My love of a newspaper led me to Christian Science

In the early 1990s, as part of my graduate school program, I took a class on environmental policy. The professor assigned The Christian Science Monitor, telling the class it was the best newspaper for coverage of environmental issues and that we could skip the religious article in the back. Even though the paper had Christian in the title, I never thought of it as having a connection to religion. The professor was correct—the Monitor was excellent, with extensive coverage of environmental and rural development issues within the United States and internationally. 

Several years later, I was conducting dissertation field research for my Ph.D., and would often go to the public library to read the Monitor and local newspapers. One Sunday morning I wanted to go read the Monitor, but the library was closed. I remembered seeing a Christian Science Reading Room nearby in a large, Victorian-era building. While I was not connecting the words Christian Science in the Monitor’s title with a church or religion, I thought a Christian Science Reading Room would have the Monitor. 

I went there, and it was open. I said I was there to read the Monitor, and a woman pointed out the newspaper in the front sitting room. A little while later, she asked if I would like to attend the church service. I really did not want to attend; I had grown up going to a mainline Protestant church on Christmas Eve and Easter, but that was it. However, I did not feel I could say no. So I went to the church service held toward the rear of the building. To my shock, the same woman I had met in the Reading Room was up front, reading aloud. I wondered, “What is she doing up there? And where is the minister? And what about a sermon delivered by a minister?” After the service, everyone there was friendly, but I did not understand what had gone on during the service. 

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