MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
Today we’re going to talk about why academics are afraid to talk!
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday
Also a new movie that takes some iconic characters on a new, but less-than excellent adventure.
And Marvin Olasky answers questions about WORLD’s on-ramp on Ask the Editor.
BROWN: It’s Friday, September 4th. 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: Biden visits Kenosha, Wis., meets with Blake family » Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Thursday—two days after President Trump visited the town.
Biden spoke briefly and led a community discussion at a local church.
BIDEN: I think we’ve reached an inflection point in American history. I honest to God believe we have an enormous opportunity now that the screen, the curtain’s been pulled back.
Biden said he wants to see serious police reform. But he also said “the vast majority of police officers are good, decent,” and honorable people. And he condemned violent protests.
The gathering included business and civic leaders and at least two representatives of law enforcement.
Hours earlier, he met with the family of Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old black man seriously injured in a police shooting in Kenosha last month.
Biden met in private with Blake’s father and his siblings. Blake’s mother Julia Jackson joined by phone, and Jacob Blake also joined the call from his hospital bed.
Jobless claims ease as Labor Dept. changes tabulation formula » The reported number of Americans filing jobless claims last week fell to the lowest level since the pandemic began pounding the economy. But there’s a catch. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin explains.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Labor Department says 881,000 people filed for unemployment benefits last week—down from 1.1 million the week before.
But the latest figure, released Thursday, came as the Labor Department changed the way it tallies unemployment claims.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced last week that it was adjusting the process to make it more accurate. The agency said the reported number of seasonally adjusted new claims has consistently appeared to be higher than the actual number of people filing claims each week.
The six-figure drop in new jobless filings is a result of the revised method of counting claims.
But economist Aneta Markowska told the Wall Street Journal that “Last week’s decrease is a catch up to the improvement that has been happening.” She added that “The labor market is healing,” though the rate of improvement will likely continue to slow.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
CDC asks governors to be ready for vaccine by Nov. 1 » The CDC has told states to prepare for a coronavirus vaccine by November 1st.
In a letter to governors, CDC Director Robert Redfield said states will soon receive permit applications from a company contracted to distribute vaccines.
Another document sent to states said limited COVID-19 vaccine doses may be available by early November. It urged health officials to work out now which groups to prioritize for a vaccine and take other steps to prepare.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the FDA could approve a vaccine before Phase 3 trials are complete, using an emergency use authorization.
FAUCI: I have been through a number of vaccine trials in which EUAs have ultimately been done. But they’ve been done when there was enough data that you would really feel comfortable that it was safe and effective for the American public.
And Fauci told Kaiser Health News that is possible with a coronavirus vaccine if officials find that preliminary results are overwhelmingly positive. He said in that case, researchers would have “a moral obligation” to make the vaccine available as soon as possible.
Democrats have raised concerns that the White House might pressure the FDA to authorize a vaccine before the November election. But FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn vowed this week…
HAHN: Our decision at FDA will not be made on any other criteria than the science and data associated with these clinical trials.
Steroids confirmed to help severely ill coronavirus patients » And there was some good news for severely ill COVID-19 patients this week. New studies have confirmed that some cheap, widely available steroids improve survival rates for those patients.
A major medical journal published the pooled results from seven studies. The report found that steroids reduced the risk of death in the first month by about one-third in seriously ill patients who needed extra oxygen.
For some patients, it’s not the illness itself that proves deadly, but rather their body’s overreaction to it. Steroids can help reduce inflammation and counter that risk.
Multiple operations rescue dozens of exploited children » Recent law enforcement operations have rescued dozens of exploited children in several states. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has that story.
LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: The U.S. Marshals Service announced this week that “Operation Safety Net” in Ohio recovered 25 missing children in its first two weeks, and the sting is ongoing.
The announcement came roughly one week after the Marshals Service announced another successful operation in Georgia. That sting rescued 13 missing children and another 26 endangered children. Law enforcement officers arrested nine people there on charges including sex trafficking and parental kidnapping.
And a sting operation in Michigan led to the arrest of 17 people last week after agents located seven endangered children.
The FBI has reports of more than 400,000 missing children and of those, about 90 percent are considered endangered runaways. Authorities say one in six of those runaways is likely to become the victim of sex trafficking.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.
Man accused of fatal shooting during Portland protest reportedly killed by law enforcement » A self-proclaimed member of Antifa accused of killing a Trump supporter in Portland last weekend was reportedly killed last night when law enforcement tried to arrest him.
The New York Times reported a 48-year-old male suspect died during the encounter in Lacey, Washington, southwest of Seattle as a federal fugitive task force moved in.
The man was accused of fatally shooting Aaron Danielson at a demonstration in Portland on Saturday.
In June, the suspect posted on Instagram—quote—“I am 100% ANTIFA all the way!” Antifa is a coalition of far left-wing activists, which the Trump administration has blamed for much of the violence during recent protests.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: academics afraid to speak.
Plus, Marvin Olasky on ways to work for WORLD.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN: It’s Friday the 4th of September, 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. First up: Culture Friday.
What is going on in the world of academia?
Columbia University professor John McWhorter seems on a one-man crusade to rescue academic freedom: that is, save it from the clutches of “progressive orthodoxies,” as he puts it.
McWhorter is a liberal who plans to vote for Joe Biden. But he’s an open-minded liberal and he’s very concerned that the collective academic mind may be closing.
In a recent column in The Atlantic, he spoke of the frightened messages he receives from colleagues afraid publicly to speak their minds.
BROWN: McWhorter pointed to a survey of nearly 500 academic professionals, which posed this question: Imagine expressing your views about a controversial issue while at work with faculty, staff, or other colleagues present.
To what extent do you fear your reputation being tarnished? One third said “very concerned,” more than a fourth said “extremely concerned.”
To what extent do you fear your career would be threatened by speaking your mind: 25 percent “very concerned,” 29 percent “extremely concerned.”
In both instances, a majority feared for their reputation and for their career.
EICHER: One professor he heard from said he’d given a lecture on America’s founders and found himself accused of “privileging the white male perspective.” The administration’s proposed remedy: for the professor to sit in a “listening circle” and remain silent while students explained how he’d hurt them.
BROWN: McWhorter commented: This sounds like it comes straight out of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
EICHER: Katie McCoy is here. She’s assistant professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern Seminary. Good morning, Katie!
KATIE MCCOY, GUEST: Good morning, Nick and Myrna! How are you guys?
EICHER: Great, thanks for asking.
So, you hear Professor McWhorter painting a pretty frightening picture of academic freedom slipping away. Now, you’re a young professor working in Christian academics—do you hear any signals, however faint, that it’s coming to Christian academics, or do you think this whole thing might be a little overblown?
MCCOY: Oh, I wish it was all overblown, Nick. Sadly, it’s not. It really is the new McCarthyism and cancel culture has come to the academy, which is entirely ironic when you consider that some of these ideas started in the academy. So it’s a little like they’re being eaten by their young. Thankfully, I have not seen or heard this in the Christian academic community. At the same time, I am very fortunate to work at a confessional religious institution, where I’m expected to teach and uphold that which is in keeping with sound doctrine. So, in my academic community, thankfully, no.
Now, at the same time, at Southwestern Seminary we don’t accept federal funding. So, we’re not required to follow some of these cultural rules. But, I’ll tell you what, if upcoming legislation—like the Equality Act—passes, it’s just one more step towards seeing the free exercise of religion absolutely erode before our eyes. If that bill were to pass—and, unfortunately, not many people know about it—it would protect people like me who teach at a religious institution, but it would not protect my students when they hold their Christian convictions on gender out in the public square. In fact, it actually stipulates that your religion cannot protect you if you violate the terms of the equality act.
So, I think we’re just seeing one more step—whether it’s culture or legislative—to where soon we may be facing some of those very issues in Christian academia as well.
EICHER: So, does the analysis of academic freedom even really apply in a seminary context? I mean, as you say, it’s a confessional institution. You’re there to teach a doctrine and it seems that in academia what folks are kicking against is losing their freedom of academic inquiry.
Is it possible we’re talking apples and oranges here where seminary’s concerned?
MCCOY: Well, so, at Southwestern Seminary we have our confessional documents that guide us—the primary one being the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. It’s actually a very broad document stating sound doctrine in the Baptist faith and with that there is room for differences. Now, these differences are on secondary issues. In fact, my president of my school, Adam Greenway, talks about how we are the big tent seminary. We want to welcome as many people with varying views on these secondary issues as possible. So, it’s healthy. It’s necessary. It’s sharpening. But it’s also, within the safety of affirming that which is biblical and theologically sound. So, it provides for our students really the boundaries in which there is opportunity for free thought, for exploration, even for wrestling with questions that they are dealing with in their culture. Something that we prepare our students for is actual ministry and behind all of these issues are people. And these people are in our schools, our communities, our churches, and our families. So, it’s not apples and oranges. It’s actually some of the best preparation you can get to dealing with these cultural matters that we’re all facing today.
BROWN: Katie, I notice in one of your classes this Fall one of the books you’re discussing is When Harry Became Sally.
This is a book by a Catholic writer, Ryan Anderson. And he really takes on this subject of transgenderism. I can only imagine this being precisely the sort of book a modern academic wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.
Yet here you go!
But I’m curious about it: I know you’re talking about it in a high-level academic class. I’d like to bring this down a level for the person in the pew: Why is this an important issue to be talking about at a seminary as well as a Wednesday night Bible class?
MCCOY: Yes. Well, this book represents some of the best scholarly and well-researched arguments that presents the cultural ideas that are now mainstream. And not just mainstream, but uncontested. And that’s something that we have to prepare our students for is that these ideas are not just common, it’s that they’re common and if you even question them, you’re cancelled. And we want them to get the best reasoned defense for a biblical worldview about those issues.
Speaking of cancel culture, by the way, and transgenderism, Ryan Anderson describes a psychologist in Toronto. He was a leading voice on gender therapy and treating people with gender dysphoria and he was abruptly fired for—get this—claiming that children should not automatically go through gender transitioning just because they express some sort of sign of gender dysphoria. And for that he was cancelled. He was abruptly fired from his job. And this is a professional. Part of why it is so important is that we need well-informed Christians who are not only in our churches but show up to the PTA meetings, to the school board meetings, to local government, to be informed about legislation that is happening in their communities, to be informed about what their children are reading, and so we do talk about this at the academic level. But all of those things are to prepare people, to prepare our students to go not only be witnesses, but resources for the church so that they can be training people to make not only an impact for Christ in their community, but be able to give a reasoned defense of the faith.
EICHER: Katie, Myrna did us a real service by bringing this down to the people at the pew level and we started this conversation by talking about the issue of academic freedom, talking about professors being able to speak their minds and so forth. How does that actually filter down to the people at the pew? Why should they be concerned about it? All apart from—and I don’t say that this is a small thing—all apart from having solid academics so that you get a good education, but is there any sense that this academic controversy is leaking into the rest of society’s sectors?
MCCOY: Oh, very much. It’s becoming so much a part of society, it’s becoming so mainstream that we’re coming to expect it more and more. I think about Bari Weiss, the New York Times op-ed editor who resigned. And here she was a woman—a woman—in a high position of influence and she was cancelled. I think about everyday Americans like a small business owner who wouldn’t bake a cake for a same-sex wedding and entered a long, litigious battle. I’ll tell you, there’s a young scholar I was talking to just recently about this issue and he made the point that in any community, when you replace teaching people how to think with teaching people what to think, this is part of what happens. And so much of what we’re seeing is these views that go unquestioned, these values that are just imbibed into society. And one of the very dangerous things I think we’re seeing, too, is that there are some churches who, perhaps in an attempt to make the gospel palatable, are beginning to adopt some of these views. I mean, you hear churches recommending to Christians that loving your neighbor looks like reading White Fragility and adopting some of those views into your own worldview and cultural engagement. So, these are things that we cannot fall asleep at the wheel on. I’m concerned that we already have. And we won’t really know just how much trouble we’re in until we wake up and now all of a sudden it’s us. It’s our beliefs. It’s our voice that is being censored and cancelled.
What begins in the academy always goes mainstream. So, some of what we’re seeing is just the natural rhythm of society that what begins in the academy eventually goes mainstream. And that’s really what we’re just seeing writ large in our culture today.
EICHER: Katie McCoy is assistant professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern Seminary in Texas. Thank you so much. Good to talk with you.
MCCOY: Always great to talk with y’all.
NICK EICHER: Airline pilots have really excellent eyesight.
And we trust those eyes. We’re all counting on them.
But is it possible that sometimes those eyes play tricks?
To listen to this radio exchange, you might think so. It’s a pilot for American Airlines describing something you wouldn’t expect as his flight approached LAX: Pilot-speak for Los Angeles International.
AUDIO: Tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jetpack.
American 1997, okay. Were they off to your left side or your right side?
Off the left side, maybe 300 yards or so, about our altitude.
Sounds crazy, right? A guy in a jetpack.
Industry expert David Mayman was doubtful that the pilot saw what he thought he saw. He reported seeing the apparent jetpack flyer at an altitude of about 3,000 feet.
Mayman says that high is “very, very unlikely with the existing technology.”
Well, alright. Tell that to the pilots of two other flights who said they saw the guy too.
One thing’s for certain, if it was a guy with a jetpack, he had no business being that close to the world’s third-busiest airport.
If it wasn’t, well, then I’m wondering about not one but three pilots flying big planes—seeing things.
The Los Angeles Times reported the FBI is looking into it, so to speak.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Friday, September 4th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: You may remember this if you’re a Gen Xer—and I’m one, too, but I guess I just have a Baby Boomer soul!
It’s, like, a totally new excellent adventure.
EICHER: Well, I’m a boomer for real and I, like, remember.
Megan Basham tells us whether it’s totally stellar or most heinous, dude.
MEGAN BASHAM, FILM CRITIC: It’s been more than 30 years since the two-man band, Wyld Stallyns, better known as Bill and Ted, graced the big screen. If you’re a child of the 90s there’s a good chance words like “bogus” and “bodacious” bring up fond images of their time-travelling mission to ace their history final.
CLIP: Greetings my excellent friends. Do you know when the Mongols ruled China. Well, perhaps we can ask them. Bill S. Preston, Esquire. Ted Theodore Logan. Gentlemen, I’m here to help you with your history report. What? How? Whoa! Bill. What? Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.
In Bill and Ted Face the Music, the duo have returned to once again teach the world to sing. Or, at least, teach them to play air guitar. Much older, but not particularly wiser, they still haven’t managed to write the song that will unite humanity in peace and harmony.
They also haven’t managed to teach their kids not to follow in their slacker footsteps. Though their daughters are in their mid-twenties, they still live at home and mostly spend their time listening to their dads’ old CDs and snacking on Cheetos.
Until, that is, an emissary from the future arrives and warns them all that the apocalypse is nigh if Bill and Ted don’t at last get their act together and write that song.
CLIP: Could someone please tell me what the hell is happening? Basically all time and space are about to end unless their dads come up with a song by 7:17 pm. Wait, what? We thought this was about the music. It is. It’s also about the end of space and time. Dude, this is way worse than we thought.
If you’re wondering exactly what kind of quantum physics dictates that time and space will end if a couple aging wannabe rockers don’t compose a new tune, well…best not to look too closely at the internal logic.
The real question: Is this new film an excellent adventure?
On that score, I’m afraid I have a bit of bad news. While it’s kind of amusing to see Jimi Hendrix and Mozart jam out together, the new installment doesn’t do nearly as good a job of playing off our impressions of historical figures.
Here, Louis Armstrong and a cave woman are just costumes and accents hovering in the background. There’s nothing half so inspired as when the boys took Napoleon Bonaparte out to an ice cream parlor where, of course, the dictator hogged all the chocolate.
But the movie does have some laughs, like the terminator-style robot whose insecurities get in the way of his job performance.
CLIP: Freeze Preston, Logan. This is exactly what we don’t need right now. We can’t, we gotta get back to the present, like now. Look we know you were sent here to kill us if we didn’t have the song. But we actually do have the song now, so. Wait you have the song. Oh. Mistakes were made. Apologies are given.
Or when Bill and Ted’s wives take them to couples therapy. Emphasis on the couples.
CLIP: Do you understand how that might sound strange to your wives? I’ll shoot this at Bill. No, we love them. We love them. Yeah, we do. Okay, it’s the ‘we’ part. Ted, can you say the same thing but instead of ‘we’ say ‘I’ in the sentence. Elizabeth, I and Bill love you and Joanna.
The biggest problem, though, is that the “like father like daughter” angle is way overplayed. I can appreciate that the producers didn’t want to resort to cheap stereotypes of, say, Kardashian copycats. But what they’ve done just feels like an awkward lurch at gender parity.
Some stereotypes exist for a reason, and girls don’t make the most believable surfer dudes. Watching the ladies try to mimic Alex Winters and Keanu Reeves’ mannerisms becomes painful after a while. Also painful, a few instances of profanity and a couple of flashes of a Last Supper-type image of Jesus. It doesn’t feel malicious, per se. But hard to believe the producers would treat Mohammed so lightly as to briefly show him playing a cowbell.
It’s not all sour notes though. For all its silliness, Bill and Ted carries a welcome message for these troubled times. First, no matter where we come from or what we look like, we can make beautiful music together if we’re willing to share our sound.
Second, and more importantly, men, if you want to save the world, save your marriages first.
So while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend dropping the $20 bucks to stream Bill and Ted Face the Music now, eventually, when you can rent it for a few dollars, a movie marathon that starts in San Dimas circa 1989 may be in order. After all, making your kids sit through the greatest hits of your childhood is what parenting is all about.
I’m Megan Basham.
MYRNA BROWN: Today is Friday, September 4th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. Here now is WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky with this month’s edition of Ask the Editor.
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: About every other week a reader asks: Is there an on-ramp to write or podcast for WORLD? The answer every year is yes: 56 WORLD writers and editors have gone through a World Journalism Institute course.
This time, though, the answer has a new wrinkle. Usually my wife Susan and I do our annual training of mid-career people in our living room in Austin, Texas. In January, though, we plan to do it at a distance, by Zoom or Google Groups. That’s because our COVID-19 nightmare is unlikely to be over by then. So I’m putting out an electronic welcome mat for people from age 30 to age 70 who could not spend a week in Austin but might be able to take the course this way.
Should you be one of them? Probably not. First, the course is intense, going from 9 to 5 for 5 ½ days, plus some evening homework. During the course of the week students will write and rewrite an obituary, a profile, a review, a website story, part of a feature story, and a proposal for a WORLD notebook story.
Probably not for a second reason: The course emphasizes news reporting and feature writing for print and radio—not devotionals, exegetical essays, memoirs, fiction, or poetry. It is for those willing to learn about pavement-pounding, phone-calling, document-reading reporting, and about writing with strong verbs and nouns in the active voice.
Probably not for a third reason: You need to be a good writer but also a humble one. If every word you write is precious to you, you will not be happy in this class. And, I should emphasize that it’s a mid-career course: If you’re a college student or recent graduate, you should apply to our two-week course in May.
With all those caveats, might you still want to apply? Sure, if God has given you talent and the desire to report on news within your metropolitan area or field of expertise. Tuition is free. The course goes from January 7 to January 13, with Sunday in the middle as a much-needed day of rest. I’m accepting applications from today through the end of November: I posted more information on WORLD’s website as part of our Saturday series, and also at www.worldji.com. You’ll also see there information on how to apply. I’m looking forward to meeting a few of you electronically.
I’m Marvin Olasky.
MYRNA BROWN: Next up: a special, bonus Listener Feedback!
NICK EICHER: Right, we had a lot to cover last time and as a result missed a few important corrections to our segment about Richie Setser. He’s the former U.S. fighter pilot who served in Operation Desert Shield in 1990.
Setser was part of two squadrons of F-16 fighter planes that flew nonstop from South Carolina to the Middle East. We called that the longest flight in military history. Not exactly: it was the longest F-16 flight.
BROWN: We also said that the New York Stock Exchange dropped after Setser’s plane had engine trouble and crashed.
What dropped was Tokyo’s Nikkei index, with traders fearing the Iraqi military had brought the plane down.
EICHER: Ok, well, despite those things, the story resonated with many listeners. We heard from Sally Knauer, who emailed to say she was instantly taken back to memories of that summer in 1990. She married an Army helicopter pilot that June, and though he was not deployed to the Middle East, she said the conflict still had a big impact on their lives.
BROWN: We often say that we like getting all forms of feedback from listeners, and it’s true! We value all of it—whether constructive criticism or praise—because we know that when you take the time to write, what it means is that you care. When you bring criticism to us, we take it as iron sharpening iron, so we appreciate that.
EICHER: But every once in a while we receive emails from listeners who write just to say thanks, not for any specific story but just in general. And I can tell you, they are a tremendous blessing to our team. Listener Kristin Wolf emailed us one of those types of messages last week. She said her brother-in-law has listened to the program for a while and tried to get her to listen as well. She never took the time until this spring. She writes:
Back in March when it seemed like the whole world went crazy (crazier than usual)
She said she thought it was time to start paying attention and staying informed. She’s listened almost every day since. She’s been encouraged in her faith. She’s learned a lot and has been excited to share what she’s learned with others.
Thank you so much!
She says and adds:
Keep up the good work!
BROWN: Alright, well, before we go, just a reminder that Episode 6 of the Legal Docket podcast released this week. It’s about the Harris Funeral Homes case, in which the court expanded the meaning of “sex” in Title VII to include gender identity.
EICHER: We have just four episodes remaining in this first season of Legal Docket! One per week. If you’ve enjoyed it, do let us know. And please leave us a review on iTunes. Nearly 700 of you have already done that, and we are grateful. It has a five-star rating, and that is huge when it comes to new listeners finding it.
BROWN: We released another bit of special programming this week: the third episode in our occasional series Ask Dr. Horton. It came out yesterday, so you should have seen it by now in your regular feed for The World and Everything in It. This time, WORLD’s medical correspondent, Dr. Charles Horton, focuses on medical questions related to diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
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, Joel Belz, Paul Butler, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, Kim Henderson, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Vivian Jones, Onize Ohikere, Mary Reichard, Jenny Lind Schmitt, Sarah Schweinsberg, Cal Thomas, and Emily Whitten.
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.
And you make all of it possible with your support. Thank you for helping keep sound journalism grounded in God’s word in the marketplace.
From David in Psalm 34, Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Go now in grace and peace.