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Reading the Media and the Universe
May 1, 2011

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed,” quoted Barney Zwartz from Mark Twain on April 2 at the University of Melbourne. This short quote was enough to draw laughter and an entertaining start to his speech at the “Media and Values” panel co-organized by the Australian Intercultural Society and The Fountain magazine.

The media continues to influence our lives with an ever growing capacity, for it is no longer solely in print form and thus commands a much larger potential of accessibility in a much shorter span of time and space. For many, the print edition still offers the best experience of the news but with a much smaller frequency, velocity, and flexibility. Such an influence that comes along with the amount of exposure and yet instant mutability of new media forms brings up concerns about the “values” that set the main guidelines for this power and change in media outlets. This was our main topic of discussion this past March and April in Singapore, Jakarta, Melbourne, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, and Shah Alam. We are thankful to local organizers in these cities for their cooperation. We are especially indebted to Professor Radhi al-Mabuk from the University of Iowa and Professor Jon Pahl from The Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, who generously spent their time with us during this tour and gave presentations in each of these cities on our behalf. You will find in this issue brief notes and photos from the “Media and Values” panels, in addition to two other The Fountain Talks events in Austin, TX and Manhattan, NY. We would like to offer our appreciation to the local organizers of these events. For more information, please visit

“An Ardent Prayer” leads the current issue. It is the prayer of a painful heart filled with sorrow for our weakness in responding to the blessings bestowed on us; a heart that is concerned with the troubles of our society and yet hopeful for the divine mercy as he prays to be treated not according to our distance from Him, rather in light of His proximity to all of His creation.

“My Treasure Jars” comes from a lifetime resident of the Appalachian Mountains. Belinda Sturgill shares with us a very thoughtful piece on what a woman, a mother, and a grandmother can leave behind as a legacy to her family, to her nation, and to humanity. This is an award-winning essay from The Fountain Essay Contest of 2010.

Our interview with Dr. Priya Natarajan from Yale University is another “treasure jar” in this issue. She describes her job as “building a story line for the universe.” Who else other than a cosmologist could dare to offer such a description of her work? Or perhaps we should put the question the other way around: who on the face of this earth does not want to learn the story line of the universe?