MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
We’ll talk today about the Jerry Falwell Junior resignation at Liberty University and what it tells us about the importance of structures of accountability—and the power of the Proverbs.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.
Also a new movie version of the Dickens classic David Copperfield.
And your Listener Feedback.
BROWN: It’s Friday, August 28th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
BROWN: Up next, Kent Covington has today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Trump accepts renomination for president from White House lawn » With the White House as his backdrop, President Trump took center stage on the South Lawn last night and made it official.
TRUMP: My fellow Americans, tonight, with a heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism, I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States.
On the fourth and final day of the GOP convention, the president touted his unwinding of Obama-Biden era policies. And he told a crowd of supporters that he’s followed through on his 2016 campaign promises—including his pledge to reshape the courts.
TRUMP: By the end of my first term, we will have approved more than 300 federal judges, including two great new Supreme Court justices.
Trump said he has made the right moves for America amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And he predicted that the country will have a safe and effective vaccine by the end of year, crediting in advance his administration’s vaccine fast-track program Operation Warp Speed.
He recalled an economy that was roaring before the pandemic and hammered home his core message that electing Joe Biden would doom the country’s economic recovery. He also said Beijing would—quote—“own our country” if Biden is elected.
TRUMP: Joe Biden’s agenda is made in China. My agenda is made in the USA!
The evening ended with a fireworks display over the Washington Monument…
AUDIO: [Sound of fireworks]
And a live opera performance.
Among the speakers setting the stage for the president last night: Franklin Graham, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and first daughter Ivanka Trump.
Hurricane Laura leaves massive destruction in its wake » The president said he plans to visit Texas and Louisiana over the weekend where one of the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the United States pounded the Gulf Coast Thursday.
Hurricane Laura slammed the coast as a Category 4, unleashing winds of 150 miles per hour, along with a wall of seawater. The storm killed at least four people, damaged or destroyed thousands of buildings and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said relief efforts are underway.
EDWARDS: We have thousands and thousands of our fellow citizens whose lives are upside down because their business and/or their homes have been damaged. And we have lots of challenges around the state to say the least.
Southwest Louisiana took the brunt of the damage. Drone video showed water surrounding homes with much of their roofs peeled away.
One Lake Charles resident said it was like living through a disaster movie.
AUDIO: All you hear is gusts of winds, you know, debris flying, you know, glass shattering, wood flying. You’re scared to stick your head outside of the door.
Governor Edwards said he’s activated more than 5,000 National Guard troops to help with relief and cleanup and repairing infrastructure. FEMA is also on the ground.
Unemployment claims tick down but top 1 million once again » The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits topped 1 million again last week and new numbers from the Commerce Department highlight the impact of the coronavirus. WORLD’s Leigh Jones reports.
LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: Roughly a million people filed jobless claims last week—down by about 100,000 from the 1.1 million the week before.
That as the Commerce Department downgraded its earlier estimate of gross domestic product in the last quarter. It reported that the U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of 31.7 percent during the quarter ending in June—the sharpest quarterly drop on record.
But despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, some sectors of the economy are showing signs of rebounding, including the housing market and auto sales.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.
Wis. Justice Dept: Blake had knife inside driver’s side door » The Wisconsin Department of Justice said Thursday that 29-year-old Jacob Blake had a knife inside his vehicle near the driver’s side door when police shot him on Sunday. State Attorney General Josh Kaul said Blake admitted to having the weapon in his possession.
The shooting occurred when police responded to a domestic incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Officials said officers tried to arrest Blake, but he resisted. They then deployed a taser, but that wasn’t effective.
That’s when Blake began walking to his car with officers trailing him, yelling at him to stop. He then opened the driver’s side door and appeared to reach inside. That’s when an officer shot him seven times.
It’s unclear if Blake was reaching for the knife or if the officer who fired the shots saw the weapon.
Also on Thursday, NBA players reportedly met and voted in favor of resuming the playoffs. That a day after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted game 5 of their series against the Orlando Magic in protest of the Kenosha shooting. That led to the postponement of all games scheduled for yesterday.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: lessons for Christian leaders from Jerry Falwell Jr.
Plus, your Listener Feedback.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN: It’s Friday the 28th of August, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher.
FALWELL: Thank you…
First up: Culture Friday.
FALWELL: I am so honored and humbled to be here tonight.
That’s the now former president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Junior speaking at the 2016 Republican convention.
This week brought the end of a 13-year tenure that followed the death of his father, who founded the school.
Falwell Junior announced his resignation, retracted it, then submitted it a final time. Reportedly, he walks away with a $10.5 million severance.
We’ll be discreet in describing the details that follow:
The resignation comes after he revealed his wife’s infidelity with a business partner by the name of Giancarlo Granda and then an explosive wire-service story citing evidence that during some of her encounters, Falwell Junior was a voyeur.
BROWN: The story surfaced after Liberty’s board of trustees placed Falwell Junior on indefinite leave. That action followed Falwell’s posting a photo of himself aboard a yacht with his arm draped over an assistant to his wife—both of them with pants open. He said the photo was a joke and removed it, and later admitted it was a bad idea to post the picture in the first place.
EICHER: Falwell Junior was also given to aggressive comments on social media—once calling a university student’s parent a “dummy,” criticizing a pastor by name and making a crude reference to male anatomy.
Following the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, in 2015, Falwell Junior spoke to Liberty students at a convocation and made a joke about the concealed weapon he was carrying.
FALWELL: Is it illegal to pull it out, I don’t know. Is that? Anyway … I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they— before they—
BROWN: WORLD quoted a former Liberty University English professor who said of Falwell Junior’s departure, and I’ll quote the words:
“It’s a great relief that Liberty no longer has a leader who clearly no longer wants to be in that position. … His behavior for a long time has not been that of a spiritual leader.”
EICHER: John Stonestreet is here. He’s president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. John, welcome and good morning.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning.
EICHER: John, listen to this reaction Falwell Junior gave. He’d said this in numerous interviews with several media outlets, but also in this phone interview with National Public Radio’s Sarah McCammon.
FALWELL: I will step aside. And the quote I’ve been thinking about all night, Martin Luther King Jr. ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I’m free at last.’ Hahahaha. And so that’s the way I feel.
I get it that he’s very stressed-out, but it does fit with the statement Myrna mentioned, basically suggesting that he didn’t really want the job. What do you make of all this?
STONESTREET: Well, I mean, it’s been a big story all week and there’s a whole lot of words that have been said about it from all sides. So I’ve just kind of been disillusioned by using this story to celebrate the unrighteousness and that’s really what this whole thing has done.
And at the same time Liberty’s a big place. It’s got a long history. This is one of those things that affects an awful lot of lives. You have a bunch of grads—tens of thousands of graduates—and what will this mean in terms of the reputation of their degrees? You’ve got an awful lot of evangelicals and an awful lot of people who are evangelicals who have certain political views and those now are going to be mocked. I guess the ripple effect of this is way bigger than just the headlines and the sensationalism and the stories. And that’s why, to me, I just found this whole thing very, very, very sad all week. And a real slap in the face that our behavior matters. Our witness for Christ matters. And that when sin comes into the open, you kind of see how many people that it actually affects.
EICHER: I just don’t want to delve into the details. Suffice it to say Reuters broke this story and verified a FaceTime call, an audio recording, and text messages. Our reporter did reach him but when he did, Falwell Junior said he couldn’t talk.
But he was very talkative otherwise. To the Wall Street Journal he said he thought his leave of absence was driven by pressure from self-righteous people.
So you get a picture of a kind of quiescent person, who’s obviously weary, but also some defiance.
It was interesting as you went back over some of his history, you obviously see provocative statements that just didn’t befit a Christian university president. But on more than one occasion he made the point, “I’m not a spiritual leader. I’m not a minister. I’m a real estate attorney. The faculty, the students, and the campus pastor are the ones keeping the school spiritually healthy.”
Realize this is a sad personal story where Falwell Junior is concerned … but it does, John, provide a backdrop for talking about the proper role of the Christian leader.
STONESTREET: Well, this was a dramatic shift and we’ve seen Christian leadership, even leadership in higher education take different models and work just fine. We’ve actually seen all of those categories of leadership fail. We’ve seen it in churches. We’ve seen decentralized leadership do well and we’ve seen it also be a place of corruption. And it tells us a little bit about what we should remind ourselves when it comes to human sin and the fall: That the problem is not out there. The problem is not with that particular group of people or that particular creepy guy. The problem is with all of us.
And because that’s true, the red flags that should send our spidey sense tingling—and I don’t mean when we’re looking at other people; I think there’s been enough of that done in this situation—I think when we look at ourselves, when we are unaccountable, when our leadership, when our power, when our influence is not checked by any systems, by any other individuals, by anyone that we’ll listen to.
You and I have talked about this before, Nick, over the last couple weeks, but I guess for about three years now I’ve been struck by how remarkably profound Proverbs are and not because there’s some esoteric, hard to understand spiritualisms, but because they’re just kind of down-to-earth obvious. And I think one of those is when Proverbs says that you are blessed by the wounds of your friends. And I think that our vision of leadership has to be shaped deeply by what we know to be true about the human condition and our need for other people who love us enough to call us an idiot and call out our idiocy when it’s appropriate. Without that, I don’t think there’s a model that works. Those are basic ingredients that leadership can’t survive without.
BROWN: What lessons do we draw from this? What about the role of boards and structures of accountability? Seems like a good opportunity to reflect on this.
STONESTREET: Well, I think there’s going to be a lot of introspection at this particular institution about the role of the board and the role of other leaders and the accountability that they either did not provide or were not allowed to provide. And I don’t know enough about the ins and outs. I mean, certainly there’s plenty of headlines that tells you plenty of things and I’m just not sure what the truth is.
I know some of the names on that board and they’re really good people. I know, for example, that between the administration and the everyday life on campus is a dramatic divide. I mean, literally is a geographic divide. And there are wonderful, wonderful men and women of God who are discipling and carrying out that vision day in and day out to make champions for Christ and they’ve been working hard at it. So, I’m not sure the life on the ground is going to change other than there’s a whole lot of gossip for the kids to talk about.
But boards have a role and whether we’re talking about elder boards or deacon boards or boards of governance, they have a very important role and I think we are coming out of it a generation where charismatic leadership was oftentimes given a pass on this or that or the other by boards that were kind of hand-selected and so on. And I just think that’s a no-no. I’m grateful. I don’t always feel it, but I’m grateful that I don’t have a yes-man board. I can tell you that. I mean, they keep me very much accountable and will happily disagree if the mission is compromised. And, yeah, that’s a level of accountability that everybody works for somebody and we’re all accountable to the mission.
EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. John, great to talk with you. Have a good one.
STONESTREET: Thank you both.
MYRNA BROWN: Today is Friday, August 28th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: A new film adaptation of a classic Charles Dickens novel.
MEGAN BASHAM, FILM CRITIC: Whether David Copperfield shall turn out to be the hero of his new film, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, this review must show. And, in truth, while Dickens’ tale is still up to entertaining crowds, his erstwhile orphan is more confectioner than hero here. He stands mostly off to the side, casting whimsical Victorian visions. But he seems a little disengaged from events himself.
CLIP: London is full of more wonders and wickedness than all the cities of the earth. And it’s ours, David, to go wherever we choose. Oh no, not down there. Creditors make that road impassable. Two tailors and a most unreasonable muffin man.
In many ways director Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield bears a striking resemblance to the charming 2017 Dan Stevens movie, The Man Who Invented Christmas. That, too, was a story about the creative writing process. It showed us how A Christmas Carol came to be assembled in Dickens’ imagination based on events in his youth.
Something similar happens here. The difference is A Christmas Carol is 31,000 words. David Copperfield the novel runs more than 10 times that. So while the holiday classic is just the right length for reimagining while still having time to hit the high notes, whittling Dickens’ magnum opus down to a mere two hours means choosing a thin slice out of a very large pie. The wedge Iannucci serves up is the tartest and, in some ways, least representative of the whole.
Essentially, he recasts Copperfield as a farce.
CLIP: Your stepfather informs me that your mama is ill. How ill is she? Tell them. Jane. Jane. Tell me, please. I won’t deceive you, very ill. Very ill. Dangerously ill. She’s dead.
The complex, though, admittedly, often ridiculous, characters who populate David’s life become nearly as fantastical as Scrooge’s three ghosts.
We have the winsome family by the sea, the Peggottys. The artful debt dodger, Mr. Micawber, played Dr. Who’s Peter Capaldi. Donkey-foiling aunt, Miss Trotwood played by Tilda Swinton. And her sidekick, the kite-flying Mr. Dick: Hugh Laurie giving us a much warmer, fuzzier performance than mean Dr. House.
CLIP: Delighted to meet you. Delighted, thank you. Can you just confirm something? Yes. My head, am I right that my head is connected to my body? Well let me have a look. Yes, I can confirm without any doubt that it is. That’s good to hear. Would you like to see my kite? Ooh, yes please.
Iannucci draws them all as outlandishly as cartoons.
CLIP: Ready to become a proctor? Eager to become a proctor. That’s the attitude. Let’s celebrate. What is a proctor? I haven’t the faintest idea.
In the novel, the humor comes from wincing at relatable shortcomings as much as guffawing at parodies and pratfalls. Even today, I can hardly hand over my debit card at the Nordstrom annual sale without ruefully reflecting on that sage wisdom Micawber always failed to follow: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
The same goes for Mr. Wickfield’s alcoholism and Dora’s immaturity. Iannucci plays them solely for laughs, never for the tragedy we see in the source material.
CLIP: Aha, Mr. Wickfield, Agnes, how very nice to see you. Are you well? That was quite the journey. Was it? Is it too early for sherry? A little early.
We don’t yearn to see David come to his senses and finally recognize that Agnes would be a wife worth more than rubies because we never fully appreciate what counterfeit glitter Dora offers.
CLIP: You were staring slightly. Is there something wrong with me? No, goodness me. I apologize for my rudeness. He’s apologizing Jip, should we forgive him? He says we shall. Thank you, Jip. Think nothing of it sir. He speaks very well. It was actually me. I like to pretend he speaks. Some people think it idiotic.
The most redemptive arc of the novel—the fall and recovery of Little Em’ly—is present in broad strokes. But there simply isn’t time to touch on deep, Biblical themes Dickens included in the book that brought to mind Hosea pursuing his wayward wife or the prodigal’s father abandoning honor to run to his son. That would require an entire film to itself, one I’ve often longed to see.
The upside to a lighter, more candy-colored Copperfield is it’s short, sweet, and PG enough to please all but the youngest ages.
Even the villains are more amusing than threatening. Ben Whishaw’s sniveling, ’umble Uriah Heep has all the menace of a Roald Dahl illustration.
CLIP: I’m thrilled to make your acquaintance Master Copperfield. Uriah can you bring that to the dormitory please? I’m in deep humility. And with that Uriah Heep rubbed himself out of the room.
So there’s not much here that will cause nightmares or spark questions parents may not be ready to answer. While Dickens purists might wish there were a little more salt to balance out the sugar, this Copperfield is still a treat.
I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER: Today is Friday, August 28th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Next up: your Listener Feedback.
We’ll start today with a quick correction. On yesterday’s program we said Shreveport, Louisiana, was 500 miles north of the coast, where Hurricane Laura came ashore yesterday. It’s actually just over 200 miles. Oral equivalent of a typo!
EICHER: Next, we’d like to say thanks to everyone who wrote to us about this week’s special report on the statistics related to COVID-19. We appreciate all of your comments and suggestions for future reports. Sarah Stewart wrote in from Alaska to say…
Thank you …
And she said it three times, for emphasis.
… thank you for your covering of stats! It was informative, calming, and just plain real!
She mentioned hearing conspiracy theories and after awhile, feeling,
what do I know anyway? Thanks so much for your straight forward answers. God bless you for this ministry!
BROWN: We also heard from listener Tony Walker about Kim Henderson’s tribute to dads. Tony tweeted a link to the piece, and added, “When you’re young, you sleep in, wear fancy clothes, and gorge on numbing entertainment. When you’re middle aged, you wear the same outfit everyday, drink a healthy shake thing for breakfast, and get choked up listening to The World and Everything in It.”
EICHER: I can speak to the middle-aged thing. Everything chokes me up these days, seems like.
Well, we love hearing from you, no matter how you send your feedback. But of course, we especially love actually hearing from you! Our listener feedback line is always open at 202-709-9595. Call in and leave us a comment whenever something on the program prompts a response. And we’ll give you a heads-up about a week before the next edition of listener feedback and remind you to call.
BROWN: You can also record your feedback in a voice memo using your smartphone. That’s how listener Catherine from the San Francisco Bay Area recorded this message. Listen to this. I think you’ll love it as much as we did!
CATHERINE: I’d like to say how much I appreciate so many of your segments, but for today would like to call out George Grant and Word Play. Back in July, for the first time in my life, I spontaneously burst out with the words, “No way!” while listening to the Word Play segment with the horrifying news that irregardless has been added to the dictionary. How can this be? And then this month, the distinction between Jeremiahs and Nehemias, and the positioning for this being a time for the latter and not the former. Great food for pondering and prayer. The witty nimbleness of the Word Play segment, even when bringing news about official recognition of words which should not exist, is delightful. Thanks.
Listener Ashley Young called in from The Woodlands, just north of Houston, where she listens with her young daughter, Timber.
YOUNG: And I just wanted to say thank you for making a program that I can feel comfortable with my daughter hearing. She’s very young right now, but I feel very safe to listen to your podcast every morning with her, without having to worry about there being something that might be overly graphic or just inappropriate for a little ears. So thank you for making biblically objective journalism very accessible. And keep up the great work!
That is the goal and we loving hearing that: that so many families listen together, and so we have that in mind. But as many of you already know, we also have a new program just for the younger members of our audience.
EICHER: We do. WORLD Watch launched earlier this month. It’s daily video news for students, special pricing that’s just about to end—$69.99 a year. It’s a terrific educational tool and the secret is, parents love it, too. It’s real news, really proud of this product and the team that puts it out. Great for homeschoolers, great for any-schoolers. And yes we do have classroom pricing. Details at WORLDwatch.news.
Maybe you’ve never had a chance really to check out WORLD Watch. Well, today’s your day. On our free channel on YouTube … you can direct link it at YouTube.com/WORLD-Watch-News—the Friday full episode is online. If you can’t remember, just visit our site at worldandeverything.org and we’ll have a link in today’s program transcript. But an extra incentive: Maybe you remember the story we had the day before yesterday about the championship fiddler? Sarah Schweinsberg also prepared a video version of that story and it’s on today’s WORLD Watch.
BROWN: My background is TV News and I’ll just say, I’m impressed. Good stuff. Hey, one other new program WORLD launched: the much-anticipated Legal Docket podcast! And by all accounts, listeners have loved it. Listener Norm Sabin from Chattanooga, Tennessee, summed up what we’ve heard from so many.
SABIN: Great job on your Legal Docket podcast. And as an ex-litigator, I’m extremely impressed by your ability to present legal concepts in an entertaining and educational way that certainly helps bring the complex legal strategies and theories out of the dark shadows of the judicial system and presents them in a way that people can understand and apply them to their lives and livelihoods. Again, congratulations on a job very well done.
EICHER: Congratulations, indeed, to the on-air team of legal eagles Mary Reichard and Jenny Rough—along with producer Paul Butler. They’ve done a great job. Thanks, too, for the five-star ratings and reviews on iTunes! That’s huge! That’s helped keep us at the top of the new shows recommendations in the Government category. And that helps new listeners find it. So, we really appreciate it.
BROWN: We’re going to give the last word today to one of our very creative listeners and his faithful sidekick. Take it away, Dave.
SABLE: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like us. I’m Dave Sable, and this is my Great Dane, Bruin. [bark, bark] Each morning, we listen as we make the morning coffee. [bark, bark, bark] Well, of course Mary uses big words. She’s doing Legal Docket. [bark] I don’t know why Megan doesn’t do more dog movies. [bark] Wait, just because Nick likes hockey, doesn’t make him a socialist. [bark, bark, bark] Alright, that’s it. No pumpkin in your kibble. [sad whine]
NICK EICHER: The World and Everything in It takes a team of people to put it all together and provide programs all week. So thank you to our hard-working colleagues: Megan Basham, Paul Butler, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Kim Henderson, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Vivian Jones, Onize Ohikere, Mary Reichard, Sarah Schweinsberg, Cal Thomas, and Kyle Ziemnick.
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.
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Psalm 91 reminds us, He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.
Go now in grace and peace.