Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to header Skip to footer
Cover Article

'To lighten mankind': 100 Years of The Christian Science Monitor

From the November 2008 issue of The Christian Science Journal

When Mary Baker Eddy decided that her Church needed to publish a daily newspaper, she offered little explanation as to why. In her August 8, 1908, order to the Board of Trustees of The Christian Science Publishing Society, her certainty of the Monitor's importance was unmistakable, even though details were lacking: "It is my request that you start a daily newspaper at once, and call it the Christian Science Monitor. Let there be no delay. The Cause demands that it be issued now" [L07268, Mary Baker Eddy to Trustees, August 8, 1908, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection].

Mary Baker Eddy's conviction that a newspaper would support and strengthen the Cause of Christian Science is arresting. Newspapers certainly didn't do anything this uplifting in the world of early 20th–century American journalism! The 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica makes some biting observations on this. After discussing how innovations in paper production, typesetting, and communication (the telegraph) enabled the rise of inexpensive newspapers, the article notes that these new conditions, "affecting the newspaper press of the United States with ever–increasing force, gradually changed the average character of the papers and their effect upon their readers. A large circulation became the only evidence of success and the only way to make the sale of a newspaper below cost ultimately a source of profit. A disposition to lower the character in order to catch the largest audience naturally followed" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., Vol. XIX, p. 547). Mary Baker Eddy herself had experienced nasty press coverage numerous times over the years, and some of the worst had come just the previous year, in connection with a vicious lawsuit.

Mary Baker Eddy was undoubtedly choosing an unlikely medium as an integral, vital part of her Cause. Why? Her observation on the day the first Christian Science Monitor was published in November 1908, gives some insight into her vision for the newspaper. Irving C. Tomlinson, a member of her household, wrote about it later: "... The morning dark and foggy. Mrs. E asked if it were a dark morning. One replied, 'Yes, a heavy fog makes it darker than usual.' Mr. Frye said, According to sense it was dark.' Said Mrs. E, 'Yes but only according to sense. We know the reverse of error is true. This in Truth is the lightest day of all days. This is the day when our paper goes forth to lighten mankind'" [A11927, "Nov 25, 1908, 9 A.M.," The Mary Baker Eddy Collection].

Sign up for unlimited access

You've accessed 1 piece of free Journal content


Subscription aid available

 Try free

No card required

JSH Collections

Hundreds of pamphlets, anthologies, and special issues published over many decades are available to you on JSH-Online. There's a wealth of content to discover.  Explore the Collections archive today.

Browse all collections

More in this issue / November 2008


Explore Concord—see where it takes you.

Search the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures