The World and Everything in It: August 23, 2022
Residents of Uvalde, Texas get ready to welcome a new school year three months after the Robb Elementary School shooting; two pastors in Uvalde try to provide comfort to their grieving community; and a profession that dates back hundreds of years. Plus: commentary from Steve West and the Tuesday morning news.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
It’s been three months since the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. What’s life like for survivors as a new school year begins and questions still remain?
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also a conversation with two Uvalde pastors on comforting the hurting.
Plus crafting violins straight from the tree.
And the difference between merely looking and actually seeing.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, August 22nd. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Now the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Ukraine: 9,000 Ukrainian troops killed in war » Russia's invasion of Ukraine has already killed some 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers. That, according to a Ukrainian general on Monday.
Russia has also paid a heavy price with tens of thousands of troops killed, by some estimates.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the invasion has not gone according to plan for Vladimir Putin.
MCCONNELL: He thought it would divide NATO. He thought he would waltz into Ukraine. He may have even had dreams that he was going to be welcomed.
But he said Putin underestimated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Tomorrow will mark six months since Russia invaded Ukraine again after annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
The U.N. says the war has killed nearly 6,000 civilians in Ukraine.
Russia car bombing » Meantime, the Kremlin is blaming Ukraine for a car bomb that reportedly killed the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, one of Putin’s top advisors.
Russian authorities say Draya Dugina died in the bombing on Sunday after she left a nationalist festival. It’s unclear if she was the intended target. Her father also attended the festival.
Moscow claims a Ukrainian operative carried out the bombing. But officials in Kyiv say not so.
PODOLYAK: [In Ukrainian]
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Volodymyr Zelenskyy said—quote—“we’re not a criminal state or a terrorist state.”
Aleksandr Dugin is an ultranationalist philosopher who strongly supported the invasion of Ukraine.
US-SoKo military drills » U.S. and South Korean warships, tanks, jets and thousands of troops are training side by side this week. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.
JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: The war games are the first joint military drills the two countries have performed in years. That, after North Korea has ramped up its ballistic missile testing this year.
U.S. and South Korean officials say the drills are entirely defensive, designed to guard against any potential invasion. But Pyongyang calls them a provocation.
Potentially tens of thousands of troops will participate on land, sea, and in the skies above the peninsula.
The exercises, through the end of this month will help prepare forces to counter drone strikes and other modern warfare attacks.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
Indiana governor in Taiwan » Another American official visited Taiwan on Monday.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb led a delegation to the island for trade talks. The trip comes after two recent visits by U.S. lawmakers that angered China, which considers Taiwan its territory.
HOLCOMB: There are more opportunities ahead of us than I think there ever have been before for us to continue to strengthen and cultivate and nuture this relationship, as our economies continue to grow and grow together.
The Republican governor’s talks with Taiwanese leaders focused on agriculture trade, as well as semiconductors and other technology.
Imran Khan charges » Demonstrators gathered outside the home of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan in an effort to shield him from police.
Authorities announced Monday that they have charged the former prime minister with terrorism-related crimes. That after he delivered a speech in which he threatened to sue police officers and a judge and claimed one of his aides was tortured after being arrested.
Khan’s supporters say the charges are unjust and they won’t stand for it.
RAJA: No, no military No. Agencies, no paramilitary, no one can stand against the people of our country.
A Pakistani court has issued a “protective bail” on the former prime minister, which keeps police from arresting him for three days.
The charges center on a controversial anti-terrorism law that critics say authorities have used to silence opposition.
Fauci to step down » President Biden’s chief medical advisor is stepping down later this year. WORLD’s Mary Muncy has more.
MARY MUNCY, REPORTER: Dr. Anthony Fauci announced Monday that he’ll retire from federal service in December.
The 81-year-old has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for nearly four decades where he and his team made breakthroughs in fighting HIV and AIDS.
Fauci became a household name amid the pandemic, helping lead the government's response to COVID-19.
More recently, Fauci has been at the center of some controversies, clashing with Republican lawmakers over that response as well as so-called gain-of-function virus research.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Mary Muncy.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Life in Uvalde, Texas three months after the horrific school shooting.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 23rd of August, 2022.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up today: Returning to Uvalde.
Almost three months ago, the small city of Uvalde, Texas was full of reporters and volunteers. They rushed to the town after 19 children and 2 teachers were shot and killed on May 24th at Robb Elementary School.
REICHARD: After the shooting, WORLD reporter Addie Offereins traveled to Uvalde. She recently returned to see how the community has changed.
AUDIO: [RAIN, JESSE RIZO OPENING DOOR]
ADDIE OFFEREINS, REPORTER: On August 15th, long-hoped-for rain pounds the ground outside a terracotta-colored house in Batesville, Texas, a tiny town of about 1,700 near Uvalde. Jesse Rizo opens the door and speaks of the last time he and his extended family gathered here. Three weeks before the shooting at Robb Elementary, they threw a party to celebrate Jackie, his brothers’ nine-year-old niece, after she took her First Communion.
RIZO: After the communion, we all came over here. And then we had tables, we had a battery here we had tables on both sides, the whole family came in and the food was on that side of the house and she had a minute. And there was this part of the house we had brisket and potato salad, and, of course, tons of people.
At the party, he turned on the radio and a country song came on.
AUDIO: [RIZO DANCING WITH JACKIE]
RIZO: And so when we finished dancing: you look so pretty Jackie. You look beautiful. But she's the one that brought us together that day. It’s the last time that we all got to see her as a group like that, you know, together, the whole family.
On the day of the shooting, Rizo texted Jackie’s mom, Gloria.
RIZO: I asked if she was okay. All she said was no.
At first, like the rest of the victims’ families, Rizo was just angry—especially after the family found out that Jackie had a pulse when first responders took her out of the classroom. She probably could have lived if they had gotten there in time.
RIZO: I mean, you just lost somebody. And that's in anything, what are you? You're mad, you're angry. So your attack is very broad. And you go in and you're attacking the school district, you're attacking the board, you're attacking them, almost personally. But with time, just like if you're at war, you begin to focus on certain aspects of it.
Since the shooting, Rizo has gone to city council meetings and school board meetings to ask the hard questions on every parent’s mind. Why couldn’t the shooting have been prevented? It took law enforcement over an hour to enter the classroom where trapped students repeatedly called 911. The exterior door to the school couldn’t be locked from the inside. Neither could classroom doors. The automatic locking mechanism had been disabled.
RIZO: Like, for example, the last meeting, the last meeting that I asked, I asked Dr. Harrell, “Have you considered conducting just like the city, and just like the city and the county, are doing the external investigation?”
Dr. Harrell is the school district superintendent. The school district is putting up fences at some schools. Thirty three Texas state troopers will be deployed throughout the school district this year.
RIZO: You can build me a fence, you can show me a bag full of money. You can build the best cafeteria, you can hire all these troopers. But you haven't convinced me that you learned anything.
Rizo’s laptop is open as he works on the speech for tonight’s school board meeting.
RIZO: I’m having a hard time writing this.
He feels the tension between allowing things to settle and holding those in authority accountable.
RIZO: It almost seems like I shouldn’t even bring it up anymore…but these are questions that need to be asked if you want to restore faith in the community.
AUDIO: [SCHOOL BOARD MEETING]
This evening’s August 15th school board meeting starts at 6:30. This was supposed to be the first day of school. Instead, Uvalde children will start later this year on September 6th.
Pastor Mark Tews of Trinity Lutheran Church in Uvalde opens with prayer:
AUDIO: [ SCHOOL BOARD MEETING]
A woman in a purple T-shirt holds two white signs with “Massacre @ school. School is liable” and “Fire them now” written in black letters. A woman in the back of the room holds a picture of Jackie with angel wings against a pink background. Several people in the group clap and cheer as residents voice their frustration during an open forum.
Rizo steps up to the podium. He has three minutes to give his speech.
AUDIO: [JESSE SPEAKING]
Rizo is also helping to put together a committee that will decide on a permanent memorial.
School starts in a little over two weeks. In the meantime, the community is finding ways to support one another and come to terms with their new normal.
AUDIO: [LA PRYOR EVENT]
In the small town of La Pryor, about 20 miles from Uvalde, family members and local supporters gather for a festival hosted by a local entertainment group, Gutierrez Productions. Proceeds from the event will go to the families of the victims.
Several different bands take turns playing under a large pavilion. Jesse Rizo attends both events and he films the bands as they play. A red food truck serves tacos. Couples two step in a circle. D.J. Steven Garcia, also known as Freestyle Steve, closes the event. He lost his daughter, Eliahna, in the shooting.
AUDIO: [FREESTYLE STEVE PLAYING]
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Addie Offereins in Uvalde, Texas.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Up next: after a tragedy, there can be such a thing as too much comfort.
In response to the shooting in Uvalde, a flood of emotional and material support poured into the community. It did lift spirits, at least for a time.
But it’s overwhelmed others—preventing some from moving forward.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: WORLD’s Bonnie Pritchett spoke with two pastors in Uvalde. Joe Ruiz heads up Templo Christiano Tree City Church and Tony Gruben is pastor of Baptist Temple Church.
BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: As an outsider, I’ve observed a lot of contention in Uvalde since May. Y'all obviously have a better idea of what the general tenor is of your community. There's people who are upset, there's people who are angry, there's people who are grieving. Have you had the opportunity to bring the gospel, speak peace into those situations? Pastor Ruiz?
RUIZ: During my sermon, I knew we got to be very careful how we present it, we don't want to come across as being insensitive, or not caring. But I did make a point that, you know, that people are not, have not been led to mourn - to be able to come to the reality of what really happened. And that there was an aunt who lost two nieces there. And she was nodding her head that it was correct. You know, after the service, I was by the door. And she mentioned that one family member from one of the children had tried to commit suicide. You know, so, you know, it was kind of she was realizing that, you know that there's some times there because of everything that's been going on and all the attention that they have been receiving, they have not come to a point of really understanding what really went on and what's going on and there’s a change in their lives. And because they became more focused on what's being done for them, than what, than what they're actually going through.
GRUBEN: Part of what it says there - we've been inundated with well-wishers. It's overwhelming. We can't take anymore and everybody is tired. The good is causing problems as well. And I don't know, how to say it other than it's crazy to say, it's great that there are people that care and there's great that people have outpoured but it's the outpouring is drowning us. I mean, it's you know, it's too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing.
PRITCHETT: To that point, Pastor Gruben, I understand that someone from out of town has commissioned murals of the children and teachers be painted on the sides of Uvalde buildings. What do you think about such prominent visual reminders spread across the town? Are they helpful for the healing process?
GRUBEN: To me, it's nearly like you have a wound and you pull the band aid off every time you see it, and you never get to allow it to heal. Joe’s gotta go get to the wound care. And that's, you know, [RUIZ: They go and poke it] and they go poke, you know, they go poke it every time. I see the heart behind it. But I also see you know, down the road, it just a constant reminder. There if there's good remembrances, is, but you know, is it too much?
PRITCHETT: As people who are involved in the community through your churches, what would be your prescription? Beginning with you Pastor Ruiz. You grew up in Uvalde, what do you think your town needs?
RUIZ: Well, I met with my cousin, the one that lost his wife, and asked him what was going on, you know, how he felt. And he confirmed to what I was saying before that, he says, “We need, we need space. We need to be able to grieve, you know. We need to be able to come to terms of what the new norm is going to be.” And now this tragedy happened, instead of being able to, you know, come to reality of what's really going on, they're more focused on the limelight, or what people are doing for them, you know, what the receiving, then really having the time to be by themselves, to be able to come to an understanding that their child has gone, you know, and in to be able to cry and to be able to mourn. What am I going to do now, to be able to continue to live in order to do things and life.
GRUBEN: And I think this grieving process has been drawn out. We had funerals for a month. There was still no closure, and all that, even till after, and some would say after that last one, there was just finally, they even took a breath.
REICHARD: Bonnie Pritchett returns tomorrow with more of her interview with Uvalde pastors Ruiz and Gruben as they talk more about the challenges of ministering to a community that’s grieving—and angry.
NICK EICHER, HOST: A diamond wedding ring is back on the finger of a woman from Massachusetts, thanks to a little help from a good Samaritan.
Francesca Teal told NBC-10 Boston that she was tossing a football with her husband on a New Hampshire beach. Suddenly:
TEAL: I saw the ball just pop my finger right here, and I saw these two rings just slide right off my finger.
And just like that, a wedding band that once belonged to her great-grandmother was gone.
Or so it seemed.
The Good Samaritan saw her appeal on Facebook and sprang into action. He donned a wetsuit and headlamp—and spent three days searching for the ring—before discovering it in shallow water, under four inches of sand.
TEAL: Overwhelmed with emotion, crying - looked at my husband, said it was found - like no way! We were just so pumped!
When he found it, he sent Teal a picture, writing in a message: “Please tell me this is the ring so I can finally get off this beach.”
Teal said she was overwhelmed by the man’s kindness.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, August 23rd. We’re so glad you’ve turned to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: making violins from scratch.
It’s a profession that dates back hundreds of years. Luthiers build stringed instruments like violins, cellos, and violas from start to finish. But very few people take up the profession these days. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown introduces us to a young luthier setting up shop.
AUDIO: [Bell ringing]
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: It’s a small, sunny workshop, paneled in yellow wood and smelling like varnish. On one wall, a dozen violins and violas hang, waiting for their finish to dry.
HADDON BROWN: So right here I am working on a new end button for this violin here.
Haddon Brown is sitting at a cluttered workbench, scraping away at a small wooden peg. He’s lanky and tall, wearing a canvas apron.
BROWN: The old one didn't fit very well so I'm fitting a new one and shaping it down with this peg shaper which it's a fancy pencil sharpener.
Brown is a young luthier, fresh out of school. He graduated from the Chicago School of Violin Making, then got a job here at Classic Violins in northern Illinois. Brown is a bit of an oddity here. He’s young, and he isn’t Bulgarian.
KOSTOV: Just came all the way from Bulgaria to come to the school.
This is Petio Kostov. He came to Chicago in 1994 to learn violin making.
KOSTOV: Usually the first lessons from the school are preparation of the tools, sharpening blades, sharpening knife blades, sharpening plane blades, just like this one...
There are only three traditional luthier schools in the United States, and only a handful of others worldwide.
AUDIO: [WOOD SCRAPING]
BROWN: The end button, its main purpose is to hold the tailpiece in place…
Over at his workbench, Brown finishes shaving down the end button and fits it into the round hole at the base of the violin. It’s a simple repair for a minor problem. But other instruments need a little more intervention. Brown pulls out a cello or part of a cello. It’s just the front panel, a slightly curved sheet of pale wood with those distinctive curlicues cut into it. They’re called F holes.
The luthiers had to dismantle the cello to get at the inside. Brown takes it over to Kostov to get some advice.
BROWN: Do you want me to do anything to the glue surface? I mean, I lightly took up a plane and it didn't really remove much just glue it the way it is.
Making stringed instruments is a precise, exacting craft. It’s a blend of woodworking, music, and acoustic science. Every piece of every instrument has to vibrate in just the right way, in just the right combination with the other pieces, to get the best sound. And every instrument is unique.
KOSTOV: The wood traditionally comes from Europe. It’s maple and spruce…harvested in the eastern slopes of the Alps...
The wood has to age for years before it’s dry enough to use. Sometimes it takes decades. The luthiers start with chunks of lumber, gradually shaping them down as they handcraft the body of each instrument.
Today, Kostov is scraping tiny flakes of wood off of a cello bridge. That’s the little arched piece that stands upright in the center of the instrument, holding the strings taut.
KOSTOV: Everything we cut affects the mass of the bridge, and the mass of the bridge is crucially important for the sound producing...
The bridge has a tiny heart shape cut in the center of it and two little circles on either side of that. It looks decorative. But Kostov says that design took hundreds of years to develop.
KOSTOV: There are different style cello bridges for example, this is called the French style more traditional and this is a Belgian style and you can see they're very different. The Belgian one gives more projection more power to the instrument. So this is a violin that I made and is varnished with a spirit varnish. [Plucking strings]
So far, Brown has built twelve instruments—a mix of violins, violas, and one cello. And he still remembers the very first violin he made start to finish.
BROWN: And hearing it played the very first time was very, very amazing and cool experience.
Brown still has a lot to learn about his craft. Varnishing is a particular thorn in his side. Sometimes he makes structural mistakes too.
BROWN: After I’ve carved after you've carved at the top, and you're, you know, gotten, you know, the perfect sort of curves and arches and you flip it around to remove and gouge out old material on the inside. I have, I have gone too thin. So I've had to take like a silk patch. And glue it to the inside of the wood as extra protection.
Brown says it takes lots of repetition and years of practice to hone those instincts.
Most of the work the luthiers do here is repair work. The shop is cluttered with brushes and sandpaper, small tools that look like surgical implements, and bottles of varnish and glue. Kostov pulls out a half-gallon jar filled with pale dried husks.
KOSTOV: This is a bladders, bladders from the Russian sturgeon fish and it's glue basically. So if you dip this in water. And if you heat it up, it will dissolve into will become liquid hide glue.
That’s the best kind of glue for strong instrument joints. And if the luthiers need to make a repair, they can just steam the glue so it comes apart again.
AUDIO: [String sounds]
Sometimes, making violins is more art than science. A lot of it comes down to the luthier’s ability to read the wood.
KOSTOV: I think makers ability to, to choose to feel the woods and to make the right decisions at the right moments—how thick you have to leave the ribs, how high you have to make the arch, whether there is a recurve next to the to the edges—based on these decisions, the instrument will either sound good or not very good.
AUDIO: [Violin playing]
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown in Mundelein, Illinois.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, August 23rd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Last week, author and theologian Frederick Buechner died in his home at the age of 96. Steve West now with a reflection on Buechner’s life.
STEVE WEST, COMMENTATOR: A few weeks ago my wife and I were cleaning out some files and discovered the pellet-pocked National Rifle Association BB Gun target saved from her happy years at Camp Yonahlossee. Not a sentimentalist, she threw it away. I retrieved it and retained it, a reminder of her aptitude. It’s in a manila folder marked “resources,” a place where I file clippings and salvaged memorabilia. I pull it out of the folder and examine it again. Some shots went wide, clipping the edge of the target. Yet a number hit their mark, I note, sobered by her eye, by her resolute fire.
She’s always had a good eye. In 1987 when we were in Kenya and Tanzania on safari, she spotted a serval cat at a distance of over a thousand feet without the aid of binoculars. Our guide, Elvis, was impressed, if initially doubtful. “Good eyes, madam,” he said, after confirming her sighting.
My eyes are not so good. I’ve been severely near-sighted since third grade, and now I have “floaters.” It’s like looking through spidery webs, particularly noticeable when looking at a bright sky. There’s no recommended treatment. Remarkably, the brain has a way of filtering them out of consciousness. You eventually don’t notice them as much.
In one of his memoirs, Eyes of the Heart, Frederick Buechner lets us peer into something he calls his Magic Kingdom. It’s a term for his palace of memory, or the objects that summon memories for him. Looking around the various photos and other memorabilia of his study, he summons up voices from the past, lets them speak to him and he to them. He concludes his book this way:
What is magic about the Magic Kingdom is that if you look at it through the right pair of eyes it points to a kingdom more magic still that comes down out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. The one who sits upon its throne says, “Behold, I make all things new,” and the streets of it are of gold like unto clear glass, and each of its gates is a single pearl.
If we have the eyes to see, Buechner is saying, then everything points beyond itself to something greater. Yet when I train my eyes on life, I don't always fare so well. Things are not quite in focus. The spidery webs of brokenness born of detachment occlude my vision. I often miss the mark and go wide. Yet with the graces of Word and prayer, I begin to see more of the Kingdom.
What is it that the Apostle says? Having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know the hope to which he has called you. That’s my target. That’s the serval cat in my sights. That’s the Reality beyond my occlusion. Lord, give me eyes to see.
I’m Steve West.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: military readiness. Just how prepared is our country?
And, part two of the Uvalde interviews.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
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Go now in grace and peace.
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