Years before founding this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy assessed the responsibility of the press: "When the press is gagged, liberty is besieged; but when the press assumes the liberty to lie, it discounts clemency, mocks morality, outrages humanity, breaks common law, gives impulse to violence, envy, and hate, and prolongs the reign of inordinate, unprincipled clans" ("Miscellaneous Writings," Pg. 274).
Mrs. Eddy had not written that from hearsay or theory but experience; she was often a target of the news media. But when the time was ripe, and her motive to heal and bless others had lessened the attacks on her, she moved ahead with the long-held vision of a newspaper designed "to injure no man, but to bless all mankind." It was to "spread undivided the Science that operates unspent." This was meant to be a paper for thinking people, with families especially in mind.
In August of 1908, Eddy requested that The Christian Science Publishing Society begin the publication of a newspaper known as The Christian Science Monitor - the first issue to appear in only 100 days! The people involved were not experienced newspaper publishers; neither was she. And the account of overcoming the many obstacles to the successful establishment of the Monitor is a tribute to the power of spiritual and moral courage, and dedication to a worthwhile goal.
I like thinking of the launch of the Monitor as a seed that from its planting contains within itself all that is needed for fruition. And on a gray day in November, the paper was able to begin its mission on schedule.
Recently, I was a member of a delegation in Asia. We were meeting with various government officials of one country. When it was learned that I was a Christian Scientist, one by one the officials came up to me and bowed very low two or three times, repeating each time, "The Christian Science Monitor, great paper."
I was very touched, but equally amused, as none of them spoke English! It was obvious they had not read the paper. But they knew of its purpose. The goal of transforming and uplifting humanity transcends language barriers.
Now the Monitor celebrates 90 years of publication. And I am celebrating 75 years of having been one of the readers served and blessed in countless ways. From my childhood, when even radios were considered awesome and a trip of 200 miles was a major undertaking, I discovered the world through The Home Forum section. My family increased to include pen pals from South Africa, Iceland, New Zealand, and England. That was the beginning of a fulfilling daily treasure hunt! During the Depression years, when it appeared our family could not afford the subscription, my mother felt the paper was as important a form of nourishment as the food on our table. And it has continued to nourish.
When I went off to college, my mother saw that I had my own subscription as part of my education. She also wrote me a letter each day, which included not only family news but a statement of spiritual context. That meant a lot; I didn't like to be "preached to," but welcomed the opportunity to read and accept things at my own pace.
Many years later when she passed away, I was tempted to feel the loss of her letters keeping me in touch with home. It was then with great joy that I realized I still had a letter from home, from my world family, delivered daily in this newspaper. Individual "family members" sharing current news from all continents, book reviews, essays, poetry, recipes, sports, etc. I was also being alerted to people in this family who were having problems of various kinds. It was as though they were writing me personally, saying, "Please help if you can." It was an opportunity to pray in a meaningful way for humankind.
A fraction of one person's experience! But an example of Eddy's intention that all kinds of people would find themselves enriched for having read the Monitor, from heads of state to professors to physicians to inventors to musicians - and to the rest of us worldwide, just ordinary people.
I have learned in a practical way to love my neighbor as myself. And I appreciate how this newspaper has given me purpose, in using it as a daily agenda for prayer.