The World and Everything in It - February 4, 2022
On Culture Friday, religious liberty in Canada; the new Julian Fellowes period drama, The Gilded Age; and on Ask the Editor, a question about our year-end obituaries. Plus: the Friday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning! Just what the doctor ordered. Love it!
Well, today, we’ll talk about what could effectively become a ban on Christian counseling.
NICK EICHER, HOST: A new law in Canada and we’ll talk about it today on Culture Friday.
Also a new show for American fans of British period dramas.
And Ask the Editor. This time: how we choose our end-of-year obituaries.
BROWN: It’s Friday, February 4th. 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: News is next. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden urges unity at National Prayer Breakfast » Hours earlier, President Biden spoke on Capitol Hill at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. The president said he prays for healing of the bitter political divide in America.
BIDEN: One of the things I pray for, and I mean it, is we sort of get back to the place — It’s so busy; I think things have changed so much — but that we get to really know each other. It’s hard to really dislike someone when you know what they’re going through [is] the same thing you’re going through.
Biden added, “Rather than driving us apart, faith can move us together.”
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and guests from across the country and around the world attended.
The National Prayer Breakfast takes place on the first Thursday of every February.
It’s a tradition that started in 1953 under President Dwight Eisenhower. Every president since has participated in the event.
U.S. says new intel shows Russia plotting false flag attack » Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that the United States and the UK have intelligence, revealing plans by Moscow to stage a false Ukrainian attack.
Kirby said the Russian government developed the plan to fabricate a justification to invade Ukraine.
KIRBY: We believe that Russia would produce a very graphic propaganda video, which would include corpses and actors that would be depicting mourners, and images of destroyed locations as well as military equipment at the hands of Ukraine or the West.
The United States just declassified that intelligence, which it has shared with NATO allies and Ukraine.
U.S. officials also released a map of Russian military positions and detailed how officials believe Russia will try to attack Ukraine with as many as 175,000 troops.
Also on Thursday, NATO warned that Moscow continues to build up military assets in neighboring Belarus. Secretary- General Jens Stoltenberg:
STOLTENBERG: Over the last days, we have seen a significant movement of Russian military forces into Belarus. This is the biggest Russian deployment there since the Cold War.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday offered to mediate talks between Russia and Ukraine to de-escalate tensions.
Winter storm continues to blast dozens of states » A massive winter storm continued to cover many states with rain, sleet or snow on Thursday while disrupting flights and knocking out power to more than 100,000 homes and businesses.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters…
ABBOTT: We are dealing with one of the most significant icing events that we’ve had in the state of Texas in at least several decades.
Ice accumulating on power lines can cause widespread power outages.
The path of the storm stretched further from the central United States into more of the South and Northeast Thursday. Heavy snow fell from the Rockies to New England.
And today, Andrew Orrison with the National Weather Service says the Northeast should brace for a lot more winter weather.
ORRISON: Areas of New York and northern New England will be seeing particularly heavy snowfall, and we’re expecting storm totals across those areas to be in excess of a foot.
In warmer areas farther south, the winter front sparked thunderstorms in parts of Alabama and Mississippi.
Army begins discharging vaccine refusers » The U.S. Army this week began discharging soldiers who have refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: The Army follows the Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy, which were already discharging troops for refusing the shots.
The Army announced on Wednesday that it would immediately begin discharging soldiers who don’t comply with the mandate.
More than 3,300 soldiers have refused to get the vaccine and have been issued official written reprimands.
The Pentagon has ordered all service members—active-duty, National Guard and Reserves—to get the shot, saying it is critical to maintaining the health and readiness of the force.
Roughly 97 percent of all soldiers have gotten at least one shot. More than 3,000 have requested medical or religious exemptions.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: civil disobedience in Canada.
Plus, the importance of numbering our days.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, February 4th, 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. Well, it’s Culture Friday. Time now to welcome John Stonestreet. He’s the president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning!
EICHER: This is an older story, but we haven’t had the chance to talk about it the past couple of weeks. I did want to ask you, though, John, about the controversy in Canada, and I’m not talking about the trucker protest, which is interesting in itself.
But I’m talking about Canada’s criminalizing so-called “conversion therapy” which is understood to be a certain counseling practice designed to convert people out of homosexuality.
The new law there appears much broader than simply that. I’ll link to an article on our site by a Canadian professor and theologian that might be helpful to the listener. The point of it is that the language seems vague enough essentially to outlaw Christian counseling.
Adding some heft to that point: A law professor in Canada, who supports the central aim of the law, by the way, made the same point in a Canadian publication. He came up with an interesting hypothetical:
“Take the case of a man who is experiencing sexual attraction to other men. What if, to remain faithful to his wife and children, he begins to meet with a licensed counsellor? According to the law, the counsellor may well be engaging in a ‘practice, treatment, or service [designed to] repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour.’ [This is the language of the law.] Do we really wish [the law professor says] to live in a society where this man cannot get this help, and where professionals who provide it might be branded as criminals?”
So that’s the background, here’s the question: Do you think there’s a way to live with a law like this for Christians in Canada or do you think we’ll soon be hearing about acts of civil disobedience … or is there another possibility?
STONESTREET: I think we'll be hearing about acts of civil disobedience. I mean, this is Canada. We've already seen acts of civil disobedience by Christian leaders and pastors over COVID shutdowns. You know, you mentioned the vaccine mandate trucker..what do they call it? The convoy? There's an old country song, you remember that? That was, yeah, that was about the speed limits, not about vaccine mandates. But I mean, in other words, there's just not the same space created in Canada's founding documents for freedom of conscience and religion. It's, it's similar language, but it's not the same. And there's not the history of the courts recognizing this. And so I think we'll be hearing about acts of civil disobedience. But to be clear about this one, I think we'll be hearing about acts of civil disobedience, not just from Christians. Again, when we're talking about homosexuality. And this language of this particular law extends to transgenderism as well. There is an assumption that everybody is on board except religious fundamentalists, that is just not the case. This is a very legitimate question, what do you do with someone who is married, has responsibilities to children and then expresses the same sex attractions, there's a lot of counselors that would actually say, you know, what, you have a responsibility, you need to own up to that responsibility, and the language of this law is unnecessarily broad, but then you go into the transgender issue. I know there's thoughts that the LGBTQ thing is a nice happy family of a unified acronym. It's not. And there are plenty of counselors, I think, and plenty of other professionals who are not going to be okay with treating gender dysphoria in the same way that we treat same sex attraction, or sexual orientation. The transgender movement hijack the sexual orientation discussion, but they're kind of an unwelcome visitor on this for some, and I think that includes certain counselors, particularly those who are concerned about the erasure of women in public spaces, and also just where the science goes. Look, there is an awful lot of really honest science, right there that says that gender dysphoria, particularly among young people, tends to work itself out in incredibly high numbers and to have that sort of backdrop and then to basically refuse to say anything that helps people resolve it ups people come to terms with it. There's a lot of counselors who are not going to be okay with that. There's a lot of counselors that are you know, gonna agree with this sort of conversion ban language on sexual orientation, but not on the transgender issue. So I think there's probably going to have to be ways to work this out. This is a classic case of a law being a chainsaw when you need a scalpel, and it just doesn't have the precise language, nor do I think it can in order to protect the conscience rights, the speech rights, and the religious rights of people, particularly professionals in the field.
BROWN: John, this month, of course, is Black History Month. And so I was thinking about this initiative by Morehouse College in Atlanta: The Black Men’s Research Institute. They say the goal is to equip black men to challenge and navigate through a society constructed in ways that may marginalize their contributions and humanity.
But I’m also thinking—speaking of the contributions of black men—thinking about the passing just a few weeks ago of one of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, Charles McGee who died at age 102.
A quick rundown here of his contributions: He flew 409 combat missions over three wars during a time when the prevailing opinion was that blacks did not possess the intelligence or courage to be military pilots.
Here was a quote by Charles McGee that ran in an obituary, listen to this: “One of the things we were fighting for was equality …” And I’ll stop here and stress McGee’s word choice, “equality,” not the new concept of “equity.” McGee went on: “Equality of opportunity. We knew we had the same skills, or better.”
Interact with that, John, the difference between equality of opportunity and the new term we’re hearing so much about, “equity.”
STONESTREET: Well, you know, equality of opportunity is a great way to put it. I, gosh, how do you not just stand in awe, really, of a guy like this, a man like this, who contributed so much to our country, and did so much to advance the cause of civil rights because of his courage and his accomplishment. And I think equality of opportunity is one aspect of this difference between equality and equity. Equality of opportunity is as everyone gets the same starting point, and because everyone has the same starting point, then it really is up to, you know, skill and hard work and dedication. And these things that we have recognized as being ways of being human that are, that are good, that are virtuous, that are ways of being made, ways of reflecting the quote, sort of gifts and opportunities that God has given us. You know, you consider like some of the language of equity these days, and of course, the famous example came last year, out of the African American History Museum in Washington, DC, where some of those same qualities, hard work, perseverance, were examples of white privilege or white supremacy, I can't remember the language that they use. But basically, this is a a white way of looking at the world and not a black way. And how insulting that is to someone like Charles McGee, who, who applied this, I caught the just the beginning last night of a movie that my first watch with my daughters, and we love to catch, it's one of those, you know, there's some of those movies when they pop through the TV, you're like, Oh, I'm gonna watch that again. And Hidden Figures is one of those. And same thing, you know, where you saw the equality of opportunity was not afforded the what these individuals had to overcome in order to make contributions that literally made landing a man on the moon possible. And the equality of opportunity wasn't there. And so what made the difference that overcame the inequality of opportunity was hard work, dedication, that's not a white supremacist sort of thing and undermines the incredible work and the incredible giftedness, both natural and enhanced through hard work and, and dedication that these women in this case so clearly exhibited. And it is because if you don't get any equality of opportunity up front, then you don't recognize the ultimate source for equality, which is inequality of identity. And of course, the only thing that's ever been sufficient to ground that is the, the Judeo Christian understanding that we're made in the image and likeness of God. That is such a rich, wonderful, dignifying way of addressing cultural evils and inequality. And it's so much better than the alternative, as you mentioned, which is equity, which is just no matter what, where we begin, no matter what contribution we make, we want an equity of outcome. And any disparity in outcome is proof of a racial bias or racial intent or a racial motive. That basically takes all the dignity out of individual actors as being subjects in their own story, and basically makes them objects of pity and objects of injustice. Now, we do need to understand many people have been victimized by injustice. But we need to do it in a way that doesn't rob them of inherent dignity to begin with.
BROWN: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. Thanks, John.
STONESTREET: Thank you both.
NICK EICHER, HOST: What’s the harm in letting your toddler play with an old Apple Watch that you no longer use?
Well, a Michigan couple recently found out that even old devices no longer attached to any data plan can still call 911.
Leon Hendrix posted a video to Facebook capturing a conversation between his 3-year-old Landon and a 911 dispatcher.
AUDIO: Go take the phone to your mommy so I can talk to her.
No, I’m in the crib, I can’t walk.
Leon and his wife Andrea told tv station WOOD that the call went on for about 7 minutes before they realized what was happening.
LEON: When we realized this happened, we were freaking out.
ANDREA: The kids are on the Apple Watch calling 911, and he’s like ‘oh no!’
They said it was a teachable moment to help the kids learn the purpose of 911. And it was a lesson for mom and dad about toddlers and devices that can still place emergency calls!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, February 4th. 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: America’s aristocracy.
Fans of period dramas are used to watching sweeping stories set in British manor houses. Downton Abbey, anyone?
EICHER: But America had her own era of over-the-top opulence. And it’s on full display in the latest offering from the master of the costume drama.
Here’s reviewer Collin Garbarino.
COLLIN GARBARINO, REVIEWER: Julian Fellowes, the man who gave us Downton Abbey, is back with a new lavish costume drama airing Monday nights on HBO and streaming on HBO Max. This time Fellowes sets his story in one of America’s most extravagant periods. The series is called The Gilded Age, and it follows the lives of upper-crust New Yorkers at the end of the 19th century. And of course the story includes the men and women who served them.
Agnes: She means to join us here just as soon as she has closed the house and sold her furniture.
Ada: Oh, what a relief.
Agnes: A relief? And who is to support her? Exactly. Me. With the Van Rhijn money, which was not achieved at no cost to myself. You were allowed the pure and tranquil life of a spinster. I was not.
Fellowes introduces us to a world of aristocratic families and newly rich robber barons through the eyes of Marian Brook—a penniless girl recently arrived in New York, who must rely on the good graces of her wealthy Aunt Agnes. Aunt Agnes, however, has her own worries. She’s obsessed with making sure New York’s old money maintains its preeminent position.
Agnes: Now you need to know we only receive the old people in this house, not the new. Never the new.
Marian: What’s the difference?
Agnes: The old have been in charge since before the revolution. They ruled justly until the new people invaded.
Ada: It’s not quite as simple as that.
Agnes: Yes, it is.
It becomes harder and harder for Agnes to keep her world from changing when the obscenely rich railroad magnate George Russell builds a palace across the street. George’s wife Bertha has everything she wants except recognition from the most respectable ladies in town.
George: So, how was your afternoon?
Bertha: I’ve left cards with Mrs. Stevens, Mrs. Rutherford, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Vanderbilt, Mrs. Schermerhorn, and Mrs. Astor, of course.
George: Of course.
Bertha: So now they know we’re here.
George: We have been in New York City for three years, Bertha, watching this house rise from the sidewalk.
Bertha: But we’ve been stuck down on 30th Street with yesterday’s men.
George: You chose the house.
Bertha: I didn’t know how things worked then. Now I do. The point is, we’re settled where we should be, and that’s what I wanted to show them.
George: They don’t care. They don’t know we exist.
Bertha: Well, they will now, and there’s no need to sound superior. We cannot succeed in this town without Mrs. Astor’s approval. I know that much.
The Gilded Age is rated TV-MA, and I worried HBO had created a racier version of Downton Abbey. So far, that hasn’t been the case. Fellowes includes a homosexual subplot, just like in Downton Abbey. Other than that, the first two episodes have been pretty tame. Later episodes might introduce more explicit content, but so far, the series hasn’t contained anything that couldn’t air on PBS.
In fact, if The Gilded Age has a fault, it’s that Fellowes doesn’t give us much that he hasn’t already shown us on PBS. Attractive young people still look for suitable spouses, but lack the money or status necessary for happiness. The old guard still tries to maintain tradition despite the implacable advance of history.
Oscar: Are you going to their soirée?
Agnes: Of course not. Don’t say such things.
Oscar: Mama, you are incorrigible.
Agnes: I take that as the highest praise.
Upstairs we still find cash-strapped upper crust with idealistic youths challenging their more cynical elders. Downstairs we find the competent butler and housekeeper, keeping their eyes on the conniving lady’s maid and the valet with a mysterious past.
Turner: Are you keeping something from us?
Mrs. Bruce: Come, Miss Turner. There’s no need to put him on the spot.
Watson: I don’t need protection, Mrs. Bruce, thank you. I’ve nothing to hide.
Baudin: Well, if that is true, you must be a very unusual person.
But the series does have a couple new angles. Fellowes attempts to tackle race in America by providing Marian with a black companion named Peggy. And the ascendancy of the robber barons seems relevant in our age of tech titans frolicking in outer space. The show indulges in some moralizing, but true to the age, it looks toward American transcendentalism rather than the Bible for its ethical compass.
Ada: I only ask that you never break your own moral code, for that is the soundest guide any of us can have.
Marian: How wise, Aunt Ada!
Ada: Please don’t sound quite so surprised.
I didn’t find The Gilded Age the least bit surprising, but I found myself enjoying it anyway. There’s a reason why Downton Abbey became a phenomenon. And once again, Fellowes gives us smartly written characters, filmed in lavish sets and costumes, trying to fall in love. Audiences seemingly can’t get enough. It’s not new, but it’s entertaining.
I’m Collin Garbarino.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, February 4th. 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, this month’s Ask the Editor. Here’s WORLD Radio Executive Producer Paul Butler with a listener question about obituaries.
PAUL BUTLER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: I live in rural north-central Illinois. There are less than 35,000 people in the entire county but we still have a small newspaper that comes out a few times a week. Many of my older neighbors read it faithfully. One slyly quips: “I read the obituaries to make sure I’m not dead yet.”
Obituaries have long been a staple in the news business. And WORLD has long made them a feature in our year-end coverage, both in print and on the podcast.
Andy from Hillsboro, Oregon, sent in the following feedback after listening to our year-end remembrances:
I was disappointed that you missed out on one very important person who died this year. Luis Palau...After Billy Graham, my estimation is that Luis is probably the best known evangelist in the world.
Thanks for all you do.
Andy is right about Palau’s legacy. So why didn’t we include him? As our Managing Editor Leigh Jones wrote back to Andy: “we usually don't highlight people in the year-end obits that we've already covered during the year.”
When Luis Palau died we mentioned it in the newscast, we featured Warren’s Smith’s interview with the evangelist—both on The World and Everything in It and the Listening In podcast. Plus, we ran a previous long-form interview with Palau on The Olasky Interview. So we covered his life and legacy in detail.
But Andy isn’t the first to ask why someone wasn’t included in our annual obituary features. Here’s a glimpse into our process:
We keep a running tally of people who die throughout the year—submitted by staff, reporters, and even listeners. As I scroll back through the growing list for this year, it includes some famous people like rocker Meatloaf and comedian Bob Saget. Christian artists like Jay Weaver—the bassist in Big Daddy Weave. Other names include unsung heroes like Laurence Brooks—the oldest living WWII veteran at the time of his death. There are song writers, religious figures, athletes, coaches, politicians, convicts, millionaires, actors and as you can imagine, by the end of the year we end up with way more entries than we can highlight. So how do we decide who to include?
First we look for people who were faithful followers of Christ. Then individuals who reformed their industries, changed societal perceptions, overcame great obstacles. And not just success stories. We also sometimes highlight people who didn’t end well. Those who arrive at the end of their days with the adulation of men—but are going to stand before their maker with fear and trembling.
That hints at the more fundamental question we might ask: why do we spend time remembering those who died anyway?
The Psalmist writes in chapter 90: “...teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
That may be what inspired early American theologian Jonathan Edwards to resolve in his journal on July 5th, 1723, that he would always act with future judgment in mind. A few days later he added that he resolved to live in such a way as to not suffer regrets in his old age.
Obituaries—like funerals—can help us do just that. Life stories can be inspirational, but more importantly they help us gain a heart of wisdom. It provides each of us a chance to reflect on our own lives, and prayerfully consider our own legacy. And as my friend suggests, as long as we’re not in the paper, we all still have time to touch someone’s else’s life.
I’m Paul Butler.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Time now to thank the team that put together this week’s programs:
Mary Reichard, Kent Covington, David Bahnsen, Harrison Watters, Jill Nelson, Jenny Lind Schmitt, Emily Whitten, Steve West, Anna Johansen Brown, Onize Ohikere, Janie B. Cheaney, Josh Schumacher, Kim Henderson, Cal Thomas, John Stonestreet, and Collin Garbarino.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Carl Peetz and Johnny Franklin are the audio engineers who stay up late to get the program to you early! Leigh Jones is managing editor, and Paul Butler is our executive producer.
The Bible tells us: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV).
I hope you’ll worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ this weekend.
Lord willing, we’ll meet you 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.