MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!
Joe Biden drops some bad language on the campaign trail. But he’s not the only politician using profanity to act tough.
How do Christians respond to an increasingly crass culture?
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.
Also, just in time for St. Patrick’s day, Megan reviews a new documentary on the man known as the Apostle of Ireland.
And Word Play with George Grant.
BASHAM: It’s Friday, March 13th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Good morning!
BASHAM: Now here’s Kent Covington with the news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Sports leagues suspend play amid COVID-19 outbreaks » All major sports leagues in the United States are shutting down amid coronavirus outbreaks.
NBA officials on Wednesday suspended the season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19. And on Thursday, other leagues followed suit.
The NCAA canceled the Division I basketball tournaments and all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman said canceling is the right thing to do.
ACKERMAN: We do not want to be imprudent as it relates to the safety of the participants and our fans. You know, and it’s terrifying, frankly, what’s evolving.
The NHL and Major League Soccer are also shutting down for now. And Major League Baseball suspended all Spring Training games, and it is delaying the start of the 2020 season by at least two weeks.
Multiple cruise lines are also halting operations, and all Disney parks across the globe will close by next week.
Fed moves to calm Wall Street » Meantime, the Federal Reserve is trying to calm frightened investors as Wall Street had its worst day in more than 30 years. The Fed moved Thursday to try to ease the fallout from the coronavirus. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has more.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The Fed announced it will sharply increase its purchases of short-term Treasury bonds. It’s making available at least $2 trillion in short-term lending to help stabilize the Treasury market. It’s also expanding its ongoing $60 billion-a-month purchases of Treasuries to include longer-term bonds.
Initially, the Fed’s actions led the stock market to pare its deep losses, before share prices fell back down. By mid-afternoon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was still off more than 8 percent.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.
COVINGTON: Brazilian official who attended events with Trump tests positive for COVID-19 » A Brazilian official who attended weekend events with President Trump in Florida has tested positive for the coronavirus. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s communications director tested positive just days after traveling to a meeting with Trump and senior aides in Florida. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement “Both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time.”
Meantime, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also tested positive for the virus. Trudeau’s office issued a statement saying Sophie Trudeau is feeling well and will remain in isolation. And so far—quote— “The prime minister is in good health with no symptoms.” But it added that as a precaution, he too will be in isolation for 14 days.
DHS clarifies Europe travel ban amid criticism » The Department of Homeland Security has clarified some details about the European travel ban President Trump announced Wednesday night. It takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time tonight, but DHS said the government will provide numerous exemptions. Among those exempted will be legal permanent U.S. residents and those married to such residents, as well as foreign government officials and crews of ships and planes.
Many officials in Europe sharply criticized the travel ban, and they weren’t alone. The president’s top political rival, Joe Biden, said:
BIDEN: Banning travel from Europe or any other part of the world may slow it, but as we’ve seen, it will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism and politics, rather than risk, will be counterproductive.
But at a House hearing on Thursday, the head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Anthony Fauci, backed up the ban. He said “70 percent of the new infections” in the world are “coming from Europe, seeding other countries.”
FAUCI: Of the 35 or more states that have infections, 30 of them now most recently have gotten them from a travel related case from that region.
Fauci urges social distancing » But Fauci also contradicted President Trump’s claim that access to testing is adequate. He said the United States has a problem right now regarding access to COVID-19 tests. He called that a “a failing” and said for that reason, you can’t let your guard down, even if there are no confirmed cases reported in your area. He urged vigilance and “social distancing.”
FAUCI: Right now, all of us, regardless of what testing is going on need to be doing the kind of distancing, avoiding crowds, teleworking where possible. I’ve said it many times, I’ll say it again. This is not business as usual.
Fauci’s warning comes on the heels of a federally funded study that the NIH posted on Wednesday. It indicates that the coronavirus can live in the air up to 3 hours after aerosolization.
The study is still subject to peer review. But it could reveal that the coronavirus is highly airborne and that just sharing the room with an infected person is enough to spread the virus.
Some health officials say due to limited testing, the virus may already be much more widespread than official numbers indicate.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse called on the Senate to cancel next week’s recess to deal with the crisis. In a statement he said—quote—“Nursing home operators in Nebraska are telling me they’re worried because they have patients who might have coronavirus, but they don’t have enough testing kits to find out.”
Sasse cited—quote—“obvious deficiencies in our diagnostic testing pipeline.”
Two American service members killed in rocket attack in Iraq » The U.S. launched airstrikes Thursday in Iraq, targeting the Iranian-backed Shia militia members. The strikes came one day after a rocket attack killed two American service members at a military base in Iraq. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: U.S. officials said fighter jets hit five locations and mainly targeted Kataib Hezbollah weapons facilities inside Iraq. The Pentagon said the strikes were designed to—quote—“significantly degrade their ability to conduct future attacks.”
U.S. officials say Iran-backed groups were behind Wednesday’s rocket attack, when nearly 20 rockets struck the Taji military base in Iraq. Two Americans and one British soldier died, and at least 12 other people were injured.
Attacks have increased in the region since a U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.
Lawmakers in the House voted Wednesday to curb President Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran without congressional approval. But the House does not have the votes needed to override a certain presidential veto.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
COVINGTON: I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead on Culture Friday: politicians using bad language.
Plus, Word Play with George Grant.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN: It’s Friday the 13th of March, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. First up: Culture Friday.
BROWN: On Tuesday, Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden made a campaign stop at a Detroit auto plant. That’s where a worker questioned him about his gun control proposals. Biden fired back with an angry, profanity-laced response.
Here’s a clip of the exchange with Biden’s bad language bleeped out.
WORKER: You are actively trying to end our Second Amendment rights and take away our guns.
BIDEN: You’re full of s***. I did not—no, no, shush. Shush. I support the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment — just like right now if you yelled fire, that’s not free speech.
BASHAM: John Stonestreet joins us now for Culture Friday. He’s president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
John, good morning.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning!
BASHAM: Now, John, I’ll leave the analysis of Biden’s big delegate wins to the political commentators. What I want to do is put on my Sunday School mom hat a little bit. Because I hear this and I cringe.
This wasn’t some hot mic or off-the-record moment. This was an official campaign visit. The former vice president was clearly aware that cameras—a lot of cameras—were recording him.
And lest we make this a partisan issue, I’ve heard President Trump use similar language on the public stage. And I hate it then too. I hate for my kids to hear it when the news is on and I don’t change the channel fast enough.
So my question, John, am I just being a church lady “clutching my pearls” as the hipsters say, or does this kind of stuff matter?
STONESTREET: Do the hipsters really like to say that? I’m not sure I’ve heard it.
BASHAM: I see it everywhere!
STONESTREET: Oh, ok. Good. I stand corrected.
Look, I want to talk about kind of the crassness of culture, but I do want to say that although maybe the vice president remembered that there were cameras all around him, maybe he didn’t. That’s a whole other comment and a whole other topic about kind of what we’re seeing from this particular candidate. But, again, I’ll leave that to another day.
Most of the time, politics is downstream from culture. Not always. Sometimes politics is upstream from culture. In other words, there are political decisions and things pushed forward that the culture is not largely reflecting and not ready for and it drives it home. But this, in my mind, is one of the opposite examples when politics is reflecting a crassness across the culture. Now, look, we know and one of the things that I’ve been trying to say since 2016 that despite the very good things that we have seen from this president, this administration across the board, there are some things that we have seen that are telling us a lot about sort of the cultural moment we’re in and the health and well-being of our culture.
For example, Alexander Soltenitzen’s tremendous speech at Harvard University in the late 70s in which he said the sign of a decaying culture is the lack of great statesmen. And by statesmen, it’s not just somebody who can “get things done” or does the policies that we like or even think are the right ones, but someone who can actually lead. And can lead in such a way that you want people to follow.
But you kind of look across the segments of culture and we see a coarsening of everything from language in the office place, certainly what used to be considered dad’s bowling language kind of going across genders and across other activities. I’m thinking here of the number of children’s movies or movies that reflect what happens in an elementary school classroom. I’m thinking here of a movie like Wonder, which is otherwise such an amazing film, but it’s describing a teacher dropping one of those bombs in front of kids. And of course we know that’s the case when it comes to movies.
In other words, I think this is a reflection of the crassness of culture. And one of the things we’ve wrestled with is—Sarah and I have wrestled with with our own kids in terms of films that otherwise have pretty good messages that we want them to see, but trying to walk around what is the appropriate use of language.
BASHAM: Looking at media reactions, it seems like this kind of language is being considered the new red meat for campaigns. When the president calls his opponents names I can’t repeat here at his rallies, the crowd goes wild.
Biden has had similar exchanges and his supporters also seem to love it. CNN editor Chris Cilizza is saying that this incident probably helps Biden’s campaign. Not because he argued policy persuasively, but because it makes him look tough.
So if this is what tough looks like now, how can Christians—I’m thinking of Christian men in particular—show the world a different idea of tough?
STONESTREET: [Laughs] I’ll resist the urge, once again, and to comment on whether Joe Biden planned that. Yeah, whatever.
I mean, I think one of the ways is learning how language works and using it well. Carefully using words and phrasing, making arguments instead of just assertions. I do want to point out something that often gets overlooked, which is the history of the west—including America—includes political jabs and insults. But I think what you’ll see if you kind of compare today that it maybe is not a level of being nicer than what it used to be, but we’re worse at it. You kind of look Churchill’s cleverness, for example, to some of his political opponents. Or the conflict between John Adams and Jefferson and Hamilton and Aaron Burr and you kind of look back during these times—and, again, I’m kind of living in this space right now—but the insults were flying. But they were just done in a way that illustrated a deeper level of thought and clarity.
And in our culture, definitions are assumed and arguments are not made, just assertions are. And being able to divvy our way through those things I think is a way that Christian men can stand out, specifically, but also the next generation.
BASHAM: Turning away now from politics to pop-culture. Last week publisher Hachette announced they were dropping Woody Allen’s memoir after younger staffers staged a walkout.
The outrage stemmed from Allen’s now-adult daughter Dylan Farrow accusing him of molesting her when she was a child.
Allen has always denied he did anything wrong. And Farrow’s accusations were investigated twice without any charges being filed.
So, all that to say, everything there was to know, Hachette knew when they signed a contract to publish Allen’s book.
Mega-bestselling-author Stephen King expressed his concern on Twitter. He said, “The Hachette decision to drop the Woody Allen book makes me very uneasy. It’s not him…it’s who gets muzzled next that worries me. Once you start, the next one is always easier.”
Now John, this is a messy, complicated topic. And I’m not interested in defending or accusing Woody Allen here. What I am interested in is King’s point about the chilling of speech we’re seeing in the publishing industry.
Because what King seemed not to know was that this actually been going on for awhile now. Maybe King just hadn’t noticed because the other authors aren’t nearly as famous as Woody Allen.
Other authors have withdrawn books when they and their publishers were pummeled with criticism for not being woke enough. Often from other people in the book industry who admitted they hadn’t read the books.
When you read deeply into these stories, you get a clear impression that the authors’ so-called decisions to withdraw were coming from a place of fear and awareness that they weren’t going to get support from their agents or publishers if they forged ahead.
As I said, I’m not here to defend the novelists or the books, especially not 13 Reasons Why, which, as we’ve discussed, has been really damaging to teens.
But what’s your read on all this?
STONESTREET: Yeah, I’m really hesitant to throw all of these stories in the same bucket. And the reason is I think there’s a world of difference between someone who’s summarily dismissed because of a sexual abuse or a harassment allegation and someone who’s not woke enough. Those are very different things. I’m thinking here, I mean, a more interesting story to me is the several comic book writers who expressed some initial disagreement with the LGBT agenda being dismissed out of hand. That said, there’s still an issue when it comes to cancel culture, which is all it takes is an accusation. At one part it’s a really hard thing because there has been a systemic cover-up of long-term abuse in almost all the major power centers of our culture for a really long time. And when you have that sort of mess that festers and you shine the light on it, the cockroaches are going to scurry and you’re going to have—it’s just going to be messy. I’m not saying that justifies any innocent accusations whatsoever.
But at the same time, I think it’s going to be too easy for us to put the whole boat in cancel culture. And I think also the other thing that we’re seeing is just an inconsistency. I mean, actions, for example, by Vice President Joe Biden and being too touchy-feely would have eliminated CEOs from certain companies or Hollywood actors and actresses and certainly candidates on the right-hand side of the political aisle almost immediately. And so this whole thing is a big old mess. It is a big old mess. And there’s no way around it.
And I think, too, there’s no distinction being made from those who are distinctly sorry and seek forgiveness and those who don’t. And part of this, too, is what happens when bad ideas really kind of take root in our culture. I mean, all these things, I think, can be traced back at some level to what the sexual revolution has wrought. Not that there weren’t abuse or harassment things prior to that, in ages where there was a more chauvinistic culture did you not have women being the victims of men. But the sexual revolution has made it all confusing, right? Hugh Hefner’s a hero, Harvey Weinstein’s a bad guy. Women’s rights on one hand and men can claim women’s rights by the sheer power of claiming them. None of this stuff makes any sense and it’s creating a cultural context where all of this is just a big old mess.
I think one of the things that Christians have to do in order to move forward in all this is to not let blind ideology trump human dignity. And these are really tough lines to hold as we kind of consider things like due process and we consider things like hearing the accuser and recognizing there may be some structural ways in which we have suppressed the ability to face the real evils that exist in our own cultural situation.
BASHAM: I get that and I think you do well to bring up both the context of a culture of abuse and also how do we handle cultural due process, so to speak.
Well, John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
John, thanks so much.
STONESTREET: Thanks, Megan!
MYRNA BROWN: Authorities in Pembroke Pines, Florida are asking the public to be on the lookout for a fugitive. Law enforcement has been trying to track her down for weeks.
She’s been trespassing into private swimming pools and running from police. But she’s not armed and dangerous.
Police describe the fugitive this way: “A cow. Brown with a white head. Faster than it looks. Talented fence jumper. Enjoys pools.” She’s eluded capture since January!
A police statement said the cow is guilty of—quoting here—“MOOving violations and uddering false checks.”
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN: Today is Friday, March 13th. Thank you for listening to WORLD Radio! Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Beer, parades, the wearing o’ the green. After Nicholas, no historical saint has had more celebration and legend grow up around him than “Ireland’s apostle,” Patrick.
Yet unlike jolly old Sinterklaas, Patrick left the world an autobiographical record. A new documentary uses it to explore not only his life, but the spread of Christianity at the beginning of the Dark Ages.
CLIP: There’s the image of him driving out snakes from Ireland. The bishop with the mitre and the staff and the crozier. He’s also associated very strongly with the shamrock. People think he’s Irish when, in fact, he’s British. Most of the preconception that we’ve got about Saint Patrick actually mostly is completely wrong.
Few stories boast as much cinematic potential as that of the figure most identified with Ireland but who was actually born a Roman Briton. As Patrick describes his 5th century adolescence in his Confessio, he sounds startlingly similar to countless teens in modern, evangelical families. The spoiled, uncaring son of a wealthy deacon, he sees affluence as his birthright and scoffs at his father’s teaching about sin and salvation.
But, as is so often true, an encounter with suffering draws his heart to his Creator. At age 16, he’s kidnapped and taken to Ireland for six years of punishing captivity. Patrick later writes of how the experience softened his heart and brought about his conversion.
CLIP: There, the Lord opened my understanding to my unbelief. So that, however late, I might become conscious of my failings. Then, remembering my need, I might turn with all my heart to the Lord my God. For it was he who looked after me before I knew him. Indeed, as a father consoles his son, so he protected me.
A daring sea escape follows, and at last Patrick’s parents receive him home with rejoicing. They beg him never to leave, but the missionary-minded young man enters ecclesiastical training in Burgundy. He’s determined to return to his oppressors and save them for Christ.
His life becomes no less dramatic once he begins to formally evangelize the Emerald Isle.
Druids and pagan chieftains, who sometimes use violence and threats to stop him from bringing the gospel to the Irish people, are only one of the problems he faces. He also has to contend with a church hierarchy that isn’t sold on some of his unconventional methods.
CLIP: It’s also believed that Patrick ministered in the Irish language instead of Latin and established many monasteries for the ordination of uneducated people. Who is this man to do such things? And who does he think he is? Patrick’s superiors started digging for anything they could find to discredit him.
Other unheard of actions Patrick takes include publicly calling out a wealthy ruler in present-day Scotland who claims to be a follower of Christ yet captures and sells his brothers and sisters from Ireland. This makes him one of the first people in recorded history to condemn the practice of slavery. And he did it on behalf of a people who had enslaved him.
I’m still waiting for a full-scale, big-budget treatment of a life that more than warrants it. But CBN’s new docudrama, I Am Patrick, offers a wonderful substitute.
Perfectly timed for Saint Patrick’s Day, it hits theaters on March 17 and 18 for a special Fathom event. For those who’d prefer to avoid the theater these days, it will likely land on a streaming service shortly after.
Though he’s not on screen nearly as often as we might wish, John Rhys Davis of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Lord of the Rings gives us a stately yet warm-hearted Patrick in his later years. While it’s clear CBN made the film on a tight budget, it easily matches the quality of popular documentaries on the History Channel or National Geographic. My only real criticism is that there isn’t more of it.
As Thomas Cahill laid out in his delightful little book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, without Patrick, there may well have been no Christian Ireland. And without Christian Ireland, countless Bible translations and other early church records would have been lost to marauding Vikings.
CLIP: As Christianity established itself, as it became more vibrant, it became known as the land of saints and scholars and that led in turn to a whole proliferation of Christian missionaries leaving Ireland and flooding continental Europe. Patrick’s story began a chain of events that is quite remarkable in the impact that it had.
It would have been nice if I Am Patrick had spent a little more time setting the saint’s life in this larger context. If it had explicitly explored how God used one faithful shepherd to preserve the light of his Word in the Western world. But even with its tight focus on the two documents Patrick wrote, this is still an engaging and inspiring tale.
So go ahead and enjoy a few green treats in honor of this hero of the faith. But you might also honor his legacy by taking the family out for a viewing of I Am Patrick to learn a little more about the man behind the myth.
MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Friday, March 13th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Now Word Play with George Grant.
GEORGE GRANT, COMMENTOR: Etymologists are linguistic detectives. Their task is to trace the origins and meanings of those words that make their way into our vocabulary. They will tell you that newly minted words, or neologisms, generally emerge to describe headline-grabbing turns of events, like Brexit and Trumpocrat; or to describe developments in technology like Gigeconomy and Tweetcred; or to describe trends in pop culture like Flightshaming and Gretafication.
These neologisms are usually created quite deliberately as portmanteaus, sniglets, logomorphs, or eponyms. Sometimes, they are created by turning a noun into a verb—something etymologists call denominalization or verbing. Thus, when we search for something on the internet, we say that we’re googling it—a verbified neologism derived from the name of the world’s most popular search engine, Google.
Of course, not all neologisms are so purposefully created. Sometimes they occur quite by accident. A perfect example of this is Google itself—the name and the noun.
According to Silicon Valley lore Google is in fact, a misspelling of the word googol. It is a mathematical term coined by the renowned Columbia University professor, Edward Kasner, and his nephew, Milton Sirotta, intended to describe the concept of ten duotrigintillion or ten to the hundredth power. One googol, they supposed, was greater than the number of atoms in the observable universe. And a googolplex, they said, was one followed by a googol of zeros—an unimaginably immense number.
One of the names Larry Page and Sergey Brin initially considered for their new internet search engine and company, was Googolplex. Page particularly liked the symbolism of the concept. But he was not enamored with the complexity of the word. So instead, he suggested the simpler googol. However, when checking to see if the domain googol.com was available, his programming assistant accidentally mistyped it as google.com. He realized his mistake almost immediately. But Page decided he actually liked the happy accident—and the name stuck.
As a result, the etymology of one of our most commonly used neologisms, along with its familiar verbified derivative, is just a spelling mistake—thus, taking to heart Vladimir Nabokov’s recommendation to make “ornaments of accidents and possibilities.”
I’m George Grant.
MEGAN BASHAM: Well, it’s the end of the workweek and time to say thanks to the people who worked hard to bring the program to you each day: Joel Belz, Paul Butler, Kent Covington, Nick Eicher, Kristen Flavin, Kim Henderson, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Jill Nelson, Trillia Newbell, Onize Ohikere, Mary Reichard, Jenny Lind Schmidt, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Cal Thomas.
MYRNA BROWN: 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.
2nd Thessalonians says, “And as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary of doing good.”
I hope you’ll have a great day today, and that you’ll worship in spirit and in truth. Please meet us back here on Monday!