Readers write: Carnival concerns and the importance of data

Letters to the editor for the August 30, 2021 weekly magazine. Readers discuss recent cover stories.

Dark side of the carnival

The Aug. 2 cover story, “The American carnival is back,” while focusing on one of America’s oldest forms of summer entertainment, concerns me. I worry specifically about the emphasis and glorification of animals used in races and stunt acts as a means of entertainment, which is, in my opinion, cruel and abnormal. Traveling from state to state is not a humane life for any animal. In spite of handler Andrea Rigler’s use of rescue dogs, I should like to think of those canines as having a more serene way of life.

Animal cruelty remains an ongoing and devastating problem. I would’ve enjoyed the article more if other aspects of fairs had been featured.

Sarah Anderson
Plymouth, Massachusetts

Truthfully framing the data

The July 5 cover story on “The outside divide” is such an excellent article that I sent it to several outdoor organizations. The Christian Science Monitor does such a great job of covering the relevant topics with quality interviews and book references.

I found it helpful when reading all the stats to actually look up demographic data for the United States. In a couple of cases (e.g., Asian Americans) the percentages of outdoor engagement sounded very low, but they nearly lined up with the overall demographic percentage of that group. Other groups were way underrepresented. It could be handy to supply the readers with census demographic data or make clear which groups are underrepresented and which are on par. 

I only mention this because the July 8 Daily article headlined “BLM and Floyd protests were largely peaceful, data confirms” helped me see how the Monitor is so good about not misleading readers. That Black Lives Matter article was also exceptional in its relevance, fact gathering, and correction of misperceptions. Many thanks to the Monitor staff for your healing effect in our world.

Truth Johnston
Beaverton, Oregon

Unsatisfying cover story

The cover story of the June 21 issue intrigued me. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the headline “Is politics the new religion?” Sadly, when I finished reading the article, I was unsatisfied.

I delayed writing this letter to ensure that my communication is less reactive and more constructive.

I will limit my comments to two:

1. One of the basic questions I hoped the writer would at least acknowledge is “How did the United States get here?” There was an ideal opportunity to remind readers of at least one factor: Following the sentence “President Joe Biden, a practicing Roman Catholic, is the first American president since Jimmy Carter to attend church regularly,” she could have noted that President Carter did not weaponize his faith, whereas his immediate successor, Ronald Reagan, embraced the “Moral Majority.”

2. The side-by-side photos on pages 26 and 27 reinforce the lazy equivalency so prevalent on websites and publications that I esteem much less than The Christian Science Monitor. There have been literally hundreds of protests since Donald Trump’s election, so why did the editor select a Black Lives Matter protest to appear beside the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol? If two photos were required, surely the Women’s March of 2017, with their vibrant, hand-knitted pink hats, was a better option. This would highlight the stark difference between protesters “fighting” an election result via constitutional and unconstitutional methods.

Rusty Wyrick
Ghivizzano, Italy

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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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