Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

All the news, religious or not

Posted by metaphorical on 12 December 2006

Why do some religous organizations insist on spinning news to fit their world view? A more natural question might be, why would they not? It’s hard not to think of Christianity except as an enterprise that, at its heart, has for 2000 years insisted on a particular interpretation of a set of putatively historical events. I don’t mean that in a pejoritive sense, it’s just how religion works — it asserts a core set of beliefs.

The remarkable thing is that there’s even a single religious organization that is interested in the news for its own sake.

Consider this case. It is 1907. An elderly New England woman finds herself being targeted by Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. She is 86 years old and holds some unconventional religious beliefs that she expounds in a book. The book becomes a bestseller, making her wealthy and a well-known public figure.

The New York World decides she is incapable of managing her own affairs and persuades some of her friends and her two sons to sue for control of her estate.

Although Boston and New Hampshire newspapers and major wire services interview this person and find her competent, the New York World is unrelenting. The lady in question finally is taken to court where the case against her is dropped.

And the next year this woman, Mary Baker Eddy, founds The Christian Science Monitor.

— The Christian Science Monitor’s Washington bureau chief, David Cook, in “About the Monitor”

Furthermore, the Monitor apparently never considers unspun news to be threatening in any way:

A newspaper whose motive is “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind,” as its founder charged, would have a “leavening” effect on society, as well as on individual lives — to use a metaphor Eddy herself appreciated and used. The idea is that the unblemished truth is freeing (as a fundamental human right); with it, citizens can make informed decisions and take intelligent action, for themselves and for society.

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