The World and Everything in It: August 19, 2022
On Culture Friday, a discussion with Andrew Walker about the culture’s preoccupation with race and the way the U.S. and England have gone different directions on gender; and Collin Garbarino reviews Amazon Prime’s new series based on a baseball comedy from the 90s. Plus: Word Play with George Grant, and the Friday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
Today on Culture Friday: Our current obsession with race.
And the world’s biggest pediatric gender clinic shuts down, even as one of America’s top children’s hospitals comes under scrutiny over so-called gender affirmation surgery.
NICK EICHER, HOST: We’ll talk about it with Andrew Walker.
Plus Arts and Media Editor Collin Garbarino reviews a new series about a women’s baseball league during World War II.
And George Grant considers questions we’re not really supposed to answer…or are we?
BROWN: It’s Friday, August 19th. 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: Hearing on FBI affidavit » A federal judge may soon unseal the FBI affidavit supporting the search warrant for Donald Trump’s home, but likely not all of it.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart is giving the Justice Department one week to show him which parts of the document it wants to have blacked out.
The search warrant in the case is already unsealed.
But Cedarville University Law Professor Marc Clauson says the affidavit is much more specific.
CLAUSON: It deals with actual legal theories, may list witnesses, and in more detail what they think they found or want to find, and who told them.
The Justice Department has argued that the affidavit contains highly classified information and that unsealing it would damage its investigation.
But the judge will consider keeping at least the most sensitive parts of the document under wraps. Reinhart said he’ll review the Justice Department’s proposed redactions next week.
Republicans and several newsgroups have asked the court to unseal the affidavit to determine if the raid of Trump’s estate was justified.
Trump associate pleads guilty to tax evasion, agrees to testify » Meantime, the Chief Financial Officer of Donald Trump’s family business has struck a plea deal, agreeing to testify against the company. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
AUDIO: Mr. Weisselberg, how do you feel, sir? Are you going to testify against Trump?
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Reporters shouted questions as Allen Weisselberg exited a New York courthouse Thursday.
That after he pleaded guilty to tax evasion, receiving a 5-month jail sentence.
He admitted to accepting nearly $2 million worth of untaxed perks.
Weisselberg did not agree to testify against Donald Trump personally.
The former president has not been accused of criminal wrongdoing in this matter.
New York’s attorney general alleges Trump’s company has broken numerous laws. The organization denies that.
And Donald Trump insists the probe is politically motivated.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Russia attack in Ukraine » In Ukraine, at least 12 people were killed when Russian missiles struck an apartment building in Kharkiv.
Russia's military claimed that it struck a base for foreign mercenaries in Kharkiv.
But Ukrainian officials say all of the dead were civilians, many of them “elderly and disabled,” and that there “is no military facility near the destroyed building,”
Nuclear plant latest »And world leaders continue to sound alarms about the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which experts warn has been battered by war.
ERDOGAN: [Speaking in Turkish]
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Thursday that Zaporizhzhia could be the ‘new Chernobyl.’
And U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price said America’s position is clear:
PRICE: The United States condemns in the strongest terms Russia’s reckless disregard for nuclear safety and security.
Russia now controls the plant and says it can shut down the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. Ukraine says that would just increase the risk of a nuclear disaster.
Ukrainian officials say they’d welcome a UN visit to the plant. The Kremlin has yet to say if it agrees.
U.S. announces trade talks with Taiwan » AUDIO: [Taiwan defense drills]
The Taiwanese military conducted missile drills Thursday, just as the U.S. government announced it will hold new trade talks with the island.
Taiwan is the ninth-largest U.S. trading partner. And China’s not happy about that, as it considers Taiwan its territory and wants to bring it under Beijing’s control.
China recently blocked imports of Taiwan’s citrus and other food in retaliation for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Aug. 2 visit.
The White House said the trade deal would deepen ties with Taiwan. But the U.S. still has no formal diplomatic relations with the Taiwanese government.
Jobless / housing numbers » The Labor Department is reporting a slight dip in new jobless claims. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has that story.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Applications for benefits last week fell by 2,000 from the previous week to about a quarter-of-a-million total.
Last week's number raised some eyebrows, but the Labor Dept. also revised that number down by 10,000.
Meanwhile, the housing market is slowing down, even as interest rates have dipped.
The Commerce Department said the month of June saw the slowest rate of new home sales since 2020. That despite mortgage rates dropping eight-tenths of a percent.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: race and gender in the culture.
Plus, a review of an Amazon Prime show based on a baseball comedy from the 90s.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It's the 19th day of August, 2022. 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. It’s Culture Friday!
Joining us now is Andrew Walker. He’s a professor of Christian ethics and apologetics at Southern Seminary—and managing editor of WORLD Opinions. Hey there, Andrew, good morning!
ANDREW WALKER, GUEST: Hey, Nick, and Myrna. Great to be with you.
BROWN: I want to talk about two different stories, both pointing to what seems to be our preoccupation in the culture with race.
The first involves an agreement between the Minneapolis teacher’s union group and the school district. The agreement ended a brief teacher strike and here’s the gist of it: white teachers will be laid off before teachers of color—regardless of seniority. The stated purpose is to solve “past discrimination” by the district.
So that’s story one.
Story two involves a post on social media from Stacey Abrams, who’s running to become Georgia’s next governor. She writes, “I’m running to make history and serve as the first Black woman governor our country has ever seen.”
In one instance, skin color apparently makes someone qualified to hold office. In the next instance, people can be let go based on their skin tone.
Lots of chatter about both of these stories—lots of divisive stuff. What should our response be as Christians?
WALKER: Well, I can certainly appreciate the motive that is attempting to create policies that are trying to undo past wrongs. Where we can identify past historical wrongs, where we can we should repent. Where we can't, we should lament.
But fundamentally, the problem with a policy like the one that you just mentioned is, it's basing a criteria for a job based on a set of characteristics that ought to be irrelevant to whether or not someone can do the job or not. And I think this is the implication of rejecting a principle that we are to do a job based on competence and ability, not some secondary characteristic of our personality.
But I think as Christians, one of the reasons this is particularly problematic is because it shows that we are basing our criteria for employment, for worth, for ability, on something other than the image of God. And one of the reasons I think the image of God is such a valuable concept and truth for the moment that we find ourselves in, is that it takes this issue out of our hands and places the issue in divine scripture and special revelation.
And so we have to refer back to Scripture, we're not referring back to a multitude of possible human opinion, that are the form of human opinions that can err and I think, in their own way, end up creating their own form of injustice, especially when you're removing or terminating teachers based on skin color. That serves no one. It doesn't serve the district's own integrity, and it doesn't serve students either.
EICHER: You’ve certainly seen the videos that have been making the rounds on social media: videos of doctors at the Boston Children’s Hospital discussing—in some detail—so-called gender-affirmation surgery. I’m struck by that because it’s going in a very different direction than what I read this week in WORLD Opinions about the shutdown this summer of the world’s biggest pediatric gender clinic, the Gender Identity Development Service in England in Britain’s government health service. What accompanied that were some statements by the clinicians expressing doubt about things like puberty blockers and the damage they may do to kids.
So Britain seems to be going one way and the United States going another—but both are what we think of as Western nations, certainly English-speaking.
How do you interpret these two stories and what do they tell us about which way the cultural wind is truly blowing?
WALKER: It reveals so much, Nick, and thanks for bringing this up.
I think what's fascinating is Western Europe—whether in the UK or there are places in Scandinavia as well—that have begun to second guess themselves on the practice around puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapies, and these very, very invasive surgeries. And here you have Americans playing catch up, because there's always kind of this desire to want to be as progressive as Europe. And then lo and behold, we see progressive Western Europe second-guessing themselves, and second-guessing themselves in such a way that there are vulnerable individuals who are being experimented on with very novel medical practices.
What few people realize who don't study this issue professionally, is how exploratory this medicine is. And we have physicians on the record, physicians, I would add here in America on the record, who are confessing to the reality that the medicine on this has moved faster than our understanding of gender dysphoria and gender conflicts themselves.
I'm not a historian, I can't tell the future. But my expectation is that in five to 10 years, the standards of treatment and the protocols that are recommended here in America are going to look a lot different than they are even right now. And I think this is yet another example of the impossibility of fighting nature, the futility of trying to fight our nature, and saying to ourselves, that our bodies don't matter. And we can carve up and slice and dice the body to fit the mind, when in reality, we ought to be encouraging these individuals in the direction of psychological treatment that helps individuals to bring their minds into conformity with their body, not altering the body surgically or hormonally to fit the needs of the mind.
This is one of the great tensions of the whole transgender worldview: that psychology is subjective, it's internal, it's discrete, it's known only to the individual who is making the claim about their so called gender identity, whereas biological sex is objective. And for the pure kind of clear thinking around this, it seems to me that we would want to bring what is subjective into alignment with what is the objective.
EICHER: This is Culture Friday, not politics Friday, but bear with me for a second: I want to talk about the big spending bill that just got signed into law, the Inflation Reduction Act, talked about it on Monday.
Now, I’m not wanting to talk about what’s in it but what’s not in it. The Wall Street Journal had a piece that made the point that there was no abortion in it. This would’ve been the easiest political vehicle for tucking in some dollars to promote abortion in abortion states or to facilitate travel between states for abortion-minded moms who live in pro-life state. But not only is there nothing in there along those lines, but this Wall Street Journal writer made the observation that the proponents didn’t even try.
We’ve been hearing lots about the ascendant pro-abortion movement, but this seems like a contrary data point, doesn’t it?
WALKER: I think that's right. I also think, you know, I want to believe that they're afraid of kind of awakening a pro-life contingent. But I also think that the Democrats are probably just playing smart politics. And that is trying to get across the finish line or the goal line as much as possible. And so removing any one of these headwinds that could potentially cause them from scoring the win that they so desperately need to win in the polls.
If we're looking at the November midterms, things are not looking good for the Democrats. And so I can see in their thinking, let's do whatever we can to just get the clearest victory possible so that we can go on that messaging win and not get bogged down in the culture-war issues.
BROWN: Alright! Andrew Walker’s a professor of Christian ethics and apologetics at Southern Seminary and managing editor of WORLD Opinions. Andrew, thank you!
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, August 18th. 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.
Thirty years ago, the baseball comedy A League of Their Own delighted audiences with the story of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League.
EICHER: Amazon Studios recently released a new series based on the movie, but arts and media editor Collin Garbarino warns that fans of the original movie might not like what they find in the series.
MUSIC: [A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN THEME]
COLLIN GARBARINO: Nostalgia for the 80s and 90s continues to drive the entertainment industry. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when a reboot of A League of Their Own showed up on Prime Video last week.
The 1992 movie starring Tom Hanks and Geena Davis performed well at the box office and has become a beloved classic. This new show might start in the same place as the movie, but the series takes its story in a new direction that won’t appeal to Christian fans of the original.
Mr. Baker: This is not about money, Pat. You know, Americans need baseball to keep their spirits in fighting shape.
Marshall: That’s right.
It’s 1943, and as more men are drafted into World War II, baseball owners start thinking about how they’re going to keep the sport alive.
Pat: You really think people are gonna pay to watch women run around like men?
Marshall: Our players will be ladies through and through. No pants wearing, trash talking, chew spitting…
One of these ladies recruited to play in the new girls league is Carson Shaw. She’s played by comedian Abbi Jacobson. When Carson gets a letter saying her husband will be back from the war soon, she panics and runs away to try out.
Greta: You’re married?
Carson: Oh, uh, yes, yeah, of course, I am.
Greta: Huh. What does your Freddie think about you going to play baseball?
Carson: Oh, uh, well. Charlie, um… He’s super excited about it. Yeah. When I was first scouted, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna come, ‘cause I have a lot of responsibilities at home, you know, but I’ve always loved baseball more than anything. I mean, except Charlie, obviously.
The series treads some of the same ground as the movie. These tomboy athletes protest playing in skirts and they often rebel against the decorum their employers expect.
Beverly: Peaches! Welcome to your Rockford home. Come and join me out by the banister. Everyone out of your rooms, please. Very quickly. This will only take a moment. Open your books. I’d like to go through a few rules. No smoking or drinking in public. No pants in public.
Beverly: You’ve heard of pants?
Maybelle: I have!
Beverly: Congratulations. Don’t wear them outside. Curfew is at 10:00 p.m. sharp.
Jess: Wait, what?
Beverly: Stragglers will have their pay docked. And you can call me Sergeant Beverly or Sarge, if you must. That’s what I was called in the Marines. I will be your chaperone for the season. Thank you ladies, dismissed.
Jacobson’s Carson has the role Geena Davis played in the original—the level-headed catcher who becomes the team’s leader. And the series puts Nick Offerman of Parks and Rec fame in the role of Tom Hanks’ reluctant coach.
Dove Porter: I love a locker room. You know, all the things people write on the walls, little prayers they send up to the gods. So please, for the love of George Washington, let them have their moment.
Offerman’s character isn’t a fall-down drunk like Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan, and he has some funny moments. But there’s nothing in the series that even approaches Hanks’ iconic “There’s no crying in baseball” scene.
And that’s about where the similarities end.
In addition to the girls on the Rockford Peaches, we meet Max, a black girl who gets snubbed when she attempts to try out.
Coach: You gals get lost on the way to the South Side?
Max: We’re here for the tryouts.
Clance: But that’s very chivalrous of you to worry about us being lost, sir.
Coach: Look, I don’t think you understand. This is the All-American League.
Max: We’re pretty all-American.
Clance: Yeah, we American.
Max: We were born here.
Clance: Yeah, “In God We Trust.” You know, Jesus…
Coach: You think you look like them?
Max: Well, actually, I think my form is a tad bit better, but… We’re from Rockford, Illinois, where we saw you’re putting one of the teams. The Peaches?
Throughout the series, Max’s story runs parallel to Carson’s without much interaction. It’s almost as if each episode contains two different series smashed together.
This structure is distracting. And while the costuming and production values are top notch, the conversation can be annoyingly anachronistic with plenty of bad language. But these are the least of the show’s problems. Amazon’s A League of Their Own isn’t a baseball comedy. It’s a lesbian romantic fantasy. Half the Rockford Peaches are lesbians, and one of these lesbians seduces the married Carson, convincing her she’s a lesbian too. Inexplicably, Max too turns out to be a lesbian, and even more surprisingly her girlfriend turns out to be the black preacher’s wife.
The historical All American Girls Professional Baseball League did have some lesbian players, a fact that the 1992 movie passes over. But Amazon’s series inserts the worst of contemporary identity politics into the 1940s complete with a subplot about a thriving transgender African American. It doesn’t get more “intersectional” than that.
The 1992 movie had a lot of heart, but this show has a hollowness at its core. The series fails because it tells lies about the 1940s and it tells lies about our human condition and what it means to lead a fulfilling life.
I’m Collin Garbarino.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday August 19th. 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. Well, today being the third week of the month, is it not the day for Word Play?
Of course it is. That was a purely rhetorical question. Here is George Grant.
GEORGE GRANT, COMMENTATOR: A rhetorical question is a statement formulated as a question where no response is required or expected. It is a question asked to make a point rather than to get an answer. It is a question asked for emphasis or effect.
Sometimes the intended effect of a rhetorical question is heightened obviousness or exaggerated emphasis as in, “What were you thinking?” Or, “What part of no do you not understand?” Or, “Wow! Who knew?” Or, “Do pigs fly?” Or, “Why me? Or, “Who cares?”
Sometimes the intended effect of a rhetorical question is wry humor or sardonic irony as in, “What is another name for thesaurus?” Or, “Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?” Or, “Why isn’t phonetic spelled the same way it sounds?” Or, Shouldn’t there be shorter words for abbreviation and monosyllabic?” Or, “How did the fool and his money ever get together in the first place?”
Rhetorical questions are common devices in classic literature. “Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Shelley concludes with the rhetorical question, “O Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” In his poem “The Solitary Reaper,” William Wordsworth poses the rhetorical question, “Will no one tell me what she sings?”
William Shakespeare often used rhetorical questions to good effect. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” he asked in “Sonnet 18.” Juliette sighed to Romeo, “Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. O, be some other name! What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Hamlet’s great soliloquy is a string of rhetorical questions, “To be, or not to be, that is the question–whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them.” In The Merchant of Venice Shylock asks “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”
The Apostle Paul frequently used rhetorical questions to drive home the essential truths of the Gospel: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). “He did not spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all. How will he not also graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32). “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall affliction, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Romans 8:35).
Then, there are the uses of rhetorical questions in contemporary pop culture: in a TV episode of the Simpsons, Lisa Simpson sang Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” came to the line, “How many roads must a man walk down / Before you call him a man?” Homer overheard and answered, “Eight!” To which Lisa harrumphs, “That was a rhetorical question!” “Oh,” Homer responded, “Then, seven!” Rolling her eyes, Lisa asked, “Do you even know what rhetorical means?” To which Homer asserted, “Do I know what rhetorical means?”
When I told a friend that I wanted to do a whole Word Play episode on rhetorical questions, he responded, “Are you kidding me?”
I’m George Grant.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s time to give credit to the team that made this week’s programs come together.
Kent Covington, Mary Reichard, Emily Whitten, Amy Lewis, Onize Ohikere, Whitney Williams, Josh Schumacher, Mary Muncy, Anna Mandin, Steve West, Cal Thomas, Collin Garborino, David Bahnsen, Leah Johansen, Andrew Walker, and Bonnie Pritchett.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz are the audio engineers who stay up late to get the program to you early! Kristen Flavin is our producer. Paul Butler is our executive producer.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
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The Psalmist writes, I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you. I will sing praises to your name O Most High. (Psalm 9:1-2 ESV)
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