I am a regular, periodic writer for the Forum on Faith column in three Connecticut newspapers: the Danbury News-Times, the Stamford Advocate, and the Connecticut Post. Assigned with the day after the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March on Washington, this is what I wrote, printed on page four of a bigger than usual print edition. You can read the article online here, here, and here, or reprinted below:
Why Christian Science Got into Journalism
With the presidential inauguration yesterday and the Million Woman March on Washington today, I think it is a good time to stop and reflect on the source of government and power.
From a human perspective, this has been a contentious political season, with people on both sides expressing deep dissatisfaction, genuine concerns, and visceral opinions. Egos have flared and behavior has not always been exemplary.
It is easy to get discouraged about our national state of affairs, but remembering that God has a clear, macro perspective helps me trust that there are perfectly acceptable solutions I can’t see or imagine. Through it all, Christian Science encourages me to look away from human strife and controversy to see what God, the one divine Mind, is doing, instead of getting too mesmerized with what many diverging minds are insisting about a subject.
However, knowing that the “government is upon His shoulder,” as the Bible states it, does not release any one of us from carrying out our own pragmatic responsibility for making our world a better place. I believe that as God impels each one of us, both separately and collectively, to do the right thing and be our best selves, the world improves in proportion to our obedience and fidelity.
Over a hundred years ago, the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, at the age of 87, listened deeply to God, and was impelled to start a daily international newspaper in response to what was called the “yellow journalism” of her day. The papers then were making money sensationalizing the news, appealing to mankind’s lowest inclinations, for the purposes of profit. The adage, “If it bleeds, it leads,” determined what would be headlined.
She wrote, “When news-dealers shout for class legislation, and decapitated reputations, headless trunks, and quivering hearts are held up before the rabble in exchange for money, place, and power, the vox populi is suffocated, individual rights are trodden under foot, and the car of the modern Inquisition rolls along the streets besmeared with blood.”
She knew that people needed an unbiased, objective source for news that also included topics that elevate character and uplift the human race. The Christian Science Monitor international daily newspaper was the result. Its express mission is to “injure no man, but to bless all mankind.”
Mary Baker Eddy didn’t despair and wring her hands over the state of things. She did something intended to bless everyone. She accepted no sense of limitation, and it was not at all about serving herself or her church. Even though the words “Christian Science” are in the newspaper’s title, it is not at all a religious periodical – just straightforward, honest, balanced, fair, productive news.
All these years later, the Christian Science Monitor still has a solid reputation for high quality news with the least bias, receiving numerous Pulitzer Prizes for their exceptional journalism. It has recently evolved into an award winning online news source, with a weekly magazine. It is just as revolutionary in our day as it was in hers, since it is not owned by corporate money or political interests, and has a serious mandate for holding a high moral ground.
As long as individuals in our day respond to our challenges as effectively as Mrs. Eddy responded to hers, I think our country will be okay. We have options about where we get can get our news, and there are things within our own spheres of influence we each can do to contribute to our collective success and progress.
As a Christian Scientist, I have learned that true government is not about human will and dueling human interests competing for the upper hand. I have learned power is not about leadership by human ego and hubris.
In Christian Science, we learn that God is all-powerful, and we only have our own power as a byproduct of God. I believe God-given government and power are about sincere, humble service, and that is the only way any good is ever done.
I also believe that we get more of what we focus on, so I will not fixate with despair on the divisive yellow journalism of our own day. Instead, I am listening for ways I can serve this country – to help us get past this pivotal point and into something that radiates more of God’s love and care for all.
Polly Castor is a Christian Science Practitioner and member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Ridgefield, CT. She can be reached at PollyCastor@gmail.com.
I have appreciated The Monitor since high school days.
Thanks for this great article. The Christian Science Monitor gained great accolades through the years and was a beacon of journalistic integrity. I am very grateful that it is still with us. It’s prominence through the years surely put a damper on ‘yellow journalism’ and held up the truth in a manner that could not be quashed.
Today, more than ever, we need good journalism. It still does exist despite self-interest claims to the contrary. More people should know the history of the Monitor and how it helped during many of the formative years of our great nation.