The World and Everything in It - March 11, 2022
On Culture Friday, Florida’s effort to protect young students from false gender narratives; the new time-travel adventure film, The Adam Project; and singer-songwriter Jill Phillips talks about her latest project. Plus: the Friday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
Well, today, we’ll talk about protections for students third-grade and younger and about the hot-button topic of “Christian nationalism.”
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.
Also today a new movie about time travel and growing up.
And a musical therapy session.
BROWN: It’s Friday, March 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, news with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: U.S. inflation soared 7.9% in past year, a fresh 40-year high » Inflation over the past year surged at the highest rate since 1982 and there’s no end in sight.
A report from the Labor Department released Thursday reflected the 12 months ending in February. That means it doesn’t really include the spike in oil and gas prices that have followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
So Greg McBride, chief analyst at Bankrate.com, says the numbers aren’t likely to look any better in the short term.
MCBRIDE: Those rising oil and gasoline prices, it can filter through to the costs of other goods and services. Everything you buy off of a shelf in a store, it got there either by plane, train, or automobile.
Since Russia’s invasion on February 24th, gas prices have jumped about 62 cents a gallon nationally, to $4.32, according to AAA.
But gas prices were on the rise even before that. And propelled by surging costs for gas, food and housing, consumer inflation jumped 7.9 percent over the past year.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said inflation remains a top priority for President Biden.
PSAKI: But in terms of the strength and stability of the economy, we feel we do continue to be positioned well to deal with the challenges ahead.
Supply shortages have helped fuel inflation. But many analysts say moves by the Federal Reserve, Congress, and the White House to flood the economy with cash are major factors as well.
The Federal Reserve is set to raise interest rates several times this year in hopes of slowing inflation.
U.S. intel officials say they underestimated Ukraine’s will to fight » Top U.S. intelligence officials testified on Capitol Hill Thursday and admitted they underestimated Ukraine’s ability to defend itself.
Lieutenant General Scott Berrier is director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He told lawmakers on the Senate Intel Committee …
BERRIER: My view was that, based on a variety of factors, that the Ukrainians were not as ready as I thought they should be. Therefore, I questioned their will to fight. That was a bad assessment on my part because they have fought bravely and honorably and they’re doing the right thing.
Republican lawmakers have criticized the White House for not providing more weapons or intelligence to Ukraine sooner.
The Biden administration is currently opposed to a Polish plan to donate MiG fighter jets to Ukraine out of concern that Russia may view that as an escalation by NATO.
But the intel officials said Russian strongman Vladimir Putin also underestimated Ukraine. CIA Director William Burns …
BURNS: I think Putin is frustrated and angry right now. He’s likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties.
U.S. intelligence agencies said for whatever they may have gotten wrong, their predictions about Putin’s intention to launch a war were spot on.
Much of the hearing focused on the unprecedented U.S. campaign to declassify intelligence about alleged attempts by Russia to create a fake pretext for its invasion. Some credit that campaign with helping to ramp up support for sanctions against Russia and for pushing reluctant Western countries to give military aid to Ukraine.
U.S. to ease nationwide mask mandate on planes, buses, transit » The CDC is extending its mask mandate on airplanes, buses and other mass transit. But it’s reportedly developing guidance to ease those mandates next month. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The mask mandate, enforced by the TSA, had been set to expire next Friday. But the CDC is extending it by one month till April 18th.
But according to the Associated Press, citing a government official, the CDC is developing a “revised policy framework” to ease those mandates. It will be based on its newly released “COVID-19 community levels” metric.
Right now, more than 90 percent of Americans live in a location with low or medium COVID Community Levels where public masking is no longer recommended.
The CDC says new guidance will also consider the risk of new variants based on the latest science.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Smollett sentenced to jail, probation for hate crime hoax » Actor Jussie Smollett has been sentenced to roughly five months in jail and two and a half years felony probation for staging a hate crime and lying to investigators.
Cook County, Illinois Judge James Linn did not grant the request of special prosecutor Dan Webb. He had asked for Smollett to serve a—quote—“appropriate amount of prison time.”
WEBB: Our recommendation to your honor is that you have the authority to impose imprisonment on one of the five counts that he was convicted of.
Instead, Smollett will serve 150 days in a county jail in addition to probation. He’ll also pay nearly $150,000 in fines and restitution.
The 39-year-old actor was convicted of staging a hate crime in 2019 in Chicago in which he falsely claimed to be the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two white Donald Trump supporters.
Major League Baseball owners, players agree on new labor deal to end lockout » Major League Baseball players will soon play ball! The league and the player’s union came together on a new labor agreement, ending a 99-day lockout. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.
JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: Players have voted to accept the league’s latest offer for a new labor deal. That will allow training camps to open this week in Florida and Arizona more than three weeks after they were scheduled to on Feb. 16th.
The new collective bargaining agreement expands the playoffs to 12 teams and introduces incentives to limit so-called “tanking.”
The minimum salary will rise to about $700,000 per season. And the luxury tax threshold will increase from $210 million to $230 million.
The agreement means teams will play a full 162-game regular season though it will start a week later than originally planned. Opening Day will now be on April 7th.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Florida blocks efforts to teach false gender narratives to young children.
Plus, a new album about beauty and grief.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, March 11th, 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.
By next fall when Florida schoolchildren return to school—pre-K to Grade 3—they’ll be shielded from classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation. That’s because a new law is likely to take effect July 1st that will outlaw that kind of curriculum.
After the state senate in Tallahassee, Florida, gave final approval this week in Washington, the president’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki blasted the measure as a form of bullying.
PSAKI: I think the most important question now is why are Florida leaders deciding they need to discriminate against kids who are members of the LGBTQI community? What prompts them to do that? Is it meanness? Is it wanting to make kids have more difficult times in school in their communities?
BROWN: Opponents tagged the parents’-rights measure the “don’t say gay” bill, a pejorative that’s made it into most news reports on the subject. Evan Donovan, a TV reporter in Florida, asked Governor Ron DeSantis about it and he got a little more than he bargained for. Donovan posted the exchange to social media.
[Reporter] ... what critics call the “don’t say gay” bill is on the Senate floor ...
[DeSantis] Does it say that in the bill?
[Reporter] ... I know that you support ...
[DeSantis] Does it say that in the bill?
[Reporter] I’m asking ...
[DeSantis] I’m asking you to tell me what’s in the bill because you are pushing false narratives. It doesn’t matter what critics say.
[Reporter] Well hold on. It says “advanced classroom instruction on sexual identity and gender orientation” ...
[DeSantis] For who? For grades pre-K through three, so five-year-old, six-year-old, seven-year-olds, and the idea that you wouldn’t be honest about that and tell people what it actually says. It’s why people don't trust people like you because you peddle false narratives. [applause] And so we disabuse you of those narratives. And we’re gonna make sure that parents are able to send their kid to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum.
EICHER: Here’s the part that LGBT groups most strenuously object to, quoting from the bill: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
One of Florida’s biggest employers is Walt Disney World, which lobbied quietly to try to stop the bill.
It faced a backlash from LGBT groups that accused the company of not doing enough and so now Disney says it’ll donate $5 million to them.
BROWN: Let’s bring in John Stonestreet. He’s the president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast and he joins us now. Morning, John.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning.
EICHER: From what I could tell, John, this did really seem parent-driven, part of the backlash we’ve been talking about recently, where parents are getting wise to some of the culture-war curriculum their young kids are being exposed to and they want it stopped. Do you think this particular measure will help?
STONESTREET: I think it will help a lot.
I mean, I think there is this sense that the sexual revolution is inevitable, it's inevitable, and all of its consequences and all of its extremes. And this is about as extreme as it can get. I mean, think about it, this wouldn't have been controversial 10 years ago, that third graders should not be included in conversations about sexual behavior. Now, we're talking about third graders not being protected from conversations about who they actually are. I mean, and actually, you know, pushing them towards an ideology that could lead down the road to either chemical, or even surgical disruption, or mutilation of who they are.
This is a protection of children, it would not have been controversial yesterday. And suddenly, it is, and I think there is a wake up call that's taken place. You know, you put a zoom classroom in every home and suddenly parents are up close and personal. They should have known I mean, it's not like this was a secret. It's not like, we weren't talking about this for the last, you know, several years.
But there is something beyond this. I mean, even more progressive parents don't want to hear their daughter who they raised as a daughter come home and say everything you've taught me about myself is wrong. And I'm not the one person you thought I was. And, and look, if I was walking down the street with my young children, and a perverted man flashed us, I could take that person to jail because they were being exposed to something against their will and without their consent.
How is that not the same thing here? It's not controversial. The “don't say gay” moniker - it's irresponsible for media to have picked up on that. It's actually not true. And apparently, somehow the LGBTQ groups were able to hold Disney hostage for something that the Florida Legislature, I mean, this whole thing, you just put it all together and everything is backwards back to front, you know, from start to finish.
EICHER: The clip we heard a few moments ago—from the presidential spokeswoman—that came in response to an interesting question in the White House briefing room. A reporter reminded Jen Psaki that in 1994 when her boss was a senator, then-Senator Joe Biden voted for a bill that would cut off all federal funding for any school district that teaches acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle. This wasn’t about kindergartners or third graders. This was any school district that teaches gay acceptance. She didn’t answer the question, she flipped the script and, of course, got away with it. But I think that’s to your point about how this really wasn’t a controversy not all that long ago.
STONESTREET: Oh, absolutely. I mean, the only thing that is a class from K to 12 now is sexual education. It's only a questioning of who you are. And of course, I mean, there's so many things wrong with this. It's based on sexual stereotypes, that yesterday, just yesterday, we were told were bogus, and were the source of discrimination and bias.
And based on those same sexual characteristics, in many cases, suddenly suddenly, you know, we can know whether or not someone was quote, unquote, you know, born in the wrong body. It's just child abuse. I mean, it needs to be said that it's child abuse, there's not a gentle way to put this. It's absolutely awful.
And look, let's be honest about something else, while we're being honest about all these things: This isn't about a child being discriminated against. This is about adults creating a world in which their happiness is the only thing that can go unchallenged. That's really what this is about.
This is about teaching children something that is clearly controversial, at the very least, if not completely insane, in order to advance a way of life that allows me to pursue my own happiness. This is again about adult happiness versus children's rights.
BROWN: Up until Russia invaded Ukraine, we were having a little debate about so-called “Christian nationalism.” Kevin DeYoung has had a few pieces on this topic for WORLD Opinions and I mention Ukraine because some of those who are loudest in warning about nationalism are now flying Ukrainian flags and saluting the patriotic resistance to the Russians. But I wonder, and I know you’ve weighed in on this for Breakpoint, could you talk about the line between a harmful nationalism on the one hand, and a Biblical love of country on the other? How do you draw the line?
STONESTREET: Well, you know, one of the interesting things to do is look at where the Bible introduces the idea of nations, and how does it describe the idea of nations. It's certainly not something mentioned until after the fall, until after something goes wrong in the creation, but it is mentioned before Genesis chapter 11, which is typically when we think about nations being born, when at the Tower of Babel, God separates tongues and tribes and nations and languages, and spreads the people out over across the face of the earth. The chapter before, the descendants of Noah are described using terms of nations. And so it seems that there was a part of this kind of national identity that was part of God's plan, even before Babel.
Even the Babel story, though, you look at it, and the dividing into nations seems to be an act of mercy, not an act of judgment. And I think that's an important theological conversation. It's basically God looks at the project and goes, you know, what, if we don't separate them, then anything that comes into their mind will be possible. Now, hopefully, we've all reached that point in our lives where we realize we ought not do everything that comes into our minds. But that was actually something that God wanted to prevent.
And then you fast forward to the New Testament, and everything's culminated, where in a description of the new heavens and new earth in Revelation chapter seven, people from every tongue, tribe, nation and language are gathered before the throne dressed in white. So somehow, that nationalistic part of our identity carries into the new heavens and new earth.
Now, that's not to say that nations are sinless. Nations can be just as overcome and overwhelmed by sins, including certain sins as individuals can, and it needs to be redeemed and restored and the answer to sin is still Christ. The answer to sin is not being part of us and not them. It's not having a better constitution or a better history, or well intended founding fathers.
So you realize that being a part of a nation is not something we choose, it actually is something that God chooses. I think when nationalism stops being about stewardship, and starts being about alternative salvation, that's when you really start getting into idolatry, when being a citizen is the way of being able to manage and love our neighbor as ourselves and stewarding who we are called to be as followers of Christ, that is a healthy nationalism. So I don't have an allergy to the term nationalism. And I don't think Christians should. I think having an allergy to it is a shortcut to actually doing the hard work of theology that's required, you know, to be a part of this nation.
BROWN: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. Thanks, John.
STONESTREET: Thank you Myrna. Thank you Nick.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Police near L.A. recently had a vehicle towed after they found it abandoned—no registration—right next to a “No Parking” sign.
I mean, c’mon.
And worse, someone had tethered it to the sign with a nylon strap.
Now, a typical tow truck couldn’t haul this vehicle away. That’s because it wasn’t a typical vehicle.
It was a boat—motor boat, parked on the street—and not on a trailer, directly on top of the asphalt.
The Irwindale Police Dept. tweeted—and I will quote here—"Ahoy, you can't park there!”
No word whether the penalty for the infraction is walking the plank.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, March 11th.
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: action, adventure, and time travel. Seems like that’s the formula for a winner of a film!
BROWN: Right? Well, it is. But reviewer Collin Garbarino says this new PG-13 film has one very regrettable drawback that makes it unsuitable for family movie night.
COLLIN GARBARINO, REVIEWER: Last summer, director Shawn Levy and actor Ryan Reynolds gave audiences a surprise hit with their video-game action film Free Guy. And they’ve collaborated again on The Adam Project, a sci-fi time-travel adventure debuting today on Netflix. Skipping a theatrical release used to be a black mark, but The Adam Project is a big-budget action movie that feels like it belongs in a cinema. It’s reminiscent of some beloved sci-fi classics but offers enough originality to keep it entertaining.
Walker Scobell, in his first role, plays Adam Reed, a precocious 12-year-old who’s grieving the death of his father and consequently making life difficult for his mother, played by Jennifer Garner.
Mom: I don’t understand you.
Adam: Dad would.
Mom: What’s going on, honey? Can you just tell me? If I have to keep leaving work in the middle of the day, I’m gonna lose my job. It’s the third time you’ve been suspended for fighting.
Adam: I know, You’d think I’d be better at it by now.
Ryan Reynolds stars as an older version of Adam—who happens to be a time-traveling Air Force pilot from the year 2050. Old Adam crash lands in 2022 and enlists young Adam to help him complete his mission to fix the time stream.
Old Adam: I don’t know what that is, but when is a flashing red light ever good? Ah-da-da-da-da-da. I know you want to touch all the pretty buttons with your sticky little child fingers, but the reactor has a quantum signature. You fire it up, they can find us. If they’re here.
Young Adam: Who are “they”?
Old Adam: I’m glad that you didn’t ask me that because “they” are classified.
Young Adam: Come on. I already know you’re from the future.
Old Adam: Believe me, I regret that.
It turns out, corporate bullies control time travel. And when soldiers from the future arrive to stop old Adam, the two Adams realize that to save the world, they must go further back in time to prevent the invention of time travel.
Old Adam: We can fix it.
Young Adam: By destroying time travel?
Old Adam: That’s right.
Young Adam: And how are you going to do that? What’s your plan?
Old Adam: Well, I’m not going to explain my plan to a 12-year-old nerd with an inhaler—
Young Adam: You don’t have a plan.
Old Adam: —because I do not have a plan. That is correct. But I know somebody who might.
The Adam Project might be a time-travel movie, but it doesn’t take its central conceit too seriously. Isn’t one of the basic rules of time travel that you shouldn’t interact with yourself? In this movie, the rules of time travel serve the plot rather than offer a convincing speculation about the workings of theoretical physics.
Old Adam: Okay. Okay, the prevailing wisdom is that when I go back to my fixed time, my memories—our memories—they reform, they reconcile. But not while I’m here.
Young Adam: Fixed time? What’s that?
The film doesn’t aspire to be hard-core science fiction with somewhat plausible technology. It’s science fantasy with cool-looking gadgets doing cool-looking things. No one explains why, in the future, time machines are attached to fighter jets or why magnetism only seems to work when it’s convenient. It’s just cool.
Old Adam: Don’t touch that.
Young Adam: I was just looking.
Old Adam: Don’t touch my stuff.
Young Adam: Is this a lightsaber?
Old Adam: No, it’s not a lightsaber.
Director Shawn Levy uses his special effects budget on fantastic action sequences, but relationships are at the heart of the movie. Both Adams are quick-witted and funny, but both carry scars from pain and loss. Sometimes people think they’d like to go back and give their younger selves some advice to make life easier. But The Adam Project asks viewers to ponder whether our more cynical, older selves might benefit from reexamining our lost youth. It’s like time travel as therapy.
Young Adam: I think… I think it’s easier to be angry than it is to be sad. And I guess, when I get older, I forget that there’s a difference.
Old Adam: How’d you get to be so smart?
Young Adam: How’d you get to be so dumb?
The Adam Project evokes a sense of nostalgia with its callbacks to classics of the 1980s, including E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Last Starfighter, and Back to the Future. Nostalgia sells these days, and I thought it was a slick trick to make me feel nostalgic while watching a movie set in 2022. But be warned, like those movies of the 1980s, this PG-13 film has numerous instances of coarse language. It’s a shame, because without the pervasive language, this funny action-filled movie about grief and familial love could have been enjoyed by parents and kids alike.
I’m Collin Garbarino.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, March 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
Nashville singer-songwriter Jill Phillips recently released her first record in six years. It’s titled Deeper to Love. WORLD Correspondent Steve West recently talked to Phillips about her new project.
STEVE WEST, CORRESPONDENT: If you like music that is acoustically grounded, lyrically intelligent, and spiritually provocative, you’ll enjoy this newest offering from Jill Phillips. The Chesapeake, Virginia native’s first album debuted on Word Records over two decades ago, in 1999, shortly after Phillips graduated from Nashville’s Belmont University. “Steel Bars,” written by husband Andy Gullahorn, was one of the more popular songs from that record and helped cement her place at the musical intersection of folk, pop, and rock.
MUSIC: “STEEL BARS”
During the long hiatus since her last recording in 2016, Phillips raised her three teenagers and also found time to quietly go back to graduate school, ultimately becoming a marriage and family therapist. Last year she teamed up with producer Ben Shive for six new songs containing some common themes–difficult ones like grief, disappointment, and anger, but also brighter ones like healing, redemption and love. It’s not surprising territory for a therapist who regularly listens to people sharing often difficult stories.
PHILLIPS: I certainly couldn't separate my work in that time of being a therapist and learning just different ways to sit with people in their grief and their loss. I couldn't not be informed by that journey, obviously. And so I feel like the stories are a combination of all of that—this sort of universal story that we're all part of the both/and, that intersection of suffering and great hope. And I think that's where a lot of us live.
MUSIC: “LOVE IS A LONG GAME”
That rousing kickoff for Deeper to Love sets the theme for the album—Love is a long game, a persevering love. Yet there’s another intriguing line in the song, where Phillips sings that “somewhere between the truth and how it feels there is a disconnect.” Like many of her songs, the words hold a tension we all feel at times between the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet’.
PHILLIPS: It’s just nice to know there's something deeper than my feelings, that’s true. And so when I'm feeling discouraged, or I'm in a season where it feels like, wow, I don't see the hope around the corner, it is so helpful to know that love is a long game, that there's a deeper story being written, there's another chapter to the story to come.
MUSIC: “PRISON OF THE PAST”
One metaphor that pops up twice on Deeper to Love is that of a prison, or of being imprisoned. Parts of this song, “Prison of the Past,” sound like advice she might give to someone she’s counseling, someone who feels imprisoned or trapped in some way. I found listening to her words therapeutic.
PHILLIPS: Maybe it's advice to myself as much as it is to anybody else. What ‘Prison of the Past’ means to me is that we are not defined by the things that have happened to us, that God is always, always, always making things new. And if I didn't believe in transformation, and I didn't believe in healing, I don't think I could be an artist. I don't think I could be a very good mom. I don't think I could be a Christian.
MUSIC: “HOUSE OF GRIEF”
It’s always presumptuous to assume that a song is autobiographical, yet Phillips is not one to hold a song lyric at a distance. Maybe that’s because they so often flow out of her own experiences—walking through her own house of grief, coming to the other side, and then helping others in that place.
PHILLIPS: I am no stranger to grief. And it has really comforted me that one of the names Jesus uses for himself is man of sorrows acquainted with grief. My dad died when I was, I believe it was 25. And it just came out of nowhere. It changed me and that began a journey of more empathy and compassion for people who are suffering, a journey deeper into God, and finding out that he was there, in spaces and in places that I couldn't imagine he would be.
MUSIC: “BRIGHT SADNESS”
Paradox is another feature of Phillips’ songs. Seemingly contradictory words like “bright” and “sadness” don’t rest easily with each other, are even in tension with one another, and yet convey deeper truth.
PHILLIPS: That was very intentional. You know, we're called to be people of hope. But we also don't want to be dismissive. Jesus certainly wasn't. He like wept with people that wept, and yet he wasn't consumed. He wasn't desolate. He, he had this hope, this sort of long view.
Whether through her independent releases or via the popular online Gullahorn Happy Hour she does with husband Andy, Phillips wants what artists have always wanted: to touch someone.
PHILLIPS: I'd love for the songs to reach lots of ears … But if one person hears the song, and they're like, “That is exactly what I needed to hear, that was a message in a bottle for me in my life today, and God used that to speak to me”, I can think of no greater honor as a songwriter.
MUSIC: “GENEROUS MERCY”
I’m Steve West.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s time to thank our excellent team:
Mary Reichard, Kent Covington, David Bahnsen, Harrison Watters, Anna Johansen Brown, Kristen Flavin, Lauren Dunn, Kim Henderson, Whitney Williams, Onize Ohikere, Lynn Vincent, Joel Belz, Jenny Lind Schmitt, Caleb Bailey, Cal Thomas, John Stonestreet, Collin Garbarino, and Steve West.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz are the audio engineers who stay up late to get the program to you early! Leigh Jones is managing editor, and Paul Butler is our executive producer.
The Psalmist says The counsel of the Lord stands forever. The plans of his heart to all generations. (Psalm 33:11, 18 ESV)
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.
This weekend let’s continue to lift up our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.
Lord willing, we’ll meet you back here on Monday.
Go now in grace and peace!
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