The World and Everything in It — December 23, 2019

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Today, we kick off a week of special Christmas programs we think you’ll enjoy. We’ll hear some of your favorite Christmas memories. And a special holiday edition of Word Play with George Grant.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also today, we’ll remember some notable personalities who died in 2019—yet another reminder that man knows not his time.

REICHARD: It’s Monday, December 23rd. 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. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: GOP blasts Pelosi for withholding impeachment charges » Senate Republicans lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the weekend for not handing over the articles of impeachment. 

Senator Lindsey Graham said Pelosi is now committing one of the offenses Democrats accuse President Trump of committing. 

GRAHAM: She’s trampling on the separation of powers. It’s the Senate’s job to dispose of impeachment articles. It’s not Nancy Pelosi’s job. When it comes to Trump, the rules don’t matter to Democrats, and that’s dangerous and sad. 

Pelosi said she’s holding onto the charges until she learns more about the process the Senate plans to use in its impeachment trial. GOP leaders say that is an unconstitutional power play. 

But presidential candidate and Democratic Senator Cory Booker defended Pelosi on NBC’s Meet the Press. 

BOOKER: Those articles will come over. I talked to Chuck Schumer this week. We all know they will. I think what she’s just trying to do is to make sure the best possible case for a fair trial happens. 

Democrats are demanding to see new documents and hear from new witnesses in the Senate trial. 

Wildfires rage in Australia » Wildfires continue to rage in Australia.

New South Wales is in a week-long state of emergency, with around 2,000 firefighters battling 100 different blazes. They’ve been struggling against extreme heat, and what one official called “catastrophic” fire conditions.

In the state of South Australia at least 72 homes have burned to the ground. And farther to the east, the flames have devastated the town of Balmoral, about 50 miles southwest of Sidney. The premier of New South Wales said there was “not much left” of the town. 

One Balmoral resident said she narrowly escaped disaster.  

AUDIO: It just rushed to the front of the property. It just took over all the trees. It crowned all the trees, and then it went across the road, the railway line. It all lit up like napalm. 

At least three more people died last week in the fires, including two firefighters. Australia’s bushfire emergency has now claimed nine lives since September. 

Boeing spacecraft lands safely in New Mexico desert » Boeing safely landed its crew capsule in the New Mexico desert Sunday.

NASA: An historic landing in White Sands, New Mexico, concludes the first flight test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, the first time an American-made human-rated capsule has landed on land. 

The touchdown heard there on NASA TV. The Starliner descended into the Army’s White Sands Missile Range in the predawn darkness. The capsule scored a bullseye landing after a trio of red, white and blue parachutes popped open. Airbags also inflated around the spacecraft to ease the impact. 

That ended a two-day demo that was supposed to last more than a week. It touched down after an aborted flight to the International Space Station that threatened to set back the company’s effort to launch astronauts for NASA next year.

The space station docking was canceled because of an improperly set clock on the capsule. But Boeing employees were relieved to get the Starliner back undamaged.

A test dummy rode in the commander’s seat. Also returning, unfortunately, were holiday presents, clothes and food meant for the space station crew.

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker tops box office » And speaking of space…  

TRAILER: It’s an instinct, a feeling—the force brought us together.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was quite a force at the weekend box office. The final installment of the Skywalker saga opened with $176 million in the U.S. and almost $400 million worldwide. 

Jumanji: The Next Level finished second with another $26 million. 

You can read WORLD’s review of The Rise of Skywalker and other current films, along with ratings and content information, at

NICK EICHER: It’s Monday the 23rd of December, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. It’s Christmas Eve-Eve! Is that a thing?

EICHER: Hey, only if others follow your lead does it become a thing. But I think you’re on to something, and you can put me down as an early adopter. 

So Merry Christmas Eve-Eve! 

And that occasion, I think we can also say, marks the dividing line between the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end, the home stretch of our December Giving Drive.

We’re around 60 percent of the way there, and we’re in single digits in terms of how many days we have to hit our goal.

REICHARD: This is one of the two times a year we put out a general call for support to help shore up WORLD’s journalism, lay down a solid fiscal foundation, keep this program going strong, provide what we need to keep growing our team, and creating more and better content all the time.

If you go to, you’ll see our progress bar, and I hope that’ll motivate you to make a gift of any amount and do your part to raise the bar, as it were.

EICHER: I hope you got the chance this weekend to listen to the sneak preview episode of Effective Compassion. That’s an example of the kind of thing we’d like to do more of. If you heard it, I hope you you were struck by the field work that was involved, and the research that went into it.

And I want to say, the next such effort that we hope to launch will be a Legal Docket podcast. We’ll still cover all the cases here on The World and Everything in It… 

But you’ve said, Mary, that you’d love the freedom to dive deeper into 10 or so really key cases, and really tell those cases in depth — not necessarily the legal esoterica, but more of the background on how the initial conflict came about, and what the resolution of the case will mean for us going forward.

REICHARD: Yeah, excited about that. Excited and, if I’m being honest, I get stomach flutters at the same time. It’s going to take research help and writing help and production help—and I know, Nick, you’re toting up the costs, and yeah, it’s not insignificant. But it’s such important work and it requires resources.

That’s why we’re building this army of support, because the opportunity is there for the influence of WORLD’s sound journalism to grow—sound journalism, grounded in God’s word.

EICHER: God provides all of us different abilities to give, and some of those I talk to who are able to give larger amounts get really excited about the grassroots giving you generate —50 bucks, 100 bucks, 200 at a time—and the sheer number of individuals who support this work. There’s a groundswell and it’s been getting bigger each year.

If you’ve given in the past, I do hope you’ll give again, because this is ongoing, daily work, 260 programs a year, plus The Olasky Interview, plus Listening In, and now plus Effective Compassion—not to mention the work that goes into our print magazine, WORLD, and our daily online news summary, The Sift.

EICHER: If you’ve not given yet, or maybe you’re new and you’ve never really heard us ask, I hope you’ll make this year the year you chip in something as a tangible sign of support. Anything you can do will be such an encouragement.—it’s easy and secure, and you can do it right now from your phone. You can even contribute via Paypal or Apple Pay. Either way, vote “yes” for sound journalism, grounded in God’s word at

Well, this is normally our day for Legal Docket, but with the holiday—

EICHER: —Christmas Eve Eve, you mean?

REICHARD: Yes, Christmas Eve Eve. We’re shifting the schedule by a week. Hey, the Supreme Court takes breaks and holidays and doesn’t hear cases, so I know we won’t fall behind.

EICHER: Yeah, so instead, as we’ve done in years past, we’re going to do a three-part series this week remembering the notable people who died this year.

Of course, everyone we lost in 2019 meant something to someone. And we have the Biblical observation of Francis Schaeffer that in God’s sight, there are no little people. But by “notable,” when we say notable people, we’re referring to those who had some renown or influence around the country or the world—whether for good or perhaps not so good.

REICHARD: Yes, today we’ll hear about those whose passing we haven’t covered on a previous program. That means we won’t include former businessman Ross Perot or the notorious Jeffrey Epstein.

Instead we’ll cover others in the arenas of politics, government, and business.

So now, WORLD Radio’s Katie Gaultney has today’s report.

MUSIC: [Music from 1992 Karl Lagerfeld fashion show]

KATIE GAULTNEY, REPORTER: We begin with fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, who led French luxury brand Chanel from 1983 until his death. He died in February after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 85.

Many regarded Lagerfeld as one of the most influential tastemakers of the 20th century. And he found as much beauty in a well-constructed pair of jeans as he did in a formal evening gown. Perhaps ironically, given his career of choice, Lagerfeld said chicness isn’t so much about what you wear, but who you are.

LAGERFELD: You know, if you come and ask me, “I want to be chic,” there is little hope to become chic. Because there are peasants in countries who are beyond chic in their poor rags, and there are very rich women who are not chic in the most expensive dress… 

From the catwalks of Paris to the halls of the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C. Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker died earlier this month. He was 92.

In his eight years as chairman under Presidents Carter and Reagan, Volcker famously raised interest rates to 20 percent to attack inflation.

VOLCKER: You cannot build economic growth, you cannot build prosperity, you can’t build full employment on a currency that is inflating, that people don’t have full confidence in.

During the Obama administration, Volcker led the Economic Recovery Board, shaping banking reforms. His policy under Obama was called the Volcker Rule. It set safeguards in place to prevent banks from making speculative bets that put the institutions and taxpayers at risk.

Volcker may have worked to “balance the books” on a federal level, but the world lost another kind of bookkeeper this year.

COMMERCIAL: We stand behind our work and guarantee your satisfaction. [jingle: America’s tax team, standing up for you!]

That’s H&R Block founder, Henry Bloch. He died in April at the age of 96.

Bloch was born into a Jewish family in 1922, and with his brother started H&R Block in 1955. For the next 12 years, they charged just $5 to do a tax return. Bloch said his business took off when the IRS stopped offering free tax preparation help.

BLOCH: The IRS decided to get out. And they used Kansas City to test it. So people would go to the IRS office and remember our ads and come see us. We had a lot of lucky breaks.

The entrepreneur is considered an early pioneer of franchising. Today, H&R Block maintains about 12,000 tax offices around the world.

But Henry Bloch kept his roots in Kansas City, Missouri, where he philanthropically invested much of his fortune back into the community where he grew up.

On to another familiar name in business: artist, author, fashion designer, and heiress Gloria Vanderbilt.

She was famous from birth because of her family name. As an adult, she became one of the first to market designer blue jeans, along with a line of perfumes, household goods, and other clothing.

COMMERCIAL: Our Gloria Vanderbilt denims are carefully designed to give you the hug without the squeeze. Our denims fit right, but not too tight. It’s a wonderful way to be hugged! Gloria Vanderbilt denims by Murjani…

Vanderbilt married four times, with three of those resulting in divorce. She bore four sons, including media personality Anderson Cooper. Cooper’s older brother and father both died unexpectedly.

In an interview in 1996, she reflected on the role that pain played in her life:

VANDERBILT: I think that without pain that we can’t know what joy is and that is very sustaining for me, because that is what life is, and if we don’t have pain, we don’t have joy, and if we don’t have pain, we don’t know that we’re alive.

Vanderbilt died in New York City in June. She was 95.

MUSIC: [Oklahoma State fight song]

That’s the fight song of Oklahoma State University—a school near and dear to benefactor T. Boone Pickens’ heart.

The legendary entrepreneur and philanthropist made his fortune in the oil business. Over the course of 91 years, he donated more than a billion dollars to charity. He also put a great deal of money and effort toward ending U.S. dependence on overseas oil, a strategy he called “the Pickens plan.”

Pickens was known for his optimism and his sense of humor. He addressed a group at Oklahoma State a few years ago with his signature wit.

PICKENS: When I was 84 years old, I realized that half my life was over. [laugher] They told me at Southwestern Medical, they said, “Boone, we’ve got good news for you and bad news.” And I said, “Okay, good news first.” And they said, “Boone, you’re gonna live to be 114. Bad news, you will not be able to hear or see.” [laughter]

Pickens died in Dallas in September. He was 91.

Turning now from business to politics.

Li Peng served as Premier of the People’s Republic of China from 1987 to 1998. He remained active in Chinese politics through the mid-2000s. Li died in July at the age of 90.

He became known as the “Butcher of Beijing” following the massacres in and around Tiananmen Square in 1989. Students had gathered to protest economic inequality between the citizens of China and the political elite, including—and perhaps especially—Li Peng himself. He ordered martial law and backed the military against students.

BBC NEWSREEL: The approach to Tiananmen Square by troops to the west of Peking last night was typical of everything that has followed since then and completely contradicts the Chinese government’s claim that its target is a handful of hooligans, criminals, and counter-revolutionaries.

Estimates of those killed in Tiananmen Square range from several hundred to several thousand. Li never expressed remorse over his role in the massacre. In fact, he celebrated the crackdown as a historic victory for communism.

Next, the man behind Chrysler’s turnaround in the 1980s, the minivan, and the Ford Mustang: Lee Iacocca.

AUDIO: [Ford Mustang engine sounds]

The charismatic Italian-American businessman led Ford during some of its biggest triumphs. Those included the Mustang and the Continental Mark III, as well as the revival of the Mercury brand in the 1960s. But he also presided over at least one of its big bombs—literally and figuratively—in the Ford Pinto, whose engine tended to burst into flames in a collision.

After leaving Ford in 1978, Iacocca took the top post at Chrysler. The company was hemorrhaging cash after a series of recalls. Under Iacocca’s leadership, Chrysler secured a loan guarantee from the U.S. government. That saved the company from bankruptcy.

COMMERCIAL: Convertibles, they said, nobody wanted but everybody copied. Sports cars and luxury cars. Turbo so powerful, so efficient, you’ll never go back to a V8 again. And a wagon so versatile, so right for America today, we can’t build enough of them. Not bad for a company that had one foot in the grave…

Iacocca died in July. He was 94 years old.

From the roadways to the skyways now. Longtime Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher departed in January. He was 87.

COMMERCIAL: At Southwest Airlines, we want our passengers to spend their time in the air, not on the ground…

Kelleher was working as an attorney when he and several associates drew up the business plan on a hotel napkin. The model was simple: low fares and quick, no-fuss service between major cities in Texas.

The idea proved a success, and the airline flourished and expanded under Kelleher’s leadership. His bold personality set the tone for employees: have fun, and do the job well.

Fortune Magazine called Kelleher perhaps one of the best CEOs in America. And it made him a billionaire.

COMMERCIAL: A younger look is yours with the natural. A beautiful natural is yours with Afro Sheen. Johnson’s Afro Sheen, the largest-selling products in the “natural” world.

Joan Johnson made up half of the husband-wife team that pioneered the black hair care market. She co-founded Johnson Products Company with the flagship product Afro Sheen. It was the first black-owned company to be listed on the American Stock Exchange.

She and her husband, George E. Johnson Sr., started their hair care and cosmetics empire with a $250 investment.

Johnson Products was also the longtime sponsor of the syndicated television dance show Soul Train.

MUSIC: [Music from Soul Train]

Johnson died in September at the age of 89. She was married to her high school sweetheart for 69 years. Together they had four children.

But wait, there’s more! For our final remembrance today, Lester Wundermanthe “Father of Direct Marketing.”

COMMERCIAL: Look what’s coming in your mail! It says, “Get 11 albums for only $1 when you join the Columbia Record and Tape Club.” Terrific? Well, I’m about to tell you how to go this offer one better!

Wunderman created the subscription club model with the Columbia Record Club. He also pioneered marketing innovations like consumer rewards cards, newspaper inserts, and the toll-free 1-800 customer service number.

He won plenty of industry accolades, including election to advertising and marketing halls of fame. He still went into the office daily well into his 90s.

COMMERCIAL: Now, aren’t you glad you saw this commercial? Look for the secret gold box in the Columbia announcement in the new TV Guide!

Wunderman died in January. He was 98 years old.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Katie Gaultney.

NICK EICHER: Of course, you know about our ongoing disputes with global trading partners, but here’s one that’s a little surprising.

The U.S. government last week ended its free trade agreement with the nation of Wakanda.

I’m not making this up. If you went by the tariff tracker on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, as of last Wednesday, it listed Wakanda among the countries with whom we have a free-trade agreement. 

Maybe you’re not familiar with Wakanda, but surely you’ve heard of its most famous citizen—the Marvel superhero Black Panther.

AUDIO: We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.

Someone at the Department of Agriculture added the fictional land of Wakanda to the tariff tracker site during testing. But nobody took it down, until a journalist noticed it.

It’s gone now.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Monday, December 23rd. We hope your Christmas preparations are going smoothly! And thank you for turning to WORLD Radio as part of that. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. We asked you to send us your memories of Christmas to be part of this week’s programming. And you obliged! Thank you very much for that! It helps us to learn about you. And I can tell you that informs our work in a way that’s more personal.

Today we have memories from two listeners. The first is from Claudia Holler.

HOLLER: My three sisters and I grew up play acting the nativity scene for our parents just prior to opening Christmas presents. Later in life the tradition continued with my two nieces, who were about six years old at the time. One year, one of those two nieces was reciting her memorized lines about the gifts the wise men brought to baby Jesus. Very serious, standing tall, wanting to make her parents proud, she said in her tiny voice, “gold, frankincense, and murder.”

REICHARD: (laughs) Well, if you’ve never heard the word “myrrh…” 

EICHER: … go with what you know.  

Well, our next story comes from Don Barber. It starts on the night before Christmas—his and his wife’s first as parents.

BARBER: We lived in a small, second-story apartment of a large, old house in New Hampshire. Our daughter was 2 months old. It was Christmas Eve and we were enjoying the process of making new family traditions. 

One that was new to me was already a favorite of my wife’s: hand-stringing a garland of popcorn and cranberries for the Christmas tree. We enjoyed making it together. Three pieces of popcorn on the garland. Three pieces for our snacking pleasure. And so it went, until we had a long enough string for our small tree that stood atop our buffet. We went to sleep in the next room with visions of new Christmas traditions dancing in our heads. 

I woke up later to a small, unfamiliar sound in the house. Lights still off, I sat up in bed trying to echolocate the sound as best I could. It was a nibbling sound, coming from the tree. It was, indeed, the night before Christmas. And all through our house, not a creature was stirring … except for the mouse, who was enjoying our new family tradition just as much as we were. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

MARY REICHARD: Today is Monday, December 23rd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. There’s something ironic about the current holiday greeting many of us hear this time of year. 

To explain why it’s not as bad as maybe you think is WORLD’s George Grant with this month’s Word Play.

GEORGE GRANT: Happy Holidays! Now, don’t worry. I’m not using that phrase because it is the politically correct and culturally acceptable thing to do these days. I know only too well that the quashing of carols, crèches, and Christ from a season that only has a whit of significance precisely because of carols, crèches, and Christ is more than a little ironic for all of the obvious reasons. But I also think that it is more than a little ironic for all of the not so obvious reasons. 

The current uber-chic season’s greeting, “Happy Holidays,” as a replacement for the outré-gauche “Merry Christmas” is actually fraught with an unforeseen difficulty.

The difficulty is simply that the word holiday is just an alternate spelling for Holy-Day. According to Samuel Johnson’s authoritative English Dictionary, the definitions of holiday or Holy-Day include: “1. The day of some ecclesiastical festival within Christendom; 2. An anniversary feast day on the Christian liturgical calendar; 3. A day of gaiety and joy in light of Gospel truth; and, 4. A rare occurrence of God’s grace.”

Replete with example quotations and epigrams from William Shakespeare, John Milton, Henry Ainsworth, John Dryden, and Alexander Pope, Johnson’s definitions highlight the peculiar paradox of modern disputes about language, culture, history, and worldview: We are so disconnected from the foundations of our language, culture, history, and worldview that it is all too common for both sides of our arguments to actually miss the point of the arguments.

So, the next time Christmas-naysayers attempt to play the role of the Grinch sweeping into Whoville to steal away every vestige of Christian civilization, we can simply smile—with all the guilelessness of Cindy-Lou Who.

Meanwhile we all probably ought to do our homework a little more thoroughly. This whole Christ-less Christmas flap rather smacks of one of Johnson’s illustrative epigrams from the great English poet, literary critic, and translator, John Dryden, “Courage, like intelligence, is but a holiday kind of virtue, only seldomly exercised.”

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! For World Radio, I’m George Grant.

MARY REICHARD: Well, we will end the program as we will for the rest of this week with music.  Each day we will hear a sacred selection from a Christian College choir or music group.

NICK EICHER: Yes, today, a recording from the Master’s University Chorale under the direction of Paul Plew. Here’s a rendition of the hymn: “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent” as arranged by Larry Hall.

NICK EICHER: We will remember more notable people who died this year—tomorrow, in the areas of religion, music, and sports.

And, we’ll share some more of your Christmas memories.

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.

When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. 

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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