The World and Everything in It – October 9, 2020

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!

Today, we’ll talk about what was a civil political debate that raised issues of substance.

NICK EICHER, HOST: When that happens it’s worth noting, and we will today on Culture Friday.

Plus a film from 2016 that shows a cycle of sin, guilt, and forgiveness sure to resonate with Christian audiences.

And your Listener Feedback.

BROWN: It’s Friday, October 9th. 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: News is next. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Hurricane Delta bears down on Louisiana coast » Another major storm is bearing down on Louisiana. 

Stacy Stewart with the National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Delta could pack winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. 

STEWART: But more importantly, the winds associated with this hurricane will pile up the water and create significant storm surge along the south-central coast. 

Forecasters expect Hurricane Delta to make landfall this evening. And as of last night, the center of the storm looked to be taking aim at Lake Charles. 

An aerial view of that town shows rooftops still dotted with blue tarps less than two months after Hurricane Laura ripped through the area.

Computer models predict Delta will strengthen to a Category 3 storm this morning. But it could weaken to a Category 2 before making landfall on the Gulf Coast. 

Unemployment claims tick down » The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 840,000. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Thursday’s report from the Labor Department said the number of people who are continuing to receive unemployment benefits dropped to 11 million. 

That’s a decline of 1 million over the previous week. In many cases that means companies are calling employees back to work. But in other cases, it simply means workers have used up the 26 weeks of their regular state benefits.

The government also said 464,000 people applied for jobless aid last week under a separate program for the self-employed, contractors, and gig workers. That number dropped by nearly 50,000 from the week before. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

FEMA: 34 COVID-19 infections linked to White House » A total of “34 White House staffers and other contacts” have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days. That according to an internal government memo distributed among top leaders at FEMA. 

That’s a larger total than the White House has publicly disclosed. In addition to President Trump and the first lady, those infected include senior aides Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller, as well as press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. 

Trump: no virtual debate » And given the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis, next week’s presidential debate might be off

President Trump said Thursday that he has no interest in participating in a debate by video. 

TRUMP: No, I don’t want to do a virtual debate because a virtual debate is a joke. There’s no reason. I’m in great shape. 

Trump and campaign rival Joe Biden were scheduled to face off for a second time next Thursday in Miami. But after the president tested positive for the coronavirus, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that debate will now be virtual

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien has asked the commission instead to push both the second and third presidential debates back by one week. 

The campaign is hopeful that will give the president enough time to fully recover, test negative, and debate in person. 

White House, Democrats say COVID-19 relief still possible » Both the White House and Democratic leaders say they’re still talking about another COVID-19 relief bill, even after President Trump this week said he was calling off the talks. Trump told Fox News on Thursday…

TRUMP: I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out. Now they are starting to work out. Now we are starting to have some very productive talks. 

President Trump has called for stand-alone bills to help keep airlines afloat, among other things. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s willing to consider a measure to prop up the airline industry, but

PELOSI: The only point about negotiations is there can be no stand-alone bill unless there’s a bigger bill and it could be part of that or it could be in addition to that. 

The president has also called for stand-alone bills to send another round of stimulus payments to Americans and to fund the Paycheck Protection Program for small business. Democrats want another multi-trillion dollar bill and say a piecemeal approach is a nonstarter. 

Cruise ships adopt new COVID-19 testing standard » Cruise ships may set sail again soon with strict new safety standards in place. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports. 

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Before stepping foot on a ship with any major cruise line, you’ll have to test negative for COVID-19. 

That’s true whether you’re a passenger or a crew member. All major cruise lines have agreed to a 100 percent testing standard. 

The Cruise Lines International Association made that announcement this week. The group represents 95 percent of the world’s cruise line capacity. 

Royal Caribbean wrote on its blog that with “faster tests becoming more readily available, the cruise line’s plans become more viable.”

The CDC recently extended its ban on all major cruises in U.S. waters through the end of this month. No word yet on whether the new testing standards will allow ships to leave U.S. ports in November

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg. 

Agents foil plot to kidnap Mich. governor » Investigators have foiled a stunning plot that allegedly included plans to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Authorities on Thursday announced charges against six men. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said they tried to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them and…

NESSEL: Made threats of violence in order to instigate a civil war and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the capital building of Michigan and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan. 

Whitmer, a Democrat, has imposed tough restrictions on personal movement and the economy in response to the coronavirus. 

The FBI quoted one of the alleged extremists as saying Whitmer “has no checks and balances at all. She has uncontrolled power right now.”

The government said agents stopped the plot against Whitmer and others, with the work of undercover agents and informants.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: lessons from the vice presidential debate.

Plus, your listener feedback.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MYRNA BROWN: It’s Friday the 9th 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.

Let’s back up to Wednesday night and a key question that really hasn’t been answered in our political debates—namely, would a new Democratic administration seek to increase the size of the Supreme Court, as a measure to re-assert ideological control of it.

The question’s been asked, but never answered directly. 

We’d like to play for you an exchange from the vice-presidential debate.

Vice President Pence sought to do the job the news media have failed so far to do. The entire thing consumed close to four minutes, so I’m going to compress.

But here’s how it began…

PENCE/HARRIS: Are you and Joe Biden going to pack the court if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed? In 186- … I’d like you to answer the question … Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking. I am speaking.

Senator Kamala Harris—Joe Biden’s running mate—then spent the next 59 seconds speaking, but instead making the point that it’s too close to an election to confirm Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court.

The moderator thanks her…

PENCE/HARRIS: Thank you, Senator Harris. Susan, the American people are voting right now. They’d like to know if you and Joe Biden are going to pack the Supreme Court if you don’t get your way in this nomination. Let’s talk about packing … come on. You once again gave a non-answer. Joe Biden gave a non-answer. … Trying to answer you now. Haha. American people deserve a straight answer. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, the straight answer is, they are going to pack the Supreme Court. Yeah, let’s talk about packing the court, then. Let’s talk about the fact — Please. I’m about to.

About to talk about the president’s appointments to lower courts, but not about packing the Supreme Court. That rumination consumed about 30 more seconds.

PENCE/HARRIS: Let’s have that discussion. All right, thank you. Thank you, senator. Let’s go on and talk about the issue of racial justice. I just want the record to reflect she never answered the question.

BROWN: As it turned out, the Wednesday night debate was fairly substantial. They did talk about COVID, about energy policy, climate change, taxes, racial justice protests and the extent to which some have turned violent, and the pro-life issue—with the candidates offering contrasting views—largely without interruptions.

EICHER: It’s Culture Friday and so let’s welcome in John Stonestreet. John is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

BROWN: Good morning, John!

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning, Myrna. Good morning, Nick.

EICHER: You know, Vice President Pence does have a good reputation as a Christian gentleman. We said a lot about the boorishness and embarrassment of the first debate. Wasn’t this, culturally, a nice change of pace?

STONESTREET: Well, it was far more watchable and, of course, we had an unexpected visitor in the middle of it in the form of a fly, which spawned some of the great Twitter comments of our year. And, you know, it’s kind of hard to make a fly partisan. And it’s been a remarkable year in which everything else has been made partisan. So, everybody could kind of poke fun at that.

I did appreciate the fact that the issues were actually clarified. And I did appreciate the clear contrast. And I thought both candidates did a very—worked very hard to distinguish what they were doing. And I thought that was a burden for the Biden-Harris campaign, particularly on COVID, because everything that they’ve said so far looks like the plan Trump and Pence have, with very few distinctions.

But all in all, if you watched this—as opposed to the presidential debate—you learned far  more about the policy positions of the various campaigns and so in that sense, hopefully, it at least provided a little more light last night than heat. And that, of course, was the exact opposite of the presidential debate.

EICHER: I want to ask you, John, how you felt about what we just heard in the set up about how Vice President Pence went after this question of court packing, the idea that if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed and becomes a justice on the Supreme Court, the suggestion that if the Biden-Harris ticket wins and the Democrats gain control of the Senate, that they’ll increase the size of the Supreme Court and name a bunch of their own justices to the court. That’s the idea of court packing. How do you think Pence did in pursuing that line of inquiry?

STONESTREET: You know, I thought that that was the bright spot of the presidential debate for President Trump is that it was clear that Biden did not want to answer the question about court packing. And as obvious as it was in the first debate when so little was obvious, it was just bright and clear in this one that Biden and Harris do not want to answer that question. Which tells you one of two things. Either they have their mind made up about  what they’re going to do, or they’re holding their cards depending on what happens with Amy Coney Barrett. 

If it goes through, then I think—if the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett goes through, I think we can absolutely expect at least from all of the evasion we’ve seen so far, that the plan is to pack the court. There’s just no other explanation.

The evasiveness here, this is the biggest evasiveness of either campaign at the moment is the unwillingness to say what their plans are about packing the Supreme Court.

BROWN: I brought up the issue of pro-life last time and there was actually a discussion on that in this debate. Did you find this to be a particularly useful exchange on the abortion issue?

STONESTREET: Absolutely. I was pleased that it came up. In fact, it was an interesting moment because I think in the midst of the question he wanted to come back to something before and then he jumped on the legitimacy of the process. And then he came back to it at the end and said, “Just to be clear, I’m unapologetically pro-life. This is who I am.” So, that was really, I think, substantial. 

The thing that I thought was a missed opportunity was—and I think especially because of part of the Republican base right now that’s floundering on President Trump and identifying moral reasons for doing so, is the opportunity to say, look, just to be clear, what the Democratic platform now wants is no restrictions on abortion whatsoever—from the moment of conception to the moment of birth—and that that should be nationwide. And we also know that it will be advanced both in domestic and foreign policies. 

What I struggle with, particularly in the last couple weeks as we’ve seen a lot of voices of Republicans for Biden or evangelicals for Biden and the claim being the moral failures of the president, which of course there’s no need to try to talk down or dismiss at all. There’s plenty of moral failures there. But they have a lot to do with his tone, his abrasiveness, his treatment and talking of women and others. OK, that’s fine. 

But to talk about abortion as if it’s a policy difference rather than a moral failure, I think, is a big missed opportunity and it’s just not true. Look, you could say that Biden is a nicer guy than President Trump, but somebody who wants to advance the dismemberment of unborn children to the moment of birth and make it a priority and leverage funding both for domestic and foreign policy issues, that’s a moral failure as well. And I thought that was a missed opportunity.

EICHER: Hey, just real fast before we go, this debate was billed as much more consequential. Not just two proxies speaking for someone else, but because of the age and potential health of their bosses, this might be the main event. Did this seem like a genuine presidential debate?

STONESTREET: I don’t know, maybe it was the plexiglass, maybe it was the fly, maybe it was the school marm sort of moderator, which by the way was a dramatic improvement over the last one, I thought it still felt quite vice presidential. But maybe it was just kind of lower expectations kind of going in. But it was much more rational and it was much more helpful. And so I thought, look, maybe it could serve the purpose that vice presidential debates typically fail to serve. I think it was—I heard from several commentators afterward—I mean, look, Mike Pence does a better job defending Trump’s record than Trump does. And not only a little bit better, but a lot better. So, it at least got us there.

EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

BROWN: John, great to talk with you as always. Thank you!

STONESTREET: Thanks, Myrna. Thanks, Nick.

NICK EICHER: Subway restaurants are known around the world for their sandwiches. So it may surprise you to know that Subway restaurants in Ireland don’t sell sandwiches. 

That is, if you define a sandwich as a meat between two pieces of bread, because Ireland has a pretty exacting definition of what’s bread and what’s not.

That country’s supreme court has just ruled that Subway’s bread isn’t bread.

Why did it weigh in here? Well, you see, bread is exempt from Ireland’s value added tax, so a Subway franchisee argued it shouldn’t be taxed on its sandwiches.

But the legal definition of bread in Ireland requires sugar to comprise 2 percent or less of the weight of the flour used to make the dough. Subway’s sugar content is 10 percent.

So the court ruled that Subway’s almost-bread is taxable.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Friday, October 9th. 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: A 2016 morality tale about guilt and redemption in marriage.

MEGAN BASHAM, FILM CRITIC: In The Light Between Oceans, available for rent on Amazon and iTunes, director Derek Cianfrance clearly owes something to the deeply Christian work of Hidden Life director Terrence Malick. He favors wide, contemplative shots of wind rustling through grass and dark clouds gathering over stormy seas. We also see plenty of tight shots focused on the tiny tics of facial expression that reveal restrained joy and suffering within.

CLIP: I understand you’re a single man. No family. So that’s a slight concern. Wouldn’t normally send a single man to Janus. It’s pretty remote. A wife and family can be a great practical help not just a comfort. But seeing as it’s only temporary. You’ll leave for Port Partageuse in two days.

It’s beautiful work, filmed off the rugged Australian coast and set just after World War I. But unlike Malick’s sometimes vague collection of poetic images strung together as story, Cianfrance is working here with a strong, clear plot that offers a crackerjack story of grand, historical tragedy.  Adapted from the best-selling novel by M.L. Stedman, it’s a stirring, emotional story for viewers willing to hang on through the indulgent, lingering moments.

Some of those scenes are necessary to give a modern audience time to reframe their thinking. That makes it easier to empathize with Isabel, a sweet, 19-year-old girl, whose dearest ambition is to care for babies and a home with a man she loves.

CLIP: You think you’re up for it. Oh please. The last thing the poor man needs are your tales of doom and gloom. Told you she’d turn up. This is Isabel Graysmark. Isabel, meet Mr. Sherbourne. Pleasure to meet you Mr. Sherbourne. Ms. Graysmark.

Brilliantly played by Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, Isabel’s desires are so fundamentally motherly, they cast a bit of an uncomfortable glare on 21st-century priorities. Her mindset couldn’t be more different from today’s families where children are often viewed as the capping accessory to successful careers.

The answer to Isabel’s fantasies arrives in the form of Tom, a fantastic Michael Fassbender. He’s a stoic and psychologically scarred veteran who takes a job keeping the lighthouse on an island just a short boat ride from Isabel’s small town.

CLIP: Take me out to Janus with you. What? I want to see it. I want to see where you hide yourself away. I’m afraid that would be against Commonwealth rules. The only woman allowed on Janus is the keeper’s wife. Then marry me.

As with Isabel, it may be hard for some postmodern viewers to see the world through Tom’s eyes. He believes that, as a husband, his obligations to his wife are distinct from hers to him. It colors everything about the way he relates to her, particularly when they’re tested by her inability to have a child.

One late-term miscarriage follows another. As a despairing Isabel lies down on her babies’ graves, all clinical posturing that she’s mourning nonentities dissolves. Her grief makes her later decision to claim a foundling infant as her own more understandable.

CLIP: She’s a lovely baby, but she doesn’t belong to us. We can’t keep her. Why not? Who’s to know she’s here? When Ralph and Bluey get here in a few weeks they’ll know for a start. No one will know she’s not ours. They all think I’m expecting. They’ll just be surprised she arrived early. What about the dead man in the boat.

A kind of Adam figure, Tom allows his affection for Isabel to overrule his good judgment with disastrous consequences. It’s clear his later sense of failure comes not from simplistic chivalry, but from an understanding that he failed in his role to lead his family.

CLIP: You saw what we’ve done to her. We can’t let it go on. We can’t do it anymore. We have to do what’s right. We have to do what’s right for Lucy. Not for you, not for me, not for some stranger. But for Lucy. It’s her mother. I’m her mother.

The movie travels through some tense, painful ground when the infant’s real mother is revealed. But through it all honors the sacredness of marriage with an honesty and rawness few films today manage.

CLIP: I have loved you as best I know, Isabel. Which isn’t saying much. You deserved someone a lot better than me. All I can do is ask God and ask you to forgive me for the harm I’ve caused. And thank you for every day we spent together. I’ll always be your loving husband, Tom.

That said, Cianfrance could have trimmed some of Tom and Isabel’s early courting scenes, including a wedding night sex scene. There’s no nudity and it’s more awkward than anything but it accounts for the PG-13 rating. This would have made more room for the film’s finale, which, while emotionally satisfying, feels rushed. I would have loved to see what a director with a more straightforward narrative style, like Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott, might have done with the story.

Still, The Light Between Oceans is the rare film that understands that husbands and wives are not just interchangeable partners. The moral questions and consequences it examines are ageless. Its themes of forgiveness and faithfulness, eternal.

I’m Megan Basham.

MYRNA BROWN: Today is Friday, October 9th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next up: Listener Feedback.

Let me just get this one out of the way!

AUDIO: And the Tampa Bay Lightning have won the Stanley Cup!

Yes, they did and we made a mistake. First-time ever, I think, to get a hockey story wrong.

FENWICK: Yeah, my name’s Dale Fenwick. I listen in Mount Dora, Florida. And I give high marks to The World and Everything in It for accurate and credible information. But I have to say I did a double-take this morning as I listened to the kicker regarding the exuberant Tampa Bay hockey fan. And the part at the end is what threw me, which made me wonder what day it was. Cuz I was pretty sure when I woke up this morning the headline was that they won the Cup, but you said that the final game 7 was tonight. So I spent half of my walk with my dog this morning paging through news stories trying to figure out if I was on the right day or was a time traveler. Hey, it was fun. I’m sure that it was recorded the day earlier and just got put in late. So no problems. No worries. Go Tampa Bay!

Well, that’s exactly what happened. I made two versions—a winner and a loser—depending on the outcome of the game. Recorded early. I get pretty enthusiastic when watching hockey and figured my voice might be a little stressed to record post-game. But, well, maybe I mislabeled the file or something. Long story short, we grabbed the wrong one. We fixed it I think by 9 in the morning, but if you listen early, as Dale does, you heard my error. If not, well, let’s not speak of this again.

BROWN: Next, we had a slip of the tongue that gave some of you a good laugh. In our recent story about the political upheaval in Belarus, we said police were wearing baklavas to cover their faces. That would be quite a sticky mess! Of course, we meant balaclavas, which are much more useful as face-coverings.

EICHER: One more verbal gaffe on a recent newscast, another one dealing with Florida. Sorry, but we referred to Florida’s junior Senator as “Tim Scott.” He, of course, is Senator Rick Scott of Florida. Senator Tim Scott is from South Carolina.

BROWN: And finally today, a clarification on this week’s Classic Book of the Month. Bill MacDonald emailed us from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to question our characterization of John Adams as a Christian, based on the biography by David McCullough.

Our listener writes, “other sources believe [Adams] became a Unitarian later in life. 

He says he greatly admires what Adams did for our country and how he maintained high moral standards. He hopes he’s wrong, but history seems to record a departure from biblical faith by Adams. 

EICHER: Well, Bill, you’re correct. Adams was raised in a devout Christian home, and was a member of the congregationalist church with his wife Abigail. But during his lifetime, many once orthodox congregations became unitarian: rejecting the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, salvation by faith alone, and the inerrancy of the Scriptures. 

In his last years, Adams considered himself a skeptic, but for most of his life he identified himself as a Christian, and spoke and wrote about the importance of the Christian faith in this new country. 

The faith he practiced was certainly not evangelical, and in the end, perhaps not even protestant. David McCullough is a historian. He is not a theologian, so maybe it’s understandable why he still places Adams under the broad umbrella of Christianity. But we should have made that clear during the interview.

BROWN: Returning now to our feedback line. This one’s from Ian McAllister from western Massachusetts.

MCALLISTER: I just wanted to call and thank you for today’s commentary from Marvin Olasky. I thought it was clear, relevant, and very well stated. One of my favorites in quite a long time. And also to thank Megan Basham for her review of Enola Holmes. I thought that was one of her best reviews that she’s done. I really like the form, the content and her approach to that. So, thanks again. Keep up the good work.

Thank you! And thanks to everyone who called in to leave us messages this week. We’ll be doing another feedback segment later this month. So if you hear something you want to comment on, call us at 202-709-9595 and leave a message. Or, record your feedback using the voice memo app on your smart phone and email it to us.

EICHER: Ok, before we let you go today, just a quick reminder. You have a little over a week to vote for the winner of our 2020 Hope Awards for Effective Compassion. We’ll link to the voting page in today’s transcript. Cast your vote by October 17th to help decide which organization will win the $10,000 grand prize. 

One more thing! If you live near Jackson, Mississippi, I have some really good news for you. On Wednesday the 14th—that’s next week, Wednesday, October 14th—WORLD’s Kim Henderson is going to speak at a reception Wednesday afternoon at First Presbyterian Church Jackson. If you want to come and I can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t—Kim is great!—you do need to RSVP. If you’ll visit, you’ll find the details on how to do that. and meet Kim Henderson next week!

NICK EICHER: It takes a lot of people to put this program together each week. Our thanks to these hard-working colleagues:

Megan Basham, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, Kim Henderson, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Onize Ohikere, Mary Reichard, Les Sillars, Sarah Schweinsberg, Cal Thomas, and Emily Whitten.

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! 

As the Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Ephesians, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

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.