Mister Rogers

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by Timmay, Oct 9, 2018.

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  1. Timmay

    Timmay Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello everyone. I did a search on this before posting, but did not find anything. If I missed it, I apologize.

    I watched the docu on Mister Rogers and I was wondering what people thought about his message from his TV program. He seemed to encourage kids and help them deal with issues they struggled with, but he always kept saying “I love you just the way you are.” With sinful behaviors in all of us, I have a hard time with that statement since we should not stay in sin. But Rogers was informed by the imago dei as providing inherent value for all people. Is that all he was saying?

    How should we view Rogers in the context of his TV program? Is it appropriate to highlight common grace themes and stop there since he was not acting in the capacity as a minister, but as a TV host?

    I’m also not familiar with his theology but what he says on his TV program sounds like moralism or is it merely a reflection and/or presentation of common grace elements?

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  2. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Fred Rogers was an ordained minister in the United Presbyterian church.

    Mister Rogers' Neighborhood won four Emmy awards, and Rogers himself was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 Daytime Emmys,[42] as described by Esquire's Tom Junod:

    Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award—and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, "All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence." And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, "I'll watch the time."

    There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds—and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly, "May God be with you" to all his vanquished children.
    I miss the man and the era from which he came.
  3. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    In the mid/late 20th century context where (PCUSA minister) FredRogers flourished, "mainline Protestant" religion was right about where "left-to-middle-evangelicalism" is today.

    Moralistic religion is not about certain eternal verities--which may be "nice" or "not-nice" depending on one's stance on his necessary compliance with ineradicable fact. Moralism is about what is "nice" and "not-nice," regarded as absolute values.

    In the context of a bland, feel-good children's program aimed at teaching a religiously diverse (including irreligious) youth collective to prioritize "the universal brotherhood of man" (if not also in principle, the universal fatherhood of god), Mr.Rogers.Neighborhood was consistently on message.

    One thing should be obvious to students of modern American religion. Whatever is regarded as the "highest good" will, in time, in its purest form be understood as the "matter" to its contrary "anti-matter." Tolerance (can't we all just get along?) is no exception, as anything or anyone regarded as insufficiently tolerant by the nomenklatura will be forcible reeducated, or otherwise silenced. Insofar as Fred (unwittingly) enabled the trend, that's too bad but also to be expected.

    Barney.the.Dinosaur = Mr.Rogers, minus hiz oppressive anthropo-normative prejudice, not to mention WASP, male, cisgender, and other disqualifications of decent polite society today.

    M.R.N. did a little babysitting of me when I was a kid, and I do not resent that.
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  4. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    Mr. Rogers is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and from what I can tell was a classmate of R.C. Sproul.
  5. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

  6. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, most likely. He also likely had a class or two with John Gerstner.
  7. mgkortus

    mgkortus Puritan Board Freshman


    I also watched the documentary. I agree: there were aspects of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood (MRN) that were very commendable. His efforts to help children make sense of and get through the difficulties of life is first and foremost in that category. At the same time, his overall message—I love you just the way you are—and his corresponding tolerance of sins such as homosexuality are highly problematic.

    I believe MRN is an example of what happens when you take Christ out of the equation. I understand the show was not intended to be an evangelism tool. Nevertheless, when love is divorced from the cross of Jesus Christ, it becomes the message of tolerance—the message that has become the mantra of the world around us.

    I could not help but think that part of the reason for making this documentary was to push the LBGTQ agenda. The documentary holds up Fred Rogers as the ideal Christian: someone who was kind to anyone and everyone, even homosexuals. The subliminal message therefore is: be like Fred. That was the most disappointing, even infuriating, part of the documentary.
  8. mgkortus

    mgkortus Puritan Board Freshman

    One of my favorite parts of the whole documentary was the opening scene. A young Fred rogers is sitting at a piano. He calls over the camera man and explains that he has been thinking about modulations. Using the piano to illustrate his point, he says:

    I believe this is one example in which we can learn from Fred Rogers. His goal was to help children weave through the difficult modulations of life, such as death, divorce, disabilities, etc. We too, should tend to the needs of the children in the church.
  9. Timmay

    Timmay Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes I noticed that too about the gay stuff. But is it true Rogers tolerated homosexuality? He could say he loved them without tolerating their lifestyle. Are the filmmakers putting words in his mouth?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  10. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I thought that song was sung regarding race.
  11. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  12. mgkortus

    mgkortus Puritan Board Freshman

    Good question. It is very well possible that the filmmakers used Fred Rogers to communicate their own agenda by overstating his viewpoint.
    However, the fact that there were protestors at his funeral seems to indicate that his viewpoint regarding homosexuality was well known and was one of tolerance.
  13. mgkortus

    mgkortus Puritan Board Freshman

    Race was no doubt one of the applications of the song. And the portions of the documentary that dealt with race were quite good, in my opinion. For example, there were some who did not want black people swimming in public pools. In response, Fred Rogers had a black character in the show come and soak his feet with him in a kiddy pool.

    While race was one application, the filmmakers certainly applied the message of that song to homosexuality.
  14. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    He probably wasn't one of us so to speak and he may have approved of homosexual behavior but with all of the investigating, speculating and wondering he didn't make a banner issue in his life.

    Like AMR, I wish he was still with us in these days of war mongering and SJW spittle. In our much more feral acting, hot headed and cynical culture than the late 70s and early 80s when I watched him as a child, we could use more voices arguing for some decency and respect for those a bit different. That was my takeaway as a kid. In most cases I'm not afraid of being called tolerant given a proper definition. Faithful Christian's can give the appearance of being tolerant just by loving enemies and not leaving the world in a 1 Corinthians 5:10 sense. .
  15. Charles Johnson

    Charles Johnson Puritan Board Freshman

    I watched Mr Roger's Neighborhood as a child. I wouldn't categorize statement "I love you just as you are" as light-on-sin any more than the statement "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us." "I love you just as you are" does not mean "I love you like this so don't change".
  16. Nebrexan

    Nebrexan Puritan Board Freshman

    I had similar thoughts, Charles. If "I love you just as you are" isn't right, then what? "I'll love you if you change?"
  17. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Better just to say.... “I love you... but let’s face the facts here.... we are sinners and if you want to be in God’s Neighborhood then You must be washed by the blood of Christ and repent just like I need to as well”

    I have no judgment on Mr. Rodgers and I was too young at the time to be able to feel out the temperature of the culture in order to understand the context of his message. I do feel his show was better than many on the tube today.

    Documentaries are never neutral ... from what I have seen. Likely there is a bias being pushed by someone other than Mr. Rodgers.

    P.S. I do find myself singing “It’s a beautiful day in the Neighborhood” on those cool mornings when I can hear God’s creation singing.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  18. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

  19. Reformed

    Reformed Puritan Board Freshman

    I do think we need to remember that this was not a religious television program. He had writers and proofreaders and editors. Here is a question. Does Jesus love sinners? Does he love them right now or only once they are without sin?

    He loves them now when they seek after him. It's not conditional. I think that is what Rogers was likely expressing and in my view that is perfectly within biblical standards.

    A parent can say, I love you just as you are. Does that mean they do not want to change anything about their children? Of course not. But it does mean that they love them anyway despite their shortcomings.
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  20. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    I believe that he was an ordained Presbyterian pastor, but saw his calling from God to children ministry.
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