MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
Today on Culture Friday, we’ll talk about the shattering of a different kind of glass ceiling.
NICK EICHER, HOST: We will talk with John Stonestreet.
Also today, a new streaming series about an American football coach drafted across the pond to coach that other kind of football.
And Christian singer-songwriter Charles Billingsley’s fight with COVID.
BROWN: It’s Friday, October 16th. 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, Biden speak at competing town hall events » President Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden debated policy last night, but not on the same stage.
Biden addressed a town hall audience in Philadelphia, while Trump took part in a town hall event in Miami.
Earlier this week, after Trump tested negative for COVID-19, NBC agreed to televise a live Trump town hall event Thursday night.
That drew howls of protest from Hollywood. Scores of actors, producers, and others called on NBC not to hold the Trump event opposite Biden’s, which was scheduled first.
The two candidates will share the same stage at next Thursday’s second presidential debate in Nashville.
Harris suspends travel after staffer tests positive for COVID-19 » Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris is suspending all in-person events through the weekend. That after a campaign staffer and one other person tested positive for COVID-19. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Biden campaign announced Thursday that Sen. Harris’ communications director, Liz Allen, and a flight crew member tested positive.
Campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said Biden had no exposure. Though he and Harris recently spent several hours campaigning together in Arizona, both have since tested negative.
The travel suspension interrupts an aggressive push across a wide battleground map. Harris was scheduled to visit North Carolina and Ohio next.
The campaign sees Harris as a key part of its outreach in North Carolina, where increasing Black turnout is key to the Democrats’ hopes of flipping the state.
Her Friday trip to Cleveland would have taken her into the metropolitan area with the state’s largest concentration of Black voters.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Trump, Republicans demand answers of Twitter censorship » Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee plan to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. They want answers about Twitter’s decision to block links to a New York Post article. The Post report includes unproven email evidence that it says shows Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden engaged in corrupt dealings with a gas company in Ukraine.
And Twitter again drew President Trump’s ire when it briefly locked the Trump campaign’s account. It froze the account after a Trump social media staffer posted a tweet with a link to a video related to the New York Post report.
President Trump on Thursday threatened to sue Twitter and he repeated his call to strip the company of certain legal protections.
TRUMP: The Big Tech persisted coordination with the mainstream media, we must immediately strip them of their section 230 protection.
Section 230 is part of the Communications Decency Act. It shields digital media from legal liability over the comments and posts of its users.
But the president and other critics say if Twitter is going to censor, annotate and otherwise curate user tweets, it should no longer receive that protection.
Judiciary Committee wraps up Barrett confirmation hearing » The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday wrapped up the fourth and final day of its confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Judge Barrett was not in the room. Instead, the panel heard from witnesses arguing for and against her confirmation.
Democrats called four witnesses, including Kristen Clarke of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
CLARKE: Judge Barrett’s views are far outside the mainstream.
And Republicans called four witnesses, including retired federal judge Thomas Griffith.
GRIFFITH: The public record makes clear Judge Barrett’s powerful analytical ability.
Democrats tried but failed to delay a vote on Barrett’s confirmation.
The committee will vote on Thursday to recommend her to the full Senate.
Republican lawmakers are then expected to confirm Barrett to the high court by month’s end.
Unemployment claims rise » The number of Americans filing jobless claims rose last week to 898,000.
Thursday’s Labor Department report mirrors other recent data that have shown a slowdown in hiring.
Some analysts say with coronavirus cases again on the rise, Americans may be staying home more often right now and spending less in local businesses.
Meantime, Congress and the White House appear no closer to agreeing on another relief package. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Wednesday…
MNUCHIN: The majority of the economy is bouncing back very strong. The parts of the economy that are still subject to travel, entertainment, restaurants, performances, those types of things are still suffering. And that’s why we want a much more targeted approach.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats will only agree to a larger multi-trillion-dollar package.
Falcons shut down facility after new COVID-19 case » The Atlanta Falcons shut their facility Thursday following one new positive test for COVID-19. The team remains scheduled to play at Minnesota on Sunday.
Coaches placed defensive tackle Marlon Davidson on the COVID-19/reserve list this week. The addition of a second unidentified case prompted the Falcons to close their facility out of caution.
A team spokesman said the second person was not a player and barring any changes, the Falcons expect to be back at their facility today.
The Falcons’ shutdown follows other outbreaks with the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: takeaways from Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing.
Plus, a conversation with worship leader Charles Billinglsey.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN: It’s Friday the 16th of October, 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.
GRAHAM: This won’t be celebrated in most places.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham.
GRAHAM: Be hard to find much commentary about this moment in American history. But in many of our worlds, this’ll be celebrated. It’s been a long time coming.
He speaks, of course, about what Republicans in Washington feel pretty confident about: the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
BROWN: But they’re confident not merely about a sixth Republican-appointed justice, the third of President Trump’s first, and maybe only, term.
Graham is more specific.
GRAHAM: This is history being made, folks. This is first time in American history we’ve nominated a woman who is unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology and she’s going to the court. Seat at the table that’s waiting on you. And it will be a great signal to all young women who share your view of the world, that there’s a seat at the table for them.
Others on the committee made the same point: some as a point of pride, others as a point of anguish.
EICHER: It’s Culture Friday and so let’s welcome John Stonestreet. John is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
BROWN: Good morning, John!
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning!
EICHER: It was really something, John. The Republicans seemed ready for a battle that didn’t come. The Democrats are all going to vote no, but the Kavanaugh-style attacks didn’t materialize (and I realize it’s not over yet).
But last time Amy Coney Barrett came before this committee, she was under consideration for an appellate judge position and we heard attacks on her faith. That largely didn’t happen this time.
You heard Senator Graham a moment ago talking about how this is a barrier-shattering moment that an openly pro-life woman—a woman unashamed of her faith—making it onto the high court.
Of course, we have to quote the words of a great St. Louisan Yogi Berra: it ain’t over till it’s over.
But how big a cultural moment is this, in your estimation?
STONESTREET: I think it’s a significant moment in that obviously this could dramatically change the court or secure the court in a pro-life direction for a long time. Is it a historic nomination process? I mean, Barrett’s very impressive. I really appreciated the Babylon Bee headline talking about how deftly answered the Democrats’ questions while cooking a dinner for nine as she’s chopping onions there on the table. That was a pretty good photoshopped image. And my middle daughter, who, by the way, watched a little bit of it, I read that headline to her and she was like, “Wait, did she really?” I mean, it kind of is believable. That’s what’s funny. It’s kind of believable that she actually did.
Look, the Kavanaugh-style stuff didn’t come because it would have been really, really bad politics. That wasn’t popular with the American people. It certainly is not going to be popular against somebody like Amy Coney Barrett who’s popularity and at least polling went up as people watched her and saw her and probably saw over her shoulders her kids sit very well-behaved and wondering how can that happen for most of America who can’t get their kids to sign on and stay locked into a Zoom classroom.
By the way, I’m in no way claiming to have had this figured out with my own kids. I hope she writes a book about this sort of stuff that I can read.
But, look, there’s something helpful and something unhelpful. The helpful thing was that because the Democrats couldn’t go into that kind of personal style attack, we actually were able to see two very different visions about how the government’s supposed to work from both sides. You had Ben Sasse, you had Josh Hawley, you had Senator Kennedy who was the most entertaining character of the whole event from Louisiana, basically offer a civics lesson, and give Judge Barrett an opportunity to articulate how she understood the way things are supposed to work.
The unhelpful thing was Judge Barrett had to do what every justice has had to do since Robert Bork, which is say, “I can’t really tell you what I think” about a particular issue. Now, listen, that is good prudence. That is something that no justice has actually been forthcoming with on any controversial issue in recent memory. And the reason is Robert Bork, what happened to him.
So, that’s the upside and that’s the downside.
EICHER: I do want to call your attention to a remarkable comment during this hearing. It was Tuesday. Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii. She found some writing by Judge Barrett she found objectionable. Let’s hear this.
HIRONO: You used the term ‘sexual preference’ to describe those in the LGBTQ community, and let me make clear, ‘sexual preference’ is an offensive and outdated term. It is used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice. It is not! Sexual orientation is a key part of a person’s identity. Sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.
Offensive, outdated term. Because you have to go all the way back to September 28th of this year to find the last time Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary used “sexual preference” without the disclaimer that the term is offensive. Credit to National Review Online for spotting this. But it certainly appears Senator Hirono just edited the dictionary. It’s hard to keep up!
STONESTREET: Oh, wow. That was a scene, wasn’t it? I mean, first of all, Senator Hirono’s questioning — and it wasn’t just that question, by the way. That’s the one that got the attention. Because, by the way, Justice Ginsburg just in recent memory also used the term “sexual preference.”
Now, we also saw this week with the intentional burying of the lede about Hunter Biden by social media, we know how these things can actually—how these new ideas can be enforced. This is actually a center of the theme of Rod Dreher’s new book Live Not By Lies is that if there is a totalitarianism to come, it’s going to be delivered at the hands of “woke capitalism.” And we saw that. We saw the outrage.
I’ll just put it this way: Without Twitter, Senator Hirono would not have been offended by that use of the term “sexual preference,” because she would not have known it was offensive. Because no one can keep up with this. And because it’s not offensive. It’s not a thing. That is making a mountain out of not even a molehill. It’s something that doesn’t even exist and it came across as desperate and just uncharitable and—what’s the other word?
STONESTREET: [Laughs] Gratuitous, bad form. We could just go on and on and on. But it did, I think that was one of the moments that showed that we don’t have a unified Republican party. We don’t have a unified Democratic party. There’s factions within each. And I thought that was on display during the hearings, that moment with Senator Hirono being one of them.
BROWN: John, the other big event happening this week is the 27th annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics. This will be my first time attending and I’m emphasizing attending because it’s all virtual this year. So I’m looking forward to seeing you online!
But I wanted to say, you know, I think Christians are often intimidated by apologetics. Even though I Peter 3:15 tells us to always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. I think that’s what Judge Barrett did this week. We all need to be able to do that.
Why do you think we aren’t doing that and what are the consequences, especially in the culture we’re living in today?
STONESTREET: The interesting thing about I Peter 3:15 is that it’s in First Peter. I know that’s really profound, but First Peter is the book about hope and it’s a remarkable thing that the book of joy, Philippians, was written from a prison by Paul. This is the book of hope. The theme throughout this is all about having hope and it’s written in the context of persecution.
You can see it right in the opening verses of that. And of course the assumption here is that hope is not an option. Hope is not a feeling. Hope is not dependent on any external circumstances. In fact, the people that he’s writing to, Peter’s writing to here, he uses words that bring to mind Old Testament exile because they’re about to get run out of town. They’re about to be the diaspora. The persecution is about to go from Jewish persecution to Roman persecution. And there’s a guy named Nero that’s going to be behind this that many people maybe will recognize.
So, that’s just what’s so interesting. And, of course, embedded in this verse is this idea that hopeful living makes people ask. So, the first thing we have to wonder is are people asking? Are we hopeful? Are we known for hope or are we known for fear? Are we known for hope or are we known for anger? That’s the first question we have to ask. The second thing we have to say is, look, this is the golden age of apologetics. If there’s a tough question about Christianity, it’s at least been wrestled with, probably been answered well, very likely answered just definitively.
The problem is, why is there such a disconnect between the answers that are there and the everyday person on the pew that are being asked these questions. I mean, listen, I meet tons of students, Myrna, who grew up in a Christian home and then they go to college and they get a question and they go, well, I grew up in a Christian home. I never heard the answer, therefore the answer does not exist. And that’s almost always not true. It’s almost always true the answer exists but they didn’t hear it growing up, and that’s a really unfortunate thing. And I think it’s something we can remedy through events like this.
EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
BROWN: John, great to talk with you as always. Thank you!
STONESTREET: Thank you so much.
MYRNA BROWN: Today is Friday, October 16th. 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 Apple TV series is winning rave reviews across the political spectrum.
But she says while it deserves much of the applause, you still may not want to watch it.
MEGAN BASHAM, FILM CRITIC: I debated for about a week whether I should review Ted Lasso, a new hit comedy on Apple TV. The series about an American college football coach who inexplicably decides to accept a job coaching an English soccer team is like nothing else streaming right now.
CLIP: How about I go ahead and address the larger than average elephant in the room. No I have never coached the sport that you folks called football at any level. Heck, you could fill two internets with what I don’t know about football. But I’ll tell you what I do know, I know that AFC Richmond, like any team I’ve ever coached, he’s going to go out there and give you everything they’ve got for all four quarters. Ah. What was that? 2/2. Oh right, sorry halves. Yeah, they’re going to give you everything they’ve got for 2/2 win or lose. Or tie. Right, y’all do ties here.
The show’s warm heart and hilarious characters have transcended the culture divide. When conservative Christian writer David French and the hard-left feminist web site, The Mary Sue, are both singing its praises, you know you have something unusual on your hands.
CLIP: So these fellows are from all over the place? Well he must be from England, yeah? Wales. Is that another country? Yes and no. How many countries are in this country? Four. Kind of like America these days.
At first, you suspect Ted, played by Jason Sudeikis, might be a simpleton, a pushover. But as we get to know him, we realize his gentleness with nearly everyone he meets is actually his strength.
In an age where anti-heroes reign supreme, where we’re asked to chip through hard exteriors of snarkiness, promiscuity, and disrespect to find the gold heart within, Ted wears kindness and fidelity on his sleeve. He is, at root, a father figure to the overgrown boys on his team. Men who clearly missed strong male mentoring in their lives.
CLIP: Why are you winding him up? He’s the one coach. We’re gonna make an impact here and the first domino that needs to fall is right inside that man’s heart.
Nate the stammering and timid kit manager requires a challenge to step up and assert himself. Cruel and cocksure Jamie needs to be taken down a peg. There’s no one-plan-for-success-fits-all.
When we do finally see Ted get tough, it’s all the more powerful because he uses anger so sparingly.
CLIP: You’re sitting in here, you’re supposed to be the franchise player. And yet here we are, talking about you missing practice. We are talking about practice. Do you understand me? Practice. Not a game, not a game, not the game you go out there and die for, right? Play every week like at your last, right? No, we’re talking about practice. You know you’re supposed to be out there. You’re know you’re supposed to lead by example. You’re just shoving that all aside. And so here we are Jamie, we’re talking about practice. Not a game. Not the game. We’re talking about practice. With your team. With your teammates. The only place we get to play together, that we’ve got control over. The rest of the time is us 11 against those 11. We’re talking about practice, man. I’m talking about practice. And you can’t do it. Because you’re hurt. Right? Fine by me. Tell you what, do me a favor, when you get out there, set the cones so the other reserves can do a little path and drill. Do you want me to set up cones? I really appreciate it.
Some other Christian critics have said the show warns against toxic masculinity or placing too much importance on winning. I couldn’t disagree more.
What we see through the full arc of the story is that it is a lack of male leadership that leads to unbalanced men. That’s the real threat to a culture. It actually argues that winning can be very important. And sometimes we don’t fight to win because we’re too afraid or egotistical, or because losing will make us more popular. It’s a reminder that even Ted needs from his most trusted adviser.
CLIP: Look, I understood this mission when we were in Kansas. But those were kids and these are professionals and winning does matter to them. And it matters to me. And that’s okay. How do you not get it? Losing has repercussions. We lose, we get relegated. We get relegated, this is over and we will have built nothing. And if you want to pick a player’s feelings over a coach’s duty to make a point, I don’t want to drink with someone that selfish.
So given all this, why was I hesitant to cover Ted Lasso? Well, rumor has it that Apple is trying to differentiate itself from other streaming platforms by not featuring sex, violence, and nudity. And that is certainly the case here. But Apple hasn’t made any concessions with language. With the exception of Ted himself, the show features near-constant profanity. I will say, though, the fact that he doesn’t speak like everyone else in his world only makes his different, and clearly better, approach to life stand out in sharper relief.
So while you may not want to watch it, Ted Lasso should make you smile for this reason: When we see a story that shows us good men doing good work, almost everyone still stands up and cheers.
I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER: Coming next on The World and Everything In It: Back to the stage.
With COVID restrictions loosening across the country, some Christian music artists are slowly making their way back to live music performances.
And, Myrna, you had the chance to talk with one artist about his own COVID journey.
MYRNA BROWN: I did! Charles Billingsley. Let’s dive in.
YOUTUBE CONCERT: Come on let’s worship together, how about it…
MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: On March 12th, 2020, Charles Billingsley stood on a Tennessee stage leading a packed auditorium in worship. Within 24 hours, he’d cancelled the rest of his tour dates and the mandatory lockdown began. What started as an inconvenience soon turned serious.
BILLINGSLEY: Well it was late March. It was actually my 26th wedding anniversary. I’m having dinner with my wife and I’m starting to feel like I got a little bit of fever. Didn’t really think much of it.
But each day Billingsley says his fever got worse. After two weeks, he began experiencing shortness of breath. Finally, a house call from his doctor confirmed his suspicions.
BILLINGSLEY: He said man you have severe double pneumonia. You got to go to the hospital. He said this virus has gone to your lungs. I said, geez, when do I have to go into the hospital. And he said right this minute. I said what?
Billingsley says the hardest part of his hospital stay was the isolation.
BILLINGSLEY: You’re having to deal with all the emotions and the anxieties and the fear of this by yourself.
He still gets emotional thinking about the kind faces and hands that served him.
BILLINGSLEY: The poor doctors and nurses, I mean bless their hearts. They don’t want to get this thing, so they come in covered from head to toe. So when you think about the thousands of people in the medical profession who are risking their lives and doing that, it’s very meaningful.
During the hours of solitude one night, Billingsley pulled out his newest CD—the one he’d recorded the year before.
SONG [WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE]: You said you believe that God works all things for your good…
BILLINGSLEY: I’m listening to these songs and I forgot it was my own record I was listening to because the lyrics were just so poignant for what I was going through at that time.
SONG [WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE]: You’re in the grip of his grace. You’re in the palm of His hand. Maybe the eye of the storm is the center of His plan.
BILLINGSLEY: It’s almost like the Lord gave me those songs six months ago to write for myself.
After three days in the hospital—and against the advice of his doctors—Billingsley checked himself out and headed home.
BILLINGSLEY: They kept warning me, if you leave and your lungs shut down on you, you are not going to make it back, and I said, well I’m going to take that risk. It’s Easter weekend and I don’t want to be in the hospital on Easter Sunday.
Back home and quarantined from his wife of 26 years, Billingsley says he got angry with God.
BILLINGSLEY: Well, I knew He could heal me and I kept asking him to heal me right then and there and He wasn’t. You know when you pray with all your heart for something and then it doesn’t happen, the natural reaction is to get upset and wonder, now why won’t you do this?
He says he eventually found peace—and answers—in Philippians 1:21
BILLINGSLEY: Here’s the best news about a believer. God’s going to heal you one way or another. It may be on this side of heaven or on that side. But for you to live is Christ and to die is gain. And I finally got to the point to where I believed that and just started thanking the Lord for healing me or taking me home.
During his slow recovery, Billingsley spent a lot of time reflecting on his 30-year music ministry. It all began one Saturday morning in Birmingham, Alabama, after hearing a sparrow outside his window.
BILLINGSLEY: And I wrote this poem called The Sparrow. Went back the next day to my college dorm and handed it to a friend of mine and said hey, maybe you could try and put some music to this. And he did.
Billingsley sang that little song at a luncheon. A young couple, about to launch a city-wide crusade heard him.
BILLINGSLEY: She came up and she said you’re going to sing that song all over the city. Come with me. I mean who knew by me just being frustrated and writing a little poem on a piece of paper that God would build an entire 30 year career off of that.
On April 20th, his wife’s birthday, his 24-day fever finally broke.
CONCERT: All man, I’m so tired of 2020. Does anyone feel that way. Is it just me? (applause)
In June, Charles Billingsley returned to that Tennessee stage, leading worship in the same venue he had so abruptly left three months earlier.
BILLINGSLEY: I mean the room seats 10,000 and there were only 1100 people in the room and they were all six feet. I told them, I said look, this is even better. Now you got dancing room, so you can dance around and do whatever.
Billingsley says he can’t wait to see what God does next. And while he’s waiting, he’ll worship.
BILLINGSLEY: Worship is the one thing that we’re going to do for an eternity. So I just encourage everybody through every aspect of their life, not just a Sunday morning, one hour experience, but no, with everything you are and all that you do, we are called to worship and bring glory and honor to the Lord.
NICK EICHER: Before we go, you’re probably weary of reminders to vote, but I want to remind you today’s the last weekday to vote for the Hope Awards for Effective Compassion. Voting ends Saturday. Go to WNG.org, look near the upper left corner and you’ll see a hotlink for Hope Awards Voting. I promise you, no waiting in line!
It takes a lot of people to put this program together each week. Our thanks to these hard-working colleagues:
Megan Basham, Joel Belz, Kent Covington, Jamie Dean, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, Kim Henderson, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Jill Nelson, Andrée Seu Peterson, Bonnie Pritchett, Mary Reichard, Jenny Lind Schmitt, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Cal Thomas.
MYRNA BROWN: Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz stay up late to get the program to you early. Paul Butler is executive producer. Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief.
And of course, you. You make this program possible with your support. Thank you!
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Go now in grace and peace.