The World and Everything in It - January 7, 2022
On Culture Friday, the cultural decay that led to the Jan. 6th Capitol riot; the new documentary about Beanie Babies; and on Ask the Editor, defining Biblically objective journalism. Plus: the Friday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
Today, marking the first anniversary of the January 6th riots at the Capitol in Washington.
We’ll talk about it with John Stonestreet.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Right, Culture Friday resumes after a holiday break.
Also a cautionary tale involving tiny, stuffed toys.
And this month’s Ask the Editor.
BROWN: It’s Friday, January 7th. 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: Time now for news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden decries Trump, backers' 'dagger at throat' of democracy » Speaking inside the Statuary Hall at the Capitol Thursday, President Biden blasted former President Donald Trump and some of his supporters on the one-year anniversary of the Capitol riot.
BIDEN: Those who stormed this Capitol, and those who instigated and incited, and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy.
Biden added—quoting here—“For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol.”
Trump fired back saying Biden was trying to “further divide America.” He said—quoting here—“This political theater is all just a distraction.”
President Biden’s remarks on Thursday launched a full day of events. The House and Senate both convened with a moment of silence. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer:
SCHUMER: A minute of silence, a moment of silence, for all of those who helped us then and help us now, the staffs and everybody else.
Republican lawmakers largely stayed away from the day's events, saying Democrats overly politicized them.
U.S. jobless claims tick up, but still low at 207,000 » The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits rose last week but remains at historically low levels.
The Labor Dept. reports that new claims rose about 4 percent last week to 207,000. But weekly claims are still below the 220,000 typical before the pandemic struck in March 2020.
So far, the explosion of COVID-19 omicron infections does not appear to have triggered significant layoffs.
A record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November—a sign that they are confident in their prospects to land a better job.
Altogether, nearly 1.8 million Americans collected traditional unemployment aid the week that ended on Christmas Day.
N. Korea claims second successful test of hypersonic missile » North Korea claims to have successfully test-fired a hypersonic missile for the second time. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The country’s state news agency said the missile made a 75 mile lateral movement before striking a target more than 400 miles away.
Wednesday’s launch was the North’s first known weapons test in about two months.
It came just days after leader Kim Jong Un vowed to bolster his military forces. And it signals that Kim’s regime plans to modernize its nuclear and missile arsenals rather than return to disarmament talks anytime soon.
Hypersonic weapons fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5. That is five times the speed of sound.
The weapons could pose major challenges to missile defense systems because of their speed and maneuverability. Hypersonic missiles were on a long wish-list of military assets that Kim disclosed last year.
He also wants a multi-warhead missile, spy satellites, solid-fueled long-range missiles and underwater-launched nuclear missiles.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Dozens of protesters, 12 police dead in Kazakhstan protests » AUDIO: [Sound of troops]
That is the sound of troops in Kazakhstan opening fire near the mayor’s office in the city of Almaty as violent clashes with protesters continued Thursday.
Security forces have gunned down dozens of protesters and at least 12 police have died. That according to authorities in Kazakhstan.
Demonstrators this week broke into the presidential residence and the mayor’s office in Almaty and set fire to government buildings.
They’re angry about sharply rising gas prices among other things.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that Secretary of State Tony Blinken had a—quote—“productive call” with his counterpart in Kazakhstan.
PSAKI: He reaffirmed the United States’ full support for Kazakhstan’s constitutional institutions, human rights, media freedom, including through the restoration of internet service and advocated for a peaceful rights-respecting resolution to the crisis.
Authorities have reportedly blocked internet access in parts of the country amid a growing challenge to the authoritarian government.
AUDIO: [Sound of vehicle]
And Russian troops and armored vehicles began rolling into the ex-Soviet nation on Thursday.
Tens of thousands of protesters have flooded streets in Kazakhstan in recent days. Authorities say they have arrested more than 2,000 people.
Ransom freed some missionary hostages in Haiti » An unidentified person paid a ransom that freed three kidnapped missionaries in Haiti. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.
JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries has confirmed that someone paid the gang that kidnapped 17 missionaries in October. And the unnamed person reportedly made an agreement with the gang that was supposed to have led to the release of all of the captives early last month.
Officials at Christian Aid Ministries said they don’t know who made the payment or how much he or she paid.
They said internal conflicts within the gang led it to renege on a pledge to release all the hostages. Instead, the gang released just three of them on December 5th.
The remaining captives escaped 10 days later.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: what happens when politics fills the room.
Plus, defining Biblically objective journalism.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, January 7th, 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 and time now to welcome John Stonestreet for the first time in this new year. He's president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast, John. Good morning. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: And epiphany. Don't forget epiphany, that was Thursday.
EICHER: Yesterday, we remembered a grim anniversary—one year since the Capitol riot of January 6th. Partisans handled this remembrance in predictable ways: one side will exaggerate it for advantage, the other will downplay it for the same reason. And on that score, I was glad for a WORLD Opinions piece yesterday by Erick Erickson, who called the attack, quoting here, “a logical stop on our republic’s road to decay.” And Erickson admonished all sides to condemn all political violence and all unlawful disruptions of government functions.
But this is one of those events, I think, where you really do remember what you were doing the moment you heard about it.
It’s interesting, because it was a Wednesday, and you and I were recording a conversation together you said, “Are you seeing this?” And in fact, I hadn’t until you said something. We clearly had no choice but to toss out our original plans and talk about the riot instead.
What’d you learn about it as you’ve had a year to reflect?
STONESTREET: You know, Erick Erickson's line that this is a logical stop on our republic's road to decay, I think is probably worth a little more unpacking. Chuck Colson used to love to quote Bill Wichterman, I think is the first one who coined the phrase that politics is downstream from culture. And I think that is true almost all the time. And I think this is a case where it is true. At the same time, I think one of the indicators of the health and well being of a culture is how much of it there is that's outside of politics. And I think that brings me to one or two conclusions about what we saw a year ago.
The first is, is that politics is filling the room. And when politics fills the entire room, when it fills the entire culture, everything seems to rest on political outcomes. And so one side can't lose, the other side can't win. Well, the other side has to see the other side as not just being people who are ideologically opposed, but people who are enemies, people who have to be, you know, eliminated from the picture, everything rests on every election. In fact, it's more than that. I mean, what we've seen in the year since is that everything rests on every headline. And every headline has to be understood in a political way. And I think we're just beginning to see the implications of a culture like ours, that historically was built on things way upstream from politics, where there was a whole lot more to us than just what happens in DC. What happens when all those kind of rich resources for our culture, what we might call the mediating institutions? The fact is, is we live in a country that doesn't trust those institutions. The fact is, we live in a country where those institutions have become increasingly thin, they become increasingly irrelevant. And all that's left to fill the room is politics. And these are the sorts of incidents. I don't know if it was a logical stop or a predictable stop. But it is a stop on our Republic's road to decay.
The other thing was, how many people looked at what was happening on January 6 and said, 'This isn't us. This isn't us.' I'm like, 'What do you mean by that? Somebody did this and it was us.' I mean, I guess, I think we are too quick to take our base instincts particularly on our side and say, you know, we're not capable of that sort of deception when you talk about the grandparent misinformation that is spread around the country from this, you know, the sewage sources of national media. And I use that phrase carefully, right there. I you know, this is us. We are a culture of misinformation. We are a culture without virtue. We are a culture that doesn't know how to govern ourselves. We are a culture that doesn't realize that there's way more to life than just politics. And now, it may not be true of me. It may not be true of you. It may not be true, somebody that's listening that has real concerns about you know, this happening on the left, this happened in the right look, this is us and we need to recreate with it, and I don't think that we have. So a year later we have people excusing it on one side and people using it for political ends of power on the other side. And I guess I'm not very encouraged by what we're doing with what we saw a year ago.
BROWN: John, the last time we talked, I remember we made the point that “no nation can remain strong if its commitment to marriage is weak” and then lamented the statistics showing a big decline in Americans’ commitment to marriage and how that manifested itself in 2021.
Well, I think that bears repeating in 2022.
In just this first week of the new year, Christian author and ministry leader Lysa TerKeurst announced she and her husband are ending their 30-year-marriage.
After only 8 months of matrimony, Christian Congressman Madison Cawthorn is also getting a divorce.
But John, the announcement that I want you to respond to is from pastor and producer DeVon Franklin and his soon to be ex-wife actor Megan Good. And I'm quoting here, “We celebrate almost a decade of marriage together and a love that is eternal. There’s no one at fault. We believe this is the next best chapter in the evolution of our love.”
Now, you can’t blame one couple for a culture-wide problem and I wouldn’t do it, but I wonder whether these kinds of rationalizations and justifications, making divorce seem like just the next chapter of a love story—whether this kind of thinking and talking fuels more of it—helps others justify it. What do you think?
STONESTREET: Yeah, I mean, it's always hard when you hear these stories, and they seem to come in bunches when they're Christian, quote, unquote, stories. And you said, Well, you know, is there a trend here or something like that? The same week, there was an article in, I believe it was the New York Times, it might have been the Washington Post, where a commentator made the same comment about marriage, that the most courageous thing she could do was end her marriage. It does reflect that our culture has increasingly - and when I say our culture, I want to say our Christian culture, in particular in our church - increasingly sees marriage like a speed limit, not like gravity.
And here's what I mean by that. A speed limit, you know, is posted, it's a social construct, to help us govern our lives together. And we've seen that on a social level, this was the whole language around same sex marriage, you know, that we need to expand marriage by including parties that, you know, from every culture in the history of the world until yesterday, weren't seen, you know, weren't seen to be included, and marriage, including by cultures that had no Christian background at all, including cultures that had, you know, high tolerance for homosexual relationships. But that same rationalization that marriage is a social construct, it's a speed limit, not gravity, is emerging now in these comments. And it's one thing when you see in the New York Times, it's another thing when you see it out of pastors when you see it out of Christian voices, we heard these lines five years ago, 10 years ago from progressive Christianity. But now we're hearing from people who identify more clearly in the in the category of conservative Christianity or Orthodox Christianity.
This is a swerve. And just like embracing a transgender ideology, and various forms from our culture, is not just a moral move. It's a worldview move. It's a larger worldview more because you're saying something about the way that God created the world and the way that God said He created the world. And so it's a creation issue. It's an orthodoxy issue. It's not just a random, you know, theological sock hanging out of the suitcase. This is a little bit bigger than that, because it deals with the fundamental question, Are God's moral norms speed limits? Or are they gravity? Are they social constructs? Or are they, you know, baked into reality? And so, man, what a conversation we've had. Politics is downstream from culture, sometimes cultures downstream from law and politics sometimes and, and the two stories exhibit this, I think.
BROWN: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. Thanks, John.
STONESTREET: Thank you both and happy epiphany.
NICK EICHER, HOST: A Colorado family that donated a recliner to a thrift store accidentally donated much more than old furniture.
They inadvertently gave away a member of the family!
The family member in question is heard here in an interview with KDVR:
Yep, the family cat, named Montequlla, had stowed away inside the recliner.
An employee at the Arc Thrift Store found the cat and called Denver Animal Protection. The feline’s microchip information was out of date.
But thankfully, the family noticed the cat was missing and figured out what had happened.
Montequlla is now back at home and has likely found a new hiding place.
Because cats are stubborn that way.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, January 7th. 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: Beanie Babies.
A new documentary tells the story behind the popular toy that became a national craze. Here’s reviewer Collin Garbarino.
COLLIN GARBARINO, REVIEWER: If, like me, you lived through the ’90s, you no doubt remember those cute stuffed animals called Beanie Babies. Everyone seemed to want them. And that meant sometimes no one could find them—at least for an affordable price.
Mary Beth: The first Beanie Baby I ever saw was the lobster. A Beanie Baby is a small stuffed animal that fits in the palm of your hand. It’s very posable, so you can sit it, you can fix the arms a little bit. It has very expressive eyes. You almost feel like the Beanie Baby is a little person. It has a personality.
That’s Mary Beth Sobolewski. Beanie Mania, the new documentary streaming on HBO Max, explains how she and a few other suburban moms sparked a nation-wide frenzy over Beanie Babies in the mid 1990s. No one, not even Ty Warner, the guy who invented the toys, knew how popular they would become.
Mary Beth: “Ty Warner, I like to say, is like the Wizard of Oz.”
Joni: “Ty Warner is a real character.”
Peggy: “There were always rumors about him.”
Mary Beth: “Not many people knew Ty Warner the person. Including me.”
It’s too bad we don’t get to know the real Warner through watching this documentary. He doesn’t give interviews. But some of the stories others share give a glimpse into how the company got started.
Joni: In the early days, Ty went to the stores himself. He always drove a very unusual car. And often would drive around with a full-length fur coat and a top hat to intrigue people into allowing him in to show his products. He’s unusual looking, I would say. He reminded me of Willy Wonka.
Lina Trivedi was the Ty company’s 12th employee. She’s the one who had the idea for those little red tags with the toy’s name, birthday, and a poem.
Lina: The thought just randomly popped into my head that we should do poems, that would be kind of cute. So immediately upon getting the thought, I just walked into Ty’s office because Ty happened to be there and I told him I said, ‘I have this idea.’ So he said, ‘You think you could write one for all of them? And can you fax me the poems in 18 hours?’ There was, like, 80 or so at the time—87, I think, that I had to write.”
Those poems, along with the Beanie Babies’ cute features, made them irresistible to some collectors. Moms in the film talk about how they started buying them for their kids but then quickly began buying them for themselves. So did a lot of other adults.
Peggy: When I started collecting the Beanie Babies, I had just recently gotten married. I was hiding them because I thought my new husband’s gonna think I’m crazy buying these little stuffed toys. So I’d hide them upstairs in that office. And then finally, I told him about this collection that I’d been hiding and I showed him and he couldn’t believe it.
Interest in Beanies grew when collectors tried to hunt them all down. Looking to complete their collection, some spent thousands of dollars just on long-distance calls to gift shops. Ty also pioneered internet marketing. That unexpectedly drove interest. But Ty Warner came to realize he could provoke even more interest by introducing perceived scarcity.
Becky: Two weeks before January 1997, Ty closes down his website. And he puts a clock on the website. So we’re all waiting. And then, all of a sudden January 1, he tells us all about the Beanie Babies that were going to be retired. And so you had people in stores so they can go and pick them up before they’re all gone. It was like you didn’t want to miss out.
As word got out that collectors sometimes spent thousands of dollars on retired Beanie Babies, the company’s sales soared. In one year, Beanie Baby purchases jumped 1,000 percent. Speculators jumped into the market, buying up all the stock, hoping to resell the toys for a quick profit. That just increased the scarcity, causing more buyers to jump in because they were afraid of missing out on a sure investment.
Woman: I got addicted. I never was addicted to anything. And I got addicted to Beanie Babies. And I ran amok, is what happened.
Beanie Babies quickly lost their fun. People threw away their savings. Counterfeits started pouring into the market. Criminals mugged people for Beanie Babies. Thieves stole shipments. And then, just as quickly as it began, the craze was over. And many people were left holding the bean bag, so to speak.
Dave: At some point, there comes a time where somebody buys it for a certain amount, and they can’t sell it for a profit. People say, “You know what? I don’t want to buy beanies anymore because I can’t make a profit. So then there’s more supply than there is demand. And now the same dynamics that fueled the bubble they’re in reverse. And it can be a vicious cycle to the downside.”
Beanie Mania is an interesting story, suitable for the whole family. But it focuses too much on tickling our nostalgia and passes too quickly over the cautionary side of the bubble. Even so, we get glimpses of real people who sacrificed too much for something that proved to be too fleeting.
Mary Beth: I hope my kids, when they look back on it now, don’t feel like I didn’t give them what they deserved. So um… [voice breaks] I hope I gave them what they needed during that time.
I’m Collin Garbarino.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, January 7th. 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.
Hey, we had a solid month of special pre-rolls emphasizing giving—and, wow, how generous you were! We’re still receiving your contributions by mail, but suffice it to say, and we did say this last month, that you more than met the goal we’d set out.
It’s at least more than 150 percent of the goal, the response was enormous and that’s going to allow us really to be bold in pursuing our mission of Biblically objective journalism. So, thank you again.
But part of the reason to bring this up is that in the meantime, we forgot to remind you about sending in more pre-rolls that aren’t fundraising related.
BROWN: We hear from lots of listeners how much you love hearing all the different accents, the voices of people from all different walks of life, around this big country of ours—even from outside the United States—introducing the program each day.
So if you’ve always wanted to join in the fun here on The World and Everything in It, now’s your chance! You’ll find all the instructions at wng.org/preroll. Remember to keep it to around 20 seconds. And we definitely love hearing different family members or friends creating their pre-rolls together, but do remember, don’t talk over each other—just one speaker at a time.
EICHER: So send us a preroll. We love listening to them, too. As Myrna said, all the instructions are at wng.org/preroll. We started these back in July of 2018 and so back of the envelope math says, we’re closing in on having had 1,000 of these. That’s something special, and we love your taking part in it. So, let us hear from you.
BROWN: Time now for Ask the Editor. WORLD Radio Executive Producer Paul Butler is here to answer a question about our mission.
PAUL BUTLER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: We frequently wrap up our program with: “WORLD’s mission is Biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.”
On November 18th, I got the following text message from Carl who lives in North Carolina. He asked me: “Hey Paul…what is the definition of ‘Biblically objective journalism’?”
To help answer that question, I pulled out our WORLD policy manual. It begins with a question of its own: “What news do we cover?” The answer comes from Psalm 24:1.
“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”
We acknowledge that the Bible should direct what we cover, how we cover, and why we cover stories. We do our best to report all aspects of the news. But we do so from a distinctive worldview. We don’t cover the news to chronicle the glory or folly of man. We cover the news because the earth is the Lord’s and all that it contains.
That provides crucial background for answering Carl’s question. Let’s begin with the phrase “Biblically objective.” Returning to our policy manual, it says:
Reporting and writing for WORLD should be based on the understanding that God is holy, we are sinners, and Christ’s sacrifice bridges the gap. Biblical journalism emphasizes God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness. Every WORLD issue, digital story, and podcast should show this in varying ways.
Skipping ahead a bit, it continues:
Only God knows the true, objective nature of things, so His book, the Bible, is the only completely objective and accurate view of the world. The only true objectivity is Biblical objectivity.
Of course the rub comes when we disagree over what the Bible says. Christians from various denominations have different ways of understanding and applying certain parts of the Holy Scriptures. Also, there are times when we must cover topics that the scriptures don’t directly address.
So we affirm that the common denominator is faith in Christ—an understanding that we are all sinners saved by grace—and we must rely on the Bible as God’s inerrant Word and not on our own understanding.
So we do our best to submit ourselves to the Word of God. When we disagree on specifics, we maintain that Christians from various camps should not insult each other but should instead join forces against the common worldview adversaries that we face.
So that brings us to “journalism.” What do we mean by that? There are two parts I’d like to highlight. The first is our bread and butter: reporting.
Back to our Policy Manual again:
WORLD’s goal whenever possible is to provide street-level rather than suite-level reports.
We put a high value on getting feet on the ground. That’s true for each division at WORLD, but for our podcast platforms that means sending reporters to nonprofits fighting poverty for Effective Compassion. It means meeting the named parties in supreme court cases for Legal Docket. And for The World and Everything in It, it means developing a network of local reporters who can cover news wherever it happens—whether that’s Washington D.C. or in our own backyards. And your generosity in the recent giving drive means we can do even more of that in the year ahead.
The second part of journalism is analysis and opinion. This, too, must be Biblically objective, and grounded in facts. Sometimes we need to provide commentary that offers additional context and understanding. We set it apart, so you know it’s opinion, but it’s still journalism. Our writers synthesize their observations, experiences, and what they know of the world. All of that, informed by God’s word, as well as theological and philosophical rigor. WORLD Magazine calls those columns, WORLD Radio—commentaries. The goal of both is wisdom.
Do we always get things right? No. But by God’s grace we work to improve. And until we get it perfect, we’ll keep repeating our mission in order to remind ourselves of the goal: “Biblically objective journalism, that informs, educates, and inspires.”
I’m Paul Butler.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s time to thank our dedicated team:
Mary Reichard, Kent Covington, Josh Schumacher, David Bahnsen, Katie Gaultney, Emily Whitten, Whitney Williams, Onize Ohikere, Kim Henderson, Joel Belz, Anna Johansen Brown, Lauren Dunn, 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. Paul Butler is our executive producer, and Marvin Olasky is editor in chief.
The Bible tells us if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
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.