Readers write: Pairing religion with higher education

Letters to the editor for the August 2, 2021 weekly magazine. Readers discuss experiences with religion and local solutions to the outdoor divide.

Staff

Finding faith at university

The June 21 cover story, “Is politics the new religion,” states, “Higher education, dominated by an increasingly secular culture, may help explain why so many college-educated young people now reject religion.” The author provides no evidence to substantiate the argument that university attendance is connected with rejection of religious faith. Engagement with higher education should not undermine or curtail an individual’s practice of religion. 

While studying at university in England, I found that a sincere commitment to religious practice (in my case, Christianity) enhanced my academic work and percolated into all aspects of student life and activity. I participated in an on-campus Christian organization authorized by the university. My engagement with higher education served to nurture and sustain my religious faith. Many others have found the same.

Alistair Budd
Llanvair Discoed, Wales

Praise for a captivating issue

I seldom have an opportunity to read the entire Monitor Weekly issue in one sitting without little voices in my head saying, “Have you finished your vacuuming today?” But today I read and enjoyed the entire 43 pages of the June 28 issue. Every page was full of the most interesting information that I could not put it down. Thank you to all the “information gatherers” that make this publication so valuable.

Johnette Perry
Orinda, California

Local solutions

Kudos on the great July 5 cover story about “The outside divide.” It got me thinking in new ways and asking lots of questions. I live on the coast of South Carolina. Many who grow up here don’t ever get out on the water. Outside Hilton Head is a local company that sells equipment and runs tours in the area. It started a foundation called The Outside Foundation, and one of its key programs is Kids in Kayaks. The goal is to get every seventh grader in the county out on the water. One of the ways it does this is by coordinating with local science teachers so the kids are studying the ecology of the area and can connect what they see with what they are learning. The kids have a great experience and the teachers love the program. Pretty cool.

Caroline Johnson
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Necessary compromises

I enjoyed the photos and journalistic talent that framed the critical dimensions of our struggle for Earth’s ecosystems in the July 12 & 19 cover story, “The apes vs the dam.” The orangutans’ early relatives emerged less than 65 million years ago, and Homo sapiens materialized within the past 200,000 years, so we share some of their heritage and capacities. The article offered a powerful overview of the dilemmas facing Sumatra and other areas of development. How can we avoid the climate catastrophe that our current path suggests?

Emmy Hafild and Sampetua Hutasuhut understand the risks to the village in need of electricity and the forest habitat that sustains the orangutans. The compromise is not perfect but may be the best choice in a delicate environment. Earth has lost many species due to urban industrial civilization. This investment in local hydro may generate the least risk to these stewards of creation. Like our ape kin, we appreciate the free services of our ecosystems on Earth.

Bill Mittlefehldt
Duluth, Minnesota

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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.