MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
In Algeria, officials tolerated Christians for years. Now, they’re shutting down the churches. We’ll talk about what’s changed in that north African country.
NICK EICHER HOST: Also some countries give away needles to addicts and supervise drug use. A group in Philadelphia wants to do the same here. But will it help, or just make a bad situation even worse? We have a report.
Plus November’s Classic Book of the Month.
ROBINSON: Most people who hate religion have had a bad experience of it. Most people who love it have had an appropriate experience of it.
And WORLD commentator Kim Henderson on a treasure in the hands of a stranger.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, November 5th. 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 here’s Kent Covington with the news.
House panels begin releasing transcripts of closed-door interviews » Three House panels leading the impeachment inquiry released the first transcripts from closed-door questioning of witnesses.
The committees released testimony from former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich and Michael McKinley … who was a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Yovanovich told lawmakers that a Ukranian official warned her of a smear campaign against her from allies of President Trump.
But GOP Congressman Jim Jordan said Monday that the newly released testimony did nothing to bolster the case for impeachment.
JORDAN: The two individuals whose transcripts were released today, frankly had not much to do with the underlying issue.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said House panels will release more transcripts today. Those include accounts of interviews with former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. Democrats say Volker’s text messages provided key insight into Trump’s demands on Ukraine’s president.
They will also release testimony from Gordon Sondland, who is Trump’s envoy to the European Union. Schiff told reporters they’ll continue to release transcripts “in an orderly way.”
SCHIFF: We’ll continue to make redactions for private information, personally identifiable information, but we will continue to release the transcripts. And we will soon, although I can’t give you the timetable, be moving to open hearings as well.
GOP members continue to call for the unnamed White House whistleblower to appear for closed-door testimony. On Monday, they roundly rejected an offer from the whistleblower’s attorney … for his client to provide written answers to Republican lawmakers.
Appeals court agrees Trump tax returns can be turned over » A federal appeals court ruled Monday that prosecutors in New York can access President Trump’s tax returns. That ruling leaves the last word to the Supreme Court. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a lower court decision in the ongoing fight over Trump’s financial records. Three appeals court judges said a state prosecutor can demand Trump’s personal financial records from his personal accountant.
But the court said it did not consider whether the president is immune from indictment and prosecution while in office. It also did not decide whether the president himself may be ordered to produce documents.
According to the decision, a subpoena seeking tax information related to businesses Trump owns as a private citizen does not—quote … “implicate, in any way, the performance of his official duties.”
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.
Iran speeds up nuclear race » Iran on Monday took another step away from the collapsing 20-15 nuclear deal. The country announced that it has doubled its number of uranium-enriching centrifuges. It’s also developing a centrifuge that works 50 times faster than permitted under the nuclear deal. The advances mean Iran could have enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb within a year.
Despite further signs that the deal is collapsing … European Union spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said the E-U remains committed to saving it.
KOCIJANCIC: We believe that the JCPOA should be preserved. It’s a matter of our security, not just the region or Europe, but globally …
That announcement came as Iran marked the 40th anniversary of the 19-79 U-S Embassy takeover … that started a hostage crisis lasting more than a year.
Violence continues amid Iraqi protests »
SOUND (Iraq NATS-1)
In Baghdad, anti-government protesters crossed a major bridge on Monday, approaching the prime minister’s office and the headquarters of Iraq’s state-run TV.
Security forces responded with tear gas and live ammunition … killing at least five people and wounding dozens.
The protesters hurled rocks and set tires and dumpsters on fire, sending columns of black smoke into the air. Security forces swarmed the area to protect government buildings.
Dozens of motorized rickshaws raced back and forth, ferrying the wounded to first aid stations at the main protest site in Tahrir Square.
SOUND (Iraq NATS-2)
Security forces have killed more than 260 people in two waves of protests since early October.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis have joined the rallies … voicing anger over widespread corruption, high unemployment, and limited public services.
Knife-wielding man attacks protesters, politician in Hong Kong » Meantime, in Hong Kong … a 48-year-old man violently attacked protesters and a politician. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones has that story.
LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: A knife-wielding man slashed protesters, bit a local politician’s ear … and told demonstrators on Sunday that Hong Kong belongs to China.
The knife attack injured five people, including two who were in critical condition.
The incident occurred shortly after police stormed the Cityplaza mall and several other shopping centers to thwart anti-government protests.
China also issued a warning after protesters vandalized the Hong Kong office of the government-owned news agency. The state-backed China Daily newspaper on Monday urged authorities to take a tougher stance. The paper dismissed the movement as—quote—“adolescent hormones pumped up and primed by those willing to exploit them.”
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 5th of November, 2019. Glad to have you along today. Thanks for listening! And good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next up on The World and Everything in It: persecution in North Africa, in particular, the country of Algeria.
Christians there make up less than 1 percent of the population. All the rest of Algerians are Muslim. And the government tightly regulates all worship that’s not Muslim. By law, Christians have to obtain a special license even to meet together.
REICHARD: But churches had been holding services without much opposition … until a few years ago. In 20-17 the government started enforcing those licensing requirements. And they began closing churches that didn’t go along. Earlier this month, police targeted the country’s two largest congregations.
Joining us now to explain what’s going on is WORLD Africa reporter Onize Ohikere. Good morning, Onize!
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Morning, Mary.
REICHARD: Tell us a bit more about those two churches that were recently closed.
OHIKERE: They were the two largest churches in the country’s small Christian population. The first one in Tizi Ouzou province served about 700 people, while the second in Makouda, served 500.A video from the police raid in Tizi Ouzou showed police forcefully pulling and dragging out people who were sitting-in during the closure. Witnesses reported police used force and batons on those who hesitated.
REICHARD: What’s driving this persecution? The government had the licensing requirements in place for years before they started enforcing them. Why start now?
OHIKERE: As you rightly said, the law has existed since 2006, but authorities started to implement it more recently. Christians started to witness more church closures, official visits to check licenses, and more penalties for proselytizing. Christians also reported that intelligence officials started to attend worship. Part of the reason is fear. Majority of the growing Christian population includes converts from Muslims and that’s a threat to the Muslim community and a source of shame for them.
It’s also partly political. Algeria’s presidential election is coming up in December. Also, when this crackdown began two years ago, Former Abdelazziz Bouteflika’s government faced pressure from the main opposition Islamist MSP party, which has now pulled out of the race.
REICHARD: Algeria is a strong U.S. ally. Has the U.S. State Department or any U.S. officials weighed in at all on this situation?
OHIKERE: So since the latest crackdown, the U.S. has not openly issued any condemnation. But groups like the D.C.-based International Christian Concern and World Evangelical Alliance have condemned the crackdown. Just last month, the World Evangelical Alliance raised up the issue of persecution during a visit to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
France is one of the few countries that has openly worked on the issue. Back in March, it opened an inquiry into the persecution of Christians. And this month, about 500 church leaders sent a joint statement to President Emmanuel Macron asking him to put pressure on Algeria to guarantee the freedom of religion and freedom of worship.
REICHARD: Aside from the persecution of Christians, Algeria is experiencing some political turmoil right now. Can you tell us briefly about that?
OHIKERE: Sure. The demonstrations started in February after President Bouteflika, who’s been president since 1999, announced that he will return for a fifth term. Bouteflika withdrew his bid and ordered for what he called an inclusive and independent panel to lead the path to reform.
But the protesters have continued to gather weekly on Fridays arguing a free and fair vote can’t hold with the same old political elite and military generals in place. What they’re asking for instead is a restructuring of the entire governing system.
REICHARD: Onize Ohikere is WORLD’s Africa reporter. She’s based in Abuja, Nigeria. Thanks for joining us today!
OHIKERE: You’re welcome, Mary.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: supervised injection sites.
Opioid addiction has gripped the United States to the point that the government declared a public health emergency two years ago.
One hundred thirty Americans die every day from opioid-related overdoses.
And supervised injection sites are one idea for keeping addicted people from dying.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Obviously, highly controversial. But these are places where users can inject heroin and other dangerous drugs while medical professionals watch them and monitor their reactions. That way, the argument goes, they can stop overdoses before the user dies.
There are no supervised injection sites in the United States, but a group in Philadelphia is working to change that. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has our story.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The group is called “Safehouse.” Its goal is to save lives. And it says that mission overrides any other considerations.
Rob Field is a professor of law and health policy at Drexel University. He explains the mindset behind the Safehouse approach.
FIELD: Since we know they’re going to shoot up anyway, this is a way to reduce the risks associated with that as much as possible.
Supervised injection sites don’t provide drugs. Addicts bring their own. But a team of social workers and medical professionals supervise everything else. They test the drugs, to make sure they aren’t dangerously potent. They provide clean needles to decrease the risk of infection.
FIELD: And then they would find a space where they can inject the drugs. There would be a place where they can dispose of the syringe…And there’s someone there observing the people who are using this site to check for overdoses.
If someone overdoses, a staff member can administer Narcan…a drug that reverses the effect of opioids.
There are about 1-hundred-20 sites like this in Europe, Australia, and Canada. Field says overall, they’re successful and have saved a lot of lives.
FIELD: There’s new evidence that they significantly reduce the risk of transmission of HIV and Hepatitis. They also reduce the risk of overdose.
But not everyone is sold on the idea. In fact, the U-S government has a major objection.
MCSWAIN: Setting up a drug house is illegal. Normalizing the use of deadly drugs like heroin and fentanyl is not the answer to solving the opioid epidemic.
That’s U.S. Attorney William McSwain, heard on NBC’s Philadelphia affiliate, NBC 10. Earlier this year, McSwain sued to block Safehouse from opening the site. He says it violates federal drug law. The Controlled Substances Act says you can’t open a location to distribute illegal drugs.
But early in October, a federal judge ruled in favor of Safehouse. The judge said Safehouse isn’t promoting drug use…they’re trying to reduce it.
Karl Benzio is a Christian psychiatrist and a former addict. He says safe injection sites are logically inconsistent.
BENZIO: You’re giving a mixed message, you’re sort of…saying no, but you’re shaking your head yes to somebody. It’s not okay to use, but we’re gonna allow you to use here and we’re gonna provide safety for you to use.
Benzio says this type of site could encourage more drug use. That’s partly because addicts have a different way of thinking.
BENZIO: Addicts have a very different mindset and a very acute reward-oriented knee-jerk kind of mindset. So whenever their dangers are removed or dramatically lessened… The addict doesn’t see it as, well, this is a way for me to stop. They just see, wow, it’s easier for me to use.
Benzio worries that some people will start experimenting with opioids…now that they have a safe place to give it a try.
Mark Hilbelink disagrees. He’s a pastor in Austin, Texas and runs a homeless ministry. He believes these sites are necessary.
HILBELINK: People have to be engaged at the place where they are.
Hilbelink works with addicts all the time. For him, this is just reality.
HILBELINK: Supervised injection sites…are not a preferred way for people to live, but it also gives us the opportunity to start building relationship and start meeting them where they are to help them find that preferred reality in their lives.
But Karl Benzio says we should never encourage destructive habits.
BENZIO: There’s certainly a way to provide compassion and communicate care and love and empathy without facilitating the person’s ability to continue dysfunctional behavior. We look at Jesus, Jesus certainly, you know, went and hung out with many sinners, many people doing destructive things. He never made it easy for them to sin.
Despite the recent ruling in favor of Safehouse, it’s not the end of the legal scuffle. U.S. attorney William McSwain says he plans to appeal. He insists the justice department remains committed to preventing these sites from opening.
Rob Field says other cities are keeping an eye on Philadelphia…and it probably won’t be long before they try to open their own sites across the country. That’ll set the stage for more legal wrangling.
FIELD: It would depend on the federal prosecutor in those areas and on the judges in those areas. So it’s possible that there could be inconsistent rulings.
In other words, a judge in Kansas might say sure, go ahead and open a safe injection site. But a judge in Oklahoma might say no, that violates federal drug law.
No matter what happens, Karl Benzio says Christians should step up and engage the broken people in their communities … so they never need to turn to supervised injection sites in the first place.
BENZIO: Share life with them, share meals with them, share love and compassion, honor, dignity…so they can start to dig out…But I think facilitating them to do the wrong thing isn’t the right message really to ever send.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Well, they say a penny saved is a penny earned.
And if that’s really true, a man in Phoenix, Arizona has earned a lot.
Cory Nielsen managed to collect more than 6,000 pounds of pennies. To give you an idea how big a deal that is: It took two cargo vans just to transport that legal tender to the bank.
He spoke with local TV station KSAZ.
NIELSEN: Today I am turning in 1,030,315 pennies.
Alright, you may have the math in your head. But if you don’t, I’ll move the decimal point for you. We’re talking about $10,303 dollars and 15 cents.
But prior to the bank deposit, Nielsen used the pennies to build the world’s largest penny pyramid. Right in his garage!
It took him three years to do it: painstakingly stacking all the coins into a freestanding structure.
REICHARD: Why? Why would anyone do that?
You know what? I was ready for that question …
NIELSEN: I’ve seen people try to do this record before, and they just lost their mind and they stopped, but I liked it. I enjoyed it. It was a stress reliever for me.
Yah, but it did require a lot of patience … and a lot of pennies.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, November 5th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Today we welcome book reviewer Emily Whitten to talk about our Classic Book of the Month. Thanks for joining us, Emily!
EMILY WHITTEN, GUEST: Hey, Mary. Glad to be here.
REICHARD: What book shall we talk about this month?
WHITTEN: How ‘bout some Pulitzer Prize winning fiction?
REICHARD: I’m going to trust you on that one. Sometimes the prize winners aren’t my cup of tea, ya know?
WHITTEN: Yea, I get that. But I think this one will be! My pick this month is Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. And I have a great sound clip to start us off.
To set it up, the book’s narrator is John Ames. He’s a Congregationalist minister in Iowa during the 1950s. He’s coming to the end of his life. He writes this book as a letter for his son to read after he’s gone.
This clip comes from a National Endowment for the Arts program. In this passage read by our author, Robinson, narrator John Ames thinks about the thousands of pages of sermons he wrote in his life:
ROBINSON: I wrote almost all of it in the deepest hope and conviction, sifting my thoughts and choosing my words, trying to say what was true. And I’ll tell you frankly, that was wonderful.
WHITTEN: Hopefully, you hear something of the poetry and cadence of the writing there. You may also notice the religious focus. Ames both prays and preaches in that passage. Robinson’s willingness to see the religious part of life may be the most remarkable quality of this book. Throughout Ames’s story, readers get a glimpse of the complex, vibrant life of a Christian pastor in what many consider flyover country. Listen to how Robinson puts it in an interview with editor Paul Elie:
ROBINSON: I wanted to give the sense of a life lived around religious assumptions that are beautiful and worthy of any amount of thought or attention.
REICHARD: I can tell this is my cup of tea. It’s refreshing to hear respectful treatment of religion in a mainstream book. I’m kinda curious why she would choose to write about a small town pastor. What got her interested in that kind of character?
WHITTEN: Robinson grew up in the 1940s and 50s in small town Idaho as the daughter of a lumber company employee. She was raised Presbyterian but later became Congregationalist. So she knows something about the time and place and people she writes about here.
REICHARD: I can relate to that. I grew up in a small town myself. What else should we know about her biography?
WHITTEN: Robinson’s love of books has played a large role throughout her life. For instance, she earned a P-h-D in English in 1977 at the University of Washington. Not long after that, she published her first prize-winning novel, Housekeeping. I found it a little surprising that she didn’t publish another novel until 2004. Any guesses what might have distracted her during those decades, Mary?
REICHARD: Well, I’m a mom, so I’ll guess bundles of joy? Children?
WHITTEN: Yeah, and obviously they weren’t just distractions.
REICHARD: Right. Also wonderful investments.
WHITTEN: Yes, indeed! Robinson took quite a bit of time to invest in marriage and kids. Back to her love of reading, she also used that time to wrestle deeply with a lot of Christian classics.
When you look at a character like John Ames, all those hours of Robinson’s wrestling with Christian ideas are on display. Ames can easily quote Augustine and John Calvin, Karl Bartz. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a character who applies so much Biblical imagery to everyday life. For instance, he talks about his body as a seed that will drop into the ground, referencing John 12, “unless a seed dies, it remains alone.” It’s really beautiful.
REICHARD: Sounds immediately applicable to life. Emily, what kind of reader would most enjoy this book?
WHITTEN: Almost anyone could pick this book up and benefit from it. No sex, no violence, no profanity. Robinson manages a few surprising plot twists along the way–most of it has to with John Ames’s father and grandfather, as well as the reappearance of his godson, Jack Boughton. Abolition and racism play a role, and they add to the book’s positive moral center. Overall, it’s not plot but the depth of the storytelling and the fascinating characters that will keep readers turning pages late into the night.
REICHARD: One final question. You and I talked about this book earlier, and you noted Robinson’s liberal views on a number of subjects. Do we see those in Gilead?
WHITTEN: She’s much more strident in her essays, but we do see some of her liberal convictions here. For instance, in her interview with Paul Elie, Robinson explains that she used the character of Ames’ godson, Jack Boughton, to explore whether God loves secular, or non-Christian, people:
ROBINSON: I have no conception of God that would not include love for these people. This is a mystery for me. It’s probably as big a challenge to my religious assumptions over time as anything had been. And finally I thought, I’m going to test this. If you write a character, if people love Jack Boughton, then God loves Jack Boughton. He is what he is, nothing sinister, well, he’s not a great guy, but neither was Jacob.
WHITTEN: So I sympathize with Robinson here. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” But Robinson’s universalism, or her idea that everyone goes to heaven, clashes with the second part of John 3:16. That part reads, “…whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Ames doesn’t want his godson, Jack, to perish. He wants him to be blessed, and much of the climax revolves around this desire. But God’s Word says there’s a requirement for that ultimate blessing. This unbelieving young man has to repent and believe in Christ. And at the end of the day, it’s not loving to pretend otherwise.
REICHARD: Is this book something conservatives might choose to skip, then?
WHITTEN: No, I think we need this book more than ever. Respect for religion seems at an all time low in our country right now. Gilead can help people of every stripe see the beauty in Christian beliefs. I just want to encourage folks to be discerning. We need to be Bereans, testing everything by Scripture, even when it comes to brilliant Christian writers.
REICHARD: Emily, thank you for the recommendation today.
WHITTEN: You’re very welcome, Mary. Happy reading!
REICHARD: Today, Emily recommended Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Find other classic book recommendations at worldandeverything.org. Just search for Classic Book of the Month.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, November 5th. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. Good morning! I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. WORLD Commentator Kim Henderson now on marking the time. All sorts of time.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: Anything from Switzerland is the stuff.
My son’s making this point as he shows us his latest eBay purchase, an Omega Seamaster DeVille—some sort of vintage timepiece.
We’re locked in on his every word because he’s the firstborn and he’s home for a visit and occasions like this make parents want to go kill the fatted calf.
So I’m listening and admiring the face (on the watch), but with the way my mind works, I’m still wondering why Switzerland is the stuff. Isn’t it supposed to be neutral? My son is catching me up on the culture, though, so I have to stay focused.
That’s when he pops out another point, and I’ve known him long enough to tell right away it’s not original. He’s quoting some guy he heard on “Shark Tank.”
So this shark from the show says, “You can tell a lot about a man from the shoes he’s wearing and the watch he has on.”
Hmmm. I think of some of the men in my life. They wear boots with soles worn out from work and watches that have to be waterproof because they work up a sweat while they’re wearing out their soles.
I nod. Yes, you can indeed tell a lot about a man from his shoes and his watch.
By then the firstborn is talking with his dad about the weather in Memphis, but I’m having trouble focusing again because he showed me the back of the Omega Seamaster Deville. There’s an inscription. Which leads me to wonder: Just who was Jasper M. Griffin, and why is my son in possession of his 62-year-old watch?
There’s not much to go on, and what little there is requires my highest-strength reading glasses to make out. Jasper M. Griffin May 30th, 1957 office staff.
I’m fascinated by the fact that some man whose loyal service earned him a 14K gold, automatic Swiss-made reward let it go at some point. Did it slip off while he walked his dog through Central Park? Were there hospital bills to pay after his wife’s surgery? Was it stolen from a hotel room in Albuquerque while he traveled on “office staff” business?
But maybe it wasn’t even Jasper who let it go. Maybe he had held onto it until the very end. Maybe an inheriting nephew simply preferred a Timex.
My son notices I’m absorbed, and when he finds out why, he admits he was, too. “Looked him up already,” he says, and with a simple shake of his head, I realize I’ll probably never know Jasper’s real story. I just hope it included some heavenly treasure, the kind that rust doesn’t destroy and isn’t for sale to the highest eBay bidder.
There’s a new band on the watch, and my son tells us this Omega is a keeper. “One to pass on to my grandchildren,” I think is what he said. I’ve got to believe Jasper M. Griffin would like that.
After all, anything from Switzerland is the stuff.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson.
EICHER: Washington Wednesday is tomorrow and so, too, is our weekly edition of World Tour.
By the way, we’re doing listener feedback on Friday, so now’s your opportunity to make your voice heard. Our listener line is 202-709-9595. That’s 202-709-9595. We’d love to hear from you.
I’m Nick Eicher.
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.
Proverbs says in all your ways acknowledge (the Lord) and He will make your paths straight.
I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!