The World and Everything in It — November 13, 2020

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!

Today on Culture Friday we’ll talk about yet another country that has legalized euthanasia and how the right is likely to become a duty.

NICK EICHER, HOST: John Stonestreet will join us later on.

Also today a new film about one man’s determination to escape a legacy of poverty.

And a singer-songwriter making joyful music despite a life of sorrow.

BROWN: It’s Friday, November 13th. This is The World and Everything in It from WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

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

BROWN: Up next, Kristen Flavin has today’s news.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, NEWS ANCHOR: Lankford says Biden needs intel briefings » Three Republican Senators are calling for Joe Biden to get the daily intelligence briefings normally offered to a president-elect.

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Marco Rubio of Florida, Mitt Romney of Utah, and James Lankford of Oklahoma, all say keeping the former vice president in the dark serves no purpose.

LANKFORD: There is no loss from him getting the briefings and being able to do that. And if that’s not occurring by Friday, I will step in as well to be able to push and say, this needs to occur, so that regardless of the outcome of the election, whichever way that it goes, people can be ready for that actual task.

But Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California says the briefings aren’t that important.

MCCARTHY: Joe Biden said, in regards to this, access to classified information is useful. But I’m not in a position to make any decisions on those issues anyway. So as I said, one president at a time.

With the election results still not certified in several states, the Trump administration continues to insist the election is not over. And until it is, the General Services Administration says it won’t treat Biden as the presumptive winner.

On Thursday, a Pennsylvania court sided with the Trump campaign in a challenge to provisional ballots. It ruled the secretary of state did not have the authority to extend the deadline for voters to provide  proof of identification.

Following the disputed 2000 election, George W. Bush didn’t get his first intelligence briefing until December 5th. John Podesta was White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, he said Biden should not face the same delay Bush did. Podesta noted that just months after Bush took office, America suffered the worst terror attack in its history.

Biden picks chief of staff » Despite the ongoing election uncertainty, the Biden transition team is moving forward with plans to move into the White House. WORLD’s Paul Butler has that story.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Biden has selected Ron Klain to serve as his White House chief of staff. Klain led the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola crisis and also served as the former vice president’s chief of staff.

He has a long history with Biden, first working for him in the 1980s when Biden was a Senator from Delaware.

Biden called Klain an invaluable adviser with “varied experience” and a “capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum.”

In a statement following Biden’s announcement, Klaine said he was preparing to assemble a “talented and diverse team” to work in the White House.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.

GOP wins Senate, House seats in Alaska » Meanwhile, Republicans are another seat closer to reclaiming their Senate majority.

The Associated Press has called Alaska’s Senate race for Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan. That gives the GOP 50 seats in the upper chamber—one short of a majority. Control of the Senate will come down to Georgia’s two runoff elections, scheduled for January 5th.

With so much at stake, both parties are pouring money into the state. Strategists estimate interest groups could spend up to $500 million there in coming weeks. Although Democrats have made recent gains in Georgia, voters there have not sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 20 years.

The Alaska election also delivered Republicans one more seat in the House, bringing the GOP total there to 202. Democrats currently have 219 seats, one more than they need to retain the majority. Fourteen seats are still up for grabs.

U.S. troops killed in Egypt » Six U.S. service members died Thursday during a mission in the Middle East. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has that story.

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: The troops were part of an international peacekeeping mission that monitors the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement over the Sinai Peninsula. 

They were flying near the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh when their Black Hawk helicopter went down.

 A French peacekeeper and Czech member of the force also died. The ninth member of the team—an American—suffered serious injuries.

Although Islamic militant groups are active in the region, the Multinational Force and Observers said it had no evidence of an attack. Investigators are working to determine what caused the accident.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.

China response to Hong Kong lawmakers’ walkout » The Chinese government has condemned this week’s mass resignation of pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong. In a statement issued Thursday, Beijing accused the lawmakers of mounting a “blatant challenge to the power of the central government.”

Fifteen lawmakers in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council announced their intention to resign after Beijing removed four others earlier this week. China’s central government deemed them a threat to national security.

But pro-democracy lawmakers say that was just an excuse to silence opposition as Beijing consolidates its power in the former British colony.

WU: But today, and the days after, we have lost our check and balance power, and all the power—constitutional powers in Hong Kong remain in the hands of the chief executive’s hand.

Under a sweeping national security law adopted earlier this year, Hong Kong’s chief executive now has the power to remove lawmakers not deemed sufficiently patriotic.

Hong Kong retained its semi-autonomous status after Britain returned the city to China in 1997. But Beijing has slowly chipped away basic freedoms in Hong Kong, increasing pressure on anyone opposing closer ties with the mainland.

I’m Kristen Flavin.

Straight ahead: New Zealand backs euthanasia.

Plus, singer-songwriter Tim Timmons on finding joy in sorrow.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, November 13, 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, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. 

Perhaps you’ve heard talk radio where someone will call and say, “long-time listener, first-time caller.”

Now, before we get started today, maybe you’re a long-time listener to this program—and I’d like you to become a first-time supporter—joining thousands of others in giving to keep this program going day after day.

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EICHER: Well, it’s Culture Friday. And we’ll talk about American political culture in a bit. But let’s begin with a story you may not have heard from New Zealand.

That country voted by an overwhelming margin—basically two-to-one—to authorize active euthanasia.

AUDIO: From someone with terminal cancer, thank you.

This is euthanasia campaigner Bobbie Carroll.

AUDIO: If at the end of my life, it’s too painful that I can now avail myself of assisted dying. I may not need it. But what it means is that I can if I want to, and my family can be with me.

BROWN: And it’s just heartbreaking. She talks about her cancer diagnosis and “along came this incredible campaign,” she says, the euthanasia campaign.

She joined the effort and said all of a sudden, I had a purpose!

EICHER: No purpose until she got involved in euthanasia politics. And as she’s talking in an interview, she’s filled with excitement—again, because she feels like her life has a purpose.

Let’s talk about this with John Stonestreet. John is the president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

BROWN: John, good morning.

STONESTREET: Good morning.

EICHER: This is quite an odd campaign, John. Usually, there’s some kind of hard case that people point to, but as far as I could tell, this euthanasia campaign in New Zealand was very abstract. 

No compelling case and even the woman we heard from here, though she has cancer, talked about having euthanasia just as an option.

That’s what struck me. It’s a bit more understandable—in a way, I guess—how you can build public support with a really tragic case. But as far as I could tell there wasn’t one here and it still passed, as I said, 2-to-1. Euthanasia is really on the march, isn’t it?

STONESTREET: Yeah, the conversation on doctor-assisted death and euthanasia in New Zealand actually goes back more than a decade. And there actually was a remarkable case there of a young woman who actually broke the law and took the life of her mother as an act of mercy to preserve her dignity and then wrote a book about it from prison, if I remember the story correctly. And that started this conversation.

What’s tragic, though, in your point where this campaign, this particular campaign not having kind of a story, a heartbreaking story to drive it.

Like, for example Brittany Maynard who moved from California to Oregon, which was a catalyst for the California law there and even the Colorado law here. There were other cases on the other side of this debate that were front and center. And I know this to be true because I know one of them personally. He’s a very dear friend. I’ve known him for well over a decade. He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met and he has cerebral palsy and he led the campaign as an Anglican priest and he led the campaign against it. And he put front and center those with disability because, as he knows, two things follow this sort of law. One is you quickly realize that the case is made on physical pain but the decision to end one’s life is made on mental anguish and suffering.

And then the second thing we realize is the right to die slides very quickly in many cases—at least in every case that I know of—into the duty to die. And it really puts those with disability at great risk going forward because their value has already been legally defined away depending on some physical characteristics that literally we’re not guaranteed and many people don’t sustain throughout their lifetime.

BROWN: Switching gears to American politics. I realize there are still challenges to come, but it does appear more likely that Joe Biden will become president than that President Trump will get a second term. We had a Biden victory speech, you see him appearing before a backdrop “Office of the President-elect.”

But let’s listen to some of the language of the victory speech.

BIDEN: The Bible tells us, to everything there is a season, a time to build, and a time to reap and a time to sow. And a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America.

And prior to that statement, Biden said this.

BIDEN: It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature. See each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans. They are Americans!

You really want to take him at his word there, which is very appealing. Stop the harsh rhetoric, stop treating political opponents as enemies. And I realize President Trump used some harsh rhetoric, but so did Biden and I guess it would seem more sincere to me if he disavowed efforts like the “Trump Accountability Project” and Congresswoman AOC. Maybe you saw her calling on her millions of followers to archive social-media posts of—her words, here—“these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future?”

What do you say?

STONESTREET: Yeah, it was a speech and it inspired many because it was a different tone than what we’ve heard for a long time. And I don’t just mean from the president.

But this really reveals the problem that I think Joe Biden has when he enters office, if he enters office. I’m assuming that he is at this point. But what he has is a very divided Democratic Party and he has, I think, a divided philosophical party even between him and his vice president selection. Look, they’re not on the same page and you have—if the Republicans continue to hold the Senate—you’ve got a split house here and what you end up having is the inability to get anything done and the drive of the more progressive aspects of his party, which are very loud, very vocal, very driven, and I also think there’s going to have to be some reckoning that those on the left are more quick to burn things down than those on the right. Those on the right use rhetoric that’s unconscionable sometimes. Those on the left use molotov cocktails and tear down statues and loot. 

And I’m not saying that applies to everyone, but it’s more than a random problem with a couple hundred people in somebody’s basement. This is a real part of the more progressive side of American politics. And some of them have already demonstrated, at least up the road from me in Denver, that they’re not happy that—they wouldn’t have been happy with either a President Trump or President Biden, either one. And they demonstrated and became violent and vandalized downtown and many were arrested at the same time.

I don’t think this is going away. I do appreciate the fact that we do need to figure out how to live together and we’re at the verge of not being able to live together. But you don’t live together just by saying, “Hey, get along.” I’ve learned that as a dad of girls. You don’t just say, “Hey, get along.” You actually have to pull people to a common agreement, to a shared vision. 

And this is one of the things that has stood out to me throughout this whole election season—both in the candidates that we chose between as well as the ballot initiatives. It’s one thing in ballot initiatives to disagree about the best way to get to a commonly shared vision, to disagree on the best means to a clear end. 

That’s not what we voted between. We voted between completely different ends. We voted between completely different visions about what life is for, about where human dignity lies, and so on. And, again, I’m talking about mostly what we saw in the ballot initiatives across America and the language of candidates down-ballot. I’m not even talking about specifically what took place at the top of the race, although it’s evident there as well. 

And that’s a pretty vulnerable place to be as a nation. Most of the time, a nation that’s doing well knows who they are. They know where they’re going. They know what the good life is. That’s not what we’re seeing right now.

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

BASHAM: Thanks, John!


NICK EICHER, HOST: The mayor of a town in Japan was shocked recently to learn that his name was trending on social media because of the U.S. presidential election. 

The mayor’s town of Yamato has a population of only about 14,000 people, so he figured it probably wasn’t coming up in any foreign policy debates. 

So it didn’t make a lot of sense. That was until he checked the translation of his name against that of the Democratic presidential nominee. 

In English, the Yamato mayor’s name is Jo Baiden.

BIDEN: C’mon!

Seriously, that’s not malarkey!

And the mayor is going to play this for all it’s worth.

Here’s old Mayor Joe telling the local newspaper he’s having a little fun with it.

AUDIO: [Baiden in Japanese]

Mayor Jo Baiden plans to use his newfound internet fame to build awareness of his charming coastal town.

He just needs to master one simple English language Bidenism…

BIDEN: C’mon, folks.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, November 13th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. 

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: A review of a highly anticipated film based on the life-story of a conservative author.

Here’s Megan Basham.

MEGAN BASHAM, FILM CRITIC: Like many people, I had high hopes when Ron Howard decided to direct an adaptation of Hillbilly Elegy

J.D. Vance’s memoir about growing up in Appalachia and the Rust Belt became an immediate bestseller in 2016, not just for his insightful reflection on a much-maligned subculture. But also because he seemed to offer the prosperous (and, frequently, pompous) classes a way of making sense of Donald Trump’s popularity.

CLIP: Who’s gonna take care of this family when I’m gone? I thought your mama was gonna be alright. Be happy. Do good. But she got tore up round here. She just up and quit. She just stopped trying. I know I could have done better. But you, you got to decide. You want to be somebody or not?  

Unfortunately, Howard’s version of Vance’s story offers nothing deeper than a pastiche of white poverty…with a few caricatures of noble country folk thrown in for good measure. 

CLIP: Why do they do that Mamaw? We’re Hill People, honey. We respect our dead. 

So it’s interesting that a movie whose biggest crime is being inoffensively average is earning such a violent reaction from some critics.

The movie’s failure stems mostly from its disinterest in specifics. It shows us what sets J.D. apart from the elites at Yale through clichéd illustrations, like not knowing which fork to use. But it never explores how he’s the same. We don’t see the qualities that afford him entry to the crème-de-la-crème of the academic world despite having no connections and not knowing the difference between Chardonnay and Chablis.

The same goes for his family. We get only magpie bits of each character, and almost all of it feels like a generalization.

CLIP: Is that a fried baloney sandwich? My savior. I figured they don’t have that at a Yale. No, I think this might be outlawed at Yale. 

The movie wallows in scenes we’ve seen a million times before—the junkie scrabbling over dirty bathroom tiles for a fix, the greasy-haired teens bullying the hero—but none of that explains how J.D. ended up in those rarefied rooms. Sure, we know he’s smart and does his homework. But that’s not typically enough to get into the Ivy League. 

Offering some specific answers to that intriguing question would have given us far more insight than yet another scene of his mom smacking her kids around.

As played by Amy Adams, Bev Vance is little more than a stock opioid addict.

CLIP: You’ve always got a reason. It’s always someone else’s fault. Some point you’re gonna have to take responsibility.  Or someone else is gonna have to step in. Who, huh? Who? You? What are you gonna do? 

We get no hint of conflicted feelings she may have about her son’s achievements. Or, for that matter, whether she might have contributed to them. Despite raising them with a revolving door of husbands and boyfriends, Bev actually had two successful children. Her daughter may not have become a bestselling author, but she is a happy suburban mom who’s been married to her husband for 22 years. That’s also a story of overcoming.

Or consider the matriarch of the clan, Mamaw, played by Glenn Close.

CLIP: I know this ain’t right, honey. But she’s your mother. And maybe if we help her this one last time she’ll finally learn her lesson and keep her job. Why can’t we let her clean her own mess up for once?

Sharply drawn in the book, she adheres to a brand of religion that drops F-bombs half a beat after alluding to everyone’s favorite Old Testament verse, “For I know the plans I have for you.” Almost none of that complexity makes it into the film because that would require rendering judgement on the character’s choices and worldview. It would move into the realm of politics and New Deal generational dependence on government.

CLIP: Those are my friends. Not anymore. You can thank me later. Three years from now those idiots will be on food stamps or in jail. Who am I supposed to talk to? Talk to yourself. Works for me.

In the book, Vance, a social conservative, critiques the kind of cultural Christianity that he says is “heavy on emotional rhetoric” but “light on the kind of social support” that could have offered his family meaningful hope. He also took aim at the empty bravado of shiftless men who fail to care for the women and children in their lives. 

Howard seems desperate to avoid broaching these tough subjects.  

This isn’t an elegy for a crumbling, forgotten community. It’s a simplistic, feel-good story of one guy’s triumph.

CLIP: Twice I’ve needed to be rescued. The first time it was Mamaw who saved me. The second it was what she taught me. That where we come from is who we are. But we choose everyday who we become. My family’s not perfect. But they made me who I am. And gave me chances that they never had. My future, whatever it is, is our shared legacy. 

None of that explains the fury being directed at the movie. Some critics claim it’s “right wing propaganda” that “intentionally obscures racism and white supremacy.” Another hopes the movie’s failure will “mark the end of Trump-era myth-making about the white working class.”

Strangely extreme reactions for a mediocre melodrama. Their fear, it seems, is that the film might spark the same interest in addressing the concerns of Trump’s base that Vance’s book did. They needn’t worry. Howard avoids any reason to think about that.

I’m Megan Basham.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, November 13th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next: Talking to your children about the hard things in life.

2020 has certainly given many of us opportunities to do just that. But Myrna you talked to a father of four who’s had a particularly unusual season.

BROWN: Nick, he’s a Christian artist who’s spent nearly half his life in the middle of those difficult discussions. And through it all, he’s discovered a new perspective on sorrow.

YOUTUBE TIMMONS FAMILY SESSION: Hey everyone, welcome to the Timmons house. (Hi!) And we would love to give you this prayer that you can do as a family…

MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: On April 16th, singer-songwriter, Tim Timmons transformed his Franklin, Tennessee, living room into a stage. His four children joined him.  

YOUTUBE TIMMONS FAMILY SESSION CAST YOUR CARES: I now cast my cares on you the almighty…

Thirteen-year-old Malia sat next to him, picking a ukulele and singing harmonies. To the left and drumming, 11-year-old Noah. And behind them, 9-year-old twins Aaron, on bass…

TIMMONS: Sometimes his arm will go up like he’s a rock star or something.

…and Anna on keys.

TIMMONS: Gosh, she’s so cute. I just said babe, you just hold this note down and just look awesome. She’s like, dad I’m nervous.

Their debut jam session scored 250,000 YouTube views. But Timmons says his prayer is that those watching will see more than his family’s talent and charm.  

TIM TIMMONS: My hope would be that it is powerful to watch a family saying I’m going to cast my cares on you God because there’s so much crazy going on.

Timmons grew up in Orange County, California, the son of a pastor. 

TIM TIMMONS: You know I had a pretty amazing, growing up. And then they got a divorce, my freshman year of high school. My first sorrow happened then and then sorrows have been coming every year since. 

In the year 2000, at the age of 24…

TIMMONS: They gave me five years to live. 

Doctors diagnosed Timmons with cancer.

TIMMONS: It’s an incurable cancer that I’ve been diagnosed with. I’ve had surgeries and many procedures. There’s still tumors on my liver, but they haven’t grown in I think like three years. 

Thankful the disease is in remission, Timmons says he’s also grateful for the diagnosis. He calls it a gift. 

TIMMONS: Which just sounds like the dumbest statement ever.  But when I’m out of my fear and I’m sober minded, I can actually go, oh my gosh I’m a different man than I ever would have been without this. I would never have known Jesus like I’ve known Jesus. I would never have been able to love my family like I get to love them. 

Timmons and his wife Hillary were newlyweds and childless when they got the cancer diagnosis. But over the next few years, God began to bless them with children…

TIMMONS: There’s a moment when I didn’t know how to tell them.And they were getting to the age where their little friends were praying for me at night. Like, pray for Mr. Tim. And that at some point was going to come out to them. And in some ways it was like, ok Jesus. And I just cried and cried and cried, just saying ok, they’re yours.

GREAT REWARD SONG: I trust in you for every heartbeat as long as I’m alive.

In 2013 Timmons wrote Great Reward, a song that helped him talk about his cancer journey to his then 6-year-old daughter Malia and 4-year-old son Noah. 

TIMMONS: We were in bed and we asked Jesus to make it real clear, that He would make it happen. My kids started asking about my scar.  I have a huge scar on my stomach. And they had never asked about that ever.  Kind of gave them a little bit and they kept asking more and more questions and it turned out to be this beautiful moment.

YOUTUBE TIMMONS FAMILY SESSION CAST YOUR CARES: So I will cast my cares on you the almighty

Moments that have turned into years of trusting and casting EVERY care on Jesus.

TIMMONS: Even last week one of my twins said, daddy, how are your tumors doing? You know, just out of nowhere and you kind of go, oh buddy, have you been thinking about that? Nobody wants to invite calamity or sorrow or hard things in life. Yet, I’m welcoming it in a different way. And I think there’s something powerful there. And when you can cast your cares upon Him,  because He cares for you and He’s at work in all things,  it just makes it easier.

YOUTUBE TIMMONS FAMILY SESSION CAST YOUR CARES: Awesome… see you guys, see you soon. (Bye!) Good job you guys!

NICK EICHER, HOST: Well it takes many people to put this program together each week. So we want to say thanks to: Megan Basham, Ryan Bomberger, Anna Johansen Brown, Kent Covington, Jamie Dean, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, Kim Henderson, Leigh Jones, Onize Ohikere, Jenny Rough, Jenny Lind Schmitt, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Cal Thomas.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Our audio engineers Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz stay up late to get the program to you early! Paul Butler is executive producer, and Marvin Olasky is editor in chief. 

And you. None of this happens without you! Your support is the fuel that powers this program. Thank you for your support. 

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and grace to help in time of need.

I hope you have a restful weekend. 

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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