Readers write: Meat meaning, and rereading ‘Mockingbird’

Letters to the editor for the April 15, 2019 weekly magazine.

Courtesy of David Hou/Stratford Festival
Jonathan Goad (c.) plays Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the Stratford Festival in Canada in 2018. That production, and the record-breaking one on Broadway in the US written by Aaron Sorkin, adapted the story to include larger roles for African-American characters.

Meat meaning

I love the Monitor articles about the environment, wildlife, and animal welfare. I read with interest “Why farmers have a beef with alternative ‘meat’ ” in the Feb. 18 issue.

One definition of meat, from the Webster’s New World dictionary, is “the flesh of animals used as food.” But another archaic meaning is “food of any kind, nourishment, sustenance, the edible part of anything.”

It is not difficult to understand why ranchers and farmers desire a monopoly on the word meat using the first definition. But for the well-being of our planet, as well as our own, we all should consider moving toward the adoption of the non-animal definition of meat.

This could lead to more environmentally sustainable and compassionate consumption and leave a gentler footprint on our world.

Tempie Stahlin

Dexter, Michigan

Rereading ‘Mockingbird’

Sara Miller Llana’s March 25 article “To shelve a ‘Mockingbird’: Is it time for Scout and Atticus to retire?” was very interesting – especially the way it developed a growing controversy between the way Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” was told in 1960 and the way it would be told today.

The fact that “Mockingbird” has been popular for nearly 60 years shows that it is a relevant book. And the fact that there are arguments against using it now in classrooms and theaters shows that the world has, in fact, changed during those years.

As a teacher, I believe that the best way to use “Mockingbird” is to read it, and then read a newer book written on a similar topic. Questions will come up about the differences between the two, and that will generate a dialog that clarifies where we were before 1960, where we are now, and where we need to go.

That is a solid foundation for building critical thinking skills, something we sorely lack in this nation. 

Jim Martin

Vancouver, Washington

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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.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.