The World and Everything in It — August 7, 2020

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!

Is racial inequality always a result of racism? What would reconciliation look like? 

We talk to sociology Professor George Yancey about why he thinks mutual accountability is the answer to racial division in the church.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.

Also a Christian film that avoids the common pitfalls of the genre.

And WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky answers your questions.

BASHAM: It’s Friday, August 7th. 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: Up next, Kent Covington has the news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Beirut struggles in aftermath of devastating blasts » Beirut remains a city on its knees following Tuesday’s devastating explosions at a port warehouse. More than a quarter of a million people in the city are now homeless and hospitals are overwhelmed. 

Dr. Firas Abiad is director of a hospital just outside of Lebanon’s capital. He said the blasts have stacked one crisis on top of another with intensive care beds now unavailable to COVID-19 patients. 

ABIAD: Some of those ICU’s which could have been allocated to COVID patients now have been diverted to treating casualties from the explosion. 

At least 137 people are dead and more than 5,000 are injured. 

A small explosion was followed by a massive blast that shot a mushroom cloud into the sky and sent shockwaves rippling miles inland with the force of a 3.3 magnitude earthquake. 

Hans Bederski is Lebanon National Director for World Vision. He said the destruction of the port is crippling some relief efforts. 

BEDERSKI: Most of the non-perishable foods are imported goods and the majority of them were coming through the port. Now that severely impacts our operations and our ability to continue providing food assistance to the most vulnerable. 

The European Union said it’s activating its civil protection system to send firefighters and rescue equipment to Beirut. 

Officials are still investigating the storage of nearly 3,000 tons of explosive ammonium nitrate at the port. Authorities placed several port officials under house arrest over reports of negligence. 

Unemployment claims dip slightly » The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims dipped last week. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Labor Department reported Thursday that almost 1.2 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week—fewer than expected. That’s a 15 percent drop from the week before and the lowest since the beginning of coronavirus lockdowns.  

But it also marks the 20th straight week more than a million Americans have applied for unemployment. During the Great Recession in the early 2000s, weekly jobless claims never topped 700,000.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Trump visits Ohio plant, signs executive order to buy essential medical supplies in U.S. » President Trump visited the critical battleground state of Ohio Thursday—a state he easily won in 2016. 

Trump touted economic prosperity America enjoyed before the pandemic. And he told workers at a Whirlpool plant that he’s the right man to lead the economic recovery. He told them he’ll “stand up to the foreign trade cheaters and violators” and took a shot at his Democratic rival. 

TRUMP: Joe Biden’s policies put China first and America last, and that’s what he’ll continue to do if he ever got the shot.

While in Ohio, the president signed an executive order. It directs the federal government to buy certain drugs and medical supplies from American manufacturers rather than foreign companies. 

The order instructs the government to develop a list of “essential” medicines and then buy them and other medical supplies solely from U.S. manufacturers.

Ohio Gov. tests positive for COVID-19 » The president was supposed to meet with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in Cleveland Thursday, but that didn’t happen. That’s because just hours earlier, the Republican governor tested positive for COVID-19.

His office said he took the test as part of standard protocol before meeting Trump at an airport. 

His office said the 73-year-old DeWine had no symptoms, but returned to Columbus where he plans to quarantine at his home for at least two weeks. 

NYC prosecutor sought records from Trump’s bank » The New York prosecutor who has been fighting, unsuccessfully so far, to get President Trump’s tax returns reportedly had better luck last year getting a bank to turn over his financial records. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance sent a subpoena last year to Deutsche Bank as part of its probe of Trump’s business dealings. That according to The New York Times.

The bank reportedly complied with the subpoena, turning over records including financial statements Trump gave the bank when he was borrowing money.

The Democratic prosecutor was among several officials in New York who launched investigations last year. That after Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, claimed Trump made a practice of misleading tax officials about the value of his assets.

Vance also asked Trump’s accountants to hand over eight years of his personal and corporate tax records. The accounting firm has yet to comply amid an ongoing court battle.

Trump has said Vance’s investigation and other Democrat-led probes are politically motivated.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA » New York’s attorney general sued the National Rifle Association on Thursday, seeking to put the group out of business. 

Latita James, a Democrat, has accused high-ranking NRA executives of diverting millions of dollars for questionable spending, including luxurious personal trips.

JAMES: For these years of fraud and misconduct we are seeking an order to dissolve the NRA in its entirety. 

James’ lawsuit alleges misspending and self-dealing by the NRA and its longtime leader, Wayne LaPierre. 

At the same time, Washington, D.C.’s, attorney general sued the NRA Foundation, a charitable arm of the group designed to provide programs for firearm safety. That suit accused the foundation of diverting funds to the NRA to help pay for lavish spending by its top execs.

James said the issues started to come to light as the NRA’s deficit piled up and it struggled to find its footing after a spate of mass shootings eroded its support. The organization went from a nearly $28 million surplus in 2015 to a $36 million deficit in 2018.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: systemic racism and mutual accountability.

Plus, Marvin Olasky answers questions about growing up Jewish and atheist.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM:It’s Friday the 7th of August, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.

MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Two weeks ago we aired the first part of a two-part Culture Friday discussion on racial division and the church.

Today we return to the topic with a different perspective from  George Yancey, a professor of sociology at Baylor. He’s also the author of Beyond Racial Gridlock: Embracing Mutual Responsibility.

BASHAM: Professor Yancey believes systemic racism is a serious issue in our country. He believes white privilege is, too. Where he parts company with some on the secular left is that he understands the theological concept of human depravity.

Writing for The Gospel Coalition, he takes issue with a highly popular secular approach because in his view it’s “not lessening our racial hostility—but … may be making that hostility worse.”

Professor Yancey, thank you so much for joining us.

GEORGE YANCEY, GUEST: Thanks for having me!

BASHAM: So to start with I’d like to play a soundbite from Glenn Loury. He’s an economist at Brown University.

And he’s been critical of ascribing disparities between white and black people mainly to systemic racism. Because, he says, it doesn’t take into account other cultural factors.

LOURY: Attributing the situation to something called to systemic racism a) avoids addressing the behavioral underpinnings which are problematic in and of themselves and b) de-normalizes so that the ability to make a judgment about behavior becomes undermined as we in effect look askance, avoid the reality of the underlying differences in behavior…

It seems that Professor Loury is making a distinction between racism and racial inequality. How do you respond to that?

YANCEY: Yeah. I would agree that not all differences are connected to institutional racism. And there are probably people who are deterministic about that. What I think some of them are. You know I think of you look at something such as racial segregation. It has been well-documented that the fact that we have racial segregation in our neighborhoods and the history behind them and why we have that is institutionalized. That then has a negative impact on the educational and income opportunities of people of color. 

So, yeah, but to say that all racial inequality is due to institutional racism, no, I wouldn’t go that far. But some percentage—and not a small percentage—of it is.

BROWN: One of the things I really appreciate in your writing on this subject is the idea of “mutual accountability.”

It brought to mind something I’ve heard from Tony Evans. He says black evangelicals are in a unique position to mediate the beginning of a new era of mutual benefit and integration among Christians who are culturally different, yet spiritually one. He says black evangelicals (I would consider myself in this group) to varying degrees live in two worlds and possess a double-consciousness—partaking of the black heritage, history, and experience while at the same time absorbing   the biblical and theological influences coming from the white evangelical world. 

So he’s suggested black evangelicals make that first move. 

What do you think about that?

YANCEY: Yeah, I think that there’s something to his notion of double-consciousness that if you’re a black evangelical—and, I guess, by definition I am one since I’m an evangelical—that we understand what it’s like to be in both the black and the white world. As far as making the first move, that’s probably scriptural. The reality is that a lot of black evangelicals are probably waiting for whites to make the move because they want to see if whites are truly honest about a desire to deal with racial issues. So, I don’t think that’s going to happen as much as he might hope it to be. But I think if black evangelicals are ready to engage, that’s all I’m hoping for. That when whites are ready to truly engage and tackle institutional racism and rebuild our fallen race relations that we are willing to engage, to listen, to compromise where necessary and move forward. So, that’s where I would go.

BASHAM: This might be a funny question, but bear with me. A pastor friend recently read an interview with singer Alanis Morisette, and he was struck by one of her comments. She said, “We have to change everything: systemic racism, systemic misogyny, systemic everything has got to be dismantled.”

This pastor messaged me, “Well, that’s called sin. When everything is systemic injustice, the sin is always someone else’s issue, not mine.”

I’ve heard similar things from other pastors who say their churches have long ministered to the disadvantaged, but that’s not enough now. They worry that what we’re seeing recently places burdens on believers the gospel doesn’t. 

What are your thoughts on that?

YANCEY: Yeah, I mean, I think there is a danger by making everything institutionalized because by definition “institutionalized” means that a person does not have to be individually racist for it to be a problem. And so I do think there’s a danger when we talk about institutionalized racism that where there is truly racial bias and racism that that would seem to blow it up. Or if not negative bias just a non-caring of what happens. I’m not a person who says that there’s one cookie-cutter way in which all Christians are supposed to tackle any given issue. I think there are some Christians who are supposed to do more in dealing with the systemic problems. I believe there are Christians that God has not called them to deal with it as much as others have. And so I’m hesitant to tell another Christian, “This is your calling.” I think that each Christian has to figure that out. 

I think we need to get the information out there to let them know that this is a problem and it is a problem that Christians as a group have not engaged in that. And if you as a Christian are convicted about that, then perhaps you are called to deal with that. 

I would also say that Christians need to be careful even if they choose not to actively engage in dismantling institutional racism that they are not perpetuating it, that they are teaching their youth and their children on tackling and being concerned about the least of these. So I think that Christians should be—even if they don’t feel called to, say, get involved politically, things of this nature—I do think that they are called as a community to think out ways in which they have unwittingly perpetuated some of the racial inequalities that we see.

BROWN: Finally, I think one of the things many of us struggle with as we discuss these questions of  privilege and power is a lack of specifics. Many prominent Christians argue that white Americans possess structural power they should share with black Americans. If you agree with that, what, specifically, would be the process for that sharing? And what would the outcomes look like?

YANCEY: That’s a great question. I think one of the problems we have dealing with this is, alright, what do you want me to do? What I’ve been pushing is before we decide what we’re going to do together, let’s communicate with one another. I think white Christians need to understand why African American Christians feel the way they do and what sort of issues are coming up that they’re tracking with. Consequently, African American Christians also need to know about whites and where they’re coming from and how they feel when they have racism placed upon them in ways they feel are unfair. So, what I’ve been advocating is engaging in active listening and learning how to engage in cooperative communication so that we can find win-win situations, so we can look at a situation, see the racial disparity, see the institutional discrimination or racism that’s there and figure out a way in which we can move together to solve that problem together rather than one group saying this is what we need to do and you need to come along with us.

So, I don’t know what that’s going to look like, exactly. And even if I did know exactly what it was going to look like, if I was to come here and say, “This is what we need to do,” the problem is people would go, well, that’s what you want to do. You’ve not really asked me what I want to do, so why should I follow you? 

That’s why cooperative communication is so important, that we work together to find the solution, so we work together to implement them. And then I think we’ll find solutions. I think the solutions are going to look more at how we can aid people of color than aid European Americans, but to get there we’ve got to bring in European Americans and listen to them as well as them listen to us. And so it’s a both/and, not either/or type of mentality that we’ve got to start thinking about.

BROWN: Well, George Yancey is a professor of sociology at Baylor University and the author of Beyond Racial Gridlock: Embracing Mutual Responsibility.

Professor Yancey, thanks so much for being with us.

YANCEY: Thank you!

MYRNA BROWN: California flight instructor Robina Asti broke not one but two Guinness World Records when she took to the air last week. 

And she got rave reviews from her student, Brandon Martini.

MARTINI: She taught me a few things up there that I haven’t learned in well over a thousand hours. And it was kind of neat getting a new perspective from somebody who’s just been flying so long.

When she gave her last flight lesson at the Riverside Municipal Airport, she became both the world’s oldest flight instructor and the world’s oldest active pilot. 

The 99-year-old Robina Asti told KABC tv…

ASTI: I love getting people to experience what it’s like to lift off this earth. It is so good!

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Friday, August 7th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Megan Basham.

MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: A 2009 Christian movie that’s now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

And Megan, you say this one is worth revisiting?

BASHAM: It is! Though in many ways it doesn’t quite feel accurate to call Like Dandelion Dust a Christian movie.

It is based on a novel by Karen Kingsbury. She’s the prolific author Time dubbed the “queen of Christian Fiction.” And it was produced by Kevin Downes, a name that appears on a number of big Christian movies, including I Can Only Imagine. The plot even includes the obligatory invite to church. 

But that’s there where genre-convention ends.

There are no altar-call moments. And the two Christian characters not only don’t solve the protagonists’ problems, they compound them. A fairly realistic twist.

CLIP: No, Bill. No, it’s wrong, and you know it’s wrong. If God wanted them to have Joey He would have…Beth, stop it. Stop it. You don’t get to decide what God’s will is. Do you want Joey to be beaten, maybe killed by this man? The courts are wrong, Beth. What other option do they have at this point?

As for that church invite, the main characters accept, but not for the reasons viewers might expect. In short, Dandelion Dust represents real progress in a genre that is too often marked by tin-eared, ham-handed filmmaking.

To start with, we see why it is worth investing in and casting the best actors available. Barry Pepper, known for Saving Private Ryan and Flags of our Fathers plays Rip. He’s an abusive alcoholic who is released from prison to discover that his wife placed their son for adoption six years earlier.

Pepper brings a level of compassion rarely developed in such roles. From his mumbling, bleary-eyed arrest to his determination to build his family out of another’s broken pieces, Pepper never strikes a false note. He shows us a man who is weak, troubled, and selfish, but not soulless.

CLIP: You’re going to tell me that you didn’t know about the pregnancy or the adoption? No sir, not until a couple weeks ago. And now you want to be a father? Yes, sir. Before I was incarcerated I was a very different man. Certainly not fit to be a husband or a father and my alcoholism is a progressive illness and the healing is lifelong. I’ve spent the last seven years rehabilitating. And the one thing I’ve held on to, sir, is my hope. My hope for a family to repair the damage that I’ve done and my desire to be a father.

As Jack Campbell, the adoptive father desperate to hold on to his son, Cole Hauser also cultivates a character that is more complex than he probably appeared on paper. Plenty of movie mothers have wrenched the hearts of women over the years. Hauser’s portrayal of a man trying to live up to the masculine ideal of family protector in a situation beyond his control will resonate with fathers.

CLIP: What do we do? I don’t know, I don’t know. You don’t know? That’s it? You try to buy him off, it doesn’t work, and now you’re done? What else do you want me to do? You tell me, what else should I do Molly? I don’t know—something, anything. You’re his father, you don’t just give up. I’m not giving up. I’ve done everything. I don’t care what it takes. I’m not giving up my son. You’re something, you know. I’m not giving up my son. Look at my face. Look at me. What a horrible father I am.

As the birth and adoptive mothers, Oscar winner Mira Sorvino and Tony nominee Kate Levering are miles beyond what audiences have come to expect from Christian productions.

However, most of the credit should probably go to director Jon Dunn. He takes a story that could have easily become a Lifetime movie-of-the-week with a redemptive theme tacked on and handles it with sensitivity and nuance. He takes his time, trusting the viewer to understand his characters without drawing them in big, clichéd gestures and to connect with them despite their flaws.

CLIP: You’re home early. Yeah they sent me home. I can’t concentrate and I can’t eat and I can’t sleep and I don’t understand why you haven’t called the police.

One particular scene stands out as an example of Dunn’s restraint. When a court order forces Jack to turn his son over to a social worker who will then take the boy to his birth parents, Dunn doesn’t show Jack falling on his son’s neck in sobs. Instead, we see him sitting silently, stroking the boy’s bare feet, trying to control his emotions. It is a small moment, all the more effective for its stillness.

CLIP: Are you my real dad? Well, let me ask you. What do you think? I think you are. Why? You take care of me and you taught me how to play baseball. And I changed your diapers too. That was gross. What else? What else do I do, son? You love me. Yeah. And that’s the most important thing a father can do.

This isn’t to say the movie is perfect. One tension-filled plot point is introduced so late there’s a rush to bring it to a conclusion. And even Dunn can’t resist getting a little overly sentimental toward the end. But this is easy to forgive in view of the whole. Between Hallmark and reality, Like Dandelion Dust almost always manages to convey reality.

MYRNA BROWN: Today is Friday, August 7th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham.

Hey, before we get to Ask the Editor, a huge shout-out to our colleagues Mary Reichard and Jenny Rough, hosts of the new Legal Docket podcast. This week Legal Docket hit number one in iTunes’s Government category! That’s a tribute to Mary, Jenny, Paul Butler, and everybody working so hard on that project.

BROWN: And as a reminder, Episode 2 of Legal Docket will hit your feed tomorrow. But if you want to affect those rankings and help others discover the program, please subscribe to the Legal Docket podcast. And if you like it, we’d welcome your 5-star rating and reviews.

BASHAM: OK, now it’s time for this month’s edition of Ask the Editor. This time WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky answers questions about his personal story.

MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: Some WORLD readers express interest in my Jewish and atheist background. One asked, what are the advantages and disadvantages of not growing up as a Christian? 

My response started with disadvantages. Here’s one: I don’t have much Scripture memorized. My brain retains lots of historical and geographical facts but I regret not having Bible verses on the tip of my tongue. 

Also, since I did not become a Christian until 1976, I regret how I used and hurt people during my atheist years. 

I also have advantages. I know clearly what it means to be born again. I see the difference between my pre-Christian and Christian existence. I’ve met lots of cradle Christians who became sick of Christmas carols. I like them. I don’t like lobster, which saves me money in restaurants.

Here’s another question thrown my way because of my Jewish background. One reader writes that his daughter-in-law, who grew up in an atheistic Jewish family, says she can’t believe in God because of the Holocaust. What should she read?

I said she should read the book of Job, because Job suffered a personal holocaust: He lost all his sons and daughters. The Bible tells us that Job’s holocaust came about at the instigation of Satan, to whom God mysteriously gave a lot of rope. I suspect the 20th century Holocaust happened for the same reason.  

I could speculate (1) that the re-establishment of Israel as a country was important to God, (2) the Holocaust was instrumental in that happening, and (3) many Jews over the centuries would have voluntarily sacrificed their lives for that to happen. Maybe 10 would have. Maybe 100 would have. Maybe 1,000 would have. Six million seems to me too high a price, especially since that number probably includes one, two, or three of my great grandparents, but Job was smarter than me, and he did not know why he had to suffer his personal holocaust, so I am not about to second-guess God’s hard providence.

The Holocaust does seem to me a proof for the existence of God and Satan. Take one minor group of people 3,000 years ago who had a bandit king named David. Say 400 years later Babylonians force the remnant of Israel into exile. Say 656 years later the Romans wipe out the country. Say Jews suffer persecution for the next two millennia. And they survive! Why else except their chosenness? 

Then the Holocaust. Other peoples have had mega-disasters. No other suffered such scientific deaths—gas chambers!—developed by the world’s most technologically advanced, and supposedly civilized, country. Of all the peoples in the world, why Jews? Jesus was Jewish, so Satan probably figures it’s a way to get back at God. 

One last thought: please tell your daughter in law that the Holocaust is proof of what the Bible teaches about man’s natural sinfulness, and our desperate need for a Savior. 

I’m Marvin Olasky.

MYRNA BROWN: 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: Mindy Belz, Joel Belz, Paul Butler, Kent Covington, Jamie Dean, Nick Eicher, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, Kim Henderson, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Onize Ohikere, Andrée Seu Peterson, Mary Reichard, Sarah Schweinsberg, Cal Thomas, and Emily Whitten.

MEGAN BASHAM: 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.

And of course, without you, there’s no us. So thank you for helping keep—in the marketplace—sound journalism grounded in God’s word. 

First Peter teaches us that whoever wants to love life and see good days should turn from evil and do good.

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.

Like this story?

To hear a lot more like it, subscribe to The World and Everything in It via iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, or Pocket Casts.







Pocket Casts

(Requires a fee)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.