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The World and Everything in It: November 13, 2023


WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It: November 13, 2023

On Legal Docket, due process when police seize vehicles in drug raids; on Moneybeat, America’s creditworthiness and oil prices; and on the WORLD History Book, the Jonestown mass suicide 45 years ago. Plus, the Monday morning news

Pictures of Israeli hostages taken by Palestinian militants being displayed during a demonstration in Tel Aviv. Getty Images/Phto by AHMAD GHARABLI/Contributor/AFP

PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like us. I'm Scott Watson. I listen each day as I drive to Cairn University, a wonderful Christian college in suburban Philadelphia where I'm Associate professor of music. I especially enjoy learning about the economy from David Bahnsen on Mondays and hearing John Stonestreet's take on cultural happenings on Fridays. I hope you enjoy today's program.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning! What are the rules police have to follow to take your car? The Supreme Court considers civil forfeiture.

AUDIO: We know there are abuses of the forfeiture system. We know it because it's been documented repeatedly.

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket. Also today the Monday Moneybeat: Moody’s credit-ratings firm says its outlook on U.S. debt is negative. But is it a meaningful shift? And the WORLD History Book:the shocking day Jonestown cult members drank the poisoned Kool-aid.

AUDIO: All of us on that day were ready to die.

REICHARD: It’s Monday, November 13th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

REICHARD: Up next, Kristen Flavin with today’s news.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, NEWS ANCHOR: Israel-Hamas update » In Gaza, dire reports from Al Shifa hospital as Israeli troops close in on the facility.

The Israel Defense Forces report Hamas terrorists are holed up inside along with critically ill patients with no power and dwindling supplies.

HOSPITAL: They told me that 59 child have passed away because there is not oxygen. And the problem was because of lack of oxygen, lack of electricity.

That’s Mai al-Kaila, health minister for the Palestinian Authority

HAGARI: [Speaking Hebrew] The hospital asked for assistance…

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari says Israel has offered fuel and assistance evacuating sick babies, but Hamas is preventing it from reaching the hospital.

Amid international calls for a cease-fire and pro-Palestinian protests, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press to remind viewers whom Israel is fighting against.

NETANYAHU: People who deliberately targeted civilians, raped and murdered women, who beheaded men, who burnt babies alive, who kidnapped little babies and holocaust survivors, you name it. These are the people that you are supporting.

France protest » Meanwhile in Paris, more than a hundred-thousand people marched to show support for Jews amid rising anti-semitism.


Leaders from across the political spectrum attended, including Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.

Tomer Sisley is an Israeli-French actor.

SISLEY: Everybody comes here and shows that we’re all together. We’re not Jewish, we’re not Muslims, we’re not Christians, we’re French. And we’re here to show that we’re all together.

France has the largest Jewish population in Europe.

APEC Kickoff » World leaders are gathering today in San Francisco for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s 2023 summit where U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are slated to appear.

The two leaders are scheduled to meet this week [on Wednesday] on the sidelines of the summit.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says she has already met with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng.

YELLEN: We do not seek to decouple our economy from China's. This would be damaging to both the U.S. and China and destabilizing to the world.

But Yellen says she did point out problems with China’s economic approach:

YELLEN: A healthy economic relationship requires American workers and firms to be treated fairly. I raised concerns about the breadth and depth of the PRC's non-market policies and practices and their global spillovers.

Still, Yellen said both China and the United States are seeking healthier economic ties.

Mike Johnson budget plan » Meanwhile the U.S. Congress is confronting different money problems. Newly appointed Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson proposed another stopgap spending measure over the weekend.

The proposal includes staggered deadlines for funding federal agencies. A resolution authorizing government spending is set to expire on November 17.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy told NBC’s Meet the Press:

MURPHY: We cannot have a government shutdown this weekend. Certainly not. Well, we are facing these existential crises for our friends in Israel and Ukraine. I don't like this laddered car approach. It looks gimmicky to me, but I'm open to what the house is talking about.

Johnson’s proposal does not include funding the White House has requested to support Ukraine, Israel, and U.S. border policies.

Baby Indi » A British hospital has removed a critically ill infant from life support against her parents’ wishes. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.

JOSH SCHUMACHER: The UK added Baby Indi Gregory this weekend to a list of terminally ill children to whom the government has denied medical care.

Local doctors decided that further care was futile and would only prolong the child’s suffering.

Indi’s parents sought treatment for her in Italy, where a hospital agreed to treat her.

But last week, British judges ordered doctors to remove her life support.

Indi’s case followed a similar pattern as the deaths of 11-month-old Charlie Gard in 2017 and 23-month-old Alfie Evans in 2018.

For WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher. 

Military Crash » The U.S. military says five servicemembers are dead after a Black Hawk helicopter crashed over the Mediterranean Sea this past weekend.

The crash occurred on Saturday during routine air-to-air refueling on a training mission. The military says it has found no indication that hostile forces were responsible. President Joe Biden issued a statement of condolence to the families.

I'm Kristen Flavin.

Straight ahead: What does the constitution require when the government takes private property and keeps it. Plus, the Monday Moneybeat.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Monday, November 13th. And we’re glad you’ve joined us for The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s time for Legal Docket, and joining us this morning, another member of our legal team, Jenny Rough. Good morning!

JENNY ROUGH: Good morning! Yeah, better to write about the law than be mixed up in it.

And by the way, I’ve got a couple of cases today that kinda make that point.

So I’ll start this set of cases from Alabama which have to do with crimes that loop in the innocent. The question in these cases is what should happen when the police seize a car. In legal parlance, the term is, civil asset forfeiture.

All you have to do is Google the phrase and you’ll find plenty of horror stories!

REICHARD: And there are horror stories in both of these cases, too. In our first one, here’s how things unfolded: In February 2019, police pulled over a college student. They arrested him for possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and a loaded handgun. He had no permit for the gun. Police seized the property connected to the drug crime, including the car. Alabama law allows that. The state can seize property used to transport or conceal drugs in violation of the law.

EICHER: Here’s the rub: the car didn’t belong to the college student. It belonged to his mom, Halima Culley. A nurse in Georgia.

A few days later, Alabama police pulled over another man for speeding. They discovered a large amount of meth in the car he was driving. The police took possession of that car, too. Had it towed to an impound lot. Here as well the car didn’t belong to the driver. It belonged to his friend, Lena Sutton.

ROUGH: The state sought a court order to declare the cars contraband and forfeit the cars to the state. That’s also allowed under Alabama law.

If the state wins a forfeiture action in each dispute, it can then sell the cars. Any money from the sale goes into a general fund in favor of a local law enforcement agency. But this doesn’t punish the criminals, at least in these cases. It punishes people who were not convicted of a crime, let alone even charged.

REICHARD: Now, there is a system in place where the car owners can contest the forfeiture. They can raise what’s known as the innocent owner defense. But that takes time and expense.

And during those months of legal proceedings, the owners don’t have access to their cars. You can imagine that would create transportation problems, like getting to work. And it seems to turn the principle of innocent until proven guilty on its head.

EICHER: Here, both women eventually prevailed under the “innocent owner” defense. Culley got her car back after 20 months. Sutton after a year.

The two women then sued state officials in federal court for violating the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. That says a state shall not deprive a person of property without due process of law.

ROUGH: Specifically, Culley and Sutton argue that they’re entitled to a prompt hearing after the state takes their property. That’s known as a retention hearing.

The lower courts sided with Alabama and said the state’s current procedures already provide all the process that’s due. A separate hearing isn’t mandatory.

REICHARD: So the women appealed to the US Supreme Court. Attorney Shay Dvoretzky argued on behalf of the car owners.

SHAY DVORETZKY: The easiest way for a jurisdiction to ensure its laws comport with due process is generally to offer a reasonably prompt post-seizure hearing to allow claimants to raise an innocent owner argument. Indeed, numerous states have done just that, and their experience makes clear that retention hearings are workable and effective.

ROUGH: Justice Clarence Thomas pointed out the car owners had options. They could have taken action to speed things along, but they chose not to.

They could have, for example, asked the court to expedite the forfeiture hearing. They could have posted bond.

REICHARD: Another option: they could have asked the state court to dismiss the forfeiture case without a trial. That’s known as a motion for summary judgment.

The parties did that eventually nine months after seizure in Sutton’s case and in Culley’s case after 19 months.

JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: If you had filed a motion for summary judgment a week after the property had been taken would you be here?

DVORETZKY: I think we would be here.

JUSTICE THOMAS: Why? You would have your property back because you won on summary judgment, right?

DVORETZKY: We won on summary judgment after going through discovery with the state, which, by the way, the state took five months to respond to our discovery requests.

ROUGH: Justice Thomas kept pressing.

JUSTICE THOMAS: If you got your property back, what would be the constitutional problem? What would be the due process problem?

DVORETZKY: If we had promptly gotten our property back in a — measured by days or weeks rather than months or years, then, in that situation, I think we probably would not have a constitutional claim.

Hypothetically the cars would have been returned in a reasonable time. But:

DVORETZKY: Due process doesn't depend on whether a court is going to exercise its discretion to expedite a case. Realistically, courts rarely do that.

EICHER: In holding that the car owners’ claims failed, the lower courts relied on a test called the Barker rule that challenges the delay.

The car owners say that test is the wrong one. They’re asking the Supreme Court to adopt another test — one that focuses on procedure.

Justice Elena Kagan didn’t see much difference.

JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN: They’re both questions about timing. Barker set one timing rule. The claimants here want another timing rule, which is a more- generous-to-the-claimant timing rule.

ROUGH: Attorney Edmund LaCour argued on behalf of the state. He said the other side’s argument cannot be squared with the court’s precedent or history.

Confiscating property involved in crime has long been part of the law, with the government seizing everything from pirate ships to horses to carriages.

And he argued the other side is looking to break from that precedent:

EDMUND LACOUR: Petitioners assert that another post-seizure hearing is required. A mini-trial mere days or weeks after seizure. And in their telling, the federal government and the states have been violating fundamental rights for centuries with no one noticing until just a few years ago.

Earlier Justice Sonia Sotomayor had brought up the policy interests.

JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: We know there are abuses of the forfeiture system. We know it because it's been documented throughout the country repeatedly of the incentives that police are given to seize property to keep its value.

REICHARD: And Justice Kagan followed up on that. She agreed that we now know a lot more about so-called policing for profit.

JUSTICE KAGAN: So if we look around the world and we think there are real problems here and those problems would be solved if you got a really quick probable cause determination, why shouldn't we do that?

LaCour reiterated that Culley and Sutton could have pursued other options to get their cars back more quickly. Also, allowing a retention hearing will cause serious problems for the government.

LACOUR: You will gain speed, but you will lose accuracy. And the stakes are very high in the civil forfeiture context. We have a strong interest as well in making sure crime doesn’t pay. So if you have a less accurate retention hearing … then you’re going to have more property released to criminals, it’s going to possibly be misused again.

Four states have abolished the practice of civil forfeiture. This decision will determine whether the states that still allow it need to rein in the practice.

ROUGH: The second case today stems from the 2016 Republican presidential debates. Perhaps you recall Marco Rubio and Donald Trump sparring over their manhood.


And seriously, their crass comments led to this Supreme Court case. A man named Steve Elster created t-shirts reading: “TRUMP TOO SMALL” and sought to trademark the phrase. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application, because you cannot trademark the name of a living person without his or her consent.

EICHER: Elster argues that violates his right to free speech. The federal circuit court agreed.

Justice Sotomayor pointed out that the government isn’t restricting his speech. He can say or print the phrase as much as he wants. What he can’t do is get the government benefit of trademark protection.

But Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked what if Trump registered the trademark to prevent Elster from expressing the speech? Here’s an exchange she had with Malcolm Stewart, who defended the government’s position.

JUSTICE AMY CONEY BARRETT: Would there be a constitutional problem then? If he then can't express the speech, put it on T-shirts, sell the T-shirts, sell mugs, whatever.

MALCOLM STEWART: If Donald Trump's only motive for obtaining trademark registration and then engaging in limited sales of the goods was to prevent Mr. Elster from selling them, I've never seen a case raising that fact pattern.

ROUGH: As with the civil forfeiture case, the living-person’s name rule is deeply rooted in history, and will likely help inform the court here.

This day ended on a light note. Chief Justice John Roberts congratulated Stewart on his 100th argument before the Supreme Court. And he recalled a spar of his own against Stewart, back when Roberts was an appellate lawyer and the two of them squared off.

Roberts noted that Stewart beat him when the court came out with its decision—with Roberts adding he was only nine votes short.

And that’s this week’s Legal Docket! I’m Jenny Rough.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: The Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Alright, time now to talk business markets and the economy with financial analyst and advisor David Bahnsen. David is head of the wealth management firm, the Bahnsen Group. He joins us now from New York City. David, good morning.

DAVID BAHNSEN: Good morning, Nick, good to be with you.

EICHER: Well, I'd like to start by asking about this story on the credit ratings firm Moody's and its attitude on U.S. debt. It didn't exactly issue a downgrade, but the outlook on the U.S. credit rating was changed from stable to negative. The rating stays AAA, but per the New York Times, it says it's another black mark for the economy. It underscores the threat that's posed by rising interest rates, a mounting debt burden, and a polarized Congress that's been unable to agree on ways to reduce America's budget deficit. Now, is the Times reading too much into this? And in any case, how do you look at a data point like this, David?

BAHNSEN: I don't look at it at all. The S&P actually downgraded the American credit rating, and that was 12 years ago. And so they don't even have a AAA. And they did that in 2011. I think we talked about this somewhere around six months ago, when Fitch, which is the least known of the three credit agencies, did the same, downgraded it to AA+. Look, the default rate on AA+ is 0%. The default rate on Triple A is 0%. So all they're saying is that they're not going to default, which they're most certainly right about. They're not going to default. 

This issue has never had anything to do with our ability to make a payment. Now, some would say, it's not really a great thing if you can make a payment by using deficit spending. And that's a totally separate point from the credit worthiness. Moody's and S&P and Fitch are not supposed to have any opinion at all on how they make the payment. They're supposed to have an opinion on whether or not they're gonna make the payment. That's what credit worthiness is. And to delve into the political about whether there's this dysfunction in Congress, whatnot—which is the only reason the New York Times even ran the story—is not to focus on how high deficits are. Deficits have been this high for 15 years. It's not to focus on how high the national debt is. The New York Times doesn't care about that. It's to try to get a jab in saying because Republicans are being hard to get along with, you know, Moody's made a negative comment. But what is a negative comment? If a teacher gives a student an A+ and says, “But you know, we're kind of worried about how you're going to do next semester,” is any parent going to get upset about that? I mean, it's just a complete non-event from people who shouldn't even have an opinion.

EICHER: Well, David, there's a big regulatory change, and it's coming to the Office of Management and Budget. That's an important White House office that, among other things, scores regulatory costs and benefits. And this change grew out of, if you remember, one of the flurry of day-one executive orders by President Biden. This was a rules change. And those require a few hoops and a lot of time, obviously, but now it's come to fruition. So now the government is changing the way federal agencies consider the value or harm of regulations. And again, quoting the New York Times, “They are going to have to pay attention to economic inequality, climate change, and other data sources that progressive economists have long complained are missing from government analyses.” Now, I think this line puts it best, “They would allow the government to impose more costly regulations for Americans today, in hopes of saving money and lives in the future.” Or maybe, put another way, in hopes of advancing progressive economic goals. How big a deal is this, do you think, David?

BAHNSEN: Well, I think it's hysterical that President Biden was inaugurated almost three years ago, and it just got done now - this sort of overhaul of how they want to look at some regulatory cost. And it's all really kind of very bureaucratic stuff. And it will be effective for about five more minutes. Now, look, if he's reelected, or, or another high regulation president is in office, then perhaps some of this stuff gets extended. But you notice the whole thing that they said they were trying to undo was another regulatory order from the Trump administration that had changed things. And prior to that it was the Bush administration. So this is the problem I have with heavy use of executive orders. And I want to be very clear, this is not a criticism of the Biden administration using it. It's a criticism of the Biden administration using it, and the Trump administration, and the Obama administration, and the Bush administration. You are supposed to handle these things legislatively. If we are talking about real setting of policy, real setting of cost, accountability to Congress–that first branch of government that makes a law–then this should be set at the legislative level. 

To have a president just use the executive order pen to come in and say something, and then it can get redone years later, a few years later, is not the way this was intended. And we've now had several presidents in a row, including the current one, who has tried to do way too much by executive order. This doesn't make any difference in real life. That there is a federal government filled with left wing people wanting to look at income inequality and environmental regulation has been true for quite some time. It's going to be true for some time. And this has no teeth to it. But the problem is, it is allowed to then be used as cover for other studies and other, you know, Google searchable type events that will play out into the future. The only solution, Nick, is to have a smaller state, a smaller use of federal government. This is my pleading with those who are part of the conservative right to realize that the solution to our problems is not asking for more big government.

EICHER: Well, we have talked about the potential for oil prices to spike in connection with instability in the Middle East, David. We're past one month into the conflict. The fighting in Gaza is now into the real dangerous part. Block by block in a densely populated city, trying to surface terrorists who are hiding in tunnels many, many feet underground. We don't know exactly how far underground, but almost always in civilian areas, using human shields as they do. So the troubles are obviously mounting, yet oil prices really aren't moving much at all. Does that surprise you a bit?

BAHNSEN: No, it does not, because I said in the very first weekend after the initial atrocity in which Hamas attacked Israel, that it was going to require an escalation with Iran until this really had substantive impact on supply. Along the way, it could have impact on sentiment, and it did. Oil prices did go up about $4 a barrel. They had been in the low 80s and got up to the high 80s. But now they've come back not only giving that back up, but another few bucks since then, sitting in the high 70s. You notice bond yields have come down about 40 basis points. They had gotten up to about 5%. The long bond tenure is now down to about 4.6%. Now there's a lot of volatility there, that's going up and down. So one listener listening to this Monday morning, it may still be true, and by Monday afternoon, it may not be true. That's just sort of the way bond yield volatility is going right now. 

My point is what are bond yields and oil prices both doing, Nick? They're looking at expectations of economic growth in the short term trying to guess. And right now the bias has gone from more economic growth–which is pushing bond yields higher, oil prices higher–to wait a second, maybe it's going to be slowing down a little in the quarters ahead. By no means recessionary. Oil prices would not hold at $78, and bond yields would not hold at 4.6 in a recession. But it's come down a bit. So bond yields are driving the stock market, and bond yields are driving oil prices, until a supply disruption. That would require a greater Middle East distress than we have right now, primarily one involving Iran.

EICHER: David, just a couple minutes left. Anything else catch your attention last week that we need to know about?

BAHNSEN: Well, I do think that both stocks and bonds continue to reflect a great deal of volatility, and a lot of that volatility stems from uncertainty about the economy. It's nice to see that, I think, both sides are a little exhausted in trying to formulate their economic predictions around their political hopes. I think some people are tired of predicting doom and gloom economically, because they want the current administration out. And I think some are tired of cheerleading for this economy because they like the administration, and clearly this economy doesn't deserve cheerleading. 

We're in a real state of uncertainty, Nick, and that's what I see in financial markets, in bond yields, in volatility, and stock prices. Earnings season is about to end, and earnings are going to be up about five and a half percent year over year - better than expected. Revenues are only up about one to one-and-a-half percent year over year. So companies, again, have done what they do best. They found good margins. They've expanded them, and they've held them. But there's a lot of economic uncertainty that I think you and I will continue talking about week by week for months to come.

EICHER: Absolutely. David Bahnsen founder managing partner and chief investment officer of the Bahnsen Group, you can keep up with David at his personal website and if you want to have a look at his weekly Dividend Cafe, you can find that at David, thanks so much. I hope you have a terrific week.

BAHNSEN: Thanks so much, Nick.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, November 13th.Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

Up next, the WORLD History Book. This week: John Bunyan pens one of the greatest books of Christian literature. Plus, over 60 years ago, a young girl is lost at sea for three days. But first, religious followers in South America meet an untimely end under the influence of their cult leader.

Here’s WORLD Radio intern, Emma Perley.

JONES: Little news is forthcoming from the capitalist press …

EMMA PERLEY, INTERN: On July 3rd, 1978, the congregation of Peoples Temple church gathers around pastor Jim Jones as he delivers the morning news. Audio courtesy of the Jonestown Institute.

JONES: Where does the bourgeois stand on the question of equal rights?

Jones’s congregation has spent four years establishing the Jonestown settlement in Guyana, a country on the northern coast of South America. They are exhausted, overworked, and malnourished. Jones is a charismatic, Marxist preacher who isolates them from the outside world.

JONES: You must participate in the saving and the working and the production here.

Stateside, concerned relatives realize the commune is not what it appears. No one is allowed to leave. On November 14th, Congressman Leo Ryan journeys to Guyana with a news team to assess the situation. But after an altercation with the Jonestown guards, Ryan is gunned down along with four others while boarding a plane out of the country.

AUDIO: Medical evacuation aircraft flew out of Timehri airport this afternoon, eight wounded people, following Saturday afternoon’s shooting that left five Americans dead, including Congressman Leo Ryan.

Terrified that the United States government will now investigate Jonestown, Jones decides to take a drastic step: a “revolutionary death” to protest capitalism. On November 18th, he laces a flavored drink with cyanide and directs everyone to drink it.

Survivor Leslie Wagner-Wilson is spared from the massacre. Audio here from her interview with Daily Blast Live two years ago.

LESLIE WAGNER-WILSON: That morning there was a feeling in the air of quietness, almost surreal. All of us on that day were ready to die.

Over 900 people die from the poison cocktail, and only 85 escape Jonestown alive. And the legacy of the event produces the popular catchphrase of “drinking the Kool-Aid,” where people go along in blind obedience to someone or something.

Next, on November 16th, 1961, another story of a brave survivor. Sailors in the Bahamas catch sight of an 11 year-old girl floating on a lifeboat, severely sunburned and dehydrated. Her name is Terry Jo Duperrault. Audio here from a DoxNM Documentary.

AUDIO: She just floating on the ocean was very near death when she was picked up.

On November 8th, the Duperraults set off on a small sailboat named the Bluebelle with Captain Julian Harvey and his wife Mary. A few days into the trip, Captain Harvey makes an unusual decision to sail at night. Here’s Terry.

TERRY: We were all excited because we thought wow, sailing at night, we hadn't done that. And it was, seemed like a very nice, you know, friendly evening and everyone was fine.

Suddenly, Terry awakes to her brother screaming for help. She rushes above deck to see Captain Harvey standing over the bodies of her mother and brother. Harvey then scuttles the ship by opening valves in the hull. And he escapes in a dinghy. As water floods in, Terry scrambles to find a lifeboat.

TERRY: I knew the boat was going down, and it was do this or die.

Terry drifts in the open ocean for three and a half days without food or water. The lifeboat is so small that she is forced to sit up the entire time. And throughout it all, she prays for rescue.

TERRY: The cold was just terribly miserable …

After Terry is rescued, she learns that Captain Harvey was picked up a few days earlier. She’s told there are no other survivors. Police arrest Harvey, but he commits suicide just days later. For years, Terry grapples with the death of her family.

TERRY: I didn't believe my father was dead because I had not seen him, until I was about 35, and I accepted it finally.

She credits her strong faith in God for coming to terms with the ordeal. And now, Terry has a loving family of her own.

TERRY: I hope that I can just continue to be healthy and happy and you know, have the wonderful love that I share with my family.

Finally, the inspiring history of a beloved Christian novel written over 350 years ago.

On November 12th, 1660, police arrest John Bunyan for unlicensed preaching. Audio here from Church historian and pastor Dr. Steven Lawson.

STEVEN LAWSON: He was a powerful preacher. He was uneducated. And God does have those men that were never trained and yet they rise above their generation, because the hand of God was so powerfully upon them.

While behind bars, Bunyan begins to write Pilgrim’s Progress, an allegory about the Christian life. A pilgrim named Christian journeys from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, encountering danger and struggle. Along the way, Christian stumbles upon a place called Vanity Fair—a place full of temptation and sin. Audio here from the 1978 Pilgrim’s Progress feature length film.

NARRATOR: But then, from across the nearby hills, came the sounds of Vanity Fair.

EVANGELIST: Go, you are in the world, but not of the world.

Many aspects of Bunyan’s time in prison are reflected in the book. The Slough of Despond resembles Squitch Fen, a boggy area near his cottage. Evangelist, who helps and counsels Christian, is based on his longtime friend and pastor John Gifford. And the House of the Interpreter is St. John’s Church, where Gifford also preaches.

Pilgrim’s Progress is a celebrated and widespread success after publication. Since then, dozens of popular authors reference Pilgrim’s Progress in their own works, from Charles Dickens and C.S. Lewis to Nathaniel Hawthorne and John Steinbeck.

That’s this week’s WORLD History Book. I’m Emma Perley.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Ohio voters made their state the 25th to legalize recreational marijuana. How did we get to this point? We’ll talk to an expert. And, the spectacular fall of a LGBTQ-affirming church in Seattle. That and more tomorrow.

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

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: “I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.” —Psalm 119, verses 46 through 48.

Go now in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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