The World and Everything in It — September 7, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Today is Labor Day, a national holiday set aside to recognize the value of work. It has economic value, it has love-of-neighbor value, and it has spiritual value for the one doing the work.

NICK EICHER, HOST: We’ll talk about that with someone who thinks a lot about the theology of work.

Also today the Monday Moneybeat: more Americans are indeed getting back to work, but we’ll also talk about the debt we’re racking up.

Plus, we’ll introduce you to the winner of our international Hope Award.

And Janie B. Cheaney on the importance of spending each minute wisely.

REICHARD: It’s Monday, September 7th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

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

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: White House, Trump campaign push back against Atlantic report » The White House and the Trump campaign are pushing back hard against an anonymously sourced report that accused President Trump of disparaging U.S. troops.

The Atlantic report claimed that the president referred to fallen and captured U.S. service members as “losers.”

But Trump campaign communications director Erin Perrine told Fox News… 

PERRINE: It’s really clear that The Atlantic sources are lying. There are 10 on-the-record sources that are publicly available now for everybody to see that prove this wrong. There are White House emails that prove that this story is false. And you have eight people of the 10 that have gone on the record with direct firsthand knowledge. 

Trump’s presidential rival Joe Biden quickly jumped on the report. He told reporters if the story is true, it affirms—his words—“that Donald Trump is not fit” to be president.  

BIDEN: President Trump has demonstrated he has no sense of service, no loyalty to any cause other than himself. 

President Trump said the report is a “hoax.” 

But Democrats note that the president once mocked the military service of the late Senator John McCain. At an event in 2015, he questioned why the former prisoner of war was considered a hero because he was captured. Trump said, “I like people who weren’t captured.” 

Pelosi, Mnuchin agree on plan to avoid government shutdown » The Trump administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have informally agreed to a stopgap deal to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this month. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that they’ve settled on a continuing resolution—or “CR” for short. 

MNUCHIN: The speaker and I have agreed, we both don’t want to see a government shutdown. So we’ve agreed that we are going to do a clean CR.

That will extend current funding levels temporarily, avoiding unwanted drama for both sides ahead of the November election.  

The deal is separate from negotiations on a new coronavirus relief bill. Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on the framework of a new economic aid package. 

Russia publishes vaccine results » The maker of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine published a report over the weekend insisting the drug appears to be safe and effective. 

Experts around the world expressed skepticism last month after Russia approved a COVID-19 vaccine while sharing very little information about how the drug was tested. 

The new report claimed all 40 participants in the second phase trials developed antibodies to the coronavirus within three weeks. But the researchers noted that they followed the participants for only 42 days, the sample size was small, and they used no placebo or control vaccine. Part of the trial included only men, and most of the participants were in their 20s and 30s. 

Russian health authorities said last week that they are starting double-blind, placebo-controlled advanced trials of the vaccine on 40,000 participants.

Dozens arrested as violent Portland protests continue » Violent protests have continued over the weekend in Portland. 

Police declared a riot on Saturday as some protesters threw molotov cocktails, fireworks and other objects. Police said some of the protesters threw fire bombs at officers.

According to a police statement, a commercial grade firework struck a sergeant, burning through his glove and injuring his hand while rioters hit several state troopers with rocks. 

One demonstrator suffered injuries when his clothes caught fire.

Officers used tear gas to disperse the crowd and arrested at least 59 people. 

Tenet tops box office, welcomes moviegoers back to theaters » Christopher Nolan’s new sci-fi action flick welcomed many movie lovers back to theaters—earning about $20 million domestically over the holiday weekend. 

TRAILER: All I have for you is a word: Tenet. It will open the right doors, some of the wrong ones too. 

Globally, Tenet has already grossed almost $150 million in ticket sales.  

The movie opened in about 2,800 theaters in the United States. That’s roughly half the total number of theaters in the country. Many locations remain shuttered, including in major cities like New York, LA, and Seattle. 

Big league Hall of Famer Lou Brock dies » Big league Hall of Famer Lou Brock has died. 

The speedy outfielder was a 6-time All-Star who helped lead the St. Louis Cardinals to three pennants and two World Series titles in the 1960s. 

He retired in 1979 with more than 3,000 hits. And for years he held the record for most stolen bases in a season and most steals all-time until Rickey Henderson broke both records. 

Brock lost a leg from diabetes in recent years and was diagnosed with cancer in 2017. He was 81 years old.

I’m Kent Covington. 

Straight ahead: the theology of work.

Plus, Janie B. Cheaney with some advice on time management.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: It’s Monday the 7th of September, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Well, well, well. We were planning to give you the day off, Mary. But, turns out, you don’t need it.

REICHARD: I don’t. No, I don’t. Here’s what happened. I went to Chicago to help my daughter move and—long story short—wound up getting exposed to COVID. So I’m in quarantine.

And I’m grateful for your help in giving me something to do while I wait this out—delivering some equipment up here so as long as I’m not so sick I can’t work, I can work.

EICHER: Well, in seriousness, we can certainly call on the prayers of the WORLD family that you pull through this in good shape. We’ve got to take it seriously, and we do. We’re just going to have to be flexible here for awhile. But for today we will stick with our original plan to mark Labor Day with a tribute to labor.

REICHARD: Yes, Labor Day became an official federal holiday in 1894. But by then, 30 states were already holding their own Labor Day celebrations. Those usually included parades, speeches, and picnics organized by labor unions.

A history of the holiday on the Department of Labor website notes, “The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known.”

EICHER: Yes, work has enormous economic value allowing us to take care of our families and our churches and love our neighbors all at the same time. But work is also vital to our spiritual and emotional flourishing. After creating Adam and Eve, God gave them work. Even in paradise they were not expected to lounge around. They were to fill the earth and subdue it.

So, how should God’s ideas about work shape our own perspective on the daily 9-to-5? Hugh Whelchel has a few thoughts on that. He’s president of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics. 

Our colleague Megan Basham recently spoke to him about why Christians should re-examine their view of work. Here’s their conversation.

MEGAN BASHAM: Good morning, Hugh!

HUGH WHELCHEL, GUEST: Good morning. Great to be back.

BASHAM: The way Americans work, and perhaps even their perspective on work, has changed a lot in the last six months. What do you think is the biggest difference between the way we, as a nation, approached our work pre-pandemic and now? And are the changes for the better?

WHELCHEL: I fear that it’s not. I fear that one of the problems now is people feel work’s even less important now than it was before. Whether that’s because they’re having to do it from home or they’re not working the way they were working before, and yet the world goes on and everything seems to be functioning. But I think that there’s a chance for us to kind of slip into this even farther into heresy.

I think that’s been assumed by too much of the church that work’s not really that important. So as a result, many people think that their work has nothing to do with their Christianity. In fact, they believe their salvation’s just this bus ticket into heaven and they can sit around and play video games until the bus gets here because what they do here is not very important. That’s a heresy that runs throughout the church and it’s very unfortunate. 

But the reality is that creation story and you alluded to it at the beginning there. God came to Adam and Eve on the sixth day of creation and said, “Let me tell you what your job description is. Let me tell you why you’re here. Two things I want you to do. I want you to fill the earth with my images and I want you to subdue the earth. 

Now, the word subdue there literally means to go make the earth an incredible place for human beings to flourish. And that’s what our work is all about. And, see, so work’s not meaningless. And, as you also alluded to, we will do that same work in the new heaven and the new earth. It was true in the Garden. It’s true of us today. And we will be in eternity working forever because work is a good thing. It’s what God has given us, it’s a tool God has given us to bring flourishing to his creation. 

BASHAM: Well, we have to notice in the political realm, capitalism seems to be facing increased criticism, especially from those advocating for a more socialist approach. How would you address that, as it relates to the values of hard work and entrepreneurship?

WHELCHEL: Yeah. That’s a really good question. And I don’t let my staff say that God endorses capitalism. I think you have to be very careful about that, right? So, really, you have to look at these different systems and say, “What’s the most closely aligned with the principles that I read in Scripture?” And I can guarantee it’s not socialism. And I can guarantee it’s not communism, right? So, capitalism aligns with a lot of the principles. 

For example, in the Ten Commandments we read, “Thou shall not steal.” What does that imply? That implies property rights. Property rights don’t exist in socialism or communism. So, I would throw those out just on that alone.

So, I think we have to look at things like that and one of the problems we’ve had, particularly in the business world, is we’ve been so divorced from our faith when we came and did this, it was like everything else. We’re supposed to be salt and light in the business world, doing things differently. Doing things in a way that not only brings flourishing to God’s creation, but serves as salt and light and serves as an example to others that this is the right way to work. And I think many Christians, we need to self-examine, I think we’ve been remiss in the way we’ve done that.

BASHAM: Well, something else that probably should set us apart and maybe sometimes doesn’t is how we define success. So, last question for you, Hugh. How do you think Christians define success in their work?

WHELCHEL: I write about that in my book, How Then Should We Work? And one of my favorite people in the world—he’s with the Lord now—he’s a basketball coach. And he was the best in the world. His name was John Wooden. He was the coach for the UCLA basketball team in the 70s and 80s and a lot of people don’t know he was a very committed believer. And he was asked one time what his definition of success was and he said it’s becoming the best that you’re capable of becoming. 

God wants us all to play up to our potential. And he’s given us tremendous potential and we need to rise to the occasion. Good enough is not good enough. We want to bring exceptionalism to everything we do. And see one of the problems is that we look at success in our culture by comparing it to what other people are doing. God looks at success by comparing it to what you’re capable of doing. 

So, success, I mean, this is the story of the parable of the talents. Success is going out and doing the best that you can do. That’s what God is going to judge you by and you better be willing to bring your A game every day.

BASHAM: Hugh Whelchel is president of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics. Hugh, we all appreciate the work you’re doing. Thanks so much!

WHELCHEL: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: the Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER: Well, speaking of work, the August employment figures are in: According to government labor economists: 1.4 million jobs came online, the unemployment rate down to 8.4 percent, so single-digit unemployment, first time since March. And as has been the case when we consider the economic and policy impact of COVID, we find both causes for concern and reasons for optimism. David Bahnsen joins us now for our Labor Day edition. David is a financial analyst and adviser and good morning to you.

DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Well, good morning, Nick.

EICHER: Each week, we’ve tracked “new claims for unemployment benefits” as a key metric, how many Americans are signing up for jobless benefits. 

And as a baseline, in a normal economy that figure is in the 200,000 range. But when the COVID shutdown came, the number spiked as high as 6 million, and has been falling pretty consistently since then. 

David, you’ve been looking for the labor economy to break the 1 million mark as a sign that we’re possibly near the beginning of the end or—to say it as Churchill might—the end of the beginning.

But all that to say, new jobless claims dropped significantly below 1 million to 881,000. Shouldn’t we make note, though, that the labor department changed how it calculates that figure, maybe address that a bit?

BAHNSEN: I don’t think that the change is relevant at all. The major facts that are fundamentally on the table about the United States’ labor market is that things are getting better. They’re getting better quicker than I’ve expected. And the areas in which they’re not getting better are with those who I think are least resourced. The wage growth of 4.7 percent year-over-year is a really telling statistic and it’s not as good as it may sound. It sounds like people are making more money. The reason wages are growing is because the area where there’s the most unemployment are at the lowest-paid sector. So, as those numbers come out, it puts the average wage up higher. That’s not the way you want to see wages growing. But, nevertheless, 250,000 jobs coming back in the month of August in retail, 175,000 back in restaurants and bars. So, we have recovered a lot of jobs in places people were not expecting it yet before the economy has really fully reopened. I think that’s encouraging. There’s definitely plenty of concerns in the data. But there’s more upside surprises than there are downside.

EICHER: A note on the headline figure, the August jobs report. Here’s what I think is sort of interesting. We lost 22 million jobs in March and April, and from May to the end of August we got about half of those jobs back—very close to 11 million. That’s a bit of a milestone, isn’t it?

BAHNSEN: Yeah, and I think it’s better than that because I think the continuing jobless claims number is a better metric. It’s very hard for me to believe that there are unemployed people who were collecting unemployment who are still unemployed and decided to stop collecting unemployment. So, I think that that continuous claims number puts you pretty well below 15 million. I don’t want there to be 10 million unemployed people and we’re not to 10 million yet, but I do think that we’re in the 12, 13 range nationwide and that’s a more encouraging number. 

But, you’re right. I mean, here’s the thing, Nick, we had an 80-something percent initially classified their own unemployment status as temporary. From the job they had lost, they believed they were going to get it back. An awful lot of those people did indeed get their jobs back. There’s still 500,000 that have been classified to permanent job losses. And there will be more. But 500,000 of permanent job losses out of a pandemic of this gravity and an economic contraction of this severity, that’s really encouraging—not if you’re in those 500,000—but relative to the overall macro-economic impact.

EICHER: OK, so this is kind of connected in a way. We’ve spent trillions of dollars to remediate the government shutdowns, money for businesses, money for unemployment programs—the so-called stimulus checks the government sent out, trillions in just one fell swoop. This is World War II-level stuff.

We received last week the debt and deficit report from the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, no surprise. It’s nothing that we haven’t talked about before, but at the same time just kind of sobering to see the government accountants saying that the amount of government debt held by the public is more than 100 percent of GDP. In other words, we have debt greater than what the productive economy creates in a full-year’s time. Our debt is bigger than what we produce for the first time since we were fighting Hitler and Imperial Japan. Enormous number. Very sobering. Any reflections on that?

BAHNSEN: Well, yeah, I have a huge reflection on it. I wish that people were sobered by the part they should be sobered by, which is what comes next. Because you said a very important thing. This is not the biggest debt-to-GDP we’ve ever had. We had a bigger debt-to-GDP after World War II. So, in theory one could argue, OK, well, we just had a war-like trauma. But now we have to go about reducing it. 

The sobering part is we’re not going to go about reducing it. And we’re going to add more.  And we had 21 trillion of debt on the credit card balance before. And that doesn’t include entitlement spending. OK? Other than that… [laughs]

EICHER: Yeah, so far, so good. Like the Magnificent Seven, guy’s falling from a five-story building, people inside hear him saying, “So far, so good!”

BAHNSEN: Yeah. Exactly. Well, and this is the thing. I really believe that people—it’s not just a technical distinction I’m making. I don’t believe being at 100 percent debt-to-GDP right now from COVID is the problem. 

I believe it’s that we do not have a country and it’s easy to blame it on leadership, but I don’t blame it on leadership because the people elect the leadership. The leadership does what the people want. We’re not going to reduce the spending. There will not be austerity. Anyone who believes that there is is not paying attention to the appetite in this country. So they’re pretty well stuck on this and that’s why the Federal Reserve right now is the key actor in the entire American economy.

EICHER: I hate to leave it there, but we have to leave it there. We should explore this more, though. David Bahnsen, financial analyst and adviser. David, thank you.

BAHNSEN: Thanks so much, Nick.

NICK EICHER: Today is Monday, September 7th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re so glad you are! Good morning to you. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Hope Awards for Effective Compassion. 

Throughout the year, readers and listeners nominate ministries and non-profits that are on the ground, working to mend broken lives. Last week we introduced you to the first of our five finalists.

EICHER: All this week we’re going to introduce you to the rest of these organizations. Each will receive at least some prize money, but the organization that receives the $10,000 grand prize is up to you. Voting opens later this month.

Today, our international honoree. WORLD senior reporter Angela Lu Fulton visited a ministry to refugees in Malaysia. Here’s her story.

ANGELA LU FULTON: The playground of St. Barnabas Church in Klang, Malaysia, rings with the shrieks of laughter. Children clad in the navy-and-white uniforms arrive in shuttles to join their friends. 


Girls in white hijabs chat while sitting on seesaws. Boys stand in circles—as they try to push each other off-balance. Another group of girls play jump rope with a make-shift rubber band rope. A crowd of younger students watch.

This is ElShaddai Refugee Learning Center. Students come from 20 different countries:

NG OI LENG: We have Somalis, Sudanese, Yeminis… 

Ng Oi Leng is education director at The ElShaddai Refugee Learning Centre.

NG OI LENG:  Iranians, Iraqis, all sorts of people, also have Sierra Leone… 

Her students are children of refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented immigrants. 

NG OI LENG: If you want to light your candles, you need to put them in the darkest places…

Most have fled conflicts or abject living conditions in their home countries. They come to ElShaddai for an education—an opportunity otherwise unavailable in Malaysia as the government bars them from attending Malaysian schools. 

Their families live on the margins of Malaysian society. Parents often take the dirty, dangerous, and difficult jobs. 

NG OI LENG: A lot of them recycle, pick bottles, newspaper, sell ice cream, lot work in the market selling vegetables. Few skilled workers. A lot of need for education…

The Migrant Ministry of Klang, or MMK, founded the learning center in 2008. It began with just 22 students. The school added new grades each year as the students advanced. Today it reaches 1,400 students at its main campus and many subcenters.

ElShaddai is an openly Christian organization working primarily with Muslim refugees…in a majority-Muslim country with strict laws against proselytizing. 

NG OI LENG: We have visit from authorities to investigate why bring Muslim kids to our church…

The center assures the authorities it would gladly run the educational program from a local mosque, but none have opened their doors to them—churches like St. Barnabas have. ElShaddai is intentional about renting or borrowing space instead of buying its own.

NG OI LENG: When is the government going to close the door for refugees or migrants, that kind of thing, never permanent. School might not be there tomorrow so we don’t want to spend our money on buildings or hardware, but we want to focus on reaching the people because of our resources, more organic system. 

ElShaddai teaches anyone who wants an education or opportunity. But finding teachers who understand the complicated lives of migrant children is a challenge. 

BRIMA: My name is Daniel Ansumana Brima…

One solution is hiring teachers who’ve been refugees themselves. Brima teaches science at ElShaddai.

BRIMA: I’m a refugee, I have gone through so many circumstances and these children must have gone through the same thing…

In 1996 he fled Liberia during the country’s civil war and lived in a Ghana refugee camp for 16 years. He came to Kuala Lumpur in 2012 and received refugee status from The United Nations.

BRIMA: So when I came here, I felt within myself—within my spirit—that I should at least contribute to impart the little knowledge I have gotten so far to them as well. 

Although the families are poor, they pay a small slice of tuition, about $16 per month for primary and $28 for secondary. That leads to a healthy sense of ownership in their children’s education. Scholarships are available for those with multiple children or those who can’t afford the small fees. 

ElShaddai’s reputation has spread throughout Malaysia’s refugee communities. In fact, many chose to settle in Klang so their children can attend. 

NG OI LENG: When you have built relationships with the community and there so much trust after a while they are the ones who come and look for us. 

Many Muslim refugee families send their children to ElShaddai knowing they will receive a quality English education. They also receive character education with lessons on integrity, honesty, and patience. 

Some local Christian churches are fearful of partnering with El Shaddai, worrying that working with Muslims might get them in trouble with authorities. Still churches and Christian organizations from a wide spectrum support the center, providing space, teachers, and material help for the work. 

Three years ago, ElShaddai took the unusual step of sending teachers into existing migrant run community schools instead of transporting students to churches. The school now runs 10 of these subcenters, a handful meet in madrasas—or Muslim religious centers. Ng Oi Leng: 

NG OI LENG: We really want to see transformation. So it’s a long term investment how to transform nations through education, love, and the things we sow into their lives.

This year, eight students are preparing to take their International General Certificate of Secondary Education exams—making them ElShaddai’s first class of graduates. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Angela Lu Fulton in Klang, Malaysia.

NICK EICHER: Today is Monday, September 7th. 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. WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney now with some thoughts on the value of time.

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: Remember the proverb about the sluggard? “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest?” 

What about this:

A little click, a little swipe, a little scrolling and skimming down your Instagram feed,

and lost hours will stalk you like zombies; spent minutes like ghosts.

Where does the time go? Really—is there a place where hours and days pile up to exchange for some other value, or do they just disappear like raindrops on a hot pavement? Do I make time, or does time make me? 

I use a Passion Planner (registered trademark) to map the short and long ranges ahead of me. Passion Planner is big on motivation and goal-setting, with space for evaluating each month, strategizing for the year and setting markers for where you want to be when. Every month includes two pages for reflection on what you learned, what you’re grateful for, what you’ll do differently. In my planner, these pages go blank. 

Each week has a primary focus, a place to list positive events, an inspirational quote, and a so-called “Space of Infinite Possibility”; pure white, the size of an index-card, ready to be filled with creative ambition. Most of these go blank, too—I’m just trying to get through the week. The columns marking off days and hours do get filled—also the back pages, for lists, budgets, and ongoing projects.

So the planner is like a back-up hard drive for details I need to keep track of. And passing minutes are like software, always running, always falling into patterns. Patterns become habits that can so easily sink into vast swathes of “wasted” time—hours that can’t be recalled or remembered. Just as my daily calorie intake builds my body, passing time builds my character for better or worse. 

Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians (5:14-16),

‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ 

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Look carefully. What did I purchase with spent minutes? How can I spend them more wisely next week, or next hour? Maybe the Passion Planner, for all its motivational clatter, is right to prompt me to spend some time in reflection each month, “looking carefully,” considering what I did with the time God gave me. Isn’t that part of wisdom? 

Most of us, I suspect, are sitting on a mountain of wasted time. The good news is we all have unused time ahead, though no one can say how much. The days are evil, but if Christ is shining, there’s enough light in each hour to make good use of it.

I’m Janie B. Cheaney.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Poverty and the pandemic. We’ll tell you how food shortages in developing countries pose a more serious threat than the coronavirus.

And, we’ll check in on the Bahamas, one year after Hurricane Dorian shattered the islands.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore don’t be foolish, and understand what the will of the Lord is. 

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.

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