The World and Everything in It: June 16, 2023
On Culture Friday, what Shiny Happy People gets right and wrong about family and fatherhood; new movies from DC and Pixar have style but no substance, and commentary from Andrew Belz about walking with his father. Plus, the Friday morning news
PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like us. Hi! My name is Catherine Gwaltney from Chesapeake, Virginia. I’m a rising high school senior, and I’d like to thank my dad, Lee Gwaltney, for introducing me to this podcast. Happy Father’s Day dad! Thank you for all you do for our family. You’re the best. I know we will all enjoy today’s program.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning! The new docu-series Shiny Happy People raises questions about homeschooling and what it means to be a Christian father.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday with John Stonestreet. Plus, two films with style but not much substance.
EMBER: Sorry, buddy. Elements don’t mix.
And WORLD Gift Officer Andrew Belz with a reflection on Father’s Day.
BROWN: It’s Friday, June 16th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
BUTLER: And I’m Paul Butler. Good morning!
BROWN: Up next, Kent Covington has today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Ukraine » Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday condemned Russia’s attacks on civilian targets, including this week’s strike on the city of Kryvyi Rih.
LLOYD AUSTIN: The Russian barrage struck an apartment building, and according to reports, killed nearly a dozen people and injured many more.
Austin heard there at a meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels.
The United States has provided nearly $40 billion dollars in military assistance since the war began, and Austin vowed that Washington will continue to back Ukraine.
Ukrainian pilots are set to begin training to fly American-made F-16 fighter jets.
Meantime, in Belarus, dictator Alexander Lukashenko has threatened to use nuclear weapons that Russia has deployed to the country if Belarus faces any act of aggression.
Blinken to China » Secretary of State Tony Blinken is on his way to China today on a mission to repair deteriorating ties between Washington and Beijing. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.
JOSH SCHUMACHER: Blinken will be the most senior U.S. official to visit China since President Biden took office. He had planned to visit Beijing earlier this year, but postponed the trip after China floated a spy balloon across the United States.
Since then, there have been lower-level engagements between the U.S. and China despite ongoing hostility.
While in Beijing, Secretary Blinken will meet with senior Chinese officials and talk about the importance of keeping lines of communication open.
The State Department says Blinken will raise unspecified concerns and try to find areas of agreement where the two global powers can work together.
For WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
SCOTUS ruling » The Supreme Court ruled Thursday to uphold a law that gives Native American families preference in foster care and adoption of Native children.
Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana joined seven individuals to challenge the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 saying it put the interests of tribes ahead of children.
Lead plaintiffs Chad and Jennifer Brackeen adopted a Native American boy in 2018 and are trying to adopt his half-sister, but the Navajo Nation said she should be raised by her family in the tribe.
BRACKEEN: We’re seeking modification to ICWA or a revamping of ICWA where the best interest of the children can be considered.
A seven-justice majority rejected the plaintiff’s claims that the law discriminated on the basis of race.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.
Suarez WH campaign » Another candidate is joining the crowded Republican presidential field.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced his campaign on Thursday.
FRANCIS SUAREZ: I’m going to run for president. I’m going to run for your children and mine. Let’s give them the future they deserve.
The 45-year-old two-term mayor is a husband and father of two.
With Suarez’s entry, there are now a dozen GOP candidates vying for the nomination.
DeSantis on White House pride » One of those 12 candidates is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. And on Tuesday, he blasted President Biden over a recent LGBT pride event on the South Lawn of the White House.
A giant rainbow-colored pride progress flag was draped from the White House balcony between two American flags. DeSantis, a Navy veteran, is among those who say the display violated a section of the US flag code, which states that the American flag should be at the center of flag displays.
RON DESANTIS: When they had at the White house the transgender flag as the precedence over the American flag. That’s wrong. That is not how you display the American flag.
DeSantis also ripped President Biden over an LGBT-themed video in which Biden said the following:
JOE BIDEN: These are our kids. Not somebody else’s kids, they’re all our kids. And our children are the kite strings that hold our national ambitions aloft.
DeSantis responded, tweeting, “They are not your kids.”
Some blue states are currently pushing legislation to allow the government to take children away from their parents if the parents don’t “affirm” their gender identity.
MLB to teams: Don’t force players to wear pride gear » Major League Baseball has instructed teams not to force players to wear uniforms with symbols of LGBT pride this month. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has more.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN: Twenty-nine of baseball’s 30 teams are holding “Pride Night” events again this year. The Texas Rangers are the exception.
But while teams have the freedom to choose whether to hold pro-LGBT events, the player’s union has asked Major League Baseball to protect the freedom of its players.
An increasing number of players are speaking up this season, telling the union and the league that they don’t want to be forced to wear rainbow-themed pride insignia on the field.
Many NHL teams opted out of Pride Night festivities after players objected to wearing rainbow patches and logos.
For WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: Culture Friday with John Stonestreet. Plus, celebrating the journey of fatherhood.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s the 16th day of June 2023. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: And I’m Paul Butler. It’s Culture Friday.
Joining us now is John Stonestreet, the president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint Podcast. John, good morning.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning
BUTLER: Shiny Happy People is a new docu-series streaming now, and in a recent WORLD Opinion article, contributor Ericka Andersen writes this, “notions of Biblical submission, pro-life advocacy and Christian homeschooling are portrayed (in this documentary) as intrinsically toxic. Viewers could easily walk away believing that a Biblical worldview inherently leads to misogyny, violence and abuse.”
Well John, you’ve met a lot of homeschool kids and families over the years, and I’m wondering how might we respond to the abuses the series alleges, while not throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
STONESTREET: I think there's a lot of things to say. One could come away from the documentary, putting all of those things together and making it all guilt by association. And that's one of the things that I think a lot of us find really frustrating because there's certainly things that can be done on public schools and the inherent dangers to kids that take place in public schools as well as homeschooling or you know, anywhere else. This way of doing kind of Evangelical bashing is becoming increasingly common, where you put a whole bunch of things in one basket and create this air of guilt by association. I mean, it's actually become the method by which we've gotten some of the more popular center left Evangelical spokespeople like the one that shows up, for example, in this documentary, Kristin Du Mez, her book, Jesus and John Wayne does the same kind of journalism. Even though hers actually goes by the title of history, it's really not, there's just a whole bunch of things thrown together and a guilt by association line drawn through.
That said, Gothard and his ideas were the classic mix of some things that were really good and some things that weren't really good. He and it really was rooted in his inability to make a biblical case for something, which is really, is going to strike some viewers who attended his various seminars as strange, because his seminars are full of Bible verses, and that's my point: they're full of Bible verses, individual verses that are tacked on to points he already wanted to make. That's not how the Bible should be handled. It should not be used as a book of helpful illustrations or proverbs. There is a book of Proverbs that you can use that way. The rest of the Bible is this grand sweeping narrative that describes the human condition. And the community that came out of IBLP and that came out of Gothard's thinking and the community that we see exposed in the story of the Duggar family is a story that misses the big that big narrative of Holy Scripture, particularly a proper understanding of the fall.
There is a wrong perspective that permeates conservative Christian communities, where if we can just build the fences higher here, we can keep evil and sin out there. And that's a fundamental misunderstanding of the fall because the fall teaches that every single human is made in the image of God and that we're also fallen. And when you think that the fall can be kept outside of the walls, and if you just have long enough skirts and short enough hair, then you know, bad things won't happen in here, you just have a fundamental misunderstanding of the human condition, which leads, for the record, to a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel. So the gospel then becomes conformity instead of forgiveness. The gospel then becomes, you know, looking a particular way.
And you know, I have done an awful lot of speaking in various homeschool groups and state level conventions, and I'm a part of the homeschool community as a dad. And I will often talk about the realities that I've seen and the Gothard dominance is one of those, there were other key figures, some came from a more reformed bent than Gothard that really impose the same sort of oppressive vision of humanity, which is you can have perfect kids if you do the right things. What an oppressive thing to put on parents that are just fundamental, and it's a view that just fundamentally misunderstands the gospel top to bottom. And I have actually the last several times that I've been invited to speak, brought that message to this group, because I've seen it, I've seen it up close and personal. And it's just not fair to put that on somebody. And it's just wrong biblically. There's not a formula to great kids. There is a way of understanding the human condition. There's a way of understanding the roles of moms and dads and the essential roles that they play. There's certainly a need that we have to understand the evil forces that are out there that are vying for our kids' hearts and minds. But the formulaic approach never works.
BROWN: The roles of moms and dads, I want to talk about that a little bit, particularly dads, because Sunday is Father's Day. And I know that you're a dad, John, and so is Paul. I think it would be a treat for our listeners to hear a few of your personal Father's Day reflections, so you two get ready! But first, you know, the culture isn't always kind to fathers, especially dads who try to follow God's design for the family. John, how would you encourage them?
STONESTREET: Well, you know, I just had a kid, my oldest graduate from high school. So clearly, I'm an expert on fathering. And I can tell everyone exactly how to do. No, people often ask me, Listen, I just want to—
STONESTREET: Yeah, well, it is something to be excited about but I've got three more, you know, so batting 1000, this early in the game is a good start, but who knows. But I will say this, I had a great dad. And I love my dad, because he took seriously his responsibility. And we've got a culture that has been, where men and women have both been convinced that men are not responsible for the product of their sexual choices. And that is so deeply ingrained because of the abortion issue, because the reality of abortion and contraception and so on, that when you have a dad that does fulfill his commitments, you know it's something to be grateful for, and thankful for. You know, it's stunning how many social goods can be traced back and rooted in the fact that a committed dad was there, and how much social chaos and breakdown is rooted to the fact that a dad wasn't there. Now, that doesn't mean that statistics determine the destiny of every single person just because all the stats say that the single greatest factor in a child's long term success is whether they were in a home with married mom and dad and the single greatest factor in pathologies and you know, everything from learning disabilities, to graduation rates, to criminal activity, to sexual riskiness to everything else is traced back to whether a child is at home with mom and dad. You know, that doesn't mean that having a dad in the home guarantees that you'll be successful. There are a lot of idiots who have squandered a wonderful inheritance that their parents had given them. On the flip side, there are unbelievable single moms who have been helped by wonderful neighbors and friends and church members and grandparents to raise to raise their kids in situations that, you know, really had the world work the way it was designed shouldn't have left them that way. But it just on both of those realities underscore how important moms and dads are.
Dads bring unique things to the lives of their children. Now we know moms bring unique things too but the simple fact is, as our friend Ryan Anderson puts it, moms don't dad and dads don't mom. There are moms and there are dads. And this is the way God and His kindness designed us. And so, you know, this isn't just a made-up holiday to move, you know, more greeting cards and neckties, although it kind of is, it's rooted and points to a reality that that really exists. Moms and dads aren't made up factors. These aren't social constructs that humans came up with to govern our lives together. Moms and dads are built into the fabric of the universe, in the way that it was created by God like gravity. So it is a call that we should issue to dads to take that calling seriously.
BROWN: As I reflect on this Father’s Day, I’m thinking fondly of my dad, who passed at the end of April and is with Jesus now. I’m also celebrating my Heavenly Father who is All-Knowing and through that particular attribute, my husband I relocated to Alabama from Georgia in 2021. That move, by the way, had many people scratching their heads. But my Heavenly Father blessed us with almost two years with my earthly father before he passed. And I’m so grateful. I’d love to hear some of your reflections.
STONESTREET: Can Paul go first?
BUTLER: Well, thankfully none of my kids got in the habit of buying me ties at Father's Day. So I don't have a huge collection of those to worry about.
But Myrna, I actually want to return to something that John just said—that encouragement for dads to take their calling seriously. Early on, my wife and I decided that we would celebrate our very first Father's Day—which is probably the most memorable Father's Day for me—while we were still expecting our first child.
My wife was five months pregnant at the time and we made that intentional decision that if life begins at conception, and a child is a child from conception, then that means from that moment, I also became a dad, my responsibilities as a father began then. And so that weight of responsibility hit me on that first Father's Day. And I will say now 28 years later, I'm really enjoying reaping some of those blessings and benefits.
BROWN: Wow, John, you should have went first.
STONESTREET: I should have went first, that was really good. But, you know, my great memory, memories on Father's Day, just about my dad, I mean, you kind of are in this work, and you're looking at, you know, the way the world works, and you just become more and more and more and more grateful that a guy, you know, stuck around and showed up and, and the thing that I know about him is he was absolutely committed to say what's true, and to not say what's not true. He was committed to being an honest man. And at times I watched that, you know, he could've, you know, fudged it here and fudged it there and cut a corner and done better. But he just wouldn't. He just absolutely wouldn't. He was committed and he stood by it. And to me that really stood out.
And it's really not so much specifically on Father's Day that everything that Father's Day represents. The amount of time he drove to be at my games and the amount of time he drove to have a job that could you know, support a family that wasn't definitely wasn't doing financially very well at the time. And, and you just see that sort of kind of commitment and you realize that's, that's what masculinity needs to be. And too often the world calls it toxic, and or various aspects of it, but when it actually is lived out, I can testify that it's good.
BROWN: Well, John Stonestreet is the president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint Podcast. Thanks John and Happy Father’s Day.
STONESTREET: Thank you both.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, June 16th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: And I’m Paul Butler. This week we kicked off our June giving drive. And let me thank each and everyone one of you who’ve already stepped up to the plate and given since Monday. What an encouragement for our whole team. One of this week’s early givers emailed us this voice memo recording with an explanation for why she and her husband give—and they want to invite others to join them in supporting Biblically objective journalism.
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BUTLER: Well, coming up next on The World and Everything in It: what’s new on the big screen. This weekend DC Studios’ The Flash and Pixar’s Elemental debut in theaters. Here’s WORLD’s arts and culture editor Collin Garbarino with what to expect.
COLLIN GARBARINO: Over the last 12 months, multiverses have gone mainstream at the movies. Everything Everywhere All at Once won multiple Academy Awards for its interdimensional shenanigans. Doctor Strange dived into Marvel’s multiverse of madness, and Sony's animated Spider-Man is currently hanging around with alternate versions of himself. DC Comics’ Flash is supposed to be Earth’s fastest superhero, so it’s a little ironic that DC Studios has been the last to arrive to Hollywood’s multiversal party. Better late than never? Well, that’s hard to say.
BARRY ALLEN: Time has a pattern that it can’t help reliving.
Ezra Miller returns as Barry Allen the speedster in a red suit after appearing in DC’s Justice League movies. Though Barry is a superhero, he’s still an insecure young man who suffers from losing his parents more than a decade earlier. He’s like an underappreciated clean-up guy for Batman and Superman. But after running faster than the speed of light, Barry discovers he can time travel.
BRUCE WAYNE: So you’re saying you can travel back in time.
BARRY ALLEN: But Bruce, I can fix things. I can save people. I can save my mom. I could save your parents.
Batman, once again played by Ben Affleck, isn’t convinced it’s a good idea.
BRUCE WAYNE: You could also destroy everything.
Barry’s supposed to be a smart kid, but he ignores good advice, enters the past, and begins to meddle. Things go sideways quickly. Barry teams up with an alternate, cooler version of himself. And in this new fragmented reality Michael Keaton, who played Batman back in 1989, is back as the Dark Knight.
BATMAN: Yeah, I’m Batman.
The two Barrys convince the aged crusader to come out of retirement to save the world.
The Flash earns its PG-13 rating with strong language and partial nudity, both of which are played for laughs. DC films usually suffer from taking themselves too seriously, but not this one. The Flash is all about jokes and cameos.
BARRY: What’s the play!? Batman, what do we do!?
BATMAN: We try not to die.
In fact, DC should have taken the script a little more seriously. The studio crammed references to 70 years of various movie and TV adaptations into the film, but the shaky plot feels like an afterthought. The visuals don’t make up for the weak writing. Some of the speed scenes are inventive, but at times the computer-generated imagery looks sloppy.
I admit there’s a certain thrill that comes with seeing Michael Keaton wear Batman’s cowl once again.
BATMAN: I spent a lifetime trying to right the wrongs of the past.
But nostalgic fan service offers the only thrills in The Flash. The story and effects just aren’t up to speed.
The Flash isn’t a great movie, but it’s far and away better than the other big movie opening this weekend, Pixar’s Elemental.
EMBER: Sorry, buddy. Elements don’t mix.
Elemental is set in Elemental City, where citizens made of earth, wind, fire, and water all live alongside each other. But not always peacefully.
The movie is an animated rom-com, in which a water elemental named Wade falls in love with a fire elemental named Ember. Ember likes Wade too, but she’s afraid her father won’t approve of her dating a water guy.
BERNIE: You really food inspector?
WADE: As far as you know, yeah.
BERNIE: Then inspect this!
In Elemental City, the fire people are the most recent immigrants, and the movie aspires to explain the Asian immigrant experience in America. Water people stand in for white folks. There’s a scene in which Wade’s rich liberal family attempt to be gracious to Ember while indulging in cultural stereotypes. It’s meant to be cringey, but it elicits groans for the wrong reasons. Everything’s just too on the nose.
The movie might have been better if it had just been about Koreans living in America, but swapping ethnicity for elementality without creating unique problems and situations makes for poor social commentary. That lack of originality makes for some lazy jokes as well.
WADE: You’re so hot.
EMBER: Excuse me?
WADE: No, I mean, like you’re smoking! No! I didn’t mean it like that.
EMBER: Are you done yet?
WADE: Yes, please.
Elemental comes across as a bad animated remake of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But this time we get some gay couples in the background because—you know—representation. It’s almost funny how Pixar adds the LGBT elements into the movie, but makes sure they can easily be erased with different voice acting for international markets.
The only thing going for Elemental is that at an hour and a half, it’s relatively short. Even so, kids are going to be bored out of their minds with this sorry attempt at a story, and adults won’t fare much better. I kept checking my watch throughout the second half of the movie. It’s a shame that Disney has managed to quench Pixar’s creative flame.
I’m Collin Garbarino.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, June 16th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: And I’m Paul Butler. By now you know that this coming Sunday is Father’s Day. To mark the occasion, we asked one of our seasoned dads on staff to share his insights on fatherhood. Andrew Belz currently serves as Major Gifts Officer at WORLD. He’s been a fixture here for many years, giving us plenty of time to see him practice what he preaches. And a lot of what he preaches he got from his dad,
ANDREW BELZ, COMMENTATOR: My earliest memory of my dad was Sunday afternoon walks through pastureland in Iowa. The walks sometimes lasted for three hours. We followed paths, as near as we could, to the Wapsipinicon River, passing farms and cutting across fields and fences. To rest, we sat on piles of red and gray Iowa field stones while examining and tearing open milkweed pods.
My dad was a fierce believer in Christ and a grain elevator operator turned minister. 60 years past those Sunday walks, I recall him now for three affections, mainly.
The first was his open affection for me. Back then, hugging wasn’t common. But he had a wide-open smile, and he would seize my knee with his hand in a loving grab. He would lean in to hear me sing. We grew up with a sense that it was a privilege to be in our family. We also felt Dad considered it his privilege to have us as children. Every week as a teenager, I had to collect a check from Dad to give for piano lessons. Knowing that cash was spare, I once apologized for having to depend on him for those checks. He lovingly tucked one in my hand, folded my fingers over it, and said, “Son, you’re my own flesh and blood!”
Dad was also openly affectionate toward Mom. “I hope you find a girl like I did,” he would repeat. His love letters to her when he was at Dubuque Seminary are beautifully penned keepsakes within our family. But I can attest that Dad had to let grace have its way in him. His unconventional ministries like rural church planting, running a school, and even having a printing operation could come at Mom’s expense. But I watched him surrender some of his far-fetched ideas to his admiration for Mom. He showed that life-long romance, though bumpy at times, is possible.
The third was his open affection for God. Someone once said, “When your dad got religion, he got it bad.” He trusted the Bible completely, and it showed in his awareness that God made all things. On many occasions he would hold up a clear glass of water and marvel at the provision from his heavenly Father. He was a minor student of biology and again marveled at cell structure in corn and animals. He loved Job’s reference to the behemoth in the Bible, and for that matter everything in chapters 38 through 41 when God talks about everything created – from ostriches to hail to snow.
My dad is now with the Lord. But on this Father’s Day, I rejoice over his open affections. I find myself also rejoicing when I see my sons and sons-in-law openly showing affection for their kids, for their wives, and for their God. I would never claim fathering is easy or sentimentally attractive. It’s not easy. But the journey of fatherhood is worth celebrating. And by God’s grace, is it anything more than just cultivating a few key affections?
I’m Andrew Belz.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Well, it’s time to say thanks to the team members who helped put the program together this week:
Mary Reichard, David Bahnsen, Alex Carmenaty, Addie Offereins, Leah Savas, Steve West, Onize Ohikere, Anna Johansen Brown, Janie B. Cheaney, Juliana Chan Erickson, Zoe Miller, Cal Thomas, John Stonestreet, and Collin Garbarino.
And two new voices on the program: Alexandra Ellison and Andrew Belz.
Thanks also to our breaking news team: Kent Covington, Lynde Langdon, Steve Kloosterman, Mary Muncy, Lauren Canterberry, and Josh Schumacher.
And to the guys who stay up late to get the program to you early: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz.
MYRNA BROWN: Our producer is Harrison Watters with production assistance from Kristen Flavin, Benjamin Eicher, Emily Whitten, Lillian Hamman, and Bekah McCallum.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio. WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
The Bible says: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James chapter 4, verses 7 and 8.
Go now in grace and peace.
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