The World and Everything in It: January 27, 2023
On Culture Friday, accepting homosexuality within the church and laws against its legality; Collin Garbarino reviews a film that tells the story of a bureaucrat who learns he’s dying of cancer; and feedback from our listeners. Plus: the Friday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
From the Pope to a well-known protestant pastor—comments on sin, illegality, and acceptance by the church.
NICK EICHER, HOST: We’ll talk with John Stonestreet about that and a regrettable omission from a founding document ahead today on Culture Friday.
Plus, three movies nominated for Oscars. Our reviewer says two out of three is bad.
And your listener feedback.
BROWN: It’s Friday, January 27th. 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: Ukraine attack » More Russian missiles and suicide drones crashed into Kyiv and other cities across Ukraine on Thursday killing at least 11 people.
The onslaught came just hours after the United States and Germany upped the ante in Russia’s 11-month war by promising to send high-tech tanks to Ukraine.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Western allies are moving as quickly as possible to arm Ukraine as Russia prepares for a new offensive.
STOLTENBERG: They are building heavily up. They have mobilized hundreds of thousands of new troops. They’re ramping up production, acquiring ammunition from authoritarian regimes.
Russia’s latest attack followed the Kremlin’s recent pattern of striking civilian targets and infrastructure.
Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia province said three people were killed and seven injured in a strike on an energy facility.
Officials say Russia fired 55 missiles on Thursday. Ukraine’s air defenses were able to shoot down 47 of them.
Iran nuke assessment » The UN’s top nuclear official says Iran now has enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple nuclear weapons. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: For months, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency has warned that Iran likely has the material for at least one nuclear weapon.
But Director General Rafael Grossi says make that several nuclear weapons.
He’s urging the West not to give up on a diplomatic pact to limit Iran’s atomic program.
The Biden administration has hoped to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. However, that now looks highly unlikely as Tehran arms Russia and as unrest shakes Iran.
Israel’s government and others say bargaining with Iran won’t work anyway and continue to call for a maximum pressure campaign.
Iranian officials have recently begun openly talking about building nuclear weapons.
For WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Memphis officers charged » Five former Memphis police officers now face felony charges in the death of a young man during a traffic stop earlier this month.
Shelby County prosecutor Steve Mulroy said among those charges …
MULROY: Second degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping resulting in bodily injury.
The police report from the January 7th incident said an “altercation” ensued after a traffic stop.
Twenty-nine-year-old Tyre Nichols died in a hospital three days later.
The Memphis Police Dept., after an internal probe said the officers used excessive force and fired all five of them.
Attorney Blake Ballin represents one of the accused officers, Desmond Mills.
BALLIN: As somebody who is on the other side of law enforcement, somebody who has been in charge of keeping our community safe, hurts him on another level.
Mills and at least one other officer will plead not guilty.
Memphis police plan to release video footage of the incident tonight and are bracing for unrest.
FBI hacker group » The FBI says it has prevented a ransomware group called Hive from stealing more than $130 million from more than 300 victims.
FBI director Christopher Wray:
WRAY: Last July, FBI Tampa gained clandestine, persistent access to Hive’s control panel, and since then, for the past seven months we’ve been able to exploit that access to help victims while keeping Hive in the dark.
Over the years, Hive has stolen more than $100 million and targeted more than 1,500 victims in 80 countries.
National Archives » The National Archives wants surviving presidents and vice presidents to recheck their records to make sure they don’t contain classified documents.
Republican Congressman Gary Palmer.
PALMER: And I mean this for everyone, whether it's Donald Trump or Biden or Vice President Pence, we need to know what documents left. The secure locations are wound up in these places that are not secure.
In recent months, classified records have turned up at the private homes of President Biden, Trump, and Pence.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries says Congress will look at what can be done to protect classified information...
JEFFRIES: Through the lens, hopefully, not as an issue for one party or the other, but as an issue that we should just address as a congress on behalf of the American people.
Under federal law, sensitive documents are supposed to be turned over the National Archives upon leaving office.
Economy slows » The U.S. economy showed more signs of slowing at the end of last year.
The Commerce Department says the economy grew at a 2.9 percent annual rate. That’s down from slightly more than 3 percent the quarter before.
But President Biden said Thursday the numbers are still strong.
BIDEN: Economic growth is up. Stronger than experts expected. 2.9% are growing jobs. Jobs are the highest in America number and highest in American history.
Most analysts think the economy will grow even more slowly in the first quarter of this year.
West Bank » Secretary of State Tony Blinken will travel to Egypt, Israel and the West Bank this weekend as the State Department voices concern over escalating violence in the Middle East.
Israeli forces raided a camp in the West Bank Thursday, killing seven militant. But Palestinian authorities say a 61-year-old woman also died.
Blinken’s visit to Israel has been planned for weeks, but Thursday’s raid will likely dominate his talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Culture Friday with John Stonestreet.
Plus, a movie worthy of watching this Oscar season.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday the 27th of January, 2023. Thanks for listening to WORLD Radio today! Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s Culture Friday!
Joining us now is John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning.
EICHER: Well, Pope Francis has called for the repeal of laws around the world criminalizing homosexuality. He called them unjust laws.
In an interview with reporter Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press, Pope Francis said, “Being homosexual is not a crime. It's not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime … . It’s also a sin to lack charity with one another.”
The pope went on to say that the Catholic Church should work to put an end to such laws: “It must do this,” he said. “It must do this."
Let me try to narrow this down a bit. What seems clear is he says laws that criminalize homosexuality are unjust and working to repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality is just. Is he right?
STONESTREET: Well, based on Roman Catholic teaching, and by the way, this reminds me of the question that we discussed when we learned that Emeritus Pope Benedict had passed away and what the long term effect was going to be. It seemed like every time in the early days that Pope Francis would extend beyond where many historic Roman Catholic teaching was, on this particular issue, he would rein himself back in and I think many people wondered what the role was there of somebody who was so clear on what Christian doctrine was on this issue of sexuality and identity as Pope Benedict was. So it is interesting that this is happening in the wake of that. But that's a perspective of conjecture, and nothing more, let me just be really clear. What he's not clear on and that's really the problem whenever the Pope Francis seems to step out and talk about this particular issue, is that he just lacks clarity on any level is what does he mean by a law that makes homosexuality a crime? Is it just those that make homosexuality a crime that leads to the death penalty, or imprisonment or something like that? Or is he talking about a law that does not recognize same-sex unions as marriage? Or a law that says it's actually bad for children to not have a mom and a dad, and so therefore, homosexual parenting is outlawed? And there's just no sort of clarity here. And the fact of the matter is, there is a difference between what is a sin and what is a crime, because what is a crime is culturally determined based on where a particular society is. But I do think it's important to note that whether or not something is legally possible—and law tends to be downstream from culture—should homosexuality be against the law? And I would say, based on what is true and the fact that we want our laws to reflect reality and not deny reality, that a more just society would be a society that restricts homosexual activity—both by culture and in law. Now, I'm not in any level advocating here for really stiff penalties, certainly not something like the death penalty any more than I would in the cases of adultery or divorce or anything like that. But sexual brokenness should not be treated as normal. And the law has an incredibly powerful ability to normalize behaviors. So yes, I do think homosexual behavior should be outlawed. I think it's a better society where it is. Now, again, no one write me and say that I'm advocating death penalties. That's not what I'm advocating at all. But I want a law that reflects reality, not a law that denies reality. I think we're a long way. I think the idea of ever getting back there is a long shot. But I think it is a legal devolution, not a legal evolution when anti-sodomy laws were overturned. You're gonna get so many emails on that one, aren't ya?
BROWN: From Pope Francis to Pastor Andy Stanley. Take a listen:
STANLEY: How to get straight people as excited about serving and engaging as the gay men and women, I know we would have a volunteer backlog, that's my experience in our churches.
… A gay person who still wants to attend church after the way the church has treated the gay community, I'm telling you, they have more faith than I do.
They have more faith than a lot of you.
A gay person who knows, you know what?
I might not be accepted here, but I'm gonna try it anyway.
Have you ever done that as a straight person?
That’s a portion of a message delivered last year at a leadership conference at his church in Atlanta
First, I want you to address what sounds like Pastor Andy Stanley affirming evil in the church for the sake of serving or volunteerism.
Then I’d like to hear your take on this often used cultural argument. How many divorced people are in the church? How many liars, drunks, proud and vain people are in the church? Shouldn’t they be cast out as well?
STONESTREET: Yeah, I mean, well, the quick answer to that argument is maybe. I mean, there is a whole realm of church discipline when a sin is exposed and what you're supposed to do to go forward. And the fact that you're inconsistently applying biblical morality doesn't mean that the answer then is to not apply it at all, particularly in the area of a sin that is blatant and that is exposed and that in many ways one is actually wearing on their sleeve. Is that is that a way to put it? If the same sex couple comes into your church and claim it, and so many people do, claim it as part of an identity, then I think you've got the flaunting of a sin against the clear revealed will of God. Now, should you kick them out of the church at that point? There's a whole church disciplinary process. Do you celebrate them going through the sin while still wanting to love God is some sort of virtue? That was what was odd about this. And I'm really hesitant on this particular question, Myrna, just because people love to throw up part of Andy Stanley's sermons and then go after him. And because he does tend to say things that bring that sort of reaction. And there's been more than a few times where what's been represented in a tweet or a video clip isn't actually accurate of what he actually was trying to say. This one had larger context and I did see this sermon, and I do think it's really problematic, but I think he's been problematic on the issue of homosexuality for a while. I do absolutely appreciate the fact that he wants to reach those who struggle with same-sex attraction and homosexual behavior. I think that there is something to be said about the courage of a believer who follows Jesus, despite every voice in the world giving that person a kind of get out of jail free card and a justification for that sin. If that's what he was talking about, then I think just like anyone who struggles with sin and overcomes it is somebody that I can learn from. That's a little bit different than what I heard in this particular clip where it's not sinful, and it's not really struggling against it, it's continuing to indulge in it while still saying, Yeah, I want to come to church, even though people don't like me here. That doesn't seem to be as courageous, nor is it something then that reflects the work of the Holy Spirit, as he seems to suggest in the clip.
EICHER: OK, I want to play a piece of unedited audio:
HARRIS: America is a promise.
It is a promise of freedom and liberty, not for some, but for all … [applause] … a promise we made in the Declaration of Independence that we are each endowed with the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. [applause]
Be clear: these rights were not bestowed upon us.
They belong to us as Americans.
You recognize the voice as that of the vice president of the United States. It’s Vice President Kamala Harris. And I introduced the clip as unedited. I mean, I didn’t edit the audio. But I think it’s pretty clear she edited the script from which she was reading. Edited the Declaration of Independence. I know you saw this, John, it blew up on social media.
STONESTREET: Yeah, I mean, I think perhaps the best read on this is that the Vice President, like so many other folks in America, are students of a bad civic education. So I'm not sure really how many normal Americans could quote the Declaration of Independence. Clearly, this was a little bit more intentional, because the phrase was the right to life, which is a pro-life talking point and she felt like she could not say it out loud. But the whole thing, though, is problematic because there's an ordering to these articulated rights in the Declaration of Independence and there's a source that is articulated. But that's also accurately stated. You don't have the right to pursuit of happiness, that's not a right. Unless you have the liberty to pursue that happiness. You have to have a level of freedom. So the right to the pursuit of happiness is based on the right to liberty. You don't have a right to liberty if you're not alive, if you don't get to choose whether you live or die, if you don't have actually the freedom to live. And so, really, the two rights that she cites there are dependent on the right to life. And if you leave it out, you don't get the others. And of course, if these rights are not endowed by the Creator, then the only source left is the state. And if the state gives rights, the state can take those rights away. And trust me, this is something that the founders absolutely had in mind in order to guarantee the sort of country that they wanted and hoped and prayed could take place. And there is something that is irreplaceable about the source of those rights being a creator. That this is not something that the state creates. It's something that the state is forced to recognize. So, in any sort of applied sense, her comments are going to fall apart. We might say it's a house built on sand.
EICHER: Yeah, we might. John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. John, thank you so much. We’ll see you next week!
STONESTREET: Thanks so much!
NICK EICHER, HOST: Last November, researchers near Boulder, Colorado, set up trail cameras to learn more about wildlife in Colorado Parks. On one night alone, a single camera captured 580 images.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: That's a lot of wildlife.
EICHER: Yeah, you'd think. But of those 580 pictures? About 400 of them were of the same bear! Every possible angle that you can imagine: full-on, three-quarters, profile, a paw, with his tongue out—lots and lots of close-ups!
BROWN: Well, we all know you have to take a lot of pictures to get just the right look!
EICHER: All those selfies, though. Probably a millennial bear.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, January 27th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: It's Oscar season.
Academy Award nominees were announced this week. But as is often the case, a supposedly award-worthy movie isn’t necessarily any good.
BROWN: Here’s Collin Garbarino with some thoughts about a few films that might or might not be worth watching.
COLLIN GARBARINO: You should always do your homework before queuing up awards films. Everything Everywhere All at Once was an unexpected hit with both critics and fans, and it garnered more nominations than any other film this year. It’s sort of like an over-the-top interdimensional kung-fu family dramedy. That might sound fun, and in some ways it is well made. But I can’t recommend it. It has some very crude moments and the worldview is exceedingly nihilistic.
One nominee to avoid at all costs is The Whale which features Brendan Fraiser playing a 600-pound recluse. In every way, it’s one of the most awful movies I’ve ever seen.
But an awards film I think you shouldn’t overlook is called Living, and it expands to more theaters this weekend.
Living is an adaptation of Ikiru—Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film about a Japanese bureaucrat who learns he’s dying of cancer. British writer Kazuo Ishiguro’s script has been nominated for best adapted screenplay. And Bill Nighy’s been nominated for best actor for his portrayal of the film’s protagonist, Mr. Williams.
Living is set in and around 1950s London where Mr. Williams leads the Department of Public Works at the county building. It’s a somber place in which workers pass file folders from desk to desk. The goal—as it is with most bureaucracies—is to appear exceedingly busy while studiously avoiding actual work.
MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Wakely what may I do for you?
MR. WAKELING: The ladies’ petition, sir. Mr. Harvey at cleansing insists that this is for us after all.
MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Harvey is quite wrong. But we can keep it here. There’s no harm. Thank you, Mr. Wakeling.
But Mr. Williams’ carousel of paper pushing is interrupted when his doctor diagnoses him with cancer, giving him just six months to live.
DOCTOR: Mr. Williams. Please, sit down.
MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you.
DOCTOR: The results have come back. I’m afraid this time, they’re pretty conclusive. [long pause] It’s never easy this.
MR. WILLIAMS: Quite.
Mr. Williams takes a holiday, hoping to have some fun before his death, and he meets a young bohemian who takes him on a hedonistic binge. Their night of carousing earns the film its PG-13 rating. But the film shows the emptiness of “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.”
MR. WILLIAMS: You see my problem. I withdrew this cash and came down here to enjoy myself or live a little, as you put it. But I realize I don’t know how.
Back in London, Mr. Williams begins spending time with a much younger woman named Miss Harris who formerly worked in the Department of Public Works.
MISS HARRIS: Mr. Williams! Mr. Williams! Oh! Oh, it is you! I was quite thrown there for a minute, I mean by your, by your new hat.
MR. WILLIAMS: I lost my old one.
MISS HARRIS: It’s jolly nice. I do wonder what they’ll make of it at the office.
MR. WILLIAMS: Yes, I wonder.
He’s not interested in romance, but he’s attracted to her vitality. Thanks to this young friend, Mr. Williams realizes living isn’t about personal satisfaction, rather it’s about finding one’s purpose in helping others.
It’s a beautiful film filled with moments of poignancy. The story doesn’t hurry—long pauses draw us into Mr. Williams’ worry about the short time he has left. Ishiguro’s script is tight, perhaps better than Kurusawa’s original, and the film’s score enriches the melancholy, yet hopeful story.
But by far, the best thing about Living is Nighy’s portrayal of Mr. Williams. We feel the character’s stern austerity in Nighy’s slight hardening of the eyes. He perfectly communicates the depths of Mr. Williams’ bureaucratic malaise. And our hearts ache for this man who seems embarrassed by his own mortality.
MR. WILLIAMS: Look here. There’s something I want to show you, but… It’s um… It’s a bit of a bore, really.
Of course, the cancer diagnosis changes Mr. Williams, but Nighy plays the change close. For most of the movie, he’s all quiet confusion, and Nighy’s eventual transformation from bewilderment to clarity is brilliant.
MR. WILLIAMS: I wonder if you ever stop on the way home and watch the children play. And when the time comes and their mothers call them in they get a little contrary, but that’s as it should be. Far better that than to be the child you occasionally see sitting by himself in the corner not taking part. Merely waiting for his mother to call him. I’ve become afraid that I might end up like that child. And I so very much do not wish to do so.
Nighy avoids the temptation to alter Mr. Williams’ personality after his epiphany. He’s the same man, yet different, allowing him to live his final days well. It's the best performance I’ve seen in the last year.
MUSIC: [MR. WILLIAMS SINGING]
Life is a gift, and death is our enemy. But Living suggests the knowledge of death can become a gift. Facing his mortality saves Mr. Williams from a living death of meaningless activity. The film acts as a “memento mori” reminding us of our own mortality and challenging us to live a life that blesses others.
I’m Collin Garbarino.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, January 27th. 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. It’s time now for Listener Feedback.
We begin with a few corrections. Our first one comes from last week’s Culture Friday on the 50th anniversary of Roe v Wade…listener Donny Spaulding from Illinois wrote in to remind us that the phrase: “Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” comes from the Declaration of Independence, NOT the Constitution as our guest said. Good catch Donny.
Really sorry for that error, given that just a few moments ago we kind of let the vice president have it today for selectively quoting that very document!
BROWN: Susan Jones caught another slip-up during our January 2nd History Book.
SUSAN JONES: I’m a lifelong Braille reader and I wanted to comment on Paul Butler’s report…because he said that Louis Braille’s birthday was July 4th, 1809 and I’m pretty sure he meant January 4th…I enjoy listening to WORLD every day in my kitchen as I’m having breakfast and I appreciate all the good work that you do. Thank you.
EICHER: We checked the script—and it did say “January,” but it came out “July” —a slip of the tongue, and Paul is aware. But it’s a lesson to all of us to be extra careful.
BROWN: One more correction today, this one comes from Robert Mineo from Brooklyn New York about a recent Cal Thomas commentary.
ROBERT MINEO: Always want to start by saying your podcast of The World and Everything in It is just incredible. I just listened…to Cal Thomas talking about being in New York City. I live in Brooklyn, New York... I do not disagree with what he’s saying. However, the name of the district attorney is actually Alvin Bragg, not Michael Bragg. The gentleman is so horrendous in his job so at least get the name right? So people can call him out on it. Anyway, thanks a lot and have a great day. Bye.
EICHER: Robert, thanks for setting us straight. Now we turn to Casey Unverzagt from western Pennsylvania. He sends a suggestion on how to talk about medical patients:
CASEY UNVERZAGT: I just wanna say first and foremost, thank you for all that you do. Your program is an encouragement to myself and my family…as a physical therapist and also a graduate educator, I start to twitch a little bit when I hear reporters speak about the cancer patient or the covid patient or the AIDS patient, because no individual wants to be defined by their diagnosis.
Additionally, I think it's fascinating from a research standpoint how we see patient outcomes are actually made worse whenever we label someone by their disease. And so just consider, as we're all seen, you know, the image of God that we're not defined by our diagnoses.
Casey, thanks for that encouragement. At WORLD we follow AP style on issues like these and the stylebook has zero guidance on this.
As an aside, as you might imagine, we have many, many disagreements with the AP stylebook and we’ve listed for our staff numerous exceptions—especially on issues around biblical morality.
In any event, the point you raise is one we will consider and we will indeed bring it up in our next editorial council meeting.
BROWN: Karson Hall lives in Providence Village, TX—near Denton—and he sent us this feedback about one of the things he looks forward to each week:
KARSON HALL: And I always looked forward to Fridays, especially because I enjoy hearing the list of people that the Lord used to produce this week's episodes. But I just wanted to say this week I am lifting up each and every family of the people who are involved with The World and Everything in It. You do an amazing job each week and I hope you have a blessed day.
Thanks, Karson! And finally this morning, an email from Heidi VanTil regarding our newest WORLD podcast: Concurrently, the News Coach podcast with Kelsey Reed and Jonathan Boes. She writes:
Thank you so much for providing this excellent, timely resource! As a mom, teacher, and friend to children in my church, I appreciate your help equipping me to guide the kids in my life as they grapple with current events and our culture…Thanks for the new podcast! I look forward to future episodes.
EICHER: If you’d like to listen to this weekly program for families, subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts. We’re also re-airing the first few episodes over the next few weeks on this podcast feed. Look for Concurrently the News Coach Podcast.
BROWN: Well that’s it for this month’s Listener Feedback. Thanks to everyone who wrote and called in. If you have comments to share with us you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re writing, why not take a moment and record your comments on your phone and send that along as well. We’ve included instructions on how to do that on our website: wng.org/podcasts. Or you can phone in your feedback. Our listener line is (202) 709-9595.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Well, it’s time to say thanks to the team members who helped put the program together this week: Mary Reichard, David Bahnsen, Leo Briceno, Addie Offereins, Anna Johansen Brown, Whitney Williams, Onize Ohikere, Carolina Lumetta, Janie B Cheaney, Mary Muncy, Steve West, Caleb Bailey, Cal Thomas, John Stonestreet, and Collin Garbarino.
Thanks also to our breaking news team: Kent Covington, Lynde Langdon, Steve Kloosterman, Lauren Canterberry, Mary Muncy, Josh Schumacher, and Anna Mandin.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And our guys who stay up late to get the program to you early: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz. Our producer is Kristen Flavin with production assistance from Emily Whitten, Lillian Hamman, and Benj Eicher.
Paul Butler is our Executive Producer.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
The Bible says: Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! (Psalm 24:7-8 ESV)
Be sure to worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ this weekend! Lord willing, we’ll be right back here on Monday.
And go now, in grace and peace.
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