Page 1


How church volunteers help

OC TO B ER 14 , 2017

and how lots of big corporations don’t


Why so many hurricanes this year? Why the drop-off in teen employment?


October 14, 2017 • Volume 32 • Number 19







32 Casting corporate bread upon the waters

DISPATCH E S 7 News / Human Race / Quotables / Quick Takes

Amid flood damage from recent hurricanes, some big corporations are bankrolling a reportedly inefficient disaster relief organization— and discriminating against employees who support better options

CU LT U R E 19 Movies & TV / Books / Children’s Books / Q&A / Music

A powerful hurricane season brings dire warnings of global warming, but drastic reactions to uncertain climate models won’t fix the pressing needs of vulnerable storm victims

NO T EBOOK 55 Lifestyle / Technology / Science / Medicine

In a state known for legal assisted suicide, one terminally ill young woman instead chose to live each God-given day to its fullest

VOICE S 4 Joel Belz 16 Janie B. Cheaney 30 Mindy Belz 61 Mailbag 63 Andrée Seu Peterson 64 Marvin Olasky

38 Inherit the wind 42 Esther’s story

46 The disappearing teenage job

Busy high schoolers today are skipping jobs, and not learning skills that steady work teaches

50 Lost families, longing hearts

International adoptees from China often grow curious about their hometowns and birth parents—and some make the trip back

ON THE COVER: Church volunteers work at a house in Bayside, Texas. Photo by Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP Give the gift of clarity:

Notes from the CEO ORLD members are a generous bunch, and that’s evidenced by the presence of the magazine you hold in your hands. What do I mean by that? Simply that WORLD wouldn’t be around but for your faithful giving. We are a nonprofit ministry and many thousands of you support us with large gifts and small—some do so monthly, others a few times a year. Every gift makes a big difference. Most journalistic projects enjoy robust support from big advertisers, from big corporate foundations, and from big government (whether the taxpayers like it or not). But here’s something important I was reminded of in the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes: that 80 percent of the relief and recovery efforts associated with those disasters flowed not from government but from the nonprofit and largely faith-based charitable sector. The same generosity and vision that fuels such awesome works of mercy also powers journalism missions like ours. We know this because of what our friends in those nonprofits—including our Hope Awards finalists—tell us: often when these groups are in the news and WORLD reports on their work, they attract new or increased support. I know it, too, because even as the rain was falling on Houston and the second storm bore down on Florida, we received an influx of inquiries: “Where’s the best place to send a contribution to support the relief efforts?” I’m amazed, as I meet you members, how often I hear of your support of other Christian organizations. Those most engaged with WORLD are almost always also deeply invested in other ministry, and it all comes after your church giving. We wouldn’t want it any other way. We will always encourage that generosity, just as we will remind you that WORLD absolutely depends upon your support. As a friend told me recently, ­giving is not a zero-sum proposition, because in God’s economy, there are infinite resources.


Kevin Martin

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“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world and those who dwell therein.” —Psalm 24:1 Chief Content Officer Nick Eicher Editor in Chief Marvin Olasky Senior Editor Mindy Belz

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WORLD (ISSN 0888-157X) (USPS 763-010) is published biweekly (26 issues) for $59.95 per year by God’s World Publications, (no mail) 12 All Souls Crescent, Asheville, NC 28803; 828.232.5260. Periodical postage paid at Asheville, NC, and additional mailing ­offices. P ­ rinted in the USA. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. © 2017 WORLD News Group. All rights reserved. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to WORLD, PO Box 20002, Asheville, NC 28802-9998.

Biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.


Joel Belz

Surveying our future


4 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

I couldn’t find a single teenager who had a clue where freedom of speech is declared to be the right of any American citizen.



Next time you think things have gotten intolerably bad, and that the world is headed for hell in a handbasket, just think what things might be like if all decision-making were handed to today’s teenagers—the relatively young adults who a decade or two from now, whether you like it or not, will indeed be in the driver’s seat. Two issues prompted me to worry along those lines. The first was the persistent insistence of several major polls that American teenagers are quite ready—at least compared with their forebears—to use force to calm things down when freedom of speech seems to be getting out of hand. The second came when I decided to do a reality check by heading out for one of my ­traditional Walmart polls. Should I really trust Gallup, Pew, Barna, and all the rest of these pollsters? Except that this time, I would make it a point to steer clear of adults. And to enhance my chances of talking just to teenagers, I would simply skip Walmart this time and head for the nearest mall. That, my wife suggested, would almost automatically bring me face-to-face with the teenagers I wanted to query. Well, I found the teenagers, for sure. They still seem to love the mall. I was able to chat briefly with 35 of them. But no, I’m not ready to turn things over to them. At least not anytime soon. On this issue of freedom of speech, for example, I couldn’t find a single teenager who had a clue where freedom of speech is declared to be the right of any American citizen. “I’m not sure,” responded Tom, a lanky redhead who said he’s just starting his senior year in a local public high school. “Isn’t that something that comes with our being part of the United Nations?”


(One inalienable right almost all these teenagers seemed to think was automatic was the right not to have me include their last names. For a handful, that was almost a necessity, with family structures so fragmented that hyphenated family names were common but hard to nail down.) How would their lives be different, I asked these young citizens, if what we call “freedom of the press” were to disappear from public life? “Does that mean,” suggested Holly, a rising junior, “that someone coming here from Mexico wouldn’t be able to print a newspaper here in Spanish?” Not everyone in her little group of friends agreed with her. Second Amendment issues didn’t seem to matter much in my admittedly informal survey. When I used that terminology, not one of my respondents knew what I was talking about. When I suggested it had to do with citizens’ rights to own guns, disinterest ruled. Intuition told me that to go back in hopes of discovering a thoughtful discussion about freedom of religion would be to draw a blank. Intuition was right. If these kids weren’t at least a tad religious to start with, it was unlikely that religious freedom would be terribly important to them. And frankly, no one in the whole bunch struck me as part of some church’s youth group out for the afternoon. “I know some people are prejudiced,” Amanda responded to my question about ­religious tolerance, “but as long as we don’t try to embarrass and convert other people, why should anyone be bothered?” Amanda didn’t strike me as someone hoping to spend next summer studying Supreme Court nuances. My point, though, was never to see how many silly responses I might uncover. I wanted instead to get a fair sense of what kind of ­historical, analytical, and political tools these young people might be ready to apply to public affairs when the present generation of voters and policy-setters has disappeared over the horizon. And the sense I got, in my admittedly simplistic survey, was hardly encouraging. But if today’s younger set isn’t ready for a halfway intelligent conversation about the Bill of Rights, what’s going to happen when we’re dealing with matters like nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles? A



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DISPATCHES News / Human Race / Quotables / Quick Takes

And then Maria

Within four weeks, three major hurricanes hit the United States: Harvey, Irma, and then Maria, which pummeled Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, killing at least 16 people and leaving a humanitarian crisis in its aftermath. On Sept. 27, FEMA said 26 Navy and Coast Guard ships were either at Puerto Rico or on the way to lead relief efforts. The military also sent aid to the U.S. Virgin Islands. JORGE A RAMIREZ PORTELA/AP

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October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 7

D I S PA T C H E S    

News Immigrants and supporters march in Las Vegas on Sept. 10 to oppose President Trump’s order to end DACA.

Here to stay?


8 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

greatly are more likely to grab on to the cross, splinters and all. Chapter 11 of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans describes how some unbelieving branches of Israel broke off and God grafted in new, Gentile branches. Maybe there’s an equivalent in civics now: If many American-born teens have never had to fight for rights, maybe we need a grafting in of some who have had to. And that brings me to the current debate about DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Barack Obama ignored the Constitutional separation of powers when he unilaterally created in 2012 the DACA program. President Donald Trump was right to urge Congress to do


Joel Belz’s column on page 4 notes how many teens today are clueless concerning the Bill of Rights and the freedoms it guarantees. That’s evidence of dereliction of duty at public schools. It’s also a problem for all of us, because rights taken for granted usually become rights lost. I read Joel’s column for this issue just before editing our cover story for the next. That article shows how Middle Eastern and African congregations across Europe, their numbers buoyed by recent immigration under stress, outstrip in size and vitality more traditional Protestant churches. Much of self-satisfied Europe, ignoring the theology of the cross, sees itself as ­trouble-free. Those who have suffered


its job by legislating an approach that would let stay 800,000 young people brought here illegally as children: They would not be punished for the law-­ breaking of their parents. Easier said than done, though. A Congressestablished DACA program along the 2012 lines would let stay those who entered the U.S. as children before June 5, 2007, and had lived here crime-free for at least 10 years—but it would not give them citizenship, voting rights, or welfare access. Most Democrats want more than that, a DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act with a pathway to citizenship. Many Republicans want less than that, believing DACA would create a new wave of immigration. WORLD’s Evan Wilt asked senators who identify as evangelicals what the road forward is. He received four responses. Tim Scott, R-S.C., told him, “We’re trying to balance our legal responsibilities as well as having ­compassion and weaving those two together in a way that honors our faith.” Ted Cruz, R-Texas, spoke of “the need for far more vigorous border security measures, more effective tools to stop illegal immigration. … Any action on the individuals in the DACA program could potentially lead to chain migration of 3, 4, 5 million additional people here illegally.” David Perdue, R-Ga., said he and his colleagues “want to find a solution for the DACA young people. … I’m not in a position to say what’s a must-have. I’m just making a recommendation from a business perspective that merit-based immigration makes all the sense in the world.” James Lankford, R-Okla., doesn’t


want to “hold up the solution for the kids that are in DACA,” but he’s against “legalizing everyone in America that came to the country illegally and using the children to accomplish that. … You basically tell everyone around the world if you come illegally and you bring a child with you then you will get legal status.” DACA, Langford added, presents “a unique situation” for practicing “love and mercy while also respecting authority.” He emphasized that “every person is created in the image of God and has value and worth” and noted two aspects make DACA different from other immigration issues: The DACA young people did not come of their own volition, and they can’t be sent “home” because they have no memory of any home other than the United States. He added, “The Biblical value of honoring authority is still exceptionally important.” None of these four wanted Congress to pass a bill just putting DACA into law without dealing with larger immigration issues—but can a dysfunctional Congress in five months come to any resolution? Evan Wilt also spoke with Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a Mormon. Hatch said he was for a mere-DACA vote and “can live with that” without border security measures. Asked about leaving a larger immigration debate for later, he said, “I’d like to do that. I’m actually very empathic with the DACA kids. … I don’t see any reason to pick on them.” A good argument against that approach: It doesn’t solve any of the larger immigration problems. A good argument for it: The only thing many teens learn in school about the United States in the 1830s is that the government wrongly and forcibly pushed 16,000 Cherokees west of the Mississippi on the “Trail of Tears.” Without DACA, a new Trail of Tears is likely. If Congress does let the 800,000 stay, maybe they’ll have more appreciation for our Bill of Rights than some who are native-born. Given what many public schools teach, and don’t teach, that may be too hopeful—but, as Joel’s survey showed, the United States needs people who know freedom is hard to gain and retain. A

  @MarvinOlasky

3.4 million The number of people in Puerto Rico—nearly the entire population— without power a week after Hurricane Maria made landfall.


The share of the vote taken by former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in a Sept. 26 primary election win in the statewide race over a U.S. Senate seat. Moore will face off against Democratic candidate Doug Jones in December.


The number of consecutive games the Cleveland Indians won in late summer, an American League record. Their streak ended Sept. 15 during a matchup with the Kansas City Royals.

313,000 The number of traditional Amish in the United States, up 149 percent from 25 years ago, according to Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.

35.5% The decline in box office revenue in August 2017 compared with August 2016. The $657.7 million in revenue was the worst August for movies in the last 20 years.

October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 9

D I S PA T C H E S    

Human Race



A Navy hospital announced Sept. 18 it had removed two staff workers who mistreated newborns. One woman made a video of her holding up an infant by the armpits and moving its arms and legs in tune to rap music. Another image


Evangelist Nabeel Qureshi, a convert from Islam, died on Sept. 16 at age 34 from stomach cancer. Qureshi grew up in a PakistaniAmerican Muslim family and learned about Christianity when he read the Bible in medical school. He had planned to debate a friend, but Jesus won him over instead. Qureshi said God found him in “investigations, dreams, and visions.” He earned his M.D. but went on to get master’s degrees in Christian apologetics and religion. Qureshi worked with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and wrote two books about evangelizing to Muslims.


University in Wichita Falls, Texas, made the tackle ­during the Mustangs’ game against Texas A&M University-Kingsville and was immediately rushed to a hospital. Kyle Williams, interim athletic director at MSU, told The Wichitan that the play involved a ­routine tackle: “He made this tackle hundreds of times, but it was just one of those situations that landed wrong.”


London police detained a 17-year-old boy, the sixth in a series of arrests connected to a domestic terror case. A

homemade bomb exploded during rush hour in the London Tube, injuring 30 people on Sept. 15. A rapid inquiry led the police to five different addresses. The police caught the teenager in a private home neighbors identified as a halfway house for asylum seekers. Scotland Yard has announced the arrests of six males, four men and two teenagers. The second teenager, an 18-year-old, was arrested at the Port of Dover. He is believed to have moved from Iraq at age 15 when his parents died. He had also been referred to an anti-­ extremist program before his arrest.


College football player Robert Grays, age 19, died at a Houston hospital on Sept. 22 from a neck injury he suffered while making a tackle during a game three days earlier. Grays, a ­sophomore cornerback at Midwestern State 10 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

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Authorities arrested five senior members of the Wheaton College (Ill.) football team for a 2016 hazing incident allegedly involving aggravated battery, unlawful restraint, and mob action. The accuser says the five grabbed him from his dorm room, ducttaped him, terrorized him, injured his shoulders, and left him in a park. That student left Wheaton. Another student hazed that evening had a very different reaction and remains on the team. The accused players turned themselves in and posted bail, with an arraignment scheduled for Oct. 23.

showed a staffer’s hand as she made an obscene gesture over a baby’s crib. The staffer captioned the picture: “How I currently feel about these mini Satans.” The images went viral on the internet, and the Navy removed the workers from patient care. They are still currently serving at a Navy hospital in Jacksonville, Fla. The Navy has banned all private cell phone use near patients.

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U.S. Sen. JOHN McCAIN, R-Ariz., on the glioblastoma diagnosis he received after undergoing surgery for a brain tumor. The 81-year-old senator, against his doctor’s wishes, returned to Washington for Senate votes 11 days after his surgery and has cast a key vote against repealing Obamacare.

‘We’re a little frustrated that the Senate has not acted on a seminal promise.’ House Speaker PAUL D. RYAN, R-Wis., on the Senate’s failure to repeal Obamacare.

‘We ask You, that he can repent of what he has done.’

JUDITH ARCIA, a cook at a Catholic soup kitchen in Caracas, Venezuela, on the food shortages and hyperinflation that plague the oncewealthy country.

‘The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.’ President DONALD TRUMP during his Sept. 19 speech at the United Nations.

Pastor JOSE NIETO on alleged shooter Emanuel Samson during a prayer vigil after the Sept. 24 shooting at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn., killed one woman and injured seven. Nieto is community minister at Antioch Church of Christ in Nashville. The vigil was held outside Burnette Chapel.

12 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

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‘The prognosis is very, very serious.’

‘Shame has been forgotten. People would rather beg for a plate of food for their children, than watch them go hungry.’

D I S PA T C H E S    

Quick Takes

Scrabble brains

Scientists writing for the journal Psychological Research have discovered why men seem to perform better at Scrabble tournaments. According to University of Miami researcher Jerad Moxley, men do better in Scrabble competitions because women aren’t as likely to devote hours of practice into what they consider to be a pointless set of skills. “Just because there’s a huge gender difference, it doesn’t mean there is a huge ability gap,” Moxley told The Times of London. Instead, he said his research uncovered that women enjoy playing the game as a hobby or for fun, whereas men are more likely to be willing to practice anagrams and memorize words that contain an X or a Q.

Running on empty

Sean Harris, 33, allegedly robbed a gas station in LaCrosse, Ind., on Sept. 13—and then promptly ran out of gas. Police say they found Harris on the side of the road legally drunk and with his vehicle out of gas. Harris reportedly robbed the gas station of food, drinks, and cigarettes but no gas.

Hot dog harassment

Oktober feet

Just in time for Oktoberfest, Adidas has released a new shoe that promises to provide style and comfort while defending itself against unwanted fluids that may be on floors during the Oktoberfest season. The German c ­ ompany says the Adidas München will be beer-proof as well as vomit-proof thanks to a coating on the outer part of the shoe. Inside, the München shoe features a red-andwhite check inner lining to match tablecloths at Germany’s premier beer festival.

Scary sock

A British family unnerved by what they believed was a ­lizard under a bed in their home was chagrined to learn it was only a dirty sock. The Coventry, U.K., family called the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to remove the lizard. RSPCA worker Vic Hurr arrived at the home to check under the bed and try to identify what sort of lizard she was dealing with. Hurr observed the object to be about 7 inches long. After turning on her flashlight, though, she realized it wasn’t an animal at all, but rather a pink stripy sock covered in dust.

14 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017


Mayor Charles Pender has a problem. Vandals in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, in Canada have been harassing Pender with hot dogs as he conducts his reelection campaign. In early September, Pender said someone cut holes in his campaign signs to make it look as if he were eating hot dogs. On Sept. 7, the mayor tweeted a picture of his car’s windshield covered with hot dogs left on the wiper blades. Calling the vandalism unnerving, Pender said he filed an official police report and made a public appeal for the hot dog attacks to stop.

A new look

Cicero Creek in Tipton, Ind., didn’t look like itself on Sept. 12. Instead of having clear water or even muddy water, the creek was milky white. The reason: A food processing plant reportedly spilled up to 300 gallons of milk into the creek. Authorities say the spill wasn’t a health hazard, and the creek returned to normal after cleanup crews took 14,000 gallons of the milky liquid out of it.

Travel companion


Pool guest

It may not be unusual for the star of a music video to spend time swimming in a hotel swimming pool, but that didn’t reassure police in Atlantic City, N.J., when they found a 3-foot-long alligator in the pool at the Bayview Inn & Suites on Aug. 15. Police discovered the animal while there to investigate a different matter, and they learned that the makers of a music video had brought the reptile to the hotel for their video shoot. Later that day, animal control workers were able to trap the animal and move it to a nearby zoo.

Airborne drop

Before flying his single-engine plane back to his rural North Dakota home, Nathan Howatt figured he might do his friend a favor. Howatt stopped at a Devil’s Lake, N.D., Subway restaurant to pick up a 6-inch sandwich with melted pepper-jack cheese, ranch dressing, and banana peppers and fly it to his friend Mitchell Wirth who lives near his route home. Rather than land the plane and hand deliver the sandwich, Howatt buzzed a dirt road where Wirth was standing and tossed the Subway bag out of the plane. Wirth captured the high-speed delivery on his phone, uploading the video to Snapchat and adding the caption, “Thanks buddy nice shot.” Subway found the video and posted it on the company’s Facebook page, saying, “Friend level: Expert.”

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Some flee on foot. Some flee by car. Zachary Kingsbury fled into the ocean attempting to evade police after an Aug. 30 incident in Surf City, N.C. Police say the 20-year-old ­initially ran away from a traffic stop before jumping into the Atlantic Ocean. For the first hour in the water, Kingsbury was trailed by a police drone, and, according to the drone’s footage, a 5-foot shark swimming just 60 feet from him. After an hour, the drone lost battery power. More than two hours after that, police finally found Kingsbury as he tried to climb back onshore at a beach some distance away. Police charged the man with resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine.

October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 15


Janie B. Cheaney

You better believe it


16 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

Relativism is dead. It always dies, because Truth Will Out, or Power Will Out.

  @jbcheaney


That may be true for you … Hey, whatever floats your boat … My reality isn’t ­necessarily yours … I’m not sure when it started—maybe the 1960s (when so much started), or the ’70s, when chickens began wandering home to roost. But somewhere in there the notion of Truth went spongy. Postmodernism was in. The debate was no longer over what was right, but whether there was such a thing. It was neither charitable nor reasonable to claim the mantle of truth for one’s ideas or choices. What fits me won’t fit you, so why pretend we should all live by the same rules? I recall my brother-in-law claiming that, since times had changed, he didn’t feel compelled to marry the mother of his two boys, especially since he didn’t like her that much. Some people are the marrying kind, and some aren’t. (Fine, I thought. But did someone explain this to the boys?) Times do change. And the days of allowing everyone to do their own thing and adopt their own truth have passed into memory. Christians railing about relativism sound almost quaint. Where have you been, Grandpa? My truth/your truth enjoyed a brief sunlit stay in popular culture for, perhaps, 30 years, from the mid-1970s to the mid-aughts. During that period it was OK to be gay but also sort of OK to be skeptical about the naturalness and normality of the ­lifestyle. Most couples still aimed toward ­traditional marriage, even if more and more of them didn’t achieve it. “Tolerance” was a virtue: You could believe what you wanted as long as you didn’t crush anyone else’s beliefs. There were serious flare-ups, some plaintive cries of Can’t we all get along?, and some disturbing equivalences (like the definition of “is”), but looking back, it seems we mostly got along.


When did it change? Possibly on 9/11, when a hard fist broke through our little realities with one Big Reality that would shatter illusions forever—which turned out to be not very long. A strange thing happened. Reality broke through; but as the ruins were repaired, a vocal minority found themselves on the other side of a glass wall where everything appears backward and arguable opinions look absolutely true. Such as: 5 Christian extremism is as lethal as Muslim extremism. 5 The United States is the greatest terror threat in the world today (both from the far left and the far right). 5 Same-sex marriage is as legitimate as opposite-sex marriage, and to deny that is rank bigotry. 5 Caitlyn Jenner is a woman. All these opinions had their roots in earlier decades; none of them came out of the blue. What shifted is the conviction among former relativists that whoever disagrees with the latest doctrine is not mistaken or misled, but evil, hateful, and wrong. This state of affairs became clear to me during the 2004 presidential campaign. Howard Dean was on the debate platform with several Democratic rivals hoping to unseat George W. Bush. Things were getting contentious, as they always do during this stage of a campaign, when Dean called his rowdy fellow Dems to order, reminding them that “George Bush is the enemy,” not each other. The biggest applause line of the night, and probably not unprecedented, but no one corrected him. When did the opponent become the enemy? Dean crossed a line that politicians have stampeded over ever since: My opponent is the foe of all that’s good; the reactionary, the ­dinosaur, the obstacle to a better world, and the main reason we can’t have nice things. To them it’s mostly rhetoric, but to some public sectors (such as college students and aggrieved minorities), it’s for real. Relativism is dead. It always dies, because Truth Will Out, or Power Will Out. Refusing God’s standard takes us back to a Manichean divide between good and evil, with the armor of intolerance hardening on those who cried the loudest for tolerance. Their truth is no longer their truth, but the truth. Absolute value reappears, but on the other side of the looking glass. A

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CULTURE Movies & TV / Books / Children’s Books / Q&A / Music



Losing battle


I hope someday someone will make the movie that the trailer for Battle of the Sexes, the PG-13 sports biography starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, promises. Based on the trailer, we expect an in-depth look at


how the consummate showman Riggs engineered a 1973 tennis match with King that started as a media circus but became a serious milestone in the women’s liberation movement. If the movie offered a little insight into whether Riggs—a perennial hustler

  @megbasham

and compulsive gambler— actually threw the game as has long been rumored, so much the better. But the actual Battle of the Sexes isn’t terribly interested in this story, despite how relevant Riggs’ talent for turning hammy, half-serious political incorrectness into applause has suddenly become. Instead it quickly sketches out the bad guys and good guys with zero nuance so it has time to fully trace King’s adulterous romance off the court. Bad: Tennis promoter Jack Kramer, who won’t pay female players

the same as the men, and King’s rival Margaret Court, who quotes the Bible and hates gays. Good: King’s luminous lesbian lover Marilyn and, of course, King herself. The movie spends so much time lauding King’s burgeoning relationship with Marilyn, it never stops to question whether viewers will actually agree that her behavior is laudable. Consider if a male ­character had the same narrative arc. If he met a beautiful young woman and, despite being married, decided on a whim to take October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 19

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Movies & TV

20 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

loss, however, is how little the film works to put this strange cultural moment, complete with jackets blaring “Sugar Daddy” and piglets squealing on the court, into historical context. As we know, King wins, confetti drops, and women nationwide cheer. But there’s no triumph in the milestone because the movie has already made clear that this victory and what it symbolically represented to America at the time isn’t the point. This is 2017 and we have other hay to make out of the showdown at the Houston Astrodome. Steps from where King’s husband is celebrating with the crowd, her stylist pulls her aside not to congratulate her on her win, but to play the role of literal gay whisperer, crooning, “Someday we will be free to be who we are and love who we love.” When a Christian movie telegraphs its message as blaringly and gracelessly as this, mainstream critics rightfully roll their eyes. I don’t expect they will in this case, but they should. A


The Lego Ninjago Movie R

Kids’ movies often avoid tackling weighty matters because of the intended audience’s immaturity. Such films typically settle for lessons like “The strongest weapon is inside you,” as Master Wu (voiced by Jackie Chan) teaches his young protégés in the mildly funny Lego Ninjago Movie. But this film’s writers, by dealing squarely with absentee fatherhood, seem determined to go where few animated movies have gone before. Lloyd (Dave Franco) lives alone with his mother. His high-school classmates shun him for being the son of Garmadon (Justin Theroux), a supervillain who constantly terrorizes their city, Ninjago. This is yet FOR THE WEEKEND OF SEPT. 22-24 according to Box Office Mojo another riff on Darth Vader and CAUTIONS: Quantity of sexual (S), ­violent (V), Luke Skywalker, of and foul-language (L) ­content on a 0-10 scale, with 10 high, from course, and for the S V L first half of Ninjago 1 Kingsman: The Golden (rated PG for mild ` Circle* R...........................................................6 8 10 action and rude 2 It* R........................................................................4 8 9 ` humor), the father3 The LEGO Ninjago ` son tension plays Movie* PG...................................................... 1 3 1 for chuckles. But 4 American Assassin R...................6 8 8 ` Lloyd has a secret 5 Mother! R...................................................... 7 8 5 ` his classmates and 6 Home Again PG-13...............................4 3 4 ` divorced parents 7 Friend Request R..............................3 7 6 ` don’t know: He’s the 8 Stronger* R................................................6 6 10 ` heroic Green Ninja,


9 The Hitman’s `

Bodyguard R............................................4 8 10 10 Wind River* R.........................................6 7 7 ` *Reviewed by WORLD

Garmadon’s sworn enemy. Still, Lloyd’s greatest battle is having to grow up without a father in the home. “You ruined my life,” Lloyd exclaims after removing his disguise. “How could I?” Garmadon retorts. “I wasn’t ever there.” Laugh if you can. When a life-size house cat named Meowthra begins knocking over Ninjago’s buildings, Lloyd and his father team up to find the “ultimate ultimate weapon” that will expel the cat. Raw emotions, laced with some humor, begin to displace the lighthearted tone prevalent earlier. It feels as though the film’s writers are unburdening. “I wish we could get that time back,” Lloyd pleads through tears. “I need my dad.” Luke never went there. But who will appreciate all this catharsis? My opening night audience consisted almost entirely of parents and their young Lego builders. Preteens and teens who might themselves ­articulate Lloyd’s pain had probably ditched the fam for another film. —by BOB BROWN


her on the road with him. If he barely made any effort to hide the affair from his colleagues. If, once discovered, he assumed an air of belligerent entitlement, almost parading his relationship in front of his faithful, longsupportive spouse. Is this a character audiences would likely find sympathetic? So why do the filmmakers think we will find such behavior appealing in King, particularly as she shows almost no guilt over violating her vows? Simply because the person she was cheating with happened to be of the same sex? I suppose so, seeing as even King’s husband seems happy enough to take his wife’s cheating on the chin for the cause of enlightenment. Notably, the movie leaves out some significant information about the affair in its historical update placards at the end. Like the fact that King and Marilyn went on to have a very public, acrimonious breakup that led Marilyn to a suicide attempt and left her a paraplegic. That kind of information would have been far too weighty and real for this modern fairy tale of progress. Stone gives a fine performance, but had the film dealt more honestly with King’s selfishness and how it helped her dominate her sport, she would have been a far more compelling character. In the midst of all this personal drama, the main attraction gets the short shrift. Carell does a tremendous job bringing Riggs to life, but we get only the broadest strokes of what drove him. The even bigger



American Made R You have to wonder if the real Barry Seal was as likable as the new true-crime thriller, American Made, makes him out to be, or if it’s simply Tom Cruise’s toothy charisma that makes him seem so. Certainly there’s not much on the surface to admire about Barry, a TWA flyboy who’s recruited by the CIA in the late 1970s to pilot reconnaissance missions to South America. An opportunist to the core, Barry soon finds that running intel for the American government affords him the chance to make money in other ways, namely by ­smuggling guns for the Nicaraguan Contras and cocaine for Pablo Escobar’s Medellín cartel. If Barry is not quite devoted to his country, he at least appears to be devoted to his wife (blurry and loud love scenes where he manifests his devotion, along

with frequent foul language, earn the movie an R rating). Cruise, typically cast as a type-A, five-stepsahead planner like Ethan Hunt (Mission: Impossible), here gets to cut loose as a man who never looks before he leaps. And cut loose he does, complete with a shaggy mullet, a developing paunch, and a swaggering Southern accent. Few have probably ever pictured Cruise as a Louisiana bayou boy, but he pulls it off in spades. It’s so much fun, you have to remind yourself you shouldn’t be rooting for Barry to get away with double-­ crossing Uncle Sam. The movie wears its politics on its sleeve, effectively equating Oliver North and the rest of the Reagan administration with Barry and Escobar’s own lawlessness. It’s cheeky stuff that does score a few laughs (particularly with the appearance of a young George W. Bush) but never makes a strong argument. Indeed, rather like Cruise’s Barry, you can’t help feeling a good deal of affection for the Gipper’s old-school charm and wishing the whole Iran-Contra thing had worked out better for him. For all that we like about Barry, though, his stranger-thanfiction tale of espionage, corruption, and drug running can’t help but end as a cautionary tale. However affable the sinner, the wages eventually come due. —by MEGAN BASHAM

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle R A wild car chase through London streets in the opening scene of Kingsman: The Golden Circle thrills like a James Bond action sequence. But when a prosthetic arm, newly severed from its windshield-ejected owner, crawls through a car and hacks an onboard computer, viewers (like me) unfamiliar with the franchise’s Kingsman comic book series source ­material and 2015 original film start to get the real picture. Writer-director Matthew Vaughn’s followup to Kingsman: The Secret Service features a death by meat grinder, an explicit scene of bizarre sexual material, and Elton John as himself. The strong R rating (for language, drug use, and the non-Elton reasons listed above) will keep some viewers away. Stretches of lifeless dialogue and questionably useful side stories will vex many who do buy a ticket. Poppy (a bland Julianne Moore) and her Golden Circle henchmen run the world’s largest drug cartel. Her head-

quarters, Poppyland, ­hidden in the Cambodian jungle, resembles a 1950s-era American town square. She contaminates her product with a deadly substance, causing drug users (“victims”) everywhere to contract a blue rash and die. Poppy is pro-decriminalization, though, extorting world leaders: She’ll provide an antidote if governments agree to eliminate drug laws. Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and his Kingsman spy organization join forces with the Kentucky-based Statesman intelligence agency to take Poppy down. Egerton brings some splash to the film’s dry spells, which do have their funny moments. In one scene, Elton John, attempting to escape captivity in Poppyland, performs Matrix-like martial arts in full-­ feathered splendor. Kudos to Vaughn for having Eggsy turn down a sexual advance and ­pursue marriage, but new cult classic or not, the film’s many objectionable moments suggest any King’s man should skip this one. —by BOB BROWN

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Religious propositions


Whom to believe about the big event almost 2,000 years ago? J.R. Daniel Kirk acknowledges in A Man Attested by God (Eerdmans, 2016), “New Testament studies is in the midst of a resurgence of early high Christology,” which means more scholars acknowledge early Christians saw Jesus as divine. But Kirk, who unsurprisingly holds a Ph.D. in New Testament from ­liberal Duke University, then provides 638 pages of bad news: He denies Christ’s divinity and sees Him merely as an idealized human in Israel’s tradition. Whom then should we trust? I’d suggest Richard Bauckham, author of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. A decade ago I praised that book for taking us to ground


level in ancient Palestine and breaking down the supposed division between the “historical Jesus” and the “Christ of faith.” Now it’s back in an expanded second edition (Eerdmans, 2017) and worth reading by theology students more than ever, unless they have a time machine and can be eyewitnesses themselves. Whom to believe about Islam? Tariq Ramadan, in his Introduction to Islam (Oxford, 2017) emphasizes spiritual jihad rather than the morefamiliar ­terrorist kind, but the U.S. government from 2004 to 2010 denied him a visa, arguing that he had supported terrorist organizations. Garry Wills argues that What the Qur’an Meant (Viking, 2017) is peace, but Wills is much


less trustworthy than someone he’s occasionally confused with, George Will. Whom then should we trust? Christine Douglass-Williams interviews many Islamic moderates in The Challenge of Modernizing Islam: Reformers Speak Out and the Obstacles They Face (Encounter, 2017). They challenge the Quran’s violent texts, but others say those verses come later chronologically than the peaceful ones and are thus more authoritative. I’ve recommended over the past two decades many analysts of Islam and its effects, including Nabeel Qureshi, Ibn Warraq, Bernard Lewis, Paul Marshall, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Bat Ye’or, Daniel Pipes, Mindy Belz, and others. Whom to believe about the subject of Steven Weitzman’s The Origin of the Jews (Princeton, 2017)? Few nonacademic readers will want to wade through its inconclusive chapters—but its honesty about that lack of conclusions deserves praise. Every researcher

Eastern Voices, compiled by Asian Access (2017), includes 14 essays examining the interaction of Christianity and various Asian cultures. George Melloan’s Free People, Free Markets (Encounter, 2017) is a history of the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal. Thomas Dekker’s Four Birds of Noah’s Ark (Eerdmans, 2017) features good prayer-poems from Shakespeare’s time. Christopher Tolkien put together Beren and Lúthien (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) from papers his father rightly left unpublished. Cornelis Venema’s Christ and Covenant Theology (P&R, 2017) is a scholarly look at the theology of election and a solid critique of the “Federal Vision.” —M.O.

22 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

feels an obligation to come up with some new new thing, but Weitzman acknowledges that scholarship “has failed to generate an alternative narrative that can do the kind of work the Book of Genesis does in helping people to comprehend themselves and their places in the world.” Genetics analysis thrusts before us a fundamental question. Anyone who goes ten generations back—to the year 1717, maybe—has as many as 2,000 ancestors in that span. (Go back another 300 years and we have as many as four million, although that almost certainly includes some double-counting.) If we wonder why we are here, two logical explanations stand out: We are the product of chance, since any change in those four million would have made for a different human being, or we are part of God’s foreordained drama and have significance beyond the accidental. Whom then should we trust? I choose God (although it really wasn’t a choice). Since the mid-19th ­century Darwinism has been the most popular way to emphasize the role of chance. That’s had dire effects: Jerry Bergman’s How Darwinism Corrodes Morality (Joshua Press, 2017) documents the ­doctrine’s influence in ­academia, aesthetics, eugenics, philosophy, and the promotion of abortion.

FOUR SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS reviewed by John Ottinger III THE MASSACRE OF MANKIND Stephen Baxter A sequel to H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, this novel speculates that the first invasion, stopped so well by a human virus, was merely the prelude to the arrival of the real conquerors. Extensively researched and stylistically reminiscent of Wells, this novel recasts Wells’ themes of imperialism, fear, and technology against the backdrop of an alternative 1920s in which Germany won the First World War, America is truly isolationist, and England is again the battleground for humanity’s future. This time the invading armies are not human, and victory may only come through submission.

THE WORD ENDANGERED (THE FACE OF THE DEEP, BOOK 3.0) Steve Rzasa In this installment in a series of interconnected, stand-alone novels, Rzasa postulates a future in which the written Bible is rediscovered after a period of intense persecution and new adherents of Christianity, like the Christians of the Pax Romana, are considered second-class citizens. Here, Zarco Thread and his pregnant wife Ria are Christians working as planetary surveyors when they become embroiled in a conspiracy to overthrow the liberalizing interstellar empire and destroy faith of all kinds. Rzasa’s keen speculations are politically poignant and socially relevant. This novel is a thrilling reminder that empires fall, humans fail, but the true faith is forever.

THE SPACE BETWEEN THE STARS Anne Corlett When Jamie Allenby wakes up from a long illness, she finds a virus has nearly wiped out humanity’s space-faring civilization. Joining with a few remaining survivors of the plague, Jamie desperately tries to find her longtime lover. She heads for the capital planet unaware that her companions carry hidden secrets, guilt, and misplaced pity that could wipe out humanity forever. Corlett’s debut novel eloquently details the powerful destruction that long-buried sin can reap on the human soul and the human forgiveness needed to bring it out of the darkness. (Caution: an attempted rape)


ARTEMIS Andy Weir Foulmouthed Jazz Bashara lives in the only human settlement on the moon. She has a lucrative job committing corporate sabotage, which may lead to the easy life or destroy the settlement and home she loves. Although the fast-paced book values loyalty to family and town, and offers intriguing speculations on the challenges imposed by lunar life, it fails to overcome a whiny, selfish, and unappealing heroine whose problems are largely self-imposed. Weir’s sophomore effort—after the award-winning The Martian— works best as a cautionary tale about self-will. (Cautions: sexual content and profanity)

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AFTERWORD Two short story collections upend the commonplace in fantastic ways. Tales of Falling and Flying by Ben Loory (Penguin, 2017) consists of 40 extremely short pieces of fiction that, in Alice in Wonderland fashion, turn the mundane into the extraordinary. Tales of President James K. Polk, spiders, astronauts, islands, dodos, and zombies ponder the fundamentals of human existence through the fantastically absurd. Each story nugget is quick to read but pricks the mind long after. (Caution: profanity) Caldecott and Nebula award-winning author Jane Yolen reimagines classic fairy tales and legends in The Emerald Circus (Tachyon Publications, 2017). What if Peter Pan’s Wendy rebelled against the selfish Lost Boys? What if Andersen’s Snow Queen story was an autobiography? Where did Arthur’s famous sword come from? What if Emily Dickinson wrote science ­fiction? Yolen explores some of the many possibilities that dwell between the lines of every tale. (Cautions: profanity and sexual ­content) —J.O. October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 23

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Children’s Books

Family story time



Fans of the best-selling picture book Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site will be delighted with the return of Excavator and his crew as they take on an even bigger job with the help of some new friends. Like its predecessor, Mighty, Mighty Construction Site features Rinker’s playful, rhyming text paired with Tom Lichtenheld’s vibrant illustrations. Unlike its predecessor, the flow of text on some pages is awkward and lacks the precise cadence found throughout the inaugural book. Still, parents will appreciate Mighty’s emphasis on hard work and cooperation, in a fun read-aloud for adults and children alike. (Ages 2-6)

BILLY AND BLAZE C.W. Anderson First published in the 1930s, Billy and Blaze launched a series of 11 related books about a little boy, his horse, and their many adventures together. In this first selection, Billy receives a horse for his birthday, and from the beginning they share a special relationship that leads them to try new things. Like the rest of the books in the series, the opening book features charming black-and-white sketches and simple text that makes it appealing either for family story hour or for young independent readers. (Ages 4-7)

WELCOME TO THE BED & BISCUIT Joan Carris This delightful early chapter book features a cast of talking animals who help Grampa Bender run an animal boardinghouse. Life is fairly predictable until Grampa brings home a mysterious bundle and begins spending all of his time caring for it. Ernest the pig, Gabby the mynah bird, and Milly the cat feel left out—and that’s when the trouble starts. A bit of mystery surrounds the plot in this series opener and provides a launching point to discuss jealousy and the unique value of each person in a family. Note: some minor name-calling parents may want to “edit” out when reading aloud. (Ages 5-9)

WONDER R.J. Palacio

24 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

Family time spent reading together builds strong bonds and literacy skills, but picking selections that will captivate everyone’s interest and mesh with family ­values can be a daunting and time-consuming task. That’s where homeschooling mother of six Sarah Mackenzie, author of Teaching from Rest, and her Read-Aloud Revival podcast can help. Since the podcast’s launch in 2014, Mackenzie has recorded approximately 70 episodes featuring author interviews and commentary related to building a culture of reading in the home. In addition to her monthly picture book selections, her reviews of longer chapter books (both Christian and secular, classics and new releases) give parents of older children the tools they need to make wise read-aloud selections. “As parents who long to make meaningful and lasting connections with our kids, we are competing with the noise of the entire world,” Mackenzie writes on her blog. “Reading aloud is indeed the single best and most impactful thing we can do with our kids today.” To learn more, visit www. —K.C.

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When fifth-grader August Pullman enrolls in mainstream school for the first time, all eyes are on his severe facial deformity. As “Auggie” navigates friends, enemies, and the struggle to be “normal,” the book tells his story from several characters’ perspectives and chronicles the transformation of an entire school. Although Wonder lacks a Biblical worldview, it portrays a strong family unit and opens the door to family discussions about courage, kindness, and how we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Cautions: misuses of God’s name, crass language and humor, and challenging subject matter, including conversations about death. (Ages 12 and up)


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Speaking of peace


Being stuck in the past is frequent.

Both Israelis and Palestinians are bur26 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

dened by the legacies of the past and need to start thinking about what they’re leaving to their children: conflict or sustainable peace? You were once radical yourself. I became

extremely radicalized through high school and college in Lebanon. Between 1967 and 1975, I joined Fatah [a major Palestinian political party]. I believed it should be us or them. I was totally against any kind of peace settlements, dialogue, or negotiation. I believed in the armed struggle against Israel, spoke the ethos of Lenin and Marx. That was the mood of that period in the Arab world. How did that change? In 1975, I went to the United States to study. It was like Plato’s Cave: I finally left an environment that reinforced a corrective, nationalist narrative, and now I was liberated. I could see truth better with an open mind and accept different views. I learned about American history and values and democracy. What helped me most were my personal experiences. I was banned from Israel since 1965, but Israel let me come back in 1993 when my father had cancer. I would accompany my father to get chemotherapy at a Jewish-run

hospital. I saw how well the Israeli doctors and nurses took care of my father. And your mother as well? My mother had an asthma attack that became a heart attack. We had to seek help from the Israeli soldiers. They called an ambulance and took my mother to the nearest hospital, which was an Israeli military hospital, even though we were Palestinian civilians. The Israeli EMT tried very hard to resuscitate my mother, but she died upon arrival. Those two episodes awakened me to the humanity of the other— my enemy—and awakened the humanity in me. I started to view the other as human beings and to seek peace as something attainable.


Mohammed S. Dajani heads Wasatia, a group of Palestinian Muslims who see Jews and Christians as their brothers and sisters and hope to work together with them for peace. While a professor of Al-Quds University (a Palestinian school in Jerusalem), Dajani gained international recognition in 2014 for leading a group of Al-Quds students to Auschwitz to learn about the Holocaust. Here are edited excerpts of our conversation. Where did you grow up? I was born in West Jerusalem, but when I was 2 years old, we fled to East Jerusalem and Egypt when Israeli forces took over West Jerusalem during the 1948 Palestine war. We left with nothing but what we could carry with us. From being well-off, we suddenly had nothing. What happened? I had a grandfather who was a strong, independent man. One time, my grandmother went and registered our family into the refugee offices of the United Nations without telling my grandfather so she could get us food and supplies. When my grandfather found out, he grabbed the refugee cards and tore them up, saying, “I’m not a refugee! I will never be a refugee!” He taught our family that being a refugee is a state of mind. Now every time I face a setback, I remember my grandfather and move on instead of being stuck in the past.


Israel, Israel is the enemy, hence the U.S. is also our enemy. The American Studies program broadened students’ views on America beyond its foreign policy to its democratic experience, culture, history, literature, technology, and achievements. It was the first of its kind not only in the Palestinian world but the Arab world. Why did you take your students to Auschwitz?

My goal was to help my students understand that the Holocaust’s goal was to annihilate a whole people, religion, and civilization— for just being who they are. Many students have false knowledge about the Holocaust. The trip was an educational effort, not political. My s­ tudents went to Auschwitz to study ­reconciliation and to what extent empathy for the sufferings of the other can help with reconciliation. More than 70 students applied to go to Auschwitz, and we selected 30. How could the IsraeliPalestinian conflict be resolved? We need to start

‘Both Israelis and Palestinians are burdened by the legacies of the past and need to start thinking about what they’re leaving to their children.’ You created an American Studies program at Al-Quds University. In the

mind of Palestinians, the U.S. supports   @sophialeehyun

with Palestine recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and Israel recognizing the state of Palestine as a member of the UN. Israel can’t negotiate with the Palestinians without first recognizing us as a state. Otherwise, whatever we agree upon is not sustainable. So you support the two-state solution? I ­support any solution. Whether

there is a one-state solution, or two- or 10-state solution, I don’t mind—the key point to me is “solution.” I just think the two-state solution is the more ­rational alternative: The Jews want to establish a Jewish homeland, while the Palestinians also want a national identity and state. What made you form Wasatia? The idea for Wasatia came to me in 2006 on

a Friday morning during Ramadan. I was standing at my office balcony, which overlooked an Israeli checkpoint separating the West Bank from Jerusalem. Hundreds of Palestinians were pushing at the checkpoint in order to go to Jerusalem to pray at Haram al-Sharif [the Temple Mount]. But because they had no permits, the Israeli guards at the checkpoint didn’t allow them to cross, and people got upset. I thought there would be violence and shooting, but after a while, both sides struck up an agreement. The guards took the people’s IDs, searched them, and called buses to transport them to Haram al-Sharif and back. On that day, moderates won? I observed this happen and thought, “These are moderate Palestinians who are not extremists. They don’t believe in violence—they just want to pray. But who represents them?” In the Palestinian political spectrum, there are the Islamist parties who are against peace negotiations, and then you have the secular parties who shun religion. Who represents the religious moderate Palestinians? So I started Wasatia. What does that word mean?

Wasatia comes from the Arabic word wasat, which means “middle or center.” Religiously speaking, it means tolerance, justice, temperance. Our work in Wasatia is focused on reconciliation in the midst of conflict. We believe that moderation paves the way for reconciliation, and reconciliation ushers conflict resolution and negotiations, which in turn usher peace and democracy. In Palestine, the extremists are teaching our children that all who don’t follow Islam are infidels. So you don’t think there’s a ­ ifference between Christianity and d Islam? Look at the Ten Commandments,

and you’ll see those same values—be merciful, do good deeds, don’t do evil—embedded in Islam. But Islam does not teach that Jesus is the Son of God. You have your religion, I have mine. Whether you believe Jesus is the Son of God or not, on Judgment Day, God will determine who’s right, as it says in the Quran: “On that day you will all return to me and I shall resolve your dispute.” A

October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 27

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Assured and reassuring


28 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

g­ enerated by his music, “giant” because of his ­towering presence on Billboard’s country chart. From “Shelter of Your Eyes” (1973) to “Lord Have Mercy on a Country Boy” (1991), Williams placed 49 singles in the Top 20. All but five made the Top 10. Seventeen reached No. 1. The Best of Don Williams, Volume II and The Best of Don Williams, Volume III went gold. His best-selling album, I Believe in You, went platinum. Among his best-known hits were “You’re My Best Friend,” “Lord, I Hope This

11 of Williams’ greatest hits by an A-list roster of contemporary country and Americana performers. Williams no doubt appreciated the appreciation. And, assuming that his humility didn’t preclude honest self-evaluation, he probably also appreciated knowing that he’d sung each song better when he was still in the game.

Unlike the coverage attending Williams’ passing, the recent death of the 45-yearold former Beachwood Sparks guitarist Josh Schwartz from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) generated few headlines. From one perspective, the dearth makes sense. The SoCal alternative country that Beachwood Sparks helped define remains an under-the-radar genre, its retro trappings having earned it the “pale, male, and stale” tag from dismissive critics. The music deserves better. So does Painted Hills, the solo album that Schwartz released in 2010, the year before his ALS diagnosis. Although its melodies could’ve been dreamed up in the 1960s, the frayed electric-guitar sounds haunting their perimeters suggest that Schwartz had his eyes—and ears—on the future. A

  @ArsenioOrteza


On Sept. 8, emphysema claimed the country singer Don Williams. He was 78. Williams began his 50year career as a member of the Pozo-Seco Singers, a Corpus Christi folk trio configured along the lines of Peter, Paul & Mary. He sang lead on their first Top 40 hit (“I Can Make It with You”) and co-lead on their last (“Look What You’ve Done”). Their album covers identified him as “Donnie.” Solo, he earned the nickname the “Gentle Giant”— “gentle” because of the peaceful, easy feelings


Day Is Good,” and “Tulsa Time.” “Till the Rivers All Run Dry” brought him to the attention of rock fans when the Who’s Pete Townshend and Small Faces’ Ronnie Lane included a faithful rendition on their 1977 album Rough Mix. Williams didn’t write the majority of what he recorded. Rather, it was with the assured and reassuring nature of his warm baritone voice and acoustic guitar that he laid claim to the material and came to be regarded as a reliable ­purveyor of aural balm. His last studio album, an all-covers affair called Reflections, appeared in 2014. A highlight was Doug Gill’s “Stronger Back,” the refrain of which goes “I don’t pray for a lighter load, I pray for a stronger back.” The sentiment, from its humble nobility to its common-man piety, was pure Williams. So was the racewell-run contentment of Jim Collins and Bob Regan’s “Working Man’s Son.” Hearing Williams sing “I’d like to think I’ll still be here / to celebrate a hundred years,” it was easy to believe that he’d reach that milestone. In short, nothing about Reflections or the live chronicle of his 2014 U.K. tour, Don Williams in Ireland: The Gentle Giant in Concert, suggested that he was winding down. But he was. In 2016, he retired for the second and final time. Last May, the day before what would turn out to be his last birthday, Slate Creek Records released Gentle Giant: The Songs of Don Williams, a tribute album featuring versions of

NOTABLE RECENT RELEASES reviewed by Arsenio Orteza IT’S ALL OVER NOW Brinsley Schwarz In lieu of new music from Nick Lowe, there’s this previouslynot-officially-released swan song of the group in which he cut his chops. It’s just as well that it didn’t come out when new. Its mixture of romantic ballads, dry wit, golden oldies, and sock-hop silliness would’ve surely puzzled the mid1970s masses. “Cruel to Be Kind” probably would’ve too. Four years later, slowed down and echoed up, it wowed ’em but good. There really is such a thing as being ahead of one’s time.

LUST FOR LIFE Lana Del Rey Del Rey continues to defy expectations, both those of her naysayers (who pegged her as a flash in the pan) and those of her champions (who maintain that there’s substance beneath her glamorously decadent affectations). This time, the former have to explain the dreamy attractions of “Love” and how its concern with today’s “kids” blooms later into the attractively dreamy “Coachella—Woodstock in My Mind.” The latter have to explain why, four official albums in, she hasn’t realized that overdoing profanity gives glamorous decadence a bad name.



The idea seems simple: record a bunch of funky 1960s and ’70s brotherhood anthems (with the Beatles, Bacharach/ David, and recitations from the Declaration of Independence for inclusiveness), spare no expense where musicianship is concerned, show the woofers no mercy, and, voilà, a whycan’t-we-just-get-along soundtrack for these house-divided times. Too bad that the spoken bit in the Pointer Sisters cover turns the project into a Trojan horse by equating opposition to “climate change” and the “hetero-patriarchy” with “sav[ing] the world.”

POSITIVELY BOB: WILLIE NILE SINGS BOB DYLAN Willie Nile The original versions of eight of these 10 songs can be found on Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits and Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II. So what could Nile, a rock ’n’ roll ­journeyman who turns 70 next spring, possibly have to add or subtract that hasn’t already been added or subtracted a few dozen times before? When he and his band stick close to Dylan’s blueprints (a little over half the time), not much. Sometimes, though, they really do manage to shake the windows and rattle the walls.

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ENCORE When Joan Osborne performed her hit “One of Us” on Saturday Night Live 22 years ago, she wore a proabortion T-shirt, presumably to assure viewers that the song’s religious connotations weren’t code for latent conservatism. A similar inclination to “virtue ­signaling” afflicts her new album, Songs of Bob Dylan (Womanly Hips), most noticeably on “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” and “Tangled Up in Blue”: Leaving the sexes of the narrators’ love interests unchanged, she turns the songs into endorsements of lesbian romance. Her moralizing sleight of hand isn’t limited to the LGBT realm. In “Masters of the War,” for instance, she retains “even Jesus would never forgive what you do” although Dylan himself has been leaving it out since 1978 (i.e., before he investigated Jesus’ forgiveness firsthand). At least she delivers “Ring Them Bells” faithfully. Maybe someday she’ll even realize that the line “and they’re breaking down the distance between right and wrong” applies to her as well. —A.O. October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 29


Mindy Belz


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The kingdom is a hospital ward, not a resort. We forget the pageant of need is the business of God.

New YorkPresbyterian Hospital

  @mcbelz


The travel guides hype Washington Square or Bryant Park as the best places to people-watch in New York City, but I’m going to give you a big tip: For my money, the best people-watching happens in the 10-block radius New Yorkers call “bedpan alley.” There Memorial Sloan Kettering’s renowned cancer center abuts four other big-name medical facilities along leafy avenues near the East River. Rain threatened as I waited at the entrance to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, but the weather had no hold on the people coming and going. A daughter (I imagined) crossed the sidewalk with a frail mother leaning onto her arm. A Yellow Cab pulled up and the driver came quickly around, unloading a wheelchair from the trunk, then gently easing his passenger from the taxi into it. A dark-haired woman stood unmoving, leaning on a walker, eyes covered in black patches. As rabbis in their hats and priests in their collars hurried past, a young pregnant woman crossed back and forth in front of me, pacing through labor contractions, tears streaming down her face. She wore a navy dress, pearl earrings, and a necklace—having clearly not planned to have a baby that day. Into so vivid a scene came children in wheelchairs, balloons floating above them, awaiting discharge and a ride home. Taxis and limos circled and waited, unloading patientsto-be hunched over and limping, or taking on patients-that-were, some bandaged and one with an oxygen tank. A man wheeled out of the wide rotating entry door with a young woman, bandages around her head, an IV bag still connected to one hand while the other held a scarf over her face. The man pushed her wheelchair down to a stoplight and across the street, apparently wheeling her home. The horseshoe entrance to the hospital was a pageant of the world’s needs—the blind, the lame, the pregnant, the aged, and the lost. New


York-Presbyterian sees nearly 2 million patient visits per year, and almost 15,000 babies are delivered there annually. For sheer volume, there’s nothing like it for a place where the world’s needs meet a place of rescue, where people show up in body, mind, and spirit to be healed. We may be impressed by the stats, but we will only pay close attention when one of the numbers is our own. As I ­people-watched, the techs were wheeling my daughter Emily into an operating room. I saw the need in front of me knowing that up on the 12th floor behind me my eldest was surrounded by one surgeon, two robots, and a dozen attendants, a breathing tube down her throat. Text messages beeped on my phone: “Your family member is now in the operating room,” “The procedure has now started.” All is the kind of high-level care we’ve come to expect, yet in many ways help only has to be small to be big: the kindness of the cab d ­ rivers or the care of a surgeon, who after 4½ hours of surgery took time to sketch it all out for me on the back of a file folder. When the glamour of a place like New York comes off, all that matters are ­kindness and skill, willing hands and willing hearts that heal. Emily’s pastor, John Starke, had said the day before, “If you experience the gospel, you never get over the sense of relief, of being rescued.” But we do. We forget the kingdom is a hospital ward, not a resort. We forget the pageant of need is the business of God. Until it’s one of our own needing rescue. And for God the heavenly Father, that’s how it always is, one of His own laid out on a table, stumbling from a cab, or confined to a wheelchair. Emily, you’ll be glad to know, is making a good recovery. And we are left to remember undeserved, unexpected kindness. In the cab going through dark, rainy streets on the evening of her discharge, the driver looked back at her through the rearview mirror and said, “I’ll be careful over the bumps.” A


Volunteers receive a briefing at the George Brown Convention Center that was turned into a shelter run by the American Red Cross to house victims of Hurricane Harvey.

CASTING CORPORATE BREAD UPON THE WATERS Amid flood damage from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, some big corporations are bankrolling a reportedly inefficient disaster relief organization— and discriminating against employees who support better options by SUSAN OLASKY in Houston

photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images October October 14, 2017 • WORLD 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine  Magazine  33 33


efore Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast on Aug. 25, a fleet of trucks from evangelical nonprofit Convoy of Hope (Springfield, Mo.) was on the road loaded with water, food, and hygiene kits. Two ­disaster teams from Samaritan’s Purse (Boone, N.C.) headed out on Aug. 26. Southern Baptists, with churches scattered throughout the affected area, quickly activated chainsaw teams that cleared roads and removed fallen trees. ¶ National media noticed. A USA Today headline trumpeted the work of religious charities: “Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery … at essentially no cost to the government.” Even The New York Times praised “Samaritans of all cloths—family members, friends, co-workers, volunteers from near and far, and an array of faith-based groups. … Those who appeared within hours … as if by spontaneous generation, ranged in age from 6 to 77. … Many were evangelical Christians.”

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Samaritan’s Purse volunteers clear debris in Victoria, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey.

‘If anyone wants to send [Red Cross] money, don’t waste your time, don’t waste your money. Send it to other causes.’ —Dave Martin, Houston city councilman

of 158 major corporations that had pledged $157 million for Harvey relief. About 75 percent of the companies directed donations—including their matches of employee contributions—to the Red Cross. These successful companies would not keep writing checks to suppliers that produced faulty materials, so why do they support ­mediocrity in disaster relief?


o answer that question we need to peer into what may be the 21st century’s greatest lobbying success story so far. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBT-advocacy group, owns a 60,000-square-foot, glass-walled building on Rhode Island Avenue in the heart of Washington, D.C. Inside, 150 HRC staffers over the past 14 years have planned the campaigns that helped to change American hearts and minds.


Governmental leaders—Republicans like Vice President Mike Pence, Democrats like North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, and emergency ­management pros like FEMA head Brock Long— referred potential volunteers and donors to National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. NVOAD is the umbrella organization for 62 disaster relief groups, including some—like Samaritan’s Purse and the PCA’s Mission to North America—that require staffers to agree with a statement of belief. Those groups were winners in the race to help the hurricane-ravaged. The big loser was the American Red Cross. Over the past 12 years critics from both left and right have pummeled the Goliath-sized organization because of its inept response to Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and the Haiti earthquake. Its well-funded but mediocre response to Harvey led both Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett to lambast the legacy nonprofit, which took in more than $300 million after Harvey and Irma. Houston city councilman Dave Martin was blunt about Red Cross failure: “I beg you not to send them a penny. They are the most inept, unorganized organization that I’ve ever experienced. … So, if anyone wants to send them money, don’t waste your time, don’t waste your money. Send it to other causes.” The story got worse when local station ABC13 sighted Red Cross vans parked outside the 5-star St. Regis Hotel. The nonprofit acknowledged it had housed 20 ­volunteers at the luxury hotel, and a Red Cross spokesman admitted, “It probably does send the wrong message.” (The rooms cost $179 per night, a discount rate, he added.) Yet, one sector of American society kept ­delivering bags full of money to the Red Cross. A week after Harvey, CNN Money published a list


The organization’s website says the building, which includes a “state-of-the-art multimedia production facility, … serves as evidence that HRC is here to stay.” Few observers of the past two decades doubt that. In 2002, the group issued its first Corporate Equality Index, a survey of 319 large companies. HRC gave high grades to companies with ­domestic-partnership health insurance and ­nondiscrimination policies regarding sexual ­orientation and gender identity/expression. Only 13 companies scored 100 percent. The next year, 21 companies received perfect scores. In those early days, HRC talked about fairness to all employees. A high score showed companies were interested in recruiting talent regardless of sexual preference. Each year more companies filled out the survey. In 2006, HRC rated 446 companies, and 136 earned a 100. Companies issued press releases to announce their perfect scores.

The Human Rights Campaign building in Washington, D.C. (above); Red Cross vans parked outside the St. Regis Hotel in Houston

Then HRC raised the bar, adding transgender-inclusive health coverage and more comprehensive domestic partnership benefits to the criteria. Corporations received points for LGBT marketing and ad campaigns and official corporate support for LGBT rights. Over time, HRC moved from advocating LGBT equality to demanding that ­corporations discriminate against ­suppliers, charities, and local and state governments that don’t bow to their demands. HRC continues to raise the bar. To earn a 100 in 2017, companies have to show both internal and public support for LGBT demands. They have to pledge to extend their pro-LGBT policies to global operations, although how that works in Muslim countries is not clear. For decades most large corporations, unsurprisingly, have not made grants to churches, but to satisfy HRC demands they must prohibit philanthropic giving to relief or anti-poverty groups that maintain Biblical standards. HRC now demands that corporations consider LGBT persons part of a “Protected Class.” Companies that ­follow HRC’s line include household names such as McDonald’s, State Farm, DuPont, UPS, Allstate, Caterpillar, FedEx, and Apple—but there are a few exceptions. Home Depot listed Operation Blessing and Convoy of Hope among the groups receiving its $1 million post-­ Harvey donation. Walmart listed Convoy of Hope as among nonprofits to which it would send cash and products. Pharmaceutical company McKesson donated to World Vision. I contacted HRC to ask what philanthropic policies it expects corporations to follow after natural disasters. It did not respond by press time.

October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 35

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The entrance to the Human Rights Campaign building in Washington, D.C.

‘No regular, independent evaluations are conducted of the impact or effectiveness of the Red Cross’s disaster services.’ —From the 2015 federal Government Accountability Office report

heavy funding, despite its poor record in disaster after disaster. In C.S. Lewis’ Narnia tales, children learn that the great lion Aslan, a stand-in for Jesus, is not safe, but he’s good. The Red Cross now is not good, but from a corporate perspective it’s safe.


here’s a sad history here. In the 19th century the cross was a significant part of the Red Cross name. In the 20th century the organization secularized, but a corporate contribution to it would still help both people in need and a company’s reputation. In the 21st century many see the Red Cross as a bloated bureaucracy, but those not in the know think better of a company that gives, even if ineffectively. Those in the know say the American Red Cross is not clear on what it does with annual revenues in excess of $2.6 billion. In 2015 the ­federal Government Accountability Office reported, “No regular, independent evaluations are conducted of the impact or effectiveness of


Based on the written record, it’s clear that c­ orporations desiring a top score have to go way beyond fairness in employment. They have to ­discriminate against Christian organizations and label those groups as discriminatory. They have to take public positions against legislation HRC sees as anti-LGBT. They have to pressure suppliers and philanthropies to adopt HRC’s view, and cut off those that decline. The 515 corporations that earned a perfect HRC score in 2017 have incorporated strict bans on donations to groups HRC calls “discriminatory.” When HRC applies this requirement to relief organizations, it’s important to note that this isn’t discrimination in helping: None of the NVOAD groups, religious or secular, turn away anyone in need. The “discrimination” lies in insisting, for example, that a Christian should head a Christian organization. Knock out evangelical groups, though, and the result is a huge gap. Many consumers expect big companies to step up in times of need, and many corporate executives want to do so out of a desire to help, a desire to gain public relations points, or both. That’s why the American Red Cross enjoys


the Red Cross’s disaster services.” Informal ­evaluations have been scathing. Nevertheless, the list of corporations that played it safe with HRC after Harvey by writing a check to the Red Cross is long. Here are just five of the M’s listed by CNN Money: Mastercard, Mazda, McDonald’s, MetLife, and MillerCoors. We’re not talking about small change: PepsiCo, Phillips 66, Shell, and Valero each threw $1 million into Red Cross coffers. In defense of those companies, the American Red Cross does do some useful things, despite what critics say. On Sept. 21 a spokeswoman   @susanolasky

Evacuees fill up cots at a shelter in Houston run by the American Red Cross for victims of Hurricane Harvey (left); the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

responded to WORLD inquiries by saying the Red Cross had deployed more than 2,900 disaster workers in Texas and Louisiana. That number included volunteers from faith-based groups like Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Seventh-day Adventists. When the Red Cross asked Southern Baptists to cook food for people staying in Red Cross shelters, it paid for that food. The Red Cross sometimes served as a pass-through to smaller front-line organizations, and took a 9 percent cut for overhead. Many companies try to combine helping outsiders and improving the morale of insiders by matching personal contributions (and sometimes volunteer hours) of employees, but even here American Express, Campbell Soup, and other companies insisted on Red Cross or nothing, according to CNN Money. QVC and TD Ameritrade reportedly went even further, saying they would match some customer or client donations—but only if those donations were to the Red Cross. It’s important to note that Christian disaster relief organizations are not out begging for ­corporate funding. But since corporations ­advertise matching grant programs as part of ­corporate good citizenship, it’s odd they would tell one group of employees, “Groups reflecting your beliefs don’t qualify.” WORLD contacted UPS, Microsoft, Pfizer, Delta, DuPont, State Farm, Caterpillar, and FedEx for clarification on what groups they exclude from matching grant programs. None of them responded by press time. “Cast your bread upon the waters,” Chapter 11 of Ecclesiastes advises, “for you will find it after many days.” Good advice for individuals, but corporations that cast bread only to HRC-approved activities often see negative results. So, a question: Since leading companies have not become successful by wasting money within their business activities, aren’t executives a little abashed when they do so regarding disaster relief and other nonprofit activities? A —with reporting by Bonnie Pritchett October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 37


A powerful hurricane season brings dire warnings of global warming, but drastic reactions to uncertain climate models won’t fix the pressing needs of vulnerable storm victims BY JAMIE DEAN


38 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

Brian Merchant wrote, “Climate change denial should be a crime.” (Merchant even identified a section of the Texas penal code on “gross negligence” as a way to punish government officials skeptical of global warming’s effects.) After Hurricane Irma plowed into Florida two weeks later, a Washington Post editorial penned by three scientists declared: “Irma and Harvey should kill any doubt that climate change is real.” Even Pope Francis claimed the hurricanes proved the effects of climate change and warned, “If we do not turn back, we will go down.” Others weren’t so sure. Some say the science isn’t clear about whether climate change causes hurricanes or makes them worse. And commonsense preparations and tangible improvements to


ours after Hurricane Harvey deluged Houston with catastrophic flooding, some storm watchers blamed an unseen culprit for the storm’s massive destruction: global warming. More caustically, they heaped personal responsibility for the tragic loss of life and property on anyone skeptical that climate change caused the storm or made it so severe. Mark Hertsgaard of The Nation announced: “The victims of Hurricane Harvey have a murderer—and it’s not the storm.” Hertsgaard blamed global warming for Harvey’s severity, and he castigated anyone unsure or unwilling to take drastic measures to combat climate change: “Murder is murder, whether the murderers admit it or not.” After Harvey’s landfall, journalist

A geocolor satellite image taken on Sept. 7 shows the eye of Hurricane Irma (center) just north of the island of Hispaniola, with Hurricane Katia (left) in the Gulf of Mexico and Hurricane Jose (right) in the Atlantic Ocean.

WIND infrastructure remain the first line of defense against hurricanes and other disasters no man ultimately can control. Indeed, even as Harvey made landfall in August, officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wrote, “It is premature to conclude that human activities—and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming—have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity.” NOAA wasn’t denying the earth is warming: It was simply reporting that scientific data don’t support the notion that global warming caused the severe storms we’ve seen this hurricane season. It’s an important distinction in a ­contentious debate: It’s possible to acknowledge the climate is changing

without being convinced the results would be catastrophic or that our response should be apocalyptic. It’s also a timely discussion: As President Donald Trump considers whether to remain in the Paris climate accord, climate change activists use ­hurricanes as leverage to warn of disastrous consequences if the United States doesn’t commit to spending billions of more dollars on combating the possible effects of global warming around the world. History reminds us that severe storms devastated some of the same spots walloped by Harvey, Irma, and Maria—long before man-made climate change could have been the culprit. As debates continue over climate change, how can Christians prepare to be good

stewards—and good neighbors to those who will most need our help in the storms or other disasters yet to come?


eil Frank knows the history of storms. He’s watched them professionally for more than half a century. The retired meteorologist worked at the National Hurricane Center in Florida for 25 years and served as director of the center from 1974 to 1987. After moving to Texas, he worked as a meteorologist in Houston until his retirement in 2008. These days, he’s a fellow for the Cornwall Alliance—a network of Christian scholars and ­scientists—and he still gets calls from news stations when big hurricanes roll in. Frank watched Harvey’s deluge safely from his perch at home about 40 miles outside of Houston. October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 39

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(1) Galveston, 1900. (2) Florida Keys, 1935. (3) Residents at Cape Coral Shores memory care facility in Florida faced difficult living conditions without power after Irma.

Category 4 or 5 make landfall. In the 47 years before that, he says, the country endured 14 such storms. Given the history, he warns against using Harvey and Irma as a form of ­“single-issue myopia” to make the case for drastic measures toward combating climate change. Ryan Maue, a Florida-based research meteorologist, also warns against over­ reaction. His research—included in a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report—found that ­during the last 50 years, tropical storms and hurricanes did not show an upward trend in frequency. What about intensity? Some scientists and climate change activists say global warming may not cause individual storms, but they maintain that warmer conditions may make storms more severe. Maue notes that ­climate models predict over the next half century the world will see fewer but stronger storms. The key word is predict: As Cato Institute scholar Patrick Michaels points out, given the variability in hurricanes each year, it could take a half century to determine whether the models are correct. None of this means more megastorms won’t hit the United States. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Pielke, the Colorado scientist, wrote that history suggests we’ll experience more storms in the future, whatever one believes or doesn’t believe about climate change: “Because the world has experienced a remarkable period of good fortune when it comes to catastrophes, we are due.” (What some call good fortune, others know as God’s mercy.) The question then becomes: Where should we put scarce resources when preparing for future disasters? Fully implementing the Paris accord (aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions) could cost tens of trillions of dollars over the next 50 years. (Under President Barack Obama, the United States already pledged $3 billion to the

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fund, and President Trump is considering whether the United States should pull out of the agreement or renegotiate the terms.) What would the accord achieve? Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance has said the most optimistic outcome would lead to 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit of cooling: “It won’t save human lives.”


hat would save lives? Global warming’s effects on storms may be debatable, but most of the at least 50 deaths in Florida after Hurricane Irma came from clear-cut causes: In many cases, the loss of electricity. Authorities reported at least 11 ­people died from carbon monoxide ­poisoning, often caused by inhaling ­noxious fumes from running a generator during a loss of power. Eight residents of a Miami nursing home died from heat-related causes shortly after the storm knocked out a transformer that powered the center’s air-conditioning unit. Three other residents died later. Authorities are investigating whether the staff could have done more to save the residents’ lives. As other nursing homes and retirement centers struggled without power in a state where some 20 percent of the population is elderly, some staff members tried to keep residents cool with ice


When Frank, 86, compares Harvey and Irma to past hurricanes, he rattles off storms and corresponding years with ease. He likes to start with 1886: That’s the most active hurricane season on record in the United States, according to NOAA, with seven hurricanes making landfall, including one that wiped out Indianola, Texas. In 1893, another hurricane hit Louisiana, killing as many as 2,000 people. In 1900, an infamous Category 4 hurricane swamped Galveston, Texas, and killed at least 6,000 people in the booming coastal town. The year 1935 brought a Category 5 hurricane to the Florida Keys, knocking a train of departing workers off a set of railroad tracks. During the same year, another storm caused massive flooding in Houston, submerging swaths of downtown and closing the city’s port for eight months. Frank, who doesn’t think data shows global warming is making hurricanes more frequent or fierce, notes that all these storms struck before the major emissions of carbon dioxide that some modern scientists say contribute to ­similar storms today: “There were no SUVs in 1935.” Fierce storms continued, and the Houston area endured another round of flooding with Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979. The storm stalled out near the city—much like Hurricane Harvey this year—and it dumped some 43 inches of rain in 24 hours—approaching Harvey’s recent rainfall. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita rocked the Gulf Coast in 2005, climate activists warned more megastorms were sure to follow soon. Former Vice President Al Gore predicted in 2005 that the storms were the “first sip of a bitter cup” the country would drink year after year because of global warming. As it turned out, it would be 12 more years before another Category 3 storm would hit the United States: Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August as a Category 4. Roger Pielke, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, notes that since 1970, the United States has seen only four hurricanes ranked

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FRANK NOTES THAT ALL THESE STORMS STRUCK BEFORE THE MAJOR EMISSIONS OF CARBON DIOXIDE THAT SOME MODERN SCIENTISTS SAY CONTRIBUTE TO SIMILAR STORMS TODAY: ‘THERE WERE NO SUVS IN 1935.’ pops and cold compresses. Florida’s massive power outage left nearly half the state without service for days, with workers toiling around the clock to repair many aboveground lines. Roger Anderson, a senior research scientist at the Center for Computational Learning Systems at Columbia University, says the power grid is an important place to start in preparing for future disasters. In a commentary for CNN, he noted 60 percent of Florida’s power grid is above ground, which led to considerable damage and outages during Irma’s wind gusts. Since Hurricane Irma is one reminder of how easily a power outage could cripple a large population, Anderson suggests moving power to critical infrastructure underground in Florida and elsewhere: “While we cannot prevent every blackout, we can certainly speed up repair time and better deal with inclement weather (and terrorism) by putting these wires underground.” It’s certainly an expensive prospect: Florida Power & Light Co. gives a broad   @deanworldmag

estimate for the costs: anywhere from $500,000 to $4 million per mile. But selecting areas with vulnerable populations or critical infrastructure could be a first step. Other coastal communities might discuss whether to build higher seawalls—an effort Galveston successfully undertook after a hurricane in 1900 killed thousands there. More-complicated systems to divert water in the case of flooding are far more expensive. Houston has discussed developing a more complex system for years, but costs have been prohibitive. (The dilemma raises an even tougher question: Should residents build again in flood zones at all?) Finding practical ways to prepare for storms is particularly important for vulnerable populations that can’t or won’t leave. For example, major hurricanes bring excruciating decisions about whether to evacuate ailing residents from nursing homes. There are no easy answers. At least 80 people died in New

Orleans nursing homes during Hurricane Katrina’s flooding in 2005. A month later, 24 residents from a nursing home in Houston died in a bus fire while they tried to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Rita. A 2011 study led by a professor of medicine at Brown University found evacuating nursing home patients during emergencies later led to a higher rate of death and hospitalization than during normal periods. (Reasons vary from a higher likelihood of injury to developing potentially serious illnesses like pneumonia.) Nursing homes in Florida are required by state law to maintain emergency plans, generators, food, and water. But under the best of circumstances and care, it’s still a precarious decision and task. (And decisions must be made well ahead of storms’ landfalls in order to give staff time to evacuate fragile groups of people on already-packed roads.) Plenty of other elderly residents live alone. For them, dangerous storms can be especially treacherous if they aren’t connected to a wider community. Senior care services offer critical advice to these residents: Make yourself known to others. That’s also an especially pressing task for churches. David Acton of Christ Fellowship Miami said his church had gone doorto-door in nearby neighborhoods to check on vulnerable residents after Irma. That includes low-income areas where families may have lost critical food supplies during power outages. The church members distributed food boxes and made sure neighbors were OK. But that’s groundwork the church laid far ahead of the storm. Acton says the congregation has developed relationships with retirement communities, local schools, and low-income areas over a span of years through service projects and simple outreach programs. It’s allowed them to know where to find those in need and has established trust with those that need help. Acton says it’s something any church— large or small—should consider doing well before any disaster strikes. It’s a means of ongoing outreach, but it’s also a way to make sure they know they’re cared for: “We want them to know that neither God nor the church has forgotten them.” A October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 41


In a state known for legal assisted suicide, one terminally ill young woman instead chose to live each God-given day to its fullest

ESTHER’S STORY by SOPHIA LEE in Salem and Aumsville, Ore.

Esther Ybarra’s “Celebration of Life” memorial service in September began in the same manner in which she lived, according to friends: in worship. Along with sounds of guitars and song, the Salem, Ore., chapel where 600 mourners gathered to commemorate the young woman rang with occasional laughter as friends and family shared memories of one whose life had impacted so many. There were also sniffles and tissues as people lamented her short life—just 21 years. Esther died in Portland in July after a twoyear battle with cancer. When she was diagnosed with stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer, she was a 5-foot-10, 172pound college freshman with a six pack and dreams to play Division I volleyball. When she died, she was about 100 pounds with a broken body—yet those who watched her die say she was the strongest woman they’d ever met. Esther’s story has parallels with that of Brittany Maynard, who three years ago became 42 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

the face of “right to die” advocacy when she died at age 29. Both were young, vivacious women facing terminal cancer during their prime years. But their legacies reveal starkly different views on life and death. Maynard chose to end her life under Oregon’s assisted suicide law, viewing her decision as “death with dignity.” Esther chose to live her last days to the fullest “for the glory of God.” Maynard said she would avoid “fear, uncertainty, and pain” by dying “on my own terms.” Esther decided to “lay everything at the feet of Jesus”—including fear, uncertainty, and pain. One said her suffering would be a “nightmare scenario” for family members. The other learned to comfort and exhort family and friends through her suffering. At Esther’s memorial service, her father, Ron Suelzle, teared up seeing how many people showed up. “Hi, I’m Esther’s dad, and I’m proud to be Esther’s dad for 22 years,” he said, breaking down.

1 2

(1) Esther and Jacob on their wedding day. (2) Teresa and Ron Suelzle with Esther’s high-school senior photo. (3) Esther and Jacob with their son Thaddeus.


44 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

ever get married? Will a man ever love me?” When she had to stop working out or taking classes, she got anxious and restless. She asked, “Why is this happening? Why did God allow me to get cancer?” But Esther trusted that God had also prepared good things. The day she first returned home from the hospital, a storm rolled in and killed the power in the house. That night, after a long drive through gushing rain and howling winds, Esther and her parents returned to discover that

church friends had set up generators to light the house, warmed the place with fresh f­irewood, and cleaned Esther’s ­bedroom, freshening it with crisp linens. Kindness poured in: To help pay for Esther’s medical bills, her high school raised about $3,500. The College of Idaho heard her story and raised over $4,000. Through GoFundMe, a crowdfunding platform, the Suelzles raised $20,000 in a week. When a friend heard that Esther wanted a German shepherd, he started a fundraiser to get her one. Esther named the puppy Keoni, which means “God is gracious.” One night, Ron Suelzle asked his daughter how she was doing. “God took away everything that was important to me,” she replied. “He took away my ability to play volleyball, work out, go to school, and my hair. All I have left is God, my family, and my friends, and I’ve never been better.” Esther made no plans for death. She was undergoing cancer treatment when she met Jacob Ybarra, a track-and-field athlete at Corban. On their first date at Red Lobster on Valentine’s Day, Esther was as bald as The Rock, and still finding her identity without sports and school. Jacob saw through her bravado: “She was a scared girl with a really, really strong shell. She acted like she was real tough and can do everything by herself, but she really needed help.” Jacob liked Esther. Even though she had lost her muscle ­definition and hair, he liked being with her. A year into their relationship, he took her to a park decorated with her favorite The Suelzle family in 2016


Later, Suelzle told me he regretted his introduction: “I should have said, ‘Hi, I’m a Christian, and God has given me the privilege of being Esther’s father.’” That’s something Esther taught him: Even when people fussed over her in a hospital room, she always reminded them that Jesus should be their focus. “Her legacy is not one of despair,” one friend told mourners at the memorial, encouraging them to “choose joy every day”— as Christ did. Esther Ruth Suelzle Ybarra was born on Oct. 3, 1995, in a Portland suburb, the oldest of seven ­children of Ron and Teresa Suelzle, a high-school teacher and a homemaker. She was full of life even before she was born, seemingly dancing in her mother’s womb during worship time at church. As a child, she loved twirling around the living room, hands on hips, feet kicking high, never losing her smile even when she fell. At 2 years old she used cabinet drawers to climb up to the bathroom sink to brush her teeth, and told her surprised father, “I’m capable.” That drive and independence grew in her teenage years as she began competitive sports. She taped lists of goals and motivational quotes to the ceiling above her upper-bunk bed: “Pain is weakness ­leaving the body.” “No excuses.” “If I want to WIN, I will work harder.” She went to her high-school gym almost every evening and was the only female who joined all the football drills. By her junior year, Esther could squat 225 pounds and benchpress over 155. Her one “cheat day” was Friday, when she indulged in a bowl of vanilla ice cream. The hard work paid off, at least outwardly: Esther’s school district named her Female Athlete of the Year, and Corban University offered her scholarships to play collegiate volleyball. But at times, Esther felt her ambitions overriding her faith: She wondered if she had room for God, and once even asked Him to leave her heart. Then one Saturday morning, barely two months into college, everything changed. Esther was at her college dorm when her back suddenly collapsed. She was so paralyzed with pain that it took an hour for the EMT to get her into an ambulance. The next three days were a whirlwind of bad news: Scan results showed a strangely fractured T12 vertebra. Biopsy tests came back malignant. Then a team of doctors walked in with worse news: stage 4 cancer. Ron and Teresa Suelzle stood frozen by Esther’s bed, barely able to comprehend what was happening. Here they were, a nice churchgoing family leading “a fairy-tale life,” suddenly receiving the worst possible news about their 19-year-old firstborn. “My head was swimming,” Teresa Suelzle recalled. “At that point, we felt like we had hit bottom.” Esther, meanwhile, sat on her bed in silence for a few seconds. She looked up, looked back at the doctors, then leaned forward to shake their hands. “I want to thank you for telling me,” she said. “That must have been difficult for you.” She was not always so composed. When radiation treatments soon caused her thick, glossy chestnut-brown hair to fall out, she fretted like any woman would. When her then-suitor decided not to pursue a relationship with her, she wept: “Will I


me she was the most joyful person in the room, often wiping the tears of ‘Esther’s greatest others and asking how she could pray for them. “She fully trusted strength was what was supposed to happen, and her relationship that was the most beautiful thing I with Jesus.’ had ever seen,” said her cousin Kim Klaus. –JACOB YBARRA Esther’s three sisters and three brothers said that before the cancer, they looked up to a sister strong in body and mind, always busy meeting her goals. But after she got sick, Esther spent more quality time with her siblings. “She learned how to be instead of always doing,” said her 20-year-old sister, Elizabeth. Thirteen-year-old Marilyn said, “Just by the way she lived, giving up everything for Christ, she really inspired me.” Before Esther died, she called her siblings to her side and urged each one to pursue Jesus. On July 24, 2017, three weeks after Thaddeus died, Esther drew her last breath in the presence of her family. When she yellow roses, got down on one knee, and asked her to marry opened her eyes for the last time, her father exclaimed, “She’s him. She answered an enthusiastic yes. waking up!” Esther looked at him, and he realized she was At the time, her cancer had gone into remission. But soon ­saying goodbye. He whispered, “Esther, don’t die!” She made after the engagement, doctors found new tumors in her lungs. several gasps for air, closed her eyes, and never woke up. She and Jacob married anyway in October 2016. They were When I visited Esther’s family at their farmhouse in good for each other: At times Jacob returned home to find Aumsville, Ore., grief was still fresh and pungent. They knew Esther in tears because she couldn’t finish the housework, and God had a good purpose and knew Esther was in a better place. he taught her it was OK to rest. Other times, he came home to They knew she had left behind something life-changing. So find his wife deep in prayer, and he sought to enjoy such intihow to continue life—the mundane activities of breakfast, work, macy with God as well. “Esther’s greatest strength was her and chores—without the one who touched the most tender part ­relationship with Jesus,” Jacob said. “He was the only reason of their souls? she could still sing, still fight.” I spent over seven hours with the family members as they Doctors three times told Esther she had zero chance of ferrelived memories—some fun, some hilarious, all bittersweet. tility. In April 2017, Esther began to feel strange—but not cancer They showed me pictures of Esther in diapers and prom strange. She took a pregnancy test, then another to make sure— dresses, played videos of birthdays and sickness. “She was my both said positive. They named the growing baby Thaddeus. crown jewel, my star child, my sidekick,” Ron Suelzle said, By then, Esther had stopped cancer treatments since they recalling all the hours he spent tossing balls with her. didn’t seem to be helping. Her health worsened as the pregHe also recognized that mixed with his love for her were nancy progressed. Her weight dropped, and she had trouble pride and idolatry: “I’ve identified myself for so much of my life breathing as fluid built up in her lungs and heart. Jacob helped as Esther’s dad.” Now he’s struggling with the same question drain the fluids at home until, one morning, she started hemorGod asked Abraham: “Will you give your most precious gift to rhaging. The next night at the hospital, she lost Thaddeus. He God?” At one point in my visit, he said he couldn’t wait to go to was 13 weeks old, about 3 inches long, with intact organs and heaven to see Esther again, then corrected himself: “No, I can’t perfectly formed fingers and toes—a miracle boy through whom wait to go to heaven to see God.” Esther experienced the heartbreak of motherhood at age 21. Jacob Ybarra is also processing his grief. He no longer sleeps She was still recuperating when she heard a crack in her in the bedroom he shared with Esther, but in the living room femur. The tumor had spread. on a mattress, close to her dog Keoni. Once Esther’s faithful Under Oregon law, with her terminal illness, Esther at this companion, Keoni is now the reason Jacob gets up early in the point could have requested a lethal dose of drugs and ended her morning. life. Since the state’s “Death with Dignity Act” passed in 1997, At age 24, Ybarra grieves as a widower and bereaved father, more than 1,100 Oregonians have done so. but says he’s not mad or disappointed: “Esther did get healed— Instead, even in agonizing pain, Esther sang “What a Friend she got healed better. I saw a lot of miracles and crazy things We Have in Jesus” and asked each doctor and nurse if he or she happen.” He didn’t own Esther: “I just got to spend time with knew Jesus Christ. her for a little while.” He then smiled. “She was amazing. I “They were concerned about saving her life, but she was mean, I lived with her, and I’m still trying to figure out what ­trying to save their souls,” Jacob recalled. Hospital visitors told happened. Do you see?” A   @sophialeehyun

October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 45




dozens of parents arranged their brightly colored umbrellas along the soccer pitch at Capistrano Valley High School (CVHS). Many left work to mark the beginning of a series of “lasts”: their sons’ last soccer season, the last set of school pictures, and all too soon, the last day of high school. But these parents were worried about more than letting go. Many were also concerned that their teens are not exchanging “lasts” for crucial “firsts”—more specifically, their first job. In 1987, 57 percent of teenagers ages 16 through 19 spent their summers washing cars, serving ice cream, or lifeguarding at swimming pools. Parents viewed jobs as a rite of passage and a character-building endeavor. For many, the extra money helped pay for college. Fast-forward 30 years: The share of kids working has fallen more than 20 percentage points. A quick poll of the CVHS varsity soccer team confirmed national trends. Ten of the 24 players said they had secured summer jobs, but two of the kids who raised their hands were stretching the definition of “work”: They had completed referee training but hadn’t officiated any games. That left eight out of 24—close to the 36 percent national average. One theory behind the vanishing teenage job is laziness, but the team data from last spring showed the opposite: The vast majority are scholar athletes with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.8 or higher. Parent coddling is another theory, but most of the parents I spoke to wanted their teens to work, rattling off a list of benefits—including accountability, perseverance, and self-reliance. They were exasperated by their sons’ failure to land jobs.

So why is the teenage job disappearing? Economists at the Brookings Institution cite competition from elderly workers remaining in the workforce. Others point to immigrant workers taking jobs teenagers used to take, and still others say high minimum wage laws are eliminating entry-level work. A tight job market means finding a job today often requires grit from the teen and both coaching and ­persistence from parents. Kim Harvey has 16-year-old twins who play for the San Clemente High School soccer team; one found a ­summer job, the other one didn’t. Harvey said her son’s job quest lacked diligence, so she and her husband took away his Xbox and told him it was time to begin paying for some of his expenses. April Allen also has 16-year-old twin boys. She ­confiscated all of her sons’ electronic devices—including cell phones—until they found jobs. “They don’t believe us that you have to fill out several applications and do several interviews. They don’t think we know anything.” Marcia and Wally Nelson are parents of the third set of twins I encountered at the soccer game. When their boys—high-school seniors at CVHS—became injured and quit club soccer, the Nelsons told them it was time to get a job. “Too much time on their hands is not good,” Marcia Nelson said. The Nelsons began with some coaching: Visit local businesses, follow their instructions to apply online, then make follow-up calls and request an interview. One of their sons got a job at a local movie theater, but the other one struggled. “He was obstinate, and just did not want to call. He said, ‘If they want me, they’ll call me,’” Wally Nelson explained, noting his boys’ “cringe-worthy”


October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 47

0 BUT NOT ALL TEENAGERS ARE LOOKING FOR jobs. Many of the soccer players told me they were too busy with club sports, vacations, camps, church activities, and the hysteria surrounding college acceptance. According to team data from April, at least 13 of the CVHS summer varsity soccer players had above a 4.0 GPA for excelling in advanced placement classes, and one incoming senior took an architecture class 48 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

over the summer at a community ­college. At least six were enrolled in SAT boot camps or tutoring, and many of the seniors were ­finishing up their recommended 40 hours of volunteer work. Are teens missing out on the character-boosting benefits of work when they spend all their time creating flashy college applications? Karen Lee, a college prep adviser at College Conquest, thinks so. “When it comes to really humbling them and having different layers in their personality, I think work speaks to a different experience. You’re being paid for this, and you have that expected responsibility put on you by the employer. So you have to do the things they are asking.” She says the application process alone is “phenomenal” for helping them grow up. Still, some parents encourage their teens to prioritize acceptance to an elite institution—including state universities with a reputable education and affordable tuition—and competition for those spots is fierce. The average incoming freshman GPA at the University of California in San Diego is 4.1, and only 34 percent of applicants are admitted. Other prestigious universities across the nation are even more selective, generating a frantic marketplace of college admissions. So I asked Lee the following question: If three students with equal grades and SAT scores apply to competitive universities, but one has worked, another traveled to third-world countries, and a third created an outreach to the homeless, who has the best Twin brothers Kaio (left) and Lukas Nelson (opposite page) at their respective jobs


phone skills and the necessity of talking them through each conversation. His son Lukas eventually made some calls and got a lead at a local fast-food restaurant. The manager asked if he could alter his hours of availability, so he changed his application. This is when the real battle of wills began between father and son: Nelson insisted on a follow-up call, but Lukas was sure that one call was enough. He eventually agreed to call again and reported the results to his parents. But his mom was suspicious. “My wife said he didn’t call. This is right in front of us. I check his phone, and he didn’t dial at all,” Wally Nelson said with a chuckle. “He was scared. Just plain scared.” The parents persisted, verified that Lukas was on the phone with a real person, and listened as a manager granted their son an interview. Eventually, he got the job. The boys are now ­paying for their own gas, competing to see who saves the most money, and planning for a trip together after graduation. They enjoy their jobs and are working on the weekends during the school year. The nagging, these parents said, was worth it.

chance of acceptance? “I don’t think one experience o ­ utdoes the other. What they want to see is character development, but they want to see that in terms of the application and the essay and how you develop it, more so than what you achieved.” She pointed to a subtle shift in admissions last year after Harvard produced “Turning the Tide”—a document signed by more than 80 schools and organizations stating they would no longer look for overachievers. “I don’t know if I believe that,” Lee said, “but something has changed.” Some of her students wrote in their college applications about shaping moments on the job, and their essays turned out well, Lee said. And applicants can showcase employment in other ways: The Common Application—which students can send to any of the 731 member colleges and universities— allows the applicant to list work as an activity. Some of the state university applications want to know if you worked and where you spent your money. Lee meets with some of the students she counsels on a weekly basis beginning in middle school, and many of those parents want—and even expect—Ivy League results. But Lee has greater goals for her students than acceptance at elite ­universities, and that sometimes puts her at odds with parents. She wants her students—many of whom come from affluent families in Irvine, Calif.—ready for the real-world challenges they will face in college and beyond. Work, she says, is one of the best ways to prepare them for life. This echoes advice from U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in his book The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming of Age Crisis—   @WorldNels

and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance: “We should be figuring out how to help build them a menu of really hard tasks to tackle.” The goal, Sasse writes, is “not to make life hard but to give them a realistic sense of what life is like ­outside the nest.” Sasse sent his 14-year-old daughter to work on a ranch for a summer and tweeted about her “hard tasks”—including coiling barbed wire and castrating bull calves. This may not be realistic work for most teens, but Lee encourages all of her students to find jobs, especially those from affluent families. She shared the story of two sisters who never lifted a finger around the home. Working in an ice cream shop helped prepare them for life without mom waiting on them. Another one of her students had a privileged childhood in a wealthy family. His job at a fast-food restaurant opened his eyes to the struggles of other classes when he met and befriended employees supporting families with their paychecks. Lee pointed out other valuable lessons her students learned through employment: tackling tasks that aren’t fun, problemsolving when new situations arise, and dealing with disgruntled customers. Work also prepared them for adversity. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, the “persistence rate is ­falling fast” among college students, with as many as 1 in 3 freshmen not returning to any school for their sophomore year. It may be time for parents to beef up that menu of “really hard tasks” during the teenage years, and finding a job could be a good start. A October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 49


LOST FAMILIES, LONGING HEARTS International adoptees from China, now adults, often grow curious about their hometowns and birth parents—and some make the trip back by JUNE CHENG || photo by Christopher Capozziello/Genesis

50 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017


he first time 23-year-old Charlotte Cotter spoke with her Chinese birth parents over the Skype telephone app last summer, she had a list of questions prepared: Why did you give me up? Do I have any siblings? Did you give me a Chinese name before you ­abandoned me? What was your life like in Zhenjiang city in eastern China? She also wanted to tell them that she was doing well, that she was now a senior at Yale University, and that she didn’t hate them for abandoning her: She understood how China’s one-child policy had placed many couples in extremely difficult situations. With the help of a Chinese reporter, Cotter tracked down a couple who claimed to be her biological parents. Days later, they agreed to a Skype chat, since Cotter was still in America. The reporter helped translate Cotter’s questions into the couple’s Huai’an dialect, and Cotter got her answers: Her birth parents were farmers living in a mud hut at the time she was born. Cotter was their third daughter. With little money to spare (couples had to pay a fine for each extra child), they decided to give up their baby girl in order to keep trying for a son who could help with farm work. The birth parents heard of a military family in a nearby city who wanted to adopt a girl, so they arranged a drop-off. They placed the 40-day-old baby on the steps of a residential building where an intermediary was supposed to pick her up and deliver her to her new home. Instead, unbeknownst to the birth parents, a stranger found the baby first and brought her to a police station. From there she was placed in the local orphanage. Four months later, she was flying to Boston with her new American parents. Until the reporter tracked down Cotter’s On Cotter’s desk: birth parents, they a photo of Cotter thought their (standing, second daughter was from left) with her biological growing up two family, including cities away. They her oldest watched a reality sister’s baby, at TV show about a restaurant in reconnecting birth Zhenjiang, China

families with missing daughters, hoping to catch a glimpse of their own daughter. When they finally learned she had grown up in the United States, they were shocked. Three weeks after the Skype call, Cotter returned to her Chinese hometown, tailed by news cameras, and met about 60 of her relatives. She couldn’t stop staring at everyone around her, marveling at how much they looked like her. Cotter noticed she and her sister had similar hands, and all her family members were short, just like her. Like many girls ­abandoned in China, she also had a younger brother—the male child Chinese parents often strived for. “Dad has wronged you,” her birth father said tearfully during their reunion, according to Chinese news reports. “Welcome home.”


ince China began allowing U.S. adoption in 1991, American families have taken in more than 88,000 Chinese children, mostly girls. Twenty-six years later, the oldest girls have come of age and are asking questions: Who are my birth parents? Why did they give me up? Many of the girls are now making the journey back to China to better understand their heritage and, in some cases, to find their biological parents. Some, like Cotter, are able to reunite with family members. Others struggle to find them amid a mass of regretful Chinese birth parents, pressured to give up their babies years ago under the country’s former one-child policy. (It now has a two-child policy, and the rate of abandonment has declined.) In the 2011 documentary Somewhere Between, director Linda Goldstein Knowlton followed four Chinese adoptees, all teenage girls, as they searched for their identity and contemplated the differences—both cultural and socio-­ economic—between their birth and adoptive families. (Most Chinese parents who abandoned their daughters are from poorer areas of the country. Wealthy Chinese families could afford to pay the fines for extra children.) Knowlton created the film after adopting her daughter Ruby from China. As a mother, she wanted to October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 51

understand the identity struggles her daughter would one day face. One girl highlighted in the film, Jenna Cook, then 15 years old and excelling at an elite private school in New Hampshire, described how her perfectionist tendencies arose from a desire to prove herself worthy of the family that had abandoned her. When Cook was a rising junior at Yale in 2012, she received a grant to ­document her search for her birth ­parents in Wuhan. Accompanied by her adoptive mother, she handed out flyers with her photos and the time and ­location where she was found: March 24, 1992, at a busy Wuhan bus station. The story went viral, with local news­ papers, TV stations, and Chinese social media buzzing about her search. Hundreds of people reached out to Cook, and she ended up meeting 50 birth families, “each of which had left a baby on one single street in Wuhan in March 1992,” Cook wrote in a Foreign

Cook posts flyers while searching for her birth parents in Wuhan (left); Haley Butler, one of the four Chinese adoptees featured in Somewhere Between, and director Linda Goldstein Knowlton pose at the premiere.

Policy article. During heart-wrenching interviews, she chatted with each family to learn what led them to abandon their daughter, while also looking for physical resemblances to see if they were indeed related. A total of 37 families took DNA tests, but Cook never found a match. Cotter, who found her birth parents within a week of searching, said she sometimes feels guilty that she found them so quickly while many other ­adoptees continue to look. From a young age, Cotter’s adoptive parents took her to Chinese cultural events hosted by a group of families with adopted daughters from China: Together they’d celebrate Chinese New Year and eat mooncakes during Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. At 14, Cotter visited China for the first time for a summer program. Later in the year she made another trip to visit her orphanage and the spot where she was found as a baby. Several travel agencies focus specifically on China heritage trips, bringing adoptees and their adoptive families to visit Chinese tourist attractions to learn about Chinese culture— and also to visit their specific orphanage and their “finding spot.” Some groups bring along counselors and facilitate

­ iscussions among adoptees to help them d process their emotional journey. Soon after her China trip, Cotter wanted to connect with a community of Chinese adoptees who could understand her situation and experiences, but she felt aged out of the networks and cultural events she grew up attending. She found a small Facebook group started by fellow adoptee Laney Allison, and together they formed China’s Children International in 2011. The organization puts out ­newsletters, plans volunteer trips back to Chinese orphanages, organizes ­mentorship programs, and helps ­connect Chinese adoptees. Cotter had never thought seriously about searching for her birth parents, but when her friend and fellow adoptee confided that she wanted to go back to China to search, Cotter decided to join her. She created a poster with her photo and what she knew about her birth and orphanage, and placed it on Chinese social media. A Chinese reporter saw Cotter’s post and reached out to her, offering to help find her family. While flipping through Cotter’s adoption file, the reporter found a note: a vaccination record for Cotter as a newborn. The reporter then contacted


52 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017



the hospital and tracked down the name and contact info of the parent who brought Cotter to the hospital. As it turned out, Cotter’s birth parents ­happened to live at the same address as they did 20 years earlier—albeit with a new house, a sign of the family’s improved financial condition and China’s economic growth. At first, Cotter wasn’t certain the couple were actually her parents—sometimes families come forward to claim an adoptee for financial reasons, or they get their missing daughter mixed up with another. But after a DNA test confirmed a match, Cotter was a bundle of emotions. She was happy to find them, yet felt overwhelmed learning about her previously unknown family background. “It was hard to take in because it felt surreal,” she said. “I was glad to find them and let them know that I’m doing well … and I was able to see that they were doing OK too.”


ot all adoptees are so interested in their origins, as Kay Andrus realized about her daughter Claire. In

1997, Andrus and her husband, Mike, flew to a small town near Shenzhen in southern China to pick up Claire, who had lived for 15 months in a local orphanage. Her birth parents had left her on the steps of a grain factory when she was just two days old, and Andrus believes Claire had never stepped foot outside the orphanage walls until the day they adopted her. Soon afterward they brought Claire and her adopted brother Aaron with them to Cameroon, where the couple served as missionaries with Wycliffe, a Bible translation organization. Ever the extrovert, Claire became the life of the party in the small villages where Andrus and her husband worked. “We were known by the villagers as ‘Claire’s parents,’” Andrus said. Five years later the family moved back to Tallahassee, Fla. Andrus said her daughter never showed interest in China or in finding her birth parents, but simply considered herself an American. On the other hand, her brother Aaron, who was adopted domestically, was always curious about

his birth mother: Andrus had the name of the birth mother, and she agreed to a meeting with her son. Recently Claire, now 20, has become more receptive to the idea as well. She agreed to visit China later this year to get to know her roots: The family plans to tour the major cities in China, then extend their stay for three days to visit the area where she was found. Claire’s orphanage has already been torn down and rebuilt, yet Andrus believes it’s a journey her daughter is now ready to make. The trip is likely to be an “emotional and wild rite of passage,” Andrus said. She struggles to imagine what Claire’s parents must have gone through. “It’s a terrible thing when I think that we were able to get Claire because some mother in China was forced to give her up,” Andrus said. “I know that was a heart-wrenching decision for her, she must still think about her daughter. … I just know she wonders whatever’s become of her.” A Cotter on the Yale University campus

October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 53



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Beijing’s heavy hand

THE JAILING OF HONG KONG’S YOUNG PRO-DEMOCRACY LEADERS  by Erica Kwong & June Cheng in Hong Kong On Aug. 17, the Chinese government dropped all pretenses of allowing autonomy in Hong Kong by sentencing


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its first political prisoners in the former British ­colony: Joshua Wong, 20, Nathan Law, 24, and Alex Chow, 27, will serve six to

eight months in prison for leading the 2014 prodemocracy Umbrella Movement protest. “Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Alex Chow, and other Umbrella Movement protesters are pro-democracy champions worthy of admiration,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, chairman of the U.S. CongressionalWong is detained during a protest at a monument symbolizing the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule.

Executive Commission on China. “The political prosecutions and resentencing of these young people is shameful and further evidence that Hong Kong’s cherished autonomy is ­precipitously eroding.” While Wong is the most well-known internationally, appearing on the cover of Time in 2014 as “The Face of Protest,” Chow was another main organizer of the Occupy Central campaign and the secretarygeneral of the Hong Kong Federation of Students. October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 55



56 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

nitely would not take to the streets,” Wong wrote in his 2013 book I Am Not a Hero. “Without faith, I ­definitely would not participate in activism. Without faith, I would not even be aware of how we should find our value and know that everyone is equal, loved by God, and should be treated equally.” Wong co-founded in 2016 the pro-democracy political party Demosistō, which supports self-­ determination (the belief that Hong Kong citizens should decide for themselves how Hong Kong should be ­governed after it is fully returned to China in 2047). The Sino-British treaty stated that after the 1997 handover, China would give Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years. This is a promise China has been more and more shameless in breaking in recent years. Wong fears what will become of Hong Kong’s historically robust religious

freedom. Churches are now a common sight in Hong Kong, and mainland Chinese Christians cross the border to attend large conferences and evangelism trainings here. “Without a sound, democratic system, we don’t even have freedom of religion,” Wong said in 2014. “We don’t even have the chance to evangelize publicly.” Demosistō member Derek Lam recently wrote a New York Times op-ed titled “I Won’t Make Jesus Bow Down to Xi Jinping.” He wrote that he has wanted to be a pastor since he was 16 and studies theology at Chinese University of Hong Kong, yet he fears he may soon be imprisoned and barred from becoming a pastor. Authorities arrested Lam after he led a protest against Beijing’s involvement in kicking out pro-democracy legislators. “Although there is ­nothing I would love more than to become a pastor and preach the gospel in

Wong, Law, and Chow (from left to right) in 2016 outside the Eastern Court in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, I will never do so if it means making Jesus subservient to [Chinese President] Xi Jinping,” Lam wrote, noting that even Christian youth camps in Hong Kong include the waving of China’s flag, singing of its national anthem, and praising of the “motherland.” “I will continue to fight for religious freedom in Hong Kong, even if I have to do it from behind bars.” Chan Sze-chi, senior lecturer of religion and philosophy at Hong Kong Baptist University, believes the recent sentencing is an ominous sign of Beijing’s frustration with Hong Kong democracy activists: “The Communists are taking revenge. It’s Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. It’s certainly politically motivated with complicity of the judiciary.” A Give the gift of clarity:


Law, who succeeded Chow as the secretary-general, went on to win a seat in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in 2016, yet the Chinese government disqualified him from the position after he altered the wording of the oath of office during his swearingin ceremony. Wong is open about his Christian faith and how it catalyzed his activism against Beijing’s tightening control over Hong Kong. Growing up in a Christian home, Wong learned about evangelism from his father. With his church, Wong ­distributed rice dumplings and mooncakes to the needy. In the 2017 documentary Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, Wong recalls visiting and praying for a poor family when he was 13 and returning the following year to find their situation unchanged. That’s when he decided to try to bring social change through action. He created the student group Scholarism to protest the implantation in Hong Kong of a national education curriculum featuring textbooks that praise the Chinese Communist Party, criticize democracy, and do not mention the Tiananmen massacre. Scholarism and 30 other groups organized a march in 2012 that attracted 90,000 protesters who called on the Hong Kong government to cancel the curriculum. In the end, then-Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying revoked the 2015 deadline for schools to start teaching the curriculum. “Without faith, I defi-



Smarter grammar?


An ancient reservoir in Umm el-Jimal

by Michael Cochrane

In this age of texting and social media, kids get plenty of opportunities to write. But do they write well? A 2012 Department of Education report found that only 27 percent of 8th- and 12th-grade ­students were “proficient” or better at writing. Quill, a 3-year-old nonprofit in New York, thinks a web-based tool can help teachers improve their ­students’ writing. Quill’s program analyzes student writing exercises, providing corrections and suggestions based on computer algorithms refined by thousands of previous responses. Targeted at middle schoolers, Quill is designed for use in the classroom. Students using Quill work on exercises in 10- to 15-minute sessions that typically focus on “sentence combining,” a teaching strategy requiring students to take multiple ideas and combine them into a single, grammatically correct sentence. A Quill exercise might ask the student to combine two short sentences (“Bats have wings. They can fly.”) into one sentence, using one of four



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conjunctions: and, or, but, or so. With multiple correct or nearly correct answers to an exercise, Quill prompts students to improve their sentences based on patterns detected in the database of thousands of other users of the service. “Teachers just don’t have enough time in the day to offer feedback on everything students write,” Quill founder Peter Gault told Fast Company. “Using machine learning to detect these patterns really unlocks a lot of options.” An estimated 400,000 students have used Quill so far. Access to the basic platform is free (including for homeschoolers) and includes more than 300 exercises testing grammar and punctuation. For $80 per year teachers can receive individualized student reports on concept mastery. Quill is only one of many online grammar teaching programs. Homeschooling parents looking for help should put into search engines “grammar programs for middle Students at school” or similar work with Quill phrases.

OLD BUT INGENIOUS The arid nation of Jordan has become a focal point for international water-technology research and development. And though many of those technologies are cutting-edge, researchers are reviving one water-capturing system that is nearly 2,000 years old. In 2015, archaeologists and engineers restored the first of a system of reservoirs built by the Arabs around A.D. 90 in the Jordanian town of Umm el-Jimal, according to the journal Nature. A rectangular basalt block basin, the size of four Olympic swimming pools, used canals to collect surface water from winter rains and runoff from mountains in Syria, storing it during the dry summer months. The system was maintained for nearly 800 years until it was abandoned around A.D. 900. Bert de Vries, an archaeologist at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., currently oversees the restoration project. When completed, the project could provide 10 ­percent of the water needs for the local population of around 4,000 people in the Umm el-Jimal community. Engineers from Calvin College’s Clean Water Institute have mapped the canals supplying the most runoff water. “People in antiquity were not backwards; they were clever and thought of a technology we can revive,” de Vries told Nature. —M.C.

October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 57



A better stem cell

A NEW STEM CELL COULD REDUCE THE DESTRUCTION OF EMBRYOS IN MEDICAL RESEARCH by Julie Borg show promise for treating, and perhaps curing, a multitude of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, spinal cord injury, or arthritis. In 2007 researchers developed a technique to create human pluripotent stem cells in the lab by injecting four genes into the nuclei of mature skin cells. Many ethicists

Pluripotent stem cells

hoped these induced ­pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) would bring an end to the use of human embryonic stem cells. But


form naturally during embryonic development and can become any cell type in the body. They


the iPSCs proved to be unreliable and were prone to developing ­cancer thanks to DNA damage caused during the gene-injection process. In the new study, ­scientists described an alternative method for creating iPSCs: Instead of inserting genes into the nucleus of a mature skin cell, the researchers used antibodies that work on the ­surface of the cell, decreasing the possibility of damaging DNA. The new technique, tested on mice, produces higherquality iPSCs and lowers their risk of becoming cancerous. So far the scientists have discovered the antibodies needed to replace three of the four genes used to produce iPSCs. They still need to find a fourth antibody to replace the final gene. The team plans to begin tests using human cells soon.

Doctors have limited options for treating moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries. Surgeons often need to remove part of a damaged brain, leaving a hole behind. Now, University of Georgia and Georgia Tech researchers have invented what they call “brain glue,” a jellylike substance they believe can repair damaged brain tissue. The brain glue takes on the shape of the damaged area and serves as a scaffold for brain stem cells doctors take from the patient and then implant again. The substance allows the cells to colonize, replicate, and repair the ­damaged tissue. The researchers are still seeking approval to market the substance, described earlier this year in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering. —J.B.

58 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017


Average life span in the United States continues to increase, but the average “health span”— the length of time a person lives in generally good health—hasn’t necessarily kept pace. Now Mayo Clinic and Scripps Research Institute ­scientists are calling for human clinical trials of the first class of drugs specifically designed to treat aging and prolong health span, Quartz reported. As people age, some of their cells stop replicating due to chromosome damage. These senescent cells accumulate in different tissues throughout the body and contribute to a host of age-related diseases. But a new class of drugs, “senolytics,” induces the death of senescent cells and has delayed, prevented, or alleviated age-related conditions such as cardiac and vascular disease, diabetes, fatty liver, osteoporosis, degeneration of spinal disks, and pulmonary fibrosis in animal trials. The drugs might enable doctors to treat multiple diseases at once. “If senolytics … prove to be effective and safe in clinical trials, they could transform geriatric medicine,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in September. —J.B.

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Medical researchers around the globe have sometimes killed tiny human embryos in order to harvest their stem cells. A seemingly ethical new technique for creating stem cells, described in Nature Biotechnology in September, could be the most promising alternative approach to date.



Doctor to doctor


Politicians in Washington have proven themselves unable to move beyond Obamacare. Maybe doctors can do a better job. Recently, WORLD member Robert Berry sent me a letter with his proposals. I asked our medicine correspondent, Charles Horton, to respond to Dr. Berry, who then responded to Dr. Horton, who then responded to Dr. Berry. I could have kept this going for a while, but why should I be the only one to learn from their exchange? Below are 500 words excerpted from their letters and responses: Please go to wng. org/doctor_to_doctor to read the entire, 2,400-word exchange. Drs. Berry and Horton may jump in again, but many WORLD members are M.D.’s, so this forum is for you, docs: Please send your thoughts to our managing editor, Daniel Devine, at He’ll run online cogent and concise comments, and excerpts from the verbose.



1) From Dr. Robert Berry, Greeneville, Tenn.

Eliminating the tax exemption for employer-based health insurance and replacing it with something like a universal tax credit for health savings accounts would make healthcare fairer for all Americans, especially the “forgotten” folk. … Putting more healthcare dollars into the hands of consumers instead of employers and insurance companies will enable us to choose our own way of sharing risk for catastrophic care while purchasing elective medical care directly from ­providers we select. More importantly, paying directly for everyday medical care drastically Visit WORLD Digital:

reduces cost. I know this because I have witnessed it firsthand for the last 16½ years in my own direct-pay primary care medical ­practice. My fees are onethird to one-half of those charged by insurance-based practices. … The third-party payment system for noncatastrophic care is a major reason for healthcare’s uncontrollable costs. 2) From Dr. Charles Horton, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Dr. Berry’s argument is most applicable in primarycare fields like internal medicine and pediatrics— who’s going to shop around for an ER while having chest pain? But in those primary-care fields, as in ancillary services like lab

testing, entrepreneurs are experimenting with charging a cash price lower than insurance “co-pays.” He’s absolutely right that those entrepreneurs are driving costs down. … For this to affect costs in the broader market as much as Dr. Berry hopes, a few more changes need to happen. Foremost among them, anti-competitive behavior among hospitals and insurers needs to end: Each facility should charge one price for a given procedure, regardless of insurance (or lack thereof ), patients should be free to choose any facility without penalty from their insurers, and any given insurance product should be for sale to anyone who chooses to buy it.

3) Response from Dr. Berry

Obamacare practically forced both insurance ­companies and hospitals to consolidate and medical practices to sell themselves to hospitals just to survive, creating a cartel where hospital practices can get away with charging patients $502 for a B12 test, when it costs the patient $25 at mine. Perhaps a better and fairer way to do this would be to allow Americans to deduct from their income any “legitimate” healthcare expense (which includes out-of-pocket expenses to doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, etc.) instead of starting at 10 percent of adjusted gross income as the law currently stipulates. 4) Response from Dr. Horton

Prices should be public: Hospitals know what they plan to charge, but most currently keep those prices a secret until they send the bill. President Trump could mandate that all hospitals publish that information online and keep it current. Hospitals will likely protest that those numbers are “proprietary,” but in what other business is it considered optional to tell customers what they’ll pay? We’ve already seen the benefit that internet-based price-comparison services bring to prescriptions. Let’s extend that to hospitals. There should also be one price per specific procedure at each hospital, with no discounts for ­anyone—including insurers. What this means is not that insurers will pay more, but that self-pay patients will now get the same effective price as the insurers do. A October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 59

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‘Anti-bullying bait and switch’ Anti-bullying advocates claim their programs are about family diversity and inclusiveness but not about sex? Right. They are about sex. But will they be honest about it? No way. SEPT. 2


I don’t normally downplay the underhandedness of LGBTQ advocates, but the redefinition of the family in public schools has been going on openly for decades. The time to be upset is long past. Public schools simply do not ­provide an environment conducive to developing a Christian faith and worldview. —TESSA BLACKSTAD on

It’s interesting how the definition of “inclusive” has become “exclusively pro-LGBTQ.” —KENNETH E. ISGRIGG on

‘Civil war at a Christian college’

SEPT. 2 As a Bryan College senior, I have seen the grief and anger but also a resurgence in student unity and greater transparency from the administration. At the start of this semester, nearly a quarter of our students gathered with faculty and staff to pray and discuss the bitterness many feel. “Civil war” is a poor descriptor of our ­campus today.

—ABIGAIL BROWN / Bryan, Tenn.

The photo of President Stephen Livesay with an oil painting and an oak table presents an image of Bryan College that bears no resemblance to the institution I remember with fondness from 1990-1992. When hiring practices do not reflect an organization’s unique character, trouble will usually follow. —BRYAN REGIER / Westboro, Wis.

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‘Seed of war’

Charlottesville will be associated with neo-Nazis for years, but I am prouder than ever of this town and its churches. Our local counterdemonstrators bravely stood up to an armed group of radicals, and many churches opened their doors for prayer services. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been proud. SEPT. 2

—JAMES ALAN AVERY / Charlottesville, Va.

Our freedoms of religion and speech are under relentless attack not by the hapless, insignificant white supremacists at Charlottesville, despicable as they are, but by the hard left and its accomplices in the liberal media. President Trump was right to call out both the white supremacists and antifa thugs for promoting hate. —IGOR SHPUDEJKO / Goodyear, Ariz.

‘We, the People’

Excellent column. Godly people should indeed shun racism, and pastors teach against racism from the pulpit. The left’s claim that Christians are racists is a deliberate misrepresentation, and it is hypocritical that the supposed “tolerance” of counterdemonstrators does not extend to believers in traditional marriage, the sanctity of life, or redemption through Christ.

prevarication enables white supremacy groups to get away with posing as Christians. —ELIZABETH COLE on

What is the best way to confront racism among the ungodly? Do we really think that confronting them on the public square will change anything? There should be a better way, and maybe it is to “love your enemies.” —PAT RUIZ on

‘Supervised schooling’

SEPT. 2 Thank you for bringing light to a troubling situation. We sought out every therapeutic residential Christian program out there for our son and chose one that misled us on many fronts; our son ended up more damaged. A database for information on all such programs would save many families from our heartache.




It has been very disturbing to hear Christians unable to condemn racism without a lot of qualifications to deny or justify the hate of the alt-right. That

Three months ago I didn’t know such programs existed. Parents have to choose quickly, starting from zero knowledge, so it’s easy to hoodwink desperate parents who are making life-or-death decisions on the spot. —STEPHANIE ANDERSON on

‘Uncertain sources’

SEPT. 2 We who work in aviation often find news coverage of our industry like the gibberish of a madman. If the media can’t get that right, why should I trust any news that requires specialized knowledge? I am encouraged that

October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 61



WORLD and your radio show approach reporting with more humility than most media.

tithing, good works—is part of that relationship and is indispensable, according to Scripture.


I read WORLD to get the other side of the story after events hit the main media, to see what answers were ignored and how the event could be seen from a Christian perspective. Thanks for your work. —JOELLYN CLARK on

‘Lord and friend’

I thank Janie B. Cheaney for clarifying “relationship versus religion.” It is so easy to latch on to a ­convenient way to explain our faith in Christ without understanding it.


‘Atomic bluff?’

Trump should have said that a North Korean attack on the U.S. or its allies would result in the total destruction of North Korea. Kim Jong Un may not be rational, but China is, and that is where the leverage lies. The free world cannot allow a renegade nation to intimidate it with nuclear weapons. SEPT. 2

—RANDY CREWS / Spokane, Wash.


—LORA HAMER / Ocean City, N.J.

I have a relationship with Christ, and the “religious” part—church, prayer,

‘Living stones’

Thank you to Mindy Belz for specific examples of the Light in a world of darkness. They inspire and encourage those of us who waffle on our sense of purpose and calling. SEPT. 2

—DAVE CLARKE / Gulf Breeze, Fla.

‘“He could do it all”’

SEPT. 2 I loved reading this: a musical obit of my all-time favorite artist, Glen Campbell, written by my all-time favorite reviewer, Arsenio Orteza.



Heidi Linton began working with Christian Friends of Korea 22 years ago as a volunteer (“Death-defying acts of kindness,” Sept. 30, 2017). Read more Mailbag letters at


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


Andrée Seu Peterson

Real time

DOING THE NEXT THING GOD PUTS IN FRONT OF US, EVEN IF IT DISRUPTS EVERYTHING The Bible says poverty comes upon you like a robber (Proverbs 6:11), but so does old age. Turn around and you lose your hair, you lose your balance, you lose your bladder control. Your sneakered foot sticks for a split second on the macadam of the bank parking lot, and the next thing you know home health nurses and physical therapists are ringing the doorbell and changing your decor: extra grab bar for the shower, extension on the stair railing, “transfer handle” on the bed, kitchen chair with arms and glide tips. The old age of my father-in-law doesn’t fit into my schedule. I phoned my husband between the nurse and PT visits. My husband: “You will have reward in heaven.” Me: “No I won’t, because I’m grumbling—not outwardly, but I’m grumbling.” My husband: “So don’t grumble. This is the most real thing you can do for Christ. ‘Whatever you do for the least of these, you do unto me.’” My father-in-law is not the least of these. He’s one of the most of these. But the point is well-taken. Is my husband right that there are “more real” things and “less real” things? We know what the unreal things are that carnal men do: gaining the whole world and losing your soul (Matthew 16:26). But in the church sphere too there may be a spectrum, things higher and lower on the scale of authentic worth and being. One of C.S. Lewis’ Bright People in heaven, an erstwhile university professor, tries to drag his hell-bound former intellectual sparring partner into the real, but it’s a thankless battle. Some folks are just enamored of heady esoterica and will never get real: (Bright Spirit): “Let us be frank. Our opinions were not honestly come by.” (Cultured Man): “Do you suggest that men like—” (Bright Spirit): “I have nothing to do with any generality. Nor with any man but me and you.” (Cultured Man): “Well, this is extremely interesting. … It’s




Take a peek at the last chapters of many a New Testament letter. They’re all about work, labor, and doing.

a point of view. Certainly, it’s a point of view. In the meantime—” (Bright Spirit): “There is no meantime. All that is over. We are not playing now.” We are not playing now at my house either. My father-in-law’s declension is real. And the choice before me is real. Or, rather, choices. For there are only the individual moments served up one at a time. Moments in which I can run roughshod with my preferred agenda, or I can stand in direct communion with the Spirit of God and “do the next thing.” And “the next thing” may be to drop everything and play a slow game of Chinese Checkers. For the Spirit’s direction is always immediate to the conscience: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8). Take a peek at the last chapters of many a New Testament letter. They’re all about work, labor, and doing. In 1 Corinthians 16, Timothy, Stephanas’ household, Fortunatus, Achaicus, and “every fellow worker and laborer” are commended. Paul commands Titus: “And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need,” exhibiting no qualms regarding endless ivory tower discussions of legalism. The topics in the Epistles are generally arranged in order from more esoteric to more practical, but this is not the same as saying from more important to less important. Obedience to the latter things is the proof that understanding of the former things took hold. When old age robs your IQ too, and the neurologist says to retire the Mercury Sable, there are things you can still do to keep from sinking: make a sandwich (but not a complicated one involving lettuce and meat-cheese issues); ­vacuum the carpet (but not the stairs); fold the laundry (who cares if it’s not Martha Stewart– perfect); rake the leaves (there will be plenty); sort and roll a jar of pennies in those paper wrappers (though the bank machine can do it in a flash). But all these need my help. So what about the other tasks I have to do? The Spirit says: It all will turn out fine. A October 14, 2017 • WORLD Magazine 63


Marvin Olasky


64 WORLD Magazine • October 14, 2017

Abraham Kuyper knew that revolutions almost always make life worse.

  @MarvinOlasky


Our next issue will contain a review of 22 books on Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, which began on Oct. 31, 1517. Many thinkers and writers during the past two centuries have thought Reformationally about cultural problems, so in this column and my next I’d like to introduce or reintroduce WORLD members to two who produced important works accessible to general readers. The first: Dutch journalist, politician, professor, and pastor Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). To fight the leftist movements of his day Kuyper founded in 1872 a new newspaper (The Standard), in 1879 a new political grouping (the Anti-Revolutionary Party), in 1880 a new college (the Free University of Amsterdam), and in 1892 a new denomination, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. Theologically, Kuyper followed John Calvin and other Reformers. Politically, he said government must not obstruct proclamation of the gospel, promote a counter-gospel, take away religious freedom, or coerce conscience. Reliance on central government “begets a slow process of dissolution that cannot but end in the demoralization of government and people alike.” Kuyper’s alternative was “sphere sovereignty.” That meant leaders in education, business, religion, media, and other areas should have authority within their domains and not depend on government, which is one sphere among others. Kuyper first proposed “Christianhistorical”—the equivalent of “evangelical” today—as the name for his theological and political position. Then he decided that was vague, so he switched to “Anti-revolutionary.” Kuyper attacked “the attempt to change totally how a person thinks and how he lives, to change his head and his heart, his home and his country … and so to lead us to a complete emancipation from the sovereign claims of Almighty God.” “Anti-revolutionary” was not the same as “conservative,” because some things should not


be conserved, but Kuyper knew that revolutions almost always make life worse. Anti-rev is also very different from antifa. In the U.S., both white nationalists and cultural leftists now preach revolution. One side wants to ignore America’s history of gradually including people from different races and religions. The other side wants to ignore Biblical marriage, differences between the two sexes, and the sanctity of life, as we race toward utopian disaster. Kuyper began his rethinking when he saw Dutch schools and newspapers teaching revisionist history: “Revolutionaries now tell us, ‘Everything used to be Christian, so your religion was responsible for these abuses, and abandoning the Christian religion and switching to our humanist beliefs is the only permanent remedy.’ … The press suggests day in, day out that you can engage in politics apart from Christ and that you should lean on your own understanding.” That’s also a problem today. Kuyper understood society’s problems were “not the fault of Christian principles having failed but of our failure to live up to those principles.” He predicted that unless publications “dare once more to base themselves on the Word of God … the blood-red luster of 1789” would return, multiplied. Kuyper was prime minister of the Netherlands from 1901 to 1905, but he could not hold back the waves of 20th-century ­revolution, higher than any seen before. The blood-red French revolution of 1789 had killed 40,000 directly (and many more via the Napoleonic Wars that revolution spawned). Adolf Hitler murdered 12 million humans directly and millions more through the war he started. Josef Stalin, with purges, governmentcreated famine, and the Gulag, probably killed 40 million, and China’s Mao Zedong probably topped that record. I believe that with God’s grace we can muddle through our current governmental dysfunctionality; but if we worship idols either on the left or the right, the American experiment will have failed. That’s why I’m game for an Anti-Revolutionary Party. Is anyone else? A —Note: Kuyper’s writings are newly translated and published by the Acton Institute and Lexham Press. I’ve read and can recommend three of the volumes—Pro Rege, Our Program, and Common Grace—published in 2015 and 2016. (Disclosure: I have a very loose affiliation with Acton as a senior fellow.)

Amid rumors of war, Christians in North Korea are being brutally tortured. And they are desperate for the comfort of God’s Word.

You can smuggle a Bible into the hands of a persecuted believer for just $10.

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WORLD Magazine, October 14, 2017 Vol. 32 No. 19  

Real matters.

WORLD Magazine, October 14, 2017 Vol. 32 No. 19  

Real matters.