Readers write: Online church services, and investigating truth

Letters to the editor for the April 12, 2021 weekly magazine. Readers discuss the irreplaceable elements of in-person worship and truth-seeking skills.


Centering on people

If I had only one magazine subscription, it would be for The Christian Science Monitor. I was just reading the Feb. 22 cover story, “When a border runs through a family,” and realized that the Monitor presents the news with a people point of view. I read the Monitor articles clear through, unlike the “hard” news that I just skim. This is the news I want, need, and can actually use. Thank you.

Elizabeth E. Stevens
Manhattan, Kansas

In-person perks

The Feb. 15 cover story, “The rise of digital religion,” provides excellent insights into the way that online services are transform-ing Christian churches in the United States.

The author, however, does not mention aspects of in-person services that are clearly superior, such as congregational singing and fellowship after church. Online services are here to stay, but many Christians will give thanks when they return to an auditorium, sing out loud, and enjoy spontaneous face-to-face conversations with fellow worshippers.

Alistair Budd
Monmouthshire, Wales

Investigating truth

The Feb. 22 article “After a ‘post-truth’ presidency, can US make facts real again?” should be an ongoing investigation. For 14 years I conducted classes on accuracy and balance in interpretation for California State Parks guides and interpreters, along with a class on interpreting controversial topics.

People are sometimes inaccurate, but they don’t lie nearly as often as they misspeak, mispronounce, exaggerate, confabulate, oversimplify, or tell a joke that their audience doesn’t get: inaccuracies without an intent to deceive.

The goal is to value accuracy; know your sources of information, and be will-ing to share them. Let the visitor weigh the value of the source. And any anonymous source, like “the internet” or QAnon, calls for skepticism.

George Carter
Vacaville, California

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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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