The World and Everything in It — December 23, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Today we remember prominent people from the spheres of religion, music, and sports who died this year.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Plus, the sounds of Christmas around the world. Today, the capital city of Nigeria.

And scripture readings from listeners—as we prepare to celebrate the incarnation.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, December 23rd. 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: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Trump signs omnibus, coronavirus relief legislation into law » President Trump last night threw a curveball in a plan to deliver coronavirus relief and government funding before Christmas. 

The president was widely expected to sign a $2.3 trillion package into law. But in a video address Tuesday night, he told the American people… 

TRUMP: The bill they are now planning to send back to my desk is much different than anticipated. It really is a disgrace. 

Lawmakers in the House and Senate passed the legislation on Monday night. It would provide more than $2 trillion worth of government funding and $900 billion dollars in coronavirus relief funds. 

It would also revive a federal boost to unemployment benefits, and refuel the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. 

But that’s not all it would do. The president ran down a laundry list of pork barrel spending tucked into the nearly 6,000 pages of legislation, including…

TRUMP: $25 million dollars for democracy and gender programs in Pakistan, $40 million dollars for the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., $1 billion dollars for the Smithsonian. 

The relief measure would send another round of direct stimulus checks to most Americans, something President Trump pressed lawmakers to include. But he said $600 per person and $600 per child is not enough. 

TRUMP: I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple.

He also challenged lawmakers to get rid of wasteful spending. 

He added that if Congress doesn’t send him a—quote—“suitable bill,” then “the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package.” 

Trump pardons 15, commutes 5 sentences » Also on Tuesday, President Trump pardoned 15 people and commuted the sentences of five others. 

Those pardoned included former Republican Congressmen Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York. 

Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump for president. He was sentenced to more than two years in prison for insider trading. 

Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in prison for taking campaign funds for personal use. 

Trump also commuted the sentence of former Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas and pardoned a current state representative, Phil Lyman of Utah.

Despite speculation, though, not on the pardons list were members of Trump’s own family, his attorney Rudy Giuliani or the president himself.

Biden introduces his environmental team » President Elect Joe Biden has announced his incoming environmental team. During a news conference, he compared climate change to the coronavirus pandemic. 

BIDEN: Folks, we’re in a crisis. Just like we need to be a unified nation in response to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change. 

Biden’s administration is expected to make a sharp u-turn away from Trump’s environmental policies. And the president-elect said there’s “no time to waste.”

BIDEN: We’ll bring America back – back into the Paris Agreement and put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change again.

Biden said his environmental team will reflect his commitment to racial diversity. His picks include the first Native American to lead the Interior Department and the first African American to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Both require Senate confirmation. 

Kilauea volcano explodes » AUDIO: [Volcano eruption]

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is still rocketing lava, gas, and steam into the air. 

After more than two years of inactivity, it erupted into the clouds above the Big Island Sunday night. 

Kilauea then shook the ground in surrounding areas with a 4.4-magnitude earthquake. So far, no reports of damage in nearby residential areas. 

Tourists filed through the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to watch the eruption. 

BYSTANDER: Actually, we felt the earthquake, and then I went on social media and saw that the volcano was erupting. 

Officials are now urging Big Island residents to shelter indoors to avoid the falling ash.  

The last eruption in 2018 covered more than 13 square miles with lava and consumed more than 700 homes.

Feds sue Walmart over role in opioid crisis » The Department of Justice is suing Walmart, accusing it of fueling the nation’s opioid crisis. In the civil complaint filed Tuesday, the DOJ accuses the company of pressuring its pharmacies to fill even potentially suspicious prescriptions for the painkillers.

It also says Walmart used an inadequate system for detecting and reporting suspicious orders.

Walmart fought back in a statement, saying that the Justice Department’s investigation is—quote—“tainted by historical ethics violations.” It said the “lawsuit invents a legal theory that unlawfully forces pharmacists to come between patients and their doctors, and is riddled with factual inaccuracies.”

States sue Google and Facebook, alleging secret pact » Meantime, ten states are accusing Facebook and Google of conspiring to—quote— “cooperate and assist one another” in the event of a state or federal investigation. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading a group of 10 states suing the companies. They say Facebook and Google made a secret pact to help each other if they’re ever investigated for cooperating in online advertising. 

The states say two years ago, the tech giants struck a deal.

Facebook wouldn’t compete with Google’s online advertising, and in return, and Facebook gets special treatment when using Google’s ad services. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that the lawsuit spells out some of the contract’s provisions, stating that the companies will—quote—“cooperate and assist each other in responding to any Antitrust Action.”

Google responded, saying there’s nothing unusual about agreements regarding possible antitrust threats. And a company spokesperson said the states’ “claims are inaccurate,” adding that the company does not give Facebook special deals on ad buys. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Israel heads for fourth election in two years » Israel is heading for a fourth election in two years. 

The country’s coalition government failed to reach a compromise on the country’s budget ahead of a Tuesday night deadline. 

That means parliament must dissolve and trigger a snap election in 90 days. That will bring Israelis back out to the polls for the fourth time since 2019. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and his opponent Benny Gantz Blue and White party agreed to a three-year power-sharing deal in April. But both sides failed to settle on a 2020 national budget since then.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: notable deaths in the world of religion, music, and sports.

Plus, sounds of Christmas from Nigeria.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Wednesday, the 23rd of December, 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. First up on The World and Everything in It: notable deaths in 2020. 

Today, we continue our recap of those who were widely known or who exerted great influence in the fields of religion, music, and sports. You may already know about some of the people in these categories who died this year. People like Ravi Zacharias, a well-known apologist. Basketball star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash. Author and theologian J.I. Packer as well as musicians Bill Withers, Johnny Nash, and Eddie Van Halen.

REICHARD: WORLD reporter Anna Johansen Brown picks up our coverage of other notable names in these fields, starting with a man who would go on to be an international teacher of God’s grace.

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Sy Rogers spent a year and a half of his life living as a transgender woman.

Born in 1956, he grew up longing for love and affection after his alcoholic mother died in a car wreck. He was separated from his father for a year. A family friend sexually abused him. In school, he was ridiculed for his effeminate mannerisms and labeled a homosexual. Here he is speaking at Fellowship Church in 2014.

ROGERS: I grew up trying to be one of the guys, I was on swim team, I was on the football team. But I would tell my father and my new stepmother I might as well be gay; everyone else has turned in the verdict and I can’t win.

He embraced the gay lifestyle, then began dressing as a woman and taking female hormones in preparation for sex-change surgery. But in 1980, he said God opened his eyes.

ROGERS: And in that encounter, the Lord did not say ‘go be straight,’ he said, ‘walk with me.’ It is redeemed people who go to heaven and I needed a savior, not just a different sexuality.

Rogers began reading the Bible, praying, and eventually gave his life to God. Two years later, he married his wife Karen. Rogers began teaching on sexual brokenness and reconciliation with God.

ROGERS: Oh yes, sex is a powerful master, but I can also tell you this: God is a more powerful master. You can serve your desires, or you can bring your desires to God, admit them and submit them, and experience his mastery over mind and body. 

Rogers died from cancer in May at the age of 63.

Next, we remember J. Delano Ellis II. He founded the United Pentecostal Churches of Christ and brought high church ecclesiology to the black church. 

ELLIS: You tried to tell them I was Pentecostal. It doesn’t matter. 

Ellis often wore vestments and a tab collar while dancing, kneeling, and bellowing scripture at the top of his lungs.

ELLIS: And because I’m related to Jesus, that’s why I jump. That’s why I holler. That’s why I dance.

He worked to reclaim the idea of bishops, clerical robes, and rites of ordination for black Pentecostals. He called it “the beauty of the sacred.”

Ellis died in September at the age of 75.

Next, a man who studied dinosaurs in the Bible.

John C. Whitcomb was a theologian, Bible teacher, and early proponent of young earth creationism. 

He studied geology, paleontology, and history at Princeton, then earned his Bachelor of Divinity at Grace Theological Seminary. 

In 1961, he co-authored The Genesis Flood with Henry Morris. The book sets up a case for a six-day creation and a global flood. Morris founded his beliefs on literal interpretations of Genesis.

WHITCOMB: You know what chronology is, don’t you? It’s the backbone of history. So I say thank you Lord, because as a matter of fact, that’s how the Bible starts, the whole first chapter is chronology. Day one, second day, third day, fourth, fifth, sixth. 

Whitcomb believed that the earth was only tens of thousands of years old, and that Job’s descriptions of Leviathan and Behemoth were actually types of dinosaurs.

Whitcomb’s work greatly influenced the modern creation movement, especially people like Ken Ham, who founded Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and the Ark Encounter.

Whitcomb died in February at age 95.

Next, we’ll turn to the world of music and a man who blended the sounds of rockabilly, American folk, and Latin music.


Trini Lopez died from COVID-19 in August. He was 83. The Mexicano singer and guitarist was known for adding beats to folk songs and turning them into international hits in the early 1960s. 


Lopez started his first band at age 15, then struck out on his own as a solo artist. He released several singles that didn’t get much attention. Then, in 1963, Lopez signed with Frank Sinatra’s label, Reprise Records. 

His debut album catapulted him into the spotlight, and his cover of “If I Had A Hammer” hit number 1 in 36 countries.


Lopez also designed two new guitars, and acted in a few films, such as the 1967 war film The Dirty Dozen


Next, a jazz pianist who influenced generations.


McCoy Tyner started piano lessons when he was 13, and began playing professionally three years later. Tyner was raised Christian, but at 17, he got connected to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and converted to Islam. He changed his name to Sulieman Saud.

In high school, Tyner led his own band. He’d known John Coltrane for years growing up, and at age 21 joined the Coltrane Quartet.


After Coltrane’s death in 1967, Tyner went out on his own, working as a bandleader, composer, and solo artist.

His percussive style and pounding left-hand chords influenced other pianists and earned him recognition as a Jazz Master from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Tyner died in March at age 81. 


That’s the sound of the American wild west … at least according to Italian composer Ennio Morricone. He wrote the scores for more than 500 movies, including The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, The Mission, and Once Upon a Time in America.


Many of his Western themes included sounds as part of the score…things like whistles, gunshots, and animal calls. The main theme of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is taken from a coyote’s howl.


Morricone died in July at age 91. 

Next, we turn to the world of sports. 


That’s the crowd reacting as Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona scored his controversial “hand of God” goal in 1986. Argentina was facing off against England in the World Cup quarter finals. Maradona flicked the ball with his hand—which is definitely against the rules—but he made it look like he hit the ball with his head, sending it into the net. The goal put Argentina into the lead. Maradona later led his country to victory in the 1986 World Cup finals. 

Maradona is widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, but he struggled with cocaine addiction. That earned him multiple suspensions and fines for possession and use. He allegedly had connections to the Italian mob, and became good friends with Fidel Castro. Maradona called Castro his “second father” and expressed his sorrow when Castro died in 2016.

MARADONA: Si. Si, es horrible…

Maradona died of a heart attack in late November. He was 60 years old.

Now we move from football…to football. 

MUSIC: [1969 NFL Championship CBS opening]

In 1962, Bobby Mitchell joined the Washington Redskins as its first black player. The Redskins were the last NFL team to integrate, and Mitchell faced an uphill climb. Here’s how he described it in a 2011 interview.

MITCHELL: I got the whites saying, I don’t like you, and the names. And every day I’m getting kicked. Every day. 

But he didn’t let that interrupt an 11 year Hall of Fame career. He scored 91 touchdowns and ran for 14,078 yards, winning the respect of teammates and fans.

Mitchell died in April at age 84.

Next, we remember another trailblazer. Eva Szekely survived the Holocaust and went on to become an Olympic swimmer. 

Szekely was born in Hungary in 1927. She joined her local sports club and became part of a team that won a national open water title…but two months later she was kicked out because she was Jewish.

Then, World War II.


In this interview, she recalled how a Nazi officer came to her house in 1944. Her father told the officer that Eva was a swimming star, and that one day she would be famous. The officer left her alone.

She hid with her family in a two-room safe house crammed with 42 people. She kept fit by running five flights of stairs, up and down, 100 times a day. 

After the war ended, Szekely went on to break six world records. She won 44 national titles and two Olympic medals: A gold in 1952, and a silver in 1956.

Szekely died on Leap Day in February at the age of 92.

Finally, we end today on the open road. 


Race car driver John Andretti died in January after a three year battle with cancer. He was 56. 

John Andretti was the nephew of auto-racing superstar Mario Andretti. He began racing as a kid, starting with go-karts and midget races before graduating to real cars. He raced on dirt tracks and superspeedways, and competed in dragsters and endurance races.

In 1994, he became the first driver to compete in both the Indy 500 and the NASCAR 600-mile night race in North Carolina on the same day.

John Andretti’s son, Jarrett, is following in his father’s footsteps. He made his racing debut in 2010.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: The bond between a man and his dog can be powerful. 

Powerful enough to motivate a man to victory in a fistfight with a wild animal who tips the scales at 350 pounds.

We recently told you about a Florida man wrestling an alligator to save his dog. In this instance, a California man fought off a bear!

Kaleb Benham told television station KOVR that he was outside near his home with his 90-pound pitbull Buddy.

BENHAM: And I heard a growl, looked over the hillside and about 75-100 feet down, the bear was dragging him by his head—had his head in his mouth.

Without hesitation, Benham rushed the bear.

BENHAM: I just ran down there, plowed into the bear, tackled it, and grabbed it by its throat and started hitting it in the face and the eye until it let him go.

Benham then rushed his dog to a veterinary hospital. And after nearly 4 hours of emergency surgery, Buddy is on the mend!

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, December 23rd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. 

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Christmas around the world.

Yesterday we heard the sounds of the season from Taipei, Taiwan. Today we travel nearly 4,000 miles south west to Abuja, Nigeria—where Christmas may not include snow, but many traditions are still familiar. WORLD correspondent Onize Ohikere is our guide.


Nigerians mark celebrations with music, family gatherings, and colorful outfits. Christmas is no different.

Shops string up colorful lights, green and red decorations, and play music in the background. Several churches join in with Christmas carols and Nativity plays. Nigeria is nearly evenly split between Christians and Muslims.


On the last Sunday before Christmas, several people wearing masks spread out across the chairs inside Family Worship Center, a church in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. Others watch online. The two morning services feature a Christmas presentation, with the choir leading the program.

Here they sing versions of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Angels we have heard on High.” 


Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

Merry Christmas.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, December 23rd. 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.

It’s time now to return to the Scriptures in anticipation of Christ’s coming. Here now with selections from the Old and New Testaments are listeners Carrie Gray, Katie Nelson, Kelly Miller, the Avery family, Mark Kubichek, Lilly Rep-nack, Joy Davenport, Melissa Ford, Hannah Hulin, Kristin Rob-son, Justin Jones, Cynthia Longabaugh, and Tera Allen.

PSALM 85:1-2, 8-13: LORD, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin. 

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.

Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, fthe LORD will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.

MARK 1:1-8: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

II PETER 3:8-15: But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but  that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: The last installment for our 20-20 remembrances from the field of entertainment. 

And, Christmas music from Switzerland.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

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

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The Apostle Paul taught us to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

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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