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nigeria / lebanon / polio / amtrak / bob fu / ukraine

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Will a lawyer’s brain, a gripping personal story, and red-meat appeals keep Texas from turning blue?


They Looked for a City

The Search

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5/9/14 4:55 PM

Contents     ,     /         ,        

     

34 Wheeling onto the national stage

Barring an election earthquake Greg Abbott will be the next governor of Texas and the Republican charged with frustrating Democratic plans to turn the biggest red state blue—and give liberals a long-term lease on the White House      

42 The lost girls

Boko Haram’s horrific kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls is one part of a wider campaign to obliterate Christians

46 Staying alive

 

Syrian refugees and their hosts in tiny Lebanon battle a big humanitarian crisis with grassroots, church-based help

5 News 16 Quotables 18 Quick Takes

50 Polio: breaking borders

After  years of waging a largely successful fight against polio, the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency on May  when the virus turned up in nine countries

52 Reflective journey

A cross-country train trip proved to be unpredictable, uncomfortable—and an unmatched period of spiritual focus

 



59 Lifestyle 61 Technology 62 Science 63 Houses of God 64 Sports 65 Money

  :    /




  —.—    

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23 Movies & TV 26 Books 28 Q&A 30 Music


3 Joel Belz 20 Janie B. Cheaney 32 Mindy Belz 67 Mailbag 71 Andrée Seu Peterson 72 Marvin Olasky WORLD (ISSN -X) (USPS -) is published biweekly ( issues) for . per year by God’s World Publications, (no mail)  All Souls Crescent, Asheville, NC ; () -. Periodical postage paid at Asheville, NC, and additional mailing offices. Printed in the USA. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. ©  WORLD News Group. All rights reserved. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to WORLD, PO Box , Asheville, NC -.

5/14/14 11:37 AM



Equipping Christian Leaders

Invest Wisely.

“The earth is the L’s and the fullness thereof; the world and those who dwell therein.” —Psalm :     Marvin Olasky  Mindy Belz   Timothy Lamer   Jamie Dean   Janie B. Cheaney, Susan Olasky, Andrée Seu Peterson, John Piper, Edward E. Plowman, Cal Thomas, Lynn Vincent  Emily Belz, J.C. Derrick, Daniel James Devine, Sophia Lee, Angela Lu, Edward Lee Pitts  Megan Basham, Anthony Bradley, Andrew Branch, Tim Challies, John Dawson, Amy Henry, Mary Jackson, Thomas S. Kidd, Michael Leaser, Jill Nelson, Arsenio Orteza, Tiffany Owens, Stephanie Perrault, Emily Whitten   Les Sillars   June McGraw


Send Him.   David K. Freeland    Robert L. Patete   Rachel Beatty  Krieg Barrie    Arla J. Eicher     Dawn Wilson

Thousands of native missionaries in poorer countries effectively take the gospel to unreached people groups in areas that are extremely difficult for American missionaries to reach.

  Al Saiz, Angela Scalli, Alan Wood

4 They speak the local languages

 ..

4 They are part of the culture

4 They never need a visa, airline tickets, or furloughs

 

4 They win souls and plant churches

 Jim Chisolm

Native missionaries serve the Lord at a fraction of what it costs to send an American missionary overseas.

 ..

Help provide for a missionary with $50 per month.

  Kristin Chapman, Mary Ruth Murdoch Christian Aid Mission P. O. Box 9037 Charlottesville, VA 22906 434-977-5650

    Kevin Martin  Joel Belz   Warren Cole Smith   Larry Huff   Debra Meissner      Mickey McLean   Leigh Jones   Lynde Langdon, Angela Lu, Dan Perkins   Whitney Williams


FIRST CLASS IS FREE! ce d a r v i l l e. e d u / m b a o n l i n e

     Marvin Olasky      Leigh Jones

     Nickolas S. Eicher   Joseph Slife ’     Howard Brinkman    David Strassner (chairman), Mariam Bell, Kevin Cusack, Peter Lillback, Howard Miller, William Newton, Russell B. Pulliam, David Skeel, Nelson Somerville, Ladeine Thompson, Raymon Thompson, John Weiss, John White   To report, interpret, and illustrate the news in a timely, accurate, enjoyable, and arresting fashion from a perspective committed to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God.

Contact us: .. /      ,    ,  ,         (current members) or (to become a member)  .. (within the United States) or .. (outside the United States) Monday-Friday (except holidays),  a.m.- p.m. ET CREDIT

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5/9/14 4:56 PM

Joel Belz

Pattern of deception

Deliberate lies characterize the government’s report on climate change


N    . J. Oliver Buswell Jr., president of Wheaton College during the s, told me once that nothing is more debilitating to a college campus’s sense of community and well-being than the discovery that key people can’t be trusted to tell the truth. That’s what’s been happening, in spades, to American society at large over the last few years. On three key policy issues—the marketing of the Affordable Care Act, the explanations of what happened to the embassy at Benghazi, and the selective IRS attacks on conservative organizations— Americans have in the last couple of years witnessed as deliberate a record of falsification as is possible to imagine. The result is that when we hear a new round of supposedly high-level reports about so-called “climate change,” we really don’t know what to believe. The wariness that has conditioned us doesn’t merely affect our acceptance of scary scenarios about the future. The skepticism doesn’t just make us cautious about other things the Obama people tell us. The uncertainty isn’t even limited to government at large. We have instead more and more become cynics on every front, and in all segments of our society. We simply don’t trust each other any more. That’s a pretty frightful price to pay. But it’s a line item entry you’re simply obligated to include as you construct a profit-and-loss statement for the Obama administration. All that comes to mind as you pick up the massive -page “National Climate Assessment” released by the White House early this month. The report is billed as a thoughtful update on the overall threat of a polluted atmosphere to our planet and to the human race. Instead, the report is a lopsidedly constructed piece of leftist propaganda. It starts with bias, moves on through long passages of misleading data collection, and ends with flat-out lies. It’s that inclusion of deliberate lies that especially deserves our focus


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here. We can all agree on the certainty that different folks might well, in all kinds of debates, interpret the same data in different ways. That simply promotes good discussion. But a deliberately false report is poisonous to such a conversation. It was a deliberately false report that triggered USA Today, the PBS Newshour, and countless other media to report as fact that recent “extreme” weather was the result of “climate change” patterns. Appealing to typically human tendencies to panic at such news, the report picked up on weather events that were fresh in readers’ and listeners’ minds, but for which no causal relationship was either reported or confirmed by scientific evidence. It is a deliberately false report, and misleadingly alarmist, to claim that  major airports are newly susceptible to runway flooding as sea levels rise at “projected” rates. It’s not a particularly new problem. Some of those airports—all placed near big rivers, bays, and other waterways to take advantage of flat land—have for years been equipped with pumping systems to deal with such flooding. It is a deliberately false report to claim that poor and poverty-stricken people around the world will be hardest hit by the effects of climate change. To the contrary, most of the mitigating responses proposed by climate change advocates would dramatically increase the cost of energy, hitting hardest those who can least afford it. It is a deliberately false report to claim, as this report does, that the “debate is over” with respect to the effects of climate change. Instead, as columnist George Will warns, “When a politician says, concerning an issue involving science, that the debate is over, you may be sure the debate is rolling on and not going swimmingly for his side.” This could be a good discussion—one that our whole nation deserves to be engaged in. It would be far more honest, and more persuasive to us doubters, if efforts like this were to include both majority and minority reports. It’s insulting to suggest (although way too common these days) that we can’t let folks expose themselves to both sides and then figure things out for themselves. But the record makes it clear that it isn’t the doubters who have spoiled the chance for a productive conversation. It is those, instead, who have poisoned the landscape with a toxic but all too demonstrable habit of deliberate falsehood. A

M AY 3 1 , 20 1 4 • W O R L D

5/14/14 10:18 AM



The Bible is absolute Truth and the foundation for our Christian faith and living. BJU is committed to helping you build your faith. That’s why we infuse a biblical philosophy into all that we do— from our academics to campus life to extracurriculars. To learn how you can build your faith at BJU, visit us at

For graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program and other important info visit (12043) 8/13


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5/9/14 4:58 PM

Dispatches News > Quotables > Quick Takes

Divide and conquer The strategy that worked in Crimea is what Putin and the Kremlin are deploying in both eastern and western Ukraine by jill nelson Ukrainian nationalists carry a man wounded in clashes with pro-Russian separatists in Odessa May 2. Oleg Sidorov/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images

M ay 3 1 , 2 0 1 4 • W O R L D 

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5/14/14 11:34 AM

Dispatches > News


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ILLEGAL VOTE: Members of an election committee empty a ballot box after voting closed at a polling station in Donetsk May .

“carousel voting, pre-marked ballots, children voting, voting for people who were absent, and even voting in Moscow and St. Petersburg.” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called the referendum a “criminal farce” orchestrated by a “gang of Russian terrorists.” According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, more than  percent of the population in the east wants to remain part of Ukraine and only  percent favors autonomy. The conflicting numbers may keep Russian President Vladimir Putin from moving to annex Donetsk and Luhansk regions as he did in Crimea in March. But suspicions remain over the Kremlin’s intentions. Pro-Russian separatists remain in control of government buildings in roughly a dozen towns—potentially complicating Ukraine’s presidential elections scheduled for May —and the Kremlin has called for a civilized and “practical implementation” of the referendum results. Burnham said many also fear Putin will use the same tactics to take over the Odessa region. With the illegal referendum, the European Union hit Russia with a new round of sanctions, adding  people to

its list of Russians with visa bans and asset freezes. The sanctions still fall short of those imposed by the United States, underscoring Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and business. Most people say they are going about their daily lives in Ukraine and aren’t afraid to walk the streets, despite the tension in the air. Still, Burnham said death is a common topic these days, and opportunities for ministry have grown: “Sometimes just walking with a brother in the midst of a trial, even without doing anything, is ministry.” But concern is mounting that Ukraine will not be able to regain control of the east, eventually leading to Russian annexation that could bring loss of certain freedoms, particularly for Protestant churches with Western backing. “From what we’ve seen in Russia and now in Crimea, there is a growing sentiment against churches that are not Russian Orthodox,” Burnham said. Russian law prohibits churches from meeting in buildings that aren’t designated as “churches,” which could create problems for congregations that rent buildings should Moscow’s meddling reach further into Ukraine. “We hope and pray that what we are seeing now does not degenerate into civil war,” Beasley added. “There are some pretty aroused tempers.” A


W B B received word that his three daughters on their walk home from school were heading straight into a riot in Odessa, he jumped onto his bike and raced through explosions, gunfire, and columns of riot police. Burnham found his daughters and their three friends shaken but unharmed and escorted them from clashes that quickly turned into Ukraine’s deadliest violence in months. At least  people—mostly proRussian separatists—were killed May  in Ukraine’s third largest city, just west of the already annexed Crimea. As riots and a fire broke out, rumors spread that revenge could accompany Victory Day celebrations the following weekend. Local officials canceled parades and people stayed home, locking their doors during what is typically a largescale celebration of Nazi Germany’s surrender to the Soviet Union in World War II. Burnham, who works for Mission to the World, said Odessa, Ukraine’s largest Black Sea port, was like a “ghost town” following rioting. But in eastern Ukraine, separatist leaders used the Odessa tragedy, instigated by proRussian insurgents, as a reason to hold a referendum on May  and prove to the world that the region wants to break away from the “fascist government” in Ukraine. Denis Pushilin, the separatist leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said nearly  percent of the voters in the region chose secession, and he declared Donetsk a sovereign state that will soon ask to join Russia. Nearby Luhansk region claimed even higher numbers supporting autonomy. But the West, including the United States, condemned the vote as illegal, and most Ukrainians stayed away from the polls. “Our friends tell us no one they know actually voted in the referendum,” said Bob Beasley, an American who was in Donetsk teaching seminary courses with his wife Amy during the voting. U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said there were reports of


5/14/14 11:29 AM

Bill Jack

Steve Vaughan

Hosted by Kevin Swanson



10year ANNIVERSARY 2004-2014

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5/12/14 11:15 PM

Dispatches > News T h u r s d a y, M a y 

We d n e s d a y, A p r i l  

About  million Iraqis braved threats of attacks and suicide bombings to vote in the nation’s first election without the presence of foreign troops. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki expects his Shiite party to remain in power, even as his eight-year rule is marked with a close relationship with Iran and growing sectarian bloodshed. In April alone,  people were killed in political violence, according to the UN. Iraq’s electoral commission hopes to announce the winners by the end of May.

Wage debate Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would raise the minimum wage to . an hour by , arguing that such a hike would force employers to cut jobs. Senators voted  to  to raise the minimum wage, falling short of the  votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. Democrats hope to use the debate to rally public opinion during a midterm election year, as President Obama urges Americans to vote out lawmakers who “keep putting politics ahead of working Americans.” Republicans cited a Congressional Budget Office report that found the wage hike would cost the economy , jobs.

Pro-life stand During a National Day of Prayer event, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson didn’t mince words in calling President Obama the “abortion president,” and said, “I will not yield to your wicked regulations” forcing all companies to provide insurance coverage for abortifacients. Media swarmed around the fact that Democratic U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn walked out of the gathering, but Dobson told Fox News that “the people who were there were with me  percent, because they also believe in the sanctity of human life.”

 


Iraq elections

Died Long-time stunt pilot Eddie Andreini, , died on May  during an air show at Travis Air


Force Base in Fairfield, Calif. Andreini, who had performed at air shows for the last  years, was attempting to cut a ribbon stretched across the tarmac with the upside down tail of his Stearman biplane. Even though he had executed the maneuver countless times, he crashed upside down—away from the almost , spectators—and his plane caught fire.

W O R L D • M AY 3 1 , 20 1 4

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5/14/14 10:52 AM


Benghazi cover-up The Obama administration faced more questions about its response to the  Benghazi attack as retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier Gen. Robert W. Lovell testified that the State Department did not call on Africa Command to respond. While he couldn’t say whether it would have made a difference, he believes “we should have tried.” The testimony comes two days after conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch released emails that suggest Obama’s top staff was involved in pushing the false narrative that the attack was in response to an anti-Muslim YouTube video rather than a terrorist attack.

S a t u r d a y & S u n d a y, M a y  - 



Gene split Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, announced that he is divorcing his husband, Mark Andrew. Hundreds of parishes left The Episcopal Church in protest of his consecration in . In a Daily Beast column, Robinson wrote that it comforted him to know that “gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples.”

F r i d a y, M a y 

Deadly day Clashes between pro-Ukraine activists and pro-Russia separatists in the southern port of Odessa killed at least  people, most of whom died in a building fire. The riot started as pro-Russia protesters blocked a large pro-Ukraine rally and escalated to street battles with pistols and firebombs. The outnumbered pro-Russians ran to the trade union building, which caught fire and burned  people. Eight others jumped to their deaths. Both sides are pointing fingers as to who started the fire, with the local government blaming rebels who mishandled Molotov cocktails, and Russian leaders calling it a “real genocide.”

Afghan landslide A massive landslide in remote northeastern Afghanistan buried the village of Abi Barak, killing as many as , people, according to the International Organization for Migration in Afghanistan. By the end of the weekend officials gave up the search and rescue effort and designated the area a mass grave, as some people were buried under nearly  feet of mud. Several days of heavy rain and melting snow caused flash floods and mudslides that have killed more people in a week than in all of , the UN reported.

Circus fall A Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance in Providence, R.I., ended in tragedy as a scaffolding holding eight performers by their hair fell about  feet to the ground. An additional dancer on the ground was injured, and all nine performers were rushed to a local hospital with compound fractures and broken bones. One woman suffered internal bleeding. Fire investigator Paul Doughty said the accident was caused by a steel carabiner that snapped.

Unsilenced Monica Lewinsky,, , broke a decade-long media silence and said former President Bill Clinton “took


advantage” of her when she was a White House intern in the s. Lewinsky’s comments came in a May Vanity Fair story, in which she writes that the Clinton machine turned her into the first internet scapegoat. She expressed deep regret over the affair, and said it’s time to stop “tiptoeing around my past—and other people’s futures.” Many analysts expect the Lewinsky affair to be a campaign issue if Hillary Clinton runs for president in .

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Dispatches > News Tu e s d a y, M a y 6

Going public China’s giant e-commerce company Alibaba filed to go public in the United States, leading analysts to believe this could be the largest initial public offering in history—beating Facebook’s $16 billion IPO. Transactions on Alibaba, which combines online retail, payment services, and cloud computing services, totaled $240 billion in 2013, more than eBay and Amazon combined. Its enormous size displays China’s growing market, as more of the nation’s 1.3 billion ­citizens accumulate wealth.

Establishment win M o n d a y, M a y 5

Kidnapped girls Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of more than 300 Nigerian schoolgirls from a predominantly Christian town on April 15. In a newly released video, leader Abubakar Shekau called the girls “slaves” and threatened to sell them in the marketplace (see p. 42.)

Christian merger

Prayer upheld

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which represents more than 40,000 U.S. churches, will merge with its international counterpart Conela, which serves 487,000 churches around the world. The merger connects NHCLC with the Global South (Latin America, Asia, Africa), where Christianity is growing rapidly. Together the new organization will become the largest evangelical ­association in the world.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that it was constitutional to open legislative meetings with prayer. The case centered on the New York town of Greece, where two residents sued over Christian prayers at city council meetings. While the four liberal justices said the prayers amounted to “government-sponsored worship,” the majority ruled that legislative prayers go back to the first Congress and that the government could not force chaplains to pray nonsectarian prayers.

Celebrating Joshua Hall of Fort Worth, Texas, received four very special gifts for his 36th birthday on May 5: They were named Brooks, Elle, Sadie, and Ivy. The quadruplets were born prematurely on their dad’s birthday, but doctors say they are doing well and should be able to go home in about six weeks. Anna Hall, Joshua’s wife, said the couple, already the parents of two daughters, were hoping for a son: “We did get him. Just with three more sisters. So it was a blessing.” 10 

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nigeria: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI /afp/getty images • tillis: chuck burton/ap • hall: courtesy of baylor healthcare system

The tea party faced a loss in the North Carolina primaries as voters chose establishment-backed Thom Tillis as their Republican nominee for Senate. Some pointed to the fact that Tillis, the state’s House speaker, had a bankroll of $4.7 million, compared to the less than $2 million spent by challengers Greg Brannon and Mark Harris. Tillis will now face incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who had a 33 percent approval rating in March. Republicans hope to unseat Hagan and take back the Senate.

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5/14/14 10:53 AM

nigeria: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI /afp/getty images • tillis: chuck burton/ap • hall: courtesy of baylor healthcare system

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5/12/14 11:16 PM

Dispatches > News

Committee approved We d n e s d a y, M a y 

Show stopper

HGTV decided to pull a new house flipping series after liberal activist group Right Wing Watch revealed the twin brothers starring in the reality series had spoken out in support of traditional marriage and their father was a pro-life activist. David and Jason Benham, who were already five weeks into filming the show set to air in October, responded, “If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.”

Running scared Vibram, the makers of the popular FiveFinger running shoes, moved to settle a lawsuit by a customer claiming the company deceived the public by advertising the shoes decrease foot injures and strengthen foot muscles. The shoemakers did not base their claims on any scientific studies, and runners complain that the ultrathin shoes caused blisters and calf pain. Vibram has agreed to reimburse buyers up to  for every pair they’ve purchased.

House Republicans and seven Democrats in GOPleaning districts approved a select committee to investigate the  Benghazi attack. Former federal prosecutor Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., will head the panel, which will include six GOP members and five Democrats—although Democrats said they will decide whether they want to join. Democrats argue that Republicans are dragging the scandal into an election year to raise money, yet Republicans counter that the Obama administration has been stonewalling information.

Abortionist arrested North Carolina authorities arrested Ashutosh “Ron” Virmani, an abortionist with a history of controversy, after a woman accused him of luring her to his Charlotte residence and raping her. Police charged Virmani, , with first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree sexual offense. In , Virmani admitted to having an improper relationship with a patient, and numerous states have reprimanded him for medical violations. In , Virmani drew criticism for making disparaging remarks about the “ugly black babies” he was aborting.

Died Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal hot air balloon crash that killed the pilot and two passengers on May . Daniel Kirk, a -year-old Army veteran, had piloted balloons since he was in college and was a regular at national ballooning events. He was attempting to land the aircraft at twilight when it struck live power lines and burst into flames. The two passengers were both part of the University of Richmond athletic staff. Ballooning accidents have killed  people in the United States since , according to the National Transportation Safety Board. 


T h u r s d a y, M a y 

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5/7/14 5:22 PM 5/12/14 11:17 PM

Dispatches > News M o n d a y, M a y  

Returning Homs Hundreds of Syrians returned to visit their bombed-out hometown of Homs, which had been taken over by rebels for the past two years. The deal struck earlier in the week allowed , rebels free passage out of the city while the government took back control of Homs. Many residents returned to flattened homes, and a Greek Orthodox bishop told the Associated Press that all  churches in Homs’ old quarter have been damaged or destroyed.

Marriage overruled Same-sex couples rushed to apply for marriage licenses after an Arkansas judge struck down the state’s  same-sex marriage ban without issuing a stay. In his ruling, Judge Chris Piazza compared the case to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down interracial marriage bans in the ’s. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel plans to appeal the decision, even though he personally supports same-sex marriage.

Film funded The producers of a film about Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell reached their goal of raising . million to create the film. The crowdsourcing campaign was pulled from Kickstarter after the site objected to a description of Gosnell’s crimes, and the campaign was completed on Indiegogo. The producers said more than , people donated to the film.

Candidate dies Keith Crisco, the challenger to former American Idol star Clay Aiken in a Democratic primary for a U.S. House race in North Carolina, died in his home. The -year-old textile businessman trailed Aiken by about  votes and died a day before election officials could determine if a recount was necessary. An unofficial tally found Aiken the winner with more than  percent of the vote, and he will face a tough fight against incumbent Republican Renee Ellmers in November.



Born An Ohio woman on May  gave birth to identical twins who were born holding hands. Babies Jillian and Jenna Thistlethwaite, who arrived on Mother’s Day, shared the same placenta and amniotic sac—a rare occurrence called monoamniotic—but were breathing on their own within a few hours. The condition only happens once in , pregnancies and can cause death by entangled umbilical cords. CNN was in the room to capture the medical rarity: “They’re already best friends,” mother Sarah Thistlethwaite said of the twins holding hands.


F r i d a y, M a y 

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MERS 2.0 The CDC confirmed the second case of Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) in the United States, and has notified more than  people that may have come in contact with the patient. The Saudi Arabian health worker was traveling to Orlando, Fla., to visit family when he started feeling sick. Test results were positive for the MERS virus, which has no vaccine. Of the  lab-confirmed cases in the Middle East and Europe,  percent have ended in death.

May 28


Europe’s high court ruled that Google is required to weigh requests by individuals to take down links of newspaper articles or websites with personal information. Some saw the ruling as a necessary protection of privacy, while others complained that it interfered with the freedom of information. While the ruling only applies to the European Union, it could also impact the way search engines deal with the issue in the United States and other countries as well. Google found the ruling “disappointing.”

   . Keep up with breaking news from Ukraine to Nigeria to Washington, D.C., and find more commentary from Marvin Olasky, Mindy Belz, Andrée Seu Peterson, Janie Cheaney, and others.

ic k

Hiding from Google


Tu e s d a y, M a y  

The Texas primary runoff between GOP candidates for lieutenant governor holds national interest, as the race between tr Pa incumbent David Dewhurst and conservative challenger Dan Patrick is a bellwether for the strength of tea party–style insurrections during the GOP primary season. Dewhurst lost a  race against Ted Cruz for u h Dew a U.S. Senate seat.

May 29

May is graduation season for high schools and universities across the country. At the nation’s oldest institution of higher learning, Harvard University, students graduate on May  after a ceremony that includes a commencement speech by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.




Juvenile orthographers from around the country will descend on Washington, D.C., for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Last year’s champion, Arvind Mahankali of Bayside, N.Y., won after correctly spelling the word “knaidel.” Arvind’s victory marked the sixth-consecutive victory by an IndianAmerican contestant at the bee.

June 4

Leaders of Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States will meet in Brussels today for two days of talks about economic issues and geopolitics. A G meeting had been scheduled in Sochi, Russia, for the same day. But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine precipitated Russian expulsion from the group.

June 6

President Barack Obama will travel to Normandy to commemorate the th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that brought about the liberation of France and helped defeat Germany in World War II. Queen Elizabeth II will preside at an international commemoration that is to include  heads of state.


Died French troops on May  found the body of -year-old French photojournalist Camille Lepage in the Central African Republic, according to the presidential palace. Lepage was traveling with the anti-balaka group, civilian militia from mainly Christian communities who are fighting against the Muslim rebel group Seleka. French President Francois Hollande ordered a team to find the “killer of our compatriot,” suggesting she was assassinated. Lepage had been working in South Sudan since  and was in CAR for a photography project. Listen to WORLD on the radio at

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5/14/14 12:13 PM

Dispatches > Quotables

‘The select committee is an answer to prayer.’

‘We don’t tolerate this type of behavior, this type of thought.’ City of Pasadena (Calif.) official Nat Nehdar (left) on the Christian views of the city’s public health director. The city suspended Eric Walsh (above), a physician and lay preacher, when reports emerged that he had called homosexuality a sin.


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Charles Woods, father of f­ ormer Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who was killed in the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, on a House vote to establish a Select Committee on Benghazi. Woods told WORLD: “I think we’re finally going to get some answers.”

‘For a long time we hoped that a miracle would happen: that the persecution would stop. But the true miracle is that we can have peace and joy in our hearts while it continues.’ Pastor Marcelo Nieva on steppedup persecution for his Pueblo Grande Baptist Church following a law passed in Argentina supposedly meant to improve religious liberty.

‘How much pornography would it take for an EPA employee to lose their job?’ U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., ­chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, ­asking investigators why the Environmental Protection Agency never fired an employee making $125,000 annually who admitted to watching porn on the job for several hours each day. No one could answer Issa’s question. The man is still on the federal payroll.

Walsh: WKKelloggFoundation • Nehdar: RACHEL YOUNG/PASADENA NOW • Fitzpatrick: Kevin Rivoli/ap • Woods: MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA/Newscom • Nieva: handout • Issa: J. Scott Applewhite/ap

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick on whether he would consider running for ­lieutenant governor of New York alongside Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Visit our website——for breaking news and more 

Download WORLD’s iPad app today; details at 5/14/14 12:02 PM


‘Being lieutenant governor in New York is kind of like being a baby changing station in a Hooters’ men’s room. It’s very useful, but you just don’t get a lot of work.’



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Dispatches > Quick Takes

Spanish parents may soon have an extra tool in their arsenal in convincing their children to clean their room. It could become the law. On April , the Spanish parliament released a draft version of an update to the European nation’s child protection law. One proviso would require children to share in the responsibilities of household chores regardless of age or gender. The proposed law also requires that children be respectful of their parents and also have a positive attitude toward school, but does not spell out specific punishments for noncompliance.

Grace Bush is clearly in a hurry. That could explain why, at the age of , she graduated from her Boca Raton High School in May two years earlier than her peers. But she did one thing even faster: obtain her college degree. The Florida teen attended two graduations in early May. The first was from Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Later that week, she walked across the stage to earn her high-school diploma. The simultaneous ending of her college career and high-school career means Grace will have to give up playing in two school orchestras. She plans on starting her master’s coursework in August—but only after taking the summer off.

 

  An anonymous letter sent by a New Jersey real estate agent has an elderly couple enraged. Bill and Barbara Doughten received the letter in April after a real estate agent offering homes in their Ocean City, N.J., neighborhood took offense at where Bill Doughten chooses to park his car. “I’m trying to sell million dollar homes in the neighborhood,” the letter reads. “I drive my clients around and they see your car parked sideways on the front lawn! You have a driveway—use it!” Doughten explained that he parks on his lawn because it leaves him closer to his front door. “I got a bad leg,” he told CBSPhilly. com. “I shake and I’m an old man.”


  A warehouse fire in Sweden subjected a village to a barrage of rotten herring on May  and turned into a smelly nightmare for local firefighters. Authorities aren’t sure how the food warehouse fire started. But they could smell what was burning for miles. Inside the engulfed building was a large store of a local delicacy called surströmming—rotten herring left to ferment in tin cans. When firefighters reached the blaze in Enaanger, they had to dodge projectile stinky fish as the fire’s heat caused the tins to explode. A neighbor of the warehouse had his roof bombarded by stinky fish for six hours. The assault left no physical damage, but the smell might linger for days.

In , the Almeida family’s pet turtle Manuela slipped quietly out of a gate left open by construction workers during a home remodel and slowly crept toward freedom in a nearby forest. At least, that’s the story members of the Brazilian family from Realengo have told each other for the past  years. But, as it turns out, they were wrong. Earlier this year when the family patriarch died and his children set out to clean their childhood home, they found something alive hiding in a box of old records: Manuela the tortoise. “At that moment I turned white and did not believe,” son Leandro Almeida told Globo TV. As best as the family can piece together, instead of slipping out a door and into the forest, Manuela actually managed to get into the home’s attic in , and there lived for three decades feasting on termites before ultimately being rediscovered alive and well in .


 

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 

  Police have identified a suspect in a rash of car break-ins in North Conway, N.H., but they’ll probably never read him his rights. That’s because the suspect is a bear. Several residents have recently found their cars with windows smashed and interiors ripped apart, and police say this happens sometimes during this time of year as bears come out of hibernation and search desperately for food.



   For an hour on May , the august body that is the New York State Senate took to debating one of the most pressing issues facing the Empire State: yogurt. Lawmakers debated the merits of making yogurt the official snack of New York state, with Republican lawmaker Michael Ranzenhofer leading the charge, citing the state’s status as the nation’s top processor of the food. But several Democrats parried, asking Ranzenhofer pointed questions: “Did the sponsor consider raisins?” asked Democrat Gustavo Rivera. Toby Ann Stavisky, attempting to hijack the debate, proposed replacing yogurt with the vaunted carrot cookie. But in the end, Stavisky’s idea crumbled, and Ranzenhofer’s proposal won in a landslide.

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   Searching for lost treasure may seem like the stuff of B-movies. But one Tampa, Fla., company is proving that it’s a viable business model. On April , a team from Odyssey Marine Exploration used submersible vehicles to locate the shipwreck of the S.S. Central America that sank in  off the coast of South Carolina carrying a veritable boatload of gold. On the first pass, the publicly traded maritime salvage company brought up more than  million in gold ingots and coins. Experts expect the shipwreck to yield more than  million in gold. According to its contract with companies that lay claim to the treasure, OME will get a large chunk of whatever they recover.

  It’s the best bit of fun John Erik Tveitdal has had in a while. Testing the strength of an excavator just for “fun” at his job at a garbage dump in Norway, the -year-old used the machine’s arm to crush a thrown-away safe. Inside the crushed safe, the Norwegian man found nearly , in cash. But instead of keeping the loot, the garbage worker handed it over to his boss, who then tracked down the original owner of the safe.

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5/13/14 4:46 PM

Janie B. Cheaney

Destructive precision The mysterious path of a tornado and the lasting scars it leaves

WHY? Emily Tittle picks through rubble after a tornado destroyed her home in Paron, Ark.

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I’  . W   Like light, it can’t be seen; just its effects, the objects picked up in its current or swayed by its force. Driving through certain parts of Kansas, one notices slender trees permanently bent by strong south winds. I live at the edge of the Great Plains, where nothing can stop it. When the weather is warm enough to hang laundry outside, I’m often battered by wet, flapping fabrics. It’s both fun and frustrating. In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis recalls his Oxford friend A.K. Hamilton Jenkin, who taught him to “attempt a total surrender to whatever atmosphere was offering itself at the moment … on a windy day to seek out the windiest ridge.” A good attitude to have, I think, while fighting with the sheets. But that’s assuming the wind isn’t likely to kill you. The unpredictability of tornadoes is the most unnerving thing about them. Now that the season is well underway in the Midwest and Southeast, we see news photos of one side of a street devastated while the other side appears untouched. It’s like the Day of the Lord, when two men are in the field and one is taken while the other is left behind (Matthew :). My friend’s sister suffered no damage from the twister that passed within yards of her central Arkansas

home last month. But Rob Tittle, staff member at Family Life Ministries, lost his life, along with two of his daughters. His wife, Kerry, and their remaining six children are relatively unharmed, but their home is reduced to a concrete slab. In the wake of such a terrifying event, the whys sprout up like spring dandelions: Why them? And why not me? My family and I took shelter that night even though no tornadoes actually developed in our neighborhood—why not? The scientific phenomenon is well understood up to a point. The strongest tornadoes develop inside massive “supercell” thunderstorms, when warm air rising from the ground mingles with cold air in the cumulonimbus cloud, forming a vortex. But science can’t explain exactly what causes a funnel cloud in the sky to reach down to the earth. It’s one of those mysteries of nature that may never be solved. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away,” wrote the Tittles’ oldest surviving daughter on her Facebook page the day after the storm: “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” These are the words of Job after a series of personal disasters, culminating in a great wind. It came without warning, struck the four corners of the house where his children were partying, and crushed them all. Sounds a lot like a tornado, an unpredictable act of God that can be almost surgical in its precision. “His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum :). We can’t question the whirlwind, much less stop it; we can only experience it. On some of us, it leaves deep and lasting scars that are the handwriting of the Lord. Someday we’ll be able to read those scars clearly. For now we have clues and testimonies. Daniel and April Smith of Vilonia, Ark., lost their two young sons in a matter of minutes. But earlier, the very day of the storm, -year-old Tyler spoke of his longing for heaven. The only nagging worry was separation: “Will you miss me?” he asked his mother. Of course, she replied. “How long will you miss me?” “Until I see you again.” That evening, one week after Easter Sunday, a violent wind flung open the gates of heaven for Tyler and his brother. Their parents grieve but will see them again. Because of Easter Sunday. Wind surrounds us—warm summer breezes, drenching nor’easters, western gales bringing cold or warm fronts, playful gusts. I sometimes think of the Holy Spirit, the Pneuma (breath) who blows where He wills throughout the earth, confronting the saved and the lost. And sometimes, breathing them home. A


5/9/14 3:48 PM

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5/9/14 5:04 PM

As parents, we’re always looking for new and better ways to teach, to entertain and to instill unchanging truths in our children. This fall, WORLD News Group is introducing three new, fresh and engaging digital experiences that will deliver sights, sounds and words to capture the brightest of imaginations. Complementing the digital experiences, our re-envisioned bimonthly magazines will provide “hold-in-your-hand” stories and activities your


kids will want to share and return to again and again.

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5/12/14 10:01 AM

Reviews Movies  TV > Books > QA > Music

Home run hit

MOVIE: Million Dollar Arm pitches a classic tale of unlikely heroes crossing cultural lines BY SOPHIA LEE



W     metaphors and puns that are bound to swing your way as the new Disney sports movie Million Dollar Arm hits theaters—and a home run. The film, based on a true story, sounds like a Slumdog Millionaire spinoff: Two village boys from India win a reality show competition and train to become Major League Baseball pitchers. The events, however, took place months before Slumdog premiered in . At the height of his career, sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm of TV’s Mad Men) was schmoozing with big


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stars and big money. Now he can hardly pay office rent. One night while sitting in front of Chinese food cartons and mindlessly flipping channels, J.B. gets the idea to create a reality show competition called “Million Dollar Arm” in India. He reasons: Chinese-born Yao Ming made it to the NBA and hit it out of the park with sponsorship deals. India is a mass-populated, under-scouted country with . billion people who presumably all love cricket. Cricket bowlers have great throwing arms. Statistics are in favor of him finding an Indian Yao Ming for American baseball, right?

Never mind that cricket and baseball have totally different throwing mechanics. J.B. is soon bumping and jolting on trucks and cabs all across India, seeking the arm that throws the best fastball and perspiring his way through cramped taxi rides in congested streets. Director Craig Gillespie and cinematographer Gyula Pados shot with handheld cameras and loose frames to seize India’s colorful chaos—a tired technique for depicting South Asia that still appropriately captures the fun energy of the film. Million Dollar Arm, like J.B.’s idea, is a safe, recycled concept, but what

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5/14/14 9:22 AM

Reviews > Movies & TV

IMPOSSIBLE TO DISLIKE: Jon Hamm as J.B. Bernstein.

despite serious obstacles. Problem one: They’ve got just several months to score a contract with the MLB— or they’re out. Two: They’ve never touched a baseball glove, much less a baseball. Three: They barely speak English and have little familiarity with Western life and amenities. Four: J.B. looks at them and sees two leaking cash bags. The boys, already self-critical and homesick, buckle under J.B.’s dis­ appointment, impatience, and irritation. More than baseball, Million Dollar Arm is about the unlikely camaraderie that blooms between two lonely boys from rural India and a lonely L.A. corporate man. The storyline is predictable and Disneyfied, but sometimes, traditional values are best told with classic tales, served with good ol’ American baseball and naan. A

Box Office Top 10



by emily belz


Currently in limited release, Belle falls comfortably and unremarkably in the canon of period dramas but has the distinction of being based on a true story. Unlike others in the canon like your Pride and Prejudices and your Emmas, slavery is a central part of the narrative. Mansfield Park is the only similar film I can think of that presents the conflict about slavery in British society head-on, though it was a major issue of the time. Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is a woman born to an African slave and an aristocratic British admiral in the late 1700s. The mother passes away and the admiral reluctantly leaves his daughter in the care of his uncle when he is called back to sea. Belle grows up as nobility and in a household that loves her, but because of her skin color she can’t be a full member of British aristocratic society. Still, she doesn’t know much about the plight of African slaves until a passionate young abolitionist crosses her path (cue the film’s incessantly swelling score). The film (rated PG) flips the typical setup of a period drama plot: In this case, Belle has plenty of money, while her white cousin is penniless and hunting a rich husband. But even in British aristocracy where inheritance is ­everything, money can’t overcome racism. The romance isn’t the reason to see this film. Belle’s guardian and uncle Lord Mansfield (the excellent Tom Wilkinson) is Britain’s highest judge, and has before him a case concerning a slave trading company seeking insurance compensation after the crew of a slave ship threw overboard slaves, a real and important case. The uncle’s inability to see the connection between his fatherly love for Belle and the humanity of slaves represented in the case is the most interesting part of the story. Though the period drama genre needed a film that ­presents a British-African woman as the heroine, Lord Mansfield, not Belle, ends up as the central character.

hamm: Disney Enterprises, Inc. • belle: Pinewood Pictures

is impossible to dislike; Hamm once again proves his knack for humanizing even the most arrogant, self-serving pig-in-aPorsche. Stealing the show, however, are the two “Million Dollar Arm” ­winners J.B. brings For the weekend of May 9-11 ­ according to Box Office Mojo to Los Angeles, Dinesh Patel cautions: Quantity of sexual (S), v ­ iolent (V), and foul-language (L) ­content on a 0-10 (Slumdog scale, with 10 high, from Millionaire’s S V L Madhur Mittal) 1 Neighbors r................................9 6 10 ` and Rinku Singh 2 The Amazing ` (Life of Pi’s Suraj Spider-Man 2* PG-13.............. 1 6 3 Sharma). The 3 The Other Woman PG-13......5 4 5 ` 18-year-old boys 4 Heaven Is for Real* PG..........2 3 1 ` gawk and gape as 5 Captain America: The ` conspicuous trans Winter Soldier* PG-13............ 1 6 3 plants but are 6 Rio 2 g........................................... 1 3 1 ` 7 Moms’ Night Out* PG......... not rated relatable, funny, ` 8 Legends of Oz: and charming ` Dorothy’s Return PG............. 1 3 1 9 Divergent PG-13........................2 6 3 ` 10 Brick Mansions PG-13............3 6 5 `


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*Reviewed by world

5/14/14 9:22 AM

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: New Line Cinema • The Hornet’s Nest: THN MOVIE, LLC

keeps it fresh are the endearing characters, whose personalities screenwriter Tom McCarthy (Up) fleshes out with humor and quirk. Even J.B., sometimes deservedly called a “class-A jerk” by his neighbor/love interest Brenda (Lake Bell),


The Hornet’s Nest by mindy belz

hamm: Disney Enterprises, Inc. • belle: Pinewood Pictures

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: New Line Cinema • The Hornet’s Nest: THN MOVIE, LLC


Americans may be tired of being at war but they’re not tired of war movies. The Oscar-winning Hurt Locker on Iraq in 2008 and 2010’s award-winning Restrepo, a documentary on Afghanistan, provided day-to-day grit in what no one anymore likes to call the war on terror, and both showed why that’s exactly what it is. The Hornet’s Nest (rated R for language) follows similarly in its gritty portrayal, bringing to life in real-time footage Operation Strong Eagle 3, a 2011 battle in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province that involved hundreds of Afghan and U.S. soldiers from the 101st Airborne. From the beginning we see what U.S. military personnel are up against: A cache of missiles turns up in village hideouts, and children are the victims of IEDs the soldiers try to thwart. Spc. Bret Kadlec hears a couple of Afghans whispering, only to discover “they were right in the trees above us.” The militants flip their weapons to fire, and “it was all pretty much chaos from there.” War is chaos but a documentary about it shouldn’t be so hard to follow. The Hornet’s Nest struggles for narrative arc, plus makes the mistake of casting the journalist-­ narrator rather than the soldiers in the leading role. Veteran war correspondent Mike Boettcher takes with him on this particular military embed his estranged son Carlos. That in itself could be a story. But despite Boettcher’s overwrought narration, we rarely see the two together once they make it to the airport, and there’s no tangible resolution in the relationship. Likewise, so many soldiers are shown so fleetingly it’s hard to track their stories in what proves to be a costly battle. In the end everyone comes off one-dimensional, from soldiers with their expletive-laced camaraderie to the Afghan villagers all out to betray them to the journalist who can’t keep himself on the sidelines, where he belongs. Americans present and future could appreciate more documentary film work about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—but as stories worth telling, not shoot-outs cut and pasted together.

See all our movie reviews at

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by Andrew coffin


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty never cracked the Top 5 weekly box office performers when it was in ­theaters. Yet most people who saw the film liked it, giving it a B+ CinemaScore (a poll of exiting theatergoers). Now that the film is available at home, more families should find this gem. Rated PG, the film is not faithful to James Thurber’s 1939 New Yorker short story. That was a sad tale about a sad man, lost in heroic daydreams yet ineffectual in real life. Ben Stiller’s film (he both directs and stars) is far more hopeful. Stiller surprises viewers—and subverts Hollywood’s ­clichéd emphasis on individuality-at-all-costs—in three other ways. First, we get some of Walter’s backstory, which helps us understand why he’s stuck in his shell. Surprisingly, it’s not because some authority figure (a parent, a priest, a teacher) was “mean” to him—but because he lost his father (whom he loved!) at a young age, and took on the burden of caring for his family. Second, Walter’s quest may be launched by his love for a woman (Kristen Wiig), but his goal is actually related to his work. Walter is good at his job as a “negative asset manager” for Life magazine and is committed to finding a lost negative from Life’s best photographer (Sean Penn in his most appealing character since—ever?). Walter has a nasty new boss but cares enough about his work to keep his commitment to doing it well. I won’t say much about the last reason—it would spoil the ending—but it’s both fascinating and refreshing that on some level the film celebrates the man Walter was before his transformation. The film is not perfect—Walter’s transformation happens too fast and some character development is weak; also, there is some mild bad language and innuendo. But Walter Mitty has humor, adventure, fantasy, stunning images, great music, and more than a few genuinely touching moments. My family covers the range from ages 7-37. I suspect we will not be alone in finding delight in this small, underappreciated film.

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5/14/14 9:53 AM

Reviews > Books

America’s high places Fighting the corruption of the permanent political class



Published by Tyndale this month, Randy Singer’s The Advocate is a reverent page-turner based on the idea that the Theophilus to whom Luke wrote was a lawyer who assisted Pontius Pilate at the trial of Jesus and, decades later, played a crucial role in Rome as Paul went up against Nero. Joseph Loconte’s God, Locke, and Liberty (Lexington, ) recaptures the political philosopher from those who consider him anti-Christian: Loconte shows that Locke saw the Bible as the basis for a Christian renewal that in turn could bring social peace. Dan DeWitt’s Jesus or Nothing (Crossway, ) is a good book for new graduates who imbibed atheism in college and don’t realize it will lead them to nihilism. —M.O.

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), which argues that “the only way to get rid of corruption in high places is to get rid of the high places.” DeMint points out how big government, big business, big unions often work together to hurt little guys ranging from security guards in Michigan (required to have three years of specialized education) to fortune tellers in Maryland (required to go through a licensing process). One DeMint story is of Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, the largest tobacco company in America. It supported the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of , which placed tobacco products under heavy-handed regulatory control. Was it a breakthrough for the big company suddenly concerned with public health, or a realization that Altria would do better by Pescosolido crafting regulations that would work to its advantage and leave years, but by  the marketing-order smaller tobacco markets operating in a system was gone not only for oranges minefield without a map? but for other fruits and vegetables as A healthier story is of how Sunkist well. DeMint’s conclusion: “Today, not ran an orange cartel in California until only are small farmers free to expand Skip Pescosolido, a relatively small their businesses and create more jobs, grower but a Harvard-educated econobut your grocery bill is a lot lower than mist, declared war on the marketingit would otherwise be, thanks in large order system that limited the supply of part to the courage and determination oranges offered for sale, thus boosting of Skip Pescosolido.” prices. The theory was that the system


 

T  of Peter Schweizer’s Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets (Houghton Mifflin, ) significantly includes the word “politicians” and not “Democrats.” Schweizer sees governmental power benefiting politicians from both parties: Democratic sponsors of a Washingtoncentric bill solicit campaign donations from those who would benefit by it, while Republicans “denounce the bill as a terrible idea that is destructive to the economy, but the threat of its passage is a moneymaking opportunity for them too.” Schweizer gives depressing example after example to lock down his case that solving problems is good but nonlucrative: “It is gridlock, confusion, and rehashing fights that create streams of income—like an annuity— for the Permanent Political Class.” He compares government officials to the Manhattan squeegee men who would threaten a broken windshield if a driver didn’t fork over cash, but “these extorters wear nice suits, speak eloquently, and know how to present themselves in front of a television camera.” Extortion is a sobering read that will help politics-watchers expand their vocabulary by learning about the variety of moneymaking bills: milkers, juicers, and fetchers. The book is a good complement to Jim DeMint’s Falling in Love with America Again (Center Street,


5/8/14 1:33 PM



would protect smaller farmers, but Sunkist used it to maintain its market dominance, since small producers were unable to expand their businesses. Pescosolido described the system as one that allows “a committee of my competitors to sit around in a smokefilled room and tell me how many oranges I can sell each week.” The political and court battles lasted for 



Four popular and readable theology books > reviewed by  

Missing Jesus Charles & Janet Morris Missing Jesus begins with the acknowledgment that at certain times we all feel as if we’re missing something. We have put our faith in Christ and we are following Him, but something still seems to be missing. There are a thousand answers to this more, and most of the Christian books pouring off the printing presses claim to have the solution. Charles and Janet Morris look past easy and novel answers and point instead to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we’re missing anything, we have probably lost sight of the Savior. In this book they offer glimpses of the gospel from many different angles, each one more powerful than the last. If you need encouragement, you’ll find it here.

Sex and Violence in the Bible Joseph W. Smith III The Bible assures us that all Scripture has been breathed out by God and, for that reason, is profitable to us. This includes the parts of Scripture that we may prefer to skip over. In Sex and Violence in the Bible, Joseph Smith collects and analyzes the Bible’s many descriptions of sex and violence, which makes for a reading experience both awful and fascinating. We live in a world marred by human sin and depravity, by sexual sin, violence, and even sexual violence. Scripture has descriptions of all of these, and in some way each record has been given for our benefit, to equip us for real life in the real world. We overlook or ignore them at our own peril.

True Beauty Carolyn Mahaney & Nicole Whitacre Society gets beauty all wrong. Sadly, so too do many Christians. We tend to worship the beautiful and ignore or even revile the plain. We make beauty a cultural god. In True Beauty, motherdaughter team Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre look beyond society’s perceptions and misperceptions of beauty and turn instead to Scripture for God’s wisdom on the subject. As we would expect, His perspective is infinitely better. This short book will prove valuable reading for any woman, and perhaps especially any young woman. She will find simple, clear, practical teaching on the nature of beauty, the sheer goodness of beauty, and the God who exemplifies all that is beautiful.



Taking God at His Word Kevin DeYoung One of Kevin DeYoung’s strengths as an author is taking complicated theology and bringing it down to a popular level. Taking God at His Word is a book about what the Bible says about the Bible, geared for the general reader. In just  pages DeYoung celebrates the Bible as God’s revelation of Himself. He encourages readers to acknowledge that God’s Word is knowable, necessary, and enough. He deals briefly but powerfully with the Bible’s sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity. In short, he provides a basic theology of Scripture. DeYoung says, “My aim is to be simple, uncluttered, straightforward, and manifestly biblical.” He succeeds well.

To see more book news and reviews, go to

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Every Christian should be familiar with the poems of George Herbert, who was acquainted with suffering and hoped his poetry “may turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul.” In Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert (University of Chicago Press, ), John Drury sketches Herbert’s life and explores the art and meaning of his poetry. The book’s strength lies in Drury’s ability to explain Herbert’s theology and draw out the Christian meaning in the poems, showing how the structure—rhyme schemes, meter, and form—partner with the words to build meaning. Although the poems were not published until after Herbert’s death—at his request—they became immediately popular before falling into disfavor. The book is academic enough for scholars but easily accessible to the lay reader with a bit of patience. —Susan Olasky

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5/8/14 1:33 PM

Reviews > Q&A

A new creation China Aid founder Bob Fu went from angry unbeliever to joyful jailed believer to advocate for the persecuted church in China By Marvin Olasky



deaths. By God’s grace she survived. I was born in 1968 and grew up in a very poor village. What’s your earliest memory? Extreme poverty and extreme injustice. Because of my mom’s longtime begging food on the road she had lung disease. Every day she coughed and coughed. My sister and I went to a local doctor’s home, begging the doctor to come out to rescue our mom, and the door was just shut in front of our face. I still remember my sister and I kneeling in front of the doctor’s home begging the doctor to come out.

How did you become a fighter against injustice? In 1987 I was about to graduate from high school, and my dream was to become the first freely, democratically elected prime minister. I thought if you’re a political leader, you can make real change and help your family, yourself, and the country. Two years later in Tiananmen Square you had great hopes. That year millions of Chinese students launched a peaceful protest. I led the first demonstration from my university and led a group of former students to Beijing. We occupied part of

Tiananmen with days and nights of protest. But you had to leave Tiananmen because of your future wife. I had to leave three days before the massacre because my then-girlfriend, my wife now, was very sick and hospitalized. Early morning on June 4 the Chinese Communist Party sent its so-called People’s Liberation Army to massacre hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent citizens. I was interrogated day and night, writing confessions. It was a very hard time, and some of my friends betrayed me by telling lies in order to show their loyalty to the Communist Party.

Ben Sklar/The New York Times/redux

Pastor Bob Fu founded in 2002 the China Aid Association, which provides legal aid to Christians in China. Born in China in 1968, he became a Christian and left China in 1996 when his wife continued an unauthorized pregnancy. Baker published last fall his autobiography, God’s Double Agent. Please tell us about growing up in China. My mom was a beggar walking village by village for years during the so-called “Great Leap Forward” time, instigated by Mao Tse-tung, which resulted with some 30 to 40 million

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5/8/14 1:39 PM

Ben Sklar/The New York Times/redux

That must have been devastating. I was disappointed, disillusioned, and full of hatred. Then one night, I read a biography of a Chinese pastor, and later got my first copy of the Bible. These revolutionary words penetrated to my soul: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” That struck me the most because I was always looking to become a new creation, and I wanted to change my fellow classmates and buddies, but they turned against me. I realized: Who can become a new creation without the Creator Himself? And how could I change others without being myself first changed? You professed faith in Christ. And the next day, it was a new world for me. I was really like the crippled man HELPing: told, “In the Fu outname of Christ, side the rise, and walk.” I China Aid was like that, offices in Midland, dancing on the Texas. street and writing John 3:16 on the blackboard and every day after class trying to grab some students and professors to take to Bible study. But trouble came. In China there is a saying that if you want to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and faithful minister of the Word, the first theological course you need to take is prison theology. My wife and I had to take the prison theology course in


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1996, but it was a very short course, only two months. After I was forbidden to share the gospel individually in prison, I started to sing every day, and everybody would sing “Give Thanks to the Lord.” I was forbidden to do that so I started humming, and others started humming. You got out, managed to escape to Hong Kong and then the United States, and in 2002 formed China Aid: What was its original intent? To help channel ­financial and legal support to prisoners of faith and their families, and to the house church leaders when they are arrested. They need lawyers and also need financial support for the children’s education. Almost every night I got phone calls from China, a brother or sister crying out, saying, “Help us—they are coming!” I could hear the police knocking at the door. Now you get reports of persecution from all over China. What then do you do? We verify reports with people on the ground, and sometimes I engage directly with the security officers who were overseeing the arrest. I’ll give you an example: Last year, when a group of believers was arrested for singing Christian hymns in a public square, three Christian sisters were taken away to the police station. I got the cell phone number

of the police chief, called him, and said we would make a major report, but if you release them I promise you we will not do this story. He was not even aware that his subordinate police branch had arrested these three sisters, and he said, “Give me a few hours.” These three sisters were released. So the persecutors want to do their dirty business in secret? They don’t like ... To be exposed. I understand George W. Bush was helpful at times.

‘Who can become a new creation without the Creator Himself? And how could I change others without being myself first changed?’

Sometimes I contact the U.S. Embassy, State Department, the White House to ask for a diplomatic inquiry. One time a Chinese house church leader was arrested in Beijing for printing and distributing a few million Bibles without a permit. The prosecutor was ready to sentence for 15 years, but President Bush made a commitment to intervene, and the sentence was reduced to three years. Has that very supportive attitude from the White House continued under the Obama administration? Unfortunately, not as much. It seems diplomatic intervention for these human rights issues is not on the high priority, and that has sent a very clear signal to the Chinese dictators that they can do as much as they want. One time when you tried to have the Obama administration intervene, the attempt made things worse? Yeah, when President Obama visited Beijing, I read reports that he wanted to meet with human rights lawyers in China, so I helped spread the word and locate some. I was on the phone with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and said, “We have a group of human rights lawyers waiting outside the U.S. Embassy to be escorted in to meet with the president. Please facilitate.” But instead of the U.S. Embassy staff getting in these human rights lawyers, 500 Chinese military came out and roughed them up. U.S. consular officials had informed the Chinese military? Who else knew? Or, somebody monitored the U.S. Embassy’s phone. Otherwise, how could anybody turn up so quickly at precisely that spot? A

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5/8/14 1:40 PM

Reviews > Music

Cash buffet

Among the Stars includes a bit of everything JOHNNY CASH did well BY ARSENIO ORTEZA

“I’m Movin’ On”), or the gospel number “I Came to Believe” sounds as if Cash suspected his reputation as a still-vital music-maker was at stake. And just as a heretofore undiscovered mundane letter from a long-dead relative can take on special significance, Cash’s rendition of Charles Cochran and Sandy Mason’s “After All” packs a resonance in  that it couldn’t have  years ago. “This memory that I had,” Cash sings, “it’s more good than bad. / You taught me how to sing / and bring you love.” In the four months that Cash outlived June, something very like those sentiments surely must have crossed his mind.



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formed The Baron? Probably not. The excellent Johnny —a stripped-down affair that featured two Bruce Springsteen songs and that therefore anticipated the no-frills rock covers Cash would assay in the ’s—bombed saleswise in . And, with the exception of “She Used to Love Me a Lot” (which David Allan Coe would score with four years later) and the title track (about a doomed armed robber with a heart of gold), Out Among the Stars is not in Johnny ’s league. What it is is a little bit of everything that Cash did well, sung with an unflappable composure that’s every bit the equal of the workmanlike performances of Sherrill’s studio musicians and those of the recently dubbed-on Buddy Miller, Jerry Douglas, and Marty Stuart (who also played on the original sessions). Nothing in Cash’s two duets with his wife June Carter Cash, the winking comedy tribute to Minnie Pearl, the Waylon Jennings duet (Hank Snow’s


I   up until his death in  Johnny Cash could hardly be said to have gone gentle into that good night, his seemingly inexhaustible posthumous output makes it hard sometimes to believe he ever left. Now comes Out Among the Stars (Columbia/Legacy). In some ways, it perpetuates the illusion of Cash’s immortality more than the last  years’ worth of compilations, live recordings, and all four volumes of the Bootleg Series. Recorded in  with the producer Billy Sherrill, Out Among the Stars was intended to halt the downward commercial trajectory in which Cash then found himself mired. But Columbia Records rejected it, opting instead to release  other somewhat jauntier Sherrill-produced tracks as The Baron, which peaked at  on Billboard’s country chart and became one of only three (out of eight) ’s Cash albums to make any charts at all. Would Out Among the Stars, had it been released as planned, have outper-

Before her marriage to Johnny Cash, June was best known as a second-generation member of the “first family of country music,” the Carter Family. In Carter Girl (Rounder), the latest album by June’s daughter Carlene Carter, the family’s musical roots get replanted in stcentury alternative-country soil and sprout fresh blossoms. Seven of Carter Girl ’s dozen songs were written by the family’s paterfamilias, A.P. Carter (eight if you count “Lonesome Valley ,” an A.P. classic updated by Carlene and NRBQ’s Al Anderson). Rife with biblical and other gospel-music archetypes, they’ll alert newcomers to the Carter Family canon to the fact that once there was a time when Christianity was cool. But it’s the lone Carlene original, a rerecorded “Me and the Wildwood Rose,” that sets the tone: “In my Grandma’s house her children would sing, / Guitars a twangin’ and their laughter would ring. / I was little, but I was the biggest kid. / I wanted to do what the grown-ups did.” With Carter Girl, she finally has. —A.O.


5/14/14 9:25 AM


The family business


New or recent pop-rock albums > reviewed by  

Soft Friday Coves Quoth John Ridgard, the male half of this English duo: “The sound of an album to me has more to do with the production than the song writing.” So it is that it’s Soft Friday’s overall vibe and not any one particular cut or lyric that has made the album a pick to click among the indie crowd. What is that vibe exactly? A reverb-drenched homage to the daydreams and nightmares of the everyday female cohabitant as given mysterious, ectoplasmic voice by Coves’ female half, Beck Wood. Divergent: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition) Various artists Randall Poster has taken his soundtrack-supervising task seriously, aiming for music that embodies a “deteriorating” future like the one dramatized in Divergent the film. He could’ve just signed up the world’s dozen top-selling pop acts and let capitalism take its course. What he ended up with: tracks by Woodkid, Banks, Snow Patrol, Zedd, M, Skrillex and KillaGraham, and Big Deal that make his future sound somewhat exciting, four by Ellie Goulding that make it sound dull, and three featuring rappers that overemphasize the deterioration.

The Madness of Happiness Truckstop Honeymoon Mike and Katie West are a quirky, country-folkpurveying married couple with New Orleans roots and a shared gimlet-eyed vision of the joys and trials of wealth-oblivious domesticity. This album’s masterpiece, “A Home Is Not a Hotel,” is worthy of Loudon Wainwright III. But it’s X’s John Doe and Exene Cervenka whom the Wests most recall. The difference: Whereas for X the trailerpark affectations were just another arrow in their punk quiver, for the nonpunk Wests they’re not affectations (or unfunny) at all.

SPOTLIGHT What people mean when they call Neil Young “perverse” is that he’s self-contradictory in ways so extreme that it’s almost impossible to take him seriously anymore except as a deliberately expectationsdefying performance artist. His latest act is following his rollout of a high-fidelity digital music-listening platform with A Letter Home (Reprise/Third Man), an acoustic lo-fi album of other people’s folkie hits recorded in an old-fashioned make-your-ownrecord booth. Even more perverse is that A Letter Home—its grating clicks, pops, and pitch-shifting included— works as a look into Young’s favorite non–Neil Young songs and songwriters. That the latter include Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Tim Hardin, and Bert Jansch is hardly news. That Gordon Lightfoot and Willie Nelson show up twice, however, and Ivory Joe Hunter and the Everly Brothers at all deserves a headline. Most perverse: that Young’s spoken “letter” to his long-deceased mother is the runaway highlight.



Nikki Nack tUnE-yArDs Merrill Garbus sings and chants dithyrambic vernacular-mashing word collages to complex music of post-ironic, neo-primitive catchiness, intent on staying several steps ahead of even the most avant-garde listener. Rapid-fire hooks emerge, vanish, and re-emerge. Sounds collide and recede. Giddiness pervades both her wisdom and her nonsense. Not until the track called “Interlude: Why Must We Dine on the Tots?” does Garbus let her guard down, revealing her chief influences (whether she admits them or not) to be Laurie Anderson and Roald Dahl. To see more music news and reviews, go to

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Mindy Belz

Not your headline news

What if God is building something new out of the destruction of His ancient churches?



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an upper room where they hear careful teaching R    came about the love God has for them. together in Washington at a well-publicized event A pastor in Iraq told me his church is shrinking, to advocate for the suffering church in the Middle “except we are growing when you count the Muslims East. It was a rare display of bipartisanship with who are coming to our house gatherings.” about  leaders calling for legislation to create a What if in the midst of the church’s “destruction” special envoy to the Middle East and urging believers its destroyers may come to faith? It’s not wishful in the United States to pray, give, and advocate on thinking. Author and researcher David Garrison has behalf of the persecuted. I signed the statement, too, studied unreached people groups since . For more having witnessed over the years the wholesale than three years he traveled over a quarter million oppression—and in some cases destruction—of the miles to quantify the movement of Muslims to Christ. church in Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. His new book, A Wind in the House of Islam (, In my most recent travels in the Middle East I saw WIGTake Resources), documents that movement churches whittled to half their size, or less, compared across nine “rooms” or regions that span the globe. to a decade ago. Violence, kidnappings, and fear have His dramatic conclusion: Across  nations where taken their toll on Christian believers—and we in the most of the world’s . billion Muslims live, there have West have an obligation not to turn from it. been  movements to Christianity from Islam, defined But what if at the same time the church is suffering as at least  new the church is thriving churches or , anew? What if the baptisms—and  Mediator of a new covpercent of them have enant, in the business happened since . of providing a new and Garrison told me living way for men to that a number of come to God (Hebrews important trends lead :), is building him to believe this amid the ruins of the century may be the ancient church? “fullness of time” for A pastor in Beirut, Christianity’s inroads who works in a historiin the Muslim world— cally Christian area UPPER ROOM: Muslim women gather at a church in the Middle East. something that hasn’t dotted with Armenian, happened in the  Catholic, Baptist, and centuries the two religions have contended together. evangelical churches, told me, “What surprises us is Among them are better and more numerous transseeing God doing something new.” The area is filling lations of both the Bible and the Quran. Saudi Arabia with Syrian refugees (story, p. ), Christians and pushed translations of the Quran into all languages Muslims, and he and his congregation are ministering and—according to Garrison—the effort has backfired. to them. The Muslims, as a result, are coming to church. “The Quran has no plan of salvation and no assurances “When [the Syrians] came earlier they came to except that if you die in jihad you will be blessed.” The fight us,” he said. “Now they come asking for help, real-life specter of jihadi terrorism, he and others say, and they are finding open arms. The people who were has left many Muslims with deteriorating hope in receiving their rockets and shells are giving them their own religion. support. So they are touched by the love of Christ.” The topic is dangerous to touch, as threats to those In Syria itself, a church in Damascus is “mostly full who convert from Islam are real. Many won’t discuss of women in black head coverings,” one member told Muslim conversions at all. But understanding that me, as Muslims desperate for help are finding it in the something new is afoot where headlines show a church, and coming to hear what else it has to offer. blighted Muslim world may give religious and political I attended one such meeting full of about  leaders better insight, and help us not to shrink in the Muslim women who came to receive food parcels. No face of danger. A one forces them to stay, but each week they gravitate to


5/14/14 11:05 AM







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5/9/14 5:08 PM





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Abbott speaks to the press outside Western Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas.



Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

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Eric Gay/ap

I spent much of April 29 sitting next to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott aboard a nineseater Citation XLS that took us from Austin to Lubbock air space to Abilene to Gainesville and back to Austin. We missed the centerpiece of the day, a planned Abbott press conference on ­education at Lubbock High School, because as the plane approached the West Texas city a dust cloud, ­propelled thousands of feet high by 60-mile-per-hour winds, forced the pilot to land in Abilene instead.

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davis: James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle/ap • street sign: warren smith

You can tell a campaign is going your way when a missed campaign stop turns into a public relations victory.

That’s when Zac Petkanas, spokesman for Democratic pro-abortion candidate Wendy Davis, publicly speculated that Abbott had purposefully avoided Lubbock because he feared answering reporters’ questions. But while Petkanas tweeted—“Greg Abbott too chicken to follow through on press conference at Lubbock”—Abbott was talking with Lubbock reporters by phone. Soon KCBD, the NBC affiliate in Lubbock, was reporting that the dust storm had given passengers on another plane a “white knuckle ride” filled with “heart-stopping moments.” It quoted a more laid-back Abbott saying “the air got denser and denser—so much so that we couldn’t even see.” And the local newspaper, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, gave positive coverage to

Abbott’s education platform, which proposes “more local control for school districts as well as greater transparency to promote more parental involvement.” Abbott had accurately described the eerie brownout, with dust surrounding the plane leaving only a few feet of visibility. Pilots have compared landing during brownouts to parallel parking a car with eyes closed.




as planned. In the cavernous hanger of Orteq Energy Technologies in the North Texas town of Gainesville, with gigantic fracking machinery as a backdrop, Abbott won applause from  men and women (some in suits, others wearing jeans and ball caps, many holding or wearing Abbott campaign material) by describing his job as “I go into the office in the morning, I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home.” He threw out other red-meat lines: “You can count on me to keep the boot of government off your backs. … I’ve brought  lawsuits against Barack Obama and his overreaching federal government,” which is looking to “crush the growing energy sector. … I’m glad to get back with salt of the earth people [and] get out of the People’s Republic of Austin.” He’s given a variant of that speech before and will probably keep giving it until Nov. —and most Texas Republicans could give similar rousers. It’s like a “compulsory figure” in figure skating, where until the s top skaters had to do figure eights on the ice again and again. Only after tracing perfectly round circles with no wobbles, flats, bulges, or inward curling would they have a chance to win the free skating competition with its exciting but hazardous triple axels and lutzes. Skating competition has eliminated the compulsory figures, but politics has not. Campaigners, whether Democrat or Republican, must still offer “red meat” speeches to carnivorous constituents. Abbott showed he can do what is mandatory, both in

speaking and in shaking hands with voter after voter and mixing small talk with occasional tall talk on battling Obama. He also unites the personal and the political with a line he uses in every campaign appearance: “Lots of politicians say they have a steel spine, but I really have one.”

THAT SPINE IS A CENTRAL PART of his appeal, in

several ways. Democrats, borrowing from their last Texas governor, Ann Richards, like to characterize legacy Republicans as folks born on third base who thought they hit a triple—but Abbott, from humbler stock, worked hard, hit a line drive, and was rounding first when a terrible accident forced him to go back to home plate. Abbott’s dad sold insurance and stocks until he died while Abbott was a high-school sophomore. His previously stay-at-home mom went to work in a real estate office, while Abbott mowed lawns and stocked store shelves. He was a track star in high school, where his class voted him Most Likely to Succeed. Abbott jogged in Austin at The University of Texas, in Nashville at Vanderbilt Law School, and in Houston as a young lawyer—until an oak tree fell on him while he was running past live oaks and magnolias near the corner of Inwood and Chilton in Houston’s über-affluent River Oaks neighborhood. It was quiet there on the first Saturday morning of this month, except for the sound of gardeners edging a lawn. It was steamy on July , , when Abbott heard “an

NONSTOP: The corner site of Abbott’s accident (below); Abbott speaking at the Carver Academy in San Antonio (far left); Davis.

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handle the charge that Republicans lack compassion: “It makes me naturally empathetic toward those who face challenges.” As we spoke on the plane, Abbott did lots of free skating on a variety of issues, and showed a steel spine concerning religious liberty and abortion. He said a totally secularized public square is not neutral, but naked: Aggressive secularism, Abbott said, means “there is only one winner and many losers.” He noted the rampant irony among those who don’t want Christians to “force” their values on other Americans, but are “forcing their belief system on the rest of America” and trying to “expunge our history.”

Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT/landov

spine of steel: Abbott and his wife Cecilia at the opening session of the Texas state Republican convention in Fort Worth, Texas.

explosion, like a bomb going off,” as an oak snapped at its base. The next second he was on the ground. Broken bones in his vertebrae pierced his spinal cord. Fractured ribs poked into his organs. He almost died, then went through months of rehabilitation, and has been imprisoned in a wheelchair ever since. Except that Abbott didn’t let that stop him. After rehab he resumed his legal career, buoyed economically by a $10 million accident insurance settlement. He served on the Texas Supreme Court during the 1990s and left it to run successfully for attorney general in 2002. He makes his “huge, life-changing event” a political plus by using it to


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He gets top marks from Texas pro-life groups. As a child he attended a Disciples of Christ church—that denomination favors legalized abortion—and fell away from churchgoing as a teenager. His priorities as a University of Texas undergrad were “typical—first football, second having a good time.” Then he met a granddaughter of immigrants from Mexico: She went to a Roman Catholic church every Sunday, and Abbott starting going with her. Later he married her and in 1987 formally converted to Catholicism. Abbott said he is “realistic” about abortion: The new Texas law (if Washington’s black robes don’t kill it) protects 20-weeks-and-up unborn babies, but women until then can still do whatever they want, even unto death. His principle, Abbott said, is “all human life should be protected,” and he is not about to head down the parsing trail that left some 2012 GOP candidates lost in the woods. In any event, the Republican record shows a candidate’s wife to be more important than his words. The two Bush presidents, while generally pro-life, faced spousal resistance, but Cecilia Abbott is by all reports strongly pro-life.

Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT/landov

Abbott, asked for a word

to describe him, said “perseverance.” He has matchstick legs but has built up a strong upper body. He shows it by going without a motorized wheelchair and, especially, getting on and off small airplanes several times a day: He wheels himself over to the stairway, grabs onto the bar at the end, and pulls himself over to the lowest step. Then he sits on the step, facing away from the door, puts him arms behind him, and pulls himself up, one step at a time, until he gets to the top and swings himself from the railing into a seat. He’s also methodical in the way he hopes to outflank rampant liberalism among college faculties: He said if students gravitate toward what’s practical and productive, the ideological problems will become less severe. He said students will be in position to run a fast last lap of their educational race if, early on, they learn the basics of what’s needed to major in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, math. Then they’ll be able to make a six-figure decision, choosing $100,000 in annual income or $100,000 of debt and waiting on tables. Growing the Hispanic vote is central to Democratic plans to turn Texas blue, but Abbott said “the Texas model” for growing an economy— low taxes, less government, less regulation, right to work, legal reform—will bring Hispanic ­immigrants of recent decades into the Republican Party: “People don’t come to this country to have

government tell them what to do. They want to be able to climb the ladder of success. … The values of the Republican Party are embraced by the majority of the Hispanic community. Our job is to connect the two value systems.” Abbott added, “It’s not an overnight process,” and he emphasized the need for outreach, starting with his wife, likely to become Texas’ “first Latina First Lady.” She’s from a San Antonio family and has “a quintessential Hispanic background. Some in her family only recently got air conditioning in their homes, and it’s not central air.” Abbott calls himself “multicultural by choice.” Asked about the effect of schools teaching children not to value America

‘You can count on me to keep the boot of government off your backs. … I’ve brought 30 lawsuits against Barack Obama and his overreaching federal government.’ but instead to identify with the countries of their origins, Abbott said the State Board of Education “will be meticulous in assessing textbooks.” Some conservative Christians will find Abbott disappointing, though, on educational matters. He spoke of improving schools through competition and “giving parents real choices,” but did not call for true school choice via vouchers or education tax credits. That’s politically dangerous among suburbanites who like their neighborhood schools and small town Texans who worry about undermining high-school football teams. Asked whether it’s unfair to force some parents to pay twice for education—through taxes and through tuition at religious schools—Abbott countered, “Is it unfair for childless families or seniors to pay for schools?” He said the public purpose of

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using taxpayer dollars to pay for education is to have a more productive state: “It costs more to incarcerate than to educate.” Since property taxes largely fund Texas schools, businesses and families with costly homes pay more, and kindergartenkid parents (usually younger and less affluent) pay less. Pushed about this, and asked whether the naked classroom shortchanges children— and the future of Texas—by graduating students who may be able to read and write but don’t know what’s right, Abbott spoke about ­“character education.” But is “character education” without reference to God a donut education with nothing in the center? Abbott grinned and said he had to “live with the hand dealt to us by the Supreme Court.” And yet, ­vouchers and tax credits that empower parents to make educational choices do not face the same constitutional questions that “religion in the public schools” engenders.

facing challenges: Abbott in a high-school track and field competition; 26-yearold Abbott wearing a back brace at a Houston rehabilitation center; at a press conference in 2005, celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows a Ten Commandments monument to remain on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol (from top to bottom).

Abbott prizes analytical


top & middle: the Abbott campaign • bottom: Jana Birchum/Getty Images

rather than speculative thinking. Asked if he ever considers what his life would be like had the tree not fallen on him, he said, “I never have played the game of what if. … It’s a useless exercise.” Some who went through rehab with him focused their hope on walking again: “I never have.” When pressed on the emphatic nevers, I expected Abbott to offer the Gilbert and Sullivan answer: “Hardly ever.” But he insisted: “Never.” Asked how his policy positions might be different if he were an atheist, he responded, “I can’t even comprehend how an atheist would approach an issue.” It’s hard to know if that’s really the case or if, knowing the gubernatorial race is his to lose by gaffe, Abbott is running a cautious campaign. But his decision-making mode is consistent with his legal and judicial career: Read, study, listen to strong arguments, be decisive. He reads nonfiction rather than fiction and makes practical applications: On April 29, partway through a new biography of Alexander Hamilton, he commented that Hamilton, with his centralizing tendencies, “would be a dangerous man today.” Abbott used to go almost every weekend to movies with his daughter, whom he and his wife adopted at birth, but she’s turned 17, he’s campaigning, and that’s less frequent now: The last one they saw together was Frozen. The analytical mind is less evident when he talks of her birth: Present at the delivery, “I was the very first person to hold her.” Why did the tree fall on Abbott? In our conversation he did not speculate, but said, “My life is better for it.” He stressed again the empathy he gained, and added a vertical dimension as well: “This transformative event brought me closer to God.” A

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5/14/14 10:30 AM

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5/9/14 5:11 PM

THE LOST GI R LS Boko Haram’s horrific kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls is one part of a wider campaign to obliterate Christians by J a m i e D e a n


Haruna Umar/ap

photo by Wi lliam Farri ngton/Pol aris/n e wscom

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Deep i n the ru ral regions of

northern Nigeria, a group of kidnapped schoolgirls bear names far removed from their condition—names like Comfort, Blessing, Grace, and Glory. The teenage girls vanished in the early morning hours of April , when militants from the Islamist terror group Boko Haram raided a school in the predominantly Christian town of Chibok. The gunmen loaded more than  girls onto waiting pickup trucks, and fled into a dense forest. As many as  girls escaped into the woods but reports indicate two of the escaped girls died from snakebites. By mid-May more than  schoolgirls— ages  to —remained missing. A -year-old girl who escaped told the Associated Press the militants first said they were soldiers. But after moving the girls outside, the gunmen set fire to the building. “They started shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great),” the student said. “And we knew.” For the first two weeks of the girls’ captivity, it seemed as if few others knew about the mass abduction. Agonized parents armed with bows and arrows formed search parties when the Nigerian military failed to act. Government officials claimed they had recovered most of the girls—a claim the school principal and bewildered parents immediately refuted. Meanwhile, international attention remained fixed on the missing Malaysian airliner that carried  people, and the April  South Korean ferry disaster that killed at least  people, mostly high-school students. For weeks, the plight of more than  still-living Nigerian girls barely registered. By the third week, the story gained traction, as women’s groups demonstrated in the Nigerian capital. A Twitter hashtag—#BringBackOurGirls—caught on, and a Nigerian petition on Change. org calling for better rescue efforts

drew more than , signatures. By May , President Barack Obama announced the U.S. government would send a team of personnel to Nigeria to help the military coordinate search and rescue efforts. Across town, Ann Buwalda of the Washington, D.C.–based Jubilee Campaign said she was thrilled with the international attention on the girls’ abduction, but she noted that similar atrocities have been happening for years: “How many churches have been blown up, and how many Christians have been killed, and nothing’s happened?” Indeed, Boko Haram has been waging a brutal campaign to force Islamic law in northern Nigeria for more than a decade. This year marks the deadliest year of the insurgency so far, with as many as , killed since January. The group has burned churches, razed villages, kidnapped women, and massacred civilians for years. In January, Boko Haram militants barred the doors of a Catholic church, and burned the building with worshippers inside. The Obama administration barely acknowledges the widespread Christian persecution raging in northern Nigeria. But in a video released on May , the leader of Boko Haram boasted he would sell the missing girls as slaves, and repeated the group’s intentions: “It is a Jihad war against Christians and

Christianity,” he said with a smile. “Allah says we should finish them when we get them.” Nigeria advocates say rescuing the Chibok girls is critical, particularly as reports swirl that some of the girls have already been sold into marriage to their captors for the price of . But experts also emphasize that a single rescue effort won’t stop more atrocities. If Boko Haram isn’t crushed, says Buwalda, “they’ll do this again. There will be another church. There will be another school.”

There a l ready was another school attack less than eight weeks before the Chibok kidnappings. In a horrific exploit that gained scant international attention, militants stormed the dormitories of a school in Yobe State on Feb. . This time, the gunmen released the girls. Witnesses reported the militants told the young women to go home, get married, and abandon the education the militants called anti-Islamic. The boys fared worse: The militants burned down the school with the boys inside, and shot some who tried to escape. The attack killed at least  young men ages -. The local police commissioner reported: “Some of the students’ bodies were burned to ashes.” A similar attack last September


Protestor in New York calls for the abducted girls’ return (far left); burned school where gunmen abducted more than  students.

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Islamist terror. Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian and a human rights attorney, decried the report and asked: “The question remains—why is the U.S. downplaying or denying attacks against Christians?” Instead, the State Department often lists issues like poverty as motivations for Boko Haram’s terror. Even after the Chibok kidnappings, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the need to “alleviate poverty” as a way to fight terrorism in Africa. In , senior State Department official Johnnie Carson told Congress: “Boko Haram thrives because of social and economic problems in the north.” Laolu Akande, a Nigerian pastor with the New York–based Christian

Association of Nigerian-Americans, bristles at that suggestion, and notes the majority of Nigerians are poor. “Please don’t use poverty to justify acts of terrorism,” he said. “It’s an insult to poor people.” The State Department also cites reports from human rights groups like Amnesty International that have criticized the Nigerian military for excessive force in its counterterrorism efforts. Akande says he doesn’t deny or excuse abuses by the Nigerian military, but adds: “I’m aghast at how they [human rights groups] are painting the military without pointing to the thousands who have been killed— whose humanity has been reduced to nothing. Boko Haram is going to churches, slicing the throats of pastors, and burning people’s homes. Let’s deal with that first.” Clare Lopez, vice president for research and analysis at the Center for


killed  students. Less than two weeks before the assault on the young men, militants killed more than  civilians in the predominantly Christian village of Izghe. Boko Haram militants also have killed Muslims in the predominantly Muslim northern region, particularly if they view them as hostile to the group’s extremist efforts. At least  of the missing Chibok girls reportedly are Muslim. But Boko Haram’s campaign against Christians dates back to at least , when the group began kidnapping pastors. In , militants beheaded Nigerian pastor George Ojih after he refused to convert to Islam. The years that followed brought more attacks on government buildings, schools, and churches, and more executions of Christians, particularly men with large families. One widow reported in  that militants had killed her husband and kidnapped her two young daughters. Other widows said gunmen had killed their husbands after asking if they were Christians. It took the U.S. government years to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization, but even after the designation last November, the U.S. State Department has continued largely to ignore the overwhelming rate of Christian persecution in northern Nigeria. In its recently released annual report on Nigeria, the U.S. State Department notes Boko Haram’s campaign of terror against civilians, but the opening summary doesn’t mention relentless attacks on churches and Christians. The summary does report Boko Haram attacks on a much smaller number of mosques. The report later mentions “bombed churches” far into a long list of other Boko Haram abuses, but it doesn’t identify persecution as a motivation for


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LEGACY OF VIOLENCE: Red Cross workers search rubble for victims of explosion in Maiduguri; video purportedly showing missing girls (left); two students of government secondary school in Chibok, who were abducted by gunmen and managed to escape (below); a protestor brandishes a wooden stick (right).

Security Policy, says failing to deal properly with the threat of Boko Haram hinders U.S. efforts at combating terrorism in Nigeria and other countries. “The bigger issue is this administration’s absolute refusal to acknowledge and confront Islamic jihad,” says Lopez. “We can’t turn a blind eye to what Boko Haram says is their objective. And their deeds match their words.” Confronting Boko Haram is a confounding task, especially as reports


emerged that Nigerian security forces in the Chibok area didn’t heed warnings about the impending attack, and responded too slowly to track the abductors as they fled. Some Nigeria advocates called for a group of special elite forces dedicated solely to the task of dismantling Boko Haram. Beyond mass killings, Boko Haram’s deeds have also left thousands of Nigerians homeless. The United Nations estimates the terror attacks have produced nearly a half million internally displaced Nigerians. At least , more Nigerians have fled to neighboring countries.

Mark Lipdo of the Nigerian advocacy group Stefanos Foundation, recently returned to Nigeria after visiting Nigerian refugees in nearby Cameroon. He’s working to produce a report on conditions in the camps, and says the situation Christians are fleeing in northern Nigeria is pitiful: “A whole community is displaced.” Lipdo says he hopes efforts to rescue the kidnapped girls will include efforts to confront the wider threat of Boko Haram: “It’s not just about recovering the Chibok girls. It’s about the slaughtering of schoolchildren. It’s about imprisonment. It’s about so many victims.” As the Nigerian military continued to search for the missing girls, Boko Haram claimed more victims. The group kidnapped  more girls, and launched a May  raid on a trading town near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon. Gunmen opened fire in a crowded market, tossed bombs into houses, and burned shopkeepers alive. Authorities confirmed at least  dead, but local residents expected the number could reach . On May , Boko Haram militants released a video purportedly showing more than  of the missing girls dressed in hijabs and reciting Islamic prayers. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said he wouldn’t release the girls unless the Nigerian government released all jailed Boko Haram militants. But it wasn’t immediately clear how many of the young women in the video came from Chibok, and some parents said they didn’t recognize their daughters in the group. In May the names of the victims in the Chibok kidnappings appeared in a Nigerian newspaper and were also published by the Christian advocacy group Barnabas Fund. The organization urged supporters to use the list to pray for each girl by name, with hopes that Comfort, Blessing, Grace, and Glory will soon be restored. A

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Staying a

Syrian refugees and their hosts in tiny Lebanon battle a big humanitarian crisis with grassroots, church-based help by MINDY BELZ in Beirut and Zahle, Lebanon                    / 

A -year-old Syrian refugee and her -month-old daughter, malnourished due to war in Syria, outside their tent in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on March .

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g alive

Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley is storied. Despite decades of Syrian occupation, and vistas that stretch from a tense Syrian border east to a contested Mount Hermon south, the land is lush and shimmers in noonday sun. Red cabbages are forming in the fields outside Zahle, the main city, and rows upon rows of straw­ berries are setting too. The fertile valley is at once an agricultural powerhouse and resortlike, a mecca for foodies in the region. And it is ground zero for one of the world’s worst human­ itarian disasters. For tiny Lebanon it’s hard to comprehend the crisis currently in progress. The country of 4 million people, which sits on a stamp of land about the size of Los Angeles County, is now hosting over 1.3 million refugees from Syria’s civil war next door. In sheer numbers they threaten to overtake a host country caught between hostile neighbors Syria and Israel and in recovery from its own devastating civil war. “The number of displaced Syrians has exceeded the logic,” said Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil at a recent meeting in Berlin. His counterparts from Germany and other nations agreed that Lebanon is bearing the brunt of the Syrian refugee crisis. Syria’s civil war, now into its fourth year, shows no sign of imminent end or cease-fire. It has killed 150,000 Syrians and forced about 3 million residents to flee in fear, and simply to stay alive. Hundreds of Syrians continue to arrive at the border checkpoint near Zahle every day. They come in families, some by taxi and some on foot. They come with next to nothing, in many cases not even a change of clothes or a toothbrush. In the winter’s coldest weeks, children arrived in pajamas and without shoes. They fled because a barrel bomb smashed their home or a missile killed the neighbors next door or a sniper killed a brother running the streets in search of bread. A comparison helps to explain the ferocious nature of Syria’s current conflict: In 15 years of civil war in Lebanon (1975-1990), battle casual­


ties stood at 144,000, and it was called brutal. In under three years Syrian casualties reached that level. For most Syrians, who’ve not chosen sides between the Assad government and rebel groups, there are no more adjectives, there is only finding a way out. Complicating the situation for Syrian refu­ gees is Lebanon’s bloody past. Decades of the Palestinian refugee crisis in Lebanon, where the PLO took root in UN refugee camps and launched attacks from there, have led officials to refuse to set up further refugee camps inside Lebanon (and to refuse to sign the 1951 Geneva Convention that would require them to do so). Given the challenges in neighboring Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp—now the world’s largest and where violence and rioting forced the UN to open a second camp this month—many Syrians prefer to take their chances in Lebanon. According to Hala Naufal, professor at Lebanese University, about half the Syrians in Lebanon live in rented housing. The rest move about in nomadic tents, become squatters in empty buildings, or live on the streets. In Bekaa Valley that means refugees are living in tents on the edge of fields and marshes or camped outside a fertilizer plant. At least one family is living in a stable. Elsewhere I saw ­families who found apartments to rent, a family living in a windowless utility closet of a luxury apartment building, and some who found refuge in the unfinished concrete-block spaces of ­high-rises under construction. I also learned to recognize Syrians on the streets of downtown Beirut, begging. While over 1 million Syrians in Lebanon are formally registered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), only a little over half of those receive regular UN food vouchers and other assistance. The upside for the refugees in Lebanon is they are free to make their own way. The downside is that failing to do that, and with so large a refu­ gee influx, official pipelines for assistance are much harder to tap. That’s left an open door of opportunity for nongovernmental organizations, and especially for church-based groups in a country that is about one-third Christian. For pastors like Richard Raya it means long hours and little sleep. 0 Richard Raya pastors True Vine Church in Zahle, a Baptist congregation of about 50 people who are currently serving over 750 Syrian ­refugee families in Bekaa Valley (yes, 750) and running a school for Syrian refugee children. On a weekday morning the church, a non­ descript building off a dusty side road, is a hive of activity. Perhaps not surprisingly, Raya keeps a plaque prominent on his desk quoting

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by the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front. Most of Khoury’s students are from Aleppo, Idlib, and Damascus— places where nearly all had to survive traumatic house-to-house fighting and face serious deprivation—days without electricity, water, and often food. In the beginning, he said, the students were very nervous and jumpy. Shutting a book too loudly could make some of them cry. A few students vomited every

day for no apparent reason. Now, Khoury said, “they have a routine and a schedule. They are making friends. They are settling.” Raya told me that for all the students, “structure is creating safety.” 0 I visited Syrian families living in tents, in apartment buildings, in the apartment building utility closet, and in shanty-like quarters by the side of the road. In every case the floors were swept clean, what dishes there were were stacked in a corner, and hot tea always was offered, sometimes twice during a visit. One family told me they spent $600 for a taxi to Lebanon, and nearly everyone had lost or spent everything they had getting out of Syria. Some sold wedding bands to pay for a driver or a rental

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mindy belz

Matthew 19:26: “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Each month for more than a year the church has been ­distributing food boxes to Syrian families, a total number of at least 3,000 people. As the numbers grow, True Vine is starting to give food vouchers worth $80 a month instead of actual food. A Syrian resident of Lebanon and member at True Vine, not named for security reasons, coordinates the new church ministry. It’s become a full-time job for him, he told me, and at night he falls asleep with his cell phone at his ear because the work isn’t done. Church members have organized committees to visit each family as well. That’s how Raya and others began to understand other pressing needs the refugees face, like education. Many schools in embattled areas of Syria have been closed for three years. Refugee children were falling behind in their studies, desperate for structure, and healing from war trauma. Last fall True Vine opened a K-4 school. Now it’s K-7 and has 208 students, plus language and vocational training for adults. The school operates out of the church basement, in classrooms that double as storage areas for food, mattresses, and other refugee supplies. Most of the teachers are Syrian refugees themselves, and many classrooms have two signs on their doors: This spring the school opened a “second shift” of classes in the afternoon to accommodate more students. All the churches I spoke to say they place no conditions on providing relief, and work equally with Muslim and Christian refugees. The True Vine School includes Muslim and Christian students. Raya said some of the Muslim families now come to the church as well. “This is very hard work,” said Raya, “but we’re encouraged by the feedback of parents, who appreciate what we’re doing.” As we speak, a mom knocks on his door, wanting to know if she can register her children for school. It all started to help Syrian families, said Raya, but the church is benefiting too: “I believe God will open our vision for other things.” Funding the ministries at True Vine is the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD), an aid group that partners with 18 churches across Lebanon and also partners with churches inside Syria. LSESD in turn receives grants from Food for the Hungry and other Western groups. U.S.-based Heart for Lebanon also provides True Vine financial and logistical assistance. “Churches are learning to work together,” said Alia Abboud, director of development and partner relations for LSESD. “It’s not that we are pushing them, it’s that churches are being changed through what is going on.” At True Vine School, Fayez Khoury’s geography class is ­filling in a map of the Middle East in English. Khoury arrived as a refugee from Maaloula last November after the ancient Christian city came under days of shelling and was captured

mindy belz

deposit. At first they were afraid to go outside, afraid to speak to new neighbors, afraid of planes flying overhead. Now they are trying to fashion routine and structure out of their temporary, ­substandard living situations. Malu is a young mother who fled Syria with her husband and children ages 8, 6, and 4 (only first names are used for security reasons). The kids have coughs and no shoes. They are living in a tent at the

edge of a lettuce field and drinking from a stagnant marsh next to it. Two years ago they arrived in Lebanon from Homs, where the war’s worst fighting began. Their home was destroyed, and they left Syria with nothing. The children have not been able to get into a school, but True Vine Church is helping with food, blankets, and other supplies. Their tent is plastic-sided, one room, with a small back kitchen. A squat wood stove is the only heat, and when I


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visited them they’d been without firewood for over two weeks—even though nights still dipped below freezing. They hope to return to Syria someday, and stay in contact with a dwindling number of friends remaining in Homs. All their extended family has gotten out. Hayet and her family, including grown children, arrived three months ago. The family, along with others from Aleppo, are living in Zahle in makeshift concrete-block buildings with plastic sheeting for a roof. The four-story apartment building they shared in the northern Syrian city was destroyed by shelling and bombs that ripped the building apart from the fourth floor to the ground, with many killed. “We had no food and nothing to drink,” said Hayet. “We had to take apart pillows to burn for fuel. When the pillows were gone, we burned our clothes.” In Zahle, Hayet’s family of six lives in one room. They have a cistern and receive food from True Vine and some assistance from the UN. Her husband has been able to get odd jobs too. “The Syrian people are left out of this war,” Hayet said. She and her husband expected the government to protect with God all them, but that didn’t things are possible: happen. “At first you An unfinished concretedon’t think you will block apartment building have to leave your where a refugee family lives; a refugee family in country,” she said, their tent in Bekaa Valley; pausing and looking refugee women from away. “I cry when I Aleppo now living in think that I left my Zahle; Pastor Raya; a class at the True Vine School country. But we (clockwise from top). thank God that we are still alive.” Many Lebanese can identify with the Syrians’ trauma. “Yes, memory of the Lebanon war helps,” said Alia Abboud at LSESD. “I know what it’s like to be dependent on others.” Abboud and her family became refugees— fleeing to Syria’s capital, Damascus—in 1975. Before that, she remembers her father telling her and her siblings, with snipers ruling the streets where she lived outside Beirut, “Run as if your life depends on it—because it does.” She and many Lebanese also know what it’s like to wait for a future no one yet clearly sees. Dependency on others cannot continue indefinitely, Abboud and other aid workers acknowledge. God is doing something new, one pastor told me, but the burden on many churches is for now overwhelming. Animosity flares between Syrians and Lebanese. And most Syrians want to go home someday: We will have tea in Syria, they say. But today, said Abboud, “they don’t have any other place to go, and where they are now is not a good place.” A

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Polio: breaking borders A          , the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency on May  when the virus turned up in nine countries. A year earlier, it had been confined to just three. The spread threatened the organization’s goal of eradication: Health workers reported  confirmed cases by early May, and with the high transmission season just getting into gear, the disease was on track to far outpace last year’s prevalence. WHO officials said the virus had jumped across the borders of Pakistan, Syria, and Cameroon into neighboring countries, and called on the three nations to vaccinate international travelers immediately. Most of this year’s cases have occurred in Pakistan. There, guards with rifles accompany polio vaccine workers—many of them women—because of the risk posed by militants who have murdered dozens of workers since . The most recent killing occurred in March, when armed men dragged a -year-old polio worker and mother of five from her home in the middle of the night and shot her to death. Pakistani suspicion of immunization campaigns was stoked after the CIA used an agent posing as a vaccine worker to discover the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden in . Radical clerics have called polio vaccination a Western plot to sterilize Muslim men, and some parents still refuse to allow their children to take the oral drops. Polio spreads most easily in regions with poor sanitation. Many people with the virus exhibit no symptoms, but it sometimes causes paralysis or death, and mainly affects children under . There is no known cure. —Daniel James Devine

20 years ago Reported polio circulation in 

, Fight of a century 1894: First U.S. outbreak occurs in Vermont

1916: , die in an American epidemic

1952: The United States reports a record , cases

1953: Jonas Salk develops injectable polio vaccine

1961: Albert Sabin develops oral polio vaccine

1988: World Health Organization launches eradication initiative, estimating , cases worldwide

1994: North and South America declared polio-free


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Total confirmed cases




























Equatorial Guinea

Deadly numbers game


infected with the virus no symptoms 72% ofhavepeople may lead to paralysis 1 in 200 infections paralysis cases result 5-10% ofin death spent on eradication $10 billion efforts from 1988 to 2012 14¢ cost of oral vaccine dose

Total confirmed polio cases in , as of May 


Confirmed polio cases at this time last year


2012: Virus remains endemic only to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria

2002: Europe declared poliofree

Polio cases worldwide 2,500 2,000 1,500 1,000 500 0 ’96











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Reflective journ A cross-country train trip proved to be unpredictable, uncomfortable—and an unmatched period of spiritual focus    / /

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urney BY


It was around the thirteenth hour,

on the third segment of my journey, when I finally questioned my rationality in traveling cross-country on Amtrak. I was at the café section of the Crescent, slumped over the table with my chin stuck to a book. We had been on a steady speed of  mph for two hours since  p.m. A freight train had broken down on the rail ahead of us, obstructing the Crescent’s way, so Amtrak called a crew to come haul it away. At  p.m., the intercom crackled. All the other passengers around me perked up like prairie dogs, eyelashes fluttering and eyes brightening. We all but slobbered in anticipation of good news. I saw the train attendant at the end of the car, leaning into the intercom: “Ladies and gentlemen … unfortunately we’re still waiting for the crew to come remove the freight train. ... We don’t know when we’ll be able to move again, but expect significant delay. …” Everybody groaned. The train attendant gave us a “Yeah, what can you do?” shrug. She later told me such delays happen all the time. “We could wait  minutes or three hours,” she said. “You never know. It’s always unpredictable.” A number of other issues can pop up that cause delays: The engine might break down, a crew might be cleaning up the tracks, a nearby construction site may require slowdowns, a cow or a drunk sometimes wanders onto the rail. Because Amtrak borrows most of the railroads from freight companies who own them, it’s treated like a second-class citizen: Any time an Amtrak and a Norfolk Southern train cross the same track, the freight has the right of way. My companion sitting across from me stared impatiently at the spinning wheel on her iPhone that signals the lack of cell phone service. “I’m never riding the Amtrak again,” she declared. This was the first time she had ridden Amtrak longdistance, and she worried about the friend who had already driven over to the Greenville, S.C., station to pick her up. I checked the time: It would be past  a.m. before we reached Greenville. There’s a reason why the clichéd saying “Life is a journey, not a destination” frequently uses a train metaphor. You’ve really got to enjoy the whole riding experience to do long-distance travel by train. Otherwise, it simply doesn’t make sense; flying saves money, energy, and time. Flying is also safer, at . fatalities per  million passenger miles, compared to . on passenger trains, according to a  report by Politifact. Established in  by Congress, Amtrak is a national rail operator that operates an intricate spiderweb system of , miles to over  destinations, including three Canadian cities. Each day, about  trains crawl all over the continent, many of them the main mode of transportation connecting rural communities to urban cities. That night, I was on the Crescent, named after the “Crescent City” of New Orleans, a daily-operating train between New York and New Orleans. For some, being sealed  hours in a moving tin box may sound like ALL a claustrophobic nightmare. But for me, riding the train from coast to ABOARD: coast had always been the classic, quintessential American dream— Amtrak train perhaps because I grew up in Singapore, a city-state the size of earwax departs from compared to the vast, resource-heavy, multiclimate terrains of North Los Angeles. America. This spring, I fulfilled that dream by booking multicity Amtrak tickets to travel mostly by myself from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. Over a period of two weeks, I rode the Sunset Limited with a stopover at Houston, then switched trains at New Orleans to the Crescent with a stopover at Greenville. The total cost was about  for coach seats. Without the stopovers at Houston and

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buses imported from America. A U.S. veteran next to me let out a low whistle and said, “Wow. Strange how all that separates two lives and economies is about  yards, huh.” Overnight, the landscape shifted. Tuesday morning, I peered out the window with bleary eyes and saw lush greens and waters for the first time in  hours. We were now near central Texas under misty skies, crossing velvety plains, passing tiny springs and creeks and lumbering cows. At some towns, I was thrilled to see Western saloons and faded signs, Clint Eastwood–style. But as we approached Houston, we passed a blanket of suburbia and SUVs. The landscape turned considerably wetter and rural through Louisiana, with coastal marshes, steamy swamps, bogs, and bayous tending to bald cypress trees. Even inside an air-conditioned compartment, I could almost taste the salty humidity in the air. In a way, I met all my gritty, bravado expectations. The coffee tasted recycled, my hair looked recycled, and my throat felt like a can for recyclables—but those tics were easily tolerable. On the Sunset Limited from Los Angeles to Houston, the old woman who sat right in front of me emanated such nosesputtering body odor that the train attendant gifted her a Febreze air freshener. On the Crescent from New Orleans to Greenville, a sleepless lady in my car babbled and spewed f-bombs for  hours straight in her nail-sharp, ear-raking voice. Even from several seats away, I indeliberately learned that she’s vegan and agnostic, bore a child out of wedlock, and no longer speaks to her “Bible-pounding” parents. Fellow passengers piled to the snack bar to escape her incessant chatter, and then herded back to their seats when she moved in for Coke and chips. “Good lordy, does she ever stop talking?” one woman whispered to another man, and somehow we banded good-naturedly against a common nuisance. Inconsiderate passengers are just one of many reasons why Amtrak doesn’t attract more travelers. Americans prize predictability, convenience, and time efficiency, but Amtrak cannot guarantee any of these. While I was stuck in travel purgatory somewhere along the Georgia/South Carolina state line for three hours, groups of future passengers were also


Greenville, tickets would have cost about , or about  per ticket. Booking a room in a sleeper car would have meant a convertible bed, a fold-out table, cost-included meals, fresh towels, morning coffee or juice, and room service—but the price is over three times more than coach. When I shared my travel plans with friends, they looked either impressed or flabbergasted. All worried and advised bringing pepper spray and a padlock. Meanwhile, my parents as usual mainly worried about whether there would be enough to eat. I pooh-poohed all their concerns. Instead, I imagined meeting interesting characters and sharing kooky stories. I was even eager to endure the backaches and wedgies, fancying myself a great adventurer. That chutzpah abated a little when all throughout my travels, thick low-hanging clouds veiled any majestic sunrise or sunset I had so anticipated. The romance of a train adventure bruised blue-black like the starless sky I gazed at mournfully. But I did enjoy most of the scenery, especially while on the Sunset Limited. On Sunday evening from Union Station in Los Angeles, we passed the cement-throttled Los Angeles River, then the frosted green slopes of the San Jacinto Mountains, which shaded into greenish blacks as the sky darkened. I woke up to a dusty Monday morning in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona: scorched earth with shrubs, high glimmering skies, and tall cactus saluting prickly arms—some as tall as a house and bloated with more than , gallons of water. As we chugged through New Mexico, the earth reddened. The land looked like a clay sculpture of Mars—barren but spectacular with lava rocks, sand dunes, and craggy hills striped red, orange, and beige. When we drew near El Paso, Texas, the train attendant informed us that to our right sits the border city of Juarez. I was at the observation car at the time, and like me, every passenger dropped their books, iPads, and laptops, and scrambled to the right window to peer over the border. The contrast was stark: Out the left window, we saw highways, high-rise apartments, and office buildings for banks; out the right, flat-roofed adobe houses with tin-sheet walls, and rumbling, outdated public transportation buses that were once school



waiting for hours in tiny, minimal-service stations past midnight. Many of Amtrak’s passenger cars and locomotives are outdated, hampering Amtrak’s speed and aesthetics; doors between cars that are supposed to swing open sometimes refuse to close, blasting cold air into the already chilly compartments. Amtrak operates at a yearly net loss of about . million. The biggest loss comes from long-distance passenger trains. To be fair, no passenger train system in the world earns a profit. As a federally chartered corporation, Amtrak receives funding from the federal government to help cover operating, capital, and debt service costs not covered by revenues—but the funds are never enough, and Amtrak constantly lives in danger of not receiving sufficient dollars. Still, ridership is going up. Amtrak has been consistently breaking ridership records over the last decade. Its audited financial report for fiscal year  showed another all-time ridership record at . million passengers—a . percent increase from previous fiscal year . Of those . million, . million were long-distance passengers, a . percent increase from . Amtrak collected a record  billion in ticket revenue and about . billion in total revenues, enough to help cover  percent of its operating costs and reduce some of its incurred debt. Amtrak offers several explanations for these achievements: stronger economic environment, higher gas prices, declining air travel quality, and continued growth in business travel on Amtrak’s improved high-speed rails. But it still faces persisting deterrence: the sprawling American landscape (getting to the train station can be costly and cumbersome), the infuriatingly slow speed on certain tracks (especially in the South), opposition from conservative governors and airline lobbyists, and the widespread car culture, to name a few. Despite its issues, I loved my Amtrak adventure. After spending a day in the train, you instinctively develop ways to cope with the dampers. I learned to dim talkative passengers into some far corner of my mind. I nonchalantly wiped misaimed pee from toilet seats, automatically held my nose when I used the bathroom stalls. I figured out a way to fluff

AMTRAK WAYS: Passengers board; departure sign; Louisiana as seen from a train; an attendant collects tickets from passengers (left to right).

my pillow and curl up in just the right position to avoid neck cricks and a sore spine. Then I discovered a second home in the sunny observation car, where seats face floor-to-ceiling windows. Some seats are large enough for me to stretch out and nap without pretzeling like a yogi. The Crescent doesn’t offer an observation car, so I camped out at the café lounge area, where cafeteria-style tables and cushioned benches make a rather comfortable work/nap space. On one trip, a train attendant of  years spent more than an hour explaining the Basque history to me, sketching out timelines and maps on an Amtrak napkin. Turns out he’s an Eastern Orthodox former high-school teacher with a Ph.D. in theology (eschatology) and two bachelor’s degrees in international relations and history. He apparently speaks nine languages, including Russian, Greek, French, and Spanish, and is now writing a history book on Louisiana’s Basque origins. But the best moments were the quiet hours spent in retreat of prayer, meditation, and study. On a plane, I’m too uncomfortably cramped to read or think. On the bus or in a car, I get carsick or fall asleep. But on a train, the gentle swaying feels more like a slow-motion rocking chair, and in unison with the occasional hushed choo-choo whistles, they create an unconscious rhythm for great focus. I first read A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God on the Sunset Limited, a fitting starter that whetted my appetite for a personal intimacy with God. To my great delight, I later discovered that Tozer wrote the entire book during a single train ride from Chicago to Texas. The next morning, I read Lord, Teach Us to Pray by Andrew Murray and pondered what it means to enter the inner chamber, where sincere, private prayers shed off self-righteous morals and legalistic duties. Then I ached with grief while reading Ruth Tucker’s Walking Away from Faith, in which she honestly researches people’s crises of faith. On the Crescent, Paul Tripp’s Whiter than Snow revived my spirits with his meditation on sin and Christ’s mercy, while

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5/13/14 4:45 PM

RAILS: Amtrak Vermonter; passengers wait to board an Amtrak train in Penn Station in Newark, N.J. (left to right).

Checklist ■ Bring a blanket and thick socks—it gets chilly. ■ The café/lounge car sells a “passenger comfort kit” for  that provides a blanket, eyeshades, ear plugs, and an inflatable pillow. Skip it: The blanket is too thin, and you need Michael Phelps’ lungs to inflate that neck pillow. ■ A fluffy pillow makes a world’s difference. ■ Every seat has its own outlet, so bring your charger(s). ■ Pack snacks to save money, but nothing that needs to be microwaved. At the café, a candy bar costs ., a can of soda ., a microwaved pepperoni pizza .. Dining car meals costs - for breakfast/ lunch, and - for dinner. ■ Alcohol (beer, wine, cocktails) are sold onboard.

■ Download the Amtrak smartphone app to check on train status, look up station amenities, and book or modify reservations. ■ The California Zephyr train from Chicago to San Francisco has the most scenic route, but you’ll usually need to reserve weeks ahead. seat.com/UnitedStates.htm has more great detailed guides and tips for traveling on Amtrak.


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■ All major credit and debit cards accepted. So is cash.

Paul Washer’s The Gospel’s Power and Message challenged me to stay on the true course of Christian study as he unapologetically cut down today’s superficial, attractive repackaging of the gospel. I also reread favorite portions of John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God, always a joy-frothing well of encouragement and power. These books had been on my reading list for months, and the train turned out to be the perfect place to plod through them. It’s easy to flip through a paperback fiction in the weekends at home; it takes more intentional effort and dedicated concentration to finish theological writings, and then unhurriedly reflect on them. Being cooped for days inside a tube with no Wi-Fi meant I gained ample time and ability to be dexterous in my study. I also had the leisure to chew through the contents like a grazing cow instead of my habitual speed-reading, thus avoiding indigestion. Apparently I wasn’t the only Christian on the train. While I was reading Murray on my reading tablet, a young man in army uniform sat across from me reading a King James Bible. In the same car, a bespectacled graybeard shared testimonies from his prison pastoral ministry. He too had a stack of Christian books for reading. On the way to the lavatory, I heard a young man practically preach a sermon to his seatmate, attracting a small crowd. And on another train, I eavesdropped on an all-night discussion between two men, in which the elder one was defending his Christian faith to the young agnostic—rather poorly, I thought, but passionately. In Amtrak, I found a wonderful haven to replenish the soul. Like all retreats, it was a privilege—I had the flexibility of time, the lack of family commitments, and the youthful ability to sleep anywhere. But that spiritual leisure I enjoyed on the train became unsustainable once I returned home to Los Angeles (by plane) and dived back into my galloping lifestyle. I still spend each morning reading the Bible and participate in church activities, but it’s harder to make Jesus Christ your Lord and King of everything when you’re no longer holed up in a ventilated casket with bare minimum amenities. From my apartment near downtown L.A., I can still hear the battle cry of the train: choo kchoo choo choo, kchooo—and I catch myself stirring with wanderlust again, that belly-deep desire to drop everything and hop on Amtrak with just one bag stuffed with books and peanut butter. But I remind myself that this life is my true battlefield, where the same God who was present on the train with me is still working, breathing, and supplying all my battle needs. Of course, I also wouldn’t mind if God decided I need another cross-country retreat on Amtrak. A


5/13/14 4:45 PM

REACH HIGH. GROW DEEP. Redefine your summer.





Follow as the Holy Spirit works … a revolution in evangelism through “JESUS”



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5/9/14 5:13 PM

light up your life


We’ve all had an “aha moment” in our lives, an insight that changes everything. With everyday examples and trademark testimonies, best-selling author Kyle Idleman (not a fan) draws on Scripture to reveal how three key elements—awakening, honesty, action—can produce the same kind of “aha!” in our spiritual lives.

Available in print and digital editions everywhere books are sold

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5/13/14 3:42 PM

Notebook Lifestyle > Technology > Science > Houses of God > Sports > Money

Jennica Gayle Bridgman/JB Photography

Park preacher Persistence pays off in ministry at an unlikely trailer park by Deena C. Bouknight


Seven years ago former combat arms officer Phillip Fletcher moved with his wife and three children to Conway, Ark., to be closer to in-laws. He had worked with chaplains while stationed in Iraq and street-preached in Conway. He was finishing through distance learning a master’s in theology and apologetics from Liberty University. Fletcher ran across a 200-unit trailer park known for poverty, prostitution, drug activity, alcoholism, and domestic disputes. He’s African-American and most of the residents

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were white, but he loaded his wife and three young children, folding chairs, sound system, and Bible into their minivan. They drove into the park and unloaded their gear onto a grassy lot, and Fletcher preached. For three months of Sundays no one participated. “Occasionally, someone would peek outside or walk onto their front stoop and give me a ‘What is that guy doing!’ look,” he says, “but no other interest.” So Fletcher bought a sleeping bag and a tent and camped out one weekend in the park, alone. A drunkard cussed at him and a prostitute high on crack accosted him, but during the day he went door to hard door with a bucket of cleaning work: products, offering to help clean Fletcher or repair mobile homes. preaching.

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Notebook > Lifestyle do the work and take ownership of the projects. The playground now displays a sign that reads, “An idea by parents for kids.” Domestic abuse and crime rates in the park are now lower: Calls for service dropped from 722 in 2010 to 635 in 2011. Fletcher says, “I could come in here and give them a Scripture when they are angry or hurting, but they need to know someone cares and isn’t going to take something from them. ... You can’t just ‘parachute in,’ take a bad area, and make it a utopia. People, no matter how poor they are, can see right through that.” Fletcher has now organized a similar effort at another Conway mobile home park where the resident majority is Hispanic. The ­alcoholic who cussed at Fletcher the weekend he camped out is now one of his best friends. The man still struggles with alcohol addiction, but Fletcher says “he breaks my heart because he has a brilliant mind and I know I have to be patient and allow the grace of God to work in him.”

Movie theaters before the advent of television showed newsreels along with cartoons and feature presentations. Major newsreel producer British Pathé has uploaded its 85,000-film archive to YouTube ( britishpathe). The collection is searchable (look for the little magnifying glass at the top) and includes videos of famous people and events, cultural oddities, and disasters, including the explosion of the hydrogen-filled German dirigible Hindenburg over New Jersey in 1937. —Susan Olasky


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Bobby Siears was a professional cabinetmaker for 25 years until, he says, God called him early one Sunday morning last year to help grieving families. Since then he has made more than 65 child-sized, cypress caskets—or coffins—in his Sorrento, La., wood shop, and donated them to families from South Carolina to Oklahoma. “People ask me, ‘How do you deal with so much death?’ I see it as hope for the family that’s left behind,” Siears, 42, said in a quiet voice as he carefully worked on two caskets at the same time. One, for a premature baby, was the size of a man’s shoe box. The other, slightly larger, was for a toddler. Siears built caskets for his best friend four years ago and for his father two years ago, but when a local special needs boy wandered away from home and drowned in a ditch, something inside him changed: “We went to bed Saturday night and Sunday morning, 4:30 or 5, I got up and built a little casket.” Siears called that casket-making “listening to God.” He shelved his business and now makes the caskets that make a difference for grieving parents like Katie and Matthew Alombro, who wrote, “It was the most beautiful casket we had ever seen and it meant so much to us that people like you were so helpful in our time of need.” Another mom, Jessica Martin, wrote about her stillborn daughter: “We didn’t know how we would be able to afford anything to bury her and in one day Mr. Bobby built my precious angel a casket!” The caskets would cost thousands of ­dollars if purchased. They come in seven sizes, and there are no requirements regarding income, race, or religion. Siears’ goal is 200 caskets a year. —Mark H. Hunter

Siears: Mark Hunter • Hindenburg: associated press

Blast from the past

Coffin carver

Visit our website——for breaking news and more 

5/9/14 3:36 PM

Los Angeles: Daniel Stein • Sina: maginechina/ap

That Sunday Fletcher preached and one person listened. But Sunday by Sunday more residents came to the vacant lot—some in shorts, some without a shirt or shoes, some intoxicated or high. Seven years later his Sunday attendance is up to 12 percent of the trailer park’s residents. They attend regardless of weather conditions. Sometimes they stand around a fire pit. Sometimes they huddle under the metal roof of an abandoned trailer. Fletcher now continues to preach on Sunday but also runs City of Hope Outreach (CoHO) out of a renovated building at the entrance to the trailer park. He offers a washer and dryer, counseling, tutoring, computers, a Bible study, and a monthly community lunch. Residents can reserve the building for showers, receptions, and other special events, and a donated trailer serves as an emergency homeless shelter. When residents even came up with ideas for a playground and community garden, Fletcher assisted with resources but let them

Notebook > Technology used in over  murder investigations since , including a drive-by shooting: Police discovered the origin of the shooter’s vehicle Police dabble with cameras that monitor entire cities by rewinding the video. BY DANIEL JAMES DEVINE Having searchable video for every square foot of a city sounds like a boon for law enforcement, but privacy advocates aren’t so comfortable. “It’s capturing a lot of people’s activity who aren’t doing anything wrong, who are innocent citizens,” Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told CIR. Even L.A. County Sheriff Sgt. Doug Iketani, who oversaw the test, admitted the sheriff’s department kept it confidential on purpose: “A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big A     is raising eyeBrother. So in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, brows in California—and raising questions about the we basically kept it pretty hush-hush.” future of police surveillance. Los Angeles County police During the nine-day test in Compton, police captured last month admitted to secretly testing an airplanevideo of necklace snatchings and a shooting. But they ultimounted system that recorded ground movements in the city mately decided not to adopt the system because the resolution of Compton, south of Los Angeles, for nine days in . was too low—a human made up a single pixel—to identify The California-based Center for Investigative Reporting individuals or vehicles. (CIR) revealed the Compton surveillance program in an April Of course, what is low resolution today could be high report. The technology, sold by a private company called resolution tomorrow. Persistent Surveillance Systems plans to Persistent Surveillance Systems, uses a checkerboard array of scale up the technology to cover even larger cities, and is cameras attached to a piloted Cessna to capture wide-angle pitching it to police departments across the country. Its planeimages of a -square-mile area. mounted cameras have already been used in Philadelphia, According to the company’s website, the system, called Baltimore, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Dayton, Ohio. They Hawkeye, enables “continuous, second-by-second video have monitored crowds and traffic around the racetracks and monitoring of a city-sized area.” If suspicious activity occurs parking lots during NASCAR events, like the Brickyard . on some street, police can zoom in or rewind the video to go There’s a night vision version, too. back in time at that location. North of L.A., the city of Lancaster adopted its own aerial “The Hawkeye system is similar to a live version of Google surveillance program in . But not without some public Earth—only with a TiVo-like capability,” says Persistent protest first. Surveillance Systems, based in Ohio. Its technology has been

Sky watch




Communist cleanup The Chinese government, not known for religious fervor, has begun purging the internet of immorality. In a “Cleaning the Web ” campaign launched mid-April, authorities have taken down over  websites and over , social networking accounts they said were lewd or pornographic. They said they would revoke the news and audio-visual publication licenses of Sina Corp., which runs a popular microblogging website, for hosting several sexually explicit videos and e-books “imperiling social morals and seriously harming minors’ physical and mental health.” Some critics said the campaign was merely part of a governmental effort to strengthen internet censorship in China, where Western websites like Facebook are banned. —D.J.D.


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Notebook > Science

The future, gone to pot Marijuana may be doing lasting harm to the brains of young, recreational users By daniel james devine

Deep-water digs Within five years, the world’s first deep ocean mining operation could kick into gear nearly a mile beneath Pacific waters. Mining company Nautilus Minerals resolved a lengthy dispute with Papua New Guinea, and plans to begin grinding gold, silver, and copper from the ocean floor off the nation’s northern coast, using robotic underwater machines. Environmentalists worry about the unknown effect on ocean life. —D.J.D.


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Denver: Brennan Linsley/AP • Nautilus Minerals: handout

true that pot dulls mental abilities, we should pay attention to another trend: Teenagers are becoming more likely to believe the drug is safe. A Department of Health and Human Services survey released in December 2013 found that a declining number of American high-school seniors—only 40 percent—believe r­ egular marijuana use is harmful (in 2012, 44 percent thought so). A quarter of seniors have smoked weed in the past month, and 7 percent smoke it daily—up from HIGH RISK: Partygoers 2 percent in 1993. More than one in 10 eighthsmoke pot graders have used marijuana in the past year. at the annual The more open-minded teen attitudes 4/20 festival toward marijuana have no doubt been in Denver, near the encouraged by the push toward legalization. Colorado Twenty-one states, plus the District of State Capitol Columbia, now permit marijuana for mediciBuilding. nal purposes. Washington and Colorado already allow recreational use. In states with medical marijuana laws, one-third of ­12th-graders who use pot say they sometimes obtain it from somebody with a medical marijuana prescription. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, around 9 percent of those users will eventually become addicted. Add in the decline in IQ, and we have the ingredients of a social experiment with generational consequences.

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Download WORLD’s iPad app today; details at 5/8/14 1:55 PM



Marijuana, the most common illegal drug in the United States, is increasing in popularity among the nation’s youth. The trend bodes ill for the future, suggests new research that is the first to show even “casual” smoking of marijuana—as infrequently as once a week—is linked to major changes in the brain. In the study, a team of researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois, Harvard Medical School in Boston, and Massachusetts General Hospital used MRI to measure the ­volume, shape, and density of the amygdala and nucleus accumbens, two brain structures related to emotion, reward, and motivation. The scans revealed abnormalities in these structures among young adults ages 18 to 25 who smoked pot at least weekly. “People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school,” said Hans Breiter, one of the co-authors and a psychiatry professor at Northwestern. “Our data directly says this is not the case.” Appearing in an April issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, the study adds to a body of research suggesting pot leaves a long-term mark on the brain, especially among younger users. A New Zealand study published in 2012 found that people who began smoking marijuana heavily as teenagers lost an average of eight IQ points between the ages of 13 and 38. Other research has found marijuana users have fewer brain connections in regions responsible for memory and learning. Some skeptical researchers say the association between weed and IQ could be the fault of other potential factors, like personality or socioeconomic status. But if the hypothesis is

Notebook > Houses of God

Church of the Resurrection NEWSCOM


A portrait of Martin Luther made out of tulips and grape hyacinths at the in Oberviechtach, Germany

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5/8/14 1:54 PM

Notebook > Sports

Fanned hatred

Many sides of racism exist in sports, but only one Imago Dei BY ANDREW BRANCH

 

In Brazil, carry a big stick If you thought Sochi was bad, Brazil and its World Cup beginning June  may be worse. Three stadiums weren’t finished at the one-month countdown as Brazil continues to miss major deadlines. Bloomberg says  people died in fan violence last year, and another died May  when fans in Recife ripped toilets from a stadium’s top deck and threw them on opposing fans below. Team USA will play in Recife on June , and Americans have bought three times as many tickets to the month-long tournament as any country outside Brazil, at ,. —A.B.


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At least one person is happy quarterback Johnny Manziel dropped to Cleveland at No.  of the NFL draft May -. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam told ESPN he had passed a homeless man who simply said, “Draft Manziel.” The LGBT community is celebrating, too, after the St. Louis Rams drafted defensive end Michael Sam. Sam kissed his boyfriend as he became the first NFL draftee to be openly homosexual. Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones, however, faces a fine and sensitivity training after he tweeted “horrible” and “OMG” about Sam’s kiss. —A.B.

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5/14/14 11:54 AM



E L A C owner Donald Sterling has denied he is a racist, publicly asking “for forgiveness” for his “mistake” on CNN. But Sterling, , has admitted to a recording of him telling mistress V. Stiviano, , that he didn’t want her to bring black people to games. In a tone of despair, Sterling told her, “I’ll get a girl who will do what I want.” His worldview further revealed itself on the fateful recording when he answered to racism in his own and other cultures. He told Stiviano that change is too hard. “We don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong. We live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture,” Sterling said. Sterling’s relativism and his Hollywood microculture faced the brunt of the American outrage when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the NBA for life on April , fined him . million, and urged league owners to force him to sell

the team. The NBA’s new slogan became “We Are One,” prompting a nationwide rally around basketball as the league narrowly avoided a league-wide player boycott. Sterling, though, was not the only face of racism in sports that week. P.K. Subban, a black Canadian hockey player, scored an overtime win in Boston in the NHL playoffs May . Several Bruins fans shot the N-word on Twitter, prompting an apology from the team’s president for the “classless” and “ignorant” views. And across the pond, whether by pure racism or to throw men off their game, European soccer fans often throw bananas at opposing players (an ape reference). Brazilian Dani Alves of FC Barcelona ate such a banana on the field April  in courteous response. But, oddly, he tweeted in social media protest using #WeAreAllMonkeys. Sterling’s and Alves’ naturalistic relativism may contribute to modern-day racism, but international sports in many ways deny the Imago Dei. From the enmity pouring from the stands of Israeli soccer stadiums, to Russia’s sports and culture wooing of Crimea’s wary and marginalized Tatars, racism stretches to all human hearts fixed only by the One who removed the wall between Jew and Gentile. Back in Los Angeles, NBA owners are deciding how to proceed to try to force Sterling to sell the team. But the Clippers are owned by a family trust, and Sterling has long publicly flaunted his infidelity toward his estranged wife. Shelly Sterling has hired a law firm to keep her half of the ownership.

Notebook > Money

Doubting Thomas

Income inquality may be a problem, but THOMAS PICKETTY’s global tax is hardly the solution BY DAVID SKEEL




I   to sound “with it” at elite universities like the one where I teach, drop the name “Piketty” into a conversation involving politics or economics. Piketty is Thomas Piketty, a young French economist whose book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has just been translated into English. Paul Krugman calls it “truly superb,” and other prominent pundits agree that it is one of the best books ever written on income inequality. Piketty’s is hardly the first book about income inequality. Why all the hoopla? One reason is that Piketty has waded through two centuries of data and compiled a much more complete picture than previous studies. (Full disclosure: I’ve only waded through bits of Capital’s  pages.) But it isn’t just the data; it’s also the way the data is packaged. Piketty focuses on capital—by which he means real estate holdings, stocks and bonds, and other property. The rich have a lot of capital, whereas ordinary workers contribute to a country’s overall Gross Domestic Product but do not usually have much capital. Thus, if capital is increasing in value faster than GDP, the gap between the rich and ordinary workers is probably getting bigger. Piketty shows that it is larger now than at any time in nearly a century, and he warns it could get far worse in the coming decades. Here’s what makes the approach especially daring. Although he insists he is not hostile to capitalism, Piketty is intentionally echoing some of the concepts used by the author of Das Kapital, Karl

Marx. It’s not hard to see why this framework would be irresistible to those who see the world in class terms. Although criticizing the “one percent” has worked well for President Obama, true class warfare is a hard sell in America. Unlike Europe, we have never had a true aristocracy. And today’s rich are quite different from wealthy Americans of the Gilded Age, the last time when income inequality was comparable to today. Unlike the rich of that era, who could be attacked as “the leisure class” because many inherited their wealth, today’s rich generally earned their wealth and are still hard at work. It is tempting to dismiss the income inequality fad as misguided. Piketty’s favorite solution doesn’t help. He proposes a worldwide tax that would be somewhat similar to the “Buffett tax” that President Obama promoted in the last election. The tax would impose an extra charge on the richest citizens all over the world. Needless to say, it’s a little hard to imagine President Obama and Vladimir Putin hammering out the details. This doesn’t mean that income inequality is irrelevant, or that there’s no reason for Christians to care about it. After all,

Jesus himself warned about the dangers of wealth. But income inequality often is a symptom of something else. In the developing world, it may reflect the stranglehold a small group of insiders have on the nation’s economy. In the United States, the disease is usually more subtle. To give just one example, the government’s decision to bail out big banks in , coupled with the Federal Reserve’s efforts to stimulate the economy, seem to have fueled much of the expansion of income inequality in recent years. The stock market has soared as a result of the Fed’s zero

interest rates, which has benefited those who have significant stock portfolios but has contributed to the extremely slow and sluggish economic recovery. A different approach would have meant less income inequality, at least in the United States. Giving the government a new pot of money isn’t the best way to address the concerns hinted at in Piketty’s data. It makes a lot more sense to take aim at some of the underlying problems, and let ordinary market forces do the rest. A —David Skeel teaches corporate law at the University of Pennsylvania

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Mailbag ‘Charitable confusion’

April  Pastor John Crosby voting in favor of World Vision hiring same-sex married employees is another example of Christians trying to conform to the world instead of standing for truth. Doesn’t Romans : say we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds? Instead of conforming, shouldn’t we be loving people in God’s truth so much that they begin to seek transformation from the only One who can give it? —M B, Grand Forks, N.D.

Crosby’s statement that World Vision “was trying to figure out how to present itself as Christian in a diverse world” is ludicrous. The answer is simple: Make the Bible the foundation. And Rah’s assertion that leaving theology to others “honors the church as a whole” is just outlandish gibberish. —R A. F, Westminster, Colo.

source material” is laughable. Noah wanted to wipe out humanity to save the “innocent” animals and end human life. The “Watchers” appear to be fallen angels who redeem themselves by helping Noah, and Methuselah is a shaman. It seemed more influenced by new age religion, gnostic belief, and environmentalism than Scripture. —D H, Portland, Ore.

Thank you for the excellent article. After the initial World Vision statement in support of hiring homosexual couples, we decided to continue supporting our sponsor children in Kenya, whom we have visited twice. Mr. Stearns’ reversal was bittersweet, as it reveals deep trouble within World Vision leadership. —K S, Zanesville, Ohio

If you cannot verify that more than seven of the  board members profess faith in Christ, how can it be a Christian organization, and why would you expect it to make biblical decisions? —E K, Ontario, Calif.

‘No mercy’ April  I saw the movie, and Ted Baehr’s assertion that Noah “doesn’t significantly stray from the biblical

Send photos and letters to:

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This movie’s success unfortunately means Hollywood will continue to remake the Bible according to Hollywood. Just like the serpent in the Garden, Noah takes something that resembles the original message and then distorts it. You envisioned people dusting off their Bibles, but it’s more likely the movie reinforced a negative, hateful image of both God and Christianity. —D S, Fort Collins, Colo.

‘Patient and wise’ April  Perhaps  percent of our ills would “take care of themselves” without medical attention because the Healer has made our bodies in a fearful and wonderful way. Let’s give credit where credit is due. If we want to think

radically, let’s look for healing on the inside and not just the outside. —B B D D, Roebuck, S.C.

I object to the opinion that people should just wait for symptoms to go away; people pay for professional advice because they don’t know whether the symptoms will go away. As for saving money by spending less on medical care in our final year, none of us knows when that will be. Perhaps the care will result in  more years. So who gets to decide? —E S. H, Anchorage, Alaska

Dr. Payne has spoken well about the end of life. Why do Christians fight so hard to live a few months, weeks, or days longer when we can have confidence in Christ for our eternal home? Long ago I adopted a slogan: “Age gracefully.” I hope my family will witness my faith to the end. —J R, Sun City West, Ariz.

Quotables April  It was only a matter of time before we faced a commercial featuring a same-sex couple or “family.” Soon we’ll face pressure not just to accept but glorify homosexuality; if that sounds too strong, ask the pastors in other countries who have gone to jail for preaching the Word on homosexuality. —E N, Big Canoe, Ga.

Dispatches April  Was President Obama listening to himself when he told Vladimir Putin, regarding Russia’s annexation of Crimea, “No amount of propaganda can make right something the world

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Mailbag knows is wrong”? These same words could apply to gay marriage, abortion rights, and even Obamacare. —E C, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

‘Turkey’s U-turn’ April  Jerry Mattix tells of a lifechanging experience in Turkey that gave him a new perspective on life, but the Christian life in the West doesn’t have to be lived on the level of “metaphorical rhetoric.” The New Testament can take on “full color” in our own lives right here. The challenge is to have an attitude of expectation and live on the razor’s edge all the time. —K L,, Indianapolis, Ind.

‘A father’s grief’ April  Marvin Olasky’s comments on James Brownson’s recent book are well taken. Those who advocate legitimizing homosexuality seem not to notice how

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ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA submitted by Richard & Meridith Rizzuti commonly people must live with unfulfilled desires, even biblically valid desires for children or a fulfilling marriage. If a family member’s same-sex desires force us, as Dr. Brownson says he was, “to reimagine how Scripture speaks about homosexu-

ality,” must we also reimagine its language about heterosexuality? —B R. G, Bristol, Va.

Notable Books April  Although I was excited to hear your take on Temple Grandin’s latest

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book, The Autistic Brain, I am disappointed that you described autism spectrum disorders as diseases. I have Asperger’s syndrome, and it allows me to see the world in ways others can’t. While it does­p ­ re­sent challenges, I see it as a gift from God, given so I may reflect Him in a truly unique way.

readers, with two-thirds opening it up at least once a year. Surely an “avid” Bible reader would read it more than once a year. And the information that only 9 percent of survey respondents read their Bible every day is indeed disappointing. —Carol Blair, Gladewater, Texas

—Danielle Price, Tucson, Ariz.

‘The Second Great Embarrassment’ April 5 A couple of megaministry scandals here in Orlando lead me to believe the problem is deeper than Marvin Olasky suggests. To my knowledge, ­neither church here had any overt “hero worship,” and the leaders were orthodox and very ­talented communicators. Hopefully all these failures will leave a strong impression on churches, and we’ll all be more careful—but we’ll probably forget again. —Gary Merideth, Windermere, Fla.

‘Reigning classic’ April 5 You reported that AfricanAmericans are the “most avid” Bible

When I first found WORLD on a breakroom table in a furniture plant, I thought it was typical leftist propaganda. It took months for me to be won over by occasional reading, but you didn’t tell me what to think or believe. You just contrasted the culture with a godly way of seeing things. I had to think, and you gave my wife and me hope because of the amazing, positive things people were doing around the world. —Blake Gardner, Clayton, Ga.

Correction No Greater Joy Ministries (NGJ) operates out of offices and warehouses on property owned by the ministry (“To train up a Pharisee,” May 3, p. 45).

Also, we inadvertently left out of the print version of that story the following paragraph: To Train Up a Child does include this warning: “There are always some who act in the extreme. These individuals are capable of using what has been said about the legitimate use of the rod to justify ongoing brutality to their children. … They would call themselves ‘strong disciplinarians.’ ‘But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea’ (Matthew 18:6).” We included that paragraph in our digital editions.

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Andrée Seu Peterson

Spring mental cleaning The time to tidy up homes is also a good time to tidy up heads



J     L commended the unjust steward to show us that “the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.” Or, otherwise put, we can learn much from people who don’t care about God, and it’s a shame that many people who do care are not wiser. You may by now have completed your decluttering spring cleaning, but how have you decluttered and organized your life? A  book with not one mention of the word “God” in it helped me. I wrote about David Allen’s Getting Things Done back when I managed a seminary café: His words on clarifying goals helped harness free-floating anxiety by suggesting I formulate a single clear sentence: “My goal is to make a good sandwich.” Once I had that I was able to work backward from the turkey wrap to the steps required: turkey and cheese; restaurant-quality meat slicer; local wholesaler; membership to wholesaler; state certification; personal food handler’s course; posters for advertising; magic markers for posters. … I’ve also been able to transfer Allen’s worldly tips to the spiritual domain. No, this is not Benny Hinn’s prosperity gospel. Rather, the same thing astonishes me that astonished Jesus: People who really mean business— whether believers or heathen— figure out how to get things done. Alcoholics Anonymous has its limitations, but I’ve probably heard  times this statement: “I wish the church were more like AA.” Christians who say that don’t mean they want to become nonsectarian. They mean they get a lot out of personal testimonies, one-on-one discipleship, and no-nonsense tips about how to quit falling. “The sons of light” could benefit from Allen’s insights on keeping a clear head, as opposed to the prevalent mushy thinking that leaves us treading water. C.S. Lewis says the man on the street has “a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head” (The Screwtape Letters). That’s a recipe for inertia. Hear Allen’s advice on mental decluttering:


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“First of all, if it’s on your mind, your mind isn’t clear.” How true. We go through the day with something vaguely gnawing us, yet we let it gnaw us and don’t confront it head-on. Allen recommends: “Write down what is most on your mind, what’s bugging you, distracting you. Now, describe in a single written sentence what it is. Now write down the very next physical action required to move the situation forward.” Here is a real example: “What eats at me all day long is that my son never phones me.” There’s my one sentence. By writing that down I’ve changed my situation. Before, undifferentiated glumness ruled me. Now I have a clearer definition of what’s going on in my mind. At this point I take liberties with Allen and insert an extra step. I ask, “What is God’s perspective on the problem?” The answer is clear: “Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding” (and many other wholesome truths). Picking up on Allen again, I ask myself what is the very next action that must be taken to move the situation forward? Desperate people make lists: “What shall I do … ? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do …” (Luke :-). My list was similar to the unjust steward’s: “Continue in moroseness and regret. Or, trust in the Lord and pick up the phone.” Allen says, “You have to get into the habit of keeping nothing ‘on your mind.’” You will recognize this as the equivalent of Jesus’ command “Do not worry” (Matthew :-). Once I take the actionable step of phoning my son and committing myself to trusting God, I can declutter my mind of worry because I have done all I can do on the problem at the present time. I have taken it out of the Andrée “basket” and tossed it into God’s “basket.” There will be other things to do later, but “tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (verse ). Spring cleaning done? Dust removed from all around you? Now work on what’s inside you. A

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Marvin Olasky

Milestone melodies Singing some special tunes as age  beckons



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how God (mercifully for me) brought us together. Strikingly, “God Only Knows” was one of the few popular songs to use “God” in its title, and writers Brian Wilson and Tony Asher almost changed that title, fearing it would keep their song from getting airplay. But they finally decided to go with it, Wilson said, because “God was a spiritual word.” That’s for sure: was and is. And where would I be without God? As Psalm  states, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you?” If I were ever to leave God, death would go on but it would show nothing good to me. So I don’t sing to Susan “When I’m Sixty-Four” every night before we go to sleep, but we still need each other and will still feed each other. Nor do I sing “God Only Knows”: I still love the song, but HBO trashed it by making it the theme tune for the first three seasons of the network’s pro-polygamy series, Big Love. (The show ran from  until , with death in the last episode parting the main character and his multiple wives.) The song Susan and I sing each night before going to sleep is a mash-up I did of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” the Doxology, and other verses to the tune of the Russian (formerly Soviet) national anthem: Take that, Putin! The refrain goes, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow / Praise Him all creatures that are here below / Praise Him above, the heavenly host / Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost / Long will Christ’s crimson gift atone / Shining in glory for all men to see.” (You can hear it at, sung by WORLD radio’s Michael Cochrane.) And I wake up knowing that God doesn’t need me but He does feed me physically and spiritually, so I’m grateful—and I desperately need Him. A


“W   need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” Those are the key queries in a song Paul McCartney wrote when he was . The Beatles released it on June , , just before I hit . Now I’m hitting  next month, and my most pertinent question concerns not so much what happens in this life but the next, if there is a next. I say “if” because until  I didn’t think there was a next, and that didn’t bother me. Most Americans now grow up with surround sound but not around death, so in our s we tend to consider ourselves immortal. (Our predecessors without antibiotics were much more likely to die young.) When I professed faith in Christ at age , I didn’t do so thinking it would gain me eternal life. I did so in the belief that it was true. Now I believe there is a next, and that’s comforting. I have a hard time going to bed before midnight, because deep down I don’t want to miss anything. I would be very sad if I thought death meant the end of consciousness. I would be even sadder if I expected hell, but missing everything to come is bad enough. Some old atheists say they’re fine with the dust of death, but I don’t believe them. So the Christian hope is different for me now than it was when I was . Then, I sought purpose in life. Now, I seek purpose in death. Then, I saw myself as a hero. Now, I’ve learned I’m more a hobbit who knows only half of what I should know less than half as well as I should. When I was  The Beach Boys released a song that has also lasted, “God Only Knows.” Paul McCartney, knowing when he was bested, called it his favorite song of all time. The tune is beautiful and the lyrics are simple but elegant: “If you should ever leave me / Though life would still go on, believe me / The world could show nothing to me. / So what good would livin’ do me? / God only knows what I’d be without you.” Since next month will bring not only birthday  but wedding anniversary , I’ve been humming that song when I think about my wife Susan and about


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WORLD Magazine May 31, 2014 Vol. 29 No. 11  

Real matters.