The World and Everything in It - March 4, 2022
On Culture Friday, Ukraine’s real-life heroes; the new movie featuring Gotham’s Caped Crusader, The Batman; and on Ask the Editor, a question about why we cover ‘lite’ news stories. Plus: the Friday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
Today, a clear, good-versus-evil moment in world history is unfolding before us. We’ll talk about the heroism of ordinary Ukrainians.
NICK EICHER, HSOT: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.
Plus the latest adventure for the Caped Crusader. We’ll have a review of the new movie, The Batman.
And Ask the Editor.
BROWN: It’s Friday, March 4th. 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: Bipartisan calls growing for ban on Russian oil imports » Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for a ban on the import of all Russian oil and energy in the United States.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski told reporters…
MURKOWSKI: No more Russian energy should come into the United States for the duration of this bloody, horrifying, and unprovoked war.
Many Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, agree.
PELOSI: I’m all for that. Ban it. Ban the oil coming from Russia.
But the White House says while the administration is committed to punishing Russia, it wants to do so in a way that won’t hurt American consumers. Press Secretary Jen Psaki:
PSAKI: We don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy. That would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people because it would reduce the supply available. It’s as simple as less supply raises prices.
U.S. gas prices averaged nearly $3.73 a gallon Thursday. That’s up almost $1 from a year ago.
Last year, Russian oil accounted for about 8 percent of all oil and refined products imported into the United States.
Russians besiege crucial Ukrainian energy hub » Meantime in Ukraine, the Russian military is focused on energy as well. Vladimir Putin’s forces battled for control of a crucial energy-producing city in Ukraine's south on Thursday.
Fighting raged in Enerhodar. That’s the site of the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe. It accounts for one-quarter of the country’s power generation.
But Russian forces also continued to hammer major cities. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
KIRBY: What we see is an attempt on multiple lines of access by the Russians to seize major population centers, obviously Kyiv, the capital city, being the main one that they’re after. But they’re going after these major population centers.
A massive armored convoy is still parked outside of Kyiv. And Russia is still launching missiles at cities and civilian populations.
In ongoing diplomatic talks, Russia has yet to show any real interest in ending its invasion. But Russia and Ukraine did reportedly reach a tentative agreement to set up safe corridors inside Ukraine to evacuate citizens and deliver humanitarian aid.
U.S. Supreme Court to allow defense of Ky. pro-life law » The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled almost unanimously that Kentucky’s attorney general can continue to defend a pro-life law that a lower court struck down. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: After Kentucky passed a law in 2018 banning dismemberment abortion, the state’s only abortion facility sued.
When Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration took office, it stopped defending the case in court. But in 2019, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, stepped in to argue the case.
A lower court ruled that he wasn’t allowed to intervene so late in the process, but on Thursday—in an 8-to-1 ruling—the Supreme Court disagreed.
The ruling means Cameron can ask the appeals court to rehear the case. If it says no, he may end up back before the justices—this time arguing the merits of the law, rather than his right to defend it. Dismemberment is the most common method of second-trimester abortions.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Ex-officer cleared in shooting during Breonna Taylor raid » A Kentucky jury on Thursday found a former police officer not guilty on charges that he endangered neighbors the night he fired into Breonna Taylor’s apartment during a botched drug raid.
Jurors delivered their verdict for Brett Hankison just hours after hearing closing arguments. One day earlier, Hankison took the stand in his own defense, describing the frantic events from his perspective.
HANKISON: So at that time I could see—may I stand up, judge? [Judge: You may]—So I could see in the hallway, and I could not tell if it was a male or a female, in a shooting stance at the ready here …
In March of 2020, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he thought the police were intruders and opened fire, striking one of the officers.
Brett Hankison fired at Walker, but multiple bullets passed through a wall and into a neighboring apartment.
Hankison did not fire any of the bullets that killed the 26-year-old Breonna Taylor.
Alabama man first convicted of seditious conspiracy in riot » An Alabama man pleaded guilty Wednesday to seditious conspiracy for his actions leading up to and through last year’s Capitol riot. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has that story.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Thirty-four-year-old Joshua A. James pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and is the first person connected to the incident to be convicted of the rarely used charge.
He acknowledged getting into a physical altercation with a police officer while inside the Capitol and participating in a plan to use force to hinder the transfer of presidential power.
He also pleaded guilty to a charge of obstruction of an official proceeding.
James is a U.S. Army combat veteran who earned a Purple Heart for service during the Iraq War.
He faces potentially decades behind bars, but given his lack of criminal history and cooperation with investigators, he’s likely to receive a more lenient sentence.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Ukraine’s everyday heroes.
Plus, Ask the Editor.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, March 4th, 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.
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: John, now that we’re all rightly paying attention to Ukraine, I think it’s clear enough that a major theme is the heroism of ordinary people. It’s heartbreaking to watch a country attacked so mercilessly—this is war-crime-level stuff, targeting civilians like this—but at the same time it’s inspiring to behold the resolve of the Ukrainian people in these early days of this conflict.
It’s an interesting cultural phenomenon, really, that true adversity tends to bring out the best in a people. Are you seeing that?
STONESTREET: Well, yeah, I think it brings out both the best and the worst. And that's one of the hard things about navigating some of these challenges.
There are things that people would never be guilty of doing—grave evils—if they had never been given the opportunity. There's a lot of wisdom there, isn’t there, in Joseph, when being tempted day by day by Potiphar’s wife, eventually realized he wasn't going to say no, and just got out of there.
Geography has a lot to do with morality, I think, sometimes where you find yourself in the opportunities that you have. But it is inspiring to see not just everyday people in Ukraine, pick up arms, you know, newly married couples, new parents, saying goodbye to kids. Just really incredible things. I mean, this is the stuff that we make movies about now having to do with Dunkirk, or, you know, something in World War II, you know, standing up against the British or, you know, some sort of call to national defense and honor.
And we just, first of all, we don't have a kind of a civics curriculum in America, that necessarily endears us to our own history. So if we have it, we get it elsewhere. And we think of that sort of heroism as a thing of the past.
But you know, here's the thing we got to watch, though, Nick, to your point into your question, is, we have a really clear idea, I think most of us do, who the good guys are and who the bad guys are in this fight. And it's a danger then to think that our good guys can do no wrong and their bad guys can do no right. And we're going to have to keep that kind of up close and personal. It doesn't mean that everyone's on the same moral grounds. You can believe that we share some level of moral guilt without being, you know, ambiguous at all on who the aggressor is who is completely unjustified in his vision of ruling and tyranny and invading a neighbor and who are the victims of that. We can be very clear eyed on that.
But you know, this is why Christianity is so good. Christianity is not just true in its individual tenets, like Jesus died, and rose from the dead, and the Bible's true, and things like that. But the Christian worldview has an explanatory power, particularly about the human condition that we’re made in the image of God and susceptible to self deception, self rationalization and grave acts of evil all at the same time. And no other religious worldview has that sort of solid grounding that explains both human goodness and human evil, the human propensity for grave acts of heroism and grave acts of tyranny—sometimes even the same people. And we've seen that throughout history. So Christianity is a worldview that makes sense of even things like this.
EICHER: I was struck by something in the president’s state of the union this week—again, rightly starting by addressing the Ukraine situation, having the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States in attendance, but it felt like it undermined the seriousness of the moment to pull into the same speech sort of boutique culture-war concerns with a plug for the Equality Act and highly unpopular abortion legislation that couldn’t even attract a majority vote this same week.
This is the kind of stuff that pulls at the fabric of society, and I thought of this piece by Kevin deYoung this week at WORLD Opinions, saying, and I’ll quote, “the life most of us enjoy today is not normal—not normal in society and not normal for millions of people around the world. The more we recognize its abnormality (and our blessing), the better equipped we are to preserve this civilizational inheritance for ourselves and pass it on to our posterity. If we fail at this task, future generations will never know these blessings.”
Are we failing at this task?
STONESTREET: Oh, good heavens, yeah. I mean, the level of privilege on display, in other words, the level of kind of historical anomaly that you'd have to have reached in order to even have the conversation that the Equality Act implies—much less the terrible timing of it being thrown into a speech that was clearly, you know, ‘before I'm off the air and out of energy, let me see how many issues I can just pile into the same bucket and promise that I'm going to fix the world,’ which is really my quick, very, as you can tell, somewhat cynical view of the speech.
You just have to be at a special place in history to even have the debates that we have. And it just kind of violates common sense in so many ways. And to begin by essentially taking credit for the heroism of the Ukrainian people, which was really the tone that the president struck that while he began talking about the right things, what he talked about, and trying to turn it into some sort of personal accomplishment was not appropriate at all.
Yeah, we are failing at the task. And one of the signs of a culture that's lost its way is the inability to prioritize, to make distinctions between those things that are noisy and those things that matter. So yeah, I think it's a good indication that we've lost our way.
BROWN: We haven’t talked since the president named Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee for the Supreme Court. There will be time to talk more about her, but I found it interesting that from 2010 to 2011, Judge Jackson was on the board of a Christian school in Maryland that had a statement of faith pretty similar to what we have here at WORLD. It included statements on the sanctity of human life and the sanctity of traditional marriage. Now, when this came up in a confirmation hearing less than a year ago, she suggested she didn’t really know about the content of the statement of faith and didn’t agree with it. But does it make you feel a little better about her likely confirmation to the court that maybe she’d have some level of respect for the religious freedom of the school founders?
STONESTREET: No, not really. You know, at some level, I guess I am far more confident on those who are very clear on where they stand on issues. Now, maybe she legitimately has changed your mind. She's a highly credentialed, highly experienced justice. She has great academic credentials, of course, those academic credentials would traditionally be understood to be endorsing a worldview that would be counter to anything that respects religious liberty, as we need to define it in order to preserve the freedom of conscience, you know, going forward.
But this particular part of the story about the Christian school, I think there's two things. Number one, that the cultural mood on religious liberty, especially as it pertains to issues of sexuality, has shifted. And to assume that because one agrees with us here, they agree with us, here, here, here, here—or even agreed with us 10 years ago, or five years ago, they still, I don't think anybody can make that assumption anymore. And that kind of goes to the second thing, which is if back in 2010, 2011, a Christian school was not really concerned whether its board was up to speed on its statement of faith and everything that it implied. And I don't know, by the way, if this is a, you know, retelling of history, by the Justice, or whether this was a legitimate drop of the ball from the Christian school, who knows? I don't know. But you have got to be as explicit as possible. On a statement of faith at the board, staff, student faculty level, you have to be as explicit as possible. You've got to make all of those connections. And by the way, you've got to connect statement of faith issues to statement of behavior issues. And you have got to be really clear on how the faith that you say you believe in informs the lifestyle standards you expect from your employees. And as it pertains to schools, to students as well.
So I think, you know, without trying to analyze what's really behind this, I think it's clear where her judicial philosophy is, where she stands on issues of religious liberty. I think that part no one's really doubtful about. I think, though, what this does tell us is that Christian institutions need to be thoroughly Christian, and the days of kind of lying low and, and hoping that you won't get in trouble and no one will target me. Those days are way over.
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: Well, as problems go, this is what we’d call “a good problem to have.”
A Pennsylvania high school senior is trying to figure out where to go to college.
Brianna Maddonni has a 4.0 GPA, she plays varsity lacrosse, she coaches youth sports, she works 2 part-time jobs and applying for scholarships has become another part-time job.
She told TV station WPVI:
MADDONNI: I revised my college essay several times and I applied to all the scholarships that I could. It just feels like all my hard work really paid off.
It paid off in a very big way.
She’s been offered more than $1 million in scholarships!
Brianna believes at least part of her success is due to her openness about her genetic hearing loss. In her essay, she talked about her struggles to get past what other students would think of her and begin wearing her hearing aid in class. (And she was clearly listening.)
Now, the million dollar question: Not which college will accept her, but which college she’ll accept?
It's The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, March 4. 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: a new Batman hopes to leave his mark on the Dark Knight franchise.
Here’s reviewer Collin Garbarino.
COLLIN GARBARINO, REVIEWER: The Batman, opening in theaters today, stars Robert Pattinson as the billionaire Bruce Wayne, the man who spends every night stalking Gotham City’s streets fighting crime in a black cape and cowl. This reboot features one of the bleakest takes yet on the character, but it might also be one of the best.
Batman: Fear is a tool. When that light hits the sky, it’s not just a call. It’s a warning.
In this film, Bruce is still at the beginning of his career as Batman. He’s adopted the vigilante persona for two years, in an experiment to see if he can make a difference in a city drowning in crime and corruption. But living as a nocturnal creature and fighting a hopeless battle against vice has turned him into a friendless recluse.
Bella Reál: Mr. Wayne, you know you really could be doing more for this city. Your family has a history of philanthropy, but as far as I can tell, you’re not doing anything. If I’m elected, I want to change that.
Gotham City was always a dangerous place. But the façade of law and order begins to crumble when another vigilante who calls himself “the Riddler” starts to murder corrupt city officials. He leaves notes behind for the Batman—notes that hint at an even bigger mystery behind the city’s depravity.
Voice: The Riddler is asking for you.
Alfred: The killer left this for the Batman. Why is he writing to you?
This version of the Riddler is a darker version of the Dark Knight himself. Bruce starts to lose himself as he questions everything he knows, and Alfred, played by Andy Serkis, is the only friend tethering him to reality.
Alfred: Accounting friends at Wayne Enterprises are coming for breakfast.
Bruce: Here? Why?
Alfred: Because I couldn’t get you to go there.
Bruce: I haven’t got time for this.
Alfred: It’s getting serious, Bruce. If this continues, it won’t be long before you’ve nothing left.
Bruce: I don’t care about that. Any of that.
Alfred: You don’t care about your family’s legacy?
Bruce: What I’m doing is my family’s legacy.
I found Pattinson’s performance surprisingly good, though he adopts the same gravelly voice used by many of his predecessors. We don’t see much of Pattinson as Bruce Wayne because he spends almost the entire three-hour run time behind the mask. Yes, I said three hours. The movie probably didn’t need to be this long, but it doesn’t drag.
Director Matt Reeves deftly uses the extra minutes to introduce the audience to a host of Gotham’s other denizens. And all the actors play their parts well. John Turturro plays mob boss Carmine Falcone. An unrecognizable Colin Farrell plays an Oswald Cobblepot who’s still waiting to hit peak Penguin. Jeffrey Wright plays one of Gotham’s only honest cops, James Gordon. And Zoë Kravitz shows up as Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman.
Catwoman: Maybe we’re not so different. Who are you under there?
The film is rated PG-13 for strong language, violence, and drug content. The drugs are fictitious, but Gotham’s seedy underworld feels all too real. The aesthetic is dark, with almost all the scenes taking place at night or in dimly lit buildings. This might be the most somber Batman movie to date, but thankfully it wasn’t as brutally violent as Christopher Nolan’s trilogy.
The movie’s unadorned title strikes me as appropriate. It signals Reeves has taken the character back to basics, creating a film that in many ways captures the original vision behind one of America’s most beloved superheroes. Depictions of Batman in film and television have run the gamut from silly campiness to brooding seriousness, so people are often surprised to find out that when The Batman debuted in 1939, his adventures featured gritty, dark storylines. And he wasn’t primarily a superhero swinging into action. The Batman was the DC universe’s greatest detective—a man who first and foremost relied on observation, science, and his own superior rationality—like Sherlock Holmes in a cape.
RIDDLER: It can be cruel, poetic or blind. But when it’s denied, it’s
violence you may find.
This film revives those earlier aspects of the character. Batman doesn’t simply fight bad guys. There’s a mystery at the center of the story he must unravel. We see Batman in detective mode throughout this film, looking for clues and interviewing suspects, relying on his brain as much as his brawn. The Batman isn’t just a superhero movie. Reeves honors the character’s roots by paying homage to film noir and the hardboiled detectives of the 1930s and 40s.
Batman: I’m vengeance.
I’ve always thought of Gotham City as a metaphor for our fallen world without the gospel. A world of darkness can’t produce light, so instead it creates a dark enforcer to administer an imperfect justice. Darkness and violence are Batman’s tools for restraining the darkness and violence of Gotham City. In this movie, we get a glimpse of life’s futility. Batman fights against it with cold rationality, struggling to understand love. But in the midst of the darkness, there’s a glimmer of light. By the end of one very dark night, Bruce comes to realize vengeance won’t save the world, but maybe hope will.
MUSIC: ["The Batman" from ‘The Batman’ soundtrack]
I’m Collin Garbarino.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, March 4th. 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. Coming next, our Executive Producer for WORLD Radio answers a blunt question from a listener. Here’s Paul Butler.
PAUL BUTLER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Last month we ran a 6-minute feature on Australia’s Great Ocean Road. A few days later we got an email from a listener who took exception to the story. Here's part of what he wrote:
Is the World and Everything in It, living in reality???..it is hard for us to continue to listen to this nonsensical reporting of “news”.
Times are changing…Do you really want to be known for running “tourist” pieces on Australia during this time in history?
Do some investigative reporting.
First of all, I understand the reaction. In light of Australia’s draconian COVID restrictions, the story may have seemed out of place and we probably could have done a better job setting it up. Plus, this listener felt that by covering this story we weren't addressing a more important one. A story he was passionate about and that added to his frustration. So that raises the question, why do we cover lite stories at all, when there’s so much hard news to follow every day?
First a little about the program. The World and Everything in It is what we call a “magazine format podcast.” We explore a wide range of topics—from breaking news to human interest stories.
Our program is divided into four major segments. The first two focus on the news of the day. We begin with a 6-minute newscast on the most breaking news, and then follow that up with 10 minutes of features and interviews—providing deeper exploration and analysis. Together, these two segments cover the obligatory news.
The second half of the program usually includes a humorous news story, a human interest feature, and a commentary. For these discretionary features, we have freelancers all over the world who submit stories from their own backyards.
We believe that everything in the world is the Lord’s. God has given us wonderful gifts—for our delight and for His glory. And with that in mind, I accepted Amy Lewis’s piece on an interesting part of Australia that most of our listeners have probably never heard of. Amy and her family emigrated to Australia last year so her husband could teach at a Bible school there. She’s in the process of discovering her new home and taking our listeners along with her on that journey.
I scheduled her piece as part of our occasional “Destinations” series. I picture these stories as opening the mailbox and finding a friendly postcard from somewhere unusual or exotic. And these pieces aren’t about tourism, they’re about our Creator. Here’s how Amy ended her piece:
LEWIS: “The psalmist put it this way, ‘Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music....Let the sea resound and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.’ Reporting from Australia’s Great Ocean Road, I’m Amy Lewis…
So everyday we attempt to live up to our name: The World and Everything in It. That includes war in Europe, religious liberty struggles in Canada, American politics, as well as rock formations, waterfalls, and the surprising Redwoods of Australia.
And as to the encouragement to do “some investigative reporting.” Well, we do. Here are a few recent examples from WORLD Radio: Kim Henderson worked for nearly a year on her Truth be Told series on abuse. We’re currently in the midst of the third season of Effective Compassion. With that, last summer we sent three reporters across the country to cover poverty fighting—and their investigations can be heard right now in our 10-part series on prison ministry.
Looking ahead, we’ve spent the last year and a half investigating thoroughly what really happened to Terri Shiavo for our upcoming 14-part True Crime series: Lawless. And that starts March 31st. And I would like to commend the excellent investigative work done by our magazine and digital staff available online and in print.
So as the Executive Producer for WORLD Radio I can assure you that we will continue to look for more ways to expand our investigative reporting—but we will also continue to include stories that take our eyes off the current problems of the day, and inspire our readers and listeners with the beauty of God’s creation and His work in the world.
I’m Paul Butler.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s time to thank our excellent team:
David Bahnsen, Anna Johansen Brown, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Collin Garbarino, Katie Gaultney, Kim Henderson, Onize Ohikere, Mary Reichard, Josh Schumacher, John Stonestreet, Cal Thomas, Emily Whitten, and Whitney Williams.
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.
Jesus said, I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 ESV)
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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