part of our great commission to go into the world, teach everything that God has entrusted us to teach. We are bringing the kingdom and the justice of God into the world. But there will be a limit to how much our sinful world can reflect the justice of God. 

So, we work towards the common good as part of our mandate from God. But historically, spiritual reform has always preceded political reform. I think we've got to keep that hand in hand. 

BROWN: Katie McCoy is an author and speaker. Her most recent book is titled To Be a Woman: The Confusion over Female Identity and How Christians Can Respond. Thanks so much, Katie.

MCCOY: Always good to be with you.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, April 12th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a film about America at war with itself.

The movie Civil War debuts in theaters today, but the film doesn’t have anything to do with the conflict between the North and South that happened in the 1860s.

EICHER: Nothing at all. This movie imagines what it would be like if contemporary America decided to tear itself apart.

Here’s arts and culture editor Collin Garbarino.

RADIO NEWS: Nineteen states have seceded… The United States Army ramps up activity… The White House issued warnings to the Western Forces as well as the Florida Alliance… The three-term president assures the uprising will be dealt with swiftly…

COLLIN GARBARINO: Let me just begin by saying that Civil War isn’t for everyone. The film’s R-rating for realistic war violence and bad language will be a turn off for many people. Other people won’t appreciate the fact that the movie poses a lot of questions, but it doesn’t really offer many answers.

SOLDIER: OK. What kind of American are you?

The film opens with America at war. The states of Texas and California have left the union to form the Western Forces, and a group of southern states have also seceded to form the Florida Alliance. They’re at war with the northeastern and midwestern states that stayed loyal to Washington, D.C., and things aren’t going well for what’s left of the United States of America.

Kirsten Dunst and Wagner Moura play Lee and Joel. They’re veteran war reporters for Reuters who hope to interview the President of the United States before Washington’s total collapse. Nick Offerman plays the president. Lee is the photographer and Joel is the writer. Before they leave for their more than 800 mile journey from New York to Washington, a young wannabe photojournalist named Jessie, played by Cailee Spaeny, convinces Lee and Joel to let her tag along.

JESSIE: Lee, I’m sorry for jamming my way into your ride. OK? I know you’re really angry about it.

Did he say it’s more than 800 miles from New York to Washington? Their circuitous route to find safe passage covers almost quadruple the distance of a straight shot from New York to D.C. Even so, their journey isn’t particularly safe.

Civil War takes an episodic approach with its narrative. As the reporters cover the miles, they encounter dangers on the road. They document the horrors of war. They stay in tent camps with refugees. And sometimes they run across people in denial.

JOEL: Are you guys aware there’s like a pretty huge civil war going on all across America.

SHOP GIRL: Oh, sure. But we just try to stay out.

Writer/Director Alex Garland doesn’t give us what we expect with this movie. He doesn’t explain how America descended into civil war, and our current political prejudices about red states and blue states don’t map onto the movie. Why are California and Texas in an alliance? Who knows? Garland doesn’t tell us. The movie will probably disappoint some viewers because it indicts neither Trumpism nor woke-ism.

Civil War isn’t really about politics at all. Rather, it’s more of a meditation on journalistic ethics. It asks why journalists brave the dangers of war, and what toll those dangers take on the psyche. Are these journalists as objective as they think they are? How objective can you be when embedded within a fighting unit that’s keeping you alive? The audience never really finds out who the good guys are in this movie, and sometimes we wonder whether the journalists care about figuring it out.

LEE: Once you start asking yourself those questions, you can’t stop. So we don’t ask. We record so other people ask. You want to be a journalist? That’s the job.

Civil War’s action scenes are loud—overwhelming the senses. But the film's political violence is unsettling because the movie is set in our homeland. We’ve grown accustomed to watching revolutions and wars from afar, thanks to real-life journalists risking their lives. This political violence makes sense to us if it’s happening in Ukraine or the Middle East. Maybe we’re angered or saddened by the tyranny and the disregard for life that those far away lands must suffer through. But we don’t really think that kind of thing could ever happen here.

Garland’s film challenges that assumption by bringing the war to American soil. Even though political violence has been part of human history for millenia, we tend to think America is too enlightened for that kind of behavior. But didn’t our Founding Fathers help normalize political revolution in the West in 1776? Didn’t we almost destroy ourselves less than 100 years later in the Civil War? Despite the blessings of a stable democratic process, Americans are still humans. And in this movie, Garland shows us the horrible things humans do to each other.

LEE: There is no version of this that isn’t a mistake. I know because I’m it.

Today, American politics are probably more polarized than any other point since the Civil War. Garland’s reluctance to endorse one side or the other will infuriate those on both the left and right. But his film isn’t about laying blame or predicting how or why political violence might come to America. He’s just reminding us that we have it in us.

I’m Collin Garbarino.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday April 12th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Up next: Word Play with WORLD commentator George Grant. Today: the cliche.

GEORGE GRANT: George Orwell was the author of the 20th century literary classics Animal Farm and 1984. Both books were morality tales that warned against the debasement of freedom wrought by modern ideological dystopias. They also warned against the degradation of language wrought by bombast and bromides. “If thought can corrupt language, language can also corrupt thought,” he wrote. “A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better…. So, the invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them.”

His advice is as relevant and sound today as it was three quarters of a century ago—cautioning us against the use of jargon, complex syntax, pompous phrasing, pretentious vocabulary, and most especially tired, overused buzz-words.

Bad cliches abound in our day: “It’s a win-win situation.” “Think outside the box.” “Push the envelope.” “Drink the Kool-Aid.” “Put it in the pipeline.” “Get granular.” “Run it up the flagpole.” “Dial it down a notch.” “Stay in your lane.” “At the end of the day.” “Fly under the radar.” “Hold my beer.” “Sleep with the angels.” “Slip through the cracks.” And, “I really don’t have the bandwidth for that.”

“Going forward” means “next.” So, say “next.” “Actionable items” are a to-do list. “Ideation” means “think it over.” “Disambiguate” is an ambiguous way of saying “Remove the ambiguity.” “Self-care” used to be called “taking a nap.” Google just about anything, from coffee and burgers to must-read books and must-see movies and you’ll find “curated lists.” And worse, you’re likely to find the tautology of “carefully curated lists.”

If we want to be “scrupulous” writers, though, Orwell argues we must ask ourselves “at least four questions…What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”

Now admittedly, we’re all likely to use some of these commonplace “word salads” from time to time. Bad cliches are, Orwell says, “in some ways very convenient …. Words, like cavalry horses answering the bugle, group themselves automatically into the familiar dreary pattern.”

So, this is hardly a “hill to die on” or a needful “recalibration of our moral compass.” But, when our cliches only “muddy the waters” of communication, that ought to be a “red flag” for all of us.

Sitting here in my wheelhouse, I’m George Grant.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Well, now it’s time to thank the team who helped to put the program together this week:

Mary Reichard, David Bahnsen, Bonnie Pritchett, Travis Kircher, Chelsea Boes, Onize Ohikere, Jeff Palomino, Andreé Seu Peterson, Carolina Lumetta, Steve West, Mary Muncy, Cal Thomas, Katie McCoy, Collin Garbarino, and George Grant.

Special thanks to our breaking news team: Lynde Langdon, Steve Kloosterman, Kent Covington, Travis Kircher, Lauren Canterberry, Christina Grube, and Josh Schumacher.

Thanks also to our breaking news interns: Tobin Jacobson, Johanna Huebscher, and Alex Carmenaty.

And the guys who stay up late to get the program to you early: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Our producer is Harrison Watters.

Our Senior producer is Kristen Flavin and Paul Butler is Executive producer.

Additional production assistance from Emma Perley, Benj Eicher, Lillian Hamman, Emily Whitten, and Bekah McCallum.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio. WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

The Psalmist writes, “Oh come let us sing to the Lord. Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving. Let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” —Psalm 95 verses 1-3

Be sure and worship Him with your brothers and sisters in Christ in church this weekend. And Lord willing, will meet you right back here on Monday.

Go now in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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