Pornography / Art / Smuggling / Gerrymandering
MARCH 3, 2018
With America’s ‘Missions Pentagon’ up for grabs, so are hopes and dreams
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March 3, 2018 • Volume 33 • Number 4
F E AT U R E S
32 Dueling visions, gnawing suspicions The battle over a proposed sale of American evangelism’s “Missions Pentagon” raises questions of missionary strategy and nonprofit accountability. What responsibility do ministries have to their founder’s vision—and to those who sacrificed to fund it?
38 Lustful eyes
In the massive global scourge that is pornography, men are not the only addicts
42 High hopes
Why curating a church art gallery is like “walking on a razor blade”
46 Border run
One Christian’s compassion for North Korean refugees led her into a high-stakes smuggling enterprise—then she got caught
50 A gerrymandering journey
Complex district maps leave Texans puzzled about who represents them in Congress
DISPATCH E S 7 News / Human Race / Quotables / Quick Takes CU LT U R E 19 Movies & TV / Books / Children’s Books / Q&A / Music NO T EBOOK 55 Lifestyle / Technology / Politics / Religion VOICE S 5 Joel Belz 16 Janie B. Cheaney 31 Mindy Belz 61 Mailbag 63 Andrée Seu Peterson 64 Marvin Olasky
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Back to square one IF YOU COULD FIX AMERICA BY REWINDING HISTORY, HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO? I’ve asked the same question in this space half a dozen different ways—but here it is again: If, by merely snapping your fingers or waving a magic wand, you could take the society and culture you live in today back to some earlier point, what date would you choose? If you could rewind the video recorder we call “America’s History” and be awarded a second chance, what would you pick as your new starting point? Or, to put it more succinctly—and more bluntly—where did we go so wrong? That’s not really hard, many folks argue. Let’s just get back to the “traditional values” that made America so great. For many Americans, just going back to the 1950s would give them most of what they think they’d like. After all, we prayed in the public schools. People used condoms in private but didn’t talk about them much even there. Drugs were mostly something to chase away an infection. And the worst musical lyrics you could think of were still quotable in mixed company. John F. Kennedy had not yet been assassinated; indeed, that was an event that, for many of us, even if he wasn’t our man in the White House, was a watershed entry to an unpredictable, unknown, and often grim future. For these folks, backing things up to a preSputnik date just might help us get things right. Not many WORLD readers, I feel certain, are so naïve. They have already asked the question and then realized that just going back to some America-can-do-anything optimism isn’t enough. But even we too often look wistfully in the rearview mirror. What did we hope to see? The era just before Woodrow Wilson began pushing his “one world” ideas with his League of Nations, diminishing the role of the United States? Or the period when science and God still seemed capable of coexistence, without either having to step aside in deference to the other? Was it the
Just going back to some Americacan-doanything optimism isn’t enough.
time before Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. so profoundly changed society’s concept of law, suggesting that there are no enduring principles but only what 51 percent of the voters say law ought to be? Or should we go back to pre-Darwinian days, when most people believed everything and everyone had come from the creative hand of God rather than by evolving by chance? Or before that, to the writers of the Declaration of Independence, who found it advisable to refer in a public document to “Nature” and “Nature’s God,” but who deliberately and specifically refused any mention of Jesus Christ? Or do you want to go all the way back to the Puritans, much maligned but brimming over with vision and resolution? Out of all those images, scattered along America’s timeline, whose “traditional values” are you going to claim as those that do the most effective job of redirecting our nation’s cultural traffic? What persons or movements, if we latched on to them again, might help rescue us from our present free fall and anchor us with stability for the future? To the extent we talk only of “traditional values,” without bothering to say what we mean by them, we deserve the skepticism so many secularists hurl our way. It’s not an easy assignment. And just sorting out a few great figures from our notable history will hardly cut it. There’s plenty of competition out there for the right to say which “tradition” we should return to. For Christians, the task is especially tough. To what extent do some of our historic heroes really represent Biblical worldview thinking— and practice? And how much of what we call a Biblical worldview does God expect us to carry into public policy? Or into a political platform? Have we ever sat down with a group of fellow believers to explore thoughtful and Biblical answers to such basic questions? I haven’t, and that embarrasses me. But with a serious election coming up in a bit less than nine months, I just may take on such an assignment. A March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 5
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DISPATCHES News / Human Race / Quotables / Quick Takes
Chris Mazdzer of the United States begins a luge run at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Mazdzer won the silver medal in the men’s singles luge, becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in the event. WONG MAYE-E/AP
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March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 7
D I S PA T C H E S
News Trump speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 8.
All right, we are two nations
ONE AMERICA HAS A SENSE OF PURPOSE, THE OTHER A TERRIBLY SICK SENSE OF HUMOR by Marvin Olasky
8 WORLD Magazine • March 3, 2018
After all, would even crass comedian Sarah Silverman say a pro-life law “would make her want to eat an aborted fetus”? So I watched, and saw people laughing at that callous remark. When the hostess moaned about those who wanted to bury or cremate aborted children, Silverman ranted, “[Obscenity] funerals for [obscenity] aborted fetuses? I would like to speak at those funerals. He lived the way he died. He died the way he lived. The size of a sesame seed.” OK, I know comedians are often angry, and Silverman has been clinically depressed (it’s now under control with Zoloft) and may still have pain from her parents’ divorce. On the other hand, she is privileged enough to have won a
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
“February made me shiver / With every paper I’d deliver.” That’s what Don McLean sang in his classic “American Pie,” and the first two cold Thursdays of February 2018 showed why most evangelicals voted for Donald Trump and still support him. Feb. 1 brought “Life Is a Living Nightmare: A Telethon to Fix It,” located at the ladypartsjustice.com website (unless its creators have removed the video record of their horror show). I knew Lady Parts Justice describes itself as “a cabal of comics and writers exposing creeps hellbent on destroying access to birth control and abortion.” But when I read an account about the telethon on the conservative website NewsBusters, I thought the report must be exaggerated.
Creative Arts Emmy for writing and recording a song, “I’m [obscenity] Matt Damon.” If she wants to attack big men like Donald Trump, OK, but why pick on those who are small and helpless? If Silverman doesn’t want to calm down on principle, she should do so pragmatically, because every creepy joke makes even Trump critics more likely to say, as John Dos Passos wrote in his 1936 novel The Big Money, “all right we are two nations.” Pronouncements from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, whose positions on abortion are Silverman’s without the expletives, have the same effect. Dos Passos during the Depression defined the two nations in Marxist “class struggle” terms. He berated the rich and powerful “who have taken the clean words our fathers spoke and made them slimy and foul.” He learned life was more complicated: By the 1960s Dos Passos was a conservative. That was the decade our major arguments became social, not economic. That’s when clean words like “clinic” and “women’s health” and “choice” became, in the mouths of abortionists, slimy and foul. The following Thursday, Feb. 8, was a good day for Trump supporters. At the National Prayer Breakfast he reminded attendees of important truths: “Our rights are not given to us by man; our rights come from our Creator. … No earthly force can take those rights away. … When Americans are able to live by their convictions, to speak openly of their faith, and to teach their children what is right, our families thrive, our communities flourish.” He pointed out the American nation of which we can be proud: “When catastrophic hurricanes struck, first responders and everyday citizens dove into rushing waters to save stranded
BY THE NUMBERS
families from danger. And they saved them by the thousands. Neighbors opened their homes to those in need of food, clothes, shelter. Firefighters braved blinding smoke and flames to rescue children from devastating wildfires. … Families have adopted babies orphaned by the opioid epidemic and given them loving homes. Communities and churches have reached out to those struggling with addiction, and shown them the path to a clean life, a good job, and a renewed sense of purpose.” All right we are two nations. We have an America of compassion toward the very young and the very old, and a United States of callousness that promotes abortion and euthanasia. We have an America of individual initiative and community effort, and a United States where supplicants wait for governmental largesse. We have an America of religious liberty and free speech, and a United States of trigger warnings and safe spaces. Since this issue goes to press on Valentine’s Day, here’s a heart for the only president we have. After State of the Union and National Prayer Breakfast talks that moved away from callousness, President Trump has another opportunity to reset his presidency. And, although Trump tweets are often counterproductive and downright embarrassing, they do distract liberal propagandists from his deregulatory moves and reversals of overreaching Obama-era executive orders. Even The Washington Post has limited bandwidth, and every article complaining about a tweet is one less article attacking a needed policy change. Don McLean’s February assessment was “Bad news on the doorstep / I couldn’t take one more step”—and adding another half-trillion dollars to our soaring national debt is certainly bad news. Still, Christians familiar with the Good News take a long-range view. In dealing with the domineering Romans of his time, Jesus said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” We don’t know what will happen on that second mile. We do know we have many steps to go before we sleep. A
101 The loss on the Dow Jones industrial average on Feb. 5, the Dow’s largest s ingle-day drop in points ever.
The number of battleground House seats Democrats say they are targeting to win in the November midterm elections (see p. 58).
915 The percentage of Americans worried about losing their jobs to robots, according to Gallup.
The average number of DACA beneficiaries per day who will face deportation, starting March 6, if lawmakers do not reach a compromise on immigration legislation, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
2,491 The number of proteins found in dog saliva, as reported in a new study published in PLOS One. Many serve immunity or antimicrobial functions.
March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 9
D I S PA T C H E S
Indonesian immigrant Rita Pauned and her daughter Georgia Tuwo at the Reformed Church of Highland Park in Highland Park, N.J.
10 WORLD Magazine • March 3, 2018
Hong Kong’s top court freed the leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy “Umbrella” protests. Joshua Wong, 21, Nathan Law, 24, and Alex Chow, 27, were convicted of unlawful assembly after an event that helped spark the massive sit-in that paralyzed the center of the city for three months. After the protests ended, Wong and Law were given community service terms, while Chow was handed a suspended prison term in 2016. The Hong Kong government appealed for harsher sentences and won, sending the trio to jail. But a top appeals judge determined jail was too much. U.S.
l awmakers have nominated Wong, Law, and Chow for the Nobel Peace Prize, despite protests from China and Hong Kong.
Larry Taunton, founder of
the Christian “think tank” Fixed Point Foundation, has resigned from his position as chief executive after accusations of inappropriate sexual conduct. Taunton said in a statement that the accusations were true: He’d had immoral sexual relationships with two young women on his staff. Taunton has a wife and several children. He said he is in marriage and personal counseling, seeking healing and forgiveness from his victims. Taunton was the author of two faith-based books and was planning a third.
Wong, Chow, and Law
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INDONESIAN IMMIGRANTS: MEL EVANS/AP • SALAS & TAUNTON: HANDOUT • SARIS: STEVEN SENNE/AP • WONG, CHOW, & LAW: VINCENT YU/AP
and allows gay or straight Two federal judges have couples to form partnerdelayed the deportation of ships the Bermuda governa hundred Indonesian ment considers equal to Christians due to dangers of marriage. Walton Brown, persecution. In New Jersey, Bermuda’s minister of home Judge Esther Salas granted affairs, told the media that a temporary stay to the majority of about 50 immiBermudians do not grants who had approve of samefled Indonesia sex marriages. with hundreds The new act, he of others 20 said, affirms that years ago in fear marriage is Salas of persecution. In between a man and New Hampshire, a woman but proJudge Patti Saris tects the rights of gave another homosexuals. group of about The U.K. gov50 immigrants ernment could a stay of 90 days have stopped the Saris to complete their legal change, but paperwork. The Prime Minister immigrant families had Theresa May said she entered the United States must respect Bermuda’s legally, most on tourist right to self-government. visas. Many had seen their applications for permanent Arrested status denied or stalled, but The Brazilian police former administrations had arrested 13 members of a protected them from religious sect after accusadeportation. tions of human trafficking and theft. Authorities say Repealed the sect, called the Bermuda, an overseas Evangelical Community of dependent territory of the Jesus, the Truth that United Kingdom, has Marks, has 6,000 followers. become the first country to Leaders of the sect pass and then repeal gay reportedly convinced many marriage. The new law followers to leave behind replaces a law from May everyone they knew and
move to a countryside community, telling them the place was run on socialist principles and that they had to give all they owned to the community. The sect ran farms and rural businesses, and the members worked for no money. Police say church leaders made enormous amounts of money from the donations and unpaid labor of these victims.
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D I S PA T C H E S
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE of NBC News to Lucas Warren, a 1-year-old who has become the first Gerber baby with Down syndrome.
‘A betrayal of everything limited government conservatism stands for.’ U.S. Sen. MIKE LEE, R-Utah, on the two-year budget deal congressional leaders struck on Feb. 7—the biggest spending bill in Congress since 2009. The agreement raises the federal debt ceiling and increases spending limits by about $300 billion over the caps both parties agreed to in the 2011 Budget Control Act. The federal government ran a $666 billion deficit in fiscal 2017.
‘You don’t rely on the good faith of the thief [who’s trying to break] into your house.’
WILLIE GEIST of NBC News in a tweet on South Koreans not being “as enthralled with [North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s sister] Kim Yo Jong ... as it seems some media are back home.”
‘Do I believe they’ve competed fairly? No, and I’ve been very vocal about that. So I don’t really have a need to have a conversation with those athletes.’ U.S. skeleton athlete MATT ANTOINE, who won bronze at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, on not speaking to Russian athletes over tensions surrounding their presence at the games.
Philippines Supreme Court Justice ANTONIO CARPIO, after he was shown photos of China’s building of military facilities on formed islands in the South China Sea. 12 WORLD Magazine • March 3, 2018
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WARREN: COURTESY WARREN FAMILY/GERBER VIA AP • LEE: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES • CARPIO: BULLIT MARQUEZ/AP • GEIST: EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/AP • ANTOINE: MARK RALSTON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
‘The Gerber baby is the ideal baby, and Lucas, you are the ideal baby.’
‘Something about N.K. killing, starving, & imprisoning its people while threatening South Korea with nuclear annihilation.’
D I S PA T C H E S
Secrets for sale
The next time the Australian government wants to off-load old furniture, it may want to check the drawers first. Thousands of pages of sensitive files belonging to the Australian government were found inside locked filing cabinets for sale at a secondhand store known to sell old government furniture in Canberra, the nation’s capital. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that some of the files were classified. “Certainly someone needs to pay a price, there needs to be some consequence for what is a monumental lapse,” former Prime Minister Tony Abbott told 2GB radio.
Power to plow
The mayor of a borough of Montreal, Canada, ordered the snow cleared from neighborhood streets in January, and he’s not about to apologize for it. Borough Mayor Luis Miranda told reporters that city leaders protested his action in a letter reminding him that the city alone has the power to authorize snow removal after storms. Miranda sounded unimpressed in an interview with Global News. “I’m not going to sit down because they’re not doing their job,” he said. “Will they charge me after? I will fight it, no problem.”
14 WORLD Magazine • March 3, 2018
SNAP for cats?
An online petition with more than 175,000 signers is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to rewrite rules and extend food stamp benefits to pets. The USDA currently prohibits the use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding on pet food, nonfood items, alcohol, and other sundries. “Being poor is hard enough without being expected to give up your companion,” wrote petition author Edward B. Johnston Jr.
ILLUSTRATION: KRIEG BARRIE • CLASSIFIED FILES: AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORP/AP • PET DISH: RICHARD DRURY/PHOTODISC/GETTY IMAGES • MONTREAL: ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES • MIRANDA: YOUTUBE
Despite having a company of plumbers aboard, the pilots of a Norwegian Air flight had to turn their aircraft around when no one on board was able to fix a problem with one of the jet’s t oilets. The flight took off from Oslo, Norway, on Jan. 27, carrying 85 plumbers heading to a company event in Munich, Germany. Plumbing company CEO Frank Olsen told Norwegian media that his plumbers likely could have fixed the problem—if only they’d had access to the outside of the plane. “Unfortunately it had to be done from the outside and we did not take the opportunity to send a plumber [out] at 10,000 meters,” he said.
ILLUSTRATION: KRIEG BARRIE • GOODWILL: HANDOUT • CAMEL BEAUTY CONTEST: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES • 50 CENT: NOAM GALAI/GETTY IMAGES FOR CANTOR FITZGERALD • RYDER: HANDOUT
Ready, aim, donate
Police in Boscawen, N.H., arrested a local man in January after he made the mistake of getting into a biting match with a police dog. The suspect, who had an outstanding warrant, first tried to escape police by hiding under a pile of clothes. That’s when Veda the police dog found the man’s body with her teeth. Police say the man wrestled free, put the canine in a chokehold, and bit the animal on the head. “He ended up getting Tasered,” an officer told the Reuters news service. Authorities say Veda will be fine. The man, though, faces charges of resisting arrest and interfering with a police dog.
Workers at a Florida Goodwill store say they’re happy they foreclosed one explosive offer. Employees at the Bradenton, Fla., store discovered what appeared to be a working grenade launcher in a stack of donated goods on Jan. 25. Further inspection by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office revealed the device was loaded with a live grenade—albeit a nonlethal one. It turned out that the weapon was actually an airsoft-style launcher meant for recreational use and loaded with a “grenade” that fires plastic pellets. The launcher appears to be safely off the streets: Sheriff’s deputies have reportedly confiscated both the device and the grenade.
Beats and bitcoins
Sometimes it pays to forget. Rapper 50 Cent said it had slipped his mind that he’d accepted around 700 bitcoins as payment for his 2014 album Animal Ambition when he first released it. At the time, the cryptocurrency’s value fluctuated around $600 per bitcoin. In December, however, a bitcoin traded at nearly $20,000, although the price had crashed to below $9,000 by the beginning of February. Even at the lower price, the St. Louis rapper’s stash of cryptocurrency was worth more than $6 million.
Look at that face
Judges in a Saudi Arabian camel beauty contest disqualified a dozen dromedaries because their owners used Botox to enhance the camels’ looks. Chief judge Fawzan al-Madi made the announcement during the weekslong annual camel festival outside the capital city of Riyadh in January. According to the judge, some camel owners were using Botox injections to swell the animals’ lips and cheeks. More than 300,000 attendees visited the festival this year.
Saugatuck, Mich., attorney Michael Haddock had been wondering what his dog was doing all day when he was gone at work. A letter from Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency only piqued his curiosity more. The official letter, Haddock said, indicated his German shepherd Ryder would no longer get $360 each week in unemployment benefits. State unemployment officials didn’t cite the dog’s species as a reason, but instead indicated their records showed Ryder had found work at a seafood restaurant. “He’s very food driven,” Haddock joked to WWJ Newsradio. Haddock never got an unemployment check from the state, and an agency spokesman said the letter was likely the result of a fraud attempt by an identity thief.
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March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 15
Janie B. Cheaney
A well-behaved woman
FEMINISTS DON’T HONOR HER, BUT SHE MADE SOMETHING BETTER THAN HISTORY This January’s women’s march didn’t make as big a splash as the one a year earlier, but it drew impressive numbers, an abundance of pink hats, and a sea of signs, some of which can’t be reproduced in a family magazine. One popular slogan is printable and worth considering, though: Well-behaved women seldom make h istory. Curious about the origin, I discovered that it first appeared in a scholarly essay about (of all things) Puritan burial customs in 17th-century New England. Then it became a book title and eventually a rallying cry for fourth-wave feminism. A quick history: First-wave feminism, beginning in the 1840s and lasting for decades, finally won voting and property rights for women. The second wave (late 1960s-1970s) protested the restriction of women to the home and achieved legal abortion, among other things. The third wave rose in response to sexual harassment in the workplace. The fourth wave sweeps up the previous waves, along with every recent civil-rights cause, in an unfocused roar of dissatisfaction. But let’s all calm down, and I’ll tell you about a well-behaved woman I knew. She was barely into her teens when her parents divorced—a rare occurrence in the 1930s—and shortly after that her mother joined households with two aunts and five rambunctious cousins. She was the first of her family to attend college, with hopes of becoming an architect, but had to drop out after freshman year because of a persistent national problem called the Great Depression. (One of those cousins sent a telegram with the bad news. I recall seeing it tucked in her college yearbook. It went something like this: We had to spend your tuition on tires stop. Sorry but with legs like yours who needs an education stop. Talk about sexist!)
16 WORLD Magazine • March 3, 2018
The author’s mother, Betty Erwin McRee
Besides wellbehaved, she was generous, hospitable, artistic, witty, faithful.
During the war, while working at a startup credit union, she met a handsome Army MP 12 years her senior. She married him, and almost a year after V-J Day their first daughter was born. Two more baby-boom daughters followed over the next nine years. She loved mothering and homemaking, but in 1959, owing to her husband’s health problems, she had to take up her old job at the credit union. “Equal pay for equal work” wasn’t even a concept then, because the man of the house was almost always the breadwinner and compensated accordingly. If she regretted giving up architecture, I never knew it. If she complained about going back to work, I never heard it. At times I thought she was too self-effacing, too self- contained, but those very qualities spared our family some of the drama I saw in my friends’ homes. Besides well-behaved, she was generous, hospitable, artistic, witty, faithful. She stuck with a sometimesdifficult marriage through good times and bad. After my father died, she traveled: road trips and cruises, two weeks in July at a church-sponsored English-language institute in Poland, two summers at a Christian publishing house in Vienna. She didn’t make history, but she made dozens of friends, hundreds of memories—and me. Taking the human race as a whole, only a tiny fraction make history, and the history they make is as likely to be disruptive as positive. Fourth-wave feminism makes no distinction: Women demand to be treated with respect while carrying signs with scatological slogans. PBS offers an online lesson plan under the “Wellbehaved women” title that challenges highschool students to break gender stereotypes. The featured historical example is Anne Bonny the pirate queen, who was spared hanging, after wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, only by revealing she was pregnant. Though PBS surely isn’t suggesting that today’s teen girls become pirates, feisty females get attention, even if they come up short on contentment. What do faithful females get? As my mother told one of her Bible study groups (citing Proverbs 31), “Your children really do rise up and called you blessed.” Even if they don’t, your heavenly Father will someday. Well-behaved women may not make history, but they make civilization, and if they disappear, the outlook isn’t good. A
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A new Marvel
BLACK PANTHER, FOR THE MOST PART, LIVES UP TO ITS GRAND EXPECTATIONS by Megan Basham A lot of hopes have been riding on Black Panther, one of the few major studio releases to center on a black superhero, and the first one to do so in the Avengers series. The movie bears burdens that no other Marvel film bears, and, in most respects, it stands tall under the pressure. Among the many things Black Panther does well is to illustrate what true diversity in entertainment looks like. That is, it doesn’t come just from casting but in looking for new stories to tell. With vibrant landscapes and costumes and a joyful, Africaninspired score, the film draws audiences into a truly new world. As a civilization with a distinct history and culture, Wakanda is far more convincing than, say, Asgard, which never had much more depth than Fantasyland at Disney World. More impressive, with a couple of minor exceptions,
MATT KENNEDY/MARVEL STUDIOS
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
the storyline navigates expectations that it would carry themes of racial politics into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with grace and goodwill. Following his father’s death, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) ascends the throne of Wakanda, an African nation that disguises itself as poor in order to protect its valuable natural resource, an element called “vibranium.” It is this element that has allowed Wakanda to become the most technologically advanced civilization in the world, though no one, save for a CIA agent (Martin Freeman) and a group of arms dealers led by Andy Serkis, knows it. But when a challenger to T’Challa’s right to rule arrives unexpectedly, T’Challa has to rethink his kingdom’s isolationist policies. The movie is very much concerned with sins of fathers being visited upon sons. In T’Challa we see how his father’s secrets from years before threaten not only his family but his entire nation. In T’Challa’s American antagonist March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 19
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Movies & TV
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from a simple flower conveys enhanced strength and agility, why should Wakanda’s monarch, alone, benefit from it? If what is mined must be shared, why not what is grown? Or, if, as T’Challa piously says in a post-credits scene that is receiving a lot of attention, Wakanda is committed to “building bridges not barriers,” will the nation eventually do more than the feel-good token of establishing education centers in inner cities and begin opening its doors to immigrants? None of this is to be a Debbie Downer about Black Panther, because it truly is an engaging, ground- breaking accomplishment within the genre. Nor is it to suggest these can’t be elements the hero wrestles with going forward. But it is to say that even within the world of the film, such issues are not so easily solved. So an emerging media narrative that Black Panther presents a micdrop indictment against current U.S. policies, is, well, comic-book level logic. A
For years, U.K. animation studio Aardman has built a reputation for quirky, Claymation shows and films like Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run. Their latest children’s movie, Early Man, carries on that tradition, but loses a bit of the daffy, characteristically British humor that gained their other films a loyal following. Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) is an average Stone Age Neanderthal living an average Neanderthal life, but dreams of more. Unfortunately, his chief thinks Dug’s ambition to hunt mammoths is too risky and insists their tribe continue subsisting on rabbits. Until, that is, some Bronze Age bullies, FOR THE WEEKEND OF FEB. 9-11 led by the Frenchaccording to Box Office Mojo sounding Lord Nooth (Tom CAUTIONS: Quantity of sexual (S), violent (V), Hiddleston), invade and foul-language (L) content on a 0-10 scale, with 10 high, from kids-in-mind.com their idyllic terri S V L tory with plans to 1 Fifty Shades Freed R................ 10 4 5 turn it into a cop` 2 Peter Rabbit PG...................................2 3 2 per mine. Dug’s ` 3 The 15:17 to Paris* PG-13...........2 5 5 only chance to win ` 4 Jumanji: Welcome to back the caveman ` the Jungle PG-13...................................4 5 4 valley is to beat the 5 The Greatest ` Beaker people in Showman* PG..........................................3 3 2 their sacred game, 6 Maze Runner: The ` otherwise known Death Cure PG-13................................. 1 5 4 as soccer, in a 7 Winchester PG-13...............................2 5 1 ` match for the ages.
BOX OFFICE TOP 10
8 The Post* PG-13...................................... 1 3 5 ` 9 The Shape of Water R...............8 7 6 ` 10 Den of Thieves R................................ 5 7 10 ` *Reviewed by WORLD
While Early Man scores lower in the wit department than some other Aardman films, the story is still plenty funny and boasts a sweetness that makes up for fewer jokes. There’s little in this PG film to cause parents concern, besides the classic walking-in-on-someonein-the-shower routine. Christians who take Genesis 1 literally will appreciate how little evolution crops up in the movie. In fact, two quick, subtle exchanges suggest a respect for religious faith. Early on, before they head out hunting, the cavemen gather for a prayer of thanks for the green bounty they share with so many beautiful creatures. This is followed by a punch line where they ask for a blessing on their plan to kill and eat some of them. It’s a funny moment, and while no specific deity is mentioned, it provides an opportunity to explain to kids that humankind has always had a concept of God and giving thanks to Him. Likewise, a ruler later describes soccer as a gift from heaven. It’s a nice little grace-note for believing parents in a genre that offers too few of them. —by MEGAN BASHAM
Killmonger (an excellent Michael B. Jordan), we also see the wages of the historical sins of slavery and racism. We may not agree with much of what Killmonger says, but we can’t deny the real pain and suffering that helped make him what he is. So perhaps, given how many items Black Panther had on the agenda, it can be pardoned for not being nearly as funny as previous Avengers’ outings. A few one-liners produce titters, but no scenes bring on the guffaws Guardians of the Galaxy and the recent Thor and Spider-Man movies produced. A little less easy to forgive are a handful of totally unnecessary PG-13 expletives and heavy doses of pagan ritual like praying to ancestors and taking hallucinogenic drugs to gain mystic wisdom. Other Avengers directors have referenced Eastern or Norse religions inherent to the source material, but these scenes feel more akin to the promotion of Avatar than, say, the simple mechanics of Doctor Strange. One last note: The debate at the center of the plot—whether Wakanda should share its wealth with struggling African nations (not to mention struggling African-Americans)—does bring in a few moral inconsistencies. If vibranium arms can give the oppressed power to overthrow their oppressors and establish self-government, would providing them really be wrong? After all, armed resistance led to the establishment of the United States. Or, if a potion made
AZIZ ANSARI AND HIS SERIES MASTER OF NONE INADVERTENTLY REVEAL A GAP BETWEEN PUBLIC IDEALS AND PRIVATE BEHAVIOR by Laura Finch Comedian Aziz Ansari’s show Master of None, with its foul language and sexual content, is by no means the best comedy streaming on Netflix right now. But Ansari’s recent newsworthiness, and what his actions mean for the “Time’s Up” anti-harassment movement, make the show worth talking about—if not worth watching. Ansari, 34, gained notoriety as Tom Haverford on NBC’s popular Parks and Recreation. In Ansari’s 2015 book, Modern Romance, he wrote about being a second-generation Indian-American and mused on the pros and cons of his parents’ arranged marriage versus today’s phone-focused dating rituals. For that book, he also worked with a sociologist to conduct hundreds of online and in-person interviews on courtship and dating. That same year, Netflix released the first season of Master of None. The writing is a creative, fictional outgrowth of Ansari’s nonfiction book research and his own life. The first season showcased the many dating foibles of his character, an aspiring actor named Dev, in New York City. Amusing at times, the show depicts one man’s restless and indecisive search for love, often through casual sex and (later) through intense heartache for one woman in particular. Master of None did fairly well with fans and critics, earning a second season and winning Ansari, in January, a Golden Globe for best actor. Then, just a few days after the Golden Globes ceremony, it seemed Ansari’s career would be the latest casualty of #TimesUp. An unidentified woman went to a little-known news outlet with a story about an encounter with Ansari. She met him at a party, went on a date with him, and went to his apartment. There, she said, she felt pressured multiple times by Ansari to have sex and to perform
See all our movie reviews at wng.org/movies
sexual acts she didn’t want to do. (Ansari says the activity “by all indications was completely consensual.”) What’s different about this incident— unlike those involving Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Garrison Keillor, and John Conyers, among many others—is that it lacks an extreme imbalance of power. In these cases, men in positions of power reportedly abused or harassed women working as their less-powerful colleagues or employees, or women who sought jobs from them. With Ansari’s anonymous accuser, the anti-harassment movement has stepped into murkier territory. A woman who met Ansari under “normal” circumstances chose to spend more time in private with him. She clearly had different expectations than he did, but Ansari, although a celebrity, wasn’t her employer. He was just a date. Other celebrities have timidly offered Ansari a quasi-defense. Famously vulgar comedian Amy Schumer called his actions “not cool” on a podcast, but also said, “I think it’s about expressing and showing women that that behavior’s
not OK and not only can you leave, but you need to leave.” Master of None actress Lena Waithe said, “We have to create codes of conduct. … How do you know what appropriate behavior is if no one’s ever communicated to you what appropriate behavior is?” SNL aired a sketch about a bunch of friends tiptoeing around one question: Why didn’t Ansari’s date just leave? All of this makes Master of None interesting in this cultural moment: Aziz Ansari should have known exactly what appropriate dating behavior is. He actually wrote a book about it, a book that bemoans dating trends like “ghosting.” He pokes fun at “creepy dudes” in his stand-up routines. A major storyline from Master of None reveals Dev’s colleague, a public figure, to be a harasser, and then highlights Dev’s bumbling media response. (Ansari has said he had Roger Ailes in mind when he wrote it.) And yet the dating etiquette guru of his generation stands accused of hurting someone because he pushed her too far. For Christians, the standard for appropriate behavior is the pursuit of purity—a foreign concept for most of Hollywood. “Time’s Up,” together with #MeToo, could introduce opportunities for national conversation about raising dating standards, which could in turn have a positive ripple effect on marriage and families, the pro-life movement, and public health in general. That sounds like a storyline worth following. A
Ansari in a scene from Master of None
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BLACK HISTORY MONTH: ONE MORE LOOK by Marvin Olasky As February’s Black was supposed to stay in the History Month comes racially segregated balcony. to a close, let’s remember Dattel shows how for that the line dividing good decade after decade and evil has never Northerners disrun along the played racism. In Mason-Dixon 1803 the Ohio Line. In one of Legislature the books on passed “black our 2017 Books laws” to keep of the Year Africanshort list, Americans from Dattel Reckoning with coming into the Race: America’s state. In 1821 New Failure (Encounter), author York eliminated a property Gene Dattel describes an requirement for white incident in Philadelphia voters while raising the during or soon after the requirement for black 1787 Constitutional voters by 150 percent. In Convention. The Rev. 1836 Michigan prohibited Absalom Jones was praying African-Americans from on his knees on the ground voting and said blacks are “a floor of St. George’s Church, degraded caste of mankind.” near Constitution Hall. A In 1847, South Boston resiwhite trustee pulled him up dents bragged that “not a and said, “You must get up; single colored family” lived you must not kneel here.” there. In 1853 the Illinois Jones, an African-American, Legislature passed “An Act
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Owen’s writing itself—but I do admire The Works of William Perkins, Volume 1 (Reformation Heritage, 2014). Perkins (1558-1602) knew the temptations of power and wrote that “temptations fetched on the right hand from honor, pleasure, and commodity, are the most dangerous and do soonest creep into the heart of man. … In these our days worldly hopes have drawn those from the sincerity of religion, whom outward violence could not move; prosperity is a slippery path, wherein a man does soon catch a fall, and therefore
The move north often brought economic progress but moral regress. AfricanAmerican sociologist E. Franklin Frazier, exploring demoralization and high illegitimacy rates, wrote in The Negro Family in Chicago (1932) of missing “continuity and roots … fading memories of relatives and life in the south.” He wrote of a married mother who summarized “her family background” with this: “I ain’t got no history.” In the 1950s and 1960s the desegregation of Southern schools received national attention. Dattel is faithful to history when he writes that the attempt “to portray the South as the nation’s exclusive racial scapegoat soothes Frazier Northern consciences but is misleading.” Sen. Abe Ribicoff, D-Conn., acknowledged in 1969 that “you too” rejoinders from the South were accurate: “The North is guilty of monumental hypocrisy in its treatment of the black man.”
we must learn to be most watchful over our own hearts when we have fairest weather with the world.” Glenn Frankel’s High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic (Bloomsbury, 2017) is a well-researched and readily readable account of how a Jewish director, producer, and screenwriter created a great Protestant, individualistic Western. Unsurprisingly, chapters decrying the politics of 1952 make the book academically respectable, but they detract little from a parable of Here I Stand courage. —M.O.
DATTEL: HANDOUT • FRAZIER: WILLIAM J. SMITH/AP
Reading Puritan literature from centuries ago is an acquired taste, and I admit to liking J.I. Packer’s elegant essay on John Owen more than
to Prevent the Immigration of Free Negroes into the State.” In 1857 threefourths of whites in Connecticut voted against allowing blacks (2 percent of the population) to vote. After the Civil War, a prime goal of Northerners was to keep freed slaves from heading their way. Until World War I, the North welcomed immigrants from Europe but not African-Americans from the South. That changed during and after World War I: Between 1916 and 1930 Southern blacks, 1.5 million of them, took the steel tracks north, but many were still unwelcome. When a black physician, Alexander Turner, moved into a white Detroit neighborhood in 1925, 5,000 whites surrounded his house. Some stoned him. A home purchase by another black doctor, Ossian Sweet, led to murder.
NOVELS FROM CHRISTIAN PUBLISHERS reviewed by Sandy Barwick THE MASTERPIECE Francine Rivers Wealthy artist Roman Velasco gets no satisfaction from his success. Tormented by memories of his horrific childhood, he finds release by illegally tagging buildings with graffiti. Enter Grace Moore, Roman’s reliable but equally troubled personal assistant. Both carry heavy emotional baggage, but Grace gains strength through her trust in Jesus. Her unwillingness to settle for less than God’s best leads Roman to re-evaluate his own lifestyle. In this beautiful story, the two find true love and peace only after Jesus does His redemptive work in their hearts.
THE SATURDAY NIGHT SUPPER CLUB Carla Laureano
Ex-attorney Trevor Black’s unusual ability to interact with supernatural creatures uniquely qualifies him to investigate a Washington lawyer’s mysterious “death by voodoo.” His research takes him and his daughter to New Orleans and further into the murky swamps of Port Sulphur, La. As they dig deeper into voodoo rituals, they uncover a connection to a heartbreaking human trafficking ring preying on young girls. An unseen enemy threatens their lives as they race to save a new batch of victims, but Trevor’s reliance on Jesus’ power gives him victory over repeated evil encounters.
Inspired by real events, All She Left Behind by Jane Kirkpatrick (Revell, 2017) follows the remarkable life of Jennie Pickett, a woman who dreamed of being a doctor in 19th-century Oregon. A tale of tenacity and courage during a time when women had few options apart from motherhood and housekeeping, Jennie’s unconventional story contains many surprising twists. Trusting God’s providence in all circumstances, Jennie overcame dyslexia, social norms, and many personal setbacks. In addition, the story highlights the destruction caused by rampant alcohol and drug abuse even then. Kirkpatrick’s meticulous attention to historical detail allows the reader a fascinating glimpse into one woman’s often sad but joy-filled journey. —S.B.
To see more book news and reviews, go to wng.org/books
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Food isn’t the only thing sizzling in this fun, modern romance set in Denver. Award-winning chef and restaurant owner Rachel Bishop has reached the top when everything comes crashing down after a social media fiasco. To assuage his guilt for his part in her demise, writer Alex Kanin offers to help Rachel salvage her career by hosting Saturday night supper clubs. The story demonstrates the harmfulness of careless words and assumptions and explores a common conflict: balancing a satisfying personal life with a successful career. It also shows God’s ability to use seemingly bad circumstances for our good.
UNTIL WE FIND HOME Cathy Gohlke This World War II story begins at a frantic pace as Claire Stewart smuggles five Jewish children out of France before Nazis invade Paris. When her contact doesn’t show up to collect the children, she reluctantly takes them to her wealthy aunt’s English estate. From here the story slows and skims over the grim fact that these kids will probably never see their parents again. Contemporaries Beatrix Potter and C.S. Lewis have cameo roles, the latter helping Claire understand God’s love and goodness despite the chaos in her life— and the book’s ending satisfies.
THE EMPOWERED Craig Parshall
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FOUR MIDDLE-GRADE NOVELS reviewed by Mary Jackson A LITTLE TASTE OF POISON R.J. Anderson Coming from a poor and ostracized family, Isaveth Brett accepts a scholarship to the premier school in Tarreton. She proves resilient as bullying and false accusations ensue, but past events and secret ties with the Sagelord’s son Esmond put Isaveth in the middle of a bigger scandal that involves murder, politics—and poison. This fantasy sequel to Anderson’s A Pocket Full of Murder includes suspense, trickery, and magical potions. Parents should be aware the book addresses the Sagelord’s alcoholism and failure as a father, which prove to be his downfall. Friendship and trustworthy adults provide a welcome contrast. (Ages 9-12)
THE LAST ARCHER S.D. Smith Jo Shanks leaves his Halfwind Citadel home for Cloud Mountain as a young, orphan rabbit with cunning archery skills and something to prove. He soon finds himself in the middle of surprise wolf attacks and the outbreak of a bloody war where one shot could determine its outcome. In the thick of battle, Jo meets surprising allies and learns bravery and humility, which soon overshadow his quest for personal glory. This small book, part of Smith’s Green Ember series, has read-aloud appeal for a wide audience with its fast-moving chapters, noble themes, and plenty of animal-fantasy fare. (Ages 8-12)
JOHANNA AND HENRIETTE KUYPER: DARING TO CHANGE THEIR WORLD Abigail van der Velde When Johanna meets Abraham Kuyper, or “Bram,” her father warns her not to lose herself. But in marriage she becomes a tempering force for Kuyper, a strong-willed reformist, theologian, and Netherland’s prime minister. Set in the late 19th century, this biographical story follows Johanna’s challenges during a time when a woman’s role was questioned. It also tells of the Kuypers’ daughter Henriette, or “Harry,” who is more progressive than her mother and embodies her father’s passion. Harry travels internationally, championing women’s suffrage, and eventually becomes a war correspondent. Van der Velde’s debut novel follows five other “Chosen Daughter” titles that shed light on little-known women who shaped history. (Ages 8-12)
ROLL Darcy Miller
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Two recent nonfiction picture books and one oldie but goodie draw in young readers with lively illustrations. In Her Right Foot (Chronicle Books, 2017) Dave Eggers explores the history of one of America’s most iconic symbols: the Statue of Liberty. The book tells where Lady Liberty came from, why she is blue-green, and what is the significance of her lifted right foot. Adam Lehrhaupt’s This Is a Good Story (Simon & Schuster, 2017) introduces young children to the elements that make an interesting read. Children will learn—albeit briefly—about settings, plots, characters, and climaxes as they follow a little girl writing her own adventure. David Adler’s Fun with Roman Numerals (Holiday House, 2008) has helpful visual aids to teach the basics of reading and using Roman numerals. —Kristin Chapman
To see more book news and reviews, go to wng.org/books
SHAWN HARRIS/CHRONICLE BOOKS
Eleven-year-old Ren must adjust when his parents move outside their small Minnesota town. His plans to run cross-country quickly dissolve when he meets a new neighbor, Sutton, who has a surprising passion—training Birmingham roller pigeons. Ren’s curiosity and a budding friendship with Sutton bring self-discovery and put him at odds with a childhood best friend. There’s some suspense as Ren and Sutton work toward a regional championship. Miller’s debut novel includes unique information on raising and flying roller pigeons—but mostly it highlights for coming-of-age preteens and teens the role of friendship and honesty in the midst of change. (Ages 8-12)
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Convention Highlights Other Highlights: · Industry Sessions · The Exposition · Film Pitch-a-thon Online Censorship: NRB’s new
initiative, Internet Freedom Watch, counters censorship, as with PragerU on YouTube. Dennis Prager will speak.
Film Screenings: Watch God’s Not Dead 3, One Nation
Under God, I Can Only Imagine, Staines, and Paul, Apostle of Christ. Also hear from Dennis Quaid (I Can Only Imagine), Jim Caviezel (Paul, Apostle of Christ), and Stephen Baldwin (Staines).
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No coddling allowed
PROMOTING HIGHER EDUCATION THAT CELEBRATES WHAT IS TRUE, NOT COMFORTABLE by Sophia Lee
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won’t be challenged by ideas that aren’t liberal or radical—on college campuses. In 2015 he criticized this phenomenon in an online article (“This is Not a Day
What are your concerns about safe spaces? It’s ideological fascism rather
than academic freedom. Like fascism, the idea goes: If you don’t think like we think or believe what we believe, you’re unwelcome. Ironically, safe spaces exclude people under a banner of inclusion. The entire call for safe spaces is self-refuting at every turn. C.S. Lewis wrote that the great lion Aslan is not safe, but he is good. The great lion of
Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, has been watching the growing demand for “safe spaces”—places where students
Care. It’s a University!”) that quickly went viral and drew the attention of mainstream media. His new book on the same issue, Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth, came out in August 2017. Here are edited excerpts of our interview in Los Angeles.
the liberal arts, the great lion of the academic ivory tower, is not supposed to be safe, but he’s supposed to be good. There’s a difference between safe education and good education. I’d much rather have the second and not the first. How did your online piece in 2015 originate? One of my students
said he felt uncomfortable and victimized during a chapel sermon
should be comfortable and safe. The church has so imbibed the postmodern Kool-Aid that we no longer like the message of the gospel, which, frankly, is a message that confronts our sin. All those positive responses from the secular side show a demand. We’re
completely missing what our culture is begging for right now: The culture is begging for a solution, which is to confront everybody with the gospel of truth and grace. It’s a gospel that loves people enough to confront them. We the church have the living water of the gospel, but rather than giving the world what it wants, we are just parroting back the postmodern marsh with the message of tolerance, which people intuitively know is a lie. We have the truth, but because the truth comes with confrontation and conviction and challenge, we’re afraid to offer it.
‘There’s a difference between safe education and good education. I’d much rather have the second and not the first.’ on 1 Corinthians 13 about love. I was incredulous and told him, “Young man, this feeling of discomfort is called your conscience. You might want to pay attention to it.” So I wrote about that, but I never expected to have 3.5 million people reading it within the first two weeks. Obviously, that post struck a chord. What were the responses?
We analyzed those 3.5 million views and comments. Ninety-seven percent of the comments were positive, 3 percent negative. Now, the poster child of the 97 percent were the atheists and the agnostics. I received a hard copy letter from a university president, whom I cannot name, who said, “I read your piece. I went to your website to see who you are. As an atheist, I can easily dismiss your religion and your politics. And I do. … But, on this issue, thank you. It needed to be said. Please carry on.” Now, who’s the poster child for the other 3 percent? It was church people who said, “Shame on you,” while the secular world said, “Good for you.” What does this mean? The emergent church is uncomfortable with confrontation. They think Christianity, or the church experience,
We’ve been seeing a lot of protests on college campuses lately wanting to shut down conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro. Do they represent the majority? No. But even if they’re a
minority, they’re still a very loud voice. It still overwhelms the sense of academic freedom and intellectual liberty to the point where the majority feels silenced. What’s the real fear? An intellectual fear of not complying to the popular message of tolerance—the fear of being politically incorrect, being countercultural. Those who speak out are labeled as unloving, insensitive, and intolerant, and they don’t want to suffer that label. You’ve been in the academic field for decades. Is this a relatively new phenomenon? This attitude of political
correctness has been around for decades, but 15 years ago ridicule could silence the opposing voice. Today, people use cries for safe spaces, threats of violence, and riots. I’m an optimist because of my faith in Christ, but I believe we will see great challenges to
academic liberty and more outcry against the time-tested truths of God. Does Oklahoma Wesleyan have such issues? Our students come out of
that same culture. Kids are coming out of youth groups that teach them more about Rob Bell than the orthodoxy of their faith, so we get some students with bad ideas. We do surveys of incoming freshmen, and we see the scale moving left on views on sexuality, substance use, same-sex marriage. The more important question is: What do I do about it? Do I coddle them or confront them? Unfortunately, I would argue that very few Christian colleges are willing to say, “We will not give you trigger warnings, we will not make you feel comfortable at the expense of building your character.” Then how do prospective students and parents choose a Christian college?
Students and parents have to be very diligent in asking questions. Ask to meet the president of the university, and if he won’t see you, don’t go there— you’re paying too much not to be able to see the president. If he meets you, ask him these two questions: One, what’s your view of Scripture? Second, what’s your view of truth? If he says the Scripture is inerrant, infallible, the authoritative Word of God, that truth is self-evident and objective as endowed to us by our Creator, good. If he doesn’t answer that, it’s not because he’s stupid and didn’t understand your question. He doesn’t want to tell you. If you were to give a commencement address to students at UC Berkeley, what would you say? I would say: Your
motto is, “Let there be light.” From whence does that motto come? It comes from the time-tested truth of Scripture, from the acknowledgment that there is objectivity and permanence and endurance and immutability to the c oncept of Light with a capital L. Today, when you graduate from Berkeley, you don’t get a diploma that says you majored in opinions. You get a diploma because you learned something. Opinions lead to failure, disaster, and bondage. Truth and Light will set you free. Today we’re celebrating truth, not opinions. Now come and get your diploma. A
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Passing the scene THE DEATHS OF FOUR MUSICIANS WHO MADE THEIR MARKS by Arsenio Orteza So many rock-era icons have died within the past few years that fans have grown accustomed to waking up to news of another one’s passing. Still, the death on Jan. 15 of the Cranberries’ 46-year-old lead singer Dolores O’Riordan came as a surprise. Although their hit-making days were behind them, the Cranberries still occasionally performed and recorded, releasing an album of original material in 2012 (Roses) and an album comprising unplugged versions of their greatest hits last year (Something Else). O’Riordan’s strongly Irish-accented voice was something of an acquired taste. On lissome pop numbers such as “Dreams” and “Linger,” it floated and darted with avian grace. But it could also morph into a feral snarl that detracted from what she had to say even when what she had to say was worth saying. Authorities have said that the cause of O’Riordan’s death might not be revealed for months, leaving fans to wonder whether her struggles with chronic back pain and bipolar disorder might have played a role.
On the same day that O’Riordan died, the 74-year-old gospel choir master and singer Edwin Hawkins 28 WORLD Magazine • March 3, 2018
s uccumbed to pancreatic cancer. In 1969, his rousing arrangement of the 18th-century hymn “Oh Happy Day” became a soul-gospel standard and made his Northern California State Youth Choir of the Church of God in Christ—rechristened the Edwin Hawkins Singers—overnight sensations. Technically, the Singers were onehit wonders, although they received co-billing with Melanie in 1970 on some copies of her Top 10 hit “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).” But while none of the albums they recorded in the aftermath of “Oh Happy Day” returned them to the charts or evinced aesthetic development, the more thoughtfully sequenced of their many best-ofs reveal a richness in their piano-driven, vocalpowerhouse approach to proclaiming the Good News that still has the capacity to edify and inspire. On Jan. 23, prostate cancer claimed another one-hit wonder, the 78-yearold South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, whose slinky pop-jazz instrumental “Grazing in the Grass” hit No. 1 on both the pop and the R&B charts 50 years ago. Like “Oh Happy Day,” the song has endured, both in its original version (as
a staple of oldies and easy-listening radio) and in the versions of the many musicians who’ve covered it. And like Hawkins, Masekela recorded prolifically despite the elusiveness of a follow-up smash. He eventually incorporated worldmusic elements into his sound and became a musical mouthpiece for anti-apartheid and Afrocentric sensibilities. On his final album, No Borders (2016), Masekela went for what he called an “international, diaspora kind of feel,” which is certainly one way of describing what he and his various guests (Oliver Mtukudzi, Themba Mokoena, J’Something, Dice Makgothi) came up with. On Jan. 4, the longtime Moody Blues flautist Ray Thomas died after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. Thomas, who retired in 2002, didn’t write or sing-lead on any of the band’s hits. But from 1965’s The Magnificent Moodies to 1999’s Strange Times, he sang lead on over 20 Moody Blues album cuts, most of which he wrote and at least one of which, “Legend of a Mind” (best known for the refrain “Timothy Leary’s dead”), has achieved classic status among the group’s many fans. It comes as some comfort to know that, several weeks before his death, Thomas learned that he and his fellow Moodies had finally been selected for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The honor was long overdue. A
O’RIORDAN: FRANK HOENSCH/REDFERNS • MASEKELA: DANIEL REINHARDT/PICTURE-ALLIANCE/DPA/AP • THOMAS: RICHARD E. AARON/REDFERNS • HAWKINS: BRAD BARKET/INVISION/AP
NEW OR RECENT ALBUMS reviewed by Arsenio Orteza FOR MADMEN ONLY Atomic Opera It speaks well of this hard-hitting, secular-market Christianmetal offering that 23 years after its initial appearance Derek Oliver’s Rock Candy Records has seen fit to release it in a “special deluxe collector’s edition” (replete with a detailed behind-the-scenes essay and other booklet goodies). As relevant as ever: a song called “War Drum” that by quoting the melody of “Onward, Christian Soldiers” christens the song’s militant pacifism and elevates it beyond politics—and Sam Taylor’s layered production, newly remastered for maximum eardrum-toughening punch.
RUINS First Aid Kit On their second Columbia album, Johanna and Klara Söderberg continue to excel at what brought them to the attention of the majors in the first place: achingly lovely vocals and arrestingly melancholy melodies. As combined by their latest producer Tucker Martine, these qualities result in a reasonable facsimile of folk music for moderns. What separates them from the real thing is the lyrics. In song after song, the Söderbergs lament unrequited love without ever hitting upon a memorable phrase or image. Maybe “Emmylou” was a fluke after all.
AS YOU SEE ME NOW
Jools Holland, José Feliciano “Treat Myself,” a song about imagining there’s a heaven, is one of the high points of Stevie Wonder’s latter-day output, and, believe it or not, Feliciano, Holland, and the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra raise its emotional and spiritual temperature. They bring something to Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” (crisp swing, two Feliciano acoustic-guitar solos) as well. They certainly don’t subtract anything from “Hit the Road Jack” or Tracy Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You.” Elsewhere, the good time that is obviously being had by all is reward enough.
I CAN FEEL YOU CREEP INTO MY PRIVATE LIFE tUnE-yArDs If cookie-cutter #Resistance leftism could be said to have depths, Merrill Garbus could be said to plumb them. Her whirligig-of-consciousness lyrics retain an openendedness even when tethered to such closed-ended subjects as the death of Eric Garner (“Heart Attack”) and white privilege (“Colonizer,” “Private Life”). She manages this trick primarily by sing-chanting her lyrics until they verge on incantation and by tethering them to rhythms that aren’t above colonizing funk. Or maybe it’s just that she’s not above letting funk colonize her.
To see more music news and reviews, go to wng.org/music
ENCORE By now, the story told by Sensational Sweet: Chapter One: The Wild Bunch (RCA/ Sony) is well-known: Four U.K. musicians known as “The Sweet” go from scoring bubblegum hits written for them to dropping the “The” and reinventing themselves as a self-contained, hard-rocking unit, eventually winding down after a 10-year run amid internal dissension and the declining interest of an audience conditioned to prize novelty. Still, a story that begins with “Little Willy” (1972); climaxes with “Ballroom Blitz,” “Fox on the Run,” and “Action” (1975); and winds down with “Love Is like Oxygen” (1978) is likely to have entertaining subplots—i.e., more adrenalized tunes where those came from. In this regard Sensational Sweet, which collects the U.K. configurations of the band’s first six albums, adding two live discs and a singles-only compilation, delivers. In fact, it over-delivers, thanks, no doubt, to an audience conditioned to prize demos The Sweet and alternate takes. —A.O. March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 29
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Recent Christian releases
reviewed by Jeff Koch
LIKE NEVER BEFORE Nicole C. Mullen Mullen gives lie to the depiction of Christians as joyless prudes with a sour countenance. The title track’s entrancing bass and thumping club beat jolt listeners into entering the joy of faith to “Sing like never before / shout like never before / dance like never before.” A wider-thanordinary musical palette brings a little something for everyone, including urban hip-hop, R&B, and even a quirky French version of “It Is Well.” Traditional CCM fans will cheer for “Greater Still,” a steadily building anthem in the manner of Mullen’s original breakthrough hit, “My Redeemer Lives.”
GOOD NEWS Rend Collective The great news about Rend Collective’s Good News is that it makes the gospel sound genuinely good (and great, and fun) as it ought. The band maintains a raw-boned, freewheeling feel thanks to eclectic instrumentation straight from an Irish pub. But it’s a pub that beats with a church’s heart, continuously winking to favorite hymns and crafting new ones. These hymns are less the civilized creatures of Keith and Kristyn Getty and more like wild critters roaming the backcountry, with whoops and hollers driving rousing, blues-infused choruses.
MORE Jeremy Riddle Riddle displays all the requisite characteristics of today’s catchy worship music movement: a pleasing, plaintive tenor perfect for crying out for God’s help in trouble and reverb-drenched keys and guitars creating an open, U2-redux sound capable of building big choruses or breaking down to brooding moments. But one aspect that sets Riddle far above the pack is a playful, patient way of entering into the song space that imbues ambiance and musicality. That and a canny ear for pop make for a orship sound that effectively delivers More. w
HAVE MY HEART Brooke Robertson Despite being independently released, Robertson’s debut EP created an immediate stir in the Christian market. Turns out that an intimate, jazz-inflected voice bouncing breezily atop acoustic-pop rhythms in the vein of Chris Rice and Sarah Groves is a tough combination to resist. As a result of sometimes-gauzy lyrics and conventional song structures, the project is a bit simple. But so is a sunny day. And we can always use another one of those.
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As political movements accentuate class and tribal distinctions, two artists (one white and one black) encourage us to remember the gospel is colorblind. With High Above, Derek Minor brings serious reflections to a weird and wonderful hip-hop landscape stuffed with potent hooks and jazz psychedelia. On “Walls” he threads a silky groove while bemoaning how we “kiss up to God” for “a promotion” while ignoring the needs of the poor all around us: “We spend $9.99 for Spotify / but hearing my stomach rumblin’, not worth a dime?” Every tribe and tongue is an example of the “master’s masterpieces … made in His image, we are all His kids / [If ] I look down on you, I look down on Him.” The other is Carmen Justice’s Against the Odds. Amid bold vocals and futuristic drum sequencing, “Red & Yellow, Black & White,” Justice asks, “Why do we build all these walls up?” Whether that’s a poke at a certain campaign promise or just good timing is hard to say. Muscular beats and catchy melodies save the album’s heavily layered production from becoming too selfserious, as do solid guest appearances from rapper GabeReal and Steven Malcolm. —J.K.
To see more music news and reviews, go to wng.org/music
Ready for the job
GLOBAL CHRISTIAN AID WORK MAY BE AT RISK AS TRUMP NOMINEE COMES UNDER FIRE In the world of public policy there are those who talk and those who do. When you find a talker with a track record to go with it, someone in a position to propose making things happen but then who makes them happen, you pay attention. When those happenings are in Washington, Baghdad, Monrovia, and Darfur—each a war zone all its own—you want to go along for the ride, take notes from the front, and send word back to friends, family, and the generally weary: Hey, the world is careening through another disaster of its own making, but someone just stopped this runaway train for a possibly brief but shining moment! Ken Isaacs is one of the runaway train stoppers, someone whose job is to make good things happen in the very worst, most hopeless places. For decades he has supervised aid work in the wake of humanitarian disasters—the colossal 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, West Africa’s 2014 Ebola outbreak, Europe’s 2015 migration crisis, and more— coordinating with officials, across language barriers, often in places where phones are down, lights are off, and survivors are traumatized. The 65-year-old vice president of Samaritan’s Purse, the North Carolina–based aid agency headed by Franklin Graham, frequents front lines but rarely makes headlines. That is, until President Trump tapped him as the candidate to become the next director general of the International Organization for Migration. IOM, a UN-affiliated agency with a $1 billion budget funded largely by the United States, has a crucial mission as forced migration perpetuates the largest global refugee crisis since World War II. Isaacs, with 35 years’ experience crafting relief programs to stem migration flows, including a stint as director of foreign disaster assistance at USAID, is a solid pick by President Donald Trump, who has come under widespread criticism for comments demeaning life in some of the countries Isaacs knows best.
MATT POWELL/SAMARITAN’S PURSE
Ken Isaacs, with 35 years’ experience crafting relief programs to stem migration flows, is a solid pick.
Isaacs helps with the medical evacuation of Samaritan’s Purse staffers who were attacked in Sudan.
But State Department foes and The Washington Post are going after the aid executive ahead of a June 29 vote by the IOM’s 169 member nations. The Post on Feb. 3 cited scattered Twitter and Facebook posts to claim Isaacs “made disparaging remarks about Muslims and denied climate change.” In a Feb. 11 opinion piece the paper’s editorial board went further, calling Isaacs’ nomination “an embarrassment” and his comments “ignorant, prejudiced and incendiary.” Cherry-picking social media for dirt is lazy, if popular, journalism. It’s an easy way to malign a 35-year career, and perhaps create a bar to Christian aid groups, some of the largest in the world, at key international forums. I first ran into Isaacs at the end of the Bosnian War, when Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan’s Purse program, was handing out thousands of gift-packed shoeboxes. Local church leaders weren’t happy to be shouldering the costs of warehousing and transporting them. I reported their comments, and Isaacs took me to task on technicalities but promised to continue talking. As the Samaritan’s Purse footprint grew, I would reach Isaacs on a plane over Sudan and on the ground in Haiti. As the end of the Cold War gave way to the rise of Islamic terrorism, relief work in Muslim-dominated war zones became the norm. Isaacs coordinated extensive aid efforts serving Muslim-only populations in Afghanistan, Darfur, Iraq, and elsewhere. In 2016 the Iraqi Ministry of Health invited Samaritan’s Purse to set up a field hospital outside Mosul in Iraq (see “Iraq’s grisly liberation,” March 18, 2017). Isaacs negotiated the arrangement—the first of its kind by an outside aid group—with Baghdad officials and the World Health Organization, all in 30 days’ time. Since December 2016 the facility has treated thousands of Iraqi war wounded—nearly all Muslims. In September 2017 it was turned over to Iraqi health officials to run. Besides Muslim-led governments asking Isaacs for help, UNHCR in 2015 asked Samaritan’s Purse to take over some operations in its crowded Greece camps. There Isaacs saw up close the challenges for dealing with large migrant populations and the real threats of Islamic jihadists among them. Those threats remain, making the need for clear-headed compassion more important than ever. Isaacs, well acquainted with the difference between real and fake bullets, in the meantime isn’t likely to be dissuaded by domestic potshots. A March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 31
F E AT U R E S
Dueling visions, gnawing suspicions The battle over a proposed sale of American evangelism’s ‘Missions Pentagon’ raises questions of missionary strategy and nonprofit accountability. What responsibility do ministries have to their founder’s vision—and to those who sacrificed to fund it? by SOPHIA LEE and MARVIN OLASKY photo by John Fredricks/Genesis
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The campus of William Carey International University in Pasadena, Calif.
arch 4 is Oscar night, and the “best actor” favorite is Gary Oldman for his portrayal of Winston Churchill, who famously spoke of fighting on the beaches and never surrendering. But in Pasadena, 18 miles northeast of the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, sits the campus of William Carey International University (WCIU) and Frontier Ventures (FV), two interlinked ministries that are not having their finest hour. That 15-acre campus was once like Rivendell in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, according to international prayer leader David Bryant: a place for missionary research, mobilization, and training “where visions can be born, where fragile dreams can become reality, where battle plans can be laid … and faith renewed.” Former campus staffer Bob Coleman, in the 1970s a young CalTech graduate, recalls the energy there in those “very, very exciting” days as “an invisible revolution swept the missions world.” But now, the overlapping WCIU and FV boards are seeking to sell the campus plus 5 more acres and up to 147 units of off-campus housing. Officially, ministry leaders say a central campus for missionaries is outmoded. Unofficially, they desire to leave behind years of property mis management and gain a pot of money for other evangelistic purposes. FV/WCIU faces opposition from Save the Campus, a feisty group that represents missionaries and those who donated money 30 to 40 years ago to buy the campus. They say FV/WCIU should not surrender the campus. They have vowed to fight in the courts, on the internet, and maybe even on the beaches. The Pasadena battle was largely local in 2017 and January 2018, but on Feb. 1 a nationally distributed press release announced FV/WCIU’s intent to sell, and implied that all is well. By then, WORLD over two months had interviewed dozens of people on both sides of the dispute, walked the acreage, and heard or read court documents about drug sales, employee abuse, whistleblowing, and more. Here’s a look at the story behind the public relations story—and why the rest of us should care.
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Swedish missionary Erik Stadell knelt and fasted for a week, praying that God would claim the campus for world missions. That prayer tracked with the hopes of Ralph Winter, a former Presbyterian missionary who had worked with the indigenous Maya people of Latin America and become a missionary trainer at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. In 1974, at the International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland, Winter had called for Protestants to emphasize evangelism among those who had never been exposed to Christianity—the “unreached people.” Two years later the campus was available because Pasadena College had moved to a new oceanfront location and taken a new name: Point Loma College (now Point Loma Nazarene University). But dozens of purchase offers broke down for various reasons, and the last offer standing was from a mystic cult that erected a giant Buddha statue on campus grounds—but Pasadena alumnus Jim Dobson, hosting a hot new “Focus on the Family” radio show, told the college, “If you sell to a cult, I’ll tell everyone about it.” So Winter was able to buy the property for $10 million, with little money down but hefty interest (8 to 12.5 percent) and a balloon payment of $8.5 million due in 1987, according to Roberta Winter’s I Will Do a New Thing. He dubbed his project the U.S. Center for World Mission (USCWM), but
n the heart of the campus, surrounded by patches of grass, sits a raised platform of concrete and brownish-red tiles called “The Slab.” In 1975 the campus belonged to Pasadena College. On The Slab stood a prayer chapel with stained-glass windows where
Disrepair in Pierce Hall on the WCIU campus
$1,000. Missionaries gave their entire savings accounts. One man sold his valuable antique car, and a young woman sold her car. Young people gathered to make a joint pledge of $1,000. One elderly woman produced another $1,000 by inviting 13 people to her home and getting them all to pledge a piece.
some soon called it the “Missions Pentagon,” with staff workers speaking 40 languages and bringing to bear experience in more than 70 countries. USCWM two years before the 1987 deadline ran a “Last 1,000 Campaign,” where 8,000 contributions of $1,000 each would cement ownership of the campus plus the housing units around it: They were to provide regular rental income so USCWM would be self-sustaining and would not have to compete for funds with other mission agencies. By then, Winter had proven the usefulness of having a center. Institutes of Muslim, Chinese, Buddhist, and Hindu studies taught missionaries how to approach those groups. International Films Inc. taught courses on filmmaking, the Fellowship of Artists for Cultural Evangelism taught about the use of native art as a bridge for evangelism, and an applied linguistics program showed how to teach English to speakers of other languages. William Carey International University, named after the pioneer missionary who started schools for poor children in India and opened up the first Christian theological university there, offered B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees. Seeing all the activity there, Christians gave sacrificially. A young woman about to be married donated her wedding budget to the campus. Students who were working part time sent in
By 1987 Ralph Winter had proven the usefulness of having a center. Institutes of Muslim, Chinese, Buddhist, and Hindu studies taught missionaries how to approach those groups.
or years, the campus was a productive garden of innovation, with citrus and eucalyptus trees lining campus walkways on which missionaries and students strode. Then in 2009 Ralph Winter, whom Time in 2005 named one of America’s 25 most influential Christians, died after battling myeloma—and his vision is no longer welcome. Now, most of the missions-related activity is gone. FV/WCIU (“Frontier Ventures” is the “rebranding” name for USCWM) derives revenue from renting buildings to several schools and churches and renting houses to people searching on Craigslist for vacancies. The tenants have brought new problems that tarnish the reputation of what was a great institution. We’ve learned about drug and drinking problems. WCIU President Kevin Higgins acknowledged that FV/WCIU “evicted three housing tenants when it was discovered they were selling drugs.” He noted “two incidents on campus involving students who attend schools run by organizations on our campus.” (Out of respect for families who are struggling with the crisis, we and FV/WCIU are not going into specifics.) We’ve learned about problems involving three charter or private schools—Orion, Celerity, and Excelsior—that rented classroom buildings. Orion was dissatisfied with the condition of its building and left. The Pasadena Fire Department, citing safety concerns, told Celerity it had to move. Excelsior still occupies parts of two buildings: Few of the students are Christians, and the school administration has stifled attempts by evangelicals to invite the students to movie nights and other outreach events. We’ve learned that FV/WCIU currently faces at least three civil lawsuits from former and current employees alleging harassment, retaliation, overwork without overtime pay, and wrongful termination. The campus’s former human resources director, David Clancy, found FV/WCIU abusing employees, erring in employee benefits, assigning extra work hours without overtime pay, violating whistleblower policies, and not paying state income taxes. Furthermore, Eduardo Rios, employed from 2007 to 2014 as an electrician, has filed suit concerning “internal wrongdoing, theft, and mismanagement” involving disregard of safety requirements, diversion of maintenance to side jobs at the expense of WCIU, threatened violence, March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 35
and illegal termination. When WORLD gave President Higgins a list of charges by Clancy and Rios, he commented, “Yes. In each case we have sought to meet with staff and employees to solve these issues. We have made extensive changes in our entire HR department to prevent future problems. I have met personally with one of our WCIU staff, on several occasions, to hear her side of things.” Eduardo Rios’ legal filing also states that a WCIU manager “required a monetary payment from a prospective applicant applying for a maintenance job. Failure to pay resulted in non-hire or repeated delays in hiring consideration.” Rios alleges “threatening acts to enforce compliance and to create fear within the ranks of the maintenance staff.” When Rios blew the whistle with assurances of confidentiality from WCIU higher-ups, he says the threat-wielding manager and others soon knew about his statements. WCIU fired Rios and retained the manager. With the maintenance staff a mess, it’s no surprise that maintenance also suffered. According to former housing manager Silvia Rodriguez, who filed a lawsuit against WCIU, some homes have black mold in bathrooms and bathtubs. Some broken windows have remained in disrepair for years. Some heaters have stopped working and consistent plumbing issues have arisen. One single mom had a crack in her wall that caused water to leak in whenever it rained. WCIU’s Mott Auditorium, which with a capacity of 4,000 is the largest auditorium in Pasadena, is closed most of the time, in part because its heavy doors are difficult to open from the inside. That would be dangerous in case of emergencies, but COO Kerry Jones says it would cost $100,000 to replace them. We’ve talked with and read depositions from many other employees or tenants—Patty Tessandori, Lesley Baines, and John Cha are among them—who have alleged or spotlighted mismanagement, unfair evictions, and retaliation against complainers and whistleblowers.
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Force colonel who in 2016 tried to bring the headquarters of the missionary organization Iris Global to the Pasadena campus. Farrow said FV/WCIU board members during meetings said the campus had $28 million in deferred maintenance. (Asked about that figure, FV/WCIU responded, “This type of detail will factor in to all discussions with potential buyers and is not being released publicly.”) Critics say FV/WCIU could have hired a professional property management services company, but instead hired inexperienced people. Higgins, though, says, “No one is deliberately atrophying our campus. We have made a number of significant and routine improvements to properties over the years.” He and FV General Director Francis Patt both insist that the basic problem is not malfeasance but a mismatch of old FV/WCIU goals and new mission realities.
V/WCIU leaders and their critics agree the campus has become run-down. They disagree on why that has happened: FV/WCIU executives say the problems show a central campus is no longer useful and they should sell it. Some say the cost of living in Pasadena makes it hard for missionaries to live there. Save the Campus says the problem is not the property but mismanagement of it—and executives emphasizing good stewardship and open accountability could make it bloom once more. “It’s almost like [FV/WCIU] deliberately wants to atrophy this campus to the point where they have to sell it,” said David Farrow, a retired U.S. Air
The Slab on the WCIU campus
It’s not as if the organization is running out of money. The 990s that nonprofits must submit to the IRS show that each fiscal year from 2012 through 2016 WCIU’s revenue exceeded its expenses by several hundred thousand dollars. Net assets grew steadily throughout that period. The headline on one of the organization’s press releases reads, “PURSUING A DECENTRALIZED MODEL OF MINISTRY.” It calls for “greater synergy and unity. … The last two decades have radically changed how the world works and collaborates. Real physical space continues to be an important part of our work, but our property needs have shifted from an attractional model with an identity linked to a central location to a vision of a network of communities around the world.” That’s very abstract. Former employee Clancy, now a leader of Save the Campus, has concrete predictions and objections: “They will sell the campus (unless we can stop them through litigation) and this time around have $55 million dollars. When they sell the other 90 houses, they will earn another $45 million dollars. That will be $100 million dollars at their disposal to run their ministries. These ministries will mostly be research projects. … They are not guaranteeing that ministry will continue, they are guaranteeing that they will have an income.” We asked WCIU President Kevin Higgins, “If you are able to sell the property, what are several examples of the specific missionary projects FV/WCIU would like to fund?” He responded, “A growing number and variety of collaboration hubs located globally. … A growing network of universities globally. … Multiple ‘mid-stream’ training locations globally.” That sounds amorphous, and critics of FV/WCIU see it as trading the bird-in-hand for birds in the bush that might never be born. Higgins did talk about developing “a new, innovative B.A. program” and upgrading the master’s degree program: “M.A. in 12 major languages of the world. More concentrations within our M.A. program, including reviving the Chinese Studies program.” FV/WCIU has hired RK Real Estate, which is part of RK Capital Group. The company says, “We acquire existing income producing assets and enhance the value by strategically repositioning the asset through rebranding, select capital improvements, and a strong management effort.” Providence Christian College gave FV/WCIU a letter of intent to buy, but it expired in January without an agreement. The campus is now zoned PS, “public and semi-public district,” which means colleges and churches are welcome on it, but corporate offices and condominiums are not. WORLD asked RK firstname.lastname@example.org @sophialeehyun
‘They will sell the campus (unless we can stop them through litigation). … They are not guaranteeing that ministry will continue, they are guaranteeing that they will have an income.’ —David Clancy
principal Keith Mathias, “Would zoning changes maximize the value of the land?” He responded, “Any attempt to put a value on the property based on a hypothetical zone change prior to any application with the city would not be accurate or meaningful.” FV/WCIU leaders and their public relations representative were unwilling to rule out selling the campus to commercial interests. Save the Campus leaders are suspicious. They write that real estate developers “and the City of Pasadena itself are hungry for the increased revenue a sale like this could bring. … There is NO guarantee that if this Campus is sold that it will go to another Christian organization that will continue this vision.” Save the Campus fears a “new entity [with] a very Kingdom-sounding name like Covenant Community Condos, or Jesus Loves Me Apartments.”
oday The Slab, empty of the prayer chapel where Erik Stadell once prayed for the campus, is a tranquil picnic area. Next to a blue picnic table is a wooden cross strapped to a tree stump—the remnant of a redwood tree that died because of poor health. Patty Tessandori of Save the Campus says the tree reflects the state of FV/WCIU: “We’ve neglected our roots.” But she looks around and still gets giddy about all the possibilities that could happen: “This campus could still be amazing.” Ralph Winter founded the campus with the goal of using it to reach the remaining 17,000 people groups by the year 2000. Today in 2018, many have yet to hear the gospel. Bob Coleman, who helped Winter in the founding, says that’s why the campus is still necessary, and why FV/ WCIU should restore it: “We still need a lot more mission projects. … We still need a platform to wave that flag.” Given the suspicion among critics of the planned sale that the land will go to commercial interests, WORLD repeatedly asked FV/WCIU leaders if they would allay that concern. At the close of our research WORLD offered FV/WCIU leaders “one more opportunity to make a clear and unequivocal statement: ‘We will only sell the campus to an evangelical organization that pledges to use it for ministry purposes consistent with the vision that underlay its purchase 40 years ago.’” We asked for a “yes” or “no.” In response, WCIU President Higgins listed three elements FV/WCIU would use in evaluating prospective buyers: “One is certainly the pricing, though that has never been the first or primary way we have triaged our choices. Second is to find a buyer that shares as closely as possible the values and purposes we have for ministry. And the third is to minimize the disruption” to any FV/WCIU personnel who would remain in Pasadena. A March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 37
F E AT U R E S
In the massive global scourge that is pornography, men are not the only addicts BY JAMIE DEAN
photo illustration by Steve Debenport & Krieg Barrie
ESSICA HARRIS WAS 13
years old when her online research for a school project returned a handful of harmless science videos and one website that changed the course of her life: a link to hardcore pornography. Harris was shocked, but curious. “It was like watching a train wreck,” she says. “You know it’s bad, but you can’t look away.” The next time she went online, Harris knew how to find the site again, even though what she had seen was vile. “It was a war of emotions,” she says. Harris lost the war. For the next few years, Harris tucked into hardcore pornography nearly every day, often for hours at a time. She says it became an escape, a way of coping with life, and that it made her feel wanted. The high-school student with a 4.0 grade-point average kept up her bookwork—and stayed involved in her local church—despite losing sleep and becoming obsessed with her next opportunity to go online. “I was making sure that I was the model student and the model Christian girl and the model daughter— whatever I needed to be to keep people from guessing something was wrong.” Harris longed to stop. She says she’d wake up in the morning and think, “Not today.” But her resolve was short-lived. “My feet walked to it,” she says. “It was like the air I breathed. I had to have it.” Harris wasn’t alone. Not all pornography users feel conflicted about their habits, but the numbers of men and women accessing porn online are staggering: In 2016, the largest pornography website in the world reported that users streamed some 4.6 billion hours of porn from its website alone. Estimates indicate pornography is a nearly $100 billion global industry. An estimated $10 billion to $12 billion comes from the United States. Statistics vary widely, but a 2016 study by the Barna Group found 51 percent of males ages 13 and over use porn at least once a month. Seventy percent of youth pastors said at least one teen had sought their help because of porn use in the last 12 months. Twenty-one percent of youth pastors admitted they currently struggle with pornography themselves.
But porn use isn’t just a man’s problem, and it’s especially insidious among young women: The Barna study found 33 percent of women ages 13 to 24 seek out porn at least once a month. That’s a crucial demographic churches sometimes miss. Harris notes that while pastors and church leaders have become more comfortable addressing the problem of pornography among men, they often fail to realize or mention that women struggle as well. It’s a dynamic that can leave many women feeling isolated and unable to ask for help. Harris, 32, has found freedom from pornography and now helps others battling it. She says she sometimes tells pastors: “You’re fighting for your men, and that’s great. But you’re being flanked.” Women are languishing too. As porn users languish, a few slivers of light seep through the cracks of an otherwise dark pit. Some secular groups are starting to acknowledge the destruction pornography wreaks on individuals and families, and four states have declared pornography use a public health crisis. Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised last year to enforce existing obscenity laws, though he hasn’t launched a public effort so far. Whatever the legal action, churches have an opportunity to help the swelling numbers of adults and young people sinking in a pit of sexual sin. Recovery begins with trusting in Christ and pursuing Christian discipleship as central to battling any sin, says Harris: “It’s not enough to just take away the porn.”
N THE 1970S AND ’80S, some lawmakers and activists
still hoped to take away the porn, or at least keep it out of mainstream American life. In 1973, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling established a three-prong test to determine if certain material qualifies as obscenity—a category not protected by the U.S. Constitution. The test includes: Given community standards, does the material appeal to prurient interest? Does it depict sexual conduct in a patently offensive way? Does it lack artistic value? Federal law makes it a crime to produce or transport obscene material for sale or distribution, including by means of computers. That means much of the pornography available online could qualify as illegal. But unless prosecutors target specific purveyors to make a case for proving obscenity, the dissemination of porn goes unchallenged. The exception: if it involves children. Federal statutes outlaw child pornography.
These days, most prosecutors concentrate their efforts against porn deemed harmful—particularly the exploitation of children. The rest largely goes unchecked. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful. In the 1980s, under President Ronald Reagan, U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese published a report concluding what seems obvious: Porn is degrading, especially to women and children, and it promotes “a desensitized attitude toward the sexual abuse of women.” Still, Playboy magazine flourished and Hugh Hefner enjoyed fame, even as Meese’s department indicted several dozen defendants on obscenity charges during the late 1980s. By the early 1990s, interest in such prosecutions waned under President Bill Clinton, even as his own sexual sins took center stage. Meanwhile, a major new development arose in the form of the World Wide Web. It would eventually make pornography available on the small devices most U.S. adults and young people would carry in their pockets. Attorney General John Ashcroft vowed to enforce obscenity laws, but he had another massive and unexpected challenge to face: the 9/11 attacks. The next attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, established a task force on obscenity in 2005, but during President Barack Obama’s tenure, Attorney General Eric Holder disbanded the task force.
THE INTERNET MAKES PORNOGRAPHY AVAILABLE ON THE SMALL DEVICES MOST U.S. ADULTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE CARRY IN THEIR POCKETS. During his confirmation hearings last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would vigorously enforce obscenity laws, but it’s unclear how or when he might undertake enforcement efforts beyond dealing with the overwhelming problem of child pornography. Sessions also faces an awkward dynamic: While President Donald Trump during his campaign signed a pledge primarily focused on combating child pornography, he also once appeared on the cover of Playboy. Trump has publicly described his past sexual exploits, and once treated contestants on his reality show The Apprentice to an evening at Hefner’s infamous Playboy Mansion. In mid-January The Wall Street Journal reported an attorney for Trump had paid a porn actress $130,000 a month before the 2016 election to keep quiet about a purported sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. The attorney told the newspaper that Trump strongly denied any sexual encounter took place with the actress 40 WORLD Magazine • March 3, 2018
known as Stormy Daniels. Representatives for the actress also denied the encounter, although In Touch magazine published a 2011 interview with Daniels in which she apparently described the incident. In January, the actress kicked off a dancing tour at a South Carolina strip club. That could make fighting obscenity awkward for the GOP administration, but Patrick Trueman of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation thinks Trump won’t stand in the way if Sessions tries to enforce the law more broadly. Trueman—who worked for Meese during the Reagan administration—says it’s important to underscore the harmful effects of pornography, including the damage it does to marriage and families, and how it fuels activities like sex trafficking. He says leaving pornography unchecked has led to the desensitization that Meese warned about in the 1980s, and that the abuse women are describing in the #MeToo movement has its roots in “this pornographic culture that says I have permission to exploit you because I’m a male.” Some feminists agree. Gail Dines, a professor of sociology at Wheelock College, says beyond the questions of morality, scholars have shown porn can increase sexual aggression in males who watch it, and that the material itself promotes violence: In a study of some of the mostwatched porn, researchers found 88 percent of the scenes contained physical aggression or violence—almost always toward women. A secular group called Fight the New Drug includes on its website interviews with former porn actresses who describe violence perpetrated against them by actors and directors, including being slapped, punched, and stomped. The website also links to studies showing how pornography affects the human brain like a drug, leading frequent users to need more extreme porn to achieve the same outcome. It’s all a frightening form of sex education for porn users, and it partly explains why more women are watching hardcore pornography: As men watch violent, degrading porn and develop expectations for sexual encounters, some women watch the porn to find out what men expect. Adam Savage, one of the hosts of the popular science show MythBusters, recently told a radio audience how he explained pornography to his twin sons: “The thing you have to understand, bud, is the internet hates women.” Savage said he explained the dangers to his sons so they won’t perpetuate the problems: “I want him thinking, when he talks to women, ‘I’m one of the good ones.’”
HEN JESSICA HARRIS entered a Christian
college after high school, she wasn’t meeting good guys online. Eventually, she met a man in an internet chat room and agreed to send him nude pictures when he asked.
She shudders at the degradation: “Pornography is the only struggle that you can become.” In her addiction to pornography, she allowed herself to become a pornographic image for someone else. When she arrived at the school, each dorm room had a computer. She spent hours looking at porn. Her roommate thought she studied all the time. Harris was still desperate to stop and had long hoped someone would catch her. A few weeks into the school year, a pivotal moment came: She didn’t realize the school tracked internet activity. The dean’s office summoned her. She thought she would finally be stopped. When she arrived, she says a school official showed her pages of internet history riddled with porn visits. But when the reprimand came, it wasn’t what she expected: She says the officials chastised her for giving her password to “brothers in Christ.” Since women don’t struggle with this, they said, she must have let a male have access to her account. Harris was devastated: “I thought: ‘If women don’t have this problem, then what in the world is wrong with me?’ I felt like such a freak.” That’s a common problem. Ellen Dykas of the Christian organization Harvest USA says when churches don’t acknowledge women struggle with sins like porn and lust, “That really waters shame in a woman’s life.” It’s also important to note that not all women are the same: Some view porn episodically, not every day. For email@example.com @deanworldmag
some, the underlying reasons are escape or coping. Some are lonely and long for intimacy. One woman I spoke with told me her porn use often wasn’t about sex: She just didn’t want to feel alone. Harris felt deeply alone. She eventually left the school but entered another Bible college the next fall. There, the staff encouraged women to be open about their battles with sin. Harris finally admitted her secret. She was called to the dean’s office again. This time, the staff extended grace and said they would help her. A handful of staffers met with her regularly to discuss different aspects of her life. Only one talked with her exclusively about her porn addiction. This was a turning point: Harris realized she needed to accept Christ’s forgiveness and mercy and pursue Him in a context of Christian discipleship that would inform her whole life, not just one area. She continued to battle porn for another 18 months, but eventually left it behind. Now, she speaks at conferences and has written a book (Beggar’s Daughter) to help other women, including the growing number of teenage girls looking at pornography. Harris also advises parents and says there are many good tools they can use to monitor their children’s internet use. But the most important measure? “You have to be pursuing the heart of your child,” she says. “If you’re not, someone else will.” For women or girls trying to leave behind pornography, Marnie C. Ferree of the Christian counseling organization Bethesda Workshops says it’s important for women to share their struggles with other women. Many need professional counseling, she says. All need relationships with people who can listen and help. Dykas from Harvest USA says local churches need to be prepared to help women battling any sin, including sexual sin. Part of helping is being open about our own struggles and modeling what ongoing repentance and faith in Christ look like in the life of all believers. Dykas says some churches fear such problems are beyond their ability to address. But while it’s helpful for pastors and women in ministry roles to learn about how to apply the gospel in these specific areas, Dykas says, “With a Biblical perspective on sin, growing in godliness, and overcoming sin patterns—you have what you need to walk with somebody.” It all begins by listening to a woman’s story and identifying the deeper struggles motivating the outward behavior. For those still struggling, Dykas says she would want them to know: “God is a God of hope, and these sin struggles don’t identify you, and they don’t have to enslave you for the rest of your life. Jesus is calling you to a faith-driven and costly obedience—but it’s worth it. It’s so worth it.” A March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 41
F E AT U R E S
Karla Hackenmiller, Misconnection #2, detail (above) Tim High at VAM Gallery (left) Louise Fisher, Diurnal or Nocturnal, detail (below)
HIGH HOPES Why curating a church art gallery is like ‘walking on a razor blade’
BY WORLD JOURNALISM INSTITUTE STUDENTS MYRNA BROWN, PAUL BUTLER, ALEX DUKE, STEVE PATTON, HANNAH PHILLIPS, ANDREW SHAUGHNESSY, DANE SKELTON, RUSSELL ST. JOHN, BRIGITTE SYLVESTRE, AND MARTY VAN DRIEL—WITH MARVIN OLASKY
42 WORLD Magazine • March 3, 2018
Leslie Friedman, And the Home of the Brave (right) Bradlee A. Shanks, Enchanted Island, detail (below)
HIGH: KEVIN VANDIVIER/GENESIS PHOTOS • ALL OTHER PHOTOS: HANDOUT
Barbara Elam, Chita (right)
Tim High is a big man wearing jeans and a grin. He’s got socks under his sandals and a slow, friendly way of talking about art. He carefully lays out on a table a set of prints: three reduction woodcuts. He lovingly describes an artist’s process in creating these works: carving an image into a block of wood; rolling out and printing each color one at a time, from the lightest tone of ivory white to the darkest tone of black; and cutting away areas to be retained after each section. The process takes an enormous amount of craftsmanship, time, and care. Creating an art gallery in a church also takes great care. High wanted to find a way to educate members of Austin Oaks Church about art and to introduce the neighborhood to the church in a nonthreatening way. Together with architect John Jackson, he decided to use the blank walls in the church’s spacious, high-
ceilinged lobby to display a rotating series of art exhibits. (See examples of the artwork above and on the following pages.) Few church buildings include an art gallery, particularly one that showcases works by both Christian and secular artists. Tim High hopes to use the gallery to show that Christians are concerned about culture and creating beauty in a broken world. Yet, artists often intentionally provoke controversy, and some Christians question whether art belongs in a church at all. High is the volunteer curator of the Visual Arts Ministry (VAM) Gallery in Austin Oaks Church. He’s also a printmaker and art professor at the University of Texas. In January he pulled together an exhibit that showcased works by 18 printmakers from across the United States. He had to make hard choices about works that are beautifully and intricately made.
In one print, a grim-faced teacher, gun strapped to her side, stands in front of a bullet-riddled blackboard and holds out a poisonous-looking apple. In another, a young AfricanAmerican in a hoodie makes a peace sign with one hand and folds the fingers of his other hand in a pistollike gesture. Lightly printed in the background: “Lives Matter.” High says, “The work was a little bit concerning for some of the administrators and pastors here,” so he showed the work at the exhibit’s opening but chose not to leave it up afterward. A large, panoramic beach scene on six panels also posed a problem. The panels showed people of many ethnicities, races, ages, and body types, but High decided to hold back one panel with a bikini-clad woman in the foreground: “You have to be careful. You don’t want to offend the youngest eyes that will see the work, and that’s sometimes difficult.” March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 43
44 WORLD Magazine • March 3, 2018
Louisiana State University professor Leslie Friedman often focuses on identity and identity politics. VAM displayed her And the Home of the Brave, in which the reflection on a man’s sunglasses shows a woman protesting a high-profile police shooting. She stands with her hands partly out as a SWAT team advances toward her. Friedman says, “I wanted to encourage viewers to consider how similar scenes affect [them] if they are not a part of the group speaking out.” Though Friedman noted she is not a Christian, she understands the church is concerned with themes of love and compassion. She hopes her art helps viewers move closer to these ideals. She opposes artistic censorship, but editing specific works for the expected audience at a gallery makes sense: “You should be able to walk in your church and not be offended by what’s on the wall.” Dallas printmaker Barbara Elam’s Chita shows the delicate ghost of a dress twisting in motion on blocky reds and blues. The dress is pale, lacy, and bodiless, as if the pigments have captured a long-ago memory of sinew and grace on a Latin dance floor. Some of Elam’s older work included nudity. She chose not to send any of those particular pieces to the VAM Gallery, noting that some parents would object: “This is a real conservative state. ... I don’t think any of my nudes are vulgar in any way, but it’s just the way it is here, you know?” The VAM show displayed three prints by Southern Graphics Council founder Boyd Saunders. Southern Serves the South shows a walking man with red, clay-dusted shoes. Tattered
clouds sweep the sky, and a lone crow perches at a railroad crossing while freight cars ease into a sunbleached depot. The etching suggests the plaintive cry of a train whistle and a forlorn traveler returning home. Saunders is 80 and quips, “I’m better than I’ve ever been!” In his warm drawl he calls his art “visual poetry.” Rejecting complex descriptions of his work, he tells simple stories beautifully wrought: “I’ve been a storyteller all my life.” He did not know that his art adorns a gallery housed in a church foyer, but approves: “I like it!” Given the church’s investment in art, Saunders promises to reconsider his longstanding skepticism toward the Christianity of his childhood, hoping to reconcile art with faith. Louise Fisher’s Diurnal or Nocturnal displays delicate plant shadows, the inky photonegative of a streetlight, and tiny lamp stamps arranged in a circle. It’s beautiful, subtle, and noncontroversial, but Fisher finds it interesting that a church is showing her work: “A lot of artists don’t really trust the church. ... The art world in general consists of freethinking, liberal people and activists … and the church is obviously seen as tied with American politics and conservative agendas.” She hopes the VAM Gallery helps people from opposite ends of the political spectrum meet and mingle. Worshippers entering Austin Oaks in January immediately confronted Rhode Island printmaker Joan Hall’s Diatom series. From a distance, her prints are pleasing displays of color: Muted greens and firstname.lastname@example.org @MarvinOlasky
THE 930: EMILY SILL/FLICKR • ALL OTHER PHOTOS: HANDOUT
The gallery has had some pushback over the years, but High says that’s not the norm: “It’s gotten Joan Hall, kind of rare. I think we’ve Diatom 1 learned to be better watchdogs about it.” At Anna Pedersen, one point VAM showed Untitled (Sleeping Girl) an Adam and Eve piece done by a local artist—but Michael Barnes, people got upset seeing Tending to frontal nudity in the Critical Matters church. High’s wife Cindy Boyd Saunders, cut out “a little two-piece Southern Serves bathing suit and pasted it the South on the painting.” Art Werger, The artist, he added, Panel 3 of was gracious about it. Tidal Shift Although High held back a few pieces, what remains is far from kitsch. For example, four works by Illinois professor Michael Barnes show glum humanoids ignoring their surroundings as they stare at the menial tasks in front of them. In Tending to Critical Matters, the foremost figure waters a solitary patch of grass, unmoving, his head filling up with the contents of a large ear trumpet sticking into his head. Barnes’ parents raised him as a Christian: He remembers vividly the illustrations from Bible storybooks in the family home. Though he is no longer a believer, he says most Christians have a positive outlook toward the art world. He defends the right of an artist to produce whatever he wishes, but also recognizes that not everyone wants to view it. No one has censored Barnes’ work from what he can recall, and many of his friends and acquaintances of different religions have praised it. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: K. Broker, Thinking of Mom
grays contrast with a splash of red and a vibrant dash of neon blue. Closer inspection reveals a web of combs, fishing wire, and other trash: Hall turns ugliness into beauty. Although Hall does not profess to be a Christian—“The ocean is my religion,” she says—her work embodies High’s idea that Christian artists should ferret truth, beauty, and grace from a fragmented world. Hall: “Beauty can be a powerful tool. It draws people in and evokes thinking and a conversation.” Some Christians believe art galleries stand outside the mission of the institutional church. They believe that individual Christians should be artists
and curators according to their callings, but that the New Testament does not call the church to employ art as an outreach tool: It tasks the church to preach Jesus, who transforms sinners. When Christ transforms sinners and equips them as disciples, they engage culture in their various callings. As a result, cultural transformation of society—including the arts—follows, but the church promotes it only indirectly. The best way for the church to engage the arts is to make disciples. Other Christians believe churches are free to have galleries and are relearning the importance of engaging culture on all levels, including the visual arts. But bridging the gap between the secular art world and
evangelical visual sensibilities, not to mention branches of theology, remains a challenge. Many artists say Christians don’t value or appreciate good art. Tim High for 15 years had confronted questions of “what kind of art to display, mindful that the canvases would be hung just steps outside the church sanctuary.” He questioned whether the gallery should be restricted to “clean art,” but ultimately decided to follow the Bible in highlighting a realistic picture of the human condition. Man’s sinful nature is on full display in Scripture, but so is God’s plan of redemption. High explains: “We are always walking on a razor blade.” A
LOST AUDIENCE IN LOUISVILLE What’s the point of an empty church building? In 2006 this question vexed Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Ky. The congregation had bought and renovated for worship an old elementary school, but the building stayed empty most of the week—until Sojourn opened an arts center and called it The 930, after the number in its street address. Louisville’s musicians embraced The 930. Some were perplexed by its attachment to a church, but most just enjoyed in-the-round seating and good acoustics. Mike Cosper, one of Sojourn’s pastors, said, “We never had a goal to create a Christian subculture or to host a Christian coffeehouse where you trick people into thinking they’re at a casual hangout and then ambush them with an altar call. [The goal was] neutral ground, to lock arms with our neighbors and work for the common good.” The attempt at first worked. Concerts sold out. Local media and artists normally opposed to conservative Christianity embraced Sojourn’s efforts. But in 2008 the Louisville Eccentric Observer, an alternative newsweekly, ran on its cover a photo of a man with his arms raised in praise at a Sojourn worship service. The headline: “Smells Like Holy Spirit.” The deck: “They’re young, involved, and socially aware—and think being gay is a sin. How does Sojourn Church square its progressive image with some of its more regressive ideas?”
BY ALEX DUKE
The 930 Kevin Janes, who ran the venue, called the story “a bell you couldn’t unring.” A small but vocal segment of Louisville’s LGBT community began to send letters to bands, urging them not to play at The 930. Janes “thought if we kept doing the work and kept offering good content, this would blow over. But over time, the crowds dwindled.” Cosper lamented: “The anger we inspired wasn’t about the way we ran the arts center ... [but because] we had conservative Christian beliefs in the first place.” The message, Cosper said, was now clear: “Get on board, or go away. Acclimate, or disappear.” After two years, Sojourn’s attempt to lock arms with a community in mutual appreciation of the arts ended exactly where it began: with an empty church building.
F E AT U R E S
BORDER RUN One Christian’s compassion for North Korean refugees led her into a high-stakes smuggling enterprise— then she got caught B Y
J U N E
C H E N G
PHOTO BY MARK RALSTON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
n April 2009, Joseph Hong received a distressing phone call from his father. Chinese officials had arrested Hong’s mother, Rachel Han, for what they viewed as a serious crime: She had organized a trip to lead 13 North Korean defectors across China to the border with Mongolia. Hong, who was 23 years old and working in northern China at the time, felt shocked. He had just spent the Chinese New Year with his mother and the rest of his family. Although she had been helping North Korean defectors for the past year, it never crossed his mind that her work could land her in jail. After all, she was doing it for free, and for humanitarian reasons. Chinese officials had a different view. They said Han could get 10 years to life in prison for human smuggling—unless Hong or his father was willing to offer money to reduce the sentence. Rachel Han’s charge of “smuggling” was the result of her role in China’s underground railroad, a network of Christians who, on humanitarian grounds, help North Korean defectors make their way to South Korea. (WORLD has given Han and her son Hong pseudonyms to avoid jeopardizing their future work in China.) A North Korean who steps onto South
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View of the North Korean town of Supung across the Yalu River from Xiejiagou, China
Korean soil automatically becomes a South Korean citizen—but getting there is the difficult part. The Demilitarized Zone separating the North and the South is nearly impassable, lined with soldiers and land mines, so defectors instead take their chances heading north across the Yalu River into China. North Korean soldiers hidden in barracks have orders to shoot anyone swimming the river. Once defectors arrive in China, they still aren’t safe. The Chinese government is Pyongyang’s closest ally, and Chinese officials who catch defectors routinely send them back to North Korea, where labor camps, brainwashing, or even death awaits. To protect these refugees, Christians in China have established routes to smuggle them into neighboring Mongolia, Laos, or Thailand, where South Korean authorities can pick them up and resettle them in South Korea. Beyond caring for practical needs—food, shelter, train tickets, money for the journey—members of the network provide for spiritual needs, telling defectors about the gospel and handing out Bibles. More than 1,000 fleeing North Koreans reach South Korea annually, with nearly 3,000 arrivals in 2009, a peak year. Many of these escapees owe their freedom to underground railroad workers like Han—and her case illustrates the great personal risk local Christians take to help persecuted North Koreans. After the phone call from his father, Hong traveled to Inner Mongolia (an autonomous region inside China) to meet with police, who wanted money in exchange for leniency. Hong, though, had little cash to offer. At her trial, his mother received a 10-year prison sentence. Hong felt crushed. “I decided not to give up,” he says. “I told my mom, ‘I’ll find the right person to get you out.’”
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meetings. Han went to church as often as she could and prayed that one day she could go into full-time ministry. When Han’s husband got a job offer from another relative, he moved the family south to Shandong province. His new salary was enough to allow Han to quit her day job and do ministry work instead. Despite having only an elementary-school education, Han decided to start a church in her home. She recruited her family to help: Hong and his sister would lead worship, Han would preach, and her husband would cook Sunday lunch for the attendees. The church grew to about 65 congregants before it began to draw attention from local authorities. She stopped hosting the meetings rather than fulfill a policeman’s demand to write down the names of attendees. Han’s passion for ministry didn’t die, though, even when it sometimes took a toll on her family life. When she joined a group of Korean missionaries traveling the country to teach and disciple new believers, she was gone from her home for up to 10 months a year. Hong says the family suffered in her absence: His dad spent long hours at work, often
an first encountered Christianity after a difficult year early in her marriage, according to Hong. Her in-laws had both passed away, and doctors diagnosed her baby girl—Hong’s older sister—with leukemia. The ethnically Korean couple lived in northern China’s Heilongjiang province: Medical care was poor in the region, and they couldn’t afford better treatment. The baby died. Several friends came to comfort Han as she cried out, “What is the point of life?” One friend replied, “Do you know this person, Jesus Christ?” As her friend, a newly converted Christian, explained the gospel, Han also believed and eagerly professed Christ. Wanting to learn more about her new faith, she sought out a church—but the closest one was three hours away. During farming season, Han couldn’t easily take a whole day off to attend church, so she prayed God would move her family closer to church. The answer to prayer came one day when a relative called and asked Han’s husband to relocate the family to Beijing to help him start a restaurant business. They moved to the capital, where Han had five churches nearby to choose from. As a child, Hong remembers attending not only Sunday services but Wednesday Bible studies and Friday night prayer
North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River in the North Korean town of Sinuiju across from the Chinese city of Dandong.
Mongolia, and from a city near the border they would cross the Gobi Desert into Mongolia. Often it would be days before the Mongolians found them, so Han gave the defectors water, food, coats, compasses, flashlights, and signs that read, “I’m a North Korean refugee,” in Mongolian and English. They found the best route was to follow the railroad tracks, because workers routinely maintained the tracks and would stumble upon the defectors. (Chinese authorities later caught on and increased security along the Mongolia border—today most North Korean defectors travel south to Thailand or Laos.) Han helped seven groups make the crossing over the course of a year—a total of 61 people. Some of the defectors called Han after they settled in South Korea to thank her for her help, and some told her they were attending church. Others she never heard from again, and she wonders if they made it to safety. On the last trip she organized, in March of 2009, Han sent three students from her Bible school to lead 13 defectors to the border in Inner Mongolia. There, authorities ambushed them. The officials sent the 13 defectors back to North Korea and arrested the students. They also arrested Han at her home in Shandong: Not realizing that what she did was criminal, she freely told the authorities about her ministry helping North Korean defectors. The authorities quickly realized this was not Han’s first crossing. They decided to make an example of her to deter others in the smuggling network.
r eturning home after midnight. Hong and his sister stopped attending church. Hong’s father threatened a divorce. Han realized she needed to quit her ministry, so she moved back home to tend to her family. Over time the marriage recovered and the children returned to church. She found other ways to minister. With the help of Korean missionaries, she started an underground Bible school, renting a factory where students worked half a day to earn money for room and board, then spent the rest of the day learning about the Bible and how to lead worship and plant churches. Then, in 2008, Han decided to begin helping North Korean refugees. Her role in the underground railroad went like this: After defectors made it across the Yalu River, Christian contacts would provide them a train ticket, a fake ID, some money, and Han’s contact information. The refugees traveled to Han’s apartment building, where she had rented a few rooms for them to stay free of charge. The defectors, ranging from young children to elderly grandparents, stayed inside during the day to avoid detection by local authorities. In the safe houses, Han taught them the Bible and showed them DVDs about Jesus. After two or three weeks, when about a dozen people filled up the safe houses, Han would take them on a bus north to Inner
t Han’s first hearing, her son saw police, prosecutors, and judges from across the region arrive to hear the case. “I felt like I was one person against the world,” Hong says. Han insisted that her lawyer get the students freed first, so with money from Korean missionaries, they successfully got two of the students, both minors, off on probation. However, the court wasn’t so lenient with the third student, who was an adult. Along with giving Han a 10-year prison sentence, the court sentenced the student to seven years. “It was pretty devastating,” Hong recalls. They decided to appeal. At the second hearing, the judge reduced the student’s sentence to five years and Han’s to seven. That meant Han could likely get out of prison in four years. At the time, Hong felt he had exhausted all his options, since he had run out of money. Hong says that in the holding cell, jailers mistreated Han, whom they considered a big-time smuggler. But instead of quietly cowering, she sang worship songs and shared the gospel with her cellmates. Three times Hong bribed a prison doctor to smuggle a Bible to his mother, and twice the guards confiscated the Bibles. The last time, the guards decided to let her keep the Bible, hoping she would quietly read instead of loudly worshipping and evangelizing. “I don’t think she was ever quiet—she kept reading the Bible loudly to everyone there,” Hong says. With the help of donations from missionaries, Hong hired a top lawyer for his mother. For five months, nothing happened, and Hong feared he had wasted the money. Then in the sixth month, the lawyer called and told him to go pick up his mom. The lawyer had reduced the crime to a minor infraction, which granted Han parole. She was going home. Amazingly, since her release, local police have not required Han to report her activities. Today she is a deacon at her church—and her husband, seeing how God worked in his wife’s case, has also become active in the church. Hong, too, is involved in ministry: He now works with a Christian group that provides humanitarian aid to North Korea. At the request of the country’s government, the group has built an orphanage, medical clinics, a day care, and a bread factory there. One final zinger: According to Hong, Chinese officials seem to have misplaced their record of Han’s case. Perhaps they want to avoid scrutiny of the file, Hong suggests. Or, he speculates, “Maybe God erased it.” A
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F E AT U R E S
COMPLEX DISTRICT MAPS LEAVE TEXANS PUZZLED ABOUT WHO REPRESENTS THEM IN CONGRESS BY E VA N W I LT I N LO C K H A RT, TE X A S
A GERRYMANDERING L
ockhart is barbecue country, and Smitty’s Market is like a time machine. A sign at the front door says, “cash only, no exceptions.” Original wood floors creak beneath cowboy boots. The black soot that cakes the walls is so thick you don’t even know what color is underneath. An open wood-burning fire sits a few feet away from where hungry patrons choose cuts of fatty brisket so tender a plastic knife glides through it. No forks. No sides. Slow-smoked meat served on brown parchment paper with white bread and crackers—the traditional Texas barbecue style since 1900. Lockhart—population 12,000—is split into two congressional districts. Each of at least four central Texas zip codes has four different representatives in the U.S. Congress. The reason: gerrymandering, the process by which politicians carve districts to favor whichever party holds power. That leaves many Americans, particularly with fast-growing or fast-shrinking populations, not knowing who represents them: Sidewalk surveys I did at the end of October showed more than 9 out of 10 Texans unable to name their representative and disconnected from “the People’s House.” Lockhart is the kind of small Texas town where the sheriff sports a white mustache and wears a cowboy hat and blue jeans. Pickup trucks outnumber cars. Clifton Johnson, 67, has lived near Lockhart for 32 years. He started working for Smitty’s three years ago after he retired. Johnson likes Texas barbecue, drinking beer with his friends, and living in the country where no one bothers him. He’s a friend to the sheriff, and his wife works at the courthouse; but he couldn’t even guess who represents him in Congress. Texas’ 28 million people live in the state’s 268,820 square miles and have 36 representatives in Washington, D.C. Last year, 46 percent of Texas voters chose blue House candidates, but Democrats only secured 11 seats (31 percent). Ten congressmen ran unopposed: Only one of the 36 races was competitive. A carefully gerrymandered congressional map helps keep Texas Republicans in office. Blue states like 50 WORLD Magazine • March 3, 2018
Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, Texas KEVIN VANDIVIER/GENESIS
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Texas’ 35th Congressional District (in blue), represented by Lloyd Doggett
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Maryland do the same to squeeze the GOP. Gerrymandering brings to the fore candidates who don’t have to appeal to a broad constituency. It keeps lawyers employed and judges also: The U.S. Supreme Court in October heard oral arguments on Wisconsin g errymandering, and federal courts have found that the Texas district maps discriminate against minorities. One of Lockhart’s representatives is Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat in office since 1995. Back then he represented liberal Austin, which locals describe as a blueberry in the middle of a bowl of tomato soup. Now, through gerrymandering, Doggett represents only a sliver of Austin, plus part of Lockhart, a 70-mile strand along I-35, and a chunk of San Antonio. Four Republicans split the rest of the blueberry and submerge it in so much tomato soup that they gain comfortable reelection. Sights in downtown Austin on a weekday morning: panhandlers, bike riders, wearers of skinny jeans, man buns, beards, tattoos—and the J.J. Pickle Federal Building, named after Austin’s longtime congressman, Doggett’s predecessor. Doggett’s district office is on the ninth floor of the Pickle, a boxy structure with rows of windows on all sides recessed behind columns of concrete. Two security officers guard the front entrance. You can’t get past them without stating your purpose, emptying your pockets, turning over a photo ID, and removing your belt and shoes—a more taxing process than entering the U.S. Capitol. Doggett doesn’t work in his ninth-floor office. When I entered, the office manager and three interns sitting at four plain desks stared at me with expressionless faces from behind their computer screens. I asked how the district has changed over the years and what that means for people who live there. They wouldn’t answer even basic questions and referred me to the Washington office, which had not responded to my previous inquiries. I asked the office
anager for a map of the district. She said, “I m think there’s one online”—there are no maps on Doggett’s website, but the Texas Tribune provides a detailed one. Other district offices are equally unhelpful. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, like Doggett, represents a sliver of Austin. Yet, he doesn’t have real estate downtown. Smith’s district office in Austin sits off I-35 in a shared office with no security. Smith rents a small space on the first floor along with Martinez Tax Services, attorney Pablo Avila, and Copeland Insurance Group. Open Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m., just one person was there to greet me. Morgan McFall, a constituent services liaison for Smith, runs a hair extensions business on the side and informed me she’s not authorized to speak with reporters. South on I-35 is Buda—population 15,000. Buda has four congressmen for its one zip code: Doggett, and Republicans Blake Farenthold, Roger Williams, and Smith. Seventeen miles further sits San Marcos, a growing Texas city of 62,000—up from 45,000 at the time of the last census. Doggett, Smith, Williams, and Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, each represent a slice. Just south is New Braunfels, another growing city of 74,000 people. Doggett, Smith, or Gonzalez could be your representative, depending on your exact address. Just off I-35 in New Braunfels sits Buc-ee’s, one in a chain of oversized roadside gas stations as huge as some Walmarts. Travelers can fill up their tanks, buy Buc-ee’s fudge or branded corn puffs called “Beaver Nuts,” and enjoy Buc-ee’s restrooms, rated in 2012 the nation’s cleanest. This Buc-ee’s falls in Doggett’s district, but all 10 of the people I interviewed outside the store were clueless regarding their representative. Three of them: Keith Welch drives a black Dodge Ram 1500, lives in New Braunfels, identifies as conservative, wants to defend the Second Amendment—and doesn’t know who his representative is. Nona Smith lives in San Antonio and scratches her blond ponytail as she says, “I thought my congressman was what’s-his-name … Ted Cruz.” Sean Forsberg lives in Austin, identifies more often with Democrats, voted for Trump in 2016 because he wanted to choose the winner—and doesn’t know who his representative is. Thirty miles south marks the end of Doggett’s district in majority-Hispanic San Antonio. Doggett’s San Antonio district office could be mistaken for a Mexican restaurant. It’s a small white building with a Spanish-style green roof located a mile down the road from tourists snapping selfies at the Alamo, also in Doggett’s district. The office has a sign-in sheet for both English and Spanish-speaking constituents. Black-and-white photos of Doggett’s political career canvas the walls. At 4:30 p.m. I was the day’s first visitor, according to the blank sign-in sheet. MaryEllen Veliz is the district director and runs the four-person office. I asked her for a map of the district. She said with a smile, “I
would be happy to refer you to our communications person”—in Washington. Like Austin, San Antonio is more liberal than rural Texas. The Republican Legislature carefully gerrymandered the city into five congressional districts: Doggett and fellow Democrats Joaquin Castro and Henry Cuellar share the city with the GOP’s Smith and Will Hurd, a moderate Republican who represents Texas’ 23rd District—an 800-mile stretch from west San Antonio to El Paso. Constituents are confused. “I have no idea who represents me,” said Sarah Clower, a three-year San Antonio resident, with a laugh. “I probably should.” Back in Lockhart, between bites of fatty brisket, Willie and Virginia Turner admitted they don’t know who represents them in Congress. “Virginia, you should know this,” Willie says. “I want to say it’s Gonzalez something, but you’ve inspired me. I’m going to find out who my congressman is.” The Turners live in San Antonio and are retired, so they frequently drive to Lockhart for barbecue: “In the black community we call it a sausage run,” Willie said. They don’t discriminate between competing local favorites Smitty’s Market, Black’s BBQ, or Kreuz Market. When in Lockhart why not go to all three? But the three have different vibes. Black’s is small and modern. Employees use an iPad to input purchases. Black’s doesn’t disparage credit card wielders or fork users. Kreuz is the largest and in 1973 was the best, according to Texas Monthly, whose reviewer recently said the Kreuz brisket is “unpredictable” but the pork chop is “remarkably succulent.” David Anderson lives in Austin but has traveled through Lockhart to see a business client in Victoria each month since 1997. Each time, Anderson stops for a Black’s lunch, only Black’s, but he has no idea who his representative in Congress is. He says he’s a conservative Republican and because he lives in liberal Austin his vote doesn’t make a difference— yet through gerrymandering, there’s an 80 percent chance Anderson lives in a GOP district. He doesn’t concern himself with gerrymandering: In his view, “to the victor go the spoils.” Lump Hult, a 76-year-old Lockhart native, comes to Smitty’s every day. He walks into the market with a limp and grabs a Miller Lite from the fridge. He sits the bottle on the counter and waits for Jose, a recent Smitty’s hire, to open it for him. Hult, open beer in hand, moseys over to the smoke room. He sits on the windowsill and warms his sandaled feet by the wood fire. Smitty’s regulars offer him a fist bump. Hult said when you’re poor and black you have to be a Democrat, but it doesn’t matter who represents him anymore: “My time is over.” A
(1) The Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels. (2) Doggett’s San Antonio district office. (3) BBQ ribs and brisket at Kreuz Market in Lockhart.
BUC-EE’S: ERIN TRIEB/SIPA USA/NEWSCOM • DOGGETT’S OFFICE: KEVIN VANDIVIER/GENESIS • KREUZ MARKET: DANITA DELIMONT PHOTOGRAPHY/NEWSCOM
March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 53
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Different world, same Word ANDREW BRANCH
AFTER 26 YEARS OF LINGUISTIC WORK, THE KASUA TRIBE DEDICATED ITS NEWLY PRINTED NEW TESTAMENTS by Andrew Branch in Papua New Guinea Flanked by a mass of bodies singing in Kasua, “God’s book has come,” four men shouldered boxes of the first New Testaments in their
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l anguage toward the Musula village center in remote Papua New Guinea. In front, three women adorned with paint and cassowary feathers
Kasua men carry boxes of New Testaments in a procession toward Musula.
danced in circles before the procession. Behind, a throng with rattles of gourds and pill bottles kept time to fierce drumming by men with faces in rigid feather frames. They wore percussive peacock tails of reeds and clusters of crayfish shells. The solemn overseer of this all-day celebration was village chief Amos Ulupele, who became the lead tribal translator alongside Tommy and Konni Logan, an American couple with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Some tribespeople had traveled for five days March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 55
Lifestyle Together again, the family reminisced about language mistakes: The words for grace and chicken are similar in Kasua. The Oct. 26 Kasua New Testament dedication brought together longtime translators and supporters from around the world to share in their greatest stories and deepest doubts. It can be easy to counsel patience in evangelism, said Johann Alberts, a translator with a nearby tribe, but it’s
Guinea to work with Wycliffe’s partner, SIL International. They woke to the warbling of tropical birds under coconut trees and worked amid heat, flies, and snakes called “death adders.” After years of academic study came years of translation and Biblical worldview presentation in a culture without an alphabet. Linguistic work can bring deep discouragement: “I’ve really felt that deeply,” Tommy Logan told me. Tommy is a quiet man with a broad frame. Konni is buoyant with laughter. Daughters Rachel, 27, and Laura, 23, grew up in Musula before leaving to finish school in the United States.
New Testaments in the Kasua language
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hard when he doesn’t see visible results. For the Logans, lives did begin to change in Musula and across the Kasua language group. “Before we were living—we don’t know what was true then,” Ulupele told me in broken English, “and now we know that the truth has come to us.” The sounds of “Audibibles” (solar-powered audio Bibles) and new readers sounding out words echoed from corners of the village. It can take years to see that truth transforming lives. Though most
eople in the villages go to church, p syncretism with old animistic beliefs is widespread—from basic superstitions to more serious habits like sorcery or the exposure of one infant in a set of twins. Tommy Logan estimates about 20 percent are committed Christians. That’s also true nationally: Roughly 96 percent of Papuans self-identify as Christian, but in Port Moresby, the nation’s dangerous capital, businesses hire security guards and equip compound walls with razor wire. Official Papua New Guinea tongues like English and Tok Pisin, an intertribal trade language, have had Bibles for some time. But nothing matches the “fresh air” of hearing the Bible in a heart language. “He’s not just the God of the Australians,” said Badi Vila, a translator for her own coastal people. “He’s the God of the Papua New Guineans as well. He comes to us in our cultural contexts. He knows our pain and our suffering.” The Kasua dedication wasn’t all rejoicing, though. With their role finished, the Logans are returning to the United States. At the dedication, village women sang of their departure, while others clung to Konni and wailed. In the translation office, the ever-steady Ulupele “shut and locked the door behind me, embraced me, and bawled like a baby,” Tommy Logan said. Translators have provided New Testaments for dozens of languages, but only one SIL-partnered tribe has the complete Bible. Tommy Logan had a closing charge to the Kasua people: If you want the Old Testament, you have to own the project. But stepping away to exhort the church to “stand up on her own” comes with conflicting feelings. Many Kasua who bought print Bibles still can’t read, and the government struggles to find qualified teachers for its cities. “Thinking of being by myself is hard,” Ulupele said: He now leads both a village and a translation team. But translation remains his top priority, “a whole different kind of work” from other things he could do: “The truth will set you free.” A Give the gift of clarity: wng.org/giftofclarity
across a notorious section of jungle, limestone cliffs, and sinkholes. Accessible only by plane, the Kasua had spent seven years clearing an airstrip when the Logans brought their infant daughter to Musula in 1991. The tribe of 600 was spread among six villages (now eight) in the shadows of Mount Bosavi, an extinct volcano. Tommy and Konni Logan, now in their 50s, were “young and wanted adventure” when they arrived in Papua New
Telecommuter economy ONLINE SHOPPING AND HOME OFFICES HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO A SIGNIFICANT U.S. ENERGY SAVINGS by Michael Cochrane A decade ago, Americans might have admitted to feeling a bit guilty about doing their Christmas shopping online. Not anymore. It appears the shift toward increased online shopping has done more than merely save time during the busy holiday season: According to new research, online shopping, video streaming, and work-from-home arrangements have together led to a decrease in Americans’ use of energy. Researchers studying annual American Time Use Surveys conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics between 2003 and 2012 found that, although Americans’ residential energy usage increased over that period, decreased travel and reduced energy consumption at retail locations and offices resulted in a net energy reduction. The savings was
about 1,700 trillion British thermal units—or about 1.8 percent of the national energy demand in 2012. They also found that Americans spent eight more days at home on average in 2012 than in 2003. The research was published Jan. 29 in the journal Joule. “We did expect to see net energy decrease, but we had no idea of the magnitude,” said study co-author Ashok Sekar, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, in a news release. “Now that we know people are spending more time at home, more focus could be put on improving residential energy efficiency.”
The researchers found that the magnitude of the change in energy usage varied by age group, with people between the ages of 18 and 24 spending 70 percent more time at home than the general population. American adults over age 65 were the only group that spent more time outside the home in 2012 than in 2003. Sekar said he plans further research to delve into the energy trade-offs of specific lifestyle activities, such as “going to restaurants versus ordering food online.”
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HITTING THE VIRTUAL SLOPES
By the time U.S. Ski and Snowboard team members hit the downhill and slalom courses in Pyeongchang, South Korea, for this year’s Winter Olympics, many of them had already made dozens of practice runs using virtual reality. Virtual reality (VR) software developer Strivr, which has built training programs for the NFL and Walmart employees, produced a program for the U.S. ski team in early 2017, according to sports website SportTechie. The company captured digital video of the South Korean ski runs by placing a 360-degree camera on a skier’s helmet to record each of the gates and turns as the skier descended the mountain. “VR has been an important addition to the range of tools we have at our disposal to help increase athletes’ performance,” Troy Taylor, the high performance director at U.S. Ski and Snowboard, told SportTechie. “Obviously there is nothing that can replace the real world experience, but VR is proving its worth in terms of allowing an athlete to see the course they will race on before they actually compete.” Strivr CEO Derek Belch believes VR technology trains athletes’ minds to make quicker decisions during competitions. He cited statistics showing a 10 percent performance increase for Strivr’s basketball clients and a 20 percent improvement in reaction time for football clients. —M.C.
March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 57
November prospects A JUMP IN PRESIDENT TRUMP’S APPROVAL RATING BOOSTS GOP HOPES by Henry Olsen
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between 2 and 23 points in the four polls that have comparable figures for mid-December and today. That averages to a 7-point gain, from 29.5 percent to 36.5 percent. Trump is still not well-liked, but he seems to be no longer hated by a significant number of swing voters. This gain among independents has occurred in the generic ballot too. Two polls with comparable figures show the GOP gaining significantly from December: Both show dramatic gains among independents. Swing voters who are warming to Trump seem to be warming to his party as well. These polls would be good news for Republican candidates in the Senate. Democrats are defending five seats in states that Trump won by between 19 and 41 points (Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, and West Virginia). They are defending another five in states that Trump won by between 2 and 8 points (Wisconsin,
Even a small increase in Trump’s approval rating could be the difference between GOP control and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
President Donald Trump’s job approval ratings have risen a lot in the last month. Many Republicans think this improvement may be good enough to save them from an electoral wipeout this fall. That may yet happen, but the improvements so far are not good enough to remove the GOP from danger. Political analysts look at two measures to assess how a party will do in a midterm election: presidential job approval and the generic congressional ballot. History teaches us that most midterms are referenda on the sitting president, and a party’s performance usually correlates strongly with the president’s approval ratings. Presidents whose job approval is at or below 40 percent near Election Day usually see their party lose a large number of seats in Congress and state legislatures. The congressional generic ballot assesses the public mood regarding which party voters favor. It’s not an ironclad test: Individuals do matter, and even in so-called “wave” elections (where one party loses in a landslide) popular incumbents from the losing party will retain their seats. The general, pre-Trump rule of thumb was that Democrats need to win the generic ballot by about 8 percent to win a majority of House seats. Both measures have improved for Republicans since mid-December. Trump had only a 37 percent approval rating on Dec. 16; today he is at 42 percent (both figures taken from the RealClearPolitics.com poll average). The generic ballot has also moved in the Republicans’ favor, from a 13-point deficit in mid-December to only a 7-point deficit today. The good news for Republicans is that these movements have largely occurred among Republicans and independents. The president’s job approval rating has improved by
Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania). The generic ballot shows that this year’s congressional vote is extremely highly correlated to 2016’s presidential ballot. If Trump continues to do just well enough that the vast majority of people who voted for him will also vote for a Republican, then Republicans look poised to make significant gains in the Senate. The same cannot be said, however, for Republicans running for the House. The GOP has a 24-seat majority right now; Hillary Clinton won 23 of those districts. Unless Trump starts to win back some of the former Republicans who voted for her, all of these seats are under threat. As things stand now, Republicans would lose almost all of them in November, putting the House majority at risk even though the Democrats are a bit short of their rule-of-thumb 8-point lead. Trump can do a lot to help his party cut its losses and hold onto House control. Even a small increase in his approval rating, from 42 to 44 or 45 percent, could be the difference between GOP control and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Based on the improvement since December, he needs to keep on doing what he’s doing. A
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Religion “Mother Nature’s rage” for the election of Donald Trump. But many of those same Christians accept equally simplistic pronouncements from pastors and Christian celebrities. The Lord’s rebuke of Job’s counselors still applies: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right.” What had these faithless counselors said? They drew a one-toone correspondence between Job’s calamity and the Lord’s actions. In short, they lied about God. Nearly 675,000 Americans died in 15 months during the pandemic. As much we’d like to know why, we don’t. When the next calamity befalls our nation—whether war or waves or pestilence—many preachers across this land will likely draw a simple line between sin and calamity. They would do better to remember the words of William Cowper: Influenza victims at an emergency hospital at Camp Funston in Kansas, 1918.
On pandemics and providence AVOIDING SIMPLISTIC INTERPRETATIONS OF DEADLY DISASTERS by Russell St. John March 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish influenza in America, but the virus left no part of the earth untouched. An estimated 50 million or more people died worldwide. According to historian Howard Phillips, influenza stole 6 percent of the population of South Africa in six weeks. Many pastors there and elsewhere declared the pandemic a divine retribution for sin. Whether they blamed drunkenness, poor church attendance, general wickedness, or war, sin caused the pandemic. Those pastors were not the first to offer a simplistic one-to-one correspondence between sin and calamity. Disease decimated Native Americans in 17th-century New England. Why? God favored the Puritans. So said Cotton Mather. The Confederacy fell to ruin after the bloodiest war in American history. Why? God hated slavery. So said Henry Ward Beecher. Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, hitting the poorest neighborhoods the hardest. Why? God opposes homosexuality. So said John Hagee. From diseases to wars to natural disasters, Christians cannot resist offering simplistic explanations for
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complex events. No sooner does an earthquake rattle the ground than we forget Isaiah 55:8-9: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God’s providence suffers no easy answers. Laymen also tried to calculate the Spanish flu’s terrible math. Katherine Anne Porter survived it and translated her experience into Pale Horse, Pale Rider. The novel pits human graft, politics, inhumanity, war, and the expectation of death against the bonds of human love. Pale Horse captures America at its bleakest—a country at war, whose diminishing political and economic hope merged with disease to enforce a fatalistic submission to the Pale Rider. And yet Porter also hints that human love survives death. She offers redemptive themes but no simplistic correlation between the pandemic and the actions of God. The providence of God remains mysterious. Christians balk when celebrities such as actress Jennifer Lawrence imply that Hurricane Harvey points to
“God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea And rides upon the storm. “Deep in unfathomable mines Of never-failing skill, He treasures up His bright designs And works His sov’reign will. ... “Blind unbelief is sure to err And scan His work in vain; God is His own interpreter, And He will make it plain.” Few calamities more thoroughly confounded human understanding than the crucifixion of Jesus. It seemed an irreconcilable contradiction that the Messiah should die. Then Jesus rose, and by His resurrection the Father explained the inexplicable. When God Himself interprets His actions, Christians should believe and worship Him, even amid calamity. When He does not, honesty forbids speculation and faith demands silence. A March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 59
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‘Hope for the unchosen’
The process of freezing embryos is extremely disturbing. The desire to “rescue” or “adopt” other people’s frozen embryos is a noble desire, but it is a break from the “one flesh” model in Scripture and there are so many risks. This truly is playing God. JAN. 20
—KEVIN SKINNER on wng.org
‘The mill on Fillmore Street’
JAN. 20 Kudos again to WORLD for your annual pro-life issue, especially for Marvin Olasky’s interview with Frederica Mathewes-Green (“Path to pro-life”) and his review of San Francisco’s Queen of Vice. May the Lord use your efforts to help eliminate this plague of abortion.
—RON NEDERVELD / Grand Rapids, Mich.
This review is one of the reasons why I will continue to read WORLD; it is historical, clear, and full of relevant material for today. —SARAH KRUMSIEG UNDERHILL on Facebook
The interview with Mathewes-Green is excellent! Thank the Lord for brave souls who are willing to go against the social tides. —MARILYN HATFIELD on wng.org
What if we all were more proactive in teaching our children the truth about why God created sex, and that premarital sex is never fulfilling? Would we come to the place where there would be no need for abortion businesses? —SUSAN RABER / Quaker City, Ohio
‘“A Brighter Shade of Pale”’
JAN. 20 Thank you for redeeming a good song by Procol Harum. The melodies of some of our hymns were taken from drinking and carousing songs, and they will be sung in heaven; may that happen with this tune as well.
—DANIEL A. BREITHAUPT / St. Clair, Mo.
The bright spot of my early 1970s high-school mornings was when Visit WORLD Digital: wng.org
someone spent a nickel on A-17 in the cafeteria jukebox. With Olasky’s cover of this song you took me back to those incredible days and gave me something to ponder. —LINDEN VIINALASS on wng.org
Ken Burns’ Vietnam documentary used “A Whiter Shade of Pale” to express a mournful mood. But when I looked up the words, hoping to find some deep thoughts to complement the film and music, I found only vacuous ramblings. Thank you for trying to redeem the song by connecting it to the war on unborn children, the horrors of which far surpass any military conflict in history. —JAMES BERTOLUCCI / Littleton, Colo.
‘Second time around’
JAN. 20 Most of the women I know who had abortions and then came to Christ have had two. It makes me wonder if women can somehow rationalize one abortion, but are convicted after the second.
—KAREN L a BARR on wng.org
As a family physician, I am a fan of WORLD’s life coverage but would like to point out that long-acting reversible contraceptives are almost as effective as permanent sterilization; to question their effectiveness by citing a case of failure without mentioning the 99 percent success rate is misleading. —TERRY RUHL / Duncansville, Pa.
‘On track for change’
JAN. 20 Pressure to have abortions is normal among female athletes. My coach at a major college basketball program never told me to have an
abortion but did say, “Look at how much money we spent recruiting and training you—you owe us.” I chose life for my daughter even though I was not a believer then. My mother, herself a single mom, had for years told me that even unplanned babies are a blessing. —KARRIE POPE on wng.org
‘The new pro-life generation’
JAN. 20 The pro-life movement set a great example for all Christians by not giving in to fatalism. Now our numbers are growing but the education of our children is a great challenge. The left wants to use education to introduce them to sex prematurely, but parents must guide their children on this most important issue.
—PAUL B. TAYLOR on wng.org
JAN. 20 Thank you to Joel Belz for honoring R.C. Sproul. I thank God for his teaching that shed sanctifying light on my formative years and those of my family. He could speak on profound matters plainly, clearly, and with humor.
—HENRY HARVEY / Memphis, Tenn.
JAN. 20 Janie B. Cheaney wrote that same-sex parenting “undermines the necessity of biological ties.” I understand why same-sex parenting undermines human flourishing, but biological ties are not necessary in
March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 61
Mailbag ‘The Greatest Showman’
God’s design for family. None in my family of four is biologically related, but we are a real family through marriage and adoption, which mirror our adoption into God’s family.
This film was definitely “light and sweet,” but you didn’t mention its refreshing, unashamed tribute to marital faithfulness and family time. Our theater audience clapped at the end. JAN. 20
—JENNIFER HUTCHISON on wng.org
—ANDREA LONGBOTTOM / Spring, Texas
I too wish today’s Washington Post would remember the height from which it has fallen, but Megan Basham missed the boat on this one. The scene of Katharine Graham leaving the Supreme Court was about gratitude for helping bring sons and brothers home from Vietnam, not feminism. The movie held to its purpose throughout: to show how the Post performed a patriotic duty by holding the government accountable to the people. JAN. 20
‘Fading to gray’
JAN. 20 The only time I listen to the “classic rock” I grew up with is on long drives to keep myself awake. With age I have concluded that I don’t need to be perpetually entertained or living in the past.
—ALAN ORME on wng.org
—CHRISTINA WILSON / Thousand Oaks, Calif.
DEC. 30 You gave tribute to many good people, including many entertainers. Should we not do the same for the police officers, firefighters, and sol-
diers who gave their lives protecting us all? —DOUG ROUSH / Pine Grove, Pa.
Liana Kerzner describes herself as a “sex-positive feminist” who has criticized Anita Sarkeesian for years and considers Feminist Frequency more damaging than the anti-feminist side (“A tale of two feminists,” Feb. 3, 2018). Read more Mailbag letters at wng.org
LETTERS and COMMENTS
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Andrée Seu Peterson
After the Super Bowl
THE RESPONSE TO CHRISTIAN RESPONSES TO THE BIG GAME WERE REVEALING I’ll never forget the day I saw a football game. It was on my bucket list anyway. Thought I may as well make it the one that split our house asunder like a Viking ax, Philadelphia transplants from a Boston bedroom community that we are. I plunked right down near my dad and learned about downs and such and was a little surprised at how infrequently the foot is actually used, considering. No one was much interested in this keen insight, so I stifled it and joined the collective lean toward the tube. Through the miracle of HD video lenses with Super 16 mm film you can see the whites in the players’ eyes, and when they zoomed in on the man who did all the talking in the Eagles’ huddle, there was something about him. He looked pleasant, different from the spikers and boasters and knee-takers, and on a hunch I inquired in the room about his name and googled “Nick Foles,” and sure enough, scrolling down to the Wikipedia Personal section confirmed he was a Christian. Come to find out moments after the Super Bowl that all three interviewees onstage for the Vince Lombardi Trophy presentation were Christians—coach Doug Pederson, tight end Zach Ertz, and my new buddy Nick Foles. All in turn gave glory to God, Pederson being very specific that he meant by God “my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and not some doorknob “higher power.” This was red meat for the media, but they had to bite their tongues till they could find targets less untouchable than Foles and company are at the moment (until they’re bums again). Outpouring of outrage must await a safer target, and one came walking by when NBC sports analyst Tony Dungy publicly commented on Foles’ attribution of his success to the Christian God, who evidently is the only hated God left in
The Eagles have changed the meaning of ‘locker room talk.’ The team reportedly prayed the Lord’s Prayer after the win.
Philadelphia Eagles’ Nick Foles (left) celebrates with head coach Doug Pederson after the Super Bowl.
America, as they leave Tom Brady alone with his hybrid TB12 spirituality. All of which made me wonder if what I had watched on Sunday was not a contest between NFC and AFC champions but between Jezebel’s gods and Elijah’s on Mount Carmel. Nah, I must be imagining things; God doesn’t care about football, right? Then again, God can care about whatever He wants to, and it’s not as if He says “Mine” about everything but football. That other dragon-slayer David said of Him, “For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall” (Psalm 18:29). He might have leaped a goal line just as well. I am as psyched about the Dungy flap as the Clements end-zone catch that turned the tide of LII. Would I feel better if Christian persecution would tone down? Yes and no. Yes because I’m not a masochist; no because persecution is confirmation I can use. “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” says Paul, so we won’t be surprised (2 Timothy 3:12). “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. … [I]f they persecuted me, they will also persecute you,” said Jesus (John 15:18, 20). Things are on track for Christ coming II. Meanwhile the Eagles have changed the meaning of “locker room talk.” One hears of discussions of future Bible school and youth group ministry opportunities; the team reportedly prayed the Lord’s Prayer after the win. When brother Stephen talked like that 2,000 years ago in public the pack was “enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. … They cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him”(Acts 7:54, 57). Sort of like they do now. That just gets Christians pumped to hang in there. Like The Big Lead blog lecture to coach Dungy, the apostles’ attackers “beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:40). Peter’s response was the Jamesian reaction to “count it all joy” (James 1). Stephen’s face shone like an angel as they picked up stones. It’s the same spirit that I spotted right away inside the huddle on the face of Mr. Foles. A March 3, 2018 • WORLD Magazine 63
Forever and ever FINDING TRUE, NEVER-ENDING HOPE
64 WORLD Magazine • March 3, 2018
The most realistic uses of ‘forever’ are 2,000 to 3,500 years old.
Basketballer Kobe Bryant wore numbers 8 and 24 during his 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers. The week before Christmas, ESPN exuberantly reported a ceremony during which “the Lakers great had both of his numbers retired, and they will hang in the Staples Center rafters forever.” No, they won’t. Someday that arena will fall down or be torn down. Romance novelist Tessa Dare has one of her characters say, “I’m going to build that house with my own hands, from the foundation to the roof. I’m going to do it for us, and I’m going to do it right, so it lasts forever.” No, it won’t. The Temple in Jerusalem didn’t last forever, and neither will any house. I put “forever” in a search engine and visited a website for “Forever,” which calls itself “The only full resolution online storage guaranteed for your lifetime +100 years.” Guaranteed? What dead person will enforce that? I saw the Forever 21 retailer advertising a $25-off promo code, but it expired the next day. The Always & Forever store sells “the best selection of authentic Pandora jewelry, Swarovski ornaments, Coach handbags, Lampe Berger & Lladro figurines.” They won’t be around always and forever. The U.S. Postal Service sells “Forever Stamps,” but someday the Postal Service will no longer exist. Movies and TV series have had “Forever” in their titles. The Beatles sang of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and a “Strawberry Fields” sign now stands over a patch of Central Park ground near where John Lennon took a fatal bullet. The internet is full of “forever” attempts at poetry that won’t last long, such as Debasish Mridha’s “Write and create a blue sky / Forever with joy where I can fly.” I wouldn’t fall for “FOREVER Identity: create your eternity. Create and preserve your identity, memories, personality, and physical traits and interact with future generations.”
The company will create a 3-D holographic representation that “allows for technologically advanced interaction with users and future generations.” As if future generations will care. Let me count the come-ons: “Diamond Infused Skin Care is where skin care, cosmetics, and luxury meet. We invite you to become Forever Flawless.” Since I could never be flawless, this appeal is more attractive: “Forever Lazy. All adult onesies are available in Footed and Non-Footed options. Super soft and comfortable to maximize lazy lounging.” I could go on with foolish names: Forever Young LA. Ultima Online Forever. Forever Florida. Forever Pictures. Forever Health. Forever Bamboo. Forever Stainless Steel. Forever Farms. Forever Games. Forever Green. Forever Natural. Forever Tattoo Parlor … Enough! Let’s move on to some realistic current usages. An Urban Dictionary definition explains that “forever is until you find something better,” as in “Honey, I will love you forever” becoming, six months later, “Honey, I’m leaving you for a 20-year-old.” Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl in Beautiful Creatures write, “I wanted it to stay this way forever. Which, it turns out, was exactly five more minutes.” But the most realistic uses of “forever” are 2,000 to 3,500 years old. The English Standard Version of the Bible includes words translated as “forever” 379 times. Among them are Exodus 15:18’s “The LORD will reign forever and ever,” and Isaiah 25:8’s “He will swallow up death forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25 quotes Isaiah: “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” Ecclesiastes is an extended meditation on “forever.” Psalms 106, 107, 118, and 136 insist multiple times that we are to “give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” The Bible, in short, dispenses with pathetic uses of “forever” and gives us the hope that concludes the 23rd Psalm: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” And, since “forever” is still an abstract term, the last verse of “Amazing Grace” is worth keeping in mind: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, / Bright shining as the sun, / We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise / Than when we’ve first begun.” A
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