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Christian TV in Iran // YouTube wars

FEB RUARY 3, 2018



As MBI drops its top executives and 30 percent of its faculty, critics spotlight fissures in an evangelical fortress

China grabs influence in Australia Andy Savage confessed: Should he resign? Gladney Center tiptoes into the LGBT parade

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February 3, 2018 • Volume 33 • Number 2






30 Moody blues

DISPATCH E S 5 News / Human Race / Quotables / Quick Takes

36 Signals of change

CU LT U R E 17 Movies & TV / Books / Children’s Books / Q&A / Music

42 Under the radar

NO T EBOOK 55 Lifestyle / Technology / Medicine / Sports

Financial errors, insider dealings, and theological concerns force a change at an evangelical powerhouse

Protests in Iran have met censorship and brutality, but Christian broadcasters use daily media to spark lasting reformation

The Gladney Center for Adoption has—very quietly—accepted the application of a same-sex couple, betraying the trust of many Christian supporters

46 A tale of two feminists

Anita Sarkeesian and Laci Green may seem similar, but interaction with cultural opponents has led them in very different directions

50 Outside influence

In their capital, universities, and media, Australians increasingly feel the impact of political pressure from China

VOICE S 3 Joel Belz 14 Janie B. Cheaney 28 Mindy Belz 61 Mailbag 63 Andrée Seu Peterson 64 Marvin Olasky

ON THE COVER: Photo by Alex Garcia/Genesis Give the gift of clarity:

Notes from the CEO am now in my 15th year here, as of November. That makes me a ­relative newcomer among most of the staff here, but I’m grateful to God for bringing and keeping me at this place all this time. I say 15th year, measuring my involvement in employment years, but it’s my 20th year, because I’d been reading WORLD for five years before I started working here. It all began, as so many WORLD stories begin, with a gift subscription to this magazine I had never heard of. No exaggeration, WORLD literally changed my life from my first reading of it. I don’t think that will seem odd to a good many of you, because I’ve heard similar stories from you members about the magazine’s impact. But while it may not seem strange that WORLD can be life-changing, it’s not every day you encounter the claim that a news magazine changes a life. It’s difficult to put into words the ways God used WORLD to work on me. But for me it boils down to the way our writers wrestled through issues and arrived at conclusions (or humbly refrained from arriving at conclusions) and looked at everything as if God was real and the Bible actually mattered. I was a Christian, and I believed all of that, but WORLD made it solid in a way that was meaningful to me. In those first few issues, I suppose I found a handful of things that I wasn’t sure I agreed with. That didn’t bother me and, although I didn’t realize it, it didn’t really bother the people at WORLD, either. They weren’t trying to get me to think about everything their way—they were just trying to get me to think about everything, period. And they were trying to stir me to look at everything through a Biblical lens, whether it was what Congress was up to or what kind of movies everybody was ­talking about, or the way I interacted with my colleagues at work. That’s my story, but, as I say, it’s a common one. We know, based on your extraordinary support of our work, that WORLD is much more than just a news source to many of you. I’d like to know your story, and so I invite you to get in touch. I’d love to hear it.


Kevin Martin

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Joel Belz

Wanted—a few hard workers

HAS OLD-FASHIONED, SWEAT-OF-THE-BROW LABOR BECOME AN OCCUPATION TO AVOID? A couple of electrical circuits in the basement of my house were acting up, and the nagging reality hit me: It’s time to call an electrician. No, Joel, I argued with myself, you can do this. It’s an obvious do-it-yourself assignment. But that’s when my visiting brother-in-law ­settled the matter. “Joel,” he said with finality, “it’s time to call an electrician.” Which is why, for the third or fourth time in the last couple of months, I ended up getting another mini-lecture on the whys and wherefores of the immigration crisis that’s been ­shaping and reshaping our nation and culture. Why, I asked the electrician the next afternoon while he nimbly corrected the problem that had eluded my limited skill set, has it become so hard to find and contract with you fellows in the construction trades? I told him how in the last few months our 60-year-old home had cried out not just for an electrician, but also for the services of a plumber, a brick mason, an excavator, a ceramic tile setter, and a drop ceiling installer. So why, in almost every case, did my conversation with these professionals inevitably turn to a labor ­market twisted by immigration policies and realities? No, my wife and I heard. Don’t blame the immigrants. Responsibility, we were told, lies at the doorstep of Americans who don’t like hard work. We got that message repeatedly, simply, and emphatically: Americans just don’t like to work. “I spend half my time,” the owner of one small plumbing firm told me, “looking for people who are ready to help me dig a ditch or crawl under a porch to run a water line. And when I finally do find them, I know it won’t be long before someone else discovers them and can pay them a better wage.”




Are we ­ultimately the victims of our own success and prosperity? Have we come to despise hard work?

The lament struck a familiar chord. For s­ everal months prior to my electrical issue, I had heard the same six-word complaint from a longtime WORLD member who owns and manages a significant farming operation. “Americans just don’t like to work,” he asserted, and even invited me to come and see for myself what he was talking about. His invitation was an expression of trust—based on my agreement not to identify him, the farm, or any of the laborers I might meet during such a visit. I’m still struggling to provide you readers with a significant report on what I’m learning through that visit to the farm, but without breaking my promise. That column is probably still several issues away. And oh, yes. That visit to the farm involved an overnight stay. And my wife and I couldn’t help noticing who at the hotel was making our bed, cleaning our room, and waiting on the breakfast tables. Almost to a person, they appeared to be r­ elatively recent immigrants, performing jobs (admittedly, perhaps ­low-paying ones) that many native-born Americans seem unwilling to do. But back to my electrician for a related and perhaps even more distressing perspective. “Let me tell you,” he reported, “about a continuing education session I attended recently—something I have to do to keep my license current. I would guess there were about 75 people in the room—all renewing their licenses. What really got my attention was when the fellow in charge asked how many of us were under the age of 40. I think only two fellows raised their hands.” So what happens when the next generation prospers enough to be able to afford to hire an electrician—only to discover there are no ­electricians to hire? Are we ultimately the victims of our own success and prosperity? Have we come to despise the hard work that has pulled millions of Americans, whether native-born or newcomer, out of poverty and dependence? I wonder, is this what happens to all the descendants of Adam and Eve? Is it part of the Fall? Is part of the price that everyone pays that even good old hard work (do we refer to it as “the sweat of our brow”?) becomes something to be avoided? A February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 3

DISPATCHES News / Human Race / Quotables / Quick Takes

Ominous threat

Residents of Legazpi in central Philippines were among nearly 40,000 Filipinos who evacuated their homes after the Mayon volcano began oozing lava in mid-January. Scientists warned that the eruption could turn explosive and potentially deadly: An 1814 eruption at Mayon killed 1,200 people. DAN AMARANTO/AP

Manage your membership:

February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 5

D I S PA T C H E S    



In at least four California cities, a new opportunity awaits ­low-income citizens convicted of ­certain drug crimes: a leg up on starting their very own marijuana business. California has joined seven other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and the state began allowing sales on New Year’s Day. In some spots, ­hundreds of customers lined up hours before shops opened. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medicinal use, and some purveyors in California obtained licenses to expand their sales to recreational use as well. When it comes to issuing new permits, officials in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Francisco plan to give preference to a surprising group of potential marijuana entrepreneurs: those who have been convicted of drug crimes. Proponents call it restorative justice. They say that whites and blacks use marijuana at the same rate, but that authorities have arrested black citizens at a higher rate than white citizens for marijuana possession. Now that marijuana is legal in California, people ­convicted for possessing it in the past should be able to cash in on the benefits of the industry in the future. “For so long, people that were black, people that were Latino, we have paid the price for this business,” City Council President Herb Wesson said at a community meeting in Los Angeles. “And as we move this into the legal realm, it is important to us that we have a piece of the action.”


in low-income ­neighborhoods often have suffered from the effects of the drug trade as well, and they may not want offenders to set up shop in their ­communities. Riley also notes that a criminal record can prevent someone from obtaining a liquor license in California, but now could help ­someone get ahead in selling pot. Meanwhile, legalization hasn’t stopped illegal activity in other states. USA Today reports drug dealers often buy marijuana in states where it’s legal and then illegally transport it across state lines to sell it for three times as much as the purchase price. While less marijuana is flowing over the U.S. border, officials in California say cartels have increased their activity in the United States—growing pot in large quantities and selling it across state lines. In Oregon, the state police estimate the legal marijuana market makes up just 30 percent of the state’s entire market. What about federal law? In 2013, President Barack Obama urged federal prosecutors to ease A customer purchases marijuana at Harborside dispensary in Oakland, Calif., on Jan. 1.


6 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018

Getting a piece of the action involves more than a preference on permits. Some cities also plan to give no-interest loans to those who qualify for the program. (Applicants may also include family members of drug ­offenders or residents of neighborhoods affected by drug trade.) Business owners who aren’t in the program may have a better chance at getting a permit to sell marijuana if they agree to partner with an applicant or give him rent-free space to set up shop. At least one thing may stand in the way of the plan: federal law. Since a federal statute outlaws marijuana, many banks regulated by the federal government are reluctant to give loans for starting marijuana businesses. But even if bank managers offer such loans, they’re often unwilling to give the loans to people who have been convicted of a drug crime: Even if marijuana is legal now, it wasn’t legal when former drug offenders chose to break the law. That doesn’t mean offenders don’t need help. It’s important to give former convicts opportunities to pursue productive lives and vocations and to consider practical ways to make that possible. But as Jason Riley of The Wall Street Journal points out, law-abiding citizens


40 minutes The length of time some Hawaii residents spent taking shelter Jan. 13 after state officials mistakenly sent out cell phone emergency alerts warning of an incoming ballistic missile. There was no missile.


The number of miles between Pyeongchang, South Korea—host of the 2018 Winter Games—and the DMZ border with North Korea.

­ ursuing certain marijuana cases in p states that had voted to make the drug legal. But in early January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed that course: He said the Trump ­administration would use its discretion to enforce the law, even in states that passed laws in favor of selling marijuana. That likely doesn’t mean federal agents will raid marijuana businesses in states that have legalized cannabis, but Sessions does seem to indicate the ­federal government won’t ignore ­federal law in all cases either. It’s an interesting twist on federal vs. state politics: Conservatives often emphasize states’ rights, but in this case, a conservative attorney general is pressing federal law against state ­decisions. Meanwhile, left-leaning states that sometimes call for federal action on issues they care about, now insist on states’ rights when it involves a law they favor. Some Democratic and Republican lawmakers have derided Sessions for his recent announcement, but few have pushed to change the law to decriminalize marijuana in the federal statute. Instead, they want Sessions to refrain from enforcing the law in the cases where they see fit. A   @deanworldmag

$93 million The amount of online donations the American Civil Liberties Union raised in the 12 months following Donald Trump’s election, up from $5.5 million the year before, according to Politico.


The number of people responsible for more than 11,000 complaints filed over noise levels at London’s Heathrow Airport in the last three months of 2017.

$20 million The amount the IRS paid private debt collectors to collect $6.7 million in back taxes in 2017.

February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 7

D I S PA T C H E S    

Human Race


Arthur Rorheim, who


Anna Mae Hays, the first U.S. female brigadier general, died at the age of 97 from a heart attack. Hays was a front-line nurse who served in three wars: in India during World War II, in Korea, and then in

8 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018


Aïn Séfra, a desert town in

Algeria, has reported snow for only the third time in 40 years. Some said parts of the area, often known as the “Gateway to the Sahara,” recently received almost 15 inches of snow. Aïn Séfra officially reported less than 1 inch. During the summer, the town regularly experiences some of the hottest temperatures on earth. At night the ­temperatures drop significantly, making it possible for snow to stay. But

James Damore

­ hotographers on the scene p said the snow stuck even after the sun rose, remaining until the evening.

the entry of women into the stadiums,” as the ­soccer-obsessed nation ­discussed the decree.



For the first time, Saudi Arabia has allowed women to attend a soccer game. The new decree opened three stadiums that the government has specially modified for women with family entrances, ­family stands, and women-only bathrooms and prayer areas. During a match in Jeddah, both the fans and their specially designated female ushers wore the full abaya robe, but they were free to cheer as loudly as the men. Women will be permitted to attend two more matches, one in the capital Riyadh and one in Dammam. During the two hours of the match in Jeddah, tens of thousands retweeted a hashtag meaning “the people welcome

James Damore and David Gudeman, former Google engineers, are suing the tech giant for discrimination against conservative, male employees. Google fired Damore last year after a memo he wrote became public where he argued biology is the reason fewer women than men are interested in tech jobs. The memo sparked a tense debate about free speech and diversity in Silicon Valley. Damore and Gudeman’s lawsuit claims they were “openly threatened” during their time at the company, which they called an “ideological echo chamber.” They also say the company doesn’t protect employees with conservative views and uses illegal hiring quotas to give jobs to women and minorities. Damore says many Google employees have thanked him for speaking up. Visit WORLD Digital:


helped create the Awana youth program, died on Jan. 5 at age 99. Rorheim began as a children’s pastor at a small Chicago church during the 1930s and ’40s. Rorheim’s senior pastor, Lance Latham, asked him to design and lead a weekly club for children, a new idea at the time. They created fun activities and incentives to capture children’s minds built on a Biblical foundation. The club grew quickly until 500 children were coming every week. Rorheim and Latham ­created Awana in 1950, sharing their model with churches throughout the country and eventually the world. Rorheim served as executive director for 42 years and as president for another seven.

Vietnam. Hays, who grew up in Pennsylvania, joined the Army Nurse Corps for World War II and worked in a field hospital treating engineers building a road through the jungle to China. Hays later helped found the first military hospital in Inchon, South Korea, during the Korean War. In 1967, she became a colonel and chief of the Army Nurse Corps. In this capacity, Hays made three visits to Vietnam to ensure the best medical care for the troops there. Three years later, she was promoted to brigadier general. She died on Jan. 7.

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‘The third best moment of my life behind giving my life to Jesus Christ and marrying my wife.’

WANG LIXIONG, a Chinese dissident, on Uighurs in Xinjiang. China’s relentless crackdown on even mild critics in the region has pushed some into embracing extremism.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback CASE KEENUM on throwing the winning touchdown pass in the closing seconds of the Vikings’ playoff victory over the Saints.

‘I wasn’t ready for all the things that can go wrong.’ SANA HAMELIN, owner of a “cat café” in Denver, Colo. One cat became lost for two weeks in the café, and another cat bit a customer. One customer complained that he felt “ignored by the cats.”

‘Just once I would like to hear him say that he was wrong and ask for forgiveness.’ Alliance Defending Freedom President MICHAEL FARRIS on President Donald Trump, after Trump had reportedly spoken of some developing nations with vulgar and derogatory language during a meeting with senators about immigration policy. 10 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018

‘Through security force assistance, by dropping bombs on them, shooting them in the face, or beating them to death with our entrenching tools.’ Army Command Sgt. Maj. JOHN WAYNE TROXELL, the senior enlisted adviser in the Pentagon, on killing members of ISIS who choose not to surrender. “Regardless,” he wrote, “they cannot win, so they need to choose how it’s going to be.”

Give the gift of clarity:


‘The [Chinese] government removes the middle road so it leaves two extremes. You’re either their mortal enemy or their slave.’

D I S PA T C H E S    

Quick Takes

What is street jargon?

Churning out art

What do you do with 1,000 pounds of waste scrap butter not fit for humans to eat? If you’re the American Dairy Association North East, you create a sculpture depicting the agricultural industry for the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, Pa. The sculpture depicts a dairy cow, a dairy farmer, an agronomist, a milk ­processor, and a dairy consumer. The farm show, an annual event, has included butter sculptures since 1991.

Bird watchers

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep mail carriers from their rounds in Rocky River, Ohio, but wild turkeys are another matter. Postal carriers in the Cleveland suburb have been unable to deliver mail to about two dozen homes in the Cleveland suburb because wild turkeys reportedly attack and peck at them when they try. The city has asked residents to stop putting out bird feed, hoping that will cause the turkeys to leave. In the meantime, affected residents have to go to the post office to get their mail.

Capital confusion

On Dec. 23, the Transportation Security Administration sent a memo to employees confirming that, yes, the District of Columbia really is in the United States. The memo was in response to a formal complaint issued by D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who said many of her constituents had encountered problems boarding aircraft with a D.C. driver’s license. The District of Columbia is the site of the nation’s capital, Washington. That fact, however, has allegedly eluded some TSA agents at Newark, N.J.’s Liberty International Airport and other venues around the country where D.C. residents have complained that agents accused them of having fake or foreign identifications.

12 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018


A Jeopardy! ­contestant proved that it sometimes takes more than book smarts to win the popular television quiz show. Responding to a prompt asking what a mash-up between 1990s rapper Coolio and 17th-century author John Milton might be called, contestant Nick Spicher answered, “Gangster’s Paradise Lost.” However, Jeopardy! judges ruled that Spicher didn’t use the correct mispronunciation in the Coolio song title. “You said ‘gangster’s’ instead of ‘gangsta’s’ on that song by Coolio, so we take $3,200 away from you,” host Alex Trebek told Spicher during the Jan. 1 ­telecast. “You are now in second place.”


Return trip

Thanks to a short delay, Hawaiian Airlines flight 446 took off in 2018 and landed in 2017. After a 10-minute delay, the flight from Auckland, New Zealand, lifted off at 12:05 a.m. Jan. 1, just minutes after locals ­welcomed the new year. But the local time in Honolulu when the aircraft landed was 10:16 a.m. Dec. 31, 2017. Flights that begin in New Zealand and end in Hawaii cross the International Date Line, resulting in a 23-hour time difference.

One man’s trash …

A thief in Copenhagen, Denmark, successfully stole loot worth more than $1 million—and then apparently threw it away like an empty beer can. A security camera at Café 33 caught the theft, in which a masked man on Jan. 2 broke into a locked area of the café where owner Brian Ingberg stores a ­collection of 1,200 bottles. The thief then stole the Dartz and Russo-Baltique vodka bottle—a bottle worth $1.3 million and made of 6 pounds of gold and 6 pounds of silver with a diamond-encrusted cap shaped like the front of a vintage car— and fled. Police later found the bottle, emptied of vodka and dented, at a construction site. Latvian car manufacturer Dartz Motorz owns the bottle and had loaned it to Ingberg.

One for the road

More than 3,300 Pennsylvanians applied for roadkill permits in the Keystone State in 2017, the state’s Game Commission reported at the end of December. State law requires residents to file for a permit if they wish to eat a deer hit and killed on a roadway. And Pennsylvanians seem to know a good deal when they see one alongside the road. “Those ­[roadkill] are valuable food sources,” Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau told WESA. State Farm reports that Pennsylvania drivers have a 1-in-63 chance of hitting a deer while driving.

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Customers wait in line to have their gas pumped in Oregon.

Panic at the pump

On Jan. 1, the modern world finally reached parts of Oregon, where ­residents of several rural counties were finally allowed to pump their own gasoline. Prior to a state law that passed in May and took effect at the ­beginning of 2018, the state required that gas station attendants dispense gasoline. The change has unsettled some Oregonians, who appeared ­panicked or despondent in the comment section of a story about the change posted to a Medford, Ore., television station’s Facebook page. “I’ve lived in this state all my life and I REFUSE to pump my own gas,” a user named Mike Perrone commented. “I had to do it once in California while ­visiting my brother and almost died doing it.” New Jersey law still prohibits residents of the Garden State from pumping their own gasoline.

Chocolate science

Scientists from the University of California have good news for worried chocoholics: They might be close to ­saving the cacao tree from extinction. For years, worries about devastating fungal diseases and climate change have led many scientists to predict the ­eventual demise of the cacao. Now, UC Berkeley plant genomics director Myeong-Je Cho is leading a group of scientists and candymakers who are reinventing the cacao through gene editing. Scientists hope to make the cacao plant less susceptible to the witch’s broom disease as well as alter its genome to make it grow in more places in the world. In September, candy company Mars announced it would spend $1 billion to make its business more sustainable—and part of that commitment is funding Cho’s work. February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 13


Janie B. Cheaney


14 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018

The Word of God is living and active, sharp and shrewd. And if all of it is instructive, we don’t blow off tough ­passages like Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

  @jbcheaney


OK, the skeptic says: You Christians who want to follow God’s guidelines and “reclaim America” and all that—you Christians who say homosexuality is a sin based on a few verses in Leviticus—what about those other verses in Leviticus? Do you want laws against mixed fibers or mixed marriages, or (this is the kicker) are you for stoning rebellious children? To them that settles it: The Word of God is a creaky artifact that didn’t even work in its own day. But as Matthew Henry said, “The divine law cannot be reproached unless it is first ­misrepresented.” The Word of God is living and active, sharp and shrewd. It is animated by God’s own breath, and when a man or woman is likewise animated (or born from above), that breath blows through every saved soul. And if all of it is instructive, we don’t blow off tough passages like Deuteronomy 21:18-21. Because rebellion is serious. Rebellious kids drive youth culture, and some of them, like Frank Schaeffer and Bart Campolo, make headlines. A rebellious child stands as the greatest reproach to Christian parents, and often to Christians in general. Our culture rewards them with press releases and interviews on NPR, as proof that the Christian life doesn’t work—at least not for everybody. In an earlier age, among “God’s people” (say the skeptics) they would have been stoned. Or would they? The law from Mount Sinai says that if a stubborn son refuses to obey his parents after repeated warnings, they are to bring him before the elders and make a formal charge. If the charge proves true, the son is to be stoned by all the men of the city, and thus “you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear” (Deuteronomy 21:21). Purging the evil is the purpose behind other capital crimes: false prophecy (Deuteronomy 13:5), rank idolatry (Deuteronomy 17:7), premeditated murder (Deuteronomy 19:13), and malicious false


t­ estimony (Deuteronomy 19:19). These are deadly crimes, because they lead to the destruction of untold others. But how often did these stonings actually occur? The record shows only two: Achan, who hid the Lord’s dedicated spoils in his tent (Joshua 7), and the man who gathered firewood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36). But the sons of Eli, Samuel, and David were allowed to pursue their destructive ways until God Himself—rather than a hail of rocks from their own countrymen—struck them down. The ­history of Israel might have been different if those executions had occurred earlier, but that may be the lesson of the law: We’re not very good at purging the evil from our midst. We quail at drastic measures because we don’t quite believe the drastic charge: Rebellious children undermine social order and lead others astray while destroying themselves. Of course, throughout history pious Jewish parents as well as righteous Christian parents have hurled their contrary ­children out of the house, following up with a verbal boulder: “You are dead to me!” It’s the equivalent of stoning, perhaps, but the evil that must be purged remains in the heart of the parent as well as the child. For every puzzling Old Testament law we should ask ourselves, “How does Christ fulfill this?” That’s what He came to do: not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Every part of it. Put Him in the place of the stubborn son who won’t be corrected. Drag Him before the city elders (or Sanhedrin), formally charge Him (“He has made himself equal with God!”), pelt Him with verbal stones (“Crucify!”), put Him to death. The stunning revelation of 2 Corinthians 5:21: Christ became the rebellious son, and the evil was purged. What the law was powerless to do, God did. Rebellious children today are just as guilty and dangerous as they were in Moses’ time. The death penalty remains if they don’t repent. But God holds the stone, even while pleading with them to accept the righteousness of His obedient Son. His is the gospel of second, fifth, ­seventy-seventh chances. A

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A special force 12 STRONG CARRIES ON A TRADITION OF PATRIOTIC MILITARY MOVIES IN JANUARY by Megan Basham A few short years ago, January was known in the entertainment industry as a “dump month”—that is, the deadest of dead periods where studios routinely sloughed off schlocky horrors, schmaltzy romances, and other dogs. But then, on Jan. 10, 2014, Universal


released the Mark Wahlberg vehicle Lone Survivor and changed the perception of what January at the movies could be. The film, recounting the true story of Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell’s mission to take out a Taliban leader, had a strong patriotic, pro-

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military tone and became a surprise box-office hit. One year later, the similarly themed Clint Eastwood movie, American Sniper, went into wide release and astonishingly became the highest-grossing war picture of all time. In the three years since, every January has ushered in a big-budget, realitybased movie that centers on our fight to defeat terrorism. This year, that movie is 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Capt. Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth),

is tasked with leading a battalion of CIA paramilitary and Green Berets into Afghanistan to assist Afghan tribal forces in recapturing a Taliban-held city. The only way for Nelson and his team to navigate the terrain is by horseback, earning them the moniker “the horse soldiers.” Things like the unexpected humor of the Americans’ quick education in horsemanship is part of what makes the movie work overall, even when other isolated elements are weak. Moments that feel February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 17

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Movies & TV

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to gratuitous. Men swear in war. I understand this. But the F-bombs don’t feel as if they were included to create a naturalistic sense of wartime speech but rather to amp up the machismo factor. Only slightly less noticeable is Hemsworth’s barely disguised Aussie accent. Comparing his ­performance with Michael Shannon’s as Nelson’s intensely intelligent secondin-command will have you wishing Shannon would have gotten the starring role even if he isn’t as ruggedly handsome. Yet there’s much to applaud in 12 Strong, particularly in the second half. There, the serious history of what we were (and are) fighting in Afghanistan, not to mention what we gave away by withdrawing, comes clear and makes it well worth viewing and debating. If we can agree on nothing else, we should all be able to celebrate the recapturing of dump month territory for stories far worthier than cheap horrors and cheesy romances. A

Rothe and Roe


Forever My Girl R

A mostly harmless love story, Forever My Girl, based on the Heidi McLaughlin novel, bespeaks the faith-film industry’s transition from preachy fare to more widely appealing productions. Churchgoing characters figure prominently in this new film, and a pastor talks about forgiveness. But there’s also a hunky guy in a couple of brief underwear-only shots, as well as three violations of the Third Commandment. (Alcohol drinking and some other sensuality further warrant the PG rating.) That’s real life, right? Viewers won’t leave the theater feeling they’ve sat through a sermon. Country music FOR THE WEEKEND OF JAN. 12-14 star Liam Page according to Box Office Mojo (Alex Roe) doesn’t CAUTIONS: Quantity of sexual (S), ­violent (V), show up on his and foul-language (L) ­content on a 0-10 scale, wedding day. Not with 10 high, from only does he S V L ­abandon his 1 Jumanji: Welcome to ` ­bride-to-be, Josie the Jungle PG-13...................................4 5 4 (Jessica Rothe), 2 The Post* PG-13 . . .................................... 1 3 5 ` he jilts his entire 3 The Commuter PG-13..................... 1 6 5 ` small Louisiana 4 The Greatest ` hometown for the Showman* PG..........................................3 3 2 5 Insidious: The Last big stage. But he ` Key PG-13......................................................... 1 7 5 doesn’t forget 6 Star Wars: The Last ` about Josie. Jedi* PG-13..................................................... 1 6 3 Eight years 7 Paddington 2 PG................................. 1 3 1 ` later, a funeral


8 Proud Mary R................................... not rated ` 9 Pitch Perfect 3 PG-13.....................3 4 3 ` 10 Darkest Hour* PG-13....................... 1 3 3 ` *Reviewed by WORLD

brings Liam home, and he sets about winning Josie back and squaring with his father and former friends. Early in the film, he learns he has another bridge to build—with a daughter, Billy (Abby Ryder Fortson), now 7, conceived with Josie just before the ill-fated ­wedding day. Will Liam choose fame or family? (Or can he get both?) The film is ripe for a dialogue on chastity and crisis pregnancy, but doesn’t tackle either— again, no preachiness. Still, for a story sewn together with a string of aw-shucks moments where Liam and Josie reacquaint their gazes, Forever My Girl has many positives, such as a ­quality soundtrack and solid acting. Roe deftly delivers subtle nods and pensive looks. Young actress Fortson largely succeeds in her pivotal role, which screenwriter and director Bethany Ashton Wolf counts on for light humor. Apocalyptic alarms might not sound for the film’s 30 seconds of objectionable material, but faith-film fans should take note. —by BOB BROWN


authentic, like the soldiers forming unlikely bonds with tribal leaders, help balance out the canned ones, like an early and unnecessary recap of how Nelson’s team gets formed. Perhaps the best thing about 12 Strong, however, is that it carries on the tradition set by Lone Survivor of making January the one time of year conservatives can expect to see their ideology reflected on the big screen. Though by no means a political seminar, the movie nevertheless seems subtly to indict the Obama administration’s approach to the terror conflict. After scoring a major victory, Nelson says to a subordinate, “It feels good, doesn’t it?” “What does?” the soldier asks. “Seeing one through,” Nelson replies. The soldier agrees but points out, “Yeah, we won the battle, but we still have to win the war.” The implication is left hanging—we didn’t win the war, and the victories scored by these capable, courageous men and others like them were squandered by American retreat. Repeatedly the dialogue gives voice to the belief that half-measures won’t prevail against Islamic extremism, and the plot illustrates the complexities of matters on the ground. Not only do the horse soldiers have to contend with the Taliban, they have to manage the warring factions of the Northern Alliance. The film misses the mark of greatness on a few scores. Most obvious, the language that was likely more responsible for the movie’s R rating than the mostly-explosionsand-gunfire violence runs



Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri R This year’s Golden Globe winner for best motion picture in the drama category, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is now also an Oscar contender. The small-budget film from Irish writer/director Martin McDonagh tells the fictional story of vengeance-minded Mildred (Frances McDormand), whose teenage daughter was raped and killed in the small Missouri town. The local police force hasn’t made any arrests after seven months, so Mildred rents space on three billboards calling the police chief (Woody Harrelson) to the mat. With the chief’s ­popularity, the billboards quickly turn most of the town against Mildred. But Mildred is not a woman to threaten: Her pent-up maternal rage means she’s not afraid of police officers, priests, or abusive ex-husbands. One police officer in particular, Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an open racist who lives with his mother, seems intent on taking Mildred and anyone on her side down a notch. This heavy but comical film is rated R, mainly

for a lot of cursing and for intense violence, and I’ll underline the violence. One scene shows a suicide by gun, a death that becomes a disturbingly inspirational plot device to reconcile the townspeople. In one scene the owner of the billboard company is reading Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Director McDonagh has professed love for O’Connor and draws on her dark strangeness. Here, as in O’Connor’s stories, a moment can turn quickly from anger and vengeance to love and reconciliation, even if the story’s arc is not neatly redemptive. Dark elements aside, the movie is somewhat culturally off, feeling more Irish Gothic than Southern Gothic. Early in the film the local Catholic priest, on behalf of the townspeople, comes to upbraid Mildred for the billboards—a scenario that might happen in Ireland but probably not rural Missouri. O’Connor knew the strange Southern world she wrote about, and it gave her stories more power. —by EMILY BELZ

Rockwell and McDormand

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The Good Doctor R If a doctor’s bedside manner is horrific, can he still help patients? How does a genius ­surgeon overcome bias against his autism? ABC’s The Good Doctor explores these questions, and ­millions are following along. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), an intern with autism and savant syndrome, still has flashbacks about his troubled childhood: His father’s violent temper drove him and his brother from their home. Two deaths impelled Shaun toward the medical profession. His father kills the family rabbit in a fit of rage, hurling the pet across the room. His younger brother dies after a fall while the two are at play: “He went to heaven in front of my eyes.” Shaun’s simple hope is that as a doctor he can prevent deaths like these: “They should have become adults. They should have had children of their own and loved those children … and I want to make that possible for other people.” Shaun’s awkward communication style embarrasses fellow doctors. He blurts out diagnoses without preamble or empathy, shocking his patients. But his genius of being able to visualize the inner workings of the body—beautifully shown in intricate graphics—is so quick and complete that it uncovers the real ailments of patients with precision and speed.

The central plotline of Shaun struggling to overcome biases is compelling viewing. Hospital president Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff) gambles his own career that Shawn’s gifts will make up for his idiosyncrasies. Other surgeons are eager to see Shaun fail, hoping they will advance when the dominoes fall.


Special effects showing heart, lungs, veins, and arteries all working together testify to God’s amazing creative work, but the surgeries are quite graphic. This show is not for the squeamish. Other storylines make troubling assumptions: Extramarital sex is the norm. “All guys watch porn.” An unborn baby is a “fetus,” and the child’s life is not important if it will likely have an abnormality. The Good Doctor airs weekly on ABC. —by MARTY VANDRIEL

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Dueling faiths FINDING DIRECTION FROM THE CHURCH FATHERS by Marvin Olasky Which is older, Judaism or Christianity? The answer seems obvious, but it’s not: In one sense Christianity began in the Garden of Eden when God told the serpent that one of Adam and Eve’s descendants “shall bruise your head,” and in one sense Judaism began with the dominance of the Pharisees and the destruction of the Temple. Which is older, Catholicism or evangelicalism? The answer might seem obvious, since Roman Catholics see Peter as the first pope while evangelical Protestantism began with the Reformation 500 years ago. But British pastor John Stott wrote in 1970: Evangelical theory is not “a modern brand of Christianity, but an ancient form, indeed the original one. It is New Testament Christianity.” J.I. Packer spoke similarly in 1978. Kenneth Stewart’s In Search of Ancient Roots: The Christian Past and the Evangelical Identity Crisis (IVP, 2017) makes a strong case in sup-



port of Stott’s and Packer’s understanding. Stewart’s book is timely because even as the flow of former Catholics to evangelical churches far outnumbers movement in the other direction, some intellectuals have made highly publicized journeys from evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy, and some millennials are also hitting the road. Stewart points out that early defenders of Protestantism like John Jewel and John Calvin contended that their understanding best corresponded to the faith of the early church: Calvin wrote, “If the contest were to be determined by patristic authority, the tide of victory would turn to our side.” Stewart argues that many contemporary evangelicals have not studied works by the apostolic fathers of the second century or by evangelical scholars over the centuries who mined those resources: A lack of

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evangelical Christians. It would be an excellent gift for thoughtful Latter-day Saints who are questioning the faith in which they were brought up. Stewart Kelly and James Dew’s Understanding Postmodernism (IVP, 2017) is a good introduction to, and Christian perspective on, postmodern thought. I enjoyed reading three tales of endurance, of different kinds: Brett Archibald’s Alone: Lost Overboard in the Indian Ocean (Thomas Dunne, 2017) is the remarkable story of how a 50-year-old who fell off a boat during a storm survived for 28 hours. Gibraltar (Viking, 2018) by Roy and Lesley Adkins shows how soldiers and civilians in the tiny British t­ erritory withstood from 1779 to 1783 a land and sea siege by the forces of Spain and France. Frederick Buechner’s The Remarkable Ordinary (Zondervan, 2017) emphasizes the importance of day-today mindfulness. —M.O.


Stephen Mansfield’s Choosing Donald Trump (Baker, 2017) is an examination of the gamble that Trump supporters among Christian conservatives have taken: Mansfield writes that Trump “channeled their anger. He cut into their enemies. He promised to make their lives better. … They had never envisioned a man like him but they would take him, flaws and all. … Whatever the Trump administration becomes, they will be required to reconcile it with what they say they believe about God and his truth.” Leaving Mormonism, edited by Corey Miller and Lynn Wilder (Kregel, 2017), includes essays by Miller, Wilder, and two other former Mormons turned

John Calvin doctrinal teaching at speaking at many ­evangelical the Council of churches leaves many Geneva, 1549 millennials unaware of the ­crucial differences between Reformation understanding and Rome’s. Stewart’s book would be a perfect gift for evangelicals irritated with current church politicization and tempted to swim the Tiber, which includes accepting the dogma of papal infallibility proclaimed in 1870. Christopher Hall’s Living Wisely with the Church Fathers (IVP, 2017) is an excellent complement to Stewart’s work, and one that brings out important insights such as Clement’s reminder that poverty does not create virtue and John Chrysostom’s look at how God formed the spiritual character of poor Lazarus—and how childbirth strengthens a young marriage: “The child is a sort of bridge, so that the three become one flesh, the child ­connecting each other on either side.”

RECENT NONFICTION BOOKS reviewed by Susan Olasky BEING THERE: WHY PRIORITIZING MOTHERHOOD IN THE FIRST THREE YEARS MATTERS Erica Komisar Being There examines what maternal absence means for children. Erica Komisar says there’s really no argument about the importance of mothers, especially in the first three years of a child’s life. She notes that work demands and digital distractions keep mothers from bonding and being attentive to their children. That’s the helpful part of the book—and mothers who believe their presence isn’t necessary would benefit from reading it. Less helpful liberal policy prescriptions and Buddhist/psychotherapeutic mindfulness exercises make up large parts of the book.

CAPITAL GAINES: SMART THINGS I LEARNED DOING STUPID STUFF Chip Gaines Chip Gaines (from the popular Fixer Upper TV show) writes about his life, his failures, and the success of the popular home design business he built with his wife Joanna. The breezy writing style makes readers feel they’re getting a peek behind the scenes of a business built on gut instincts grounded in hard work and a willingness to fail: “For people with a winner mentality, there’s a positive waiting for you no matter the outcome. For those with a loser mentality, if there’s a negative outcome anywhere along the way, you perceive that you’ve lost.”


The daughters of President George W. Bush made many smart choices in writing this book. Most chapters focus on their relationships with their famous relatives, as they pull back the curtain to show their parents and grandparents in unguarded, unscripted moments. The twins let their individual personalities show in the alternating chapters each pens. They describe their own growing up, their well-publicized foibles as young adults, and the lives they now lead. Areas of policy disagreement with their parents merit brief mentions, but that’s not the book’s focus. The result is a warm, often tender portrait of the Bush family.


THE STORY CURE: A BOOK DOCTOR’S PAIN-FREE GUIDE TO FINISHING YOUR NOVEL OR MEMOIR Dinty W. Moore Publishing a novel or memoir has never been easier—but writing a good novel or memoir is as difficult as ever. Dinty W. Moore provides good, practical writing advice, starting with a useful metaphor—the “invisible magnetic river.” That refers to the deep, heart story that should underlie and connect a book’s events and scenes. His chapters provide examples of common problems with characters, openings, and settings. He then offers cures for them—and exercises to help writers work through their problems. The book has a friendly tone, avoids most crude language, and comes from the head of Ohio University’s creative writing program.

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AFTERWORD Jared Mellinger’s Think

Again: Relief from the Burden of Introspection (New Growth Press, 2017) delivers on the promise of its subtitle. Readers can glean the contents from chapter titles like “Fighting False Guilt” and “SelfForgetfulness.” Mellinger’s writing is pithy and to the point: “Our Father in heaven delights to give us good things to enjoy, but we constantly second-guess our experience of his generosity. Where he is lavish toward us, we are stingy and overly scrupulous. Where he gives no laws, we make laws for ourselves.” Mellinger isn’t just an ace diagnostician. He offers many wise and practical helps for turning away from self-focus. A clear Christ-focus underlies the entire book: “However deeply I am stuck in myself, the Lord will rescue me from constant self-consciousness and renegade self-reflection. And he invites me to fix my eyes on him.” —S.O. February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 21

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Children’s Books

Paths and pictures

FOUR PICTORIAL BIOGRAPHIES reviewed by Kristin Chapman RIDE ON, WILL CODY! Caroline Starr Rose In an age of instantaneous communication, children may find it hard to believe there once was a time in American history when the fastest way to send a message was by horse and rider. In Ride On, Will Cody!, Caroline Starr Rose uses rhyming verse to tell the legendary tale of Will Cody and one of the ­longest rides in Pony Express history. Energetic lines (“Horses nicker, heart beats quicker”) spur the story across the frontier wilderness as Cody spends 21 hours on the backs of 21 horses. The book’s endnotes offer more information about the Pony Express and Cody, who later would gain acclaim as Wild West showman Buffalo Bill. (Ages 4-7)

BIG MACHINES Sherri Duskey Rinker From Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site author Sherri Duskey Rinker comes a story about writer Virginia Lee Burton and her beloved children’s books. Illustrator John Rocco captures Burton’s style with his colorful sketches that imagine the beginning of such characters as Choo Choo, Mike Mulligan, Mary Anne, and Katy the snowplow. Aside from additional ­biographical information in the book’s endnotes, the storyline focuses on the inspiration behind Burton’s words and pictures rather than the historical details of her life. Despite this disappointment, the book will hopefully serve to introduce the next generation of readers to a classic author and her timeless picture books. (Ages 4-7)

SERGEANT RECKLESS Patricia McCormick During the Korean War, the U.S. Marine Corps gained an unlikely recruit: a small red mare named Reckless. Drafted to carry heavy loads of ammunition uphill, the former racehorse went through special training to prepare her for the rigors of battle—and developed a reputation for eating everything from chocolate candy bars to scrambled eggs with coffee. By war’s end, Sgt. Reckless proved herself worthy of two Purple Hearts and retirement with full ­military honors. The author’s note features additional biographical information about this unusual horse, who is commemorated in statue at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia. (Ages 6-10)

VICTORIA Catherine Reef

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In her recent picture book Over and Under the Pond (Chronicle Books, 2017), Kate Messner continues her exploration of nature, this time by diving into a wetland ecosystem. A mother and son skim their boat across a pond, watching the busy world above and below the water while day slowly turns to night. The concluding author’s note offers more details about ecosystems and the types of animals featured in the book. In Round (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) Joyce Sidman encourages young children to observe the world around them for things that are round. The hunt for round things progresses from the predictable (oranges, seeds, and sun) to the less obvious (rings on a tree stump and raindrops in a pond). Sidman concludes the book with reflections on why so many things in nature are round, offering the opportunity to share an age-appropriate science ­lesson. (Note: The story mentions “billions of years.”) —K.C.

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With the production of TV miniseries like Netflix’s The Crown and PBS’ Victoria has come a renewed interest in all things royal. Clarion Books capitalizes on this with the release of a beautiful hardback biography, Victoria: Portrait of a Queen. In an easy-to-read style, author Catherine Reef offers a complete picture of Victoria’s life and reign, shedding light on her sheltered upbringing, complicated relationships, fiery stubbornness, devoted marriage, awkward missteps, and heartbreaking losses. Although geared for middle-school students and older, the wealth of pictures, with one on nearly every spread, will likely interest even younger readers. (Ages 12 & up)


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Red Cell insider A LOOK AT CIA REALITY AND NOVELTY by Marvin Olasky

Mark Henshaw, a Virginia native who grew up amid Civil War ­battlefields, has fought a different kind of war for 15 years: He’s been a Central Intelligence Agency analyst. Since receiving the Director of National Intelligence’s 2007 Galileo Award for innovation in intelligence analysis, he’s been innovating through four novels in which CIA analysts are the heroes (and sometimes villains). His latest, The Last Man in Tehran, came out in late December. Here are edited excerpts of our interview before students at Patrick Henry College, followed by an excerpt from the new novel. How did you join the CIA? In ­graduate school I got both a master’s in international relations and an MBA. I did the international relations because I liked it and the MBA because that was how I would put food on the table. Then I got recruited and ended up working for the agency because of the international relations degree and some other things, and never put the MBA to much use.


That sounds like deliberate usage of the passive: “I got recruited.” Who recruited you? The agency did. The

agency recruits at various schools. Somebody got hold of my published master’s thesis on cybersecurity. Everybody now recognizes cybersecurity as a problem, but in 1998 the agency was just starting to look at it. What kind of basic training does the agency do for everyone? For

everyone it’s surprisingly little, at least at that time. You go in and there’s your weeklong orientation, which is to set up your 401k and those things. Then the different offices have their own ­specialized courses. All analysts at that time took a monthlong “Basic Analytic Tradecraft” course: You learn how to write articles for the president’s daily brief, how to do research. Case officers have a very different kind of training that’s much longer, at a different ­location I can’t talk about.

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Those trained as case officers get training in small-arms use, personal defense, those things we like to see in movies? I can’t talk too much about it,

life of people in the field tends to be probably 95 percent boredom and 5 percent sheer terror, but yes, they get specific training in how to live overseas and how to do certain things covertly and clandestinely. People who go to war zones are the ones who get survival and weapons training. You joined the CIA either at or near the beginning of cyberwarfare. When

I started in 1999, no one agency group was doing that. Little things were scattered throughout. Now it’s become an ­enormous enterprise: The Directorate of Digital Innovation is one of the biggest organizations inside the agency.

other analyst wants to walk into my office and present. I want you to make the other analysts nervous. Did they do that? They did that and for about the next year looked exclusively at terrorism and presented different ideas for how terrorists could do bad things. After a year Director Tenet said, I want you to do this for everything the agency looks at: nuclear proliferation, war in the Middle East, terrorism, cyber whatever—do the whole thing. You joined the Red Cell. Did a three-year stint there. It was a ­liberating analytical experience. I

‘On Sept. 10, 2001, if an analyst had come into CIA’s headquarters and said, “Terrorists are going to seize multiple aircraft and fly them into buildings,” you probably would have been laughed out of the room.’ What can you tell us about the current hacking controversies? Nothing. The title of one of your novels: Red Cell. What’s that? The Red Cell is a

real unit inside the agency. It was set up on Sept. 13, 2001. On Sept. 10, 2001, if an analyst had come into CIA’s ­headquarters and said, “Terrorists are going to seize multiple aircraft and fly them into buildings,” you probably would have been laughed out of the room. It was so far outside of everybody’s experience that nobody would have believed it. On Sept. 12 you would have been treated like a prophet. CIA Director George Tenet wanted more prophets? He called

in senior leaders and said, I want to get the loose cannons and the wild ­thinkers in the building together in one room and order them to start thinking way outside the box. It’s not hard to find who the loose cannons are in any organization and put them in one room. Tenet said, I want you to tell me things that no other analyst is telling me. Give me the possibilities that no

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thought if I’m going to write a novel that’s where I want to have it set: It gives you a wide-open field. Should corporations and other government agencies have red cells?

They could all benefit from some kind of unit like that, with people thinking

about possibilities that fall outside of our normal everyday experience—even things that might be considered ­outlandish. We should ask ourselves, “How could that actually happen? What signs are there that this is ­becoming real?” If everybody would get into the practice of doing that, we would find ourselves surprised on the world stage a whole lot less. How many actually do that? Not nearly as many as I would like. A unit like a red cell becomes unpopular very fast because you may spend 20 years studying a subject and becoming the expert on it, then others present a ­scenario on your subject they didn’t clear with you. They ask, “What if this happened?” and you say, “That’s a ­possibility I ruled out a long time ago.” Suddenly they’re presenting to the ­policymaker or to your senior leader, “Well, we didn’t rule it out, and here’s how we think it could happen.” Sets up a clash. You need a senior leader willing to defend, protect, and encourage the red cell. Otherwise the bureaucratic pressures inside the rest of the organization will inevitably try to neuter it or squash it. That’s happened in the CIA. It takes some real vision from the top to create and sustain that kind of a unit, because if you end up with an unsupportive leader, the unit will get marginalized, if not disbanded. A

From The Last Man in Tehran: “An eye for an eye would never give Israel the security Salem wanted her country to have so much. It was too small a nation to just trade blows when it was out­numbered so heavily, and to hit their enemies harder than their ­enemies hit them would just escalate the violence until Israel was destroyed or Tel Aviv used nuclear w ­ eapons, which likely would produce the same result. “What was left? Fear, only, Gavi Ronen said. Israel had to make her enemies afraid to act, and that meant ­striking at the very people who gave the orders to attack and those who carried them out. The people who would pull the trigger must know for a certainty that to strike Israel was to pronounce a death sentence upon their own heads. Is that terrorism? Salem wondered. Perhaps, but she thought there was a difference. If Israel’s enemies buried their guns tomorrow, there would be peace. If Israel put away her guns tomorrow, there would be slaughter in the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and that was the difference.”

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Pastoral Setting, and the toys and storybooks in a child’s bedroom. What unifies the selections is their sharing in what Scott has called the “humanizing and socializing function” of all serious art—namely, the requirement that anyone intent on appreciating it must “slow down.” It would be difficult for anyone in a hurry to extract meaning from Scott’s meditative recitations of his poems, their digitally doctored backing tracks, or the levels on which the two reinforce each other on Cross My Heat. “Art that asks you to slow down,” says Scott, “and to think about what you’re listening to or looking at is an important way of opening up a conversation.” Conversations are one reason that Scott considers the Fourth Gospel relevant to Christian art. “There are,” he

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“Not that you’re asking,” says Steve Scott, digressing from a ­discussion of his new album, Cross My Heat (Harding Street Assembly Lab), “but if someone was to ask me, ‘What is the best book about Christian art?’ I would say, ‘Start with the Gospel of John.’” Scott knows whereof he speaks. A Christian since the late 1960s and a poet, essayist, lecturer, visual artist, and singer-songwriter to boot, he has long been fascinated by the intersections of art, faith, and culture, intersections that have in turn informed his work. Cross My Heat, his fourth spokenword-atop-looped-sounds album and 10th altogether, is no exception. Its nine tracks draw on sources as diverse as the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Roger Grainger’s book Watching for Wings: Theology and Mental Illness in a


says, “several instances that call for a slower, more in-depth reading,” instances such as Jesus’ conversations with the woman at the well, with the lame pessimist at the Bethesda pool, and with the man born blind “that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” These conversations play no direct role in Cross My Heat, but ­something of their spirit—of their ­willingness to engage honest truth seekers—permeates the album. There is one direct reference to an instance from John’s Gospel. It occurs in “The Altar at Isenheim,” a track that at 11½ minutes requires more slowing down than any other Cross My Heat cut. In it, Scott assumes the voice of a 16th-century monk at the Isenheim Monastery of St. Anthony, guiding ­sufferers from the disease commonly referred to as St. Anthony’s fire in an examination of the Matthias Grünewald masterpiece commonly referred to as the Isenheim Altarpiece. The central panel depicts John ­comforting Jesus’ mother at the foot of the cross. John’s Gospel also plays an indirect role in “Lilias,” Scott’s tribute to the painter Lilias Trotter, who in 1888 at the age of 34 left her native England to begin 40 years of missionary work among Algeria’s Sufi Muslims. “She ended up writing a book, The Way of the Sevenfold Secret, on Jesus’ ‘I am’ sayings in the Gospel of John that was very much nuanced towards the Sufi inquirer,” says Scott. “So in the first half of the poem I imbed some images and metaphors of Sufi Muslim poets, notably Rumi and Hafez. And in the second half, I draw more upon the things that Lilias herself put in her prayer letters and her books on the spiritual life.” Things, of course, best appreciated slowly. “When I was in the Unterlinden Museum with the Isenheim Altarpiece, I spent hours each day in front of ­individual panels,” says Scott. “But I still feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface of that tremendous piece of work.” A

NEW OR RECENT RELEASES reviewed by Arsenio Orteza BRAND NEW CAGE Wild Billy Childish & CTMF Under one guise or another, Billy Childish has been raising a punk ruckus for over 30 years. But he has seldom sounded more faithful to the Spirit of ’77 than he does on the 10 of these dozen grittily recorded songs atop which he rants (about his “conflicted mind,” about his having been “into ‘in’ before ‘in’ was ‘out,’” about the short shrift given the doomed Rolling Stone Brian Jones). The other two feature his bassist and wife, Julie, whose girl-group sweetness provides him an ideal foil.

SERVE SOMEBODY Kevin Max The idea on this seven-song EP (eight if you count the bonus mix of “Gotta Serve Somebody”) is to bundle together implicitly, explicitly, or incidentally Christian songs from the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s using a slick, ­hard-pop sound to smooth over the originals’ stylistic ­differences. And for the most part the idea works. Max doesn’t add anything to “Pride (In the Name of Love).” But his marking of the 20th anniversary of Rich Mullins’ death by recording “Creed”—and by recording it so vibrantly—is perfect.

VERSATILE Van Morrison Morrison’s previous album came out in September, and he’s releasing a live DVD in February. Yet this collection of Gershwin-bookended standards (with a few reworked originals) from the days before rock ’n’ roll feels like more than a quickie. Or, rather, it feels like the best kind of quickie. Unlike his pal Bob Dylan, Morrison swings and sways, whether vocally or on sax, as if to the necessary mannerisms born. And, judging by the new original “Take It Easy Baby,” he can write that way too.

SONGS OF EXPERIENCE U2 “It’s not a place,” sings Bono in “American Soul.” “This country is to me a thought / that offers grace / for every welcome that is sought.” One can’t help wondering whether he feels the same about his own property STEPHANIE CARBRAL

and, if he does, why he hasn’t published his address and left his doors unlocked. At any rate, his version of Manifest Destiny is as sentimentally vainglorious as any other kind. It’s surely no coincidence that he’s at his catchiest (“The Showman [Little More Better]”) when not laboring under misapprehensions. To see more music news and reviews, go to

ENCORE Seventeen years after their last release, the Houston heavy-metal heroes Galactic Cowboys have returned with a vengeance. Most of the songs on their hooky new album, Long Way Back to the Moon (Music Theories/Mascot), eviscerate sacred cows, such as the power of positive thinking in “Next Joke,” the power of negative thinking in “Drama,” and the seductiveness of conformity, whether dystopian (“Zombies,” “Hate Me,” “Agenda,” “Say Goodbye to Utopia”) or run of the mill (“Believing the Hype”). And each song is undergirded by Monty Colvin’s bass slabs, ­buttressed by Dane Sonnier’s thunderous guitars, and overlaid with the band’s pop-tight vocal harmonies. But there’s another kind of song as well—specifically, “Amisarewas,” a mash-up of forms of the verb “to be” that Bible scholars will recognize as an approximation of the name of God. It begins with lead singer Ben Huggins wondering where to find “the treasury of knowledge [and] reason.” It ends with him repeating “Thy will be done.” —A.O. February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 27


Mindy Belz

Not just noise


28 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018

Our ­president, with his tweeted and spoken words, has embarrassed and diminished the nation’s highest office.

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God works contrary to means, the Protestant Reformers liked to say. Of course He can use means—the missionary preaches and the pagan converts. He can work without means—parting the Red Sea, shutting the mouths of lions. But those of us who trust Him fully depend on this: God works contrary to means—raising Christ from the dead, turning sinners into saints. But it seems to me such contrariness should be left up to God, not deployed as a tool of statecraft. Our president, with his tweeted and spoken words, has embarrassed and diminished the nation’s highest office. He has done so ­particularly on matters of foreign policy, ­drawing international scorn high and low. Those who defend him in the midst of these escapades seem to be counting on his ­contrariness, or God’s, to triumph in the end. Who knows but that the juvenile tweet about the size of nuclear buttons didn’t force the juvenile Kim Jong Un to have someone phone the South Koreans and ask for direct talks—something that hasn’t happened in decades? That “taking names” at the UN will bring a turnaround in its stance toward Israel? Or that slams on would-be immigrants from the poorest nations will make a few real rapists and terrorists think twice before swimming the Rio Grande? We shouldn’t kid ourselves that this will end well. Possibly it might, but normal causeand-effect in life under the sun suggests it won’t, even as stalwarts like evangelical adviser Johnnie Moore claim, as he did recently, “For me, it’s all noise.” Beneath the noise and the “wins” Trump’s supporters like to tally to defend his record is a trembling and tottering ship of state and a growing global resentment. Why, for instance, in the very moment Ambassador Nikki Haley called for an emergency


UN session, declaring Iran “on notice” for its crackdown on street protesters, was the United States leaving in limbo 100 Iranian Christian refugees? These are not migrants, they are ­refugees who reportedly face persecution, were approved by the UN, vetted by the Department of Homeland Security, and invited to apply for asylum under the United States’ Lautenberg Amendment. They gave up property and ­possessions, and one year later are stuck in Vienna, where, reportedly, the United States is working to resettle them in other countries. State Department officials did not answer my inquiries, and it’s a story we will continue to follow. In the meantime, people I talk to in Washington, including ­longtime experts on foreign ­policy, human rights lawyers, people who have done the hard work of seeking public justice and crafting legislation, who have survived three, four, even five administrations, sound now when I talk to them … tight. Like someone has them by the neck. Maybe things will turn out, but they’re constrained and unsure, almost fearful. They are hoping Trump works contrary to means. Possibly when the dust has cleared and the volleys die down over which vulgarity Trump actually used to describe Africans and Haitians (because he didn’t deny the sentiment, only the terms in which it was expressed), we will ­actually have immigration legislation. Columnist Daniel Henninger noted of White House ­meetings with lawmakers, “They looked like politicians doing real work.” And truly if you watched the footage, it was so surprising it was worth noting. But that was before the president seemed to backtrack and before Trump’s “s--hole” comment took center stage. Immigration lobbyist Dan Stein perhaps summed up best the feeling that’s forming around this White House: “There might be some brilliance that transcends my understanding,” he told The Weekly Standard. “It’d be fun to watch, if you didn’t feel like you were getting screwed.” It’s part of an emerging pattern: a president who can’t be anything but center stage, the one it all hinges on. Call his policies right or wrong, he seems simply not to accept the United States as a nation ruled by laws, not by man. But that’s how we’ve survived thus far, and why with that and the contrary means of God we may again. A

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Financial errors, insider dealings, and theological concerns force a change at an evangelical powerhouse BY PAUL BUTLER & MARVIN OLASKY photos by Alex Garcia/Genesis February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 31


32 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018



In 2017, a talk show host on the Moody Radio Network blows the whistle on the leadership of one of American evangelicalism’s flagship institutions, the Moody Bible Institute (MBI). On Jan. 9, 2018, she escalates the pressure with a hardhitting headline on her blog: “A Luxury Suite, Questionable Loan to Officer, & Gambling: The Disturbing Truth About Leadership at MBI.” Moody within hours fires her and sends a man to her house to seize her laptop—but she is on her way to Mexico, with the computer. The next day, though, Moody’s board of trustees meets and decides it’s time for “a new season of leadership.” President Paul Nyquist and COO Steve Mogck resign. Provost Junias Venugopal retires. And whistleblower Julie Roys reports the board’s action. She tells WORLD she’s “grieved over what’s happened” to MBI, glad about the resignations and retirement, but convinced that “unless there are changes at the board level, the Institute will be in the exact same place 5-10 years from now.”

dents we still give priority to,” said James Spencer, vice president and dean of Moody’s undergraduate school. Today, though, many young Christians look to secular careers and speak of ministering informally within their professions. Professors are a college’s front line. Facing the enrollment downturn, President Nyquist last December announced a layoff of “about 10 percent of Moody Global Ministries personnel.” But the ­faculty was disproportionately hardhit: 34 of MBI’s 112 full-time faculty members, almost one-third, learned their contracts would not be renewed. (MBI does not give professors tenure.) “Education is certainly about the faculty,” Spencer acknowledged, so Nyquist’s attempt to minimize the extent of the body count by saying “10 percent” did not go over well. Professors in music, sports ministry, and Bible/theology were hit hard. That decision did not satisfy alumni such as Todd and Andria So, even though the saga is not Alexander, both graduates of the over, the Moody board’s action is music program 13 and 11 years ago. still a man-bites-dog story within Their letters to every Moody trustee the usually slow-moving world of stated, “We were devastated to hear higher education. As the news about the evisceration of the Sacred spread, Christian leaders asked Music Department by the present questions: What are MBI’s problems? administration.” Three of the trustees What forced the hand of the board, responded to their letters but did and where does Moody go from not placate the Alexanders and other here? Is the drama likely to be alums who believed “the present repeated at other institutions as administration is making cuts in the financial and theological pressures wrong places.” grow? WORLD had been investigatMoody’s decision to slash faculty ing MBI during the weeks before the but leave untouched the number of board decision, and we have some executives at the vice presidential findings to report. level or above—19—also did not sit well. WORLD examined 15 leading olleges live or die on student Christian colleges and saw Moody enrollment. From listed almost twice as many 2012 to 2017, the executives as Cedarville, the number of students applyChristian college in that ing to MBI fell from group with the second 1,316 to 947—a 28 perlargest number—10. cent drop. MBI for Moody differs from more than a century other educational has emphasized theoenterprises by having logical education for big publishing and students who desire to broadcast divisions, but enter full-time vocational subtracting the three Nyquist ministry: “Those are the stu­executives in charge of those


leaves Moody still looking top-heavy. Diminishing the faculty was also unpopular in the context of a $24 million price tag for the Chapman Center, a global media center. A donation from author/marriage counselor Gary Chapman—Moody would not say how large it was— started the project, but the building is still $8.2 million underfunded. Brian Regnerus, Moody’s director of strategic communications, said the building “isn’t an education project, it’s a joint venture between publishing and broadcasting.” He says the construction hasn’t drawn any funds from MBI’s general operating budget, and Moody has not gone into debt to complete the building. True, but fundraising for a capital project made other fundraising harder. Moody contributions declined by $9 million from 2015 to 2016 and another $5 million from 2016 to 2017.

As 34 professors lost their jobs, financial arrangements for the ­college president attracted notice. Moody gave Nyquist in 2009 a $500,000 loan to buy a $1.08 million Chicago condo—and according to Moody’s IRS report filed on Nov. 1, 2017, he had paid back none of the principal. Nyquist received more than $1 million in compensation during the three years from 2014 through 2016. Another past decision also haunts the present: In 2006, MBI Spokane in Washington state officially became a branch campus for overflow students who couldn’t make it into the downtown Chicago campus. It might have seemed like a moneymaker, since the Spokane students paid tuition, unlike students in Chicago who pay for their room and board but not their classes. Five years ago, though, Spokane enrollment numbers began notably

Work continues on the Chapman Center.

decreasing, and the Spokane campus became a money pit rather than a revenue producer. Late last year, the Moody administration decided to shut down its Spokane satellite as of the end of this term, except for its missionary aviation program. One charge of poor financial stewardship may not be valid. Joseph Stowell was Moody president from 1987 to 2005, and during that time he offered novelist and major donor Jerry Jenkins use of an apartment when Jenkins was in Chicago on Moody business. Visiting speakers and other guests also stayed there. Jenkins told WORLD of “a handful of occasions when, with permission, we were allowed to use the apartment when not specifically on Moody business.” After an anonymous complaint led to an investigation of such

February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 33

usage, Jenkins, who chaired the Moody board for several years, reimbursed Moody for that use. He says he “at least doubled” the amount charged other departments when guests stayed there and “stopped using the place at all, just to avoid leaving any wrong impressions.” Alongside the financial ­concerns sit theological ones, although those are harder to pin down. Roys charged administrators were allowing professors who deny the inerrancy of Scripture to teach and write curriculum. Richard Weber, one of the 34 professors whose contract was not renewed, has documented some theological drift, but he did not make his account available to WORLD. Moody VP and ­theology professor Bryan O’Neal said any claims that MBI allows faculty members to abandon Biblical ­inerrancy are “false. All of our faculty affirm inerrancy annually when they sign their annual contract. It’s explicit. … There is no drift. It is

The MBI campus in Spokane, Wash.

s­ tudents to realize “that we all walk into situations with advantages and disadvantages, and some of them are overcomeable, some are not, some we don’t have any say in.”

board’s decision WORLD made one more attempt to learn the identity of Broken Twig and received this response: “This is Julie’s moment not ours. Really it’s God’s, we did nothing more [than] we were asked of by Him. Like Gideon we were cowards until the Lord pressed us

‘There’s a hole in the ship. … I’d prefer you patch it, but if you’re no

34 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018


BI tensions grew last year as five faculty members on a Faculty Concerns Committee investigated and collated specific complaints against Provost Venugopal, who insisted the committee was out of line and Moody’s Human Resources department should have handled the complaints. Venugopal agreed to have a special faculty meeting to respond to some of the concerns, but he offered prepared comments at the meeting and then closed it without answering new questions. An anonymous individual or group, under the name Broken Twig, began posting online concerns about ineffectual leadership, theological drift, and alleged wrongdoing. Some alumni wrote letters. Following the

into service. We had a torch and a horn, we blew our horns to get the attention, flashed our torches—God fought this fight. That is enough.” The Julie referred to is Julie Roys, whose weekend show, Up for Debate, played on 145 stations until Moody fired her on Jan. 10. Asked about her firing, spokesman Regnerus wrote, “Moody does not disclose, comment on, or discuss private matters pertaining to Institute personnel.” But others were certainly commenting: Firing a person who complained about an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, and retaliation at Moody made many believe she had a point. Roys had long planned a January vacation in Cancún, Mexico, with her two grown sons and teenage daughter.


always possible that an individual within an institution does drift or lean, and then that has to be examined and corrected.” Complaints about political liberalism have also emerged. Students speak of a professor arguing that abortion should be legal and Planned Parenthood should continue to receive funding. A recent graduate wrote of attempts to shame white students or conservatives. In one class, associate professor Clive Craigen acknowledges having students throw wads of paper into a trash can at the front from wherever they were sitting. He then spoke about “white privilege,” with students in front privileged over those near the back of the classroom. Craigen told WORLD he wants

(Work forced her husband, a teacher, to remain in balmy Chicago.) She was en route and without an internet ­connection when an email from Moody Senior Vice President Greg Thornton—he is now interim president—arrived in her inbox: “Moody leadership is terminating your employment, effective immediately. You will be paid for any hours worked and reported through today. Dan Craig will pick up your laptop, ID, fob, P-Card, and any other Moody property you have this afternoon between 2:30-3 pm at your home.” Craig did not pick up the laptop: It and Roys were in Mexico when she read that message. She had already saved her files on a flash drive and an external hard drive, and one of her sons is buying her a new computer: She will return Moody’s computer, undoubtedly wiped clean, when she comes back to Chicago. Roys says she has lots of material she has not yet disclosed, and she made it clear to the trustees that if they did not take action she would go public with it. In Mexico she characterized to WORLD her message as, “There’s a hole in the

Moody’s officers will have a freeze in pay.” Alumni are reflecting on the changes. Nancy Hastings, who heads the Moody Alumni Association, was “surprised actually, dazed maybe, real surprise.” She fielded emails on the day after the board announced its decision: “Some have been sad, others feeling justified, while some are dumbfounded—not knowing anything about the recent accusations.” Many alumni say they’re praying for the institute, in the understanding that “God’s always been faithful, I know He’s in control.” Interim President Thornton told WORLD, “There is still sorrow in saying goodbye and seeing empty offices. These are dear friends and colleagues, and good and godly men, and we’ve shed tears together.” He said, “There has been no wavering on the doctrinal commitment.” Interim Provost John Jelinek said it’s not helpful to argue point by point about recent allegations of a “liberal shift” at MBI: “We want to respond positively to it.” Thornton was unwilling to discuss the firing of Julie Roys.

choices. Online education is increasingly popular. So is attending community colleges for two years before heading away to college for the last two. Some state-funded colleges that were cheap now pose even more of a challenge: They’re free. WORLD compared Moody financial statements and IRS 990 forms with those of 15 other Christian ­colleges—and learned that MBI is not an outlier. Other schools face financial challenges like Moody’s. Despite its large number of vice presidents, Moody is not at the top concerning executive compensation as a percentage of total expenses. During fat years many colleges drift toward adding executives and overspending on buildings. On theological drift, MBI’s O’Neal is right to say even “little things are important.” The particulars of the definition of Biblical ­inerrancy are crucial to getting many other things right. Meanings of words must be fought for and guarded, not just to keep a ship afloat but to have it heading in the right direction.


ot going to do it, I’ll warn the people to get their luggage off.’ —Roys ship. … I’d prefer you patch it, but if you’re not going to do it, I’ll warn the people to get their luggage off.” The trustees, in pushing changes at the top, are evidently interested in patching, but Roys says the patches are bigger than the board might want: “There has to be change in the board. They’re the ones who were in charge. They need to take responsibility.” Moody leaders will hear more public comment from alumni, faculty, students, and donors. They will speak of improving communication and transparency. Spokesman Regnerus said the executive team has already “decided that

  @WORLD_mag



hat should other Christian colleges take away from Moody’s experience? First, an awareness of hard times coming. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the available student population heading to college is shrinking, and has been for five straight years—down more than 80,000 just from 2016 to 2017. The study predicts the number of highschool graduates over the next decade to plummet. Students who once would have attended Christian colleges rather than less expensive secular ones now have three other

Theological drift at MBI, if it’s there, is not more pronounced than that at many other Christian colleges. For example, MBI does not appear to have fallen for “theistic evolution,” a well-funded attempt to sprinkle some God-talk over Darwin’s theories and then conclude that Biblical accounts are not historical. Some Christian parents have learned that campus visits should include hard questioning in faculty offices as well as soft-serve ice cream in gleaming dining halls. Moody apparently has made ­mistakes, but its problems are not unique. The lesson for other colleges may be what Jesus offered in Luke 13 concerning the fatal fall of a tower in Siloam: Don’t think you’re better than others, because “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” A

February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 35


Signals of


A student at a protest at Tehran University covers her face as anti-riot Iranian police throw a smoke grenade. ASSOCIATED PRESS

February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 37

I Shariat in the Iran Alive studios

t’s noon in Dallas and 8:30 in the ­evening in Tehran when Hormoz Shariat, founder of satellite television’s Iran Alive Ministries, steps to the camera to begin the station’s daily live satellite broadcast. The 62-year-old Iranian-American pastor, wearing rimless glasses and a suit and tie, strikes a friendly posture whether he is preaching to a large studio audience or seated in comfortable chairs with his co-hosts. But he takes the one-hour live show very seriously: With a prime-time slot beamed from Texas into the Islamic republic, Iran Alive’s Christian programming has an estimated audience of 6 million people. That’s nearly 8 percent of Iran’s population of 80 million, the overwhelming majority of whom are Muslims. Whether Iran has 2 million Christians—an estimate Shariat believes is not inflated—or closer to 500,000, as some experts claim, “that’s a lot of Muslims watching us,” he concedes. In addition to Iran Alive, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) has Persian-language programming in the Middle East, and Cyprusbased SAT-7 PARS also carries round-the-clock Persian-language Christian shows. The reach of Christian programming in Iran dwarfs other broadcasts and has taken on added importance after protesters launched widespread

demonstrations against the government in late December that plunged the country into political crisis. Voice of America’s Persian service via ­television and web, for example, reaches about 1 million Iranians daily, though its numbers have grown during the crisis. With communication for both insiders and outsiders proving key to assessing what’s happening and to preserving individual rights, Shariat and other Christian programmers have a unique window on Iran and a long-standing affinity for those who face persecution and harassment there, whether for their politics or their religion. “Inside Iran church buildings have been closed, house churches get into trouble, and the majority of Iran’s Christians have no church they can physically attend,” said Shariat. “We are their church.” Alongside Iran Alive’s 24/7 programming are 24/7 phone-in lines and website chat spaces where staff members receive prayer requests and other information from mostly Iranian viewers. In the past six months, Shariat said, calls focusing on the economic situation have dramatically increased, as prices for milk, bread, cheese, and eggs skyrocketed. Many said they had cut meat consumption to once a month, or not at all. One viewer called to ask for financial help, saying she and her husband were so desperate they had ­considered selling their infant to human traffickers.


38 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018



ranians expected their economic woes to ease following the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and several world powers, including the United States. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action called for the ­lifting of economic sanctions against the regime in exchange for Iran limiting uranium enrichment at its two nuclear facilities to nonmilitary purposes and making the facilities subject to international inspections. With the lifting of sanctions, middle- and lower-class Iranians watched inflation and their own costs of living continue to climb, along with unemployment. Yet government jobs and luxury items proliferated among the country’s ruling clergy class. “There are more Maseratis on the streets of Tehran than in Beverly Hills,” said Shariat, “and the ones driving them are children of the country’s mullahs.” A 2017 spike in prices coincided with defaults by investment firms. The first call to protest came from an accountant at a saffron import company in the northeastern city of Mashhad who learned his savings disappeared when an investment firm went bankrupt. “We lost all our fortune and no one cares,” the accountant told The Wall Street Journal. The gathering discontent coincided with President Hassan Rouhani’s decision to release to the public his proposed government budget, an unusual move some believe Rouhani, a so-called moderate, possibly hoped would embarrass the country’s ruling ayatollahs. The budget showed millions of dollars going to Islamic religious ­foundations and clerics’ offices, while cash ­subsidies to the poor were cut. Additionally, it showed the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps receiving $8 billion—a huge sum in a country weary of Iran’s military incursions in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. The purpose of the Revolutionary Guard, directly controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is to defend the Islamic regime from internal and external threats. Its Basij militia, essentially a domestic paramilitary force, brutally cracked down on 2009 demonstrations. The Quds Force has played a strategic role in propping Iraqi and Syrian militaries in their fights against ISIS. At the same time, the Revolutionary Guard is Iran’s primary link to terrorist proxies—Hamas in Sinai and Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria— and in charge of exporting Iran’s Islamic ideology, and its jihadist revolution, worldwide. After the accountant from Mashhad sent a group message via Telegram, an encrypted ­smartphone app, protests that began in the city on Dec. 28 quickly spread elsewhere. In under a week, tens of thousands of Iranians clogged streets in more than 80 cities, including Tehran,

and nearly every one of the country’s 31 provinces. Their shouts of “Death to Rouhani!” morphed into “Death to Khamenei!” in a country where criticizing the ayatollahs can be a capital crime. Police hauled water cannons to disperse the crowds, and Basij militiamen arrived on motor­ cycles to beat them, but the protesters remained indignant, ripping down and burning banners dedicated to Khamenei as they shut down streets.

In Tehran, police arrested 200 protesters in one day. The authorities blocked internet access and social media sites, depriving millions of Iranians of the one place where they could escape repression, their one means of connection with one another and the outside world (see sidebar). Local residents made a cottage industry out of bypassing the censorship—posting raw footage online via VPNs, or virtual private networks, accessed through India and elsewhere. Even with Telegram and other messaging apps cut off, Iranians used VPNs to access them. News portals outside the country also solicited man-on-thestreet reports via Telegram, then posted them on Instagram or elsewhere, keeping word of the uprisings alive. One video, posted Jan. 1, showed security forces firing directly on protesters in the city of Esfahán, killing five demonstrators. Long after international coverage subsided, Iranians were posting clips showing wall-to-wall protesters in some cities late into the night, defiantly raising placards and chanting.

Members of the Basij militia march in a military parade in front of a shrine of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini; Rouhani (below).


s Iran’s most widespread protests in years continued, in Dallas the Iran Alive team decided to add additional programming, including another live broadcast at 10:00 each night. They knew they risked censorship, too, with jamming towers in Tehran often breaking up satellite TV signals. But steady viewer feedback confirmed the shows were getting through. Broadcasters have learned to rerun programs outside of prime times, when jammers are down, February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 39

“Arrest in Iran means no family is contacted, no charges are brought, no report is made of whether they are alive or not,” said Shariat. With footage of those protesting outside Evin Prison, the notorious political detention center in Tehran, broadcasters on-air prayed by name for those who had been arrested, and for families whose loved ones had disappeared. Born in Tehran, Shariat was a Muslim who trained as a research scientist, immigrated to the United States after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and studied for his Ph.D. 1 in computer engineering at the University of Southern California. Back under Iran’s new Islamic republic, authorities arrested his brother Hamraz on a political charge, and in 1983 executed him by firing squad. Shariat began reading the Bible after his brother’s death, searching for another way than Islam. A Guatemalan janitor who barely spoke English invited him and his wife to church, and the two became Christians. In 1987 Shariat started a church in San Jose, Calif., and 10 years later began doing televangelism with a 30-minute local cable show. His focus always was on Muslims, he said, and it was only a matter of time before the pastor turned his attention again to Iran and the idea of a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week satellite channel broadcasting in Farsi. The 9/11 attacks made the idea more urgent, and in late 2001 he launched Iran Alive, gradually building to round-the-clock programming beamed to Iran


and they bypass filters for online streaming by sending out new links to programs every day. The late-night segments, said Shariat, were a way to review the events of the day in Iran and air lessons in how Christians could respond. “Most do not know their role because they are new Christians,” he explained. “We want to guide them in how to look at these events from God’s perspective.” The January programs emphasized suffering with those who suffer and bringing Christian hope. They did not warn Christians away from protesting, but did counsel them not to participate in calls of “Death to …” government officials. The shows haven’t shied away from showing the ­brutality in the streets. More than 4,000 people were arrested (though hundreds were reportedly released in mid-January) and at least 20 were killed, including three who died in prisons. 2 `

40 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018

3 `


(1) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaking in Tehran. He accused the United States, Israel, and an exiled opposition group of planning anti-government demonstrations. (2) Iranian Christians worship at the Saint Joseph ChaldeanAssyrian Church in Tehran. (3) Persian language Bibles published by Elam Ministries.

and the Middle East. The channel also reaches the United States, Canada, and Europe. Christian broadcasting is one of three leading ways Iran in the last decade has become host to the fastest-growing evangelical Christian ­population in the world, said David Yeghnazar, executive director of Elam Ministries, a U.S.- and U.K.-based outreach mission to Iranians started by his father, Sam. Besides television, Bible distribution and ­one-to-one evangelism contribute to growth that Yeghnazar says continues to be “dramatic” despite the obstacles against it. Iran regularly jails Christian converts and church leaders and in recent years has moved against not only unofficial underground churches but those officially ­recognized by the government, including Armenian and Orthodox sites. Even though Bibles are banned, Elam has printed and distributed in Iran 2 million New Testaments. “This is a very courageous church that’s been willing to take the risk of sharing their faith, evangelizing and telling people about Jesus,” Yeghnazar said. Yeghnazar, who was born in Tehran, added: “The people have suffered under an Islamic regime for nearly 40 years, and they have seen the true face of their religion. Many have become deeply disillusioned and are hungry for spiritual truth and looking for alternatives.”



everal factors made this round of ­demonstrations difficult to sustain. The movement had no clear demands and no prominent leadership. And thanks to a government crackdown and internet shutdown, it had little room to continue and expand. Iranians, particularly in Tehran, have seen previous uprisings end in brutality and are perhaps more cautious about joining protest movements. Plus, the region is wary of using the street to bring change: Arab Spring protests mostly have led to harsher governments and more restrictions, and the protests launched in Syria helped to spark a seven-year civil war that has killed nearly half a million residents. But just because the demonstrations may not have gone anywhere doesn’t mean they are ­useless. “We are gaining in maturity,” said Shariat. “We are learning the political game in Iran doesn’t work anymore. Bringing moderates in, as with Rouhani, doesn’t work. People are aware it doesn’t matter if you have a moderate in office; the regime is the same.” The regime, many believe, may be weakening as its clerics age. Khamenei, who has been supreme leader since 1989, is 78 years old. President Rouhani, widely believed to have helped bring on protests, may be on his way out, and Khamenei appears weakened as well. Democracy, though, is far from the obvious next

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step, and one likely scenario will be a police state run by the Revolutionary Guards. Organized opposition in Iran and among its millions of exiles is a reality that endures, and the widespread movement of the past month has ­disappeared only on the surface. “It will continue in the hearts of the people,” said Shariat. “The divide between the government and the people is larger than ever, and it is not going away. People are still hurting.” Despite 40 years of harsh Islamic rule in Iran, Shariat believes Islam in Iran already is defeated: “I strongly feel it will never be an Islamic nation again. The rejection of Islamic rule by the people of Iran is so wide and deep, and it is not going away.” A

An Iranian woman uses her mobile phone in front of hundreds of thousands of Iranians protesting the result of the election at a rally in Tehran, Iran, on June 15, 2009.


At the height of street protests in Iran in 2009, a 27-year-old U.S. State Department official named Jared Cohen took a bold step toward ­preserving Iranians’ rights: He emailed Twitter. The social networking website was only 3 years old but was revolutionizing the way democracy activists carried out an uprising. When Cohen learned that Twitter planned to take its site down for scheduled maintenance, he asked the company to delay for the sake of Iranian protesters. With 2018 protests the biggest since 2009, Iran has 48 million smartphone users out of a population of 80 million. Social media apps and ways to access them have proliferated, but so have authoritarians’ means of shutting them down. Already YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are banned officially, but during the recent demonstrations authorities also moved quickly to block Telegram, a messaging app, and Instagram, the photo-sharing app. They slowed internet service or cut it off ­intermittently, forcing Iranians to hunt down virtual private networks often located in other countries. Experts say U.S. technology companies and Washington could do more to aid protest movements. In Iran some U.S. companies have ­curtailed their services over fear of violating U.S. sanctions, and the Treasury Department hasn’t issued clear guidance in some cases. According to a Jan. 12 report in Wired magazine, Google has blocked Iranian access to its App Engine, a service needed to run encrypted messaging apps like Signal. Writing in The Washington Post, analyst Michael Singh said, “Tech execs should take their cue from Cohen but go further, seeking to ­provide platforms outside Iran for dissidents to speak out and supply accurate information to those inside Iran about both the protests and the costs of the regime’s policies.” –M.B.

February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 41



The Gladney Center for Adoption has—very quietly —accepted the application of a same-sex couple, betraying the trust of many Christian supporters



The Gladney Center for Adoption in Fort Worth, Texas

ne of America’s leading ­adoption institutions is violating the trust of its Christian ­supporters by hopping on the LGBT bandwagon. Officers of the Gladney Center for Adoption have told its board of directors and staff that they are now accepting homosexual parents as clients but have held off making a public announcement. Gladney is changing even though it faces no legal pressure to do so. Last May the Texas ­Legislature passed conscience protection ­legislation that explicitly allows adoption ­agencies to choose not to provide services to ­clients whose lifestyles violate an agency’s beliefs. Troy Cumings, a Bethany Christian Services board member who helped author the new Texas law, says it protects all Texas child welfare services providers. Gladney President Frank Garrott informed the board on Oct. 16 that he and his staff would ­process the application of a homosexual couple, marking a first for the 130-year-old agency. Because Gladney did not have a policy stating that it would work only with heterosexual clients, a board vote was not necessary. The board could have overruled Garrott, but did not. David Simpson, an adoptive father, resigned from Gladney’s board of directors following Garrott’s announcement and the board’s ­acquiescence. “I believe in the work Gladney is doing,” he said, “but I can’t serve on the board of an organization that doesn’t reflect Biblical ­values.” At least three Gladney employees—chief financial officer Scott Brown and legal assistants February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 43

Sherri Davison and Karrie Keller—also disagreed with the decision and resigned. Simpson said Garrott and Board Chairman Christopher Dezzi had been pushing to open the agency’s doors to homosexuals for at least two years, but he was still unsure as to the reason for the move: “A lot of Gladney’s budget comes from donations, on top of adoption expenses. I talked to Frank and I said, ‘There are so many more cons to this than pros, why are you doing it?’ and he never gave me an answer beyond, ‘Well, we just feel like this is the right thing to do.’” Garrott and Dezzi did not respond to WORLD’s repeated inquiries. Simpson said the decision was not necessary to gain homes for babies who would otherwise enter foster care: There is “no shortage of ­adoptive parents” in the Gladney pipeline, and birth moms typically want mother-and-father homes for their unborn babies. The decision raises plenty of questions: Why would an adoption agency esteemed within Christian circles for its support of birth mothers voluntarily decide to place children with ­homosexual parents? Was some outside group applying pressure to the agency? Was the move financially motivated?


44 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018

Former Gladney board member David Simpson and his wife at an orphanage in Ethiopia


ladney’s decision is likely to alienate agency stakeholders, including pregnancy resource centers (PRCs), donors, and adoptive parents. Mary Jayne Fogerty, executive director of Thrive Women’s Clinic in Dallas, recalls Garrott asking her ­several years ago how her group would respond if Gladney began serving same-sex couples: “I told him we wouldn’t be able to refer to Gladney. We don’t feel like that’s in the best interest of the child. To have a mother and father would be a ­better choice.” She’s troubled that Gladney did not tell her about the change, saying this is “information we need to know.” Thrive Women’s Clinic gives expectant mothers referrals to three agencies, and the mother chooses her course of action. Now, Fogerty says, Gladney referrals will be off the table at Thrive—and likely at other PRCs as well: “I can’t see Christian pregnancy centers—and that’s going to be most of them—making referrals to Gladney anymore, once they learn about this. Our world has become desensitized to same-sex marriage,


but this goes against the Bible and against our beliefs.” Kyleen Wright, president of Texans for Life, says Gladney once relied on print advertisements to recruit birth mothers but has cultivated ­relationships with PRCs over the past two decades, encouraging the pregnancy centers to recommend Gladney for expectant mothers who choose adoption: “It’s been a critical partnership for both Gladney and the [PRCs]—but these ­pregnancy centers are faith-based and aligned with evangelical or traditional Catholic churches.” Lifeline Children’s Services, an orphan care and adoption outlet with a strong presence in the Southeast, was recently licensed to operate in Texas. Herbie Newell, Lifeline’s president and executive director, said he has received several phone calls from North Texas agencies that have gotten wind of the changes at Gladney and no longer can refer clients to Gladney in good conscience. Zac and Whitney Thompson, a Fort Worth couple, began their adoption through Gladney in July 2017. Now, $35,000 into the process, they are facing a crisis of conscience: “We’re actively mourning [Gladney’s decision] personally by asking, ‘What do we do? Are we supposed to change adoption agencies? … Gladney currently holds the key to the door that our baby is behind. And that is the hardest thing. We are not willing to run

organization that provides adoption resources to churches, said the change goes with a flow of eroding values: “There’s a pervasive c­ onflict in our culture that is playing out on many playing fields, and one of them is among fatherless children.” Personal connections ­apparently played a role. Garrott’s younger son, Sam, has been openly gay for several years and describes himself on social media as an “aspiring activist.” Two or more witnesses ­independently told me that Garrott told employees the change meant gay people—like his son—would be able to adopt from a leading agency and that the homosexual couple now in the Gladney pipeline came to Gladney as a referral from Board Chairman Christopher Dezzi. Gladney has tried to keep its decision secret. An employee who resigned in October says Garrott first told her she could stay on through the end of the year. But after a co-worker overheard the woman talking to a colleague outside of Gladney about the decision to serve same-sex ­clientele, Gladney’s human resources department became involved. Because she had told the agency’s outside legal counsel about the change, she said HR gave her two options: be escorted out of the building that day or leave more than a month before her previously agreed-upon final workday. Garrott did not return calls asking about that accusation of reneging. The ex-employee— WORLD gave her anonymity since involvement in controversy would drastically affect her getting a job in Fort Worth’s tightly knit social services community—noted about Gladney’s leaders: “They had their own way they wanted to talk about this to the world. They said this first couple, it’s two men, and it’s kind of like our charter case. They want to get through this one, figure out the loopholes, and see how it’s going to work.” Garrott in December resigned from Gladney, saying the decision was his and it was “time to move on to the next chapter of my life.” Former Chief Operating Officer Mark Melson is stepping in as president and CEO: Several former insiders, including board member Simpson, expect him to continue the new policy. Meanwhile, some birth moms, prospective adoptive parents, volunteers, PRC leaders, and donors continue to contribute to Gladney in ­various ways, unaware of its new course. A


Zac and Whitney Thompson and their biological children

away from that child or abandon the child that is behind those doors.” Zeb Pent, a former Gladney donor and ­spokesman for the conservative watchdog group Stand for Fort Worth, said, “For more than a ­century, Gladney has been known as a refuge of true compassion in our city. This needless attempt to redefine compassion violates the trust of the community that built it and the vulnerable children entrusted to it.” Though started by a Methodist minister in 1887, Gladney is not a Christian agency. Still, much of its funding comes from Christian groups and individuals, due to the agency’s support of birth mothers both before and after the birth of a child. Gladney may expect to receive more ­financial support from gay interests, but Gladney’s core donor base of evangelical ­conservatives is likely to drop off. None of Gladney’s leaders returned multiple WORLD phone calls, but Jennifer Lanter, Gladney’s vice president of communications, did send a written message citing the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision in defense of its move to serve same-sex couples: “Legal rulings involving same-sex marriages and adoptions are going to improve the exhaustive and important matters that affect the thousands of children in state foster care.”


o why did Gladney quietly adopt a new policy? Resigning board member Simpson said most Gladney board ­members do not profess to be Christians, so they are under the influence of a pro-gay culture. Paul Pennington, president of Hope for Orphans, an

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‘Are we supposed to change adoption agencies? … Gladney currently holds the key to the door that our baby is behind.’

—Zac and Whitney Thompson


February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 45


A tale of two

Anita Sarkeesian and Laci Green may seem similar, but interaction with cultural opponents has led them in very different directions by DAVID GREEN AHMANSON PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY KRIEG BARRIE

EDITOR’S NOTE: Allies often share a common ­worldview, but Francis Schaeffer wrote of the need for Christians to gain “co-belligerents,” people of different worldviews who will battle alongside us against ­totalitarian forces. This article will introduce WORLD readers to a world, unfamiliar to many, that contains adversaries but also co-belligerents. Anita Sarkeesian and Laci Green: both left-wing feminists, both members of Time’s “30 Most Influential People on the Internet” (2015 and 2016), both with YouTube prominence. Similar at first glance, but one has chosen to continue in fierce partisanship and the other has met with her critics and found some common ground. Their contrasting routes show that in American culture we have an alternative to civil war. Anita Sarkeesian, now 34, is a Canadian-American of Iraqi Armenian descent. In 2009 she founded the website Feminist Frequency to “make feminist theory more accessible.” She wrote articles and created YouTube videos in a series called “Tropes vs. Women” that criticized media through “a feminist sociological lens.” She gained notoriety in 2012 when she launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $6,000 to examine male dominance in video games: She received $160,000. Starting in 2013 she sat in front of a camera and explained that video games from Mario to Bayonetta were implicitly misogynist and harmful to women everywhere. Laci Green, now 28, first appeared on YouTube around 2008 as a militant atheist from a Mormon background, though still in her teens. She then shifted


46 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018

her focus to sex education, saying Mormons had repressed her and she wanted toleration for ­promiscuity, homosexuality, and abortion. Her videos gained patronage from Discovery News and Planned Parenthood. In 2014, MTV recruited her to host a YouTube channel, “Braless,” to discuss pop culture from a Sarkeesian-like perspective. The channel gained over a million subscribers and ran for two years. In 2016, The New York Times declared her “the sex-ed queen of YouTube.” By 2016 both Sarkeesian and Green had firm reputations as social justice warriors (SJWs). Sarkeesian declared, “Everything is sexist, everything is racist.” Green announced, “Everything is problematic!” Gamers reacted angrily to Sarkeesian’s assault on their favorite characters and franchises. She and Green became targets of a group of anti-SJW YouTubers known as the “Skeptic Community”: Sarkeesian felt so harassed that she fled her home. Gamers who objected to how Sarkeesian and other feminists treated them included Carl Benjamin (online name: Sargon of Akkad) and Chris Maldonado, who called himself Chris Ray Gun. (See sidebar, “Meet the anti-SJW ‘skeptics.’”) Most were not conservative, but they disparaged and mocked feminism, Black Lives Matter, and the LGBT movement because they saw them as a religion and “privilege” as a secular form of original sin. Some SJW YouTubers struck back and tried to silence them, but the Skeptics’ videos debunking or mocking the SJWs Green, Sarkeesian, received many more views and likes and members of the than the videos they targeted. “Skeptic Community”


February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 47

MEET THE ANTI-SJW ‘SKEPTICS’ They’re not religious (most are atheists) or necessarily conservative (several lean to the left even on economic issues). Some are vulgar, uncouth, and aggressive. Yet, these skeptics fight for freedom from progressive insanity. Here’s a quick look at seven of them:


uploaded his first video in 2013 and quickly gained a following for his critiques of feminism and progressivism, along with his discussions of historical and ­cultural topics, such as the spread of Islam. His YouTube channel has more than 700,000 subscribers: An atheist who rarely attacks religion, he lives in England with his wife and child.


Cullen’s channel originally emphasized reviews of ­computers and smartphones, and Cullen himself was a fan of the New Atheists. Over time he commented more and more on social justice progressivism and men’s rights. Though still an atheist, he now says Christianity has served a good and important role in civilization.

For a long time both Sarkeesian and Green avoided and blocked their critics. Following the election of Donald Trump, both posted videos expressing their despair and anger at the event. In February 2017 Green announced she would take a break from YouTube. She posted nothing on her own channel for a few months. She appeared on other channels, most notably in March engaging in a livestream conversation with Blaire White, a transgender conservative. In April Chris Ray Gun posted a smiling photo of himself with Green. SJWs across the internet reacted with shock and horror: How could Green, a public face of feminism and social justice on the internet, ­consort with their enemies? Hit pieces on ­internet outlets condemned Green’s “betrayal”— and outrage became a firestorm when word spread that Green was actually dating Chris Ray Gun. Critics said she should not date vile folks


f­ ormer Catholic, Fluhrer is a moderate liberal with a mellow tone who has atheistic leanings but became ­disillusioned with the Atheism Plus movement when he saw it turning atheism into a rigid ideology. June Lapine is his girlfriend.


Kirk lives in Louisiana and professes to have never been religious, even in his traumatic ­childhood. For a decade he has attacked creationism and religion, but opposed secular political correctness with equal vigor. His channel has more than 1 million subscribers.

0 JUNE LAPINE (SHOE ON HEAD): The child of Italian


born in the Bronx to Catholic Puerto Rican parents, professes never to have believed in God. A liberal who supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, he mocks SJWs and campus “snowflakes” and has issued a series of parody videos called “Social Justice: The Musical.” He has more than 400,000 subscribers, lives in Los Angeles, and dates Laci Green.

0 BLAIRE WHITE: White transitioned to female as an

adult after being a rape victim and embracing SJW politics. White now identifies as a c ­ onservative and says transgenderism is a mental ­disorder, only two genders exist, and those who encourage minors to transition are guilty of child abuse. White’s sassy, blunt delivery pulls in more than 350,000 subscribers on YouTube. —D.G.A.

like him, “not even if you like them. [Obscenity] your feelings.” Another tweet attacked making friends with antifeminists: “Far more productive to befriend someone at YouTube who could delete all their channels.” Green argued back that discourse and civility are vital to a free society. (See “Swords into ploughshares.”) On the skeptic side, some doubted Green’s motivations but most embraced her. In June at VidCon, an Anaheim, Calif., ­gathering of YouTubers of all descriptions, Green came face to face with her former nemesis, Carl “Sargon” Benjamin: They hugged for a photo Sargon shared on Twitter, to the shock and ­outrage of millions. The next day, when Sarkeesian appeared on a “Women Online” panel, Sargon, Chris Ray Gun, and other skeptics sat in the front row, planning— if Sarkeesian behaved respectably—to give her a standing ovation. But when she noticed Sargon and others, she panicked and texted security,


Catholic parents, June Lapine twice voted for Barack Obama but became frustrated and angry at SJW ­fear-mongering and collectivism. She started her YouTube channel to voice her complaints but takes a lighter tone than many other skeptics.

Chris Ray Gun and Green


claiming she felt “unsafe” and “threatened” by them. When a questioner asked why they needed to keep talking about harassment, Sarkeesian said “a ­notorious harasser of mine … a garbage human” was in the front row. Sargon shouted that he just wanted to talk. Sarkeesian replied, “Whatever, dude.” Later, Sarkeesian claimed Sargon and the other “Skeptics” had come there solely “to put [her] on edge.” She said they could not conceive what it was like to be a woman in a “deeply misogynistic culture” and still “keep fighting.” Skeptics and other anti-feminists criticized Sarkeesian, as did moderate feminists like Liana Kerzner: She said Sarkeesian’s fans were guilty of all the things she accused Sargon and his fans of, and that she herself had received harassment from both sides. Some other peacemaking attempts were unsuccessful. Franchesca Ramsey, host of the YouTube channel “Decoded,” said she wanted dialogue and met with Skeptics Gregory Fluhrer and Andy Warski at VidCon—but then mocked and ­disparaged both on a podcast. They produced response videos, Green and Green tweeted

s­ ympathy to Fluhrer. In retrospect, Green and Sarkeesian until 2017 appeared to belong to the same camp, but Sarkeesian demanded a social ­revolution in the Catherine MacKinnon tradition while Green emphasized personal empowerment (think Camille Paglia). Green ­discussed male rape victims, male circumcision, and even male sexual pleasure: Those topics, taboo to orthodox feminists, are more commonly subjects within the men’s rights movement. Green’s ­discussion of forgiveness in relation to Sargon revealed attitudes a person without something vaguely resembling a Christian upbringing was unlikely to formulate. Their ideologies led to different personal routes. Sarkeesian cut ­herself off from the opportunity to make new relationships and learn new perspectives, while Green made new friends and gained a new boyfriend. It seems that not all battles are left vs. right, or even religion vs. secularism. Some people act as real human beings interested in dialogue, while others become heartless ideologues, at least for a time—but God can still change them. A Sarkeesian

SWORDS INTO PLOUGHSHARES With all the news in 2017 of social justice warriors trying to silence opponents and college administrators sometimes complicit in that, the encouraging news is that prominent SJW Laci Green chose peace over war—and if she can, others can too. On May 11, Green posted a new video on her YouTube channel. She said, “You may have noticed that I’ve been talking to and hanging out with some anti­ feminist YouTubers. This has apparently really confused people. After all, I, Laci Green, am the very pinnacle of a social justice warrior. … I’ve recently found anti-SJW channels that are well cited and reasoned. … It’s beneficial for me to

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listen and consider another perspective; it helps me learn. So I decided to reach out to some. … I was pleasantly ­surprised! People have been pretty kind to me.” Green said she now opposed “campaigns to get people’s Twitters banned, book deals canceled, talks ­canceled. … We should address things head-on, through open dialogue.” On June 24, Green posted two v ­ ideos to Twitter that called her m ­ eeting with Carl Benjamin (aka Sargon of Akkad) “a story about forgiveness.” She said, “Carl is the person that has contributed the most to my very human pain. … Last night he held me and a ­ pologized, told me

why he was sorry, demonstrated a real understanding of the pain that he had caused me, and a willingness to stop doing that. … That he was able to do that in such a genuine, authentic way, and also apologize on Twitter … makes me really happy!” She added, “But more than happy, it makes me feel like I can … oh, God … [I’m] such a baby. … It makes me feel like I can heal, forgive, move on. … For me and my life, forgiveness is very important. It’s central to who I am. It’s central to how I live my life. It’s central to my mental and emotional health and my happiness in this world, and I needed to be able to forgive him, and he finally gave me what I needed to start doing that.” —D.G.A.

February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 49


In their capital, universities, and media, Australians increasingly feel the impact of political pressure from China


WHILE AMERICANS worry about Russian meddling in

U.S. politics, on the other side of the Pacific, Australians are worrying about Chinese meddling. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced in December that his country would “stand up” against Chinese influence in Australian politics. Turnbull wasn’t merely grandstanding. The same week, his administration introduced legislation banning foreign donations to political parties, strengthening espionage laws, and criminalizing deceptive influencing practices. The measures would give the government more tools to resist what Australian media reports suggest is a Chinese effort to buy out Australian politicians. It’s a confluence of new realities in global politics: Under President Xi Jinping, China has grown more aggressive, propagating its brand of socialism outside its borders and punishing those who disagree. Meanwhile, Australia has grown increasingly dependent on China, its top trading partner, and Chinese wealth has flooded into its universities, real estate market, and agricultural sector. In the past year, Australia’s media have exposed how Beijing is influencing its democratic society by monitoring Chinese international students, donating large sums to Australian politicians, and pressuring publishers and Chinese-language newspapers in Australia to follow the Communist Party line.


MANDARIN is a language commonly heard on Australian

university campuses, where 140,000 Chinese students currently study, making up 30 percent of Australia’s international student population and bringing in $17.2 billion in revenue, according to

Times Higher Education. To ensure these students aren’t led astray by Western values, China sponsors chapters of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) on campuses in Australia and elsewhere. In the Australian capital of Canberra, the Chinese Consulate helped the CSSA organize a large student rally welcoming Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his March visit. Arriving at 5 a.m., students came in shifts to cheer on Li and drown out Tibetan protesters, according to Fairfax Media and Four Corners. Lupin Lu, the student president of the Canberra University Students and Scholars Association, told a reporter that if dissident students organized a human rights protest against the Chinese government, she would “definitely” tell the Chinese Embassy, “just to keep all the students safe, and to do it for China as well.” This type of student monitoring creates an environment where Chinese students are less willing to speak up in class out of fear their contrarian thoughts could get back to Chinese ­officials and impact their futures. Associate professor Sally Sargeson of Australian National University in Canberra told Forbes that all the Chinese students she spoke with said they “know they are being monitored, and adjust their speech so they will not get into trouble.” Some Chinese students have also reported on professors who made statements in the classroom that didn’t align with the Communist Party line. Last year several such instances came to light: 0 In May, a lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne used a test question that suggested Chinese officials only tell the truth when they are drunk. A student shared it online, leading February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 51

52 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018

Carrico replied that instead of backing out, she should share her insights and alternative viewpoint. “The only way to respond is to ensure everybody has a way to share their viewpoint: That includes the person who thinks Taiwan is a part of China, as well as someone like myself who thinks Taiwan is an independent country,” Carrico said. To ensure that universities stop caving to Chinese pressure, Merriden Varrall of the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank, believes they need to stop relying so much on Chinese international students as a source of revenue. This money influences decisions at all levels, including the professors schools hire and what they teach in their classes. Varrall recommends finding other ways to fund the universities so they are less dependent on the tuition of foreign students. “The biggest concern is that we have a particular set of values, worldviews, and national interests, and these other views begin to erode or challenge those perspectives and interests,” she said. Pro-China supporters welcome Li Keqiang before an official ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia (above); Sam Dastyari (above right).


CHINESE INFLUENCE has also left its footprint on

Australian politics. Until now, Australia has been one of the few democracies to allow foreigners to donate to political parties. A Fairfax Media–Four Corners investigation uncovered millions of dollars in campaign donations to Australia’s major political ­parties from wealthy Chinese businessmen with connections to the Communist Party. In return, politicians seem to have provided favors, Beijing-friendly policies, and access to the most powerful people in the country. The most publicized case is that of the Labor Party’s Sen. Sam Dastyari, who resigned from the Australian Senate in December after Fairfax Media revealed Communist-linked Chinese donors paid for Dastyari’s travel and legal bills, a violation of party rules. Dastyari was also accused of being influenced by donors: In 2016, Dastyari went against the Labor Party’s ­platform by siding with China in its disputed claims over the South China Sea. “The South China Sea is China’s own affairs,” Dastyari said in a press conference with Chinese-language media. “On this issue, Australia should remain neutral and respect China’s decision.”


to a strong backlash from Chinese nationals and a call from the Chinese Consulate. The school, which has 4,400 Chinese ­international students, suspended the lecturer and removed the textbook that included the question. 0 In August, a computer science professor at Australian National University put up a slide that read, in English and Chinese, “I will not tolerate students who cheat.” Chinese ­students reported it as discrimination to the dean’s office and complained on the school’s Facebook page. The professor apologized. 0 Again in August, as tensions rose between China and India over a border dispute in Doklam, students at the University of Sydney complained that an IT professor of Indian descent had, more than a year earlier, showed a map in class that labeled contested border regions as part of India. The lecturer apologized and said he regretted “any offense this may have caused.” 0 Also in August, a University of Newcastle professor posted a list that referred to Taiwan as a country, which upset the Chinese students in the class. In a video of the exchange that followed, students claimed that referring to Taiwan as a country made them “feel uncomfortable.” The video, posted online, led to a Chinese outcry and complaints from the Chinese Consulate that the university had crossed a red line. Kevin Carrico, an American professor teaching Chinese studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, said these cases— especially the last two—were disturbing. Regarding the controversy over the map, he noted: “Very troublingly, it was provided as evidence of an insidious Indian conspiracy in Australia to trick students into thinking these territories are the property of India. I think it was not a case of people being offended, but of people wanting to find a way to be outraged.” He believes there is a double standard: It would be unimaginable for the U.S. Consulate in China to intervene in the same way every time Chinese professors said something negative about the United States. Carrico teaches a contemporary China class that discusses politically sensitive topics such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the status of Taiwan, and the South China Sea. About a third of his students are from mainland China, and he’s never experienced any pressure to curb his discussions on these ­topics, although students are often more open to discussing ­sensitive topics one-on-one during office hours. When one Chinese student asked not to participate in a current events project because she felt it was constantly bad-mouthing China,

Fairfax–Four Corners revealed the man behind Dastyari’s fall: Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo, president of the Australian Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China, which has close ties to the Chinese government. Huang paid a $3,840 legal bill for Dastyari and was a large donor to both the Liberal and Labor parties. Altogether, Huang and his business associates donated $2 million to the two parties. When Huang was applying for Australian citizenship in 2016, Dastyari called immigration officials on his behalf multiple times to find out the status of his application, according to Fairfax–Four Corners. Huang had pledged $307,000 to Labor’s 2016 campaign, but angrily called off the donation once the party revealed it opposed China’s claims in the South China Sea. A day later, Dastyari and Huang held the pro-China press conference on the matter. Australian academics also face threats from China. Last March, Chinese authorities barred University of Technology Sydney associate professor Chongyi Feng from boarding his plane back to Australia. For 10 days, officials interrogated Feng, who was on a trip researching Chinese human rights lawyers. As international coverage of Feng’s case increased, officials

doing research in China. Feng soon shut down the paper due to a lack of funds. “It is unfortunate that the Chinese communist state has taken advantage of these institutional arrangements of liberal democracy to promote its communist ideology … at the expense of liberal democratic values,” Feng wrote in the op-ed.


BEIJING’S GRIP has reached academic book publishers:

In November, leading Australian publisher Allen & Unwin halted publication of a book on the Chinese Communist Party’s influence on Australia due to fear of retaliation from Beijing. The author, Charles Sturt University professor Clive Hamilton, had published eight previous books with Allen & Unwin, and the publishing house was ready to proceed with Silent Invasion until early November, when Hamilton said Allen & Unwin told him by email it was concerned about “potential threats to the book and the company from possible action by Beijing.” This came on the heels of two other cases of publishers bowing to Chinese pressure. In October, Financial Times revealed that the scientific publishing company Springer Nature recently blocked Chinese access to at least 1,000 articles from the websites of the Journal of Chinese Political Science and International Politics. The articles all included terms like “Taiwan,” “Tibet,” and “Cultural Revolution.” In August, Cambridge University Press similarly blocked access in China to articles from the journal China Quarterly that also touched on sensitive issues. After hundreds of academics signed a petition condemning the censorship, the publishing house reversed its decision and reposted the articles. Academics in the United States have their own stories of monitoring by China: At Purdue University, sources alerted professor Fenggang Yang, the director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society, that the Chinese government knew all about his center. While Yang wasn’t surprised, he says, “knowing that we are closely ­monitored by the Chinese authorities, either through cyber technologies or through human agents on the ground, or both, is not a good feeling. We have to learn to live with it.” The United States does not allow foreign donations for ­politicians, but Chinese student associations in America are also active in decrying university actions. When the University of California, San Diego, invited the Dalai Lama to speak at its commencement, the school’s CSSA chapter threatened “tough measures to resolutely resist the school’s unreasonable behavior.” (The Chinese government opposes the Dalai Lama because he promotes Tibetan independence from China.) Back in Sydney, Carrico believes that China’s micromanagement is backfiring, hurting Western countries’ view of China. “Beijing is unintentionally making people far more determined to push back than they otherwise would have been,” Carrico said. “It’s a miscalculation, but … this is the only tool Beijing has in its toolbox, trying to put pressure on people and make them quiet down. But it doesn’t work in this context.” A

‘It is unfortunate that the Chinese communist state has taken advantage of these institutional arrangements of liberal democracy.’



finally let him go. The professor believes he was held in order to send a message to other academics not to touch issues China deems sensitive. Feng often spoke out about the Communist Party’s control of Chinese-language media in Australia. He noted in an op-ed in the website The Conversation that the party’s “Grand External Propaganda Program” spends billions of dollars to create overseas branches of state media and pro-China media outlets. The Chinese government controls the content of overseas media outlets by threatening Chinese businesses that make up the bulk of the media outlets’ advertising. Because these businesses need good relations with the Chinese government to ­survive, they obediently pull advertising from independent papers and work only with pro-Beijing papers. As a result, many of the articles in Australia’s Chinese newspapers are similar to those published in Beijing, touting the ­positive aspects of Communist policies. Feng himself faced pressure when he created an independent newspaper, Sydney Times, in 2006. Consular officials forced his advertisers to pull out of the newspaper and threatened to prevent Feng from

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February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 53

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Once we’ve confessed HOW SHOULD CHURCHES HANDLE SEXUAL SINS FROM 20 YEARS AGO?  by Russell St. John

All agree what ­happened, but the aftermath roils a cauldron of disagreement. Parked on a dark, empty road in 1998, college ­student and youth pastor Andy Savage asked 17-year-old Jules Woodson to perform oral sex on him. Woodson, a member of Savage’s youth group at Woodlands Parkway



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Baptist Church (WPBC) in Texas, says she complied reluctantly, believing “this must mean that Andy loved me.” Both agree Savage experienced immediate conviction of sin, leaped from the vehicle, and ­collapsed before Woodson. She recalls, “He was on his knees with his hands up on his head, ‘Oh my god, oh my god. What have I done?

Oh my god, I’m so sorry. You can’t tell anyone Jules, please.” Fast-forward 20 years. Andy Savage is married, the father of five sons, and a pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis. Savage claims his sin against Woodson “was dealt with in Texas 20 Andy Savage preaching at Highpoint Church in Memphis

years ago.” He disclosed his sin to the leaders of WPBC (now StoneBridge Church), to his wife before they ­married, and to the staff at Highpoint before joining the ministry. Woodson counters that WPBC hid from the congregation the specific sin Savage ­committed and then allowed him to resign without public confession. February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 55



Savage confessed his sin before the Highpoint congregation in January and apologized: He has now taken a leave of absence. Church members gave him a standing ovation, which was not appropriate: news of sin, even tempered by repentance, should prompt mourning rather than applause. Woodson recently said the Texas church 20 years ago told Savage “he couldn’t talk to me and they told me I couldn’t talk to him,” but Savage stated, “Until now, I did not know there was unfinished business with Jules.” To what extent they did or did not reconcile is unclear. Christians differ over how churches should address sins ministry leaders commit. Matthew 18 describes church discipline as a private process that involves the congregation only if the

56 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018

of accountability over the course of years before making him a pastor. Despite this cautious process, ­backlash persists. Cultural backlash against the church may indeed indicate an error or moral failure. It may also indicate no such thing. Jesus never sinned, yet the world hated Him. At best our culture requires the church to support Woodson by crucifying Savage. Christ commands us to love both. At worst the culture deplores Savage as an ­irredeemable monster and the church as complicit in sexual predation. The world cannot grasp the wonder of Hebrews 11. Men of great faith are also men of great sin. Abraham, Moses, and David delved deep into sin, but Christ delved deeper into mercy. To diminish the former diminishes the latter. Christian backlash presents a ­different challenge. Good Christians are calling for Savage to resign. Were the church to force his ouster it would send a powerful message to the ­culture: We police our own and will not tolerate abuse. The culture would applaud. But maybe the culture needs a different message: Jesus restores not only the abused but also the abuser. The culture is not rooting for the ­restoration of Harvey Weinstein. It does not want a wicked predator to know the mercy of Jesus, but the church should want just that. Each Christian must acknowledge, “I am the abused and the abuser.” Blessedly Jesus restores both. In all this the church must not ­forget Jules Woodson’s wounds. Those who have suffered at the hands of a wolflike shepherd deserve the church’s utmost care. Jesus is tender with the wounded: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench.” His church must offer the same tenderness, ­binding up Woodson’s wounds with the love of Christ. Twenty years ago on a dark road Andy Savage abused Jules Woodson. The only cure for Savage, Woodson, the church, and the world is: Jesus. A —Russell St. John is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute’s mid-career course

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offender refuses to repent. But James 3:1 states church leaders “will be judged with greater strictness.” Savage believes WPBC handled his sin Biblically: “I apologized and sought forgiveness from [Woodson], her ­parents, her discipleship group, the church staff, and the church leadership, who informed the ­congregation.” Woodson disagrees and charges WPBC with a “big cover up.” Christians must love truth and hold church leaders accountable. Unfortunately, the details of a 20-year-old disciplinary action now reside only in the memories of

WPBC’s leaders. Without those details, Christians should shun ­uninformed judgment. Proverbs 13:16 cautions, “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.” The congregation’s ­ignorance of Savage’s particular sin may testify to a shameful cover-up. It may also testify to the church’s fidelity to the privacy of the discipline process. The debate is now playing out publicly: An online petition calls for Savage’s resignation, and Christian publisher Bethany House has canceled the scheduled July ­publication of Savage’s book, The Ridiculously Good Marriage. None deny Andy Savage disqualified himself from ministry. He and WPBC conceded as much when he resigned. But later the leadership of Highpoint Church declared him qualified. Some Christians Savage confessing the acknowledge “sexual incident” to his Jesus restored congregation on Jan. 7 Savage as a man but claim him forever disqualified from office. After all, the Scriptures require an elder to ­possess character “above reproach.” But 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 address a ­prospective elder as he is now, not as he was 20 years ago. Is the man now above reproach? Peter’s ­restoration demonstrates that a man who committed gross sin can resume public office within the church. If Paul intended to disqualify any man who was ever reproachable, then he disqualified himself and many Christian leaders since. Savage was not self-righteous: He confessed. If he were reinstated to office three weeks after sinning, the story would be very different. But by all accounts Highpoint Church observed Savage carefully in a context



Election Day defense A NEW ELECTION SECURITY BILL TAKES AIM AT PAPERLESS VOTING MACHINES by Michael Cochrane A paper ballot is scanned in New York City in 2016.

Time to bring back paper ballots? A bipartisan group of senators led by James Lankford, R-Okla., is sponsoring a bill that would encourage states to abandon paperless voting machines and adopt rigorous postelection audits—moves that could significantly strengthen the security of American elections. After the extremely close 2000 presidential



vote and its tedious recount familiarized Americans with terms such as “hanging chad” and “butterfly ballot,” Congress set aside billions of dollars to fix what it believed were ­outdated voting systems. The solution seemed to be paperless touchscreen ­voting machines. But over the last decade, computer security experts have found such machines to

be ­dangerously inadequate. “In every single case, when a machine was brought into the lab and studied by qualified researchers, the result was the discovery of significant vulnerabilities,” Alex Halderman, a computer scientist at the University of Michigan, told tech ­website Ars Technica. “[Those vulnerabilities] could allow the machines to be compromised with malicious software that could potentially steal votes.” The proposed bill would provide grants to states willing to phase out paperless voting machines and replace them with more secure systems, such as optically scanned paper ballot machines. The bill would encourage states to conduct ­statistically rigorous postelection audits. Current

GET OUT OF JAIL FREE Much of the nation’s jail population consists of those who are awaiting trial but can’t scrape together enough money for bail. A new smartphone app aims to release many of these people by converting spare change into bail money. The app, called “Appolition,” links to a user’s bank account. Whenever the user makes a purchase on a credit or debit card, the purchase price is rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference is donated to National Bail Out, a network of groups that post bail for those who

can’t afford it. On any given day, about 450,000 people are held in city or county jails because they can’t afford bail, according to civil rights groups. This sets up what some see as a “twotiered” system of justice, in which those who can afford bail, regardless of the seriousness of their offense, can walk free pending trial, while those who can’t remain incarcerated

recount procedures often pick a fixed percentage of precincts to audit. But ­election experts believe the size of the audit sample should vary based on the margin of victory. “An audit isn’t necessarily a recount if an election result is not particularly close,” Halderman told Ars Technica. “You don’t have to look at that many ballots in order to audit it to high confidence. But if an election result turns on one vote, obviously you do need to look at every ballot to know that for sure.” Congress would have to move quickly in order to implement some of the legislation’s recommendations before the 2018 elections and to have new voting systems in place by November 2020. The bill’s supporters are also concerned about foreign intervention. Democratic co-sponsor Sen. Kamala Harris of California said, “With the 2018 elections just around the corner, Russia will be back to interfere again.”

for weeks or months. Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Appolition’s co-creator, got inspiration for the app after hearing about National Bail Out’s efforts to raise funds for jailed black mothers, according to Wired magazine. Ziegler launched Appolition in mid-November, and after a month the app had raised more than $8,000 in spare change from 6,000 users. —M.C.

February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 57




58 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018

mobility was failing him: He could no longer respond quickly to emergencies, but his memory and intelligence remained intact. This isn’t always the case, and a 2012 Washington Post article on the subject quoted geriatrician William Norcross as estimating that 8,000 practicing doctors suffered from dementia. Concerns of that sort have given rise to a controversial idea called MOC, or Maintenance of Certification. Under MOC, medical board certification has moved from a once-for-life pair of exams to an increasingly complicated series of steps that repeats every 10 years. MOC proponents say the ­program ensures doctors keep their knowledge current. Detractors call it an expensive distraction from clinical practice. Some hospitals and practices now require doctors to have MOCs, but critics ask: Who sets the topics that

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A new law will allow Japan’s Emperor Akihito, who would otherwise have had to serve for life, to abdicate; he plans to step down in 2019 at the age of 85. This extreme approach to tenure contrasts with America’s federal judges: Firing one would take a (literal) act of Congress, but they’re free to leave whenever they choose. Some lines of work take the opposite approach, setting a mandatory retirement age. Commercial pilots have to retire at 65—it had been 60, until a 2007 law added five years—and air traffic controllers normally retire at 56. In the Old Testament, the Levites had to step down from Tabernacle ­service at 50. Where do doctors fit in? Pioneering heart surgeon Michael DeBakey practiced until his death at 99, and one of my own mentors practiced into his late 70s and stopped only because his


Physicians in white

should be examined? Who chooses the right answers where there is disagreement? How often should doctors face these checks? What allowance should they receive for focusing on specific areas of practice—areas that may be only a small portion of a modern MOC exam? Will MOCs allow politicized credentialing bodies to insist on conformity with their agendas? Many state departments of motor vehicles have started to require eye exams as drivers age, and some have introduced a system where people can report potentially impaired older drivers for a closer check. It’s not every day that I think DMVs do a better job than my own credentialing body, but their system works better than MOC. Like drivers, physicians often respond to their advancing years by setting ­limits for themselves: Where an elderly driver might avoid the roads at night or in inclement weather, older doctors often stop taking night calls, limit their practices, and gradually restrict how many patients they see in a day. MOC doesn’t account for those adaptations. Some medical authorities now follow DMV practice. The University of California, San Diego, offers an Aging Physician Assessment, and Baltimore’s Sinai Hospital has a similar program focusing on surgeons. Both are voluntary, but Stanford went even further in 2013, requiring all doctors over 75 to undergo biennial evaluations. In each case, the programs focused on mental and physical health—as opposed to test scores and quizzes about guidelines. The Stanford policy met with ­considerable debate about whether it constituted age discrimination, but even a rebuke from the faculty senate failed to stop it. It makes sense, and I agree with its emphasis on health instead of attitudes: I don’t want my doctor’s decisions to be micromanaged, but evaluating whether his skills are still equal to his job description seems fair. Dr. DeBakey commented— at 91—that he would not mind being operated on by a 91-year-old surgeon. If the surgeon were as skilled and robust as he was at 91, I’d agree. A



A $14 billion problem MIXED RESPONSES TO NATIONAL ANTHEM PROTESTS THREATEN THE NFL’S PURSE by Evan Wilt NFL politics reached a fever pitch in 2017 with divided responses to player protests over racial injustice, but don’t expect the dispute to disappear anytime soon. At the end of November, after months of quarreling, the NFL pledged $89 million over the next seven years to address the social justice issues that started the kneeling protests. But some players called the donation— which did not require players to stop kneeling—a “charade,” and protests continued through the end of the ­season. Team owners plan to meet in March to discuss next steps for the NFL, a $14 billion per year industry plagued with an intractable dispute. “Collectively, the NFL does not want guys to kneel during the national anthem,” Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson told me. “I would suspect the NFL, in some way, would not allow players to take a knee or to protest next year or in the near future if it continues,” he added, citing concerns over fan backlash and skittish advertisers. Watson noted the NFL has no rules on player behavior during the playing of the national anthem prior to kickoff. NFL executives met in October and chose not to punish protesting players and allowed the kneeling



to continue. But pressure is rising. Former San Francisco 49ers ­quarterback Colin Kaepernick first protested during the national anthem to spotlight racism and social justice issues in August 2016. Other players soon joined, angering fans that found the display unpatriotic. On Sept. 22, 2017, President Trump said the protests disrespect the American flag and argued NFL owners should fire players who kneel. That weekend, players from all 32 NFL teams participated in protests, and some went on to kneel the remainder of the season. NFL revenues, which have doubled over the last decade, began to decline amid the furor. Team owners plan to meet in March and could consider a rule change to force players to stand during the national anthem—a decision likely to further polarize the league. The average audience across the league’s network partners, including CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, and NFL Network, dropped 10 percent in 2017. NFL game attendance is also down, and the league’s partners are feeling the impact. The protests divided NFL locker rooms, too. Watson, who wrote about race relations in his 2015

book Under Our Skin, has not knelt during the anthem, but he has used the debate to encourage a dialogue about racial injustice and ways players can influence the conversation. Several players attacked the NFL’s pledged $89 million earmark over seven years when it was announced, arguing it was too small to address the concerns raised by protesting players. San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, an early Kaepernick ally, left the NFL Players Coalition after the group accepted the league’s proposal. Reid told Slate he believed the NFL would redirect funds previously scheduled for other causes. The NFL denied this. Tod Leiweke, the NFL’s chief operating officer, assured teams in a memo the funds would “supplement, and not replace, our other key social responsibility efforts.” Some conservatives feared the $89 million would end up in the hands of liberal groups. According to Watson, the league plans to work with players to choose which causes deserve the money. For Watson, the $89 million is a good start, not because of the amount, but because it has the potential to kick off an important conversation. “We don’t agree all the time, and that’s fine,” he said, “but at least be willing to hear why someone feels the way that they feel.” A Members of the Houston Texans kneel during the national anthem during an NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks.

February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 59



‘Fragile philosophy’ Your selections for “2017 Books of the Year: Origins” show that Biblical and scientific evidence is fast refuting evolution (theistic included). Many still don’t see that and cling to the crumbling foundations of a structure that leads people away from God’s clear revelation. DEC. 9

—MICHAEL D uMEZ / Oostburg, Wis. Great selections. My preference is Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design because of the intelligent back-and-forth interaction. It’s a must-read for the thoughtful Christian. —JOHN WIESTER / Buellton, Calif.

I am the director of our rural public library. We must, of course, have books promoting and explaining Darwinism, but it is also my duty to buy books on varying theories of origins. I think I’ll buy some items reviewed in this article. —DAN L a RUE / Lebanon, Pa.

‘Two views of Adam’

DEC. 9 Actual scientific evidence for Darwinism has just about vanished. Darwinians are well aware that they can’t explain how life originated or new species developed, but most ­educational and political folks are not. It sounds like BioLogos is not aware either.

—TERRY CHAPPELL / Reedley, Calif.

‘Backward advantage’

DEC. 9 Every time I tried to read Ecclesiastes I got too depressed to continue, so I appreciated Susan Olasky’s review of David Gibson’s Living Life Backward. I plan to get a copy of the book.


‘The Roy Moore moment’

DEC. 9 Your take on Roy Moore and the Alabama election is why I am such a fan of WORLD. You did not try to

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establish his guilt or innocence but to explain a Christian response if he is guilty of abusing those young women. When we decide that the bad behavior of people we support is better than the bad behavior of opponents, we are on a slippery slope. —SUSAN JARVIS / Ocean Springs, Miss.

I don’t know the truth about Moore, but don’t you smell a rat in the pattern of liberal accusations of sexual wrongdoing in attempts to take down conservatives? Is no one willing to say that he has the right to forge ahead because people should be assumed innocent until proven guilty? —SAM LOCHINGER / Redgranite, Wis.

Voting for pro-abortion Democrats is an evil much greater than voting for a flawed character. I have been greatly encouraged by Trump’s stands on moral issues. You are supporting evil in questioning the flawed character of Republicans when the choice on the other side is clearly evil. —ROBERT L. DOSEE / Garden Ridge, Texas

I am appalled at the way evangelicals are defending Moore. This is the fruit of the tree we planted by electing Trump. Our moral authority is almost completely gone. —ELIZABETH COLE / Bluff City, Tenn.

WORLD must be pleased at the outcome of the Alabama Senate race. Comparing Moore to Bill Clinton was outrageous. Moore is an amazing Christian man who is not afraid to

stand up for Biblical values. His loss is our loss and the country’s loss. Please cancel my subscription. —IGOR SHPUDEJKO / Goodyear, Ariz.

I had considered Moore the lesser of two evils, but his postelection actions make me think we are probably better off without him in the Senate. He may stand up for “Christian values,” but he does so in an angry, defiant, and grandstanding way. On the bright side, Jones’ term will be short, and Republicans can soon reclaim that seat. —JAY WALKER / Anniston, Ala.

We’re always told we have to choose the “lesser of two evils,” but there must be a point at which the lesser is not less enough. We don’t believe in comparative morality, and the ultimate goal is not to win earthly power. —JOHN KLOOSTERMAN on

‘The new rules’

DEC. 9 My church does background checks not out of fear of potential tragedy but because of past tragedies. Parents whose child experienced an actual loss of innocence in church wish they were dealing merely with skepticism and suspicion.

—JESSICA MAUER / Kalamazoo, Mich.

A free society only works in a Christian environment where godly intent and behavior are the norm. Often after some evil act a victim or activist wants some guarantee that this “will never February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 61



happen again,” but there is no guarantee. Evil will continue to propagate in a society that rejects God, resulting in tighter rules and less freedom. —TRIA M c CRACKEN on

‘Not invisible’

I appreciated Emily Belz’s coverage of the unintended consequences of Medicaid cuts on the disabled population. Tackling healthcare reform is a complex problem, but as I love my neighbor, I must be concerned for those who rely so heavily on the program for essential services. DEC. 9

—KRISTY LYNN / Radford, Va.

‘Showdown over Lebanon’

DEC. 9 Mindy Belz’s insights on the constant changes in the Middle East are most informative. The mainstream media usually ignore these important events to concentrate instead on

defending the immoral movements destroying America’s Judeo-Christian standards. —DWIGHT HUTCHINSON / Middletown, Md.

‘Tumultuous times’

DEC. 9 I look forward to The Sift each day on, and it provides a good balance to CNN’s similar update. I realized reading Marvin Olasky’s ­column that it’s a recent addition to WORLD’s services.

‘Designated haters’

DEC. 9 Thank you for the photograph of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s building; it is not only divided, it appears to be pulling apart. I have ­seldom seen a structure that speaks so clearly of its occupant’s mission in society.

—FRANCES SEEL / Clemson, S.C.

Read more Mailbag letters at

—BRIAN HOWARD / Greensboro, N.C.

‘Dreamland faces reality’

This is an excellent column on the state of affairs in Hollywood and our nation. It blends well with Olasky’s and Joel Belz’s columns: We must remain vigilant and keep our eye on the “prize,” the “upward call” of our Lord Jesus Christ. DEC. 9

—BILL BUCHALTER / Stuart, Fla.

LETTERS and COMMENTS Email: Mail: WORLD Mailbag, PO Box 20002, Asheville, NC 28802-9998 Website: Facebook: Twitter: @WORLD_mag Please include full name and address. Letters may be edited to yield brevity and clarity.


Andrée Seu Peterson

This time next year FOR BETTER OR WORSE, EVERYTHING AND EVERYBODY WILL CHANGE As we begin a new year, it is well to remember that you won’t be the same person next year as you are this year. You will be a better person or a worse one, but you will not be the you who now reads these words. Things will happen (that you can’t help), and you will make choices (that you can help). Robert Frost, because poets are not statisticians, spoke of two roads diverging in a yellow wood that “has made all the difference.” But it would be more accurate to describe an ever-branching outcropping of paths beneath your feet that lead to Christ-likeness or its opposite. The rest of the world won’t be the same next January as this January either. I heard a finance counselor on the radio tell a caller that he should pay off his debts first and then think about going on vacation. “Europe will always be there,” he said. The advice was sound but not so much the travel tip. Europe—as you know—will not be the same in one year’s time as it is now. Seventeen of its countries have slipped to a birthrate too low to replace itself and are embarked on a historically unprecedented course of self-extinction. It’s not that the banlieues and boulevards will be deserted, but pedestrians you stop to ask directions will more likely be named Mohammed than Hans. There is a process by which a thing becomes, over time, transformed into another thing. Uncannily, the stages in that process can be traced throughout the manifold strata of reality under the sun—individuals, nations, churches, cultures, and biological cells. Nations: “In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem, and besieged it. In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the city was penetrated” (Jeremiah 39:1-2). Thus do once-healthy entities fall: first the siege works; two years later, the penetration. It




An everbranching outcropping of paths beneath your feet leads to Christ-­ likeness or its opposite.

is not a little chilling to read, in the very next verse, the names of the new guys in town, the ominously non-Jewish-sounding spellings of the princes who have replaced the Jewish courtiers in Jerusalem: “Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, ... Rabmag.” Individuals: Consider Judas’ destruction. The target has been softened: “During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus … rose from supper” (John 13:2-4). Fatal penetration follows: “Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly’” (v. 27). Judas has been flirting with the dark side, and by the dark side he is finally devoured. Churches: Mark Steyn writes in America Alone: “Most mainline Protestant churches are, to one degree or another, postChristian. If they no ­longer seem disposed to converting the unbeliever to Christ, they can at least convert them to the boggiest of soft-left political clichés, on the grounds that if Jesus were alive today he’d most likely be a gay Anglican bishop in a committed relationship driving around in an environmentally friendly car with an ‘Arms are for Hugging’ sticker on the way to an interfaith dialogue with a Wiccan and a couple of Wahhabi imams.” Cells: Science cannot help but employ the language of personality to biology: “To enter a cell, viruses must recognize certain proteins encoded by host genes.” “A virus will bind to these receptors, employing them as entryways into a cell.” “The virus tricks the cell into thinking that the virus knocking at the door is nothing more than nutrition or harmless goods.” “Once inside a cell, retroviruses insert their gene into a host’s chromosome.” “It finds a safe haven in them while it continues to replicate.” Satan’s “designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11) of ­penetration, infiltration, and death are manifold. God’s grace reaches far as the curse is found. You and I can be a better individual by this time next year. Our weapons are clinging to Christ, keeping His word, wielding the sword of faith, and praying every day. And as for Europe, I would recommend you visit earlier rather than later. A February 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 63


Marvin Olasky


64 WORLD Magazine • February 3, 2018

Some ­Democrats love to claim the poor are virtually ­sinless. Some Republicans say the same things about the rich.

British monk and theologian Pelagius

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Pelagius (A.D. 360-418) denied Biblical teaching about original sin. He thought people could do good without being born again. Allies and opponents described him as highly educated, fluent in Latin and Greek, and portly. (The theologian Jerome, an ascetic, described Pelagius as “stuffed with Irish porridge.”) In Christian history he’s best-known for his takedown by Jerome and by Augustine, who followed the Bible in arguing that we are helpless sinners from birth and desperately in need of Christ’s grace. Church assemblies—the 15th Council of Carthage in 411, the First Council of Ephesus in 431, etc.—condemned Pelagianism, but century after century it keeps popping up. I won’t go deeper into the theology here, because my goal is to follow the contemporary thread that I’d call Political Pelagianism. Some Democrats love to claim the poor are virtually sinless. Some Republicans say the same things about the rich. This political theology emerges in legislation. For example, the “Housing First” doctrine that became dogma during Barack Obama’s White House years states that homeless individuals should be given homes, “regardless of their sobriety, any past or current use of substances, any completion of rehabilitation or treatment, or participation in any other supportive services.” Applicants with poor credit or criminal histories are “seldom rejected.” The Political Pelagian assumption is that homeless individuals are naturally good, and if they have their own home, they will refrain from drug and alcohol abuse. Pelagian faith makes sense at suite level if we assume people are naturally good, but WORLD reporters at street level saw Housing First often doing harm: Addicts and alcoholics had more resources to fund their self-destructive habits. Democrats who want more money going to welfare recipients, regardless of whether they work or take care of children, are also Political


Pelagians. They assume society is to blame if people aren’t working. They are partly right, in that urban schools are often terrible and many in rural areas aren’t better, but they romanticize our natures, as did Jean Jacques Rousseau when he wrote about “noble savages.” The Bible, though, shows that we are all naturally savage and selfish, not noble. Many Republicans are also Political Pelagians, but since their prime backers come from the other end of the economic spectrum, they tend to glamorize the Noble CEO. GOP leaders last year proselytized for corporate tax cuts rather than individual ones on the grounds that executives would use those corporate windfalls to create more jobs and boom the economy to 4 percent growth next year, or more. That’s a Pelagian assumption. Augustinians expect executives and shareholders to maximize their own income, with only a small amount trickling down, and the national debt soaring. Many economists project 2 percent growth over the next two years, and Goldman Sachs says the effect of the GOP initiative in 2020 “looks minimal and could actually be slightly negative.” Some Republicans who supported their party’s bill, like Sen. Marco Rubio, are having second thoughts. He said we’ll “see a lot of these multinationals buy back shares to drive up the price. … That isn’t going to create dramatic economic growth.” If Republicans really wanted to push job creation and were Augustinian (understanding human selfishness) rather than Pelagian, they would have emphasized job creation tax credits and fixed glitches in the earned income tax credit. Payroll taxes are the major tax expense for many people earning less than $50,000 per year: No reform there. Pelagian tax changers in essence got rid of charitable deductions for middle-class donors, arguing that if the economy does well people will naturally contribute more money to povertyfighting programs and other worthy charities. Maybe, but that’s not what the historical record reveals: The natural tendency of most people, rich or poor, is to spend more money on themselves. For several years I wrote speeches for DuPont’s top executives. For several years I interviewed homeless individuals and others among the very poor. Both experiences helped me to grasp the Biblical doctrine that is most empirically verifiable: original sin. Both Democrats and Republicans politically deny that doctrine, in different ways. We need more political Augustinians. A

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WORLD Magazine, Feb. 3, 2018 Vol. 33 No. 2  

Real matters.

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