A newspaper “to bless all mankind”

Many mornings lately, national public radio (NPR) has provided an update on the flooding in Pakistan, with live reporting from Issam Ahmed, Pakistan reporter for The Christian Science Monitor.

And each time I wonder, What do people think when they hear that name, The Christian Science Monitor — in particular, the “Christian Science” part of it?

It’s a stated fact that people all over the world, who know little or nothing about the religion, know and respect its newspaper.

Recognized for objective coverage and analyses of events and issues at home and abroad, The Christian Science Monitor has a reputation for its integrity and influential writing. (Dialog, an online information database)

Famous for its thoughtful treatment of the news, as opposed to the sensationalism which continues to be found in much of the mass media, CSM is highly respected and the recipient of several Pulitzer Prizes.  The paper continues to further its founding declaration to bless all humankind by printing news that does no harm, elevating the spirits of all who read it, and thus contributing to the advancement of a world of peace and harmony. (New World Encyclopedia)

The Christian Science Monitor is an example of Mary Baker Eddy’s enduring love for mankind. The target of relentless attacks on her personal character and integrity in the press, she knew first-hand the power of the press to sway public opinion. What courage and humility she must have had to respond by creating a newspaper whose object is “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind”!

According to Robert Peel’s renowned biography of Mrs. Eddy, on the foggy, dark November day in 1908 when The Christian Science Monitor was launched, she said to the members of her household, “This, in truth, is the lightest of all days. This is the day when our daily paper goes forth to lighten mankind.”

In its first editorial, Mrs. Eddy wrote of the paper’s purpose — “to spread undivided the Science that operates unspent.” As Peel puts it, this attests to the “place it held in her vision of ‘Science’ as something extending beyond all sectarian, national, and cultural boundaries.”

That purpose continues today, more than 100 years later.

Why did she insist that the words, “Christian Science” be included in the paper’s title? Unsurprisingly, some of her advisors and staff argued against this decision, thinking it would limit the paper’s impact and lessen its appeal to a secular audience. But she was unpersuaded by their pleas. To Mrs. Eddy, including the words “Christian Science” in the name of her newspaper represented the premise that no human situation was beyond healing when God’s laws were adequately understood and applied.

It was widely recounted at the time and in years following, that Mrs. Eddy considered the establishment of The Christian Science Monitor to be the greatest step forward she took, after the publishing of Science and Health, the denomination’s foundational textbook.

Like all other news organizations, The Christian Science Monitor is striving to adapt and adjust to new approaches to gathering and reporting news in a fast-changing media environment. In April 2009, it launched an expanded, 24/7 online edition, an online daily news briefing, and a weekly news magazine in print.

But unlike many other newspapers, The Christian Science Monitor continues to report from around the globe — a distinction of particular note when most news organizations have cut back on international staffing and rely on the Associated Press and Reuters for global coverage. As a result, you are likely to encounter the name, “The Christian Science Monitor,” more frequently now, as its reporters are called upon by other journalists, like those on NPR, for first-hand, on-the-ground reporting from locations worldwide.

As Mary Baker Eddy wrote in that first editorial, “I have given the name to all the Christian Science periodicals.” And that editorial’s title? “Something in a name.”

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