Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mr. Rogers and Jesus

Around New Years, I juxtaposed Bob Marley and Jesus; today, it's Mr. Rogers and Christ. Indulge me.

Today is the birthday of Fred Rogers, of PBS' Mr. Roger's fame. (Information courtesy of The Writer's Almanac* peeps. Thank you!) In the Christian tradition, it's also the day we celebrate Christ's last meal with his friends, the disciples, and and the profound parting words He offered them, as well as the profound actions of loving service He modeled for them.

I think about Mr. Rogers, that cardigan sweater and sneakers, his songs, and I have to sort of laugh.

I think about Jesus, and the bread and wine, the washing of the feet, and I have to sort of stop and wonder.

What would a meal between these two look and sound like? What songs of Fred's might Jesus sing?
How would "Won't you be my neighbor?" flow from Jesus' vocal chords?
(Do you suppose He might whistle this tune?)
Would Mr. Rogers make a train that took us to the Holy Land?
How would we observe them today?
Does the Middle East know of Fred Rogers? Do they have their own version?

What kind of Judas might Roger's have encountered?

How do the lessons of Fred Rogers and the lessons of Jesus compare?

Is it blasphemy to compare the two?

What PBS show will my own kids watch and learn from?

Happy Contemplating and Creating Juxtapositions of your own!


*It is the birthday of beloved children's television host Fred Rogers, born in 1928 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

In 1962, Rogers earned a divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and he was ordained by the Presbyterian Church. Rogers continued his work in television, appearing on camera for the first time in 1963 on his new show, Misterogers, which was aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. This show would evolve into Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which was seen nationally for the first time in 1968.

The show, which began with Rogers singing "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" and changing into sneakers and a cardigan, would go on to become the longest-running show on PBS. The program featured themes like feeling good about yourself, getting along with others, and handling fears. Rogers wrote more than 200 songs for the show. The last episode was taped in December 2000.


Enid Cederlind said...

Melissa, if the middle east doesn’t know of Mr. Rogers, someone ought to introduce them to his philosophies. Teach them to be good neighbors! His life pretty much follows Jesus’ teaching of loving thy neighbor. I think it’s an ideal comparison. Fred left this world too soon.

Enid Cederlind
Grand Island, Nebraska

Lisa Teet said...

I loved Mr. Rogers when I was a kid, but he meant even more to me as a parent. Gavin and I used to watch Mister Rogers' Neighborhood together when he was around 2. He referred to the show as "Woggie". We loved trolley and touring places like saxophone assembly plants and crayon factories. And I love how Fred Rogers put himself in the shoes of small children to help ease their fears about questions like "what if I wash down the drain in the bathtub?" Brilliant.

Things that never occur to us as adults make huge impressions on us as children. I never want to forget that everyone's feelings are important, no matter how young or old we are.

I am wearing my zip-up cardigan sweater today in honor of Mr. Rogers.

Thanks for sending this along!

Lisa Teet
Lincoln, Nebraska

Jill Timmer Teehan said...

Hey Missy!
Love it!

When we were in Pittsburgh for gradschool, I walked and rode the bus past Mr. Roger's Studio everyday. One day, he was outside our apartment filming an episode of "How to Board the Bus."

He and Jesus would so be friends...

Happy Easter!

Jill Timmer Teehan
Newbury Park, California

Sr. Katherine said...


This is genius work/thought/prayer. The two pictures are wonderful and the two people are two of a kind.

Thank you. Amen

Sr. Katherine
Visitation Monastery
North Minneapolis

Erin said...

Today is also the 200 year anniversary of the founding of Pittsburgh, Fred's hometown. In honor of this and what would be his 80th birthday, they've sponsored a "Won't You Please Wear a Sweater?" Day. I set up a Facebook "event" for it. :) I wore a cardigan and tennis shoes to work today! Here's a link to the news article and a video about the day with Mr. McFeely. :)>1=7703

Now everyone go put on a sweater! :)


St. Petersburg, Russia