The World and Everything in It: May 25, 2023
Montana’s TikTok ban faces legal pushback; TGC’s Collin Hansen extols the late Tim Keller’s consistent focus on Christ; and going backstage at a theater in Branson, Missouri. Plus, a gang of delinquent orcas, commentary from Cal Thomas, and the Thursday morning news
PREROLL: This is The World and Everything in It brought to you by listeners like me. Hi. My name is Teresa Wegner, nurse from Austin, Texas, and I would like to thank my brother-in-law Russ for introducing me to this program. It’s one of the many ways he has been a blessing to me and to my family. Hope you enjoy today’s program.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning! Montana takes on a popular social media company, but what about the legal blowback?
AUDIO: It's an honor for me to bring you Senate Bill 419, a bill to ban TikTok in Montana.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Also, looking at the life and legacy of the late pastor Tim Keller through the people who influenced him. Plus, backstage drama in our occasional series, What Do People Do All Day?
AUDIO: Normally, you don't even notice us. You’re not supposed to, we change the clothes.
And WORLD Commentator Cal Thomas on the disruptive optimism of presidential candidate, Senator Tim Scott.
REICHARD: It’s Thursday, May 25th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Good morning!
REICHARD: Time for news with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: DeSantis » Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made it official last night.
RON DeSANTIS: I’m Ron DeSantis and I’m running for president to lead our great American comeback.
He released that online video announcement at the same time he joined Twitter CEO Elon Musk to announce his campaign in a live audio stream.
After three straight disappointing national elections for Republicans, DeSantis said his promise is a simple one, if Republicans nominate him:
DeSANTIS: You can set your clock to January 20th, 2025 at high noon. Because on the West side of the US Capitol, I will be taking the oath of office as the 47th president of the United States. No excuses. I will get the job done.
The 44-year-old Republican also fielded unscripted questions from Twitter users.
He joins a field of more than a half-dozen declared Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, Sen. Tim Scott, and former Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Debt limit » President Biden and Republican leaders are—quote—“still far apart” in debt ceiling talks, but both sides are working to calm fears over any potential default on U.S. debt.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierrre says the talks remain productive.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: The conversations continue, which is what matters. And the focus is on what the leaders said themselves, what Speaker McCarthy and what the president said as well, which is default is off the table.
And Speaker Kevin McCarthy echoed those remarks on Wednesday:
KEVIN MCCARTHY: We are working night and day. I would not, if I was in the markets, be afraid of anything in this process. We will come to an agreement worthy of the America public. And there should not be any fear.
The sticking point ahead of a June 1st deadline remains the same. Republicans want to reduce overspending before agreeing to borrow more, while Biden and other Democrats do not.
Battle for Bakhmut » The head of Wagner mercenary group says 20,000 of his men have died fighting for Russia in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
U.S. National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby:
JOHN KIRBY- the main takeaway is that this, this offensive in Bakhmut, it's come at a terribly high cost to Russia.
Russia disputes the death toll, saying only 6,000 of its troops have died in the war as of January. It also claims the nine-month battle for the Bakhmut is over.
But this Ukrainian commander is saying here that Russia has destroyed the city, not taken it. Part of it is a grey zone with troops still fighting.
Russia-China » Meantime, Russia says pressure from the West is forging a closer bond between Moscow and Beijing. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.
JOSH SCHUMACHER: Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin sat down with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing Wednesday.
His visit comes as Russia increasingly turns to China for support, as it grows more isolated from the rest of the world.
Mishustin said relations between the two countries are “at an unprecedented high level,” due to what he called the "pressure of illegitimate sanctions” from the West.”
China says it is a neutral party between Russia and Ukraine and wants to help broker an end to the conflict. But it has repeatedly defended Russia’s interests and helped Moscow subvert sanctions.
Typhoon » Residents of Guam are cleaning up the island after Typhoon Mawar lashed the U.S. territory with 140-mile-per-hour winds yesterday.
Meteorologist Brandon Bukunt:
BRANDON BUKUNT: We’ve encouraged people to seek shelter in reinforced concrete buildings and away from the coastline due to larger storm surges in some areas. We’ll get through this but there will be a recovery process.
The strongest part of the Category 4 storm hit the northern section of Guam yesterday and most of the island lost power.
Tina Turner » Longtime pop superstar Tina Turner has died. Turner topped the charts for decades with hits like 1984’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”
SOUND: [What’s Love Got to do with It]
She sold more than 150 million records worldwide, won 12 Grammys, and was voted along with her ex-husband Ike Turner into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Turner died after a long illness in her home in Switzerland. She was 83 years old.
I'm Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: banning TikTok in Big Sky Country. Plus, the spiritual legacy of Tim Keller.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Thursday the 25th of May, 2023.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Up first: TikTok versus Montana.
While lawmakers in Congress debate mitigating the dangers of the social media platform, Republicans in the Treasure State have taken action.
Here’s state representative Shelley Vance back in March:
SHELLEY VANCE: It's an honor for me to bring you Senate Bill 419, a bill to ban TikTok in Montana.
BROWN: Supporters said the bill is needed to protect the data privacy of U.S. citizens from the Chinese-owned company and its handlers in the Chinese government.
But skeptics say that the bill poses a direct threat to the First Amendment right to free speech by blocking access to the social communication platform.
REICHARD: After the Legislature passed the bill, Governor Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law last week. The opposition response was swift.
A group of TikTok personalities based in Montana filed a lawsuit within hours of the signing ceremony. The company itself then filed its complaint against the state on Monday.
BROWN: Well, what’s at stake in this conflict between lawmakers and influencers?
WORLD legal reporter Steve West joins us now to talk about it. Good morning, Steve.
STEVE WEST, REPORTER: Good morning, Myrna, good morning Mary.
BROWN: Steve, what are the competing interests in this group of cases?
WEST: Well, in the findings that preface the Montana law, there's a focus on national security, on data privacy, and even on the protection of minors from damaging content, something we've heard about lately. Now in their lawsuit content creators focus on economics on how this ban would deprive them of significant income as a result of the content they post. TikTok, of course, in their lawsuit would also lose, say they also would lose income. But more than that, they don't want to be faced with a patchwork of states, some allowing TikTok, some not. And they say they want to protect this forum for people to promote their political and social views and find shared interests. So they're really focusing on the laudable sort of good things that they say TikTok does for folks and not on the bad stuff that we've heard about.
BROWN: What legal arguments do the Montana citizens and TikTok bring to the table?
WEST: Yes, well, free speech tops the list. Of course, most content creators and Tiktok lead off with that constitutional right, which which they have and say the state has no compelling interest in national security and no proof that the Chinese government is mining data from Tiktok users. They also say that the federal law preempts state law on this issue, and that if any government is to legislate in matters of national security, then it ought to be the federal government. And they both say it also violates the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, arguing that states shouldn't be able to interfere with the free flow of goods and services in the country. And then finally, in an unusual argument, tick tock attorneys dig deeper in the Constitution. They argue that by focusing the law on tick tock, tick tock alone for punishment, the state has issued an unlawful bill of attainder which is banned by the Constitution.
REICHARD: Steve, I assume state lawmakers considered these grounds for potential lawsuits when drafting the bill. What did they do to make sure it would be constitutional?
WEST: Well, you know, they had to know, of course, that they would be challenged on this, making it effective January first of next year may be a clue that they knew that there were some things that were going to happen before this would take effect. I'm not aware of how it was reviewed legally. But I suspect they believe that the reason they have for this national security, among others, is compelling enough. And, you know, at this point, no less restrictive approach is available to them other than to ban it. The governor did ask for some modest changes before it went forward. But that ship had already sailed. So they didn't make it into the bill as passed. He signed it anyway.
REICHARD: So what’s next in this litigation?
WEST: Yeah, this is not one of those lawsuits, that is sort of moving ahead as if there's some emergency since that law doesn't take effect until January 1 of next year. So likely the challengers will want to be heard on motions to block the law from going into effect called motions for preliminary injunctions. That won't be immediately, but it will likely be sometime early this summer. And then a judge could combine the two cases for efficiency, because many of the arguments, of course, are the same, the interests are, are pretty much aligned between the content creators and TikTok.
BROWN: We know the harms and security risks of TikTok. Steve, do you think Montana’s law is the best approach to fight that?
WEST: Yeah, I don't think this is the best approach. And I think more than that free speech experts don't think it will survive. It's about as restrictive as you can get as a complete ban on TikTok, for one thing, and the national security risk is long claims but short on detail. So it's hard to really support this in court. Much of the stuff about national security, they're not going to have access to it also singles out one platform for punishment that's unusual, and seems unfair picking sides allowing competitors, the competitors of TikTok an advantage. So a real national security problem that begs for a federal response, perhaps a comprehensive law on data privacy would be the better approach.
BROWN: Well, Steve West is a legal reporter for WORLD. Thanks for bringing us this story!
WEST: It’s been my pleasure. Thank you.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Up next: the spiritual legacy of Pastor Tim Keller.
In June 2020, Keller made a startling Facebook announcement. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Over three years he battled the disease while continuing to preach and write. That battle ended on May 19, 2023.
Before it ended, Keller recorded a video message to younger pastors, casting a vision from Jeremiah 45:verse 5.
TIM KELLER: Forget yourself, forget your reputation. Do what you can to lift up God's name. Seek thou great things for thyself. Even New Yorkers, of course, all New Yorkers are seeking great things for themselves. No, no, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.”
BROWN: Joining us now to talk about Tim Keller is Collin Hansen. He’s Editor in Chief at The Gospel Coalition, and the author of Timothy Keller: His Spiritual and Intellectual Formation.
Collin, thanks for joining us.
COLLIN HANSEN: I'm so glad to be here. Thanks for having me on.
BROWN: Collin, for those not familiar with the ministry of Tim Keller, can you give us a synopsis of how he served the church?
HANSEN: Well, where do you begin with somebody like Tim Keller? He died at age 72, and you go in a lot of different directions in terms of his accomplishments, and his contributions to the church. You could look at his starting of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, a place that he started in 1989. You could look at his international reach through the church planting ministry that he helped to start, that's Redeemer City to City, tremendous influence there. I was blessed to work with him for a number of years because he was the co-founder and longtime vice president of The Gospel Coalition, reaching around the world with digital ministry and conferences and, and things like that. But of course, many of the people listening now we're going to know him primarily as one of the most podcasted preachers, not only in his lifetime, but continuing after his retirement in 2017, and, and until his death, and also known him for his many, many best selling books, starting with two of the first to hit the New York Times Bestseller List. That would be The Reason for God, his work on apologetics as well as The Prodigal God, his interpretation and application of the parable of the prodigal son, or as he would like to call the parable of the two sons. So that's even just a start in some ways, but that helps you to understand a little bit of an overview of his of his life and his contributions.
REICHARD: And you mentioned briefly that Keller founded a church that at its peak had over 10,000 attendees. Based on what you know, Collin, how did Keller finish the race? I can think of other megachurch pastors who burned out or fell into unfaithfulness.
HANSEN: Tim was very focused even from a fairly young age—I was just talking with some friends and colleagues about this—on succession. And so he did a number of things even as a multi-site congregation and even as an innovator in that genre to mitigate some of his particular influence. For one thing, he recognized that he was not a very good manager, so he empowered executive pastors to be able to provide a lot of the day to day leadership of the church. Also, he did not do any video venue preaching. And so through the different places, he'd fly across Manhattan, you know, to get across there to move from the east side to the west side to downtown. And they also did not announce where or when he'd be preaching. So you just went to church, and that also that mitigated against a lot of the celebrity culture. He really did not enjoy that part of his ministry, it did not come naturally to him. And he resented some of it, because after 2008, a lot of visitors from out of town would want to come hear from him, they'd want books signed. It's not that he disliked that, per se, it's just that he really had moved to New York to try to reach skeptics with the gospel. So he was always focused on communicating that gospel of grace, and just, as I mentioned, in my book, he was more interested in reaching those skeptics on the Upper East Side than he was interested in selling books in Nashville. Nothing against Nashville, it's just not what his focus was.
BROWN: In the preface to your book, you explain that you’re focused on the perspective of Keller’s influences more than on his influence over others. What’s the difference and why does it matter?
HANSEN: There's a couple of reasons I took that approach. One of them is, and the most important by far is that Tim didn't like to talk about himself. It's hard to read a biography about somebody who doesn't like to talk about themselves, then you're not looking through journals or diaries or, or things like that. But he loved to talk about others. I don't mean in gossip, he loved to talk about what he was reading. He loved to talk about who he was learning from. He loved to talk about his college professors, his seminary professors, his one personal mentor Ed Clowney of Westminster Theological Seminary, who, to whom he succeeded in some ways, teaching at Westminster. So that was a major reason why I wrote the book that way, because that's the way he talked. The second is simply because I started that book about three years before he died. We didn't know how long he would have. We didn't know how his story would end. And so that was one thing, you can't really write a biography when you don't know the person's full life. The other reason is because I was so close to him, worked with him, a close colleague of his, and so that means that I wasn't really the person to write that kind of critical biography of him. And so I leave that to others. I trust that in time, others will take up that charge. But I really wanted to focus on the kind of book that he would want to see a book where he got to credit people like Jonathan Edwards, and CS Lewis and Ed clowny. And Barbara Boyd, and Elizabeth Elliott, and all those people that he loved to learn from.
REICHARD: Collin, wrapping this up, was there a piece of advice or encouragement that Keller gave you, or that you came across in his writing, that’s stuck with you?
HANSEN: Yeah, there's kind of an interesting bookend. The first time I ever heard Tim Keller preach live, was at the first meeting of The Gospel Coalition. He preached in 2007. He preached on gospel centered ministry. And he gave one of the most famous messages that I know of, and basically just said, the Bible is not about you; it's about God. And when I was writing his biography, my wife understood how anxious I was about this work. And she said, "Collin, it's not about you. It's about God ultimately, and it's about honoring this man, and his wife, Kathy," who served him so well over so many years. That's just, that's the name of the game in ministry is one of the only ways you endure well as you talked about earlier, you gotta understand, it's not about you. It's all about Jesus.
BROWN: Collin Hansen is the Editor in Chief at The Gospel Coalition. Collin, thanks for joining us today.
HANSEN: Thanks for having me.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: A pod of orcas started ramming boats near Europe in 2020. Since then, the whales damaged many boats and even sank three of them.
Despite their nickname, killer whales are usually peaceful towards humans, but some scientists believe at least one orca has a chip on her shoulder.
AUDIO: One of our hypotheses that is that one orca suffered a traumatic event and she only wanted to stop this boat. And right now this behavior is spreading.
Earlier this month, a man named Greg Blackburn was out on his boat when a mama orca and her calf started ramming into it. He eventually made it back to port and repaired the damage, but this may not be the end of it.
GREG BLACKBURN: It's definitely teaching, which is quite unnerving as a sailor, but to see the next generation now is learning, it's obviously going to be a continued habit within this pod.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, May 25th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we thank you for that! Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
Coming next on The World and Everything in It: one in our occasional series called What Do People Do All Day? This time, people working in live theater.
A lot happens behind the scenes. Sometimes it gets a little chaotic. Set changes, lights, sound, and costumes.
REICHARD: WORLD Associate Correspondent Leah Johansen went backstage near my neck of the woods here in the Ozarks to talk with a person who can change one outfit to another in mere seconds: a professional costume quick changer.
LEAH JOHANSEN, REPORTER: It’s a Wednesday afternoon at Sight and Sound Theater in Branson, Missouri. The stage is hidden behind a thick, ornate curtain, deep jewel tones and gold trim.
SHOW BEGINNING: The Author’s hand is in every detail. Because what you are about to see is my story.
As the curtain rises, it reveals massive two-story set pieces, the ancient city of Susa.
SHOW BEGINNING: In the days when King Xerxes was seated on the throne.
This is a production of Queen Esther, the latest musical here at Sight and Sound. But what is happening on the stage is just one piece of the puzzle.
Backstage, there are dozens of people working to keep the show running smoothly.
CJ McELHINEY: Normally, you don't even notice us. You’re not supposed to, we change the clothes.
That’s CJ McElhiney. She works with costumes during the show, all 1400 costumes.
McELHINEY: I lead a team of 3 dressers to make all of the quick changes happen backstage.
A quick change is what happens when an actor has less than three minutes to change their costume.
McELHINEY: We have 55 actors, 257 quick changes, in 9 different locations that they could change plus their dressing rooms. That means the dressers walk about four miles a show.
Sometimes, an actor has a lot of time to make the change. Or they only need to swap their shawl or their jacket. Other times, it's not that simple.
McELHINEY: It's not just put the costume on and zip it up. It's put the custom on zip it, Make sure the shoulders are attached, snap it, get her wrist elastics on, put the collar on, put the headdress on, magnet it to the wig, then send her over to put on her makeup.
The theater does about 10 performances every week. McElhiney is backstage for each one.
McELHINEY: So these are the costume carts, and we've got the undergarment and then an overlay and then the vest that snaps on at the shoulders.
There’s a lot going on backstage, so every quick change has to be precisely planned out and practiced.
McELHINEY: So typically we spend one to two days on quick change rehearsals, nine to 10 hours a day.
But all the rehearsal time in the world can’t guarantee perfection.
McELHINEY: That is a big part of my job, is to think about the worst case scenario and then be ready for it. You know something’s gonna go wrong, it’s just a matter of what it is and what’s the best way to keep the show going on so that the audience has no clue.
Sometimes, there are bigger problems than a broken zipper. Last year, the theater performed the story of Jesus. In one of the shows, the lead actor ran into some trouble.
McELHINEY: One day, he came running off, got undressed. We got the top on and then look down and he did not have his pants on.
The actor was wearing shorts, but he’d forgotten to put on his costume pants.
McELHINEY: So they're super tight fitting. So to get it on, we have to soak it in vodka, otherwise it is not slick enough and it just gets stuck on his sweat.
On top of that, the actor only had a minute and 23 seconds before he had to be back onstage.
McELHINEY: So, I had to sprint to his dressing room, grab them, douse them in vodka and pull open the legs. Had to get that on and then put the shorts that he wears over top of it and we made it. But it was insanely fast. Those are the moments that I love when things happen at our job. It’s when something goes wrong, that’s the adrenaline rush, of like, okay, this is when I get to see what I’m made of and what my team is made of.
The adrenaline rush isn’t the only thing McElhiney loves about her job.
McELHINEY: We find that as dressers, we are the main people that the cast talks to during the run of a a show because they’ll they’ll run off stage from a scene and if it’s been the best work they have ever put on the stage or if it totally bombed, we as dressers are the ones who are right there as they’re getting into their next costume, so we see them in a state of vulnerability.
That vulnerability means that there has to be a lot of trust between the actors and the dressers.
McElhiney and her team try to find opportunities to pray for the actors during every show.
McELHINEY: Yes, they’re Bible stories but there's there's so much weight to what they're telling, to get to come alongside them and support them backstage and really pray over them before they go on to do some of these difficult scenes.
Sometimes, the actors don’t even know that McElhiney is praying for them in that moment. Just like the audience has no idea what is going on backstage, unseen.
McELHINEY: And, it has opened my eyes to the love that God has for every single one of us. Whether or not I am noticing the people around me, he always is.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leah Johansen in Branson, Missouri.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, May 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Of the Republicans who’ve jumped into the presidential race so far, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a heavy-weight. Even so, WORLD Commentator Cal Thomas says there’s a candidate worth watching for his disruptive optimism.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: It’s been a while since we’ve heard the kind of optimism contained in Republican Sen. Tim Scott’s announcement of a presidential run.
Scott chose a different narrative from the usual gloom and doom. Instead of talking about overcoming, he overcame. He said he had gone “from cotton to Congress” and embraced “victory over victimhood.”
How’s this for inspiration: “We live in the land where it is possible for a kid raised in poverty by a single mother in a small apartment to one day serve in the People's House and maybe even the White House."
Echoing Ronald Reagan, Scott added: “America is the city on the hill. I'm living proof that God and a good family and the United States of America can do all things if we believe.”
Predictably, he took some rhetorical shots at President Biden: “America is not a nation in decline," but under the president he said, it has become "a nation in retreat."
In 2020, Scott introduced a serious police reform bill. Democrats opposed it. Sen. Dick Durbin used a racially charged word when he claimed Scott’s bill was a “token, half-hearted approach.” It was nothing of the kind, but the partisanship is so deep in Washington that neither side will give credit to the other for anything reasonable and workable.
Scott has said he believes “racism is alive,” but he doesn’t dwell on it. Again, from his announcement speech: “When I cut your taxes, they called me a prop. When I re-funded the police, they called me a token. When I pushed back on President Biden, they even called me the N-word. I disrupt their narrative. I threaten their control. The truth of my life disrupts their lies!"
Scott has an impressive $22 million in campaign cash and some early endorsements, including Senate Republican colleagues John Thune and Mike Rounds. Thune calls Scott “the real deal.”
The problem for Scott and other current and future GOP presidential candidates can be summed up in two words: Donald Trump. The former president has an enormous lead in every poll, but circumstances can rapidly change in politics. Trump’s current and future legal troubles might result in a loss of support, but his loyalists have not abandoned him yet. It seems unlikely they will switch to someone else no matter what happens.
Unlike Trump, Scott seems disinclined to indulge in personal attacks.
During a town hall meeting at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire earlier this month, a questioner asked Scott about President Biden’s age and what some critics have said is his “frailty” and “mental fitness.” Scott didn’t take the bait, preferring to criticize the president’s policies.
Scott will do well on a debate stage. And one of his core issues – school choice – ought to appeal to those inner-city voters who want to get their kids out of failing public schools. The question is whether those voters, who have largely voted for Democrats in the past, will try something and someone different.
I give you the words of Max Homa from The Golf Channel: “If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you’re getting.” He was talking about the right way to grip a club, but his statement would fit in Scott’s campaign.
I’m Cal Thomas.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Tomorrow: Questions for John Stonestreet from WORLD Journalism Institute students. And, Disney’s remake of A Little Mermaid is finally in theaters, but is it any good?
That and more tomorrow. I’m Mary Reichard.
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 Psalmist writes: “My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.” Psalm 119, verse 123
Go now in grace and peace.
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