The World and Everything in It — October 29, 2019

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning! A major retailer has given families a new tool that allows them to filter out objectionable content on its video streaming platform.

HARMON: To see one of the largest companies in the world, to see them step into the debate, it felt like it’s the, the next step to this becoming mainstream.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also an update from Texas on the battle over parental rights and transgenderism.

Plus, an evangelical response to abuse in the church, with a defense of orthodox doctrine on the roles of men and women.

And Andrée Seu Peterson with some advice on writing well.

REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, October 29th. 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: Now the news with Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Former Trump admin official stands up House Democrats » Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will vote this week on formalizing Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. She said the move is meant—quote—“to eliminate any doubt” about the process. Republicans have complained that the full House has not voted on an impeachment probe. 

That news followed another clash Monday between Democrats and the White House over witness testimony. A former Trump administration official defied a House subpoena. Charles Kupperman was a deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton. He did not show up for a scheduled closed-door deposition. 

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters…

SCHIFF: If this witness had something to say that would be helpful to the White House, they would want him to come and testify. They plainly don’t. 

The White House insists past and current senior officials have legal immunity from House subpoenas. 

Kupperman’s attorney said he’s waiting for a federal court to clarify whether he’s legally required to appear.

Schiff said rather than get caught up in long legal battles over testimony, House Democrats may build their case around those no-show witnesses. He said they’ll write articles of impeachment “based on obstruction” of justice. 

Meantime, Republicans, like House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, continue to blast Democrats’ handling of the inquiry. 

SCALISE: The fact that Adam Schiff still goes on this drumbeat of these secret, behind closed doors impeachment proceedings. You know, they’re trying to hide from the public what’s really happening in there. 

He accused Schiff of selectively leaking information. 

Al-Baghdadi mission came together quickly after receiving “actionable intelligence” » President Trump on Monday accused Schiff of the same. 

The president did not give top Democrats in Congress advance notice of Sunday’s military operation targeting ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It is customary to give Congressional leaders a heads-up before major military missions. But the president said he didn’t trust Democrats, particularly Schiff, not to leak word of the mission to the press. 

And we’re learning more details about that military operation.  

The White House first learned on Thursday there was “a high probability” that al-Baghdadi would be at a compound in northwestern Syria. By Saturday the president had “actionable intelligence” and military options on his desk. 

The mission came together quickly, but Defense Secretary Mark Esper said it was a long time in the making. 

ESPER: This operation was the culmination of a multiyear interagency effort to find him, and then capture or kill him. 

After troops cornered him in a tunnel, al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest rather the be captured. But Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Mark Milley, said the soldiers did capture other ISIS operatives. 

MILLEY: There were two adult males taken off the objective alive. They’re in our custody. 

A short time later, a U.S. airstrike in northeastern Syria killed a high-ranking ISIS spokesman. 

California firefighters battle hundreds of blazes » Firefighters are working overtime across the State of California, trying to beat back wildfires, both small and large. Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters on Monday…

NEWSOM: Many of you may not be aware that we have put down over 330 fires just in the last 20 hours. 

Major fires are still raging in Northern California’s wine country. And on Monday morning, a destructive blaze broke out in the wealthy Sherman Oaks neighborhood in Los Angeles. 

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said they’re throwing everything they have at the fire. 

GARCETTI: We have now over 1,100 firefighters on scene battling this blaze. Since sunrise, we’ve added to the helicopters, which were working all night—of course fixed wing laying down fire retardant, and also working water on the line.

About 200,000 Californians are still under evacuation orders, mostly in Sonoma County just north of San Francisco. 

N.C. judges block state congressional map » North Carolina judges on Monday blocked the state’s congressional map from being used in the 2020 elections. 

The panel of three Superior Court judges issued a preliminary injunction preventing elections under the district lines, starting with the March 3 primary.

The judges said a lawsuit accusing Republicans of unlawfully gerrymandering district lines is likely to succeed. 

They halted the use of these districts less than two months after they struck down state House and Senate districts. The court ruled that the political manipulation of those districts also crossed legal lines. 

E.U. agrees to Brexit delay as U.K. prime minister seeks early election » The UK’s exit from the European Union is on hold once again. The EU agreed on Monday to delay Brexit by another three months—until January 31st. 

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said it didn’t take any arm twisting. The 27 EU ambassadors in Brussels quickly agreed to the extension. 

BARNIER: It was a very short and efficient and constructive meeting, and I’m very happy the decision has been taken. 

The UK Parliament forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for the delay.  

Johnson is now pushing for an early election as a way of breaking the political deadlock. British lawmakers voted Monday on a motion calling for a general election on December 12th. 

Two hundred 99 legislators voted in favor of the motion. But as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow explained, that fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. 

BERCOW: Because the majority required has not been reached, the nos have it. 

But the prime minister said he’s not giving up and that voters must have a chance to replace what he called “this dysfunctional Parliament with a new [one] that can get Brexit done.”

JOHNSON: We will not allow this paralysis to continue. In one way or another, we must proceed straight to an election. 

Johnson said the government is bringing forward a bill to permit an early election. Unlike Monday’s motion, a bill only needs a simple majority to pass.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a retail giant launches a family friendly streaming service. Plus, an evangelical leader considers the factors that contribute to abuse in the church. This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: It’s Tuesday the 29th of October, 2019. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: the battle over filtering objectionable content.

Have you ever gathered the family together for movie night, only to find that the film you wanted to watch had some un-family friendly content? Objectionable language, violence, or adult situations?

Technology makes it possible to remove all that. But some studios don’t like it when a tech company alters content. One-by-one they’ve shut down almost all of these companies by using claims of copyright infringement.

REICHARD: Now, one of the largest retailers in the world is jumping into the filtering fray. This, even as another filtering company loses its fight with a Hollywood heavyweight. Here’s WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Last month, video streaming service Vudu made an announcement. The Walmart-owned platform said it would launch its own content filtering service called Family Play. 

Family Play will let customers skip or mute sexuality, violence, substance abuse, and offensive language. So far, Vudu is offering the service on more than 500 PG and PG-13 titles. Movies like “Avengers: Endgame,” “Aladdin,” and “Elf.” 

ELF: Bye, buddy. I hope you find your dad!

Thanks, Mr. Narwhal.

Tim Winters is president of the Parents Television Council. The PTC advocates for policies that protect families from graphic TV and movies. Winters says Vudu is tapping into a consistent demand from customers of all backgrounds. 

WINTERS: It’s not only parents with children because it’s also some adults who just have no desire to see explicit content. Across the political spectrum, I’ve noticed that parents who are more liberal politically tend to essue violence. Parents who are more conservative, they tend to be more concerned about the sexually explicit material and the profanity. 

In the last 10 years, more than a dozen start-ups have offered content filtering services. But until Vudu’s announcement last month, there were only two filtering companies left standing: ClearPlay and VidAngel. 

WINTERS: I think there were 14 different companies at one point in time that were out there trying to provide filtering service technologies. All of them shut down because of, of being sued by the Hollywood studios.

Utah-based VidAngel has managed to keep its doors open since 2013. It’s offered a variety of ways to filter content. Its most recent model filters content on streaming platforms. Neal Harmon is VidAngel’s co-founder and CEO. 

HARMON: We’ve offered a new service that allows us to skip stuff on, on your Amazon account or on your Netflix account.

It works like this: When you sign into your Netflix account and select a movie, VidAngel redirects that movie through its system. Then it applies all the filters you’ve chosen and streams the movie back to your screen. 

But last month, a federal judge in California ruled against VidAngel in its legal battle with Disney and Warner Brothers. The judge said VidAngel violated the studio’s copyrights because it didn’t have their permission to filter their films.

The ruling bars VidAngel from filtering any work owned by a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of the two studios. The judge also ordered VidAngel to pay more than $60 million dollars in damages. 

Neal Harmon says the ruling eliminated a third of the content his customers could filter. 

HARMON: So all of the new Amazon originals and Netflix originals titles we can do, we can do Universal Studios, we can do Paramount, we can do Lionsgate, Sony… Most of the studios didn’t sue us. It was just Disney and Warner brothers that sued us. And so they were a big chunk of the market.

Harmon says VidAngel will challenge the ruling at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. And he’s willing to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. 

Attorney David Quinto represents VidAngel. Before that he represented the Academy of Motion Pictures for nearly 30 years. Quinto says content filtering doesn’t violate copyright law under the 2005 Family Movie Act. He argues the law allows for parental controls over film content. 

QUINTO: We think the stream-based method clearly is legal. Especially in that it’s providing a service that Congress clearly authorized. Congress clearly wanted American families to have the right to watch filtered content in the privacy of the home. 

So far, Vudu’s Family Play has avoided legal action from movie studies. Vudu says that’s because it worked with studios to develop its filtering feature. The service is similar to VidAngel’s but with less customizable filters. 

VidAngel’s Neal Harmon believes the sheer size of Vudu’s parent company, Walmart, could be a game-changer for filtering services. Hollywood has deep pockets to fight legal battles. But so does Walmart. 

HARMON: To see one of the largest companies in the world, Walmart, and Vudu, a wholly owned subsidiary of Walmart. To see them step into the debate and step into the battle and offer the service it was just a huge relief. It felt like it’s the, the next step to this becoming mainstream.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

NICK EICHER: Next up on The World and Everything In It: gender dysphoria and parental rights.

You’ve likely heard about a custody case in Dallas involving a 7-year-old boy named James Younger.  His mother insists James wants to be a girl. His father disagrees. Eventually the courts got involved.

MARY REICHARD: The custody dispute was decided last week. Here with an update on this shocking story is WORLD correspondent Katie Gaultney. 

Katie, the details of this case are enough to make a person’s head spin. But big picture, this isn’t just about one little boy, is it? What’s at stake?

KATIE GAULTNEY: You’re right about that. The stakes are high. James’ dad, Jeff Younger, is a believer, and he said that if the court permanently restricted his ability to treat his son as a boy, it would set a terrifying precedent. For one, parents would lose their rights to teach traditional Christian doctrine on sexuality and gender. And from a practical standpoint, he’d lose his right to call his child by his real name and sex-appropriate pronouns. It’s wild. 

REICHARD: Okay, let’s back up. Refresh my memory on some of the details here. The mom is dressing her son as a girl? 

GAULTNEY: Right, and she’s actually gone further than that and may try to go even further as the years go on. James’ mother, Anne Georgulas, is a pediatrician, and she says James has told her since age 3 he wants to be a girl. So she dresses him as a girl, has his teachers, school friends, everybody, call him by the name “Luna.” Basically everyone in his life treats him like a girl when he’s at school or with his mom. She’s taken James to a gender therapist who suggested that her son may begin hormone-blocking medications in a few years—around the onset of puberty—to delay his growth into an adolescent male. Now, he’s 7, so puberty may be many years off, but the implications in the meantime for her ex-husband, Jeff Younger, are huge. Especially since she has sought legal action to compel Jeff to call James “Luna” and “affirm” him as a girl. 

REICHARD: And the dad maintains James does not want to be a girl, right? 

GAULTNEY: Exactly. Dad Jeff has said all along that when James is with him, he’s all boy, rough and tumble, sword-fighting and playing with trucks and that kind of thing. And vehemently refusing to wear dresses. Family friends back him up on that. Jeff said his faith compels him to teach James about the way God made him, as a boy, and he can’t pretend that his son is anything but male.

REICHARD: So this dispute went to trial this month. What happened? 

GAULTNEY: Well, in short, James’ mom had the resources to bring in several expert witnesses. Her attorneys made James’ dad out to be a control freak who doesn’t care about his son’s best interests. Jeff Younger’s attorneys lined up witnesses to testify that James acts like a boy, and Jeff’s a great dad who wants to do what’s best for his son. After hearing testimony from both sides, the jury recommended that Anne get sole conservatorship of James. That would give her the sole ability to make medical decisions on his behalf. 

REICHARD: Katie, let me stop you there for a second and just say: Texas? This is actually happening in Texas? On some level we see the erosion of traditional values on the coasts, but Texas stands in my mind as a bulwark of conservatism. Am I wrong?

GAULTNEY: Yes and no. Certainly this is, in many ways, the buckle of the Bible belt. But then again, Mary, Dallas has been a blue dot in a largely red state for many years. Following the jury’s decision, there was such an outcry from Jeff’s supporters that Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the state’s attorney general vowed to look into the case. State lawmakers have promised to introduce legislation in the next session that would prohibit the use of puberty blockers in cases like this, where the mother and father don’t agree. And prominent figures around the country, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, have condemned the jury’s decision.

REICHARD: So what recourse does the father, Jeff, have at this point? 

GAULTNEY: That’s actually one surprising turn of many in this case. While the members of the jury made their recommendation that Anne get sole conservatorship, the judge had the final say. And she thankfully decided to maintain the current arrangement of joint custody. She also required joint decision making over all medical, dental, and psychiatric care for James and his twin brother. So, both parents would need to agree to the use of puberty blockers or other aspects of a “medical transition.”

REICHARD: Well, I’ve seen these contentious proceedings between divorced parents, and I have to wonder if this is really the end. 

GAULTNEY: I have the same doubts. It concerns me that the mother was able to make such headway, coming so close to having a court require her husband to treat his son as a girl, making steps toward him transitioning medically, and tying his hands when it comes to teaching Biblical truth. Time will tell how or if this case has an impact in the transgender movement. But it’s important to remember that at the heart of this is a little boy who has to be hurting with all this confusion and discord. 

REICHARD: Absolutely. Let’s make a point to pray for James—and both parents. Katie Gaultney, thank you for bringing us this report.

GAULTNEY: You’re welcome, Mary.

NICK EICHER: Eric Reynolds recently retired as a policeman in South Florida where he worked as an evidence expert.  

But his life changed abruptly, when someone else discovered DNA evidence about him

At first he thought it was a scam.

REYNOLDS: I’m reading the email and it says hey, hello, my name is Dave Stull, and according to 23andME, we’re half brothers. And it says not only that, but we both live in Florida and we’re both cops.

Stull was adopted as a baby 51 years ago and, for the first time this month, met his younger half brother.

STULL: It was pretty special. I mean I was like a kid looking out the window watching for the car to come down the street.

And Reynolds said he barely slept the night before. He had so many questions to ask.

REYNOLDS: How, why, what … Where have you been? What have you done for 51 years of your life while I was living mine?

Reynolds says it’s like having a new best friend. They’re planning a trip together next summer, saying “We’ve got 50 years to make up for!”

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: Today is Tuesday, October 29th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to get the day started. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It, a theological question: Is the position known as complementarianism to blame for abuse within the church?

Let me explain what “complementarianism” is: It’s a theological proposition that asserts men and women are both created in God’s image. They are the same in dignity and worth, while distinct in function—specifically within the church and the home. Those sex specific roles complement one another, and hence the term.

REICHARD: The Southern Baptist Convention addressed allegations of sexual abuse cover ups over the summer.  Some pundits and religious leaders suggested the SBC’s support of “complementarianism” is a fundamental cause for the abuse. 

Recently, theologian Albert Mohler responded to this criticism in a message he delivered to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. 

Today, we bring you a short excerpt from that address:

ALBERT MOHLER: The pattern is clear in the Old Testament and the New Testament, same and different. Physical bodies, same in so many ways but different in so many ways. Not an accident, but a part of God’s plan. 

Same and different beyond our bodies is also in the roles and vocations to which men and women are called even as revealed in creation. It’s a pattern, same and different that continues throughout our understanding of the entirety of scripture and the experience of the church. This biblical teaching is not about male superiority and female inferiority. 

To think of this sameness and difference in terms of male superiority and female inferiority is to, is to violate the Bible’s teaching of the imago dei. The difference does involve authority. It does involve responsibility. It does even revolve within defined relationships, patterns of respect and leadership and submission, but it is not about male superiority. It is not about female inferiority. 

We have to face the question, which is now raised very much in public as to whether or not complementarianism is a cause of the abuse of women, and girls. And here’s where you need to hear me say: “it can be and it sometimes is.” Sinful men will distort anything and take advantage of any argument that seems to their advantage even to the abuse of women. 

The responsibility is for us to recognize that complementarianism which we believe to be the glorious revelation of God for our good and for his glory in the church and in the home. We need to recognize that if that is distorted into male superiority and if it is then distorted through a corrupted understanding, then you will have a situation in which it is not only hypothetically possible, but it has been true that some men have cited complementarian doctrine as an excuse for lording over their wives rather than leading and serving and even taking advantage to the point of abuse and denying that abuse is abuse. 

This is where we need to be grownups here and recognize we have to take responsibility for our doctrine. We have to take responsibility for our doctrine in recognizing that it can be abused in such a way that women are hurt and that they are abused and that they are not advocated for and they are not believed. 

There is a real sex abuse crisis in our midst. It is our responsibility to make certain, not only that we hold to biblical doctrine—that’s non negotiable—but that our doctrine is fully biblical and demonstrates the spirit of Christ and the fullness of what the Bible calls us to. 

We need to recognize that we have sinned against women when we have allowed complementarianism to be presented in a way that implies male superiority and often leads and sinfulness to male tyranny and terror and sin. We need to take responsibility for the fact that we as a denomination, as churches, have often failed to hear the cries of women who have spoken of their abuse and we bear responsibility for a failure to deal adequately, Christianly, responsively, as husbands who love their wives as Christ loves the church should respond to the cries of any woman. And thus we have work to do.

But, it’s work to do. We’re not left without divine revelation. We understand that rightly understood, complementarianism produces husbands who love their wives as Christ loves the church and they love their wives as they love their own bodies. 

We understand that, yes, complementarianism also is represented in women living out even with the word submission that is used repeatedly in scripture without any embarrassment. And learning, learning to do that in joy. And there is such a demonstration of God’s love and God’s glory and the rightly ordered home and the rightly ordered marriage and the rightly ordered church. But we’ve received a wake up call that we be very aware that there are those who will use any doctrine to their sinful advantage. 

So it’s incumbent upon us to clarify and to testify and to advocate. So do I believe that complementarianism leads to the abuse of women? I will tell you, yes, I believe that it can, and it has. But that’s not the source of the problem. Source of the problem is human sinfulness, pride and arrogance. And yes, there are patterns of male pride and male arrogance and male terror that haunt us.

But I believe the embrace of the fullness of what God has revealed in scripture is actually the only way to find healing and hope and accountability in gospel churches that are rightly ordered and women are rightly honored. And in gospel homes where husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave himself for her.

EICHER: That’s Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and WORLD Board Member. The entire message is available online

NICK EICHER: Good morning! Today is Tuesday, October 29th and we’re so glad you’ve joined us for The WORLD and Everything in It.  I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. If you want to improve your writing, WORLD commentator Andrée Seu Peterson has some advice. This is from her book titled Normal Kingdom Business.

ANDREE SEU PETERSON, COMMENTATOR: The biggest help to my writing is the discipline of having to fit everything into 800 words. That’s on the craft side. On the inspiration side it’s the daily reading of Scripture. We do not, of course, read Scripture so that we can become a writer, but God may bless us any way he wants to, right?

I read a whole book on potty training in 1981. A yellow highlighter boiled the essentials down to an ounce of meat between bread fillers. What follows is my ounce of meat.

You’re drifting off and a thought pops in, and it sounds like a lead sentence so you jot it on the pad you keep under your bed. You need to sleep but ideas are no respecter of your needs, so you give in, flick on the light, and take dictation while it wants to come. Let it flow like rivers, junk and gems alike; you can always throw it out tomorrow.

One day you are sitting in front of a white page, and finally you get up and call your mother: “This is ridiculous! I can’t write! This has all been a big misunderstanding. I’m a fraud!” Then you go back to your paper again, having had a good fuss, and your mature self gives you this good advice: “Don’t make art, just make sense.”

Good writing is confident and lean. Here is an example of an undesirable opening sentence: “There are perhaps many helpful tips for writing, but in my opinion, one of the most helpful practices may be to discipline yourself to try to fit everything you have to say into approximately 800 words.” Your reader has already gone to the kitchen to make s’mores.

Replace generalities with concreteness. “Gone to the kitchen to make s’mores is better than “gone to the kitchen for a snack”—which in turn is better than talking about “waning interest.” 

“Brief fame” is forgettable. “Fifteen minutes of fame” is a keeper. 

And if Abe Lincoln had said “Many years ago” instead of “Four score and seven years ago,” he’d have been right about his prediction that the world would  “little note nor long remember.”

Conversational writing doesn’t mean indifference to grammar and structure. Learn the difference between a comma and a semi-colon. Make short and fairly uniform-sized paragraphs with logical transitions, and your editor will not be in a bad mood. You do not want your editor in a bad mood.

Jesus told stories. Think about it.

Make every word carry freight. And it doesn’t have to be informational freight, but it has to perform some important function. “Kill the little darlings” — the ideas off point, the favorite insights or ostentations that you will hate yourself for later. If possible, put the essay away for a few weeks till you’ve forgotten what you wrote, pick it up again, and see if you still like it.

Mind the rhythm of your words and even so-so essays will sound good: Daa da-Daa da-Daa da-Daa da-Daa da-Daa da-Daa da-Daa da-Daa.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Andrée Seu Peterson.

NICK EICHER: Washington Wednesday tomorrow.

Also, WORLD Tour with our Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: 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.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Thanks for listening, and please join us again tomorrow.

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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