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Readers write: Pictures of craftsmanship, and pudding

Letters to the editor for the March 29, 2021 weekly magazine. Readers discuss artisan furniture and personal experiences with plum pudding.

Artisanship

I’m finally getting to back issues of the Monitor, and I was thrilled to find the In Pictures article “Choosing handcraft over machines” by Gareth Henderson in the Dec. 28, 2020, issue. It is so gratifying to see the Monitor bringing attention to the value and worth of craftsmanship and hand-wrought art in pottery and furniture.

I have been to ShackletonThomas, which was the studio featured in the article, and greatly admire their work. Kudos to Mr. Henderson for a thrilling piece to inspire us all.

Margaret E. Powell
Hanover, New Hampshire

Pudding talk

I have been a loyal Monitor reader for over 30 years. I have always appreciated the accuracy and evenhandedness with which each edition is assembled. 

But my heart was particularly warmed when I read in the Dec. 21, 2020, issue of the Monitor Weekly, in which the Home Forum essay “Unpacking Great-Aunt Gertrude’s plum pudding” faced Melissa Mohr’s In a Word column “Why the British are firmly set on ‘pudding’” – the reason being that I am also privileged to have English plum pudding as an integral part of my annual holiday experience.

My family’s plum pudding can be traced back to my great-great-grandmother, Eliza Jane Southwell. She was born in England on Dec. 20, 1821, and immigrated with her husband to the United States in 1849. She passed the recipe to my great-grandmother, Lidia Maria Child Southwell Thorndyke, who passed it to my grandmother, Josephine Eva Homer Thorndyke.

My Grandma Thorndyke made the pudding every Christmas until she was in her 80s, and then passed the recipe on to me. I continue the tradition, making the plum pudding every Christmas, and even sending plum puddings to family members around the country. It is a tasty tradition that many of us in my family love and look forward to annually. Our plum pudding is authentic and very similar to, but also distinctively different from, those described in the Monitor’s articles. I am also in possession of a handwritten journal that Eliza Jane Southwell kept from Jan. 6, 1881, to Dec. 31, 1882. It gives fascinating insights into what life was like during those times.

Thank you once again for the plum pudding articles, and the continuing commitment to journalistic excellence.

Craig Ramsey
Milan, Tennessee

Team bonding

Regarding the Q&A article with Sen. Chris Coons, “Can Biden heal a broken Congress? This senator sees a ‘last, best chance’” in the Jan. 18, 2021, Monitor Weekly: You can laugh, but having our senators “standing arm in arm, singing ‘Kumbaya’ on the floor of the Senate” sounds like an excel-lent idea. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!

Dan Ziskind
St. Louis

Positive changes

Thank you for publishing the editorial “When contrition brings truth” in the Feb. 1, 2021, Monitor Weekly. We should have more articles of positive, healing changes going on in the world that uplift the reader and give hope.

Each person in a leadership role that was highlighted, especially North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, responded to an opportunity to demonstrate humility, and that goes a long way. When dictators admit that they’ve learned from “painful lessons,” the world takes notice.

Thank you for choosing to share this hopeful news.

Melissa Gay Bonnette
Lafayette, Colorado

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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.

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