The World and Everything in It — July 31, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Welcome to a special edition of our program.

Today, we’re recording live near Charlottesville, Virginia in front of a socially distanced audience. On the program today for Culture Friday, a disgraced Christian comedian tries to make a comeback.

NICK EICHER: Also today, Megan Basham reviews The Outpost, an Afghanistan war film based on the true story of a historic battle.

And listener feedback.

REICHARD: It’s Friday July 31st. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher.

REICHARD: Now the news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Economy takes record dive in most recent quarter » The U.S. economy plunged by a record-shattering 32.9 percent annual rate in the last quarter, ending in June. 

That came as COVID-19 pushed many already hurting businesses to close for a second time. That sent unemployment surging to nearly 15 percent. 

PNC economist Gus Faucher said Thursday…

FAUCHER: The good news is that the number will be better in the third quarter and we will see the economy return to growth. But the level of economic activity is going to continue to be much lower than it was at the end of 2019. 

Republicans and Democrats continue to wrangle over another economic stimulus package to help individuals and employers. 

Prosecutor: No charges against officer who shot Michael Brown » St. Louis County’s top prosecutor announced Thursday that he will not charge the former police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

It was nearly six years ago that a grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot Brown, an 18-year-old Black man. 

But prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, the county’s first Black prosecutor, re-investigated the case over five months. 

Bell said his office conducted a review of witness statements, forensic reports, and other evidence. And he concluded the evidence simply did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Wilson committed a crime. 

MLB announces new coronavirus rules following outbreak » Major League baseball is adjusting it’s coronavirus protocols as the virus continues to spread in big league clubhouses. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has more. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: Another player for the Miami Marlins has reportedly tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of infected Marlins players to 17. Two coaches also tested positive.

And now the Philadelphia Phillies announced Thursday that they’re cancelling a weekend series against the Blue Jays after a coach and a staff member tested positive. 

In response, Major League Baseball has announced changes. 

Teams will have to use surgical masks instead of cloth masks while traveling. They’ll also have to travel with a compliance officer to help enforce the rules. 

And the league is reportedly investigating in-stadium behavior, such as mask wearing and social distancing when possible as well as the off-field activities of players, coaches, and staff. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones. 

Herman Cain dies of COVID-19 » Former GOP presidential candidate turned talk radio host Herman Cain has died  after contracting COVID-19. That despite doctors saying last weekend that he would likely recover.

Cain was the retired CEO of the Godfather’s Pizza chain when he mounted a strong challenge for the Republican nomination eight years ago.

CAIN: This economy is on life support. That’s why my 9-9-9 plan is a bold solution. 

Cain heard there during a September, 2012 debate. 

Accusations of sexual harassment and infidelity, which he denied, led him to end his bid early. Cain, who once served as an associate minister at Antioch Baptist Church in Atlanta, beat stage 4 colon cancer in 2006. 

He was 74 years old. 

Trump suggests delaying November election » President Trump on Thursday suggested delaying the Nov. 3 presidential election. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: President Trump tweeted “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA.” He then asked. “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

It was the first time Trump publicly raised the idea of pushing back the vote. 

But shifting the election is virtually impossible.

The date of the presidential election is enshrined in federal law. It’s the Tuesday after the first Monday in November every fourth year. And it would require an act of Congress to change. Lawmakers in both parties slammed the door shut on that notion Thursday.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

NASA launches most ambition Mars mission yet » The biggest, most sophisticated Mars rover ever built blasted off for the red planet Thursday.

AUDIO: [Sound of Mars launch]

NASA’s Perseverance rover rode an Atlas V rocket into a clear morning sky in the world’s third and final Mars launch of the summer. China and the United Arab Emirates got a head start last week, but all three missions should reach their destination in February after a journey of seven months and 300 million miles.

The rover is a car-sized vehicle bristling with cameras, microphones, drills and lasers. The launch was part of an ambitious, long-range project to bring the first Martian rock samples back to Earth for analysis.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine…

BRIDENSTINE: NASA is one of those agencies. We do stunning things in good times and in bad times. We have a history of being able to do this. But there is a reason we call the robot Perseverance, because going to Mars is hard. It is always hard. It has never been easy. 

The plutonium-powered, six-wheeled rover will drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be brought home in about 11 years from now. The overall cost: more than $8 billion.

NASA pronounced the launch the start of “humanity’s first round trip to another planet.”

I’m Kent Covington. 

Straight ahead: theology professor Katie McCoy joins us for Culture Friday.

Plus, your Listener Feedback.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Friday, July 31st, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. A warm welcome to those watching the broadcast live here in Charlottesville, Virginia, I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Eight months after leaving the national spotlight due to a sexual scandal, Christian comedian John Crist returned last week on Instagram. He delivered a personal statement. We’ll listen to a bit of it here as he talked about the process that’s moving him toward what he called healing.

CRIST: Let me just say how hopeful and encouraging that was to be working on my own mental health and my recovery and healing. And have a bunch of people rooting for me and supported me, meant the world.

He would go on to refer to some poor choices in his personal life, decisions that caused hurt and embarrassment and consequences. “I can look you in the eye” he said, and “own that.” Now a little over a week after he delivered his statement, he posted his first new comedy video.

BASHAM: Well it’s culture Friday, and we’re happy now to welcome Katie McCoy, assistant professor of theology and women’s studies at Southwestern seminary. Katie, thanks for being here. 

KATIE MCCOY, GUEST: Always great to be with you guys. 

BASHAM: So to start out with, I want to explain that we don’t bring up Crist to dip into anything salacious. Obviously that’s not our intention here, but his statement does seem to illustrate some trends we’re seeing overall and how we talk within the church about sin, and really how we address it. 

So we just played that short clip. That was just a minute out of about four minutes total, probably actually about 30 seconds. He repeatedly mentioned poor decisions in his personal life and how he blames no one but himself. He confesses to hypocrisy, but I want to mention what I didn’t hear. I didn’t hear the word sin. I didn’t hear repentance. So that language felt really more therapeutic to me. Now you viewed the video, Katie, what did you see? 

MCCOY: Well, I think you’re exactly right, Megan. He described how he had a problem and needed to get some help. He talked about his mental health and healing and the recovery process. And on one side note, it’s not really about the issue, but I think about people who actually do have struggles with mental health and healing and recovery process. And it’s horribly unfair to somehow equate the two struggles between his choices and those who carry that burden. 

When he talks about fixing the broken pieces of himself—and, I appreciate that he acknowledged his own hypocrisy, but this is a perfect example of how we have to recover the language of the Bible. When we’re talking about the Christian life, we have to have words like sin and repentance and holiness and sanctification. Now, I appreciate that he made a statement. I can’t imagine how difficult that would be. But at the same time, he certainly could have been speaking about this in terms of sin and repentance and life change. 

And, frankly, the way he was describing it was almost like he was a victim of his own sin. Like he was somehow this passive participant who was sort of—he’s living the effects of his own choices instead of one who was actively making them. I can’t judge his heart. And certainly this is an opportunity for all of us to examine ourselves and where we have areas of our lives, where we have just a little bit of repentance, as scripture describes it, so therefore a little bit of healing. And so it was disappointing to hear, but at the same time, I hope that perhaps it represents the beginning of some real life change and a genuine change in direction.

REICHARD: Katie, this is Mary Reichard. Hi. 

MCCOY: Hey Mary. 

REICHARD: One of the things that bothers me about stories like this—sometimes, not always—but sometimes it’s not about the power differential or the celebrity status or anything like that. Yet I hear this in social media, right after Crist posted that video, I heard a lot of criticism about the dynamics of abuse and how abusers operate, but adult women have agency too, don’t they? I mean, they could be predatory and they may want to be seen with someone they perceive as having power or celebrity. Am I off base here?

MCCOY: Well, I don’t know the specific situations of each of the women involved. So I really can’t comment on that. I will say, based on what I read about the John Crist situation, he seemed to be very good at manipulating people and was very skilled at winning their trust, using his platform and his personality to his advantage. To gain the trust of women who, perhaps they wanted to learn something of his business, they wanted to enjoy the benefits socially of having a friend who was a celebrity. But in terms of how he used that, it’s not exactly like Harvey Weinstein of saying that his advances meant the woman is to comply or else she’ll never work again in that industry, or she’ll end up having some deleterious consequences to her job or her career, very different type of power dynamic.

But then at the same time, you know Mary, there’s an aspect of it where, certainly without negating personal agency of a woman and choices, because this is part of what it means to be in the image of God, we have personal agency, we have moral culpability of our own. I think we need to also recognize how God created that dynamic of a man pursuing a woman, and with sin comes the distortion of that and comes the manipulation of that and comes the corruption of that. So a man who might be showing some positive attention to a young woman, she’s going, “Oh, well maybe this is something that is a positive thing in my life” only to find out that his motives are corrupt. And that seems to be what happened in the case of John Crist is that he had sexual addiction. He was using his platform in a way that gained the trust of young women and he manipulated it out of his own lust.

BASHAM: Well, and I guess I just want to press a little more on this question. Maybe it’s a question of how we define abuse, Katie, because you brought up mental illness and when we apply that to questions where we’re not certain that there’s a mental illness problem, I guess from my point of view, I go, at what point do we delineate that something is sin? Perhaps one party is more sinful in this joint act than the other party, but how do we define when it is abuse? 

MCCOY: That’s a great question. I would not say that I am qualified to answer that. That’s something that I would have to myself consult Christian counselors, certainly pastoral counselors and even some sociologists to understand the full dynamics of that. 

My broad definition would be someone who takes any type of power dynamic and uses it to their advantage to exploit the weakness of another person, whether that is physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, or mental, and then certainly sexual as well. So in terms of, is what John Crist did abusive? I think I’d have to give that some thought. He certainly certainly took advantage of his platform in a way that was exploitative. And what I read of one young woman and how she described a new friendship, it quickly became exploitative. But again, this isn’t the same thing that we can put this on par with some of these executives or media moguls who use their position to coerce women into sexual favors at the expense of their career.

BASHAM: One more question. A pastor I know brought up church discipline, not as punishment, but as a process. Now we don’t know whether that’s going on out of the spotlight in this particular situation, but it does seem like something that we’ve lost. It seems like something we don’t talk about very frequently. From a theological standpoint. Do you feel like church discipline is something we need to recapture?

MCCOY: Oh my goodness, yes. In fact, it was the Protestant Reformation fathers who told us that the substance of a church is the word of God preached, the ordinances rightly administered, and they—I believe it was Calvin, who coupled church discipline in that. And it is good, godly, righteous, biblical church, discipline that we’re missing from the church today.

I think you were alluding to this. It’s never to hurt. It’s always to reconcile and to restore. And with that, the more openness that there is, there’s greater accountability. There can be greater healing. And then also it causes fear, the good kind of holy awe in fear among the people of God that be sure your sin will find you out. So confess it now while it’s hidden, before it’s exposed. These are things that we have to recover. We don’t need another church program. We don’t need another church conference. We simply need to be doing the very simple things of the word. And that does include church discipline. 

BASHAM: Katie McCoy is assistant professor of theology and women’s studies at Southwestern seminary. Enjoyed talking with you as always Katie.

MCCOY: Always great to be with you. Thank you.

NICK EICHER: Alright, no one has any idea how much longer this coronavirus new normal is going to go, but just as we’re doing today with our live recording fully compliant with local law, we are finding new ways to cope.

Restaurants from Mexico City to Montreal to Tokyo are figuring out how to put just a little social in social distancing.

AUDIO: [Laughter]

Lifelike mannequins seated at tables.

This fellow in Tokyo says it took some getting used to, but it’s not that hard to imagine, really. We walk into stores and mannequins are displaying clothing for sale. So, why not? Instead of restaurants with chairs up on tables, so forbidding. Why not fill up half full establishments with stylish patrons who cannot possibly make you sick.

AUDIO: [Speaking in French]

This diner in Montreal saying, “It makes the atmosphere much more pleasant.”

In Mexico City, instead of mannequins, one restaurant is placing giant teddy bears.

It’s The World and Everything in It. 

MARY REICHARD: Today is Friday July 31st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a modern-day war film that has been getting a lot of buzz. But our reviewer Megan Basham is here now to explain why the credits may be the best thing about it.

CLIP: President Karzai doesn’t want American forces to leave before the Afghan election. General McChrystal agrees. You need to let the men know. So we’re not closing the outpost in July? That’s correct. I’m sorry. Maybe October. The good news is, you’ll all receive an extra thousand dollars a month. That’s all. 

MEGAN BASHAM, FILM REVIEWER: It’s a little hard to understand what made Outpost one of the best-reviewed releases of 2020 so far. Certainly the Afghan War drama, which hit streaming services on July 3, has the kind of pedigree the critics are inclined to praise. It’s based on an exhaustively researched book by CNN newsman, Jake Tapper. And it tells the harrowing true story of how 53 U.S. soldiers faced down more than 400 Taliban fighters from the low ground in Nuristan. 

Beyond that naturally gripping set up, it also offers complex themes. While it honors military valor, it indicts policies of unending conflicts with ill-defined, “hearts and minds” objectives. These, it suggests, are what put Bravo Troop 3-61 CAV in such a dire position.

CLIP: Rules of engagement are different here. You cannot shoot someone suspicious. Suspicious? So where were the bullets coming from, sir? You must PID a weapon or a radio in an enemy’s hand. That comes straight from McChrystal. You want your next tour to be in Leavenworth? Well, someone should tell McChrystal that we’re not out here selling popsicles, sir. Excessive force alienates the locals and causes greater risk. You better grasp that f’ing sentiment now. 

But even when we grip our seats at the taut action sequences or smile at the band-of-brothers camaraderie, there’s something hollow and disconnected about the whole. It’s a strange experience to see such sacrifice on the part of our courageous, young countrymen yet feel so little moved by it.

Part of the problem is that the characters rotate out of the story every few minutes, killed or reassigned. But it’s also that, with a couple of notable exceptions played by Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood, those that remain often feel interchangeable. They have quick, clichéd markers of personality—the wisecracker, the mama’s boy. But little else distinguishes them.

Take one private who’s ostensibly a Christian. He speaks with the same unrelenting torrent of profanity and sexual innuendo every other character uses. Please, mark that the language alone would merit an R rating even if it didn’t come with realistic violence. When he tries to prove to a fellow soldier there’s some deeper meaning in the terror they’re experiencing, he’s often only able to offer platitudes.

CLIP: If God was real, then these guys wouldn’t be trying to kill us every goddamn day and Keaton would still be around here. God works in mysterious ways Sergeant. Yeah, so I guess God’s plan is our chaos then, huh. 

This cultural faith, that has so little to offer in the face of death, might, in itself, offer some insight on the futility Solomon spoke of. But that doesn’t seem to be Director Rod Lurie’s purpose. Every time he draws up to the cusp of mining something more profound from these real events, something more than the familiar beats of dozens of war movies that have come before, he shifts to some other scene or interaction.

There does, eventually, come a moment when viewers will find their hearts stirred with empathy and gratitude. It’s as the credits roll. Then, Tapper sits down with the men who came back from Combat Outpost Keating to tell us about the fallen. As we see the faces of those who didn’t make it home to friends and family, we finally recall they were not mere types. Their experiences weren’t trite.

CLIP: I remember as I walked the outpost when the battle was over, and the buildings were literally falling to the ground and I would see black spots on the ground that were dark as motor oil. And then when the flames from the buildings would just kind of illuminate it enough for me to see that it was a very deep color of red. And that’s when I realized, oh, this is where one of our soldiers died. 

Sergeant Christopher Griffin was real. So was Private First Class Kevin Thomson. As their brothers’ jaws tremble, trying to manfully restrain tears while remembering them, we remember these men we’ve never met too.

CLIP: I read somewhere in the Bible, the gates of Heaven and the gates of Hell are in the same spot,” says one of the heroes who survived. “So at the time of the firefight, it was the gates of Hell. But watching men sacrifice themselves to protect each other, you could see the true form of what brotherhood and love is. So it became the gates of Heaven as well.”

I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER: Today is Friday, July 31st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up: your listener feedback.

EICHER: Well, we’re going to start today with a little something that’s on everyone’s mind right now: COVID-19. As you can imagine, we get a lot of feedback whenever we report on just about anything to do with the disease.

REICHARD: Listener Jan Linhardt called in with a request that echoes what we’ve heard from some of you.

LINHARDT: I know you all lead in with your news headlines of what you deem as pertinent and important headlines, but I was just chagrined because I was recommended to you all as a kind of a balance to the drumbeat of, ‘COVID cases on the rise and how dreadful it is.’ And that’s what you all have been leading in with, and did today. And I was just no no. I know that it’s a part of what we’re dealing with right now, but please give some thought to a balance. Perhaps lower death rates from what I understand? Just a balance. Don’t be like everybody else. Just give us some positives if you would. Keeping us informed, yes, ‘cause that’s why we support you guys and your perspective on life, grander and with what’s ahead, not just what we see. Thank you, folks. God bless, and we’ll continue to listen.

EICHER: Thanks, Jan. We hear you. We do not want to be a drumbeat of bad news. Under the direction our editor in chief, Marvin Olasky, every week our editors are wrestling with how to cover this pandemic in truth and through the lens of hope we have in God’s sovereign plan. We do report on the increasing case numbers because that’s what’s driving the policy decisions that affect all our lives. But we do understand that this disease is not affecting all parts of the country the same way.

REICHARD: We also try to provide the balance Jan’s talking about throughout the entirety of the program. Another listener picked up on that.

JENNY: This is Jenny and my husband’s Monty. We’re in Missouri. Longtime supporters of WORLD. Love everything about you. Wanted to thank you so much for David Bahnsen’s report where he made it clear that we need to move on. That what the media is doing to fan the fire of fear regarding COVID-19 and thinking to try to continue to shut down our lives basically is not the way to go. Yes, protect the most vulnerable. But life must go on because that actually helps the most vulnerable. So thank you very much. Trust in the Lord.

EICHER: Trust in the Lord indeed!

REICHARD: That’s right. Thanks to everyone who called in to our listener feedback line at 202-709-9595. Obviously the majority of the feedback we get comes through email, but we always appreciate hearing from listeners. This is a radio program, after all.

EICHER: Right. And speaking of email, it’s early days yet, Mary, but we’re starting to get email and comments on social media about the new Legal Docket podcast that launched this week.

REICHARD: Yes! So exciting.

EICHER: Listener Jeremiah Ruse tweeted to say that he’d just listened to the first episode. He said, quote—“You guys knocked it out of the park!”

REICHARD: Well, thanks, Jeremiah! And thanks to everyone who’s listened to that first episode. 

Let me also just make a request here: If you subscribe and rate the program, that will help move it up the rankings, and then others will discover it. This is a team effort, and we need your help! And look for episode two next week. 

EICHER: OK, we’re going to end today with a little plug for another new show you may have heard us talking about. Well, actually, I’m going to let Nicole do it for us. She called in from Sacramento, California, after listening to us talk about WORLD Watch with Brian Basham.

NICOLE: Nick, you ended with, yeah, you should check it out. This is a great program for teenagers. Well, I’d like to clarify that my 10-year-old and 12-year-old want to watch the World News in 3 every morning at breakfast, and if we miss one, they want to watch two. So I think maybe it’s good for more than just teenagers. And thank you for producing the World News in 3 because it has engaged my kids in the news in a new way that they’ve never been engaged in before. Thanks. [pause] I should add one more thing. I don’t know how you edit this, but my kids won’t let me stop the recording until they get to say, with Brian, “And remember whatever the news the purpose of the Lord will stand.”

Isn’t that nice?

REICHARD: That’s so great.

NICK EICHER: It takes a lot of people to put this program together each week. Thanks so much to our team: Brian Basham, Megan Basham, Ryan Bomberger, Myrna Brown, Paul Butler, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Kim Henderson, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Onize Ohikere, Bonnie Pritchett, Jenny Rough, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Cal Thomas.

MARY REICHARD: The guys who stay up late to get the program to you early are audio engineers Carl Peetz and Johnny Franklin. J.C. Derrick is managing editor, Marvin Olasky is editor in chief. 

And you. Without you, none of this happens.

We’ll talk to you again on Monday.

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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