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The World and Everything in It - June 11, 2021

WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It - June 11, 2021

On Culture Friday, colleges that coddle left and punch right; a new streaming series on Amazon Prime that puts a fantastical spin on American history; and a trio of teenage brothers who are carrying on a gospel tradition. Plus: the Friday morning news.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!

Today on Culture Friday: questioning the value of elite education, protecting the First Amendment rights of elementary teachers, and a megachurch leader looks for his replacement.

NICK EICHER, HOST: John Stonestreet joins us today to talk about all of that.

Plus a new streaming series that puts a fantastical—and discouraging—spin on American history.

And a new generation embraces one of the oldest genres of Christian music.

BROWN: It’s Friday, June 11th. 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, Kristen Flavin with today’s news.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, NEWS ANCHOR:  Biden meets with Boris Johnson » AMBI: [Sound of camera shutters]
BIDEN: I’m very pleased to be here.

President Joe Biden arrived at the site of the G7 meeting in Cornwall, England, on Thursday. He got a warm welcome from his host, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

JOHNSON: It’s a great pleasure, Mr. President, to welcome you to Cornwall.
BIDEN: It’s a great pleasure to be here.

The two leaders highlighted their commitment to strengthening ties between the United States and Great Britain. And in a symbolic nod to that unity, they signed an updated version of the Atlantic Charter.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first charter in 1941. It set out common goals following World War II, including freer trade, disarmament, and the right of all people to self-determination.

BIDEN: Today, we build on that commitment, with a revitalized Atlantic Charter updated to reaffirm that promise while speaking directly to the key challenges of this century: cyber security, emerging technology, global health, and climate change.

The new charter promises to promote free trade, human rights, and a rules-based international order. In a veiled reference to Russia and China, it also aims to counter “those who seek to undermine our alliances and institutions.”

The G7 summit kicks off today and runs through Sunday. Leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan will join Biden and Johnson for the talks. Invited guests this year include Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian President Narendra Modi, South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.

Labor Department reports consumer price hikes » The cost of food, cars, and just about everything else is going up, according to a Labor Department report issued Thursday. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Consumer prices surged again in May, rising 0.6 percent over the previous month. That brings overall inflation during the past year to 5 percent, the biggest spike since 2008.

Rising prices are partly due to demand. More people are shopping, traveling, and eating out as pandemic restrictions end.

But a shortage of supplies is also driving up prices, everything from lumber and steel to chemicals and semiconductors. Airline fares and hotel prices also jumped ahead of the summer travel season. Some analysts blame loose policy from the Federal Reserve for the price hikes.

Among the most expensive items to purchase right now? Cars and trucks. Prices for used vehicles rose more than 7 percent in May, on top of a 10 percent increase in April. The price of new cars rose 1.6 percent—the largest one-month increase since 2009.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

JBS confirms ransomware attack payment » FBI Director Christopher Wray is warning U.S.-companies not to pay hackers who take over their computer systems and demand a ransom.

Wray addressed the issue during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Thursday.

WRAY: It is our guidance from the FBI that companies should not pay the ransom, for a number of reasons. One … that it encourages more of this kind of activity. But then there’s a second, more practical issue, which is sometimes the encryption, or the locking up of the system that the hackers engage in may not be undone. You could pay the ransom and not get your system back. And that’s not unknown to happen.

On Wednesday, the world’s largest meat processing company confirmed it paid hackers $11 million following a ransomware attack. Brazil-based JBS said it decided to pay up to avoid any further disruption to its systems.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department announced it had recovered a majority of the ransom Colonial Pipeline paid hackers last month. Wray said the company’s decision to involve law enforcement immediately helped agents trace the cyber criminals and recover the funds.

El Chapo’s wife pleads guilty » The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman pleaded guilty Thursday to helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar criminal empire.

Emma Coronel Aispuro admitted to conspiring to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine. She also pleaded guilty to money laundering and working with a foreign narcotics trafficker.

Jeffrey Lichtman is her attorney.

LICHTMAN: She was a very minimal participant in this, as noted in the plea agreement. Minimal participant. She was a very small part of this, what was a much larger thing.

As head of the Sinaloa cartel, Guzman smuggled drugs into the United States for 25 years. He was sentenced in 2019 to life in prison.

Coronel Aispuro was arrested in February. She will be sentenced in September.

N.C. lawmakers pass pro-life bill » Lawmakers in North Carolina have approved protections for unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome. WORLD’s Paul Butler has that story.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Senate Republicans approved the bill without any support from Democrats. It would require abortionists to provide written confirmation that sex, race, or a Down syndrome diagnosis did not influence a mother’s decision to end her pregnancy.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has not said whether he will sign the bill into law. But he has vetoed other pro-life measures in the past.

Republicans say the bill will help prevent discrimination and “modern-day eugenics."

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina have urged Cooper to kill the measure.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.

I’m Kristen Flavin.

Straight ahead: the consequences of a progressive college education.

Plus, a teenage trio bringing gospel music to a new generation.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, June 11th, 2021.

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.

We spent the last few weeks talking about high-quality college students and this time, I’d like to talk about the other side of the coin.

Because I read with interest a piece in The Wall Street Journal by the editor of the publication First Things, Rusty Reno. He began his piece with a very provocative sentence, as a good editor would. Reno wrote: “I’m not inclined to hire a graduate from one of America’s elite universities.”

And he went on to explain why: It wasn’t simply because of what we hear about most of the time, namely, the “woke” students these elite schools churn out.

His point was broader than that.

It is—he says—that the habits these schools tend to foster in students—that is, to keep your head down if you dissent from the politically correct orthodoxy—that that produces a sort of moral and spiritual surrender. He wrote: “I don’t want to hire a person well-practiced in remaining silent when it costs something to speak up.”

And then, he addressed the flip side of that. The student with a sort of chip on his shoulder. The kind of person who has, Reno writes, “developed a habit of aggressive counterpunching that is no more appealing in a young employee than the ruthless accusations of the woke.”

Then finally, attending schools where the best advice you receive as a freshman is never to say what you’re thinking—That that is an indication that the institution is not under the leadership of “courageous adults” and therefore the students wouldn’t have been able to find good role models.

Rusty Reno in The Wall Street Journal.

It’s Culture Friday. John Stonestreet is here. He’s president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

John, good morning!

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning, both of you.

EICHER: Reno laid out a pretty thorough take-down of Ivy League schools there. Now you’ve been critical of some Christian higher education, John, and you speak on a lot of campuses. Do you worry that Reno’s indictment of the Ivies could be leaking into Christian higher-ed as well?

STONESTREET: The short answer is yes. The longer answer is what do you mean by Christian higher ed, because it is a very common thing, to find schools that that claim a Christian heritage basically have no difference in their worldview, particularly when it's applied in areas that touch on sexuality at all sociology, and so on.

I have heard from board members who would not send their children to their schools on which, you know, they sit on the board or board members who have heard from parents that said, you know, what, I'm okay, if my student hears these progressive ideals at a state university, but I do not want them to hear these progressive ideals at a university that claims that these ideals are somehow Christian. That's the confusion that they don't want to actually allow.

I think there's also the idea of faux courage. And, you know, Rusty didn't really mention this in the same way, but it's in a sense, you know, he talks about kind of this, you know, perpetual chip on the shoulder, the counter punching.

Listen, there are plenty of institutions, they coddle left and punch right. There are just like plenty of churches right now, where they are more than comfortable speaking out on cultural issues, as long as they're issues that the culture has already decided the right way to go. Right. I mean, it's it's not hard to find people outraged by sex trafficking because everybody agrees on that. But if you talk about sexual deviancy in the terms of homosexuality, or same sex marriage, not going touch it at all. And the real problem that we have to deal with is how mean Christians are

This is not courage. This is not moral clarity on the issues that are at most at stake right now. So, yeah, I mean, I could go on and on and on, which in one sense says, look, the problems are a multitude of problems to address, it makes me more thankful for those institutions that have been really, really clear on the fact that they want to do higher ed in a Christian way. And honestly, parents need to know just how rare that institution is.

EICHER: You may have seen this story, John.

Update on a religious-liberty, First Amendment controversy out of Northern Virginia. One of our legal-affairs writers, Steve West reporting for WORLD says a judge reinstated a school-teacher who was suspended for offering the following opinion at a school board meeting. This is Loudoun County elementary school teacher Tanner Cross.

CROSS: It's not my intention to hurt anyone. But there are certain truths that we must face when ready. I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences. I'm a teacher, but I serve God first and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it's against my religion. It's lying to a child. It's abuse to a child and it's sinning against our God.

WORLD reported that the judge found that “the board violated Cross’s free speech and free exercise of religion rights. [The judge] ruled Cross was entitled to First Amendment protection because he made his comments in his personal capacity and on a matter of public concern.”

Now, I wonder what might happen the first time he encounters a student dealing with gender dysphoria, but increasingly, don’t you think we’re going to see more of these clashes?

STONESTREET:  Now I've got so many thoughts on this one. I grew up in the county adjacent to Loudoun County. And let me just tell you what Loudon County looked like when I was growing up. And of course, clearly, I'm so young, so it wasn't that long ago.

Loudoun County and the Loudoun County School Board, this is just one story in about three in a row. They're working really hard to be the wokest school board in America. And of course, we know from places like Michigan and Southern California that, you know, they've got some stiff competition, but they're working really hard to do it.

So the fact that this is a county that, you know, just yesterday, was so much would easily be considered kind of the middle America county and now is on the leading edge of wokeness. That's something for every school teacher in America, not to mention every school board member in America, to actually take note of.

The second thing is is what was so intolerable about what Tanner Cross said. “I love my students.” Is that the controversial point? “I'll never lie to them.” Is that the controversial thing that he said? “I have a deep faith.” Is that a controversial thing to say?

In other words, are we really ready to be the nation in which we don't want teachers to believe those three things or live out those three things? That's madness. That tells you just how much things have moved.

The other subtext of this story, though, and it's being underreported right now, Nick—and I think it needs to be proclaimed from the mountaintops—again, just having grown up there and having some personal connections with the county, the church that this teacher attends, fully got behind him publicly and vocally.

The public advocacy of this church and these church members to get behind this guy is a model of what we have called before here on this podcast, the theology of getting fired. And I want to publicly affirm what this church has done to support Tanner Cross. And I hope they write a book that every pastor in America is now required to read, so that they know what to do the next time, it comes to, you know, to the next County, which was rural America yesterday is now at the center of the culture wars today.

BROWN: After more than four decades, Rick Warren announced he is searching for his successor. He was an influencer before the word became cool—Purpose Driven Life, the mega church, often at odds with the “establishment”

Says he’s looking for the next-generation pastor. But some are wondering why there isn’t already a person who has been mentored and discipled all along to just step in, kind of like Moses and Joshua.

That there’s a search like this reminds me more of an executive leadership search in the business world. Does that say anything at all about modern church leadership?

STONESTREET: I don't know, I don't know that it does.

And I think there are plenty of things within the the way the church model goes these days, particularly the mega church model that, you know, smacks more of corporate America than it does of, you know, anything we would read about in terms of the first century church or, you know, historical church leadership.

And, and I think that just being in a cultural moment, that is where Christian convictions are less the home field, advantage, you know, sort of thing with parishioners that requires different skills as well. You're in trouble when you know, you choose an executive instead of a theologian or executive instead of a pastor or a pastor instead of an executive. And I think that there is there's plenty of ways to navigate those challenges within church leadership and board eldership.

But I've got no, you know, kind of inside visibility on the history of Saddleback, other than pastor Warren has done, I think, an incredible job for decades now propping up other pastors everywhere, including internationally and around America. And, you know, we've seen this on a number of occasions where you have people aging out and there's I think the wrong assumption that just because it's newer needing somebody younger. And I'm not sure that younger is always better. I think there's a little bit of a chronological snobbery and making some of these adjustments.

But it is a complicated thing. To do this when you're talking about an entity, that big in a cultural moment, like this. My appeal is just always the pastor as a pastor first. The pastor as a theologian. The pastor as a biblical teacher. The pastor as someone who can integrate that and connect it to the cultural moment. That's what can't be sacrificed, even if someone is, you know, really charismatic, or a great public figure that's not enough for the sort of role that a pastor actually is.

BROWN: John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

EICHER: John, thanks!

STONESTREET: Thank you both.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Something of a special baby boom has just taken place in Australia.

Not of humans, but of the Tasmanian Devil—the powerful, vicious, evil-tempered (but lovable) brute—hungry at all times—it will eat anything, but is especially fond of wild duck.

MYRNA BROWN: Uh, Nick...that’s a cartoon!

EICHER: Got carried away, sorry.

Taz and his marsupials had essentially gone extinct on mainland Australia.

But after introducing back into the area several adult Tasmanian Devils last year, seven Tasmanian Devil babies have arrived and survived.

Tim Faulkner is president of one of the conservation groups responsible:

FAULKNER: Today marks the first time in 3,000 years or there abouts that Tasmanian Devil has roamed mainland forests. And as an apex predator it’s critically important.

Conservationists hope they’ll save the Tasmanian Devils from total extinction. And they believe that by reintroducing the species to Australia, it will help restore and rebalance the wilderness.

TAZ: [Growls, screeches, and raspberries]

Or for those of us brought up on Looney Tunes, it’ll save us from heartbreak.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, June 11th. 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: a streaming series that takes liberties with America’s past. 

Here’s reviewer Collin Garbarino.

COLLIN GARBARINO, REVIEWER: The term “Underground Railroad” refers to the route slaves took to escape from the South before the Civil War. But in Amazon’s new series The Underground Railroad, the metaphor becomes a literal subterranean transit system—complete with locomotives, loading platforms, and dining cars. The series follows one escaped slave’s journey to freedom along this railroad, and it uses her story as a metaphor for the journey African Americans have taken through American history.

SLAVE CATCHER: There’s talk. There’s word of an underground railroad here.
MASTER: Impossible.
SLAVE CATCHER: Indeed. But yet where do they go, the ones that run away and never return.

Barry Jenkins, who won an Academy Award for his work on Moonlight in 2016, adapted Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel for this 10-part series. Newcomer Thuso Mbedu plays Cora, a slave on a Georgia plantation. When life on the plantation becomes increasingly intolerable, Cora’s friend convinces her to seek passage on the mysterious railroad that promises to bring her to freedom.

CLIP: Cora, will you come with me? It is past time to go. There is nothing here but suffering—pain and suffering.

The series slips into magical realism when Cora begins her journey. The setting remains antebellum America, but Cora travels through a world that’s outside time. And her story becomes a fable illuminating the dangers faced by African Americans: The eugenics movement, the Ku Klux Klan, race riots—Cora experiences them all.

CLIP: If you want to see what this nation is all about you gotta ride the rails. Just look outside as you speed through and you’ll see the true face of America.

What Cora sees is brutality, injustice, and terror.

Jenkins doesn’t pull any punches depicting the horrors of slavery. They are extremely difficult to watch. The first episode shows the brutal whipping and burning of a slave. It’s especially stomach-churning. The same episode includes brief, yet disturbing, sexual content.

Christians need to grapple with the realities of slavery. But the frequent racial slurs and graphic violence in this series make it one many will want to skip.

This bleak story also portrays America as irredeemable, and it holds little hope for racial reconciliation. It suggests the only way forward is for African Americans to tell their stories to one another. At the beginning of the series, Cora can’t speak for herself. But by the end, she finds the strength to “tell her truth.” Even so, it’s hard to see how she’s saved, either physically or spiritually.

MAN: You done all this? You came all this way on the railroad.
CORA: Yes, and left behind all those peoples.

Most disturbing is the show’s view of Christianity. Throughout the series, only villains quote from Scripture. A plantation owner recites Paul’s instruction for slaves to obey their masters. A vicious woman who hates Cora reads the Psalms aloud to her. Is this a critique of those who misuse Christianity to justify evil? Or is it a critique of Christianity itself? Toward the end, Cora finds herself sitting in a black church. But they only discuss civic issues, and the building is devoid of crosses.

CLIP: This nation shouldn’t exist if there’s any justice in the world, for its very foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty. It wouldn’t exist, but here we are!

Faithful Christians, both black and white, led in the historical abolitionist movement. But they are conspicuously absent in this fable. The creators seem to believe religion can’t solve America’s problems with racial injustice. Jenkins tries to give this desperate tale a sense of hope through stunning visual storytelling and his use of light. He shows a world that’s dark but luminous; elegant, yet debased; dazzling, sinister, lovely, and terrible all at the same time. But only Christianity can make sense of life in a good but fallen world. And while “telling our truth” might foster some understanding, it pales in comparison to the change brought by the gospel of Jesus when faithfully told.

I’m Collin Garbarino.

OUTRO MUSIC: [Underground Railroad theme]

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, June 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Well, Myrna, you put together a really nice TV feature for today’s WORLD Watch. It’s about some young men with remarkable singing talent.

And we’ll post a link in today’s program transcript for you to view it.

But we also thought: let’s share it on today’s podcast.

BROWN: Absolutely. Good way to end the week.


When lawmakers in North Carolina opened their legislative session in January, three immaculately dressed teens joined them.

SERGEANT AT ARMS: We welcome the three Heath Brothers to the Senate chamber and welcome your participation in our opening ceremony.

3 HEATH BROTHERS 2021: Oh say, can you see, by the dawn's early light…

20-year-old Nicholas Heath, and his 18-year-old identical twin brothers Christian and Clayton have come a long way since their bar-stool singing days in their mama’s kitchen.

3 HEATH BROTHERS 2015: ...what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming….

NICHOLAS: It was actually before we were in kindergarten. She was just a pastor’s wife and she said: “God, what am I supposed to do? I’ve got these three crazy kids with non-stop energy. How do I corral this? My husband’s off saving the world.” And He said start with them.

Nicholas still remembers his mother encouraging them to hum along with her to the tune of her favorite hymn.

NICHOLAS: She doesn’t play the piano. So everything was acapella.

Before long, they were making music, creating perfect three-part harmonies, even learning lyrics.

NICHOLAS: She wanted the words that we were learning to stick in our heads for when we were older and going through trials. So you know how you hear Mary Had A Little Lamb or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, when you’re little and then you hear those and they get stuck in your head when you’re older. She wanted to do that with us, but with songs that had good, strong Christian words so that we could never get away from our faith in God.


Their love for singing endured Little League and sibling rivalry. It even survived puberty.

NICHOLAS: A lot of people were worried for us. How are you guys going to do this when your voices change? And we were like… “Well, uh..” (squeaky voice) (laughter). They’ve changed a little bit, but they’ve stayed pretty high.

In fact, that pure, distinct sound has propelled the trio, known as the 3 Heath Brothers, to the top of one of Christian music’s oldest genres.

AWARDS PRESENTER: Everybody’s wondering what’s going to happen from generation to generation. And Gospel music is in great hands...

Last year the Thomasville, North Carolina residents were named Southern Gospel’s Favorite New Artists. Nicholas, Christian, and Clayton are already taking advantage of their growing platform.

NICHOLAS: I’ll give you a great example. Before COVID we went to over 40 public high schools to sing to more than 15,000 public high school students. We couldn’t pray and we couldn’t give our testimony, but we got to sing all about Jesus to those kids.

One of those students asked for prayer.

NICHOLAS: The day we sang at his school, he got taken out of his home by child services for child abuse by his own parents. So, we have this song called Smell Like Smoke. It talks about the three Hebrew boys who were in the fire. And the Bible says they came out of the fire and they didn’t smell like smoke. We told them the Bible story and said listen, I don’t know what’s going on in your life, but no matter what the problem, you can come out of that fire and you don’t have to even smell like smoke.

In 2020 the dark-haired siblings recorded another song. This one inspired by a choice their parents made before the twins were born.

NICHOLAS: And the doctors sat my mom and dad down and said baby A is in the womb and he’s growing. But B has stopped growing. One option is you can eliminate baby B. You can have an abortion and take away half the pregnancy.

Because they chose life, they get to tell a different story.

NICHOLAS: We could be sitting here Nicholas and Clayton, not singing, not doing anything. We wouldn’t have the ministry we have today if they had listened to those doctors. Now to see what God has used to where we’re ministering to all these people. They know where we’ve come from. They know we’re just preacher’s kids. It helps them know that we’re not interested in compromising our beliefs.


MYRNA BROWN: I’ve been looking forward to this moment all week.

It is my turn to talk to you about our June Giving Drive.

My journalism story begins in commercial television in my hometown of Mobile, Alabama—before I moved to Atlanta and worked with TBS and our local ABC affiliate.

I enjoyed that work. I learned a lot. And to be honest, I never had to violate my conscience. Not that they didn’t try!

But at the same time, my faith, my trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s the most important thing about me.

And that’s why I was never able truly to be the journalist I wanted to be—until I arrived here at WORLD.

Here, a journalist gets to tell the whole truth—with God at the center.

He made “the world and everything in it” and that as a starting point changes your whole approach as a journalist.

Independent Christian journalism is so important today, isn’t it?

And I want to say a heartfelt thank you if you’ve given already to support our June Giving Drive.

If you haven’t yet, today’s a great day to do it. Because today, through close of business Tuesday the 15th the impact of your giving is doubled thanks to some generous families who offered a dollar-for-dollar match.

Just visit WNG.org/donate to support our June Giving Drive. WNG.org/donate and thank you!

NICK EICHER, HOST: It really does take a dedicated team to put this program together and deliver it to you each morning. And what a team we have!

Thanks are in order:

Joel Belz, Anna Johansen Brown, Kent Covington, Esther Eaton, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, Collin Garbarino, Kim Henderson, Onize Ohikere, Jenny Lind Schmitt, Sarah Schweinsberg, Cal Thomas, Mikaela Wegner, and Steve West.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz are our audio engineers. Leigh Jones is managing editor. Paul Butler is executive producer. And Marvin Olasky is editor in chief.

And you! Thank you for making possible Christian journalism in the vast marketplace of ideas.

The Psalmist calls us to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

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.


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