The World and Everything in It — November 29, 2019

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!

Google and Twitter have announced they’ll be restricting political ads this election season. But Facebook seems to be resisting pressure to do the same.

ZUCKERBERG: We can continue to stand for free expression, understanding its messiness, but believing that the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also today on Culture Friday, this day after Thanksgiving, we’ll talk about our annual tendency after maybe overeating, that we go out and overspend!

And a review of perhaps one of the best films of the year.

BASHAM: For my money, it is the best film of the year. At least so far.

EICHER: And the music of Advent.

BASHAM: It’s Friday, November 29th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

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

BASHAM: Up next, Jill Nelson with today’s news.

JILL NELSON, NEWS ANCHOR: President Trump makes unannounced visit to Afghanistan » President Donald Trump made a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan on Thursday.

TRUMP: There’s nowhere I’d rather spend Thanksgiving than right here with the toughest, strongest, best and bravest warriors on the face of the earth. You are indeed that. 

The president used the trip to announce that peace talks have restarted with the Taliban. Those talks broke down in September when Trump called off a planned summit at Camp David. At the time he said a draft peace proposal conceded too much to the Taliban.

Iraqi forces kill 27 protesters and Iranian embassy burns » Meantime in Iraq, violence in Iraq exploded as security forces shot and killed 27 protesters in a 24-hour period.

AUDIO: [Iraqi protesters clash]

The highest death toll came in the oil-rich provinces in the country’s south where protesters blocked roads.

Protesters in Baghdad also blocked three bridges leading to the heavily fortified Green Zone. That’s where government buildings are located. When they tried to cross the Ahrar Bridge, security forces opened fire.

Anti-government rallies have raged across the country for several months. Protesters are demanding a new government. They are also angry about Iran’s influence over their political leaders.

AUDIO: [Iraqi protesters set fire to consulate]

On Wednesday, protesters set fire to the Iranian consulate in Najaf. It was one of the worst attacks against Iranian interests in the country since the protests started on October 1st. The province that includes Najaf is also home to the country’s Shiite religious authority.

Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the violence and demanded a strong response from the Iraqi government. It said those encouraging violence wanted to harm relations between the two countries.

North Korea test fires projectiles » North Korea fired two short-range projectiles from the northeastern part of the country on Thursday. That according to South Korea’s military.

AUDIO: [Jeon Dong-jinn]

A U.S. military spokesman expressed regret over the launch and urged North Korea to immediately stop acts that escalate military tensions. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launches a “serious challenge” to both Japan and the international community.

The missiles appeared to come from a “super-large” multiple rocket launcher, according to South Korea.

The show of force could be related to the year-end deadline set by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He wants President Trump to offer a new proposal to restart stalled nuclear talks. 

The launch also came several days after North Korea conducted military drills on a small island near the border with South Korea.

Chemical plant explosion forces evacuations in Texas » Explosions at a Texas chemical plant near Houston disrupted Thanksgiving plans for thousands of people. 

The first explosion on Wednesday morning injured three employees. That was followed by smaller ones. Then an afternoon blast launched a tower into the air. 

Fearing more explosions, Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick issued a mandatory evacuation Wednesday night. 

BRANICK: Our top priority at the county and the cities is the public safety, and we’ll do our best, our very best to return you to your homes as quickly we can in a safe manner. 

About 50,000 people in a four-mile radius of the plant left their homes as government and Red Cross officials scrambled to open shelters. 

As of yesterday, fires at the plant continued to burn and the evacuation order remained in effect. 

Feds launch criminal probe against pharmaceutical companies » Federal prosecutors have launched a criminal probe to explore whether pharmaceutical companies knowingly flooded communities with prescription opioids. 

That’s according to a new Wall Street Journal report

The Journal reports the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York is conducting the investigation and may bring charges based on the Controlled Substances Act. The law is typically used to go after drug dealers, but it also has monitoring and reporting requirements for companies. 

News of the probe sparked a drop in stock prices for companies and produce and distribute painkillers. The pharmaceutical industry has consistently denied responsibility for the opioid crisis. 

Over the last two decades, some 400,000 people have died from legal and illegal opioids. 

Weather/Macy’s parade balloons fly after all » AUDIO: [Sound of parade]

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade goers breathed a sigh of relief yesterday. New York City police cleared the parade’s famous character balloons for flight. High wind forecasts earlier in the week had threatened to ground the massive balloons for only the second time in a century.

Thursday morning Astronaut Snoopy, SpongeBob SquarePants and Smokey Bear balloons all made their appearance—although high winds still kept some balloons low to the ground.

I’m Jill Nelson. Straight ahead: social media and free speech. Plus, a movie about making great cars and even better men. This is The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: It’s Friday, November 29th, 2019. Glad to have you along for this post-Thanksgiving edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

Social media and high-tech companies are increasingly becoming the gatekeepers of free expression. Let’s listen to a brief clip from a speech by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He’s speaking at Georgetown University last month.

ZUCKERBERG: Today, we are in another moment of social tension. We face real issues that will take a long time to work through. In the face of these tensions, once again a popular impulse is to pull back from free expression. We’re at another cross-roads. We can continue to stand for free expression, understanding its messiness, but believing that the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us. Or we can decide the cost is simply too great. I’m here today because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression.

EICHER: Zuckerberg’s comments came in response to pressure the social media giant is receiving over its decision to continue allowing political ads on its platform. He went on to say that his default position is that “when its not absolutely clear what to do, we should err on the side of greater expression.”

Twitter and Google, on the other hand, have decided to err on the side of restricting speech. Twitter announced several weeks ago that it won’t allow any political advertising. Google followed suit last Wednesday, saying it will no longer allow campaigns to “micro-target” advertisements to voters based on their political affiliations. They also said that, going forward, they won’t allow ads that make claims that are “demonstrably false.”

BASHAM: But, of course, as we’ve seen from all these platforms in the past, “demonstrably false” is in the eye of the beholder. Google has suppressed search results from pro-life groups, claiming they’re simply favoring the “most reliable sources.” That is to say, abortion-industry sources like NARAL and Planned Parenthood. And just this week Twitter suspended a conservative journalist for hate speech because he cited straightforward statistics about homicide rates among transgenders.

John Stonestreet joins us now for Culture Friday. He’s president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. 

John, good morning.


EICHER: Just to add some balance here to Zuckerberg’s words that seem more sympathetic to free expression, Facebook doesn’t have a great record as a free speech crusader when it comes to those issues. Pro-life and pro-family activists have complained that the platform has suppressed them in specific instances.

So, maybe an obvious question here: Do we have any reason to believe the tech giants won’t deal with political ads with the same one-sided approach they’ve taken with abortion and other social issues?

STONESTREET: No. Next question. [Laughter]

EICHER: I feel a little bit like the debate moderator who says, “Ok, well, five minutes to go here.”

STONESTREET: Well, is there five minutes of stuff worth to say here? I mean, no. There’s not. Everybody is driven in the way they do their work and the way they think about the issues of the world from their worldview. And the worldview that is dominating many of those that we would call secular elites is diametrically opposed. We’re at a point now where we’re not kind of presenting different facts. We’re presenting different interpretations of facts and basically the side that has the power levers are often saying that their interpretations of the facts are the facts. So that’s the confusion of worldview.

Your worldview is like a pair of glasses. More fundamentally it’s like a pair of contact lenses. I wear contacts. I forget that they’re there. And we forget that our worldview is there.

You only have to watch how many in the media cover religion and miss it so dramatically and don’t feel, really, the reason to even try. I mean, you can kind of think, for example, of Time Magazine’s person of the year last year, which is the harbingers of truth. In other words, we will take on this hard responsibility of fact checking everyone else except for ourselves. And so it’s a real blind spot and that’s the way worldview operates.

BASHAM: You know, John, something I thought was sort of funny about this is that most headlines on a Google news search are saying something along the lines of, “Republicans Blast Google for Stance on Political Advertising.” Yet both Republican and Democratic campaigns have made it clear they’re unhappy about the change. The DNC asked Google to reconsider. I think we’ve found the only topic both sides can agree on!

Seriously though, Republicans have likened it to voter suppression. Is that a fair characterization?

STONESTREET: Well, there’s no question that this is the new monopoly on information and on ideas. So, there’s not another way right now to get the message out.

And so, yeah, I think it is in a sense—and certainly information suppression. But I also think it’s vulnerable because you have, I think, a real sense in which—and after 2016, many across these power centers admitted that they’d missed most of the population. Or they missed a large segment of the population, had no idea they really existed. And I think that you’re seeing examples of that in 2020 or heading into 2020 as well, even on the Democratic side, specifically. So, for example, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is rising in the poll numbers. I saw a headline, you know, another one that pretended to be neutral but basically said Pete Buttigieg channels his inner Obama. You’re like, oh, that’s a loaded headline. But it was the same week at which Pete Buttigieg garnered, according to polls, zero support from black voters. Zero. And I think, for example, the Democratic platform, they oftentimes think that everyone agrees on everything. But you do not have an African-American segment that will be comfortable with a gay presidential candidate. It just won’t happen. And I think, again, that’s another example that they’re not as up to speed on the American people as they think they are, and that’s a real vulnerability. 

BASHAM: And now, John, I’d like to turn to some news associated with the biggest spending day of the year. 

We call it Black Friday because it puts retailers in the black. But Americans are facing record levels of credit card debt, so maybe we should we start calling red Friday. Yet surveys show most of us are still planning big shopping splurges. Millennials are the most comfortable with debt, with more than half saying they’re okay going deeper in debt if it means spreading some holiday cheer.

I’ll confess that while I wouldn’t want to take on new debt to buy gifts, I have been known to go a little overboard, especially for my kids. Any suggestions for we balance being responsible with our Christmas shopping without feeling like we’re not free to enjoy what God has given us to celebrate this time of year?

STONESTREET: Yeah, you know, have you ever seen that old clip of Bob Newhart who’s playing the role of the counselor and somebody comes into his office and says, “Hey, I’m struggling with this, what should I do?” And he just says, “Stop it.” So, yeah, I think with Black Friday we have to stop it. But let me give you an angle on this that I think drives this consumerism and new levels of debt, maybe we don’t often think about it. It’s the proliferation of having to do all of our holiday celebrations on social media.

I’m not against sharing it with friends and family. We’re going to be away from some of our family this Christmas season and it’s going to be great to be able to use Facebook to look at memories. But, you know, Pinterest plays a role that, you know, basically we end up comparing ourselves to others and our holiday doesn’t seem as happy as their holiday. And, man, why won’t my kids all wear matching Christmas pajamas and do a really clever lip sync that will go viral. Why didn’t I try this kind of cool way to do a do-it-yourself decoration? And it’s the new form of keeping up with the Joneses and it really distracts us from the sacredness of the preparation, the advent preparation. So I think one way is to get off social media, and I think another step is to recapture this ancient gift of the church, which is a different calendar. The advent calendar. And, you know, using this time for the sort of fasting, for the sort of preparation, repentance that advent requires. So, you know, there’s not a silver bullet for all of this, but I think those are things, disciplines that we’ve embraced in our household that help. They don’t make us perfect, but it does help.

EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. It’s Culture Friday. John, thanks so much!

STONESTREET: Thanks so much!

NICK EICHER, HOST: Alright, sometimes social media is great!

Bill Giguere was hiking Mount Hancock in New Hampshire—a 10-mile, snow-covered loop trail, 4,000 feet up. He lost his gold-band wedding ring changing gloves and didn’t realize it until after the hike.

It was lost in the snow and Giguere was distraught, as he told TV station WMUR.

GIGUERE: Oh, no. There’s no time to re-hike this today. I wasn’t going to be able to get back up there in the next few days. So, I’m thinking, ‘I’m not sure if I’m going to get this ring back.’

So he posted his plight on social media, and Brendan Cheever and his buddy Tom Gately really felt for the guy.

GATELY: I instantly thought, there’s no way, you know, it’s a 10-mile loop trail.

No way, but, you never know, so the gang went on a treasure hunt.

AUDIO: He found it! Found the ring! Wow!

Good old American can-do spirit, and a metal detector. The ring safely returned. 

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Friday, November 29th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re glad you are! Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: I’ve got a review of a thrilling, feel-good movie that will help you appreciate the men in your life. Though rated PG-13 for a smattering of language, it’s currently my frontrunner for the best film of 2019.

On its surface, Ford v Ferrari is about making American cars great again. But look underneath the hood and you’ll see this ripped-from-history story is really about making men great again. Or, better stated, cheering what masculinity is at its best.

On its surface, Ford v Ferrari is about making American cars great again. But look underneath the hood and you’ll see this ripped-from-history story is really about making men great again. Or, better stated, cheering what masculinity is at its best.

TRAILER: Mr. Ford, Ferrari has a message for you sir. What did he say? He said Ford makes ugly little cars in ugly factories. And he called you fat sir. We’re gonna bury Ferrari.

It’s the early 1960s and the Ford Motor company, once the pride of American industry has become bloated and mediocre. Oh, it’s still churning out plenty of vehicles. But they’re bland, inoffensive cars crafted to shuttle around families. Nothing necessarily wrong with that. But they’re not the kind of machinery to inspire a sense of greatness.

A brash, young member of Ford’s executive team by the name of Lee Iacocca offers a solution.

CLIP: In the last three years you and your marketing have presided over the worst sales slump in US history why should Mr. Ford listen to you? Because we’ve been thinking wrong. Ferrari, now they have won four out of the last five races at Le Mans. We need to think like Ferrari. Ferrari makes fewer cars in a year than we make in a day. We spend more on toilet paper than they do on their entire output. You want us to think like them? Enzo Ferrari will go down as the greatest car manufacturer of all time. Why? Is it because he built the most cars? No. It’s because of what his cars mean. Victory. Ferrari wins at Le Mans. People, they want some of that victory. What if the Ford badge meant victory?

Iacocca knows greatness isn’t achieved by committee. And that men who get the job done on the track may also be prone to throwing a few elbows. So he recruits racer-turned car-dealer Carroll Shelby (played by Matt Damon) and gives him carte blanche to craft a winning vehicle and team. Shelby, in turn, recruits the best driver he knows—cantankerous British transplant, Ken Miles (played by Christian Bale).

Though Miles is a Brit, there’s something quintessentially American about both him and Texan Shelby. Damon and Bale deserve Oscar nominations for fleshing out their complexities without flattening their enormous personalities.  They’re blunt, competitive, and rough-and-tumble enough to resort to fisticuffs with bags of groceries on the front lawn. It’s the movie’s funniest scene.

We want Shelby and Miles to win not because we want to see Ferrari lose. It’s because we want to see them rewarded for their daring, their steel, their willingness to risk life, limb, criticism, and coin to blaze new trails.

TRAILER: Give me one reason I shouldn’t fire you right now. Well sir, we’re lighter, we’re faster, and if that doesn’t work, we’re nastier.

In fact, in his own refined, Italian way, Ferrari’s drive for excellence is, in many ways, a mirror to theirs.

CLIP: You can’t just push the car hard the whole way, right? That’s right. You have to be kind to the car. You have to feel the poor thing groaning underneath you. If you push a piece of machinery to the limit, you have to have some sense of where that limit is. Look out there—out there is the perfect lap. No mistakes, every gear change, every corner, perfect. You see it? I think so. Most people can’t. Most people don’t even know what’s out there, but it is. It’s there.

No, the real enemy is a Ford executive whose efforts to undermine Shelby’s team while taking credit for its work exemplifies a particular kind of corporate culture. The fainthearted kind that doesn’t respect individual achievement. The yes men who use buzzy corporate speak to mask the ways they stifle innovation and creativity.

But don’t imagine that means Ford v Ferrari is hostile to capitalism or to business in general. In fact, though a lesser character, it’s clear that Iacocca’s vision is what makes Miles and Shelby’s work possible.

Iacocca is no race car driver with grease under his fingernails. But he’s courageous in his approach to leadership, risking the wrath of those further up the food chain if it means delivering a better result. Sharp and masterful in the background, he shows that doing excellent work can also mean clearing the track to allow others to run their race unhampered.

I suspect James Mangold, director of similarly rugged films as Logan and Walk the Line, didn’t set out to make a rallying cry for masculinity. And maybe at a different time, in a moment where words like toxic aren’t so often used to describe men, it wouldn’t feel so much like one. And yet unlike so many of the films marketed as feminist, nothing about Ford v Ferrari hits you like a take-your-medicine, support-the-message kind of movie. It’s an exhilarating, roaring romp. And you don’t think once about what its glimpse of the past says about our present culture until long after it’s already said it.

Once it has, it leaves you grateful for a God that made us male and female. That we get to live in a world where we can sigh over a Jane Austen romance one week and thrill to the antics of wild boys like Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles the next. And it makes you sad to think we might be losing it.

MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Friday, November 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. This weekend marks the beginning of the season of Advent: The four weeks before Christmas set aside for faithful reflection and preparation.

Last year, we ended each of our Friday programs with an Advent music recording from college choirs and choral groups around the country.

BASHAM: This year, the tradition continues, but with a slight twist. Here’s World Radio’s Myrna Brown.

BALES: Father in heaven, thank you for this day. Thank you for what it means that we get to be together, to be with you. 

MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: Josh Bales is a 38-year-old Anglican priest, who grew up Southern Baptist.

BALES: I was kind of brought up to think of the word “ritual” as a negative thing. I never heard the word “advent.” I never knew what liturgical seasons meant. That’s probably one of the reasons why the seasons of the church year, like Advent or Lent, why they mean so much to me. I’m coming at it from a fresh place, I think.

SONG: Lift up your heads, lift up your heads, lift up your heads

In 2018, Bales recorded his rendition of the German Advent hymn, “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye mighty Gates.” The hymn was written by Georg Weissel and first appeared in the 17th century. In 1855 Catherine Winkworth translated it into English. 

It’s a reflection of Psalm 24:7. Bales says while the hymn personifies Israel’s anticipation of the Messiah, there’s also a 21st century application.

BALES: But we’re also preparing ourselves for an event that has yet to take place, the second coming of Jesus. And all of that gets wrapped up in Advent.  So isn’t it crazy to sing with Israel from a Psalm, ‘Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates’ but now it has an utterly new layer of meaning on top of it.

Surrounded by Gothic-Revival architecture, Bales recorded himself at his church, the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando, Florida. On this project, Bales sings and plays piano, guitar, and banjo.

BALES: I basically keep up a root bass note, kind of the same all the way through the song. And it gives it a sense of tension and waiting and hoping. I think that speaks to me of the meaning of the song, too. 


BALES: Advent prepares us for Christmas the way Lent prepares us for Easter. And I find that if you don’t have that season of preparation, pausing and the waiting and hoping, then when Christmas day finally gets here, it’s simply not as special.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER: It takes a lot of people to put this program together each week and so our thanks to these hardworking folks:  Mindy Belz, Myrna Brown, Paul Butler, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Jill Nelson, Onize Ohikere, Michael Reneau, Jenny Rough, Sarah Schweinsberg, Les Sillars, and Cal Thomas.

MEGAN BASHAM: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz stay up late to get the program to you early. J.C. Derrick is managing editor and Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

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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