The World and Everything in It - March 22, 2022
How the church can step in to help amid a shortage of social workers, a new state law in Indiana helps protect freedom of speech on campus, and astronomy enthusiasts attempt to count the stars. Plus: commentary from Kim Henderson, missing teeth, and the Tuesday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
The U.S. foster care system is facing a shortage of social workers. What can the church do to help?
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead.
Also today, WORLD’s Steve West reports on an advance for free-speech in Indiana.
Plus: astronomy in the back yard.
And reflections on motherhood.
BROWN: It’s Tuesday, March 22nd. 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: Senators begin confirmation questioning of Supreme Court nominee » AUDIO: This hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee will come to order.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are grilling Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson this morning on day-two of her confirmation hearing.
On Monday, Judge Jackson pledged to decide cases “without fear or favor.”
JACKSON: I decided cases from a neutral posture. I evaluate the facts, and I interpret and I apply the law to the facts of the case before me.
The 51-year-old Jackson currently serves on the Washington D.C. US Circuit Court of Appeals, widely considered the second highest court in the land.
Lawmakers consumed most of Monday’s proceedings with opening statements.
Republicans promised to ask tough questions this week, with a special focus on her record on criminal matters. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley questioned her handling of cases involving sex offenders in the past.
HAWLEY: In every case, in each of these seven, Judge Jackson handed down a lenient sentence that was below what federal guidelines recommended and below what prosecutors requested.
Democrats, meanwhile, were full of praise for President Biden's Supreme Court pick. Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal told Judge Jackson…
BLUMENTHAL: You will be the first public defender on the court. You understand our justice system uniquely, through the eyes of people who couldn’t afford a lawyer.
Jackson, if confirmed, would replace outgoing Justice Stephen Breyer. And she would be the first black woman to serve on the high court.
High court rejects case of Christian mission, bisexual lawyer » The Supreme Court says it won't review the case of a Seattle-based Christian group that was sued after declining to hire a bisexual lawyer who applied for a job. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: The case involves Seattle's Union Gospel Mission. The group provides aid to the homeless and addiction recovery services, among other things.
In 2016, attorney Matthew Woods applied for a job but was turned away because the organization's “code of conduct excludes homosexual activity.”
Woods sued, arguing the group violated state discrimination laws.
A state trial court judge ruled in the mission’s favor and dismissed Woods' lawsuit. But the state supreme court reversed the decision.
At the U.S. Supreme Court this week, two conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, agreed with the decision not to hear the case right now. But they said “the day may soon come” when the court needs to confront the issue this case presents.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.
Justice Thomas hospitalized with infection, symptoms abating » And speaking of Justice Clarence Thomas, he remained hospitalized on Monday with an infection.
Doctors said he tested negative for COVID-19. The 73-year-old entered the hospital on Friday with “flu-like symptoms.” He has received intravenous antibiotics, and the court said “his symptoms were abating.”
Ukraine rejects Russian demands of surrender in Mariupol » In Ukraine on Monday, defenders in the port city of Mariupol held out against Russian demands that they surrender.
Ukrainian lawmaker Kira Rudik said giving up isn’t an option.
RUDIK: The only way, the only chance we have in this war is to fight and to continue fighting.
Ukrainian officials say the invading forces continue to shell the city, killing many civilians, but the death toll right now is anybody’s guess. With communications crippled and much of the rubble unexplored, the full extent of the horror is not yet known.
Russian forces recently shelled a theater where well over a thousand people were sheltering and an art school where more than 400 were taking refuge.
Even as Moscow’s forces continue attacks throughout the country, Russian diplomats continue talks about a possible ceasefire. But leaders in Kyiv and in Washington have expressed doubts that the Kremlin is interested in peace that doesn’t involve surrender.
U.S. says Myanmar repression of Muslim Rohingya is genocide » The U.S. government has declared Myanmar’s military to be guilty of crimes against humanity. Secretary of State Tony Blinken, speaking from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, had this to say on Monday:
BLINKEN: Beyond the Holocaust, the United States has concluded that genocide was committed seven times. Today marks the eighth.
Blinken said the country’s ruling military has systematically engaged in violent repression of the largely Muslim Rohingya population.
He cited the accounts of soldiers who took part in military abuses and later defected.
BLINKEN: Such as one who said he was told by his commanding officer to—and I quote—‘shoot at every sight of a person’—end quote; burn villiages, rape and kill women; orders that he and his unit carried out.
Blinken said the genocide declaration was intended to both generate global pressure and lay the groundwork for potential legal action.
The United States has already hit the government of Myanmar with multiple layers of sanctions since a military coup last year.
The military junta has imprisoned or killed thousands of civilians since that coup.
Chinese jet crashes with 132 aboard » A commercial jetliner crashed in a remote area of southern China Monday. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.
JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: The China Eastern Boeing 737-800 went down in a mountainous region, likely killing everyone aboard. The jet was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew members.
The flight was traveling from Kunming in southwestern China to Yunnan along the east coast.
According to the flight tracking website, FlightRadar24, the jet was traveling around 30,000 feet when it entered a steep dive around 2:00 p.m. local time.
The crash did not involve the troubled Boeing 737-MAX involved in multiple accidents in 2018 and 2019.
The downed plane was a Boeing 737-800, which has a strong safety record over 24 years.
Monday’s crash set off a forest fire visible from space and was the country’s worst air disaster in nearly a decade.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
I'm Kent Covington. Straight ahead: A national shortage of foster care social workers.
Plus, protecting free speech on campus.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Tuesday, the 22nd of March, 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. First up on The World and Everything in It: improving foster care.
A handful of states are facing a severe social worker shortage. West Virginia recently reported that Child Protective Service vacancies there are at crisis level.
In Idaho, lawmakers there are recommending the state hire more social workers and pay them better.
BROWN: Child welfare advocates recommend 12-to-15 caseloads per social worker. In Tennessee, some are juggling three-to-four times that load, leading officials to say the state’s facing an “unprecedented” turnover of caseworkers. In one Florida county some individual caseworkers were responsible for more than 80 cases. WORLD’s Lauren Dunn has more.
LAUREN DUNN: Alexa Muncy started working as a social worker at an Indianapolis nonprofit foster care agency after graduating with her master’s degree.
MUNCY: I went in very optimistic as it was my first like, adult job. So I was very gung-ho and really, was just willing to take on a lot of different things, and was trying to be as helpful as possible. But I did not anticipate it to be so all encompassing.
Muncy said it wasn’t uncommon to get phone calls from foster families outside of work hours. And she found it hard to leave work at work.
MUNCY: These stories that you hear from the kids were just heartbreaking experiences. And so you would go home. And it was just hard not to stop thinking about them. Or if the kid ran away, worrying about where they were, were they going to come back. Or when kids were maybe reunified a little bit too soon, and you didn't feel good about everything being lined up. There's just a lot of worry, because everything was kind of out of your control in the role that we were in.
Mirean Coleman is a clinical manager of a clinical team at the National Association of Social Workers. Coleman doesn’t think there is a shortage of social workers. She said that the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the social work field is growing, despite challenges during the pandemic.
COLEMAN: There were social workers who were very reluctant to go into the homes of some of the foster care workers for an evaluation. And as a result of that, there were some who left the field...I haven't seen any evidence that it created a shortage.
But Coleman recognizes that foster care is a challenging field to work in.
COLEMAN: It is a burnout field. Workers work very hard. And they move on to other areas…You're working with a group of children who may be abused, abandoned or neglected. And it is very challenging to work with the group, especially when you're trying to locate an appropriate foster home, and also seek the resources that the child might need. And that can take up a lot of the social worker’s time.
After working as a social worker for two-and-a-half years, Alexa Muncy became a supervisor—while still taking on some direct casework. As a case manager, she usually oversaw about 5-7 people.
Muncy said that her group was not fully staffed about half the time, and added that some social workers moved on to other employment after a year or less at the job. One common reason people left was low pay.
MUNCY: They felt incredibly stressed and like there weren't enough hours in the day to get things done. Because on top of the work you're doing in the field to support everyone, you also then have treatment plans and paperwork and documentation that goes along with all of it. So then that falls behind and then you become non-compliant with your job responsibilities, and you become overwhelmed.
According to Muncy, she and her supervisor sometimes took on higher caseloads to keep their caseworkers from feeling overworked. She worried that if she left, she might be leaving some foster families without needed support. But after her supervisor left, Muncy felt she could no longer stay. She left the foster care field on New Year’s Eve—2020—and is now a middle school behavioral health therapist.
Jami Kaeb and her husband Clint have 8 children ages 10-19, including three they adopted through foster care.
KAEB: I see so much turnover in this field, because it is a difficult, difficult job. But imagine a child who has been taken from their home and been removed from everything that they know, even if it was unsafe, it was what they knew, right? So then they meet their caseworker and now this caseworker becomes a person who is safe in their life. Well, when the caseworker transitions and leaves, that feels like a whole nother rejection to this child.
In 2011—the year after they started fostering—the Kaeb’s launched The Forgotten Initiative, an organization to help churches find ways to meet needs in their local foster care communities. There are now 40 TFI groups around the country.
Much of their work involves building relationships with agency workers. Kaeb says that TFI volunteers have written thank you notes for social workers, held appreciation events, and delivered snacks and other gift packages for holidays like Valentine’s Day or May Day.
KAEB: We're not here to meet needs that we think they need. We're here to listen and learn and then take what we've learned, and find creative ways to meet those needs.
Kaeb says that churches can play an important role in supporting social workers in foster care.
KAEB: God calls us to be responsible for those who others often overlook, right? Or to care for those who are often forgotten. And I would say our caseworkers are often overlooked, misunderstood, forgotten. We have a responsibility to be Jesus to each other, to show his love.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Lauren Dunn.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Up next: free speech on campus.
Indiana college students and student organizations have a new tool to protect free speech. Proponents say a new state law will guard against a campus culture increasingly hostile toward unpopular opinions.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb recently signed a bill into law codifying First Amendment free speech protections that currently rely on a combination of Supreme Court rulings.
Joining us now to talk about the law and its broader impact is WORLD’s Steve West. He’s an attorney and former federal prosecutor who now writes about religious liberty for WORLD.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning to you, Steve!
STEVE WEST, GUEST: Good morning, Myrna.
BROWN: Well, Steve, this law does several things, including banning so-called “free speech zones.” What does that mean?
WEST: Many universities and colleges in recent years have relegated free expression to postage-stamp size outdoor areas of campus. And these can be very out of the way places where the majority of students may not even encounter them. Often they also require students or student organizations wanting to set up a table and hand out materials, protest, or speak with people about a hot issue to obtain a permit in advance of their activity. Under court rulings, the schools certainly have a right to put in place reasonable time, manner, and place restrictions, but they have gone much further here, perhaps as a way of silencing controversial groups. So what this law does is declare all outside areas of the campus which are generally open to students also open to expressive activity, putting the burden on the school to demonstrate it has a reason for not allowing activity at a particular time or place or manner.
BROWN: Okay. As I understand it, it also aims to prevent discrimination against student groups with particular religious or political ideologies … or the muzzling of campus speakers. Can you talk a bit more about that?
WEST: In recent years, universities have also attempted to de-recognize student groups who they accuse of violating anti-discrimination policies. By de-recognize, I mean that groups lose access to use of mandatory student activity fees which the groups can use to pay an honorarium to a speaker or certain other things. They also lose access to meeting facilities and campus means of communication. Some universities have insisted, for example, that not only membership in campus groups but the leadership of student groups should be open to all students, and yet they have not uniformly enforced these rules. So what the new law does is say you cannot deny benefits to a student group because of its religious, political, or ideological views–or even because of a controversial speaker it may invite–and allows groups to define who is eligible for leadership positions.
BROWN: Looks good on paper. How will these provisions be enforced? Does the new law have any teeth in it?
WEST: Thankfully, it does. Under this law, students or student organizations have a right to sue the university should it violate the law. They can get court orders directing university officials to comply with the law and even receive, where appropriate, damages of up to $50,000.
BROWN: Steve, what was the impetus for this bill? Why did some lawmakers and the governor deem this necessary?
WEST: Trouble at home speaks loudest. In 2018, Ball State University reached a settlement over free speech issues with the school’s Students for Life chapter in which it agreed to pay more than $12,000 in attorneys’ fees and damages and to revise its student activity fund allocation guidelines. The campus group had sued after the school denied a request for $300 of student activity fees to cover the costs for materials to assist pregnant and parenting students. Revised guidelines now clarify that “funding will not be denied because the recipient of the funds advocates a particular opinion.” And no doubt legislators were also aware of other universities that have faced lawsuits over these issues–lawsuits they tend to lose.
BROWN: Now, Indiana is not the only state to enact such a law, correct?
WEST: No, about half the states have laws dealing with campus free speech issues. Most take aim at free speech zones, but some no further–including a few that go beyond Indiana’s law. Tennessee’s Campus Free Speech Protection Act is probably the most comprehensive. The 2017 law also protects faculty speech in the classroom unless it is “not reasonably germane to the subject matter of the class as broadly construed...” But, you know, laws and court rulings can’t completely remedy concerns over free speech. Changing the culture to one where we are quick to listen and slow to speak is a heart issue, and for that we need help.
BROWN: Steve West writes about religious liberties for WORLD Digital. You can read his work at WNG.org. You can also subscribe to his free weekly newsletter on First Amendment issues, called Liberties. Steve, always good to have you on. Thank you!
WEST: Always a pleasure to be with you, Myrna.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: A restaurant in England is looking for the owner of something a patron left behind, something that could be rather important to him. His teeth.
The Barclay Pizza & Prosecco in Oldham, England posted a picture to Facebook looking for the owner. It showed a plastic bag labeled “teeth” containing a set of dentures.
Workers found it on the floor near the bar area while cleaning up after closing.
Restaurant owner Emma Whelan said people leave all kinds of things behind. They’ve found house keys, phones, even a single shoe! But this was the first time they’ve ever found teeth.
So if you happen to be missing a set of dentures in the Oldham, England area, you know where to look!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 22nd. 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: the night skies.
In the first book of the Bible, Genesis records a conversation between Abraham and the Creator. God used the night sky to make a point. He took Abraham outside and told him to look up. “Count the stars … if you can.”
BROWN: Yeah. God knew how that’d turn out.
Today, in places that are far removed from city lights, with no moon and no clouds, you can see the Milky Way, but you’ll have the same challenge Abraham had.
EICHER: A French astronomer, unwittingly, tried to make that challenge a little more manageable. WORLD Reporter Bonnie Pritchett met up with a group of amateur astronomers to explain.
VOICE: Why don’t you ask what that is? Ask if it’s a nebula.
KEVIN DEVOLDER: Which nebula is it?
TREVOR QUINN: It’s the Orion Nebula.
AVA DEVOLDER: I knew it was a nebula!
REPORTER: How old are you, Ava?
AVA: Five. Five. I’m in kindergarten. My daddy taught me about nebulas…
BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: This budding astronomer, Ava Devolder, and her parents Kevin and Jenny, came to Haak Winery in Santa Fe, Texas for dinner.
That night, dinner included a show.
Three telescopes trained on the night sky provided close-up views of the Orion Nebula and the moon. Members of the Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society set up the star party to introduce guests, and potential hobbyists, to the wonders of the night sky.
VOICE: Beetlejuice is straight up…
The show was relatively brief thanks to a curtain of clouds that unfurled and obscured the views. But not before Trevor Quinn captured an image of the Orion Nebula and kept it displayed on his laptop for guests like Ava.
Oddly, stars don’t take center stage at “star parties.”
TREVOR QUINN: I’ll probably stay on M 42. This is the prime time to be looking at it…
M42. Quinn refers to the Great Orion Nebula by its catalog name. There are 110 objects in the catalog labeled with an M for Charles Messier, a late-18th century French astronomer.
He’s credited with discovering 21 comets. But he’s better known for another list that bears his name.
Astronomy club members Connie and David Haviland explain.
CONNIE HAVILAND: He went looking for comets and found these objects in the sky.
DAVID HAVILAND: (If) they’re not comets. Don’t bother looking at them.
CONNIE HAVILAND: But he would number them. And he came up with 110 objects.
DAVID HAVILAND: Nebulas, galaxies, open clusters, and globular clusters... So, and he came up with his list of things not to look at because none of them were comets. But little did he know he's given us one of the most sought after lists for people to look up.
The Messier Catalog is the go-to list of deep space objects easily found by new and long-time astronomy enthusiasts. The objects now have more imaginative names: Eagle Nebula, Crab Nebula, the Spindle, Whirlpool, and Blackeye Galaxies.
Many can be seen with the naked eye - most with binoculars in the Northern Hemisphere over the course of a year.
But in March and April when the New Moon sets early and the sky is free of clouds and city lights, all 110 Messier objects are visible—if the weather cooperates. Spotting them all in one night is an astronomical challenge known as the Messier Marathon.
GARDNER: It requires you to be up all night from sundown to sunrise, because some of the targets come up just before the sun rises. And you also have to view some of them right as the sun is going down…
That’s Jerry Gardner, director of astronomy at 3 Rivers Foundation. The foundation’s campus in North Texas houses a 30-inch and a 15-inch telescope. The non-profit organization promotes astronomy education. Its location far from light pollution makes it a prime spot for hosting star parties, including Messier Marathons.
For the astronomy purest, there is a proper way of participating in the marathon.
GARDNER: So, you basically have to hunt these targets yourself by star hopping, and knowing your way around a star atlas…
High-tech telescopes with GPS systems can locate each Messier object.
GARDNER: However, this takes a little bit of the fun out of it from, you know, the perspective of a visual astronomer, because the whole point is to be able to find and identify the targets yourself…
And that, David Haviland explains, is why the Messier Marathon is actually a sprint.
DAVID HAVILAND: You've got 110 objects. And if you've got 10 hours of dark, you just do the math - 10 hours times 60 is 600 minutes divided into 110 objects, you've got to be finding an object about every five and a half minutes, five and a half to six minutes…So, for one person to do it, it's going to take it's going to be a heroic effort…
There is another method.
DAVID HAVILAND: The better way to do it is the corporate way, where you have a team effort, a bunch of scopes, and this person's found this object, and they all migrate like mice to cheese. And everybody looks at it, checks it off their list, and somebody else says, Oh, I got this one. And they all scurry over there. But doing it as a collective group is a whole lot more fun than trying to do it singly…
The Havilands have participated in, but never completed, a Messier Marathon. It’s not on their astronomy bucket list. But they appreciate the marathon’s draw of new astronomy hobbyists.
JOEL ZAMARRIPA: Go ahead. Just don’t touch. Don’t touch it…
Before the clouds rolled in, Joel and Julie Zamarripa and their two young sons got a fleeting glimpse of Uranus through Chris Randall’s 18-inch reflector telescope.
Joel Zamarripa has long been enamored by the night sky.
JOEL ZAMARRIPA: When I go back to my hometown there's a stretch of 30 mile, 30 mile drive, about 25 miles of absolute nothing…
One time, along that desolate strip of road, he became distracted – not by what was ahead of him. But what was above him. Zamarripa pulled over. Turned off the engine, got out of the truck and climbed into its bed.
JOEL ZAMARRIPA: And I'm looking up and all of a sudden bright lights and blue and red pull up and a cop comes out and he's like, “What are you doing?” I'm like, looking at the stars. He looks up. He says you're not poaching or you're not hunting. You don't have a weapon on you. I’m like no, like, what are you doing here? I was like, Look up! [LAUGHTER] That’s what I’m doing. It’s so pretty. Just look up.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Bonnie Pritchett in Santa Fe, Texas.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 22nd. 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. Kim Henderson now with a story about motherhood.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: I raised five kids in the second and third rows of a ’97 Chevy Suburban. We bid it adieu with 394,000 miles on the odometer and a science experiment gone bad in the rear. I pitied the new owner should he ever look under the seats.
The truth is, I didn’t like that Suburban too much at first. “How am I going to drive this land yacht?” I questioned, ungrateful minivan lover that I was.
“You’re going to love it,” my husband said confidently, even though I was gathering proof the carport would need an extension. He looked at our children, who were probably hanging from some rafters. “Those legs,” he said, pointing for emphasis. “You do realize they’re only going to get longer, right?”
Leg room. Elbow room. He was whispering sweet nothings in my ear. I could feel myself warming to the new half-ton family addition. Maybe “land yacht” had been a bit harsh.
We had room to change diapers and catcher’s gear and bad attitudes, if needed. So what if my SUV got 15 miles to the gallon? It had a mega tank that could hold 42. I was learning to let go of my love for compact and controlled. I embraced something bigger, something along the lines of that Proverb that weighs the worth of a clean trough against the gains that come with ox ownership.
A daughter who sat second row, center in that Suburban grew up, got married, and happily became great with child. These days showers have themes like “Welcome to the World, Baby.” For decorations, a map stretched out across an easel—a place to post parenting advice. My daughter-in-law picked up a Sharpie and wrote Proverbs 14:4 north of Nashville.
I hope the attendees got the point. Ox, with its plowed field and crops, or spic-and span. Take your pick.
The temptation is to obsess over trough issues—keeping things perfectly tidy, avoiding stretch marks, having sufficient “me” time. What we don’t hear much about is the good that comes from investing your life in something bigger than spotless carpets and your self-esteem.
Raising kids is messy business. They come here with mess clinging to them, and it’s a battle to keep them cleaned up thereafter. They step in things they shouldn’t. Their noses run. They produce approximately 104 loads of laundry per year.
And that’s just exterior maintenance.
But in the midst of all that scrubbing, moms can find the layers that really matter. Here’s the real rub: If caring for our children day in and day out doesn’t make a dent in our obsession with clean troughs, the stain just might cling to us for a lifetime.
So the trough gets dirty, and we clean it.
And the trough gets dirty again, and we clean it again.
And after years of such mother work, most realize that yes, raising kids was messy, but the increase is quite incomparable.
A mom may even decide she has a thing for Suburbans after all.
I’m Kim Henderson.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Washington Wednesday and an update on nuclear talks with Iran.
And, a trip down under to meet a group of bell ringers.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
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: Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. (Proverbs 4:25-26 ESV)
Go now in grace and peace.
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