4 Stars – Inspiring
There are some Christians who live the life of God’s love in such an authentic way that they impact a generation. But few such leaders do so by focusing on children. Even though Jesus gave children a primary value within His kingdom very few give their life in service to them. However, one such person is the Rev. Fred Rogers, a Presbyterian elder ordained in 1963 as an evangelist whose mission was the newly developing field of children’s television.
In a time when child development was also becoming a new field of understanding as well, Fred Rogers surrounded himself with some of the giants in the field at the University of Pittsburg’s child development research center. Understanding that children’s feelings are both valid and moldable, Rogers created a neighborhood of make-believe in which love was the primary glue. Using this environment to impact children, he systematically confronted racism, bullying, divorce, death, assassination, fear and many other positive and negative emotions and experiences of life.
Creating a life that included moments of silence in order to listen to children allowed Rogers to create a slow-paced television show that enhanced the trust of children both when in the studio and when in their own homes. The power of this simple and respectful change from almost all other children’s programing had an unquestioned impact. So profound was its success that there are those who blame him for generational characteristics, both for ill and for good.
The personal life of this Christian minister reveals a humility that is seldom seen in the life of a famous person. This humility seemed to have two sources. The first was his faith in Christ and the second was his struggle as a sickly and overweight child. Using both his understanding of the humble Christ and of a difficult childhood, Rogers had a clear message of acceptance of every person just as they are. This included the gay African-American police officer in his fictional neighborhood. Demonstrating that the love of God is love for all, Rogers expressed the core of the Christian faith. Using his musical understanding and skill, Rogers wrote songs that were both simple and moving as they communicated this love.
As the applause of the audience in the theater filled our ears when we viewed this film it was clear that people from all walks of life recognize true greatness. May each of us live the life of God’s love and be a part of the true neighborhood of all humanity.
- As Rogers used his troubled childhood, his musical aptitude and his faith in Christ to impact the world, what difficulties, skills and gifts do you use?
- It is easy to describe how different most children’s programing is from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. What do you think our culture is doing to ourselves to give our children a steady diet of violence?
- Lyndon Johnson’s funding of PBS has been brought into question by most subsequent administration. Why do you think PBS is both valued and challenged?