Readers write: Seeing Russia’s view, the power of film, and more

Letters to the editor for the Sept. 7, 2020 weekly magazine. Readers discuss the police response to protests, Russia’s perspective, and more.


Seeing Russia’s view

I really appreciated the articles on Russia by Fred Weir in the June 22 Monitor Weekly: “Trust deficit: The roots of Russia’s standoff with the West” and “Nuclear arms control is ending. What’s next?” The former gave a view of how both the Russian government and Russian citizens view the United States – a very different view than how Americans tend to see Russia. And the fact that Mr. Weir lives in Russia gives added value to his articles.

Nick Royal
Santa Cruz, California

The power of film

I am a longtime, cover-to-cover reader of The Christian Science Monitor. It is always filled with fascinating, interesting stories and information by journalists and writers who truly know their subjects. I share articles often with family and friends.

As a film aficionado, I look forward to Peter Rainer’s columns – the one in the June 8 Monitor Weekly titled “Home theater: Satyajit Ray’s enthralling world” about the Indian director was so appreciated. There is much to learn from other cultures, and films are certainly an avenue for that, especially through auteurs like Mr. Ray. 

I would add one film to Mr. Rainer’s list: “Pather Panchali,” a 1950s release whose title translates to “Song of the Road.” Mr. Ray was indeed in a class of his own.

Jane Keating
Portland, Oregon

Police protests

I appreciate the Monitor’s articles on the topic of calls for police defunding in the July 6 & 13 Monitor Weekly. “‘Defund the police’: What does it really mean?” quickly clarified for me that for many protesters, the issue is about reshaping the role of police instead of totally defunding them. And the cover story “Inside the defund drive” brings many experienced voices into the conversation. Very hopeful! Thanks very much.

Barbara Russell
Hyde Park, Massachusetts

As a decadeslong Monitor subscriber, I was very disappointed with the cover story “Inside the defund drive,” which addressed police department defunding. To me, it seemed to miss the point. I believe that the problem rests initially with ineffective and incompetent civilian control of the police by elected officials. 

As a longtime Seattle-area resident, I was appalled by how the city managed recent violent and destructive protests. The Seattle Police Department was ordered to stand down as riots destroyed property in the city and terrified some residents. In my opinion, this reaction was mirrored by city managers in many other places – New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Oakland, to name a few. 

I believe that until city management is able to bring basic protection by the rule of law to all its citizens, fine-tuning police procedures, composition, and training is for naught.

Stephen Kratz
Bainbridge Island, Washington

Playing for plants

When I saw the photo of an exquisite concert hall filled with green plants and a string quartet playing for them in the July 6 & 13 Monitor Weekly, I wept for the sheer beauty of it. Then I read the caption: “intended to dramatize the importance of an audience after a lockdown because of the coronavirus.” 

So once again, the plants were there to nourish the people, as they always do. I had assumed it was a concert to nourish the plants – after all, without them there would be no life on Earth, no music, and no glamorous concert hall. What an extraordinarily miraculous and holy moment that would have been.

Marianne Lust
Lincoln, Vermont

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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

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