The World and Everything in It - March 18, 2022
On Culture Friday, a Kansas teacher butts heads with a school administration promoting pronoun policies; Collin Garbarino reviews Pixar’s latest film, Turning Red; and Word Play with George Grant. Plus: the Friday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
A showdown in Kansas between a school and a school teacher over pronouns, students, and truth.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.
Plus a review of Pixar’s newest animated project: Turning Red. WORLD reviewer Collin Garbarino tells us this coming of age story drinks too deeply of the modern age.
And George Grant considers figures of speech that rely on contradictions. It’s awfully good.
BROWN: It’s Friday, March 18th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
BROWN: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden to call China’s Xi to discuss Russia, other issues » President Biden will place a phone call to Chinese leader Xi Jinping today to talk about the war in Ukraine and other issues.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s chief concern is ensuring that China does not aid Russia with its invasion of Ukraine.
PSAKI: Our concerns about China assisting in any way Russia as they invade a foreign country is a significant concern, and the response to that would be consequences.
Russia has reportedly asked China for equipment and other military aid.
Rescuers search for survivors in bombed Mariupol theater » Meantime, in Ukraine, rescue workers searched for survivors Thursday in the ruins of a theater blown apart by a Russian airstrike.
Hundreds of civilians had been taking shelter in the grand, columned theater in central Mariupol after their homes were destroyed in the southern port city. No word yet on an exact number of injuries or deaths.
Across the city, snow flurries fell around the skeletons of burned, windowless and shrapnel-scarred apartment buildings as smoke rose above the skyline.
A Mariupol resident identified only as Elana described her desperation.
ELANA: We are trying to survive somehow. It’s just that I cannot tell my mother that I’m alive. My mother lives in Makiivka. There is no connection. There’s nothing. It’s cruel. My child is hungry. I don’t know what to give him to eat.
President Biden recently said he believes Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine. And Secretary of State Tony Blinken said Thursday…
BLINKEN: Personally, I agree. Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime. After all the destruction of the last three weeks, I find it difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise.
Scores of Ukrainians across the country have died in recent days in urban attacks on a school, a hostel and other sites.
Russian media: Detention of WNBA's Griner extended to May 19 » The Russian government has extended its detention of Brittney Griner until May 19th. That according to Russian media on Thursday. That means the 31-year-old WNBA star could remain behind bars for at least three months before her case is resolved.
Police detained the two-time Olympic champion at a Moscow airport in mid-February. Authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges allegedly containing oil derived from cannabis. That’s a violation that could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Germany set to boost defense spending » Russia’s invasion of Ukraine appears to have awoken a sleeping giant. Germany will soon become one of the world’s biggest military spenders. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The military budget was presented to Germany’s coalition cabinet this week alongside a law that commits 100 billion euros to a special fund for its armed forces.
That will raise Germany’s defense spending from one-and-a-half percent of GDP—gross domestic product—to better than 2 percent. That’s the level that all NATO members are supposed to meet. Many U.S. officials, particularly former President Trump, have criticized Germany in the past for not doing so.
But Germany’s defense spending boost will make it the world’s third-biggest military spender, trailing only the United States and China.
Attitudes toward big defense spending have shifted in Germany since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month. Shortly after the war began, Germany changed its policy to allow weapons experts to Ukraine.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Biden COVID coordinators leaving in April, Jha to take over » The White House is naming a new coordinator to lead its COVID-19 response.
The current virus response coordinator Jeff Zients is leaving the administration next month.
Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, will replace him.
The White House credited Jeff Zients with helping to make vaccines and treatments widely available. But the change comes amid criticism of the administration for confusing public messaging around the virus response.
Dr. Jha is a familiar face to many. He’s been a fixture on cable and network news programs throughout the pandemic.
President Biden said as the country enters a new phase in its pandemic response, he “is the perfect person for the job.”
Court: Honduras ex-president can be extradited » The former president of Honduras wore a blue suit and shackles in a Honduran courtroom this week. And he may soon appear in a U.S. court. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has that story.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Former President Juan Orlando Hernández insisted that he had no ties to drug traffickers. But the Honduran Court of Justice announced Wednesday that they would extradite him to the United States to face drug trafficking and weapons charges.
Hernandez’s lawyers vowed to appeal.
Authorities arrested Hernández last month, shortly after he left office after eight years as president.
The U.S. Department of Justice asked for his extradition. The DOJ implicated him in the transportation of 500 tons of cocaine from South America to the United States through Honduras.
Prosecutors said he used money from bribes to fund his presidential campaign.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: A showdown in Kansas over pronouns in the classroom.
Plus a review of Pixar’s newest animated project.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, March 18th, 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.
A math teacher from Kansas is in the news because for her an x chromosome plus an x chromosome equals female and x plus y equals male. Her conflict is with her school district, which insists that “male” is whatever the student says it is, and the teacher needs to go along or face the consequences.
BROWN: Steve West, reporting for WORLD, says that the teacher, Pamela Ricard, has sued her school district and her school principal.
She challenges their new policy on pronouns, demands a religious accommodation, and appeals her suspension after she was accused of bullying a female student who identifies as a transgender boy.
EICHER: Right, she refused to acknowledge the student’s preferred pronouns and because the school district had no pronoun policy at the time of the dispute, the school suspended the teacher on the grounds of its more general anti-bullying and diversity, equity, and inclusion policies.
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: Well, John, it seems like sooner and not later every school district is going to have its own pronoun policy and without religious accommodations, you’re going to have conflict. Do you see a way out of this impasse?
STONESTREET: I don't see it. I mean, there's, there's places where worldviews overlap. I mean, there's places where atheism and Christianity agree, you know that the world is an ordered place that can be understood. And there's places that Hinduism and Christianity agree, where, you know, for example, that there are realities in the world that are spiritual, not just physical. This, though, is a collision of worldviews, which is that truth is determined by one's inner sense, versus truth being determined in some objective way. And that's, you know, that's not an easy bridge to cross and even further, those that drive this new theory, so that if you don't accept their understanding of life in the world, well, you're being cruel, and you're being hateful. And there's not a place for you in this institution. And I think increasingly, that's what we're going to see from schools, and it's going to demand action on behalf of both students and administrators and parents and teachers. Now, of course, the good news is, is we have seen in certain parts of the country, parents step up and go, You know what, let's at least not do this. I mean, you think about Florida, we talked about that this so called “Don't Say,Gay” bill, at least, let's just not bring this up into my kids out of the third grade. I mean, that seems like a pretty, a pretty accommodating request. Now, the other thing that may stop this, and there was an article recently about this, that, you know, the media tends to cover the LGBTQIA movement as if it's one movement. And that's not the case. There's a incredible conflict between the T’s and the L’s increasingly between the T’s and the G’s. And I think there's a level of discomfort, you know, by how the T’s have, you know, kind of proceeded and a, well, I mean, honestly, in a totalitarian way.
It shows how unreasonable their view is because that's what happens when you run out of arguments, you run out of ideas, you run out of reasons to support your view, then you you know, you just kind of lock down and squash dissent. And we may see it self destruct sooner than we think.
EICHER: Sort of on this same topic, Mary Jackson, reporting for WORLD says international medical associations are increasingly uncomfortable with transgender treatments for young people while American medicine continues to be completely comfortable.
Reading the story here—some excellent reporting looking at France, Sweden, the UK, Australia, government medical boards and academies, they are recommending putting the brakes on hormonal and surgical interventions for young people who question their identities.
For instance, France, where there’s concern about the “epidemic-like phenomenon” among adolescents seeking drugs, hormones, and surgeries. The National Academy of Medicine in France says it could be tied to social-media usage and social contagion.
Looking at Sweden, the Board of Health and Welfare has no explanation for a 1500-percent rise in gender dysphoria diagnoses—that’s a 15-x increase in just 10 years from 2008 to 2018—this explosion of gender dysphoria among teenage girls in Sweden. And the medical establishment is saying, whoa, slow down. Let’s not jump into drugs and surgery, it’s recommending psychological and psychiatric treatment and clinical assessment and diagnosis.
Isn’t that interesting, John, that, for example, the American medical establishment continues to maintain that affirmation-only model?
STONESTREET: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, don't let all that data fool you, Nick. The science is settled, we've already been told this by those who, you know, have our best interests in mind and know which way we should go.
I mean, you know, look, there's not an issue more medically up in the air than you know, this kind of new gender ideology that pretends that everything is fine, especially in our cultural moment. And you alluded to it there with this idea of social contagion and social media. I was speaking with the head of a master’s in counseling program at a Christian university just recently. And he's like, the depression among our students is different. This is a different time, the depression is more widespread, and it's harder to treat. That's a data point that's reflective of a feature across western society. We're not okay, we're lonely. We have high rates of mental illness. We have high rates of deaths from despair and acts of desperation. And in that context, we're so much about mental health and well being is up in the air, we're going to pretend like this dramatic shift in our understanding of basic reality, the science is settled and ignore all the other evidence. And people wonder, you know why it is that our institutions aren't trusted. We did a series of lectures recently, at the Colson Center talking about the catastrophic loss of trust in our institutions. And, you know, the last one really to go was medicine. But this is one of the reasons why. And we just don't trust people who say things that are observably not true. And, you know, this is kind of gone beyond now the ‘live and let live’ way that Americans tend to handle these sorts of things and say, well, that's just happening on the coast, when in reality, now it's being hoisted on every single one of us, including our kids without our consent. And I do think there's going to be a pushback. And there's also such long-term damage here being done to the credibility of the medical establishment. And I don't know where that takes us, but that's certainly going to have long term consequences as well.
BROWN: I wanted to ask about a rebellion brewing within Roman Catholicism, specifically in Germany. Craig Carter, writing for WORLD Opinions this week, reported that German bishops are pushing hard against traditional Catholic teaching on human sexuality. Carter is not Catholic, but he makes the point that Rome has been a real bulwark against, as he says, “many of the most destructive tendencies of secularism and atheism in the larger culture.” Do you think the German bishops will succeed and what happens if they do?
STONESTREET: Well, look, here's what we know. And we know this from Scripture is that the church wins, and the church wins because the head of the church wins, and the Savior of the church wins, and the husband of the bride wins. And that's Jesus Christ. So, you know, secularism and atheism, they don't win. Now, you know, whether finally this, which I agree with Carter, that Rome has been a real bulwark against some of the worst ideas of atheism and secularism. And I'd add to that postmodernism, whether it will continue to be so or not, I don't know. I mean, it has been in some areas, and it hasn't been in other areas. And clearly in Germany, you know, the tie to the Catholic communion hasn't been enough to keep these bishops from fully embracing all the worst ideas of the sexual revolution. I mean, they have been a problem for the church for a long time. You know, I think the hymn writer said it well, is that ‘the church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord,’ and even though you know, she's a beaten, battered, bloody, you know, mess. The fact that she's a Pure Bride has to do with the bridegroom, that that's what we know. You know, how that will come out is a good question. You know, the other thing too, that's complicated for, you know, I think evangelicals, where we have, you know, a very kind of dispersed, decentralized leadership is under a centralized leadership, like the church of Rome, it just takes so long and sometimes bad ideas can have a big influence on a whole lot of people. And that's just not something that I think most Christians are comfortable with, because it does take so long. Yeah. So you're asking me to be a prophet here and I run a nonprofit, so I can't really help you [ha-ha].
BROWN: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. Thanks, John.
STONESTREET: Thank you both.
NICK EICHER, HOST: A young boy on vacation in Costa Rica came face to face with the local wildlife—literally face to face.
The boy’s parents didn’t give his name, but did say he was zip-lining in La Fortuna when he butted heads with a sloth that was hanging out on the zipline.
Man: Don’t worry, don’t worry.
Boy: It’s a sloth!
Boy: I just clocked it straight in the face. What do we do about the sloth?
Man: Don’t worry, don’t worry.
Boy: Do we just wait?
The answer was “yes.” All they could do was wait for the sloth to make its way off the zipline. And as you might imagine, it was in absolutely no hurry!
Neither the boy nor the animal were injured. But given the pace at which the sloth was moving, they might still be on the zipline!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday March 18th 2022. 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. Up next, a review of Pixar’s latest animated feature film, Turning Red, currently streaming on Disney+.
But reviewer Collin Garbarino warns that while adult critics might love the movie, many parents will be less than thrilled.
Meilin: I’m Meilin Lee. And ever since I turned 13, I’ve been doing my own thing. Making my own moves, 24/7, 365. I wear what I want. I say what I want. And I will not hesitate to do a spontaneous cartwheel if I feel so moved.
COLLIN GARBARINO: Turning Red tells the story of Meilin Lee—a middle-school girl living in Toronto. Meilin belongs to a Chinese-Canadian family that owns a small temple dedicated to ancestor worship. After school Meilin helps her mother Ming clean the temple and give tours. But now that Meilin’s become a teenager, she’s torn between honoring her mother’s wishes and having fun with her friends.
Meilin: [narrating] I do make my own moves, it’s just that some of my moves are also hers.
Ming: Mei-Mei, there you are!
Meilin: Hey, Mom—
Ming: You’re ten minutes late. What happened? Are you hurt? Are you hungry?
Ming: How was school today?
But then things get weird for Meilin. One night, Meilin has an emotionally charged confrontation her overprotective mother. The next morning, Meilin wakes up to find she’s been transformed into a giant red panda. As you can imagine, being a giant red panda in middle school leads to high jinks as well as embarrassing situations.
Meilin: Wake up, wake up, wake up!
Ming: Mei-Mei, is everything okay?
Meilin: Don’t come in here!
Ming: Mei-Mei, what’s going on, honey? Are you sick? Is it a fever? A stomach ache? Chills? Constipation?
It turns out Meilin’s parents have been hiding a family curse from her, and as Meilin and her parents grapple with her new red-panda reality, Meilin’s relationship with her mother breaks down.
For more than twenty-five years, Pixar has been the gold standard for animated films both in terms of storytelling and technical execution. And Turning Red gets a lot of things right.
The animation and worldbuilding are superb, as always. Director Domee Shi includes many authentic, yet subtle details of Chinese culture. The temple isn’t just a place of worship—it’s also a gathering place for the community and a gift shop for tourists. Chinese dads know how to cook, toilet paper is a multipurpose commodity, and no one likes the number four.
Grandma: Four is the worst number.
Aunt Lily: You know, Vivian was due on the fourth, but I held her in until the fifth.
Grandma: Quiet, Lily.
And millennials will feel nostalgia for their own middle-school years while watching this film set in 2002. There are no smartphones. Instead, kids are carrying around Tamagotchi digital pets. And true to the era, Mei and her friends are obsessed with the boy band, 4-Town.
Meilin: May I remind you what real men look like?
Meilin: Yes! 4-Town!
Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell wrote the songs, and they nailed the sound of the music industry at the height of the boy-band craze.
But for all the things Turning Red gets right, it contains other things that will make some parents cringe. Some Christian parents won't appreciate the depictions of ancestor worship. Also, the PG film contains some edgy, though not particularly strong, language. And not every family wants to laugh at jokes about menstruation and pads, even though one could argue those jokes make sense in a movie about a teenage girl undergoing bodily changes.
In Turning Red, the panda serves as a double metaphor. On the one hand, the panda symbolizes puberty. Meilin is growing up, and both she and her mother struggle to cope with her movement toward adulthood. On the other hand, the panda and Meilin’s relationship with Ming symbolize the difficulty that immigrant children face trying to navigate two cultures—both of which claim to be their home culture.
These could have been fruitful metaphors, but Domee Shi buries them beneath themes of self-actualization and personal autonomy. At the end of the movie, we’re expected to applaud Meilin when she tells her mother, “My panda, my body,” an allusion to the popular abortion slogan. It’s the kind of vapid modernist sloganeering that Pixar used to challenge rather than endorse.
Meilin: Be careful. Honoring your parents sounds great, but if you take it too far, well, you might forget to honor yourself.
Turning Red merely warms over Disney’s clichéd advice to just follow your heart. But as the book of Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Meilin: I like boys. I like loud music. I like gyrating! I’m thirteen! Deal with it!
Turning Red is reminiscent of Pixar’s Brave which came out ten years ago. Both movies feature strong-willed mothers and daughters who don’t meet each other’s expectations. And both movies feature family members who transform into bears. But Brave is a more truthful movie. The heroine tries to follow her heart but brings devastation. In the end, she says she’s sorry. Meilin lets the panda loose, destroying Toronto, but in the end, everyone decides Meilin was right all along.
Turning Red teaches kids that you can do whatever you want as long as you stay true to who you are. And the good news—according to Pixar—is that you’re free to decide who that’s going to be. The rest of us? It’s our job to affirm you and your decisions.
MUSIC: I wanted it. I went for it. And baby, I did it on my oh oh oh oh own…
I’m Collin Garbarino.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday March 18th. 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. You should know, we’re a team of hard-working journalists, but sometimes it takes a cartoonist to make a point more succinctly than we can ever hope to. George Grant is about to demonstrate how a well-placed editorial cartoon can get you thinking.
GEORGE GRANT, COMMENTATOR: Whenever the latest issue of WORLD Magazine arrives in the mail, I typically turn first to the book reviews. But a few weeks ago, I stopped short upon seeing a Steve Kelley cartoon. It depicted a father and mother overlooking their elementary-age son staring into a digital screen emblazoned with the phrase “remote learning.” The dad commented, “Today’s class must be about oxymorons.” I chuckled and then immediately thought, “Oh, now that needs to be a Word Play!” Amidst a culture fraught with polarizing contrariness and obstreperous contradiction, what subject could be more apt than oxymorons?
An oxymoron is a figure of speech pairing two antithetical or contradictory concepts. Samuel Johnson defined it as, “a rhetorical figure in which an epithet of a quite contrary signification is added to any word or phrase creating a contradiction in terms.” Oxymorons are common, often unconscious, literary devices. They are used for emphasis and have the effect of creating an impression, enhancing a concept, or highlighting an image.
Simple or single-word oxymorons include the terms audiovisual, bittersweet, featherweight, outcome, sleepwalk, and spendthrift. More common are complex or double-word oxymorons, such as act natural, baby grand, benign neglect, civil war, cruel joke, deafening silence, and definite possibility. There are phrases like doing nothing, dotted line, down escalator, dull roar, final draft, freezer burn, front end, half empty, and inside out. Or there are lead balloons, leisure industries, local celebrities, loss leaders, minor disasters, and open secrets. Or perhaps you’ve used one of these: pretty ugly, sight unseen, strangely familiar, sure bet, and terribly good.
Complex oxymorons often make their appearance in our complex public discourse. Think of assisted suicide, constructive criticism, conventional wisdom, global village, initial results, normal deviation, old news, unbiased opinion, questionable answer, virtual reality, and working vacation.
Composite oxymorons humorously combine opposing ideas to create what limericst Ogden Nash called, “nonsensical sense.” For instance, Clara Barton said, “I distinctly remember forgetting that.” George Bernard Shaw declared, “Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that we can never learn anything from history.” Oscar Wilde admitted, “I can resist everything but temptation.” And, Yogi Berra asserted, “I never said most of the things I said.”
Hollywood mogul Samuel Goldwyn was as famous for his oxymoronic declarations as he was for the films he produced. He said, “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on;” and, “Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined;” and, “I don’t think anyone should write their autobiography until after they're dead;” and, “Thank God I’m an atheist.”
Oxymorons seem to abound. In fact, even the word oxymoron is an oxymoron—it comes to us from two contradictory Greek terms, oxus meaning sharp or pointed and moros meaning dull or foolish.
So, I’m not going to say, “I told you so,” but oxymorons really do crop up everywhere.
I’m George Grant.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Time now to say thanks to our team:
Mary Reichard, Kent Covington, Josh Schumacher, David Bahnsen, Collin Garbarino, Jill Nelson, Kim Henderson, Steve West, Kristen Flavin, Onize Ohikere, Jenny Rough, Janie B. Cheaney, Cal Thomas, John Stonestreet, and George Grant.
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 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 if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The Bible also says not to neglect meeting together, so let’s remember to do that and enjoy worshiping with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Lord willing, we’ll meet you back here on Monday.
Go now in grace and peace.
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