MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
The COVID vaccine is here yet it’s rolling out more slowly than many expected. We’ll talk about why.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also people in cities generally think differently than people in the country. And that has big implications for politics. We’ll tell you about that.
Plus, our Classic Book of the Month: 40 Favorite Hymns for the Christian Year.
And commentator Kim Henderson on her night at the symphony.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, January 5th. 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: Time now for the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Georgia voters head back to polls as control of Senate hangs in balance » Voters in Georgia will decide the balance of power in the U.S. Senate today.
The double runoff election has shattered records for campaign spending.
And on Monday, And President-elect Joe Biden campaigned for Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
BIDEN: We need you to vote again in record numbers to make your voices heard again, and again to change Georgia, to change America again!
If Democrats win both Senate seats, each party will control 50 seats. But soon-to-be Vice President Kamala Harris would break the tie, giving Democrats control of the chamber.
But if incumbent Republicans win at least one of the two races, the GOP will retain the majority.
With that in mind, Vice President Mike Pence looked to turn out the vote for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
PENCE: If you don’t vote, there could be nothing stopping Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi from cutting our military, raising taxes, and passing the agenda of the radical left.
In November’s election, Sen. Purdue beat Ossoff’s total by nearly 90,000 votes.
In the other Senate race, Warnock grabbed 1.6 million votes … While Sen. Loeffler and a Republican challenger together split about 2.3 million votes.
But no candidate in either race topped 50 percent of the votal, and by state law, that triggered today’s runoff elections.
Polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.
Georgia secretary of state refutes Trump election claims » Meantime, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger Monday answered President Trump’s complaints about vote counting in his state.
He told ABC News…
RAFFENSPERGER: The data that he has is just plain wrong. He had hundreds and hundreds of people he said that were dead that voted. We found two. That’s an example of just—his bad data.
He said President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state is legitimate.
Raffensperger’s remarks followed a Saturday phone call from the president in which Tump again alleged widespread voter fraud. He insisted that he received enough votes to win Georgia and pressured Raffensperger to find them.
The Washington Post obtained audio of the call.
TRUMP: So look, all I want to do is this—I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state, and flipping the state is a great testament to our country.
In the wake of that call, some Demcoratic lawmakers have called on the Justice Department to “open an immediate criminal investigation.”
And in Atlanta, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis says her office is prepared to investigate whether President Trump violated state law.
Iran ratchets up nuclear program, seizes S. Korean tanker » Iran is once again ratcheting up tensions in the Middle East. It has seized a South Korean-flagged tanker near the Strait of Hormuz and is now enriching uranium at the highest level in years. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Experts say Tehran appears to be looking for leverage in the waning days of the Trump administration. President-elect Joe Biden has expressed a desire to rejoin the 20-15 Iran nuclear deal, which the Obama administration helped broker.
Iran is stepping up enrichment at its underground Fordo facility, putting Tehran a technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90 percent.
And Iran’s seizure of a South Korean flagged tanker comes as a diplomat from Seoul was due to travel to Tehran to discuss the release of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets.
And if there is any doubt that Tehran is looking for bargaining power, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif erased it in a Monday tweet.
He claimed other nations that signed onto the 20-15 nuclear deal weren’t adhering to its terms. And he wrote—quoting here—“Our measures are fully reversible upon FULL compliance by ALL.”
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
British prime minister announces new lockdown measures » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown on Monday that will last more than a month.
That as a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus is helping to fuel a sharp spike in new cases.
JOHNSON: It’s clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control.
In a televised address, he said British hospitals are under more pressure than at any other point during the pandemic. Hospitalizations have surged more than 30 percent in just one week.
The new lockdown measures will last until at least mid-February.
Starting today, primary and secondary schools and colleges will be mostly closed for in-person learning.
Many nonessential businesses will also close, such as hairdressers and restaurant dining rooms.
Johnson said Britons can only leave home for certain reasons…
JOHNSON: Such as to shop for essentials, to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance, or to escape domestic abuse.
In the meantime, Britain is ramping up its vaccination program by becoming the first nation to start using the shot developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca.
Judge denies Assange extradition request » A British judge on Monday rejected the U.S. government’s request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage charges.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied the request citing concerns for Assange’s mental health.
The Department of Justice said it will appeal the decision … while Assange’s girlfriend, Stella Moris, appealed to President Trump.
MORIS: I call on the president of the United States to end this now.
U.S. prosecutors say Assange not only published secret U.S. documents a decade ago, but took part in a plot to steal them.
The defense argued that the charges are trumped up and politically motivated.
The judge rejected those arguments, but said Assange was likely to kill himself under harsh U.S. prison conditions.
The 49-year-old has been behind bars in a London prison for 18 months. His lawyers will ask for his release at a bail hearing today.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: America’s urban-rural divide.
Plus, Kim Henderson on the eternal power of music.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 5th of January, 2021.
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: the political differences between city voters and those who live in rural areas.
Georgia voters are heading to the polls today for two special run-off elections. The races will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate for the next two years.
No matter the outcome, it’s likely that a majority of voters in cities like Atlanta and Savannah will vote for Democrats. The rest of the state, the rural counties, will most likely go for the Republicans.
REICHARD: This is consistently one of the clearest divides in American politics: the gap between rural and urban voters.
What drives this divide? WORLD’S Sarah Schweinsberg reports.
AUDIO: Would you gentleman like more coffee today?
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: REPORTER. At J.C.’s Diner the 3 o’clock crowd has arrived for a cup of Joe and a chat.
Waitress Shanna Allred says the diner sees a cycle of regulars all day.
ALLRED: 5:30 you have a group. And then you’ll have a group at 6 and then you’ll have your 7 o’clockers, then you’ll have your 8 o’clockers, the last group is about 5 o’clock to 6.
The log diner is a hub for the small town of Elwood, Utah. Population: 1,097.
Owner Jim Abel says people come here to talk and share life. And that’s one of the beauties of rural living.
ABEL: It’s a hometown. Everybody cares about each other. Everybody takes care of each other.
Abel says it’s an approach to life that city folks just don’t get.
ABEL: I think the city people has forgot some things that they were taught and they just want it easier and faster pace and more fun, less work, you know? And whether you like it or not, you don’t ever get something for nothing.
Adela Antel lives on the other side of the country—in Washington, D.C. She moved there a few years ago from small-town Pennsylvania.
Antel is working to grow a photography business. She says the city offers more economic and cultural possibilities.
ANTEL: What attracted me are all the opportunities that we have here. It’s like, where the conversations happen. So I just wanted to be part of the conversation.
Being an urbanite has down-sides.
ANTEL: The cost of living is high.
But Antel insists that the high cost is buying her more.
ANTEL: For me, cities are inspiring. You look around at the big buildings and you walk by the Capitol, and by the monuments and you just want to try harder? Right? Um, whereas I wasn’t really inspired by the cornfields of Pennsylvania. (laughs)
Easy-going towns versus bustling cities. These two contexts offer vastly different ways of seeing the world.
Robert Wuthnow is a sociologist at Princeton University who studies rural and urban differences. He says a combination of characteristics make rural areas more religious and, largely, more conservative.
Rural areas have older populations. And families are also more likely to have lived in the area for generations.
Small towns also have a strong religious heritage.
WUTHNOW: Many towns were settled by religious groups.
And the church is still the center of the community.
WUTHNOW: It is where people meet and greet. Where they talk to one another.
Wuthnow says higher church attendance combined with larger family networks instills Biblical social values and emphasizes community problem solving.
WUTHNOW: People who live in a small town, whether they’re rich, or poor, or in between, are more likely to know one another. And to feel an important sense of responsibility to one another. And so that leads to a very strong emphasis on private charity in private compassion, rather than large scale public government welfare.
Cities on the other-hand have more transient populations. They are also much more racially diverse. And economic differences are more visible.
WUTHNOW: One of the things that means is that when policies are being debated about public welfare, racial inclusion, civil rights, there is going to be more interest and more understanding in urban areas of those issues than there is likely to be in rural areas.
Michael Hendrix is a scholar at the Manhattan Institute. He says the differences between rural and urban places have always existed, but in the last 20 years, the lines have deepened and understanding has diminished. He calls it the Big Sort.
HENDRIX: Where people begin to find other like minded people. And then once they’re around each other, they begin to self reinforce.
But Hendirx sees signs of a reshuffling.
As job prospects have declined in small towns, rural folk move to cities, bringing their values with them. And now as COVID-19 restrictions and remote jobs allow people to leave cities, they are taking their values to the suburbs and small towns.
HENDRIX: There’s really a lot more diversity now we’re beginning to discover in this country, then the urban rural divide would otherwise seem to imply. And I think that there’s some opportunity there, maybe not at the national level, but certainly the state and local level to at least give us as much diversity among the elected, as we’re beginning to see among the electorate.
And there’s something else blurring the rural-urban divide: urban sprawl. American cities are growing into small towns.
That’s what’s happening in Elwood, Utah. It’s a good 40 miles from the Salt Lake City metro area.
AUDIO: [Busy highway]
But Jim Abel says the road outside his diner is busier than ever. Ready or not townees seeking more space and cheaper housing are coming. He’s OK with it—as long as they don’t try to change their new home too much.
ABEL: And one of the things that happens is, they don’t like where they’re at. So they move and come up here, but as soon as they get here, then they try to change it to what they run away from, instead of enjoying what they got. You have to manage growth, and you have to balance that growth.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg in Elwood, Utah.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: COVID-19 vaccines.
The Trump administration had hoped to have at least 20 million vaccine doses available by the end of 2020. It missed that target pretty significantly—to date, roughly four million, and these are estimates, about four million people have received the first of two doses.
But that number is growing rapidly, and health officials say we could have as many as 100 million Americans fully vaccinated in the next hundred days.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: To make that happen, the U.S. health system needs to overcome a few challenges, including logistics and persistent doubts about vaccine safety.
Joining us now to talk about these problems is Dr. Charles Horton. He’s a physician and WORLD’s medical correspondent. Good morning, Dr. Horton!
CHARLES HORTON, GUEST: Good morning, Mary!
REICHARD: Well, this slower rollout led some national health experts to express disappointment about it this past week. Many, many factors are behind that slowness. I want to ask you about one aspect, and that’s the medical logistics.
HORTON: I’m surprised by the problems, both because we as a system have had plenty of time to prepare and because the medical world normally does pretty well with logistics. Plenty of things other than COVID vaccines need to be shipped very quickly and often on dry ice.
I do think this is a case of growing pains, because the main difference here strikes me as one of scale. The medical world isn’t trying to do something truly new here in moving very cold things, but it’s trying to move much greater quantities of very cold things than it had. Of course there’s also a healthy desire to be sure we’re not wasting any of the vaccine by letting it spoil.
REICHARD: The last time we had you on the program to talk about vaccines, you detailed how the new RNA vaccines work. We’ll link to that in today’s transcript for anyone who might be interested and missed it then. But one listener had a question about why the body doesn’t continue to make proteins in response to the virus RNA in the vaccine. The body’s normal immune response. In other words, when and why does that process stop?
HORTON: Great question. I think we do need to make a distinction here between the body making proteins directly in response to the RNA, that is, transcribing the RNA to make the spike protein that it’s stimulating the immune response against, which only lasts for a few days, and the antibody response, which of course is the goal of the vaccine and, Lord willing, will last for a very long time. Keep in mind, it’s a two-dose vaccine and the reason for that second dose is by the time you’re a few days out, that protein is already ceasing to be made in the body. So, it’s not something that you need to worry about in the long term.
REICHARD: A lot of people still have questions about how safe the vaccine is. We continue to get emails from listeners asking about things they’ve heard or read about elsewhere. We don’t have time to address all of them, but I’d like to ask you about a few. Let’s start with the claim that the vaccine causes infertility in women.
HORTON: First and foremost: it doesn’t. The vaccines induce immunity to a viral protein called “spike protein.” It’s named after how it looks under a very powerful microscope. Now, at risk of saying the obvious here, the vaccines accomplish the same thing in terms of immunity that catching the virus would, minus the suffering and danger that goes with actually having the coronavirus. So if immunity to spike protein were to cause infertility, then we’d be in big trouble here—all of humankind would—because catching the virus would also cause women to be immune to spike protein and, thus, to be infertile.
The theory behind this was that a protein in the human placenta could look enough like spike protein that immunity to spike protein would effectively vaccinate women against forming, or maintaining, a placenta. That would be terrible news, but, again, praise God it isn’t the case. There have been reports of miscarriages in women with severe Covid, simply because a pregnant woman who gets severely ill could lose her baby. That’s heartbreaking when that happens, of course, but there isn’t any that it’s due to spike protein.
REICHARD: I’ve seen some legitimate reports of reactions or problems, like Bell’s palsy and allergic responses. What about those?
HORTON: To take the second one first, almost anything we give a patient can at least theoretically cause an allergic reaction. Most allergic reactions are minor, more annoying than dangerous. But it is rarely possible to have a more severe one. This is why when you get any vaccine, whether it’s the Covid vaccine or the plain old flu shot, they ask you to stick around for a little while and give you a list of things to look out for.
As for Bell’s palsy, that was reported in four of 20,000 patients in the Pfizer trial. There are two important things to keep in mind about that. First, it isn’t unknown in the general public and Pfizer does argue that one in 5,000 people might have reasonably developed it in the timeframe where they monitored people. Even if that’s overstating it, the risk is plainly very low. And, of course, we need to balance it against the risk of getting coronavirus.
REICHARD: The issue of cause and effect is huge here. If someone gets the vaccine and then develops a health problem, it seems reasonable to conclude that the vaccine caused it. But we know correlation doesn’t prove causation. And the people who are first in line to get the vaccine are those most likely to have health problems in the first place.
HORTON: You hit the nail on the head, Mary, and this is especially true while a drug or vaccine is being evaluated for approval. Researchers quiz the volunteers exhaustively about anything new, medically speaking, in their lives. And, remember, the stage 3 trials included thousands upon thousands of people. If you followed that many people for weeks on end, you’re going to hear about all kinds of medical issues.
REICHARD: Dr. Charles Horton is a physician and WORLD’s medical correspondent. Thank you so much for joining us today!
HORTON: Thanks for having me!
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s never too late to do the right thing.
A man from Massachusetts proved the truism when he corrected his own wrongdoing from 40 years ago.
Here’s how it happened. The Westfield Historical Commission got a phone call from a man who said that back in 1980, he’d stolen a sword off the town’s statue of a Revolutionary war hero.
The commission’s chairwoman offered to give the man anonymity if he returned the sword, which he did.
She said the man carried the shame of his theft for decades, and the point wasn’t to shame him further and publicly. But to let the whole thing stand as a cautionary tale—essentially, that your sin will find you.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, January 5th. So glad you’ve turned 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: our Classic Book of the Month.
This time, our reviewer Emily Whitten suggests a relatively new book about poetry put to music for the church.
EMILY WHITTEN, REPORTER: Next to the Bible, what would you say is the most important book for Christian discipleship? Author and historian Robert Morgan says it might be your hymnbook. He explains in this Youtube interview with gospel singer Matthew Fouch:
MORGAN: The second greatest cache of devotional and theological material we have is in the collected history of our hymnody and from the apostolic period until today, we have hymns that have endured all through the centuries.
Musical compilations offer a way to hear the scope of that hymnody. Consider this video by musician David Wesley. It begins with “Be Thou My Vision” from the 6th century.
MUSIC: Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart…
Five or six minutes later, he’s made it to the worship anthems of today:
MUSIC: I’ve seen you move, move the mountains….
Even with historical compilations like that, it can be hard to get our minds around favorite hymns. Archaic language can obscure the meaning. Other times, the music moves so fast or the words are so familiar that a hymn becomes vain repetition.
So, what if in 2021, we dig a little deeper? What if we take a closer look at great hymns written by men and women across the centuries? If that sounds appealing, I recommend our January Classic Book of the Month, 40 Favorite Hymns for the Christian Year by author and professor Leland Ryken.
RYKEN: Until the 1870s, hymnbooks consisted of words only books. They were 5 inches by 3 inches. That was a hymn book…
Ryken says earlier generations of Christians often treated hymns as devotional poems.
RYKEN: I am seeking to restore what can be gained by reading the hymns as poems.
What does it mean to read a hymn as a devotional poem?
RYKEN: Reading a hymn as a poem means slowing down. Taking as long as we need to unpack the images and phrases.
Ryken has written, edited, or co-edited over 60 books in his writing career—including the English Standard Version of the Bible. He’s also emeritus professor of English at Wheaton College in Illinois. You see his literary background in the way he approaches these hymns:
RYKEN: Looking carefully at the stanzaic arrangement and progression was the key to it. Then when I have the general picture in view, I go through line by line. I analyze the images and the phrases. That’s the straight exposition I’ve been doing in my literature courses for more than half a century.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be an English major to enjoy Ryken’s book. Take, for instance, this hymn by Isaac Watts. This clip comes from the Reawaken Hymns Youtube Channel:
MUSIC: O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come…
Ryken says that because the hymn focuses on the passing of time, we often sing it at New Year’s Day services. He unpacks the devotional content this way:
RYKEN: From childhood, my imagination has been fired by the two lines, “Time like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons away.’ Well, that gets us to focus on an important dimension of our spiritual lives, namely that we are transient beings. But secondly, it also focuses our thought on a God who transcends time.
He talks about archetypes like homes and storms, and how they resonate in our hearts and minds. Ryken then turns his attention to the last stanza.
RYKEN: Be thou our guard while troubles last, and our eternal home. It fixes our thoughts on the spiritual life, including our human mutability. It also turns our gaze, I would say praise, adoration to a God who transcends time. It instills in us a greater love of God and a greater understanding of the spiritual life. That makes it a devotional poem.
Ryken organized his book around six occasions in the church calendar. Those include New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter, Thanksgiving, Reformation Day, and Christmas. That means readers can use Ryken’s book as a year-round devotional resource.
RYKEN: Just yesterday I received a letter from a grandmother, living in Florida, and believe it or not, that family has used my book as a table devotion. The hymns are packed with references to the Bible. Many are modeled on a specific Bible passage.
Ryken is a formalist critic. That means he focuses more on the words and form of the text than the personal stories behind the hymns. You won’t find extensive biographies about the lives of hymn writers like Charles Wesley and Fanny Crosby. But Ryken does give some historical context.
RYKEN: Very few of great hymns have been written by professional poets. Very few. In the ranks of writers of hymns, Ministers are totally disproportionate to what we would find in literature generally. Some of them composed for the weekly church service. It’s no wonder so many are so laden with the Bible. The authors of the hymns knew the Bible thoroughly.
With so much Biblical content front and center, Ryken’s book 40 Favorite Hymns of the Christian Year offers a great way to savor the hymns, and the God, we love.
And as we kick off 2021, I hope you’ll consider hymn study as part of your devotional plan this year. You might be surprised how much you can learn.
I’m Emily Whitten.
MUSIC: Heart of my own heart whatever befall, Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
EICHER: For January, Emily Whitten recommends 40 Favorite Hymns for the Christian Year. For more classic book ideas, just search for Classic Book of the Month at worldandeverything.org.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, January 5th. Good morning to you! 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. Here’s commentator Kim Henderson musing on her night at the symphony.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: Back before COVID, Bob and Renee invited us on a double date. It’s been 34 years since my husband and I tried one of those, and it resulted in a trip to the altar. I wondered how these friends could top that.
Renee texted me a week in advance with the plan: Pick up at 4, ritzy dinner at 5, symphony at 7:30. Not a bad plan, I had to admit, especially the ritzy part, which translated into veal parmesan. The best, however, was yet to come.
Let me clarify up front that I am no arts elitist, nor am I well-versed in the original works of Romanticism. In all honesty, the closest I’ve ever been to a great composer was Row 20 at a Barry Manilow concert. But I can appreciate live music as well as the next person who took five years of piano. And this performance was the very sound of solace.
It began with the entrance of Conductor Crafton Beck in a classic tux and horn-rimmed glasses. (Now if Crafton Beck isn’t the perfect name for a conductor, I don’t know what is.) The first piece to be played was the National Anthem, so we all rose to our feet.
Next came an overture, a scherzo, and a march. Symphonie Fantastique followed. All were the works of 19th century composer Hector Berlioz, who was, it seems, a tortured soul. We knew this because the program notes told us of “fevered emotions” and opium-induced visions. Ok, so I could’ve done without the backstory. But that didn’t stop the strains of his masterpiece from awakening my senses, and as the maestro slowly and finally lowered his arms, I could not help but wonder: How does music cut the soul so?
Science explains it in terms of dopamine and endorphins , as a brain trigger along the lines of chocolate and runner’s high. Psychologist Steven Pinker calls music “auditory cheesecake” — an accident of evolution that pulls the switch on at least six of our mental faculties.
But music is a created thing, a gift of God. We make it to praise him, yes, but it’s also a common grace overflow that can’t help but seep out in other ways, too. We whistle while we work. Hum when we’re happy. Sing lullabies to soothe and to sleep.
Of course, man is pretty good at taking a good gift and distorting it. My favorite pizza joint has an ‘80s playlist. As I sit there captive under the speakers, I can’t help but do instant recall on lines from songs I should never have liked, much less imprinted on my temporal lobe as a teenager.
Oh, to be fully tuned to our Music Maker.
How all this plays into a night at the symphony I cannot say. But it’s good to go with season ticket holders who know when to clap and what to wear. As Renee explained, “Black makes you disappear, leaving only the music.”
And, I would add, the Creator behind it.
I’m Kim Henderson.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: We’ll talk about the process of certifying electoral votes and why the Founding Fathers gave Congress a role.
And, writing your spiritual autobiography: how to trace the ways God is at work in your life.
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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