MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Cancel culture attempts to strike at a publishing house but so far freedom of speech prevails.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.
Also your listener feedback!
Plus we review a singing competition set in church. It’s a real hit!
And special music to mark the beginning of Advent.
REICHARD: It’s Friday, November 27th. 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 Paul Butler.
PAUL BUTLER, NEWS ANCHOR: Supreme Court backs religious groups in New York » Church-goers in New York are free to attend worship services without restrictions this weekend.
In a decision issued late Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked enforcement of New York’s coronavirus-related limits on attendance at churches and synagogues.
The ruling argued that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order placed greater limits on places of worship than on businesses in the same areas. Justice Amy Coney Barrett sided with the majority, while Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the court’s more liberal justices in the 5-4 decision.
The unsigned opinion said Gov. Cuomo’s coronavirus orders “strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”
Iran frees Australian academic » Thailand confirmed Thursday it has released three Iranian prisoners jailed over a failed bombing plot in 2012. Their release immediately followed Iran’s decision to free an Australian academic jailed for two years in Tehran.
But Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied claims of a prisoner swap.
MORRISON: The Australian government doesn’t acknowledge or confirm any such arrangements regarding any release of any other persons in any other places. They would… if other people have been released in others places it’s the decision of sovereign governments of these places. There are no people who have been held in Australia who’ve been released.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard arrested 33-year-old Kylie Moore-Gilbert in 2018 after she attended an academic conference in central Iran. The government charged her with espionage and sentenced her to 10 years in prison.
In letters written during her imprisonment, Moore-Gilbert claimed her captors offered to reduce her sentence if she agreed to work as a spy for them. She refused.
The U.S. State Department welcomed her release but said “she should never have been imprisoned” in the first place. The statement accused Iran of “hostage diplomacy.”
Parler data breach » The social media platform known as Parler was not hacked earlier this week despite widely circulated claims that it was.
Tweets of the hack spread rapidly on Twitter when a user claimed personal information—including more than 5,000 social security numbers—had been stolen from Parler servers. Additional retweets included a screenshot of supposedly hacked code from a WordPress database.
Turns out an online artist created the image as a stunt, and thousands of Twitter users were ready to believe it.
Parler’s CEO John Matze said he first learned of the artwork months ago. He told users Wednesday that Parler doesn’t use WordPress products for its platform—though it once hosted a blog there. Matze assured Parler’s 3 and a half million users that all their personal information is “hidden behind multiple layers of security and are not accessible via the web.” He then criticized Twitter’s agenda bias, arguing it should have fact checked the story much sooner.
Parler’s popularity has exploded over the last few months, due to highly publicized censorship by big tech companies like Facebook and Twitter.
Ethiopia prepares assault on Tigray region » Ethiopia’s prime minister has ordered troops to move in on Tigray’s regional capital. Word of the impending assault came at the end of a 72-hour ultimatum for Tigray leaders to surrender.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed warned the city’s half-million residents to stay indoors and disarm. He said soldiers would show “no mercy” to civilians who didn’t move away from Tigray leaders in time.
Abiy’s announcement alarmed human rights groups already investigating mass casualties in the conflict. An Amnesty International researcher says Tigray separatists killed hundreds of civilians during a retreat from Ethiopian forces earlier this month.
ABIY: There was a massacre in the town of Mai-Kadra. Mai-Kadra is a big area, there is a rural part of Mai-Kadra, and there is a town what we have found is that that massacre has happened in the town.
Fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region began on November 4th. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front once dominated Ethiopia’s government, but Abiy’s administration forced them out as part of political reforms. Tigray leaders now say his government is illegitimate.
Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his reform efforts. But he has rejected international interference in Tigray, calling it “unwelcome” and “unlawful.”
I’m Paul Butler.
Straight ahead: cancel culture in publishing.
Plus, songs of Advent.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday, November 27th, 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, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Cancel culture rages on. That means of course ostracizing those who don’t support a particular idea or cause.
Cancel culture doesn’t always win, though. Best selling author and professor of psychology Jordan Peterson is the rare individual with the clout to counter it.
Peterson takes on difficult subjects such as so-called unconscious bias. Here he is on Sky News Australia talking about sensitivity-training mandates:
PETERSON: There is no evidence that unconscious bias retraining programs have any beneficial effect whatsoever. And there’s some evidence that they actually have the reverse effect, because it turns out that people actually don’t like being accused of being implicitly racist and having to undergo forced retraining. Everything about that idea is not only bad, but wrong.
REICHARD: Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life sold 5 million copies. His second book, 12 More Rules for Life, arrives in March—maybe.
When publisher Penguin Random House Canada announced it would publish the book, some of the company’s employees objected. The diversity and inclusion committee received dozens of complaints urging Peterson’s exclusion.
The company called a meeting to defend its decision. According to a report in Vice the meeting was rife with emotion and accusations of doing harm if the book is published.
EICHER: Then there’s a book by Abigail Shrier. She’s a Yale-educated lawyer and writer for The Wall Street Journal. She dared question the craze of rapid-onset gender dysphoria among young girls. For that, her publisher met resistance from Amazon to promoting the book with ads on the platform, and for a time Target pulled the book from its shelves. A member of the American Civil Liberties Union this month said, “Stopping the circulation of this book and these ideas is 100% a hill I will die on.”
Joining us to talk about this is John Stonestreet. He’s president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.
Good morning, John!
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning.
EICHER: John, these controversies seem to be of a single bolt of cloth, but back to the Peterson controversy. I think this is the first time I’ve heard of employees of a publisher resisting, well, publishing. What do you make of this?
STONESTREET: Well, I think it’s going to be hard to recover out of this if we don’t have a new generation of employees, a new generation of politicians, a new generation of publishers who are trained in something else. What Os Guinness called back in his Dust of Death book, which was just re-released, kind of the long march through the institutions, you start to see fruit of that. Todd Gidlin put it like this in his book about the 60s, that after the 60s the left marched on the English departments and the right marched on the White House. And the English departments won and they eventually will at the university level. So, look, whatever we see in the university—which is, what, we’re now five years into seeing this cancel culture approach, this silencing of views that are not allowed, not acceptable. That’s where we’re at now five to six years later. They all now work for somebody. And we’re just going to see more and more of this unless we actually see a replacement of the ideas that are kind of going into the system from the beginning.
REICHARD: John, I want to shift gears here. It’s the day after Thanksgiving. I hope despite the lockdowns and smaller gatherings you and your family managed to take stock and give thanks. 2020’s not over yet, and it’s been hard on everybody.
Which leads me to ask you, what are you thankful for this year?
STONESTREET: Well, I appreciate you asking me what I’m thankful for and not forcing me to answer whether or not I complied with the governor’s strongly-worded suggestion about how many people you could have at your Thanksgiving dinner. I’m just going to plead the Fifth on what we did.
But we are really, yeah, grateful. It’s been a tremendous year for our family. Just so grateful for them.
And honestly it’s also been a year when so many ministries and organizations had to take stock about who they are and the sort of work that they’re doing. And I’m particularly thankful this year for the kindness that God has shown the Colson Center in terms of increasing the reach that we have and in terms of allowing us to do more and more work in Christian worldview, and to do it in a way that I think is having more of an impact than ever. And there’s so many details that actually pre-date COVID that made all of that possible. But we look at it and we say, man, God was very, very kind to us and we’re grateful for that. And that includes, obviously, our partnerships with so many different ministries and organizations and WORLD being at the top of the list.
EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.
REICHARD: Thanks, John!
STONESTREET: Thank you.
NICK EICHER, HOST: The Academy of Motion Pictures is honoring the star of a series of classic movies with a new exhibit at its museum in Los Angeles.
If you’re over 40, chances are you’ve seen him on the silver screen. We’ll give you a hint. His name is Bruce.
Big Bruce delivered where it counts—at the box office, but he was a bit of a pain to work with.
In a 1981 interview, director Steven Spielberg said the biggest issue was that Bruce didn’t like salt water!
SPIELBERG: At the press of a hydraulic button and pulling a lever back, supposedly the shark comes shooting out of the water head first.
Which is terrifying and now Bruce the mechanical shark—the star of the Jaws franchise—all 25 horrifying feet of him—now at the museum of the Academy. His jagged smile on permanent display.
The mere thought of him a reminder of how many beach vacations he spoiled.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, November 27th.
You’re listening to WORLD Radio. Thanks for coming along with us today.
Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a musical reality show trying to make a heavenly noise.
Here’s WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REVIEWER: At some point, almost every major network has created its own spin on a reality singing competition. ABC has American Idol. NBC has The Voice. And on Fox, The Masked Singer.
What all of these shows have in common is a focus on finding the best solo singer. And while it’s timeless fun to hear an incredible vocalist, none of these shows have ever attempted to bring the best soloists together into a choir.
That’s what Bishop Ezekiel Williams and his panel of judges set out to do in Voices of Fire. Note the plural. Williams is trying to create a great gospel choir. And he wants it to be filled with faces of every color and age.
CLIP: Music transcends racial divide, cultural boundaries. You also have individuals who would not sit down and listen to me preach a sermon but they will listen to gospel music and then they will hear the same message being delivered through music that they would not listen to if I just had a conversation with them.
Williams is supported in his efforts by his nephew, Grammy-award winning singer, Pharrell Williams, who produced the show. And while Netflix has used Pharrell’s name to market Voices of Fire, he only makes two appearances in all six episodes.
Other than that, the series is, refreshingly, celebrity free. Besides Pharrell’s relatively brief appearances, there are no star-studded judges. Instead, Williams relies on other local Norfolk, Virginia, gospel singers and musicians to help create the choir.
Singers also don’t audition in a Hollywood studio with an audience. The competition spends almost all of its time in a church. Vocalists sing on the church sanctuary stage to judges sitting in pews.
And those who audition largely don’t sing rock’n roll, R&B, or pop hits. Instead, most sing soulful, gospel hymns. It’s moving—and almost shocking—to hear “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine,” “ I need thee, oh I need thee,” … or watching one singer belt out “Jesus Loves Me,” with tears streaming down her face.
CLIP: [Contestant singing Jesus Loves Me] Give me a second [resumes singing]. What moves you to tears? Those three words.
The competition’s setting brings an authenticity and, for church-goers, a hominess to the competition. And for those who haven’t stepped foot in a church building, Voices of Fire does an excellent job presenting the church for what it is. A place where people of every kind and of every mistake have a home together in Christ.
Another departure from the norm? There’s no big prize for the contestants. No hope of future fame, a record deal, or prize money. There’s just the joy of exercising their gifts and helping people experience the healing power of music. The series dives into many of the contestant’s stories and how music has helped them overcome.
CLIP: Tell me a little bit about your story. Well my story is I was only born with one ear which means I only have 50 percent of my hearing and that’s been really tough throughout my childhood.
Voices of Fire will remind audiences that some of the greatest singers of all-time got their start in church choirs. Legends like Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Gladys Knight.
Voices of Fire judge and choir director Patrick Riddick says people don’t realize that in many ways, it’s more difficult to sing in a choir than as a soloist. Riddick says many of today’s top vocalists have never been in a choir, and it shows.
RIDDICK: Because when you’re a soloist, you’re just worried about yourself, but now I have to take my voice, my individuality, you have to try to make it work with another person. So it’s the teamwork.
Riddick and the other judges hope the competition will inspire more churches to pull out the robes and the hymnals and bring back their choirs.
RIDDICK: It’s where lead singers, that’s where they’re able to really polish up their act. It’s also where they learn to harmonize. And when you don’t have a choir, you lose that aspect. And not only that, you lose the corporate aspect of worship in church in general, just the coming together to unify.
Although the show is about creating a choir, we don’t actually hear the choir very much. The majority of the competition involves listening to the individuals who make up the choir singing alone rather than hearing all of them come together. And that’s a shame. It would have been fun to see and hear more of the process of making all of those individuals sing as one.
Still, Voices of Fire brings real music competition meat to the table in time for a long Thanksgiving weekend. And it points people to the One who has and will make room for each one of us in His choir.
MUSIC: [OUTRO MUSIC FROM SHOW]
I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Friday, November 27th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next: your listener feedback!
REICHARD: And we’ll start, as we always do, with a few corrections. This month, we had several errors involving something that has no errors: God’s Word! In the close of the November 10th program, I referenced Ecclesiastes, when I meant Psalms.
Then commentator Ryan Bomberger said he was quoting John 13:33, when he really meant John 16:33.
And finally, Megan Basham identified Paul as the writer of Hebrews. While many scholars do think Paul wrote that letter, we don’t actually know for sure. And it’s a topic of hot debate among theologians! We did not mean to wade into that!
EICHER: We also had a sports-related error this month. In our newscast report about the Masters earlier this month, we said golfer Dustin Johnson tied the tournament’s previous winning record. In fact, he beat it by two strokes.
And finally, we repeated an error that has plagued us this election season. We’ll let listener Tera Powell from Indian Springs, Alabama, explain.
TERA POWELL: Now that we’ve elected a new senator from our great state we need to make sure we both are pronouncing his name properly. His name is Tuberville. So he’s now Senator Tuberville from Alabama. Thanks so much. Love listening. Keep up the great work.
Yes, Senator Tommy Tuberville. Thank you, Terra, and everyone else who called or wrote about our mispronunciation there!
REICHARD: We also got a lot of feedback from listeners who loved the way we ended our election week programs. Here’s Leta Powell from Cedar Crest, New Mexico.
LETA POWELL: I loved the week of prayers at the end of each program during election week. I think you should do that again and maybe every year during the week of the 4th of July. It was very encouraging.
EICHER: They were just as encouraging to us as they were to you! And thanks to all of you who sent us recordings for those special segments. We couldn’t have done them without you.
REICHARD: Team effort! Well, we have time for one more call this week. Here’s listener Scott Bar from Livonia, Michigan.
SCOTT BARR: I want to compliment you on the Monday Moneybeat. This has gone from a segment that have all the things you do… everything you do is great. But before I probably would have ranked it near the bottom as far as my favorite segments. It’s not that I didn’t get value out of it. It just wasn’t one of my favorites. But ever since you’ve been using David Bahnsen every week, it’s right up there with Legal Docket and Culture Friday for me as the segments that I make sure I hear no matter what. It’s, his insights are great. I’ve learned a lot listening to him every week. Just kudos to you. I hope he stays with the program for a long time. Thanks.
EICHER: David is great, very knowledgeable, and I’ve learned a lot just hanging out with him. Glad he’s been a help to you.
REICHARD: Oh, one other thing! In case you didn’t hear our big announcement this week, there’s a Black Friday sale going on right now for WORLD Watch. You can get a whole year of current events videos for $40 bucks. That’s half off, now through Monday. Head over to worldwatch.news to get your subscription at 50% off! That’s 50% off of 100% awesome Big Bash!
MARY REICHARD, HOST: This weekend is the first Sunday of Advent. Over the next four weeks Christians around the world will prepare for—and reflect on—the coming of Christ.
Each Friday from now till Christmas, we’ll be closing our program with a hymn. Multiple selections of a particular advent hymn.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And just a quick note, we’ve created a Spotify Playlist this year. We’ll keep those updated throughout the month so you can find the music for your own enjoyment. We’ve included the link to that in today’s transcript at worldandeverything.org.
So now for the music. Here’s our guide Bonnie Pritchett.
BONNIE PRITCHETT: The 18th century pastor Charles Wesley drew deeply from Scripture when penning his 6,500 hymns.
MUSIC: [COME THOU LONG-EXPECTED JESUS, CRAIG DUNCAN]
Like this Sunday’s lectionary readings, “Come Thou Long-expected Jesus” recalls the words from Isaiah of a sin-weary and captive Israel longing for freedom. Wesley’s text reminds the singer that God’s promised redemption is the “hope of all the earth.”
In Mark, chapter 13, believers are assured that Christ will come again. Through Wesley’s advent hymn, Christians still sing of that promise.
Here are three versions of the hymn beginning with an instrumental Celtic version by Craig Duncan.
MUSIC: [COME THOU LONG-EXPECTED JESUS, CRAIG DUNCAN]
For more than 250 years, congregations of many denominations have sung Wesley’s hymn during advent. Here is a more traditional arrangement by the Scottish Festival Singers.
MUSIC: [COME THOU LONG-EXPECTED JESUS, SCOTTISH FESTIVAL SINGERS]
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus was originally written as four short verses, but most hymnals have combined them into two longer ones. In 1978, Mark Hunt penned two additional verses.
MUSIC: [COME THOU LONG-EXPECTED JESUS, JILL PHILLIPS ]
Jill Phillips features one of those stanzas in her 2016 recording of the hymn: a reflection on Christ’s willingness to humble himself in order to redeem us.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Bonnie Pritchett.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Well it takes many people to put this program together each morning. So we want to say thanks to: Megan Basham, Anna Johansen Brown, Myrna Brown, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, Kim Henderson, Leigh Jones, Jill Nelson, Onize Ohikere, Bonnie Pritchett, Jenny Lind Schmitt, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Cal Thomas.
MARY REICHARD, 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. Without you? None of this happens! You are the fuel that makes this program train run. We thank you for that.
The Psalmist says the Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped.
I hope you have a restful weekend, and worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.