Readers write: Trump and journalism, terms for land

Letters to the editor for the April 17, 2017 weekly magazine.

Amir Cohen/Reuters
Ultra-Orthodox Jews take part in the 'Mayim Shelanu' ceremony to collect water from a natural spring, which will be used to make matza, the traditional unleavened bread, near Jerusalem on April 9, 2017.

Trump and journalism

I found the March 13 cover story, “The war over facts,” a delight. Your magazine always provides readers with a balanced view. Your citation of historical facts gave me a perspective that I had lacked. Whereas I do not care for President Trump’s attitudes (or policies), I was relieved to see that this disdain for the press is not unique among politicians.

I also appreciated the DC Decoder article, “Is Trump on a ‘dictatorial path’?” The comments by Steven Schier reassured me that we are not on an “unprecedented dictatorial path.... Not yet.” 

Please keep up your wonderful journalism. I have been enjoying The Christian Science Monitor (print version) for about 15 years. I first subscribed to it when my elderly dad told me he had used it in his high school English classes in 1938.

Jeanne Mattole

Honeydew, Calif.

Terms for land

The Feb. 20 Upfront column, “What decides a claim on land?,” twice mentions “the Holy Land.” Is it not high time at least to rethink this phrase? Better yet, why not retire it? If only part of the planet is holy, as the phrase implies, what does that make the rest of it?

Moreover, if a bit of that land is holier than anyplace else, which bit is it? Does it encompass Mecca and Medina, lands holy to Islam? The aboriginal people of Hawaii revere land as an ancestor. First Nations of North America venerate places like Devils Tower. To Hindus, the Ganges River is holy. Whoever built the ancient places of worship on England’s Salisbury Plain clearly thought of that land as holy. All these people would probably challenge the notion that only one place, not theirs, is the Holy Land.

I am not just quibbling over words. Many of today’s environmental, political, and spiritual problems are rooted in ideas about human relations with land. Perhaps our world would be more pure and peaceful if people would embrace the concept that the entire planet on which we live is holy ground.

Heu ‘ionalani Wyeth

Anahola, Hawaii

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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