MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!
In his inaugural address on Wednesday President Joe Biden called for unity. What should that mean to believers who will have profound differences with his policies? We’ll talk to Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker about that.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.
Plus a film that showcases the music behind the latest cultural trend sweeping the internet.
And for his first Word Play of the new year, George Grant explains the calendar quirks that have us singing Auld Lang Syne at the end of December.
BASHAM: It’s Friday, January 22nd. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Good morning!
BASHAM: Up next, Kent Covington has today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden signs 10 more coronavirus-related orders » President Biden plowed through another stack of executive orders on his desk Thursday, signing 10 new orders to fight COVID-19.
BIDEN: We’re going to put the full force of the federal government behind expanding testing by launching a COVID-19 pandemic testing board. This effort will ensure that we get testing to where it is needed and where it is needed most.
The president is directing the CDC to launch a program to make vaccines available through local pharmacies starting next month. That will build on a plan devised by the Trump administration.
He also signed an order mandating masks for interstate travel. That rule will apply to airports, planes, ships, trains, and buses. And travelers from abroad will have to show a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine upon arrival.
Another order is aimed at having most schools open within the next few months. He wants the departments of Education and Health and Human Services to provide clear guidance for reopening schools. States would also be able to tap FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to help return kids to classrooms.
Biden administration announces resumption of funding to WHO » And Dr. Anthony Fauci announced on Thursday that the United States is making a u-turn on funding the WHO.
FAUCI: The United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization.
President Trump said last year that he was pulling the plug on U.S. support for the U.N. health body. He blasted the WHO for early failures in responding to the pandemic and for its cozy relationship with China.
The United States halted funding for the U.N. health agency, stripping it of cash from the country that has long been its biggest donor.
But Fauci, who is now President Biden’s top adviser on the pandemic said by reengaging with the WHO, the new administration hopes to achieve several goals…
FAUCI: To strengthen, and importantly, to reform the WHO; to help lead the collective effort to strengthen the international COVID-19 response.
WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus welcomed Thursday’s announcement. He called it a good day for the “WHO and a good day for global health.”
Democrats enjoy slim Senate majority with swearing in of new Senators » Democrats now enjoy a slim majority in the U.S. Senate. Three new senators took the oath of office this week after President Biden’s inauguration.
Vice President Kamala Harris administered the oath.
HARRIS: And that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office you are about to enter, so help you God…
SENATORS: I do.
John Ossoff and Rafael Warnock are joining the Senate after winning Georgia’s double runoff election earlier this month. And California Democrat Alex Padilla will serve out the remainder of Kamala Harris’ Senate term.
And that makes Senator Chuck Schumer the new majority leader.
SCHUMER: As the majority changes in the Senate, the Senate will do business differently. The Senate will address the challenges our country faces head on and without delay.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who is now the minority leader, congratulated the newest members of the Senate.
MCCONNELL: Our country deserves for both sides, both parties to find common ground for the common good everywhere that we can, and disagree respectfully where we must.
Democrats and Republicans are now tied, each with 50 seats in the upper chamber. But Vice President Harris gives her party the tie-breaking vote.
Senate confirms Haines as intelligence chief » And on Thursday, the Senate confirmed Biden’s first Cabinet pick.
AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 84, the nays are 10. The nomination is confirmed.
That vote made Avril Haines the new director of National Intelligence.
Earlier this week, she told senators that if confirmed, keeping tabs on Beijing would be a top priority.
HAINES: Gaining and sharing insight into China’s intentions and capabilities, while also supporting more immediate efforts to counter Beijing’s unfair, illegal, aggressive and cohesive actions, as well as its human rights violations whenever we can.
Haines is a former CIA deputy director.
Also on Thursday, lawmakers in the House approved a waiver to allow retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as the next Secretary of Defense.
That waiver was needed because Austin is less than seven years retired from the military and that Cabinet post is designed to be a civilian role.
The Senate is likely to confirm Austin soon.
Pelosi rejects calls to ‘move on’ from Trump impeachment » But a Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump could complicate efforts to confirm Biden’s nominees.
Much depends on when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends the article of impeachment to the Senate.
Some lawmakers argue that impeaching a former president is a waste of time and the Congress should move on. But Pelosi this week said no way.
PELOSI: Just because he’s now gone, thank God, you don’t say to a president, do whatever you want in the last days of your administration. You’re going to get a get-of-jail card free because people think we should make nice, nice.
Pelosi did not say when she will send the impeachment article to the Senate, but insisted it will be “soon.”
Earlier this week, then–Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a message to Pelosi indicating that the Senate is ready for a trial.
Suicide bombings kill at least 32 in Baghdad » A pair of suicide bombings ripped through a crowded market in Baghdad on Thursday, killing dozens of Iraqis. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: A grim scene in Iraq’s capital city on Thursday: Blood stained the pavement of the busy market amid piles of clothes and shoes.
Hours earlier, massive explosions shook central Baghdad, killing at least 32 people and wounding more than a hundred.
Officials said the first suicide bomber cried out for help, claiming he was ill. When good Samaritans gathered to help him, he detonated his explosive belt.
The second bomber rode in on a motorcycle before blowing himself up.
The blasts marked the first major suicide bombings in the city in nearly two years.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Iraqi military officials said it was the work of ISIS militants.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: defining unity.
Plus, George Grant on how the new year came to start in January.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, January 22nd, 2021. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Wednesday in his inaugural address President Joe Biden made not one, but numerous calls for unity.
AUDIO: [UNITY MONTAGE]
BROWN: Joining us to discuss how Christians should view unity in the political context are Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker. Darrell is the Dean of Social Media at Grace to You ministries. Virgil is Executive Director of Operations for G3 Ministries. And they are both Co-hosts of the Just Thinking Podcast
Good morning, gentlemen.
DARRELL HARRISON, GUEST: Good morning.
VIRGIL WALKER, GUEST: Morning.
BROWN: Just like President Biden, many people are promoting this idea of unity. There have even been some evangelical leaders calling for unity from believers because as citizens it’s what our country needs after a period of such great unrest. Virgil Walker, what’s your response to that?
WALKER: I think for those of us who are believers and who have a biblical worldview, it’s incredibly important to establish what’s meant by unity. The Bible never calls us to unify from a standpoint of conformity. The Bible demands that unity is always established on the basis of truth. And so what we need to unify with and connect ourselves to is a standard of truth and truthfulness that the Bible commands and it’s under that banner that we actually unify.
BROWN: Darrell Harrison, how about you?
HARRISON: I think it’s ironic, Myrna, when you look at what’s happening in America today, whereby after a presidential election, a very contentious, a very adversarial in many ways presidential election, when you look at America being the Republic that it is where we have free elections — You know, you look at politics by definition, politics by definition is a confrontation of ideas, of different ideas, different worldviews. So I think it’s interesting, if not ironic that evangelical leaders would use a political venue, a political medium, like a presidential election to call for unity when by definition politics inherently is a clash of ideas.
And secondarily, I would just add to that the oath of office that the President of the United States takes when he is sworn into office has nothing to do with unity. The president swears an oath of office to enforce the Constitution, to protect the inalienable rights that are enumerated there in the Constitution. There is nothing pastoral, if you will, about the president’s responsibilities in that capacity. So I think it’s misguided to suggest or even think that in a Republic like ours, where you have free thought, you have free elections, to think that the outcome of a political contest is supposed to be an avenue for believers in Christ to come together under the guise of unity with an administration who out of their own mouths and on their own website and other platforms and ways has already declared to the church that what we stand for is totally antithetical to what you stand for.
So, the idea of unity here is just non-sequitur. It just does not fit to me.
WALKER: I want to quickly add something to what Darrell just stated, which is the level of hypocrisy under which we’re operating when it comes to calls for unity. The same political party that has been everything but unified in their approach to governance, now would like you to unify. And so I think what’s at hand there, what’s at stake there is the idea that the unity is to come on the basis of what they would like for you to do. So what they mean is not unity from a standpoint of where do we identify truth, how can we come together, but unify with where we’re going and with what we’re going to do moving forward.
BASHAM: Now Darrell, you quoted 19th century preacher and evangelist JC Ryle in your recent podcast on the subject of biblical unity. That quote really struck me. He said, “Peace without truth is a false peace. It is the very peace of the devil. Unity without the Gospel is a worthless unity.”
I think a lot of people have been scared in recent months about the wages of the disunity we’ve been seeing. Cities burned down, the Capitol attacked. Plenty of Christians might say the unity President Biden is calling for–which may even be a false unity—is better than that.
HARRISON: You know, Megan, as you pose that question, I’m reminded of something and that is, we need to stop and define terms here first, because here we are using common language, right? Common vernacular: unity divisiveness, coming together, oneness, brotherhood. I’m hearing all these terms being thrown about, but with no definition, with no context.
So the word unity in scripture appears only six times. Three of those times are in the New Testament. And those three appearances of the word unity in the New Testament have three separate definitions.
I think the one that is the focus of your question is where scripture defines unity in one sense as agreement, a consensus with. Now. So if we, as Christians, are going to abide by that definition of unity, then we have to first ask ourselves, well, what are we uniting with?
So, that’s what the JC Ryle quote comes in because what JC Ryle is challenging us to do is to stop here for a minute, put the brakes on.
Are you asking us to unite in the sense of unite with what is truth? Or are you asking us for a unity of convenience, a unity that is essentially just humanism and moralism without any context of objective truth here.
The gospel draws a line. It draws a line in the concrete, not in the sand. So we need to be able to say, well, when someone calls us to unity, we need to ask, well, what kind of unity are you talking about? If it is a unity that aligns with the truth of scripture, then I’m 100% on board with you. But if it is a unity that does not align with scripture, I’m sorry, I can’t have anything to do with that.
BROWN: President Biden is calling for racial justice and racial unity. And yet I’m hearing black leaders throw out terms like black anger and black joy. That seems divisive to me. What are your thoughts on that?
WALKER: I’ll jump in here and say a couple of things. The Bible is absolutely clear on the fact that there is one human race created in the image of God—Genesis 1:26, 27—and that that race of mankind is all sinful and sin-filled, right? Genesis 3, Romans 5. We know that all of us have been systemically impacted by the sinful condition of the human heart. So in that regard, all of us are equal and we equally need a savior. We equally need rescue from the wrath due to us, rightly by God, for our sin against him. So all of us are equal in that regard.
So the idea that we can have this racial reconciliation or that there’s some idea of black joy or white joy, these are flawed ideas that are being perpetrated on a culture for the purpose of division and to, in an effort to leverage power.
HARRISON: Yeah. And Virgil, if I could just add, man, to something you just brilliantly stated there, you know, when you look, Myrna, at the very term, racial joy, racial reconciliation, racial whatever, the very term itself begs your mind to look at that person not in the context of the Imago Dei, not in the context that they were created in the image of God as a unique individual. The very term racial whatever bids your mind to recognize and identify that person by who they are on the outside. So, that is totally the inverse of how the gospel defines who we are as creatures who are made in the image of God. So, the very terminology itself collectivizes everyone not only by skin color, but it also collectivizes us in the sense that we think the same way we share the same worldview, we do everything monolithically, robotically as if our melanin was dynamic and not static.
Melanin does not think, it does not feel, it does not love. It does not hate. It does not form intent. It does not create biases. Those things happen in our heart. So for someone to—whether it’s a politician or not—for someone to argue, well, the Biden administration is going to push for racial justice, well, the very term itself is prejudicial.
BASHAM: Darrell you tweeted Wednesday that the evangelical church in America has a lot of work to do, starting with itself. Can you give us some specifics about what that work should be?
HARRISON: Yeah, that tweet, I had something very specific in mind when I sent that tweet out. Where I was going with that is that the work that we have to do in the evangelical church in America, beginning with ourselves is number one, we have to go back to the Gospel 101 because I fear that there are many people out here who profess to be Christians who have no idea what the gospel is. They have no clue what it is. What they think it is is basically behavioral moralism. What they think it is is behavior modification. Humanism. It is being nice, not being angry, treating everyone kind, treating everyone fairly, being loving to everyone. That’s what they think the gospel is. And when you think the gospel is basically moralism, you’re open to any sort of invitation to just unify and just come together around the campfire and sing campfire songs. But that’s not what the gospel calls us to do. The gospel calls Christians to take a stand.
You have to apply the entire word of God to your entire political worldview, so that it doesn’t come down to Biden versus Trump. It comes down to scripture versus Biden. That’s what it comes down to.
WALKER: I would only add one thing briefly and that is to simply say that pastors have got to become equipped themselves about these issues.
You’re going to have to understand what is happening in culture. You’re going to have to be able to look at and exposit the text of scripture. And you’re going to have to be able—to the point that Darrell made—you’re going to have to bring the gospel into conflict with the culture. You’re going to have to be able to do that effectively, and properly equip the saints for the work of ministry that the gospel requires.
BROWN: Are we asking the right questions? What do we gain or lose by pursuing harmony with people, leaders, an administration that promotes policies that are incompatible to the church?
HARRISON: Myrna, I don’t think we’re asking any questions. And I think that’s the problem. We’re not asking any questions. What do we gain from uniting with a world that is passing away? What do we gain from that? Whatever we will gain is outside the context of Galatians 2:20, where Paul says, “I count everything as loss for the sake of Christ.” What Christians are supposed to gain, the only gain we’re supposed to aspire to, is to gain Christ, is to gain more of him, not more of a world that is passing away, that is going to be replaced with a brand new earth, according to II Peter 3:13.
You look at Christ himself. And I’m so glad that it was Jesus who spoke these words and not one of the disciples. It was Jesus himself who said, “I didn’t come to bring peace. I came to bring a sword. I came to divide. I didn’t come to bring together.” And that’s what the gospel does. The gospel inherently is divisive. It is inherently divisive. So, but when you reduce the gospel to sort of a moral construct where we need to have peace, there should be no differences, there should be no distinctions. And consider this also, Myrna, under the guise of unity, you have evangelicals—professing evangelicals, professing believers—who are suggesting that we unify with a world system that represents a world that is passing away.
BASHAM: Darrell is the Dean of Social Media at Grace to You ministries. Virgil is Executive Director of Operations for G3 Ministries. And they are both co-hosts of the Just Thinking Podcast. Thank you both for joining us today.
WALKER: Thanks for having us.
HARRISON: Thanks for having us.
BROWN: Thank you.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: The mayor and former mayor of a Vermont town recently helped to raise big money to renovate a playground.
They raised the funds via raffles and sales of masks—around $30,000 in donations!
But oddly enough, due to a local ordinance, the current mayor is not allowed to visit the playground for which he helped raise the cash!
That’s because there’s a sign posted that says “no dogs allowed.”
Yep, the honorary mayor of Fair Haven, Vermont is a canine—a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Murfee.
He recently unseated the former mayor, His name is Lincoln, and he’s a Nubian goat.
Lincoln and Murfee have called for unity after the election and admirably worked together for a good cause!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, January 22nd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a new viral video trend that won’t make you cringe and cover your eyes—or ears!
If you’re over the age of 21 and don’t happen to have a job tracking pop-culture trends, you may have missed the latest musical craze. It’s actually something innocent, fun, and even a little educational—sea shanties!
After a young Scotsman shared a TikTok video of himself singing a 19th century whaling song titled “Wellerman,” the internet went wild.
AUDIO: [TIKTOK WELLERMAN]
The video racked up nearly 8 million views. And soon, fans from all walks of life added their own accompaniments—deep baritones, sweet sopranos, violins, and even a club remix!
AUDIO: [TIKTOK WELLERMAN]
Then folks dug up other sailing songs from hundreds of years ago and shared them across the social media spectrum. A group called The Longest Johns has even hit the U.K. Top 40 Charts with its version of “Wellerman.” Well, I don’t have much of a singing voice, but I do have one contribution I can make to the trend, a movie recommendation!
CLIP: Who is the lead singer of the group? Nobody, we take it in turns. That’s very democratic. So, what kind of songs do you guys perform? Shanties. Shan what? Traditional sea shanties, you know? No. All right. You’d know this one perhaps.
The 2019 British indie Fisherman’s Friends, available on most streaming platforms, tells the true story of a group of Cornishmen. They catch lobsters by day and sing shanties to tourists by night, just for fun. That is, until a group of big shot London music executives takes a holiday in their little sea-side village, Port Isaac. The boss of the group commands his best deal-maker, Danny, to get the singing sailormen a contract posthaste.
There’s just one problem. The old gents aren’t particularly interested in stardom.
CLIP: Watching you sing was one of those rare moments in the music business when you realize you were witnessing something truly original. The bottom line is, you’ve got a unique sound. And we believe we can help you get it released by a major label. [laughing]. Now look, I’m serious. So how about we crack open the champagne and get this deal done right here, right now. Right now hang on. You mean this is for real? Thanks for the offer, son, but we are just fisherman, see. We have no need to sell our souls for 15 minutes of fame.
It’s probably no spoiler to say that eventually Danny wears them down. Just in time to discover that he’s been the victim of a practical joke. His boss was never really interested in making maritime music. The problem for Danny is he’s given the Fisherman’s Friends his word. And worse than that, he’s fallen in love with one of their daughters.
CLIP: Listen, I was reading up on see shanties, and you’re right, they do have universal appeal. I mean, after all, maritime work songs were the rock ‘n’ roll of 1752. Has all the ocean air gone to your head? All right, maybe, but I genuinely think these guys I’ve got something to say. I’m recording one more song then I’ve got an album to send out to the labels. Let them be the judge. Hey, this is gone far enough Danny, I want you back at your desk after Henry’s wedding to deal with the acts that actually make us commission. What’s wrong? Danny has gone native.
When it comes to a sweet, simple plot like Fisherman’s Friends, cynics need not apply. This warmhearted movie admittedly has a bit of a Hallmark vibe, but that’s part of its appeal. At one point when Danny calls his London office, we hear a pop hit playing in the background. The soulless, mass-manufactured sound, complete with lyrics I can’t repeat here, contrast sharply with the genial authenticity of the shanties. This is music that grew up out of a way of life. And that doesn’t just mean the nautical life.
CLIP: How’s it going? Oh, got some great guest vocals from the seagulls. Why don’t you try recording in the church? It’s where they all learned to sing. It’s got brilliant acoustics. I reckon it’ll be easier if we went into the studio. Then you risk losing their charm. And the people that come and listen to them don’t care if they hit the high notes. They want to be transported to the high seas.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Friends are choir boys. We are talking about sailors here, so I should warn you that a bit of salty language and a couple of coarse jokes pass between the men. Though these are cloaked in euphemism. Likewise, it’s a shame that Danny and his love interest spend the night together, but this is only implied in a morning after scene—there’s no nudity or sex here.
Beyond that what Fisherman’s Friends offers is the same thing that I believe is drawing so many to the shanty craze right now. As I watched the many, many videos of folks from all different backgrounds layering their voices together, I saw a rebuke of the forces that work so hard each day to sow enmity and division between groups. I saw people eager to enjoy rather than ridicule the past. I saw people starving for community, hungry to tear down barriers to cultural exchange. Most of all I saw people tired of anger and isolation, ready for a good, old fashioned singalong.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Friday, January 22nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
Have you ever wondered why we start the new year in January, instead of July? Turns out that quirk of the calendar has a lot to do with worldview.
Here’s George Grant with this month’s Word Play.
GEORGE GRANT, COMMENTATOR: The month of January marks the start of a new year. But that has not always been so. For much of human history, the new year followed one or another of the astronomical cycles. The earliest record of a new year celebration was in Mesopotamia 2,000 years before the time of Christ. It commenced at the vernal equinox—the first day of spring. The ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians all began their new year with the fall equinox, while the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.
But January does not coincide with any astronomical cycle or event. The Romans held the festival of their two-faced god, Janus, on the first day of that month. And in 46 BC, Julius Caesar, a patron of the Janus temple, introduced a new calendar system and chose that day to mark the new year.
There are still at least 40 different calendar systems currently in use in the world. Some attempt to follow seasonal changes according to fixed rules. Others are based on abstract, perpetually repeating cycles of no astronomical significance. So, think of the Chinese New Year, celebrated in 2021 on February 12, or the Islamic New Year, celebrated on August 9 this year.
The common theme of each system is the desire to organize the calendar to satisfy the needs, priorities, and predilections of society. Besides simply serving the obvious practical purposes, this process of organization provides a sense, however illusory, of understanding and managing time itself. Thus, calendars have provided the basis for planning agricultural, hunting, and migration cycles, for divination and prognostication, and for marking religious and civil events.
Whatever their scientific sophistication, or lack thereof, calendars are essentially social covenants, not scientific measurements. Calendars are worldview projects.
The acceptance of the Gregorian calendar as a worldwide standard spanned more than three centuries. It was not adopted in the English-speaking world until the British Parliament finally relented in 1751—by which time there was an 11-day discrepancy in the old Julian calendar. Even so, its implementation was fraught with confusion, controversy and even violence, as crowds gathered in the streets demanding that those 11 days be given back to them.
It is hard to imagine singing Auld Lang Syne, at almost any other time than the end of December and the beginning of January. But, when Robert Burns edited and catalogued that old Ayrshire folk ballad for the Scots Musical Museum at the end of the 18th century, he noted that it had long been sung on the occasion of a new year—according to the old calendar, in the month of March.
It’s just one more reminder that ideas have consequences. Worldviews matter. Now, as ever.
Happy New Year. I’m George Grant.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Well it takes many people to put this program together each morning. So we want to say thanks to: Anna Johansen Brown, Kent Covington, Esther Eaton, Nick Eicher, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, Kim Henderson, Leigh Jones, Jill Nelson, Onize Ohikere, Mary Reichard, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Cal Thomas.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: We tip our microphones to thank audio engineers Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz. They stay up late to get the program to you early. Paul Butler is executive producer and Marvin Olasky is editor in chief.
And you are our support to make all of it happen. Thank you so much!
May you have a restful weekend, and worship alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ.