NICK EICHER, HOST: Good morning!
Today on Culture Friday, we’ll talk about finding new markets and making more money by voluntarily accepting government censorship. Or not.
AUDIO: It’s not worth living in a world where China controls my country’s art [Exclamation in Chinese]
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Nick and I will talk about that with John Stonestreet.
Also today, I’ve got a review of a true-crime series on Netflix that I cannot recommend to your family. But I do want to tell you about how respectfully it portrays a central character who’s a Christian.
AUDIO: One day’s burden is enough for one day. Exactly, ‘one day’s burden is enough for one day.’ I like that! It’s from the Bible.
And we’ll introduce you to a CCM artist who overcame a real struggle with his appearance.
EICHER: It’s Friday, October 11th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Good morning!
EICHER: Now the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Civilians flee amid Turkish assault in northern Syria » Black clouds of smoke continue to billow over northern Syria today as bombs rain down near the Turkish border.
As Turkey continues it’s military assault on U.S.-allied Kurdish forces, thousands of civilians are fleeing the area. Some took whatever they could stuff into vehicles. Others fled on foot.
AUDIO: [Sound from Syria]
The UN refugee agency warned that nearly a half-million people near the border were at risk.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft addressed reporters on Thursday. She said the White House does not endorse the assault.
CRAFT: President Trump has emphasized to the government of Turkey that they bear full responsibility for protecting the Kurdish population and religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring that no humanitarian crisis takes place.
The UN Security Council wrapped up an emergency meeting on the Turkish incursion Thursday. But a divided council failed to agree on a response.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tyyip Erdogan angrily rejected criticism from Europe.
ERDOGAN: [Speaking in Turkish]
He threatened to release millions of refugees into European countries if they try to frame the attack as an “occupation.”
Erdogan said Turkish forces have killed more than a hundred Kurdish fighters so far.
Trade talks resume with China amid friction over censorship and human rights abuses » President Trump says he will meet with a top Chinese negotiator at the White House today. The two sides resumed trade talks on Thursday.
But the Trump administration penalized China for censorship and human rights abuses this week. It restricted the visas of Chinese officials over persecution of religious minorities.
Meantime, Apple has caved to pressure from China and removed an app from its store that Hong Kong protesters used to flag police locations.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said businesses are having a hard time balancing values with profit as they deal with the communist government.
POMPEO: I think American businesses are waking up to the risks that attend to their company. It may seem that it makes profit in the short run, but the cost, the reputational costs to these companies, I think will prove to be higher and higher.
The NBA has bowed to Chinese pressure by apologizing for the pro–Hong Kong remarks of a team executive. China blacked out media coverage of preseason NBA games taking place in China this week.
More fetal remains found in abortionist’s car » Police in Illinois have found fetal remains in the car of an abortionist who died last month. That after finding thousands of fetal remains in his garage. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen reports.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Officers this week searched one of Ulrich Klopfer’s cars and made another grisly discovery.
The Will County Sheriff’s Department announced they found five more plastic bags and a box of medically preserved baby body parts in the trunk.
The deceased abortionist had also stored 2,200 fetal remains in his garage.
The sheriff’s department said the newly discovered remains were packaged and marked like the ones found at Klopfer’s home. The remains appear to be from abortions he performed in neighboring Indiana.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.
Jury sentences Florida in 2018 shooting that revived ‘stand your ground’ debate » A jury on Thursday sentenced a Florida man to 20 years behind bars for shooting and killing another man in a parking lot dispute.
The confrontation happened last July outside a Clearwater convenience store. It started when 49-year-old Michael Drejka, who is white, confronted Britany Jacobs for parking in a handicapped space.
Jacobs’ boyfriend Markeis McGlockton, who was black, shoved Drejka to the ground. Drejka pulled out a handgun and shot him.
Police initially said the shooting was not a crime under the state’s ‘stand your ground’ law. It allows someone to use deadly force to defend themselves.
But video surveillance footage appeared to show McGlockton backing away as Drejka fired the shot.
German prosecutor: Synagogue attacker planned larger massacre » Wednesday’s deadly attack on a German synagogue could have been much worse. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Germany’s top prosecutor said the suspect in the attack had nearly nine pounds of explosives and homemade weapons in his car. And he said the 27-year-old attacker had planned to carry out a large–scale massacre.
The suspect opened fire outside the synagogue in Halle after failing to force his way inside. About 80 people, including 10 Americans, where inside celebrating Yom Kippur.
He posted an anti-Semitic manifesto online and live streamed the attack on a popular gaming site. During the video, he blamed Jews for feminism and mass immigration.
Two people died in the attack. The suspect is facing two counts of murder, nine of attempted murder, and other offenses.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.
COVINGTON: I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: appeasing Chinese censors in America. Plus, the story behind a popular Christian band’s unusual name. This is The World and Everything in It.
BASHAM: It’s Friday, October 11th, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher.
AUDIO: [Sound from Philly game]
This is audio from an iPhone camera of a basketball fan getting kicked out of a game this week. One of the teams on the court is a Chinese team from Guangzhou, the Loong Lions. It’s a preseason game in conjunction with the National Basketball Association, the NBA.
The fan held a sign calling for freedom for Hong Kong. And he yelled a freedom-for-Hong-Kong slogan and that brought about his ejection.
Here’s what’s interesting about this: The game was not in China. It was in Philadelphia. A basketball fan got kicked out of a game in America for expressing a political opinion.
This was right after the NBA forced an apology onto the Houston Rockets general manager for saying “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”
BASHAM: Yeah and in the corner of culture I cover for WORLD—games, movies, and television networks–it’s becoming big news to American consumers how willing companies like Disney and Google are to censor their content to appease the Chinese government. So much so, the irreverent cartoon South Park took aim at them in an episode last week showing Avengers, Pixar, and Star Wars characters getting on a plane to “go to China and get some of their money.”
Here, have a listen to this…
AUDIO: But it’s not worth living in a world where China controls my country’s art.
I don’t care how many people you have. I’ve got something in me that just won’t let me be a part of all this.
Yeah! Whatever it is, I’ve got it too.
I wanna be proud of who we are, guys!
After that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone tweeted out a mock apology making fun of Disney, Google, and the NBA for selling out their principles for the almighty dollar. It said, “Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy.”
Probably no surprise, China scrubbed South Park from the internet there. Not just that episode, but the entire series, any clips, and any mention of the show.
EICHER: It’s Culture Friday. John Stonestreet joins us now. He’s president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. John, good morning.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning.
EICHER: Ironies abound! This NBA game was with the Philadelphia 76ers. A little reminder, something happened in 76 that had something to do with independence, just not Hong Kong independence. So, it seems as far as the NBA’s concerned, it’s 76 for me, but not for thee!
BASHAM: But here’s my question, John, why do we care if China wants to invest in our culture? Isn’t that just free market? Is that a line we need to draw as Christians and if so why?
STONESTREET: Well, I think there’s a question to be had, which is how much do we make somebody else behave before they invest in our culture. The other question is when do we start censoring ourselves to appease values of a country that deeply violates human rights across the board?
And, look, taking their money is one thing. But basically forcing silence on our values because of that is a completely different thing. And the thing about the NBA in particular that I find to be so ironic is how quickly the NBA was ready to boycott North Carolina over bathrooms a couple years ago but bow down to China despite forced abortions, harvesting of organs, the mistreatment of the Muslim Uighur community, and more and more and more.
I think it also revealed for us this celebrity culture that we have. I mean, James Harden quickly tripped all over himself. And there’s a unique tie between the Houston Rockets and China because of the greatest NBA player to ever come out of China—Yao Ming—and James Harden is there. And then Dennis Rodman, of course, weighs in. Hey, trust me, I know a thing or two about diplomacy. I can fix it. Then it just became a comedy of errors. But that’s a whole different point. That has to do with Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death and how sports has become entertainment.
But on the real side, the NBA’s character is showing here. When you compare the reaction to this versus the reaction to North Carolina over bathrooms.
EICHER: Let me ask you this, though, John, because you made that comparison—I thought it was interesting—between the way the NBA treated North Carolina and the way the NBA is kowtowing to China. Are you saying that they ought to kowtow to North Carolina or that they ought to go after China in a negative way?
STONESTREET: Well, in a sense, I think what I’m saying is that money is the thing leading all of this. I think the NBA felt like they had the upper hand financially against North Carolina. But, look, the NBA, the amount of money to be made from China, that’s really what’s driving this. And so what am I saying? I’m saying that A) if you’re going to have a kind of freedom of expression, let’s have it across the board. B) I think there’s a limit to freedom of expression when you’re talking about a nation that is known worldwide for its systemic human rights abuses and is currently in the middle of kind of a repeat of history under Mao. Xi Jinping and this cult of personality, there’s nothing less in line with American values than that.
BASHAM: Well, can we differentiate, too, because I know that a gamer came forward and said, look, this isn’t just Chinese companies. This is the Chinese government investing in American culture companies and that’s something different.
STONESTREET: Oh, completely different. I mean, there’s no such thing as a Chinese company that’s not being driven by the Chinese government. And especially more and more and more these days. This is why the Hong Kong protests have continued to go on because they understand that a threat to their way of life—and of course it was initially started with an extradition law—but the threat to their way of life is going to be a threat to their whole society. It’s an all or nothing thing. I mean, we’re talking about the Chinese government that is going to edit the Bible before it’s printed in their country. And this all sounds vaguely familiar of thou shalt have no other god before me. When that starts happening, the entire culture starts to change. And that’s the realization that—when you’re just making a financial calculation like the NBA is, A) they’re not consistent with their financial calculation, and B) you’re talking about China. And to say that they don’t know what they’re talking about, of course they know what they’re talking about. So it’s a calculated decision to prioritize profit over human rights abuses.
EICHER: Switching gears here to another part of the world, John, and another controversy, the Middle East. We heard the announcement on Sunday that a thousand American troops are pulling out of Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria. And without getting into all the specifics (troop movements, foreign-policy questions), the bottom line is—maybe a bottom line is—that it’s going to leave Turkey with the freedom to smash the Kurds, among whom are many Christians. And that raises a question of international religious freedom and one of the things that America stands for. The Turks hate the Kurds and American troops were standing in the way of a possible slaughter, and now they’re not.
BASHAM: That is one bottom line, but to play devil’s advocate, I saw a funny, well known Christian account I follow on Twitter make a joke about how the president is once again upending norms by “disregarding the beloved American custom of meddling overseas without a congressional declaration of war and then hanging around for another few decades.”
So my question would be, can you help a busy mom who doesn’t have time to delve as deep into this subject as I’d like, understand why we should be there? Why is that good policy?
STONESTREET: Well, it’s a great question. And, to be clear, the president hasn’t just disregarded the CIA’s advice or part of the intelligence community, he’s basically standing alone on this. There’s hardly anyone that hasn’t spoken up, even some of the president’s staunchest allies—Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins. But as we learned from President Obama in Iraq, to do just a quick gut-level, reactionary withdrawal, basically creates a vacuum that’s going to be filled by forces that we don’t like. This is especially true when we’re talking about this particular region in Syria because the Kurds have been one of our most loyal and reliable allies in the fight against ISIS. The Turks want that territory. They want the Kurds gone. They considered the Kurds terrorists. By the way, Turkey is an Islamic-driven government. The Kurds have provided partially an Islamic group. They’ve also provided safe haven for persecuted religious minorities, including Christians. So what’s going to happen now is the Kurds, who have helped us make all the progress that we’ve made with ISIS, are now going to have to turn their attention to basically keeping Turkey from wiping them out. Which means two things. Number one is they’re going to turn their attention from ISIS, when that chaos happens, this is what we have seen, that Islamic terrorism is re-emboldened. It has a chance to re-organize. Also, the Kurds are holding 10,000 ISIS prisoners. There’s not a plan for where those folks are going to go and who’s going to keep them incarcerated and keep them from basically escaping and where this is going now.
So this is a remarkably bad decision. There’s a reason that the voices were uniform in condemning this decision.
The last thing we need to say is, look, the Kurds have been loyal as allies. This sends a message around the world what kind of ally the United States will be in these sorts of situations. So it’s a very ill-advised move. It doesn’t really make any sense on really any level on national policy. It doesn’t make any sense politically speaking in terms of this is not where most Republicans are on this issue, certainly not where a lot of Christians are—like me, that are super concerned about persecuted Christian minorities around the world, this group being one of them.
EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. It’s Culture Friday. John, thanks!
STONESTREET: Thank you.
EICHER: A woman in Pittsburgh called her husband in a bit of a panic. She was driving the family SUV and she smelled something burning.
So her husband recommended pulling over, popping the hood, and carefully having a look.
That’s what she did.
What she found was a bed of grass on top of the engine, along with something like 200 walnuts. And, yeah, that’s what had started burning.
Evidently, squirrels had gathered the nuts from a tree in their front yard and stored them under the hood for what maybe they assumed was safekeeping.
The husband cleared out as many of the nuts as he could, but he couldn’t get them all. So the couple took the vehicle to a local shop, where mechanics found another big stash of nuts under the engine. Thankfully, it never caught fire and the SUV wasn’t damaged.
As for the roasted walnuts, well, that’s a lot of work gone for naught.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
EICHER: Today is Friday, October 11th. So glad you’ve joined us today for The World and Everything in It. Good morning! I’m Nick Eicher.
BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Netflix is keeping up its string of critically acclaimed true crime hits with the new drama Unbelievable.
Now, I’m not one to take reports from the mainstream entertainment press too much to heart. But in this case, the praise is deserved. It deals with the difficult subject of rape by focusing more on the victims than the criminal. The downside is it’s pretty unflinching in its portrayal of how many nonbelievers speak and act. But it’s also a refreshingly authentic portrait of Christian faith.
CLIP: You ever heard of sacred geometry? It’s the belief that things like a honeycomb or a snowflake—those perfect shapes found in nature—are proof of organization by a higher power. That’s not a honeycomb. It’s just a glove.
When Detective Stacy Galbraith became the focus of a bestselling true crime book in 2018, she defined herself as born-again and told the authors how vital her Christian faith is to her work. She described the large, nondenominational church she and her husband attend in Golden, Colorado. And she explained that it’s because of her relationship with God, not in spite of it, that she does a job many might consider unusual for a petite young woman.
“I know He gave me certain strengths,” she said, “so I just have to use them. Even when it’s painful.”
You might expect the edgy, critically acclaimed streaming series based on that book to downplay this part of Galbraith’s life. Surprisingly, Netflix’s popular new show, Unbelievable, doesn’t do that. Instead, it creates a portrait of a modern evangelical any believer would recognize. Like this scene where she explains to a victim why she keeps a note that says, “Here I am, Send Me,” taped to her dashboard.
CLIP: What’s that? It’s just a little reminder. Of what? What I’m doing, I guess. It’s from Isaiah. God shows up, looking for someone to be of service. Clean things up a bit. He says, Whom shall I send?
The story begins with a struggling teen describing her rape at the hands of a masked intruder. Her foster mother doubts her story. The woman’s concern barely rises above the level of gossip. That convinces the police to mistrust the girl as well. After barely looking into her case, they coerce her into recanting and charge her with false reporting. The girl is left isolated and despairing. In the meantime, the rapist continues assaulting other women in other jurisdictions. That’s when fictional detective Karen Duvall, based on the real Detective Galbraith, picks up the case.
Among her sometimes lazy, foul-mouthed colleagues Karen shines like a light in the darkness. At some points, she fits a little too comfortably into the culture and uses the same language, as she says, just to “make a point.” But otherwise, she’s an example of dedication and compassion in the direst circumstances.
And we witness her consistently, yet casually, speaking words of life to her unbelieving partner who sometimes mocks her God.
CLIP: In truth I kind of envy all you God believers. I would love to have that kind of faith. Yeah, I don’t know. The stuff we see. It’s hard enough with God. I don’t know how anyone does it without. Alcohol.
Karen’s Christianity is an integral part of her character. But it doesn’t mark her as naïve or weird or any of the other clichés we typically see in big network and studio productions. Instead she’s tough, relatable, and sharp as a serpent tracking her suspect.
In fact Karen’s so far from not weird, she’s actually—gasp!—funny! Like here when she’s on a stakeout outside the perpetrator’s house.
CLIP: With our luck this guy’s probably got the flu. He’ll be in there for days. Well, I’m okay with that as long as it allows for the possibility of him choking on some vomit. Karen Duvall, that’s not very Christian of you. Read your Old Testament, woman. We’re big into vengeance.
Unbelievable does a tremendous job portraying a believer like Karen accurately. But it also does a good job portraying unbelieving characters accurately. Her partner’s lines are eye-popping for the sheer number of f-bombs they include. And while the nudity we see when the suspect is processed into prison is realistic and hardly appealing in its clinical detachment, the scene could have worked as well without it.
But it’s the quick flashbacks to the rapist’s crimes that perhaps deserve the most warning. We don’t see anything explicit. And the rapid-spliced images are used to illustrate how this kind of trauma continues to assault the victim’s mind. But they’re not for the faint of heart. And they’re certainly worth avoiding for those who don’t feel, as the real Detective Galbraith does, a particular call to grapple with these kinds of ugly realities.
I want you to hear how well this scene captures how a real life conversation might go between a Christian and non-Christian friend at work. Now, I’ve cleaned it up so we can play it here. But this is typical of how their worldviews clash in dialogue and how naturally biblical wisdom enters their conversation.
CLIP: Okay, what is it? You know, it’s all the other sociopaths out there. With their rape kits and their guns thinking, hey, I guess I can do this. You can’t do that. You can’t take on all the bad guys at once. We did a good thing getting this guy. Let it be a good thing. Yes! One day’s burden is enough for one day. Exactly. One day’s burden is enough for one day. I like that. It’s from the Bible. Shut up. Matthew 6:34. Whatever that means.
But you don’t have to watch Unbelievable, and maybe you shouldn’t. You don’t have to see this show to cheer that somehow, miracle of miracles, a mainstream Hollywood production has finally gotten a Christian character right.
AUDIO: [In Christ Alone — Keith and Kristyn Getty]
BASHAM: Today is Friday, October 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. In the late 1990s, a group of students started making music together on a college campus in South Alabama.
And like many other brand new contemporary Christian bands, the members struggled with what to call themselves.
WORLD Radio’s Myrna Brown has the story behind the name, “Big Daddy Weave.”
MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: In 1998, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Mike Weaver studied music at a small, private college in Alabama.
WEAVER: And a great sax player, Joe Shirk was in my music theory class and I showed him some songs and said I really would like for us to play music together.
They added a drummer and a bass player and began jamming on the campus of the University of Mobile.
WEAVER: Somebody wandered by 15 minutes into that first jam session and they were like, you need to come and open up for this group across campus.
The new band had its first gig, but no name.
WEAVER: And then they asked us the question that has haunted us ever since: What do you call your group? And at that point, we could have said anything. They were just looking for a name for the flyer. But we were trying to be cute about it and we said, hey we’re Big Daddy Weave.
“Big Daddy” was Mike Weaver’s nickname, a tool he used to make people laugh and make fun of himself.
WEAVER: But I also would use it as kind of a shield because of my weight and because of my size and actually because of a huge amount of insecurity in my life. Never feeling good enough because of the way that I looked.
As the band began releasing albums and touring under the name Big Daddy Weave, Weaver was often embarrassed and frustrated by the motivation behind the name—his ample girth. In 2009, he decided to go public with his private struggle with weight.
WEAVER: I had a friend in 2008 who did this weight loss challenge and he lost 80 pounds in 2008. And I said, well, if you did that, I’m gonna up you by 10 pounds. And so we’re going to lose 90 pounds in 2009.
With help from doctors and trainers, Weaver says he had one goal: to look different.
WEAVER: Got all the way to the end of the year and had got on the scale and at the end of 2009, had lost 84 pounds, which was amazing. That’s like losing a middle schooler off your body.
But for Weaver, missing the park by six pounds still wasn’t good enough. And in his mind, neither was he.
WEAVER: I could not see any of the good and I just hated myself.
He began spiraling backwards.
WEAVER: I put all the weight back on plus exactly six pounds more. I was punishing myself for missing the goal by six pounds. It was crazy. And then there was this day when I was sitting in my garage.
Consumed with self-loathing, Weaver retreated to the very space dedicated to his physical transformation.
WEAVER: And Jesus intervened and just said, Michael, you need to let me tell you what I think about you for once. And he says, I like the way you smile. And Myrna, at that moment, I could see it. When I looked at pictures of me, I like the way that I smiled, too.
SONG: [REDEEMED introduction]
After that revelation, another reminder that changed Weaver from the inside out.
SONG: [REDEEMED I am redeemed. You set me free]
WEAVER: That day in the garage that little melody began to form in my mind. I am redeemed. And it kind of just lived there for a little while.
Weaver finally put those powerful words to paper. He asked a friend to help him finish the song, that was never intended to become part of a playlist.
WEAVER: A month later he called me and was like, did you ever show anybody Redeemed? I was like no, I just really felt like that was for me. And he goes, man we’ve been playing it. God’s been using here at our church.
In 2012, the Nashville-based musician added “Redeemed” to Big Daddy Weave’s “Love Come to Life” Album. In 2013 it was named Song of the Year.
WEAVER: We got up to give this acceptance speech and then man the enemy was just hitting me with how stupid I must have sounded and looked that entire time. I hated myself worse than I can remember even before.
Then Weaver says he felt the Lord leading him to face his insecurity head on.
WEAVER: And I was like, God you know I’d rather do anything else in the world than watching that acceptance speech. And I watched the acceptance speech and there was nothing wrong with it. And then I got mad at myself and started hating myself for hating myself over the last week (laughter). And then the Lord just spoke so clearly and He said, you need to realize what took you a week, used to take you three months.
Today while Weaver pays more attention to diet and exercise, he is no longer hiding under the shadow of a nickname or measuring his worth by numbers on a scale.
WEAVER: I’m not defined by the way that I look. I’ve been up in my weight and down in my weight and up in my weight and all of those things. But the truth is though, the constant in that story is God’s love for me.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Myrna Brown.