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June 1, 2007 10:49 AM   Subscribe


 
According to a TV Guide piece on him, Fred Rogers drove a plain old Impala for years.

You know, this factoid does not surprise me in the least. If there was ever a guy who would be a Chevy Impala driver, it would be Mister Rogers

(p.s. -- fix the spelling on your tags, there's no "D" in his name)

(p.p.s. -- nice link. I love Mister Rogers)
posted by briank at 10:51 AM on June 1, 2007


Damn, I was *this* close to posting this. Its a good article though.
posted by fallenposters at 10:55 AM on June 1, 2007


I am not a Catholic. I am not a Christian. I'm not even a monotheist. And yet I say with one-hundred-percent true belief and sincerity: Fred Rogers was a saint.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:55 AM on June 1, 2007 [26 favorites]


After reading this, I can't figure out why we failed to declare Fred Rodgers president of the universe.
posted by smackwich at 10:57 AM on June 1, 2007 [5 favorites]


don't skip the Esquire profile linked from the mentalfloss piece. Probably one of the best of the genre.

The MeFi Fred Rogers obit thread. Also probably one of the best of the genre.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:00 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love the guy as much as anyone but, I’m sorry, if someone like him lived in my neighborhood I wouldn’t want my kid to go anywhere near him.
posted by bondcliff at 11:00 AM on June 1, 2007


Jesus, this list made me tear up. It won't surprise me at all if, in a couple thousand years, he's a major figure in several religions.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:02 AM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I am not a Catholic. I am not a Christian. I'm not even a monotheist. And yet I say with one-hundred-percent true belief and sincerity: Fred Rogers was a saint.

Was just coming in to declare his sainthood as well. If the pope wasn't such a castrati Mr. Rogers would've been canonized the day after his funeral.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:05 AM on June 1, 2007


Mr. Rogers was the kind of guy who, 50 years from now, somebody will write a short book about how great he was, and how everybody loved him, and all the nice things he said. And then 50 years after that, somebody else will copy that book except say that *HOLY CRAP* Mr. Rogers was actually the son of a virgin. And then a little longer down the line, somebody will mention that if you don't believe in Mr. Rogers, you will suffer eternally. He's that great.
posted by one_bean at 11:05 AM on June 1, 2007 [18 favorites]


This article just brought back my deep sense of loss that he is no longer with us. It's amazing to me how much I could love someone I never actually met.
posted by MasonDixon at 11:06 AM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


More Mr. Rogers awesomeness.
posted by Ohdemah at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2007


Despite being an ordained Presbyterian minister, and a man of tremendous faith, Mister Rogers preached tolerance first. Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, “God loves you just the way you are.” Often this provoked ire from fundamentalists.

Anything that provokes the ire of fundamentalists by way of being kinder to people is as good a reason as any for sainthood in my book.
posted by quin at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2007 [9 favorites]


It's odd, but just reading about him chokes me up because I admire him so much. I definitely aspire to be more positive, like he was, and interested, and tolerant.

In the comments of the article so many people talked about how much comfort he gave them at various difficult parts of their life. How cool.
posted by ugf at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2007


Much love meow meow for Mr. Rogers meow. He is the anti-Norris meow.

also, re: Mental Floss
The magazine itself is more like Ocular Floss, amirite? I never knew I knew design so well until that horrid looking thing started showing up in my mailbox.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


The magazine itself is more like Ocular Floss, amirite?

It's a vapid affair couched in pop trivia and dominated by the notion that "intelligence = data accumulation".
posted by Burhanistan at 11:11 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Creepy vibe aside, Fred Rogers was as nice and thoughtful a human as there can be.

This interview with NPR's Diane Rehm from 2002 is worth a listen if you've got the time (evil RealPlayer link).Link is on the right near the bottom.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:12 AM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I love the guy as much as anyone but, I’m sorry, if someone like him lived in my neighborhood I wouldn’t want my kid to go anywhere near him.

Thou shalt not think that any male over the age of 30 that plays with a child that is not their own is a paedophile. Some people are just nice.
posted by Nahum Tate at 11:13 AM on June 1, 2007 [46 favorites]


Seriously, if you find a truly nice person creepy and assume they have some kind of horrid ulterior motives, it really reflects on your own two-faced badness.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:14 AM on June 1, 2007 [23 favorites]


The Esquire piece is fantastic. My favorite part, which references his acceptance speech for the Daytime Emmys Lifetime Achievement Award:

...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, and looked at the audience, and looked at his watch, and said softly, "I'll watch the time," ...

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, "May God be with you" to all his vanquished children.

posted by lalex at 11:15 AM on June 1, 2007 [23 favorites]


Sadly, as a child I didn't like him. Didn't hate him, but just didn't connect with him. And those puppets were SO CREEPY. Not Mr. R's fault, necessarily, but honestly; they were low-budget and looked terrible, and the various characters were confusing and alarming to my preschool self. And the human character (Lady Elayne? Or was that the scary Punch-in-drag one in the carousel?) appeared to be lobotomized and scared me.

But I did love the trolley car. I totally wanted one of those.

My 18 month old likes the reruns, though, and doesn't appear to be bothered by the creepy puppets, so I'm glad he gets to see it.
posted by emjaybee at 11:19 AM on June 1, 2007


I preferred Zoom! and The Electric Company to Mister Roger's Neighborhood, but still couldn't help but get misty reading this post. I mean, how sweet is it that a subway car full of jaded New Yorkers spontaneously start singing his theme song?
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:21 AM on June 1, 2007


He might just have been the most Christian man ever to have his own TV show.

Crap. Hang on. Something in my eye.
posted by dw at 11:22 AM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Greg Nog: It won't surprise me at all if, in a couple thousand years, he's a major figure in several religions.

I liked this, from the comment section of the YouTube video I linked above:

"Jesus, Buddha, and Confucius were all simultaniously reborn in Fred Rogers. And he was so humble that nobody even noticed except the children who really listened to him."
posted by lalex at 11:23 AM on June 1, 2007 [12 favorites]


Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, “God loves you just the way you are.”

That's the most awesome thing I've ever heard.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:23 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


there is one major point that has been missed:
Whereas Seseme Street taught kids ideas, information, Mr Rogers showed kids how to love themselves, have self-esteem, be happy with themselves.
posted by Postroad at 11:24 AM on June 1, 2007 [10 favorites]


I love that Koko the gorilla removed his shoes when she met him.

What a kind man he was. I wish he were still around.
posted by rtha at 11:31 AM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


emjaybee, I loved Mr. Rogers but Lady Elaine on the other hand... Yikes! I remember she always had a really short fuse and reminded me of the cafeteria and recess ladies at school. Henrietta Pussycat and the owl (what was his name?) were okay though.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:32 AM on June 1, 2007


I just found this... and I'm totally blown away: Mr. Rogers breakin'
posted by phrontist at 11:35 AM on June 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Back In The Day, when i was going to college in Pittsburgh, i lived for a couple of years in an apartment building a couple of blocks away from the WQED studio where i've always assumed he filmed episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The apartment building was large and kind of run down - it had these loud paisley carpets in the hallways that were various violent shades of red and the whole building had that embalmed cooking odor that to this day makes me shudder to think about. Not that the building was a roach-infested dump, mind you, but it was definitely threadbare and more than a bit down-at-the-heels. From time to time my roommates used to claim that they had seen Mr. Rogers in the lobby or the elevator or the mailroom, but throughout the whole time i lived there, i never managed to catch a glimpse of him. It kind of drove me a little nuts that i'd never seen him, because they would always laugh about it and talk about the nebbishy outfit he had on or the color of the cardigan sweater he was wearing on a blisteringly hot summer day or how they couldn't help but check out his shoes every time they saw him. A Mr. Rogers sighting always seemed to be an *event* that i was constantly missing out on - plus i had a hard time that someone who had the kind of dignity he carried himself with would stoop to be seen in the context of anything even the slightest bit shabby. We weren't entirely sure what business he had in this building; we just assumed that he had a professional office somewhere in the building for some reason or another.

The last week i lived in that building was the last week of my junior semester. I had just finished my last final exam, and i just wanted to get home and fall into bed for my first sleep in well over a week. I was beat. When i finally dragged my sorry ass to the front door, i realized that i had left my keys over at my friends place where i had spent the previous night studying. Not that it was really a big deal, it was only a 10-minute walk away, but given the context, it was pretty aggravating. So as i'm digging through my bag in a last-ditch effort to make the keys materialize even though i knew they weren't in there, the front door opens, and lo and behold, it's Him. Mr. Rogers, fresh as a daisy, holding the front door open for me. He smiled, and i managed to keep my mouth shut about how as far back as my memory would allow me to remember, his show was the one tv show that for some still-not-understood-reason i absolutely couldn't stand; how as a kid i would much rather have been watching Sesame Street or The Muppet Show, or 3-2-1 Contact, or The Electric Company, or Zoom, or pretty much anything but Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. I just smiled back, thanked him, and went up to my apartment to collapse on my greasy undergrad futon.

Still, to this day, my personal favorite Celebrity Encounter. It was definitely an event.
posted by the painkiller at 11:41 AM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was just getting all upset the other day thinking about how if Jim Henson hadn't died so young, it's entirely possible that I would have grown up and met him and possibly even worked with him. (I know now that I know what I've grown up to do, it's not so far outside the realm of possibility, except that he died).

Even though Fred Rogers didn't die young, now I'm all upset I never got the chance to meet him either.

The extent to which these two men, through public television, influenced my life is immeasurable. I hope I can be a little bit like them.

I really should get working on meeting Levar Burton before all hope is lost.
posted by lampoil at 11:41 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


The world would be a better place if we had WWMRD? bracelets and bumperstickers. Mr. Rogers never threatened anyone with lakes of fire for all eternity.

(On googling, I have discovered that this is not at all a new idea).
posted by dilettante at 11:49 AM on June 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Sadly, as a child I didn't like him. Didn't hate him, but just didn't connect with him. And those puppets were SO CREEPY.

Me, too.
posted by ericb at 11:49 AM on June 1, 2007


I took a tour of WQED studios where he worked once, and he waved and said "Hello." That's it, and yet, even years later it still feels like I had a momentary brush with Goodness itself. How many people can give that kind of cherished, life-long memory from nothing more than a wave and a "hello"?
posted by jefgodesky at 11:49 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


The MeFi Fred Rogers obit thread. Also probably one of the best of the genre.

I just breezed through that thread. The absence of dots/periods is so noticeable and refreshing. My favorite chapter in the upcoming book, Metafilter: The Novel, will be titled "2003: Before the Dots."
posted by flarbuse at 11:51 AM on June 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood.
posted by ericb at 11:53 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fred was apparently one of the only "110% Solid" TV presenters ever to work in the medium.

Only Sir David Attenborough commands the same sort of respect.
posted by chuckdarwin at 11:57 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Aw, crap. Now I'm getting all misty. Anyway reason #2 is perhaps the coolest thing I've ever heard. It broke my awesometer.
posted by brundlefly at 11:57 AM on June 1, 2007


I cried so hard when I found out he died. And now I'm sad all over again.

My mom confessed at the time he died that she always felt uncomfortable letting me and my sister watch his show - she thought he was creepy - but my sister and I both exploded at her. Mr. Rogers was sweet and a bit dorky but most definitely not creepy.
posted by sutel at 11:58 AM on June 1, 2007


Damn, just reading some of the comments in this has me tearing up. And I don't usually cry unless something especially heavy is dropped on me. I wish I could be more like Fred Rogers, but I'll have to make myself a much stronger person first.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:58 AM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I also didn't really connect with him as a child but have since realized what a fascinating character he was. The story of how he saved public television is inspiring to hear now even if I was too young then to understand what this man was up to.

I think the reason I didn't connect with him was because I was kind of an aloof, non-needy child and his persona came off to me as a bit too parental or patronizing. That said, I know that that kind of persona is exactly what many other kids needed.

I only caught snippets of the show, usually while flipping around looking for something else. My favorite segments were when he visited some factory or other place to show us kids how things worked behind the scenes. Even then as a kid, I enjoyed watching him disarm all the people around him. He'd start in with conversation like "It must be so wonderful to do what you do. So much joy you bring to the world..." and then maybe ask about their childhood or their family in this really sincere way. And, inevitably, you'd see people undergo this transformation in front of him. You'd see behind their public persona, their human face. In front of him, they'd just melt....
posted by vacapinta at 12:00 PM on June 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Meow meow nice meow Mr. Rogers meow meow.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:10 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


"It makes me feel like hearts are coming out of my head."

-- a 4 year old, quoted on his website.
posted by crookedneighbor at 12:13 PM on June 1, 2007 [14 favorites]


I wasn't halfway through the dang Koko entry and I was already getting Misty.

brundlefly, number two was completely awesome.
posted by LeeJay at 12:13 PM on June 1, 2007


It's nice reading the comments here. Very atypical for MetaFilter.

He was a great person.
posted by chunking express at 12:14 PM on June 1, 2007


Obviously, that should be "getting misty." "Getting Misty" sounds kinda dirty. Mr. Rogers would not approve.
posted by LeeJay at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2007


He didn't creep me out when I watched his show as a kid, but I wonder if he creeped some people out because we (all) generally tend to assume people who come off as so nice, especially to kids, can't really be so nice. We're so used to reading the opposite in headlines: "But he seemed so nice...."

I think all of us who grew up with Mr. Rogers and Jim Henson owe them a great debt.
posted by Tehanu at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2007


He didn't creep me out when I watched his show as a kid, but I wonder if he creeped some people out because we (all) generally tend to assume people who come off as so nice, especially to kids, can't really be so nice. We're so used to reading the opposite in headlines: "But he seemed so nice...."

That's my take on it, Tehanu. And it's really sad. I understand why people get that vibe and the reality is that sort of defensiveness is necessary most of the time. Because there ARE a lot of creepy people in the world who act a little too nice in order to hide their own nasty motives. But it's still very, very sad. Because Fred Rogers really was one of the true greats.

The thing that kills me about Mr. Rogers being gone isn't just that we lost a truly great man, someone with nothing but love in his heart, but that I don't know how long it will be before someone else comes along who can touch SO MANY people. It'll probably be a long time. And that makes me sadder.
posted by LeeJay at 12:28 PM on June 1, 2007


I think the reason I didn't connect with him was because I was kind of an aloof, non-needy child and his persona came off to me as a bit too parental or patronizing. That said, I know that that kind of persona is exactly what many other kids needed.

I was fairly non-needy, myself, but I loved Mr. Rogers. He was a nice man who taught me lessons without screaming at me.

Yeah, okay, and I loved Trolley.
posted by katillathehun at 12:31 PM on June 1, 2007


Why does praying for one's friends and family automatically make someone creepy and condescending, interrobang? We don't know what he was praying for. What if he just wanted to ask God to keep them safe and happy?
posted by katillathehun at 12:33 PM on June 1, 2007


My graduate school advisor wrote a book about him, and as it mentions in this piece, he really took the time to become close with the authors. So stories of his kindness were all over the place when I was in school. The story of the people returning his Impala was one of my favorites. Another was that when he was having some repairs done on his house, he'd get up every morning and make pancakes for the contractors.

Pittsburgh recently announced that they're going to put a statue of him on the North Shore. The artist they've commissioned did one of a beloved mayor, and it's a statue I love. I'm thrilled with the choice.
posted by librarianamy at 12:38 PM on June 1, 2007


I was always partial to Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood
posted by Keith Talent at 12:40 PM on June 1, 2007


(p.s. -- fix the spelling on your tags, there's no "D" in his name)

Er. Thanks, briank, I'm usually on it with that stuff, but I was up late last night with my bunny at the emergency vet, and then up very early this morning to pick him up and drive him back to the regular vet. I confess I posted this in a haze of emotion and immediately went and took a nap.

I really needed some Mr. Roger's goodness this morning. I guess you could say a brisk Mr. Rogering was in order.

I'm still pretty dim right now, so apologies if Mr. Rogers at the Senate hearings has alredy been poste in this thread. He just kicks so much ass.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:41 PM on June 1, 2007 [6 favorites]


Because wishing people well is good, and waking up extra early to do it extra sincerely is extra good.


Oh. Good thing wishing works, then.
posted by interrobang at 12:42 PM on June 1, 2007


I love that Koko the gorilla removed his shoes when she met him.

It would appear the lowest common denominator is love. His commencement speech is beautiful. Best comment on the bboy video is "L to the MAO".
posted by phaedon at 12:44 PM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I thought he was creepy and probably a pedophile until I read a book he wrote. He wrote about his ministry and I realized he wasn't trying to reach people my age, but young and vulnerable people. I really wish I had had a show/friend like him when I was young. Thanks for the link.
posted by RussHy at 12:46 PM on June 1, 2007


Oh. Good thing wishing works, then.

Perhaps if you dedicated a portion of every day to expressing at least to yourself the kindest desires that you can have for the well-being of specific other people and thinking about how you might be an instrument in making the well-being of those specific people a reality, you'd realize that it does, in fact, work.
posted by The World Famous at 12:47 PM on June 1, 2007 [8 favorites]


"Good thing wishing works, then."

I don't see anyone claiming it did. Whether it worked or not isn't the point.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:48 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


OK, now I see someone claiming it works.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:49 PM on June 1, 2007


I wonder how I can be like him. Is it something you're born with, or is it your attitude?
posted by rolypolyman at 12:49 PM on June 1, 2007


I don't just make Red Meat cartoons for anybody, you know.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:54 PM on June 1, 2007 [9 favorites]


...when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano...
Jazz piano? He could play jazz piano on top of everything else? That, more than anything else in the Top 15 list is somehow making me feel pretty small by comparison. And I didn't even like his show as a kid.
posted by lekvar at 12:56 PM on June 1, 2007


It won't surprise me at all if, in a couple thousand years, he's a major figure in several religions.

That or he will be irreversibly pigeonholed by his middle name. Which is McFeely.
posted by phaedon at 12:56 PM on June 1, 2007


mr. rogers never went hunting, because that implies a chance he wouldn't be successful.

mr. rogers went KILLING!
posted by Hat Maui at 12:58 PM on June 1, 2007


His commencement speech is beautiful

Yeah -- after reading that I am confident he got a rousing standing ovation from the students, faculty and families.
posted by ericb at 1:00 PM on June 1, 2007


I once saw an episode of Candid Camera where the oh-so-funny gag was that they took the TVs out of hotel rooms at a TV critics' reviewing convention. Apparently all the critics were supposed to watch the new fall line-up of shows in their rooms over a closed-circuit system or something like that. All the critics of course went nuts over not having their TVs, but by luck one of the members of the association (or just a visitor to the hotel, I'm not sure) was Fred Rogers. He just listened patiently and said, "Sure, that's OK." When they pressed him on it, he said, "I don't mind, I have enough TV in my life. I'm reading a good novel. I'll just read."
posted by Partial Law at 1:12 PM on June 1, 2007 [9 favorites]


This was also posted in the obit thread; an unexpected tribute to the man himself.

He was one of those background figures that you'd always think would be around forever and the world is richer for his having been here.
posted by dr_dank at 1:19 PM on June 1, 2007


Little known fact - Fred Rodgers, although a very nice man, was also so tough he blew his nose on broken glass and fire ants. He wasn’t scared of Koko because he could have easily outwrestled any gorilla, he was that bad ass. But that’s what I liked about him, he was tough, but, y’know, very gentle and kind and good with kids.

Y’know, I’m being facetious there, but I find myself also somewhat in earnest.
I remember as a child finding him very comforting and reassuring. As I grew up I began to admire him for his values.
The “God loves you just the way you are” comment only reiterates the depth of his character.
It rarely occurs to people how often it takes moral courage and indeed a certain toughness to be truly gracious and gentle and to value tolerance and act not only without violence but with respect and consideration towards everyone. He was indeed, in those terms, one tough mfer.
I understand we’ve nailed people to trees and such for acting in such a manner.
Gotta buy some old Mr. Rogers tapes and show them to my kids. I can think of only a very few people more worthy of emulation. And perhaps no one else on television.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:24 PM on June 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


That obit thread is something. Of particular relevance to this thread are the two posts -- from scody and wdpeck -- from folks who had brief interactions with Mr. Rogers, but who were clearly remembered by him.

(Reading that thread at work is not a good idea. I'm worried that my red eyes might make people think I'm on drugs.)

Note to interrobang: Mr. Rogers loves you, barf and all.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:32 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kinda along the lines of Smedlyman's comment, I was somewhat surprised that the Top 15 didn't include something along the lines of Mr. Roger's having a 3rd degree Blackbelt that he never used, or that he was an ex-SEAL. I fully expected some Chuck Norris-style quip about Roger's being a man of peace who could kill with a glance, but chose not to.
posted by lekvar at 1:35 PM on June 1, 2007


Perhaps if you dedicated a portion of every day to expressing at least to yourself the kindest desires that you can have for the well-being of specific other people and thinking about how you might be an instrument in making the well-being of those specific people a reality, you'd realize that it does, in fact, work.

I call it planning my day.
posted by Mr_Zero at 1:35 PM on June 1, 2007


Mr. Rogers was a great man, and this thread made me tear up a bit.

And interrobang, I'm surprised at you. You're the last person I expected to shit in this thread.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 1:36 PM on June 1, 2007


Smedleyman writes "Little known fact - Fred Rodgers, although a very nice man, was also so tough he blew his nose on broken glass and fire ants. He wasn’t scared of Koko because he could have easily outwrestled any gorilla, he was that bad ass. "

You are so right.

From Snopes:

On another note, there was this wimpy little man (who just passed away) on PBS, gentle and quiet. Mr. Rogers is another of those you would least suspect of being anything but what he now portrays to our youth. But Mr. Rogers was a U.S. Navy Seal, combat proven in Vietnam with over twenty-five confirmed kills to his name. He wore a long sleeve sweater to cover the many tattoo's on his forearm and biceps. A master in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, able to disarm or kill in a heartbeat. He hid that away and won our hearts with his quiet wit and charm. America's real heroes don't flaunt what they did, they quietly go about their day to day lives, doing what they do best. They earned our respect and the freedoms that we all enjoy. Look around and see if you can find one of those heroes in your midst. Often, they are the ones you'd least suspect, but would most like to have on your side if anything ever happened.[source]

A small part of me wishes the above were true.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:38 PM on June 1, 2007


I call it planning my day.

Mr. Rogers probably did, too.
posted by The World Famous at 1:38 PM on June 1, 2007


Who cares if wishing works though? It's the thought of people that matters.
posted by wheelieman at 1:43 PM on June 1, 2007


Mr. Rogers weighed in at exactly 143 pounds every day for the last 30 years of his life....

“the number 143 means 'I love you.' It takes one letter to say 'I' and four letters to say 'love' and three letters to say 'you.' One hundred and forty-three.”
posted by robot at 1:45 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm another one who never really liked his show as a kid, although I did dig Henrietta Pussycat. But I really admire him as a man. May we all spend so much time thinking of others with sincere love.
posted by MsMolly at 1:46 PM on June 1, 2007


Joey Michaels: I wish I could be more like Fred Rogers, but I'll have to make myself a much stronger person first.

Joey... I like you just the way you are. :)
posted by zennie at 1:47 PM on June 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Reading this thread, I am ashamed for wishing Dick Cheney dead elsewhere on this site.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:47 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just watched an episode of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood while cleaning the kitchen. It made me happy.

I just noticed this on the man's wikipedia page about his memorial service:
Outside, about half a dozen demonstrators from the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church protested Rogers' teaching about tolerance and acceptance

That made me sad. And sick to my stomach.
posted by papakwanz at 1:57 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, it's quite a strange thing. The single most common adjective applied to Mister Rogers in this and other thread is the word 'creepy'?

I think I know why he strikes people as creepy. It's because his isn't at all 'cool'. There is no cynicism, no irony, no condescension in him at all. He is not simply unhip, he is ahip. And this is what people calling him creepy are picking up on.

We are conditioned to traffic in cool. You have to look cool, not look nice or distinguished or presentable, but cool. But it's all so generic. Everyone seems to have the same new haircut that no one 5 years ago had. We all have the same cynical politics.

Something about the counterculture from the 60's is still with us but it has been co-opted into a form of synchronized periodic obsolescence and mockery of that which came before. There is something fundamentally anti-intellectual about this, but I can't quite articulate it. There some element of arrogance there. Like everyone is perpetually 18.

Cool is America's code, and I really do think this is an American problem, because cool is propagated mainly though mass media, and there is no greater media saturated culture on earth than America's. Will I look cool wearing this? Will I sound cool saying this, or reading this or doing this. We're committing mass murder in other parts of the world because somebody figured out how to make violence cool and tough-talk politics cool, and then they combined the too. Swagger is cool. Cowboys and fighter jets and JDAMs and war porn are cool. So that's what we have. We are the Kingdom of Whatever.

Of course he hated ad-libbing on camera, because ad-libbing on camera is inexcusably lazy. It's what you do so you don't have to write or rehearse. Actors and comedians and musicians improvise as a way of living within a moment that is in some way artificial. A method actor may improvise because he is trying to become the character, but he isn't the character to begin with. A Jazz musician improvises because while the structure and the changes are the same, and the audience is familiar with them, the particular moment of performance is not, and that has it's own emotional context.

Mister Rogers was the same guy, so why improvise? The show wasn't about his character, it was about the kids, os you have to work out ahead of time how best to communicate with the child viewers. Everything was planned.

He talks slowly not because kids are dumb but because as studies have shown, children's brains are considerably more active than adults', and they need time to return to the original thought communicated to them after branching off in multitudinous directions.

The puppets? Puppets are good because they are considerably smaller than the human actors around them, and thus kids perceive them as safe. They look like toys. Contrast this with a giant seven foot all yellow bird, and ask yourself which inspired more nightmares.

The show is glacially paced and had the same structure with the same things happening in the same order because children respond to structure and routine is a source of comfort, particularly in children whose lives were anything but predictable.

Maybe that's what cool is - withdrawing from the context of one's life into an artificial one, in which the cool perceives itself to be somehow outside of reality, looking in and commenting on it. But this isn't insight, it's not reflecting on the world. It's standing at the edge of the world sniping into it.

Mister Rogers isn't creepy. CSI with is gruesome bloody corpses every Thursday at promptly 9:14 EST is creepy. Thirty million people looking at that and snaking on chips while they watch is creepy.

Listening to some rapper sing about his genitals and sexual conquests is creepy. Approach crowds of people and talk to them about the aroused state of your genitals, and watch how quickly you end up in a squad car. But somehow it's ok on TV because...why exactly?

Watching a war unfold on television in near real time is beyond creepy. It is obscene. You watch people screaming over their dead loved ones, and then you turn it off and go have dinner, or go to bed? No empathy, no revulsion. What the hell kind of civilization is this?

You know, I watched some 9-11 footage on youtube the other day (because I'm a masochist, apparently), and it occured to me that in the 6 years since it happened, I've never once heard anyone say "I'm sorry for those people who are so consumed by hate for people they've never met and places they've never been. What can we do to lift that burden from them?"

Because that isn't cool. That's being a pussy (or a fag if you are on FreeRepublic). There's no posture to be struck there, no pose. It's something that has to be done in earnest, and that's what's been lacking in the American culture.

Think about the Pope, entering the cell to confront his assassin. He forgave him, we all know that. But can you imagine the conversation? Can you imagine either someone being so perceptive that they can reach into a perfect stranger and expose their soul, or someone whose personality is so shallow that their emotions or ideologies are so shallow that any attempt to probe their depth displaces them entirely?

Mr. Rogers may have been the last earnest man.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:00 PM on June 1, 2007 [1028 favorites]


Every once in a long while, I think about Mr. Rogers, for no reason, and I tear up that he's gone.

And people look at me and ask what's wrong. And I feel like the biggest dork in the world when I say "I miss Mr. Rogers."

But I do.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 2:04 PM on June 1, 2007 [64 favorites]


Pastabagel writes "Something about the counterculture from the 60's is still with us but it has been co-opted into a form of synchronized periodic obsolescence and mockery of that which came before. There is something fundamentally anti-intellectual about this, but I can't quite articulate it."

Whoa. Well said.

Oh, and John Kenneth Fisher, I actually teared up a bit reading your comment.
posted by brundlefly at 2:09 PM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I know better than to read any Mr. Rogers threads because I always start crying like a total baby, and I look completely psycho to all the people I work with.

I am a cynical, black-hearted evil bitch of the first order, but there is a special, untouched, innocent, loving little healthy corner of that mostly dead heart that my feelings towards Mr. Rogers occupies. To this day, I have never felt such a profound and enduring sense of loss to the entire good of the world as I do when I realize he's no longer alive.

Man. I love him. I can't believe there is anyone who doesn't. They must be made of scorpions and cigarette burns.
posted by mckenney at 2:12 PM on June 1, 2007 [23 favorites]


Pastabagel: to add on to what you've written, which is in my view, completely correct, I will offer that there's a component of willful insensitivity, a sort of anti-emotionality to the anti-intellectualism, wherein people in this country are loathe to share openness and the acknowledgment of the beauty of community and of sharing itself. We are obsessed with our individuality to the point that being told we are just as lovable as everyone else strikes us as an affront to our privacy, and comes off as intrusive or creepy.

Many practicing people of various religions will disagree, and insist that they focus a lot of their energy on creating spaces of understanding or forgiveness, but the fact that this has not succeeded on the level of the cultural conscience has very much to do with the fact that this man, Mr Rogers, found a wonderful medium and a well-suited audience: mass media and young sensitive minds. Even those who were too media savvy to be entertained by the show took away a sense of difference from this man, I daresay.

In short, I think Dr. Phil is in now way a suitable replacement, that control over our emotions and psyches is great, but improvements to our mass sociology are far, far more difficult, and desperately needed. In that battle, MR. Rogers was not only an earnest man but a heroic one, to me. Honesty, effort and vulnerability are way underrated. Call me cheesy, but as a nice secular humanist he's a total icon to me.

I am reminded of one of my favorite aphorisms: The hardest thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:35 PM on June 1, 2007 [8 favorites]


Rev. Fred was the real deal. Pastabagel thank you for your comment.

He was a sweet, nurturing, kind, gentle, good man, and he is dearly missed.
posted by MythMaker at 2:43 PM on June 1, 2007


And I'll bet everyone that found Mr. Rogers creepy didn't bat an eyelash at Peewee Herman.

But seriously, Mr. Rogers was easily the greatest single person of the 20th century, quietly influencing countless lives with complete humility and goodness. I only wish more prominent Christian leaders patterned their behavior after him.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:50 PM on June 1, 2007


I wonder how I can be like him. Is it something you're born with, or is it your attitude?

I haven't the foggiest. If anyone here has any ideas, I'd sure like to hear them.
posted by joedan at 2:53 PM on June 1, 2007


I'll never forget having the privilege of seeing Mr. Rogers in person when he spoke at my sister's college graduation. The address is beautiful, but the best part, for me, was that it had been pouring up until about 5 minutes before Mr. Rogers took the stage, and when he did, he led the entire congregation in a round of 'It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.'
posted by nerdcore at 3:21 PM on June 1, 2007


I am wiping away tears and wishing you all well. Sincerely.

And now I'm picking up the phone to call a bunch of people just to tell them I love them.
posted by scody at 3:42 PM on June 1, 2007


Pastabagel: in sum, "What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?"

And another factor in what happened: We're gun-shy and suspicious of sincerity. We want our interactions all manufactured and scripted and clean and we generally just don't want to get involved. We see sincerity as a particularly slimy cover for forthcoming abuse &/or manipulation, and collectively we do not often show or admit to weakness, fear or vulnerability and we don't deal well with it when others do. And this why we find Mr. Rogers creepy now.

Sincerity and concern: this is something people fake when they want something from you. So somewhere underneath we wonder what it is that Mr. Rogers really wants.

Weakness and vulnerability: Mr. Rogers' show was built on acknowledging children's fears, their vulnerabilities, and discussing them. And well...now we expect him to be trying to take advantage somehow.

Why or how did that happen? Marketing and advertising, manufactured panic on the nightly news, the Reaganite backlash against the 60s, what? I know I'm terrible about it, myself. There's a lot bouncing around for me mentally with this but I'm not up to developing it at all.
posted by dilettante at 4:03 PM on June 1, 2007 [12 favorites]


zennie: Joey... I like you just the way you are. :)

Pastabagel's comment rocked, but you win this thead for me because that made me feel good. Yay for living WWMRD?
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:30 PM on June 1, 2007


That should be a "!" and not a "?"
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:30 PM on June 1, 2007


I want to share with you my Fred Rogers story.

I was 8 years old and living in Santa Monica. Mr. Rogers was coming to a local auditorium for a combination event - a talk with parents and a visit with their kids. I was totally psyched for the event, and completely and utterly broken when he was forced to cancel due to sickness.

However, a week in the mail, I (and I assume the other hundred kids who were looking forward to it) received in the mail a pretty colored poster of Mr. Rogers' neighborhood, with a nice handwritten note from him saying how much he had missed seeing us. It was one of the highlights of my childhood.

I miss him.
posted by luriete at 4:31 PM on June 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Joey Michaels writes "Yay for living WWMRD"

Nice. I'm totally buying a wrist-band-making machine.
posted by brundlefly at 4:32 PM on June 1, 2007


Seriously, read the Esquire piece that this article is mostly based on.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:00 PM on June 1, 2007


Here it is.

It's a ruin of a Web page, but here is what I wrote in response to Jim Rogers' death.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:07 PM on June 1, 2007


When I was a little kid, I used to tell everyone about "my friend, Mr. Rogers".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:26 PM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yay for living WWMRD

I totally came back to this thread just to say that!
posted by Burhanistan at 7:37 PM on June 1, 2007


phaedon - thank you so much for that link. I went there, but graduated a few years earlier, and we had some boring guy talk at us. Dartmouth was always happy to claim Mr. Rogers, though he transferred out. I wish he had been our commencement speaker.

I would wear a WWMRD? wristband
posted by rtha at 8:07 PM on June 1, 2007


When little kids are being little kids, they think that nice people are nice because, well, they're nice people. Then, at depressingly early ages for some but inevitably for all, kids discover that life is really harsh and that a great many people are nice because they expect niceness in return. This is called "growing up".

Some people react by deciding that a certain group of people are responsible for this and if we killed or enslaved them all we'd be happy. Others decide that no one has been, or can ever be, actually nice and decide to Do Unto Others before it is Done Unto Them. Still others do the trendy thing these days, which is cry about the whole situation and cut yourself while posting about it to your blog.

A very very few people decide they will be actually nice anyway. Out of those, one actually succeeded in our lifetime. We called him Mr. Rogers.
posted by Maxson at 8:26 PM on June 1, 2007 [9 favorites]


This has to be the most wonderful and inspiring thread I've read on here over the past 5 years. Thank you everyone, and thank you Mr. Rogers.
posted by Iamtherealme at 9:56 PM on June 1, 2007


I don't think anyone's posted this yet, but Record Robot has Mister Rogers singing "What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel?" (scroll to the bottom of the page).
posted by stinkycheese at 10:45 PM on June 1, 2007



I wonder how I can be like him. Is it something you're born with, or is it your attitude?

I haven't the foggiest. If anyone here has any ideas, I'd sure like to hear them.


It's easy, like Jesus, Fred Rogers taught by example.

The thing that pisses me off about what Christianity has become, most of all, is how by deifying Jesus, it has boxed him away, into something other. Here is a religion built around this great man, but by calling him God, it implies that living like Jesus did is something superhuman. By making him the center and focus of their entire religion, it has effectively made it okay for them to ignore him.

Thus it is that so-called Christians allows themselves to commit the worst atrocities, repeatedly, by telling themselves they're getting better. When it's not actually hard to live like Jesus did, you just have to stop saying it's hard and do it!

Mr. Rogers did not fall for this trap.
posted by JHarris at 10:51 PM on June 1, 2007 [8 favorites]


4. He Saved Both Public Television and the VCR

↑ video of Senate testimony

I WANT TO MAKE BELIEVE < /img>
posted by Poolio at 12:51 AM on June 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


And, if nobody's already posted it, Mister Rogers says goodbye.
posted by lalex at 1:04 AM on June 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


On meeting Koko for the first time, the gorilla embraced him, and stooped to take off his shoes. Koko did this because she loved him, and knew that doing this would make him, him in particular, happy.

I hardly know what to say. That's not just saintly, but Francis of Assisi saintly.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:49 AM on June 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's been said before in this thread, but damn:

There's some combination of Rogers himself and the reactions to him here that really gets me. I've teared up multiple times reading this thread.

This thread speaks well of MetaFilter, and Rogers' existence speaks well of humanity.
posted by brundlefly at 2:12 AM on June 2, 2007


Here is a religion built around this great man, but by calling him God, it implies that living like Jesus did is something superhuman.

That's all wrong. Fundamental to Christianity is the idea that, while divine, Jesus was also a man.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:20 AM on June 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Doesn't that vary from sect to sect?

/not a Christian... genuinely curious
posted by brundlefly at 2:31 AM on June 2, 2007


Reading through the commencement address nerdcore linked, I found this:

ANYONE WHO HAS EVER GRADUATED FROM A COLLEGE, ANYONE WHO HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO SUSTAIN A GOOD WORK HAS HAD AT LEAST ONE PERSON – AND OFTEN MANY – WHO BELIEVED IN HIM OR HER. WE JUST DON'T GET TO BE COMPETENT HUMAN BEINGS WITHOUT MANY DIFFERENT INVESTMENTS FROM OTHERS.

IN FACT, FROM THE TIME YOU WERE VERY LITTLE, YOU'VE HAD PEOPLE WHO HAVE SMILED YOU INTO SMILING, PEOPLE WHO HAVE TALKED YOU INTO TALKING, SUNG YOU INTO SINGING, LOVED YOU INTO LOVING.

SO, ON THIS EXTRA SPECIAL DAY, LET'S TAKE SOME TIME TO THINK OF THOSE EXTRA SPECIAL PEOPLE. SOME OF THEM MAY BE RIGHT HERE, SOME MAY BE FAR AWAY. SOME MAY EVEN BE IN HEAVEN. NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE, DEEP DOWN YOU KNOW THEY'VE ALWAYS WANTED WHAT WAS BEST FOR YOU. THEY'VE ALWAYS CARED ABOUT YOU BEYOND MEASURE AND HAVE ENCOURAGED YOU TO BE TRUE TO THE BEST WITHIN YOU. LET'S JUST TAKE A MINUTE OF SILENCE TO THINK ABOUT THOSE PEOPLE NOW.


ONE MINUTE OF SILENCE

WHOMEVER YOU'VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT: JUST IMAGINE HOW GRATEFUL THEY MUST BE THAT YOU REMEMBER THEM WHEN YOU THINK OF YOUR OWN BECOMING.

After thinking about my Mom for a minute or two, I was rather moved by the idea of Mr. Rogers' gratitude to us, here in this thread, for remembering him when each of us thinks of our own becoming.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:44 AM on June 2, 2007 [7 favorites]


Fuck, did he actually yell that entire commencement speech? Maybe he wasn't such a great guy.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:54 AM on June 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wonder how I can be like him. Is it something you're born with, or is it your attitude?

Having had the awesome privilege of knowing him in a professional capacity (though he never left anything professional, he was warm and caring to everyone no matter how he knew them) I'd say it was a conscious choice, and one you can make. He could've chosen, on any day, to stay at home in bed, or to drink a bottle of Jack Daniels and yell at his wife. He could've chosen to become uberrich through marketing his products and ideas and vacation 3 months of every year in Bora Bora. But every day he chose to be the man we saw on television and in his appearances and speeches -- that wasn't a persona, that was him actively choosing and living his choice. So if you want to be like him, choose to be.

The only thing that makes me less sad, even years on, about the loss of Fred Rogers is knowing that his friends, Bill Ister and Elaine Lynch especially, at Family Communications, are carrying on his good work of helping parents (and other adults) know how to communicate effectively with children, in good times and bad, in order to help those kids grow into happy, healthy adults. It's God's work, really.
posted by Dreama at 4:27 AM on June 2, 2007 [11 favorites]


Pastabagel; can I favorite your comment more than once? Because I want to. A million times over, if that's no trouble. Thank you.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:44 AM on June 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting that link librarianamy, I was at the architecture firm that is coordinating that statue some years ago, and it has been under works for a while. I'm glad it is finally publicly announced so I can talk about it. In my opinion the city of Pittsburgh couldn't do too much in trying to link itself to Mr. Rogers. What a great man.
posted by meinvt at 7:08 AM on June 2, 2007


Doesn't that vary from sect to sect?

/not a Christian... genuinely curious


Not as much as you think.

Christian Orthodoxy, which includes fundamentalists, reformed, evangelicals, most pentecostals/charismatics, and a majority of mainline congregations, believes "fully God and fully human." IOW, I'd say around 80% of the global church.

The Gnostic gospels were generally based around the idea that Jesus was more God than human (or all God and not human), since most of them stem from a Greek philosophical reference point where the body is corrupt and why would God allow himself to be corrupted by flesh. Generally. Not all. And certainly not all Gnostics today would agree; some would argue fully human and not God. I'd guess Gnostics are around 1% of the global church.

And then there are the liberals, who argue that Jesus was fully human and not God, maybe just a weather vane pointing to God. They're mostly concentrated in the mainline denominations of more developed countries, so while they may be, by my guess, 14-15% of the global church, they make up a far more sizable percentage of American and European Christians.

So, there are some wide bands. But you don't see a lot of variability between, say, Presbyterians and Methodists. Both on paper hold to orthodoxy and "fully God, fully human."

What you do see is a lot of variability between Presbyterian (or Methodist) congregations, even between congregants of the same church. Although, the variability is far greater on social and political issues than on the nature of Jesus within a congregation. My church has as many self-identified Republicans as Democrats, for instance, but very few who would argue against "fully God, fully human."
posted by dw at 8:55 AM on June 2, 2007




I don't know enough about modern religion to comment, but for interesting ancient ruminations on the nature of Jesus, check out the monophysite/diophysite issue, the council of Chalcedon, the council of Nicea, Nestorius, Arius, and Sabellius. Those are all 1 - 4th century A.D. but wildly interesting. Also check out Athanasius and Augustine's response to the "Arian Heresy".

Double also, Fred Rogers was a great great person and a big part of my childhood and I miss him and dearly hope to show his program to my future children.
posted by psmith at 11:50 AM on June 2, 2007


Ethereal Bligh: Sorry about the all caps -- I copied the text in its original format from the transcript. I considered changing it to remove the shoutiness, but I decided that I loved that passage just the way it is.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:15 PM on June 2, 2007


The Merchants of Cool
posted by homunculus at 1:13 PM on June 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mr. Rogers wasn't really my show when I was a kid. I was far more into Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow and old Captain Kangaroo re-reuns, plus I had three older siblings, so when they got home from school we watched 321Contact and the like.

The only things I remember about the show from my childhood were the sweater-shoes-and-song opening, the song about not being afraid of the drain, and the fact that I turned off the t.v. or left the room whenever we went into the land of make-believe. That place scared the bejeesus out of 2-year-old me.

When I was about 9 or 10 I heard a rumor that Fred Rogers had been busted for cocaine possession. Like any growing-cynical 9 or 10 year old, I believed it out of hand. Old Fred had always seemed kind of creepy, a little too cloying. Plus, The Simpsons came out right around that time, and there was something distinctly Flanders-ish about him. Of course he was a coke-head. Coke was a drug, and he must be on drugs, because he just seemed not right, right? (This is the mind of a 9 or 10 year old.)

Now, years later, when I mentioned it to people, they were not only shocked at my allegations, but personally offended. Turns out you can fuck with a lot of public figures and celebrities in this world, but some people are untouchable.

Mr. Rogers was, and still is, untouchable, and it's taken me a long time to understand why.

The opening sequence was brilliant on it's own, in a completely unheard-of, unreplicated, counter-intuitive way. He comes in. He puts on a sweater. He takes off his shoes. He puts on a new pair of shoes. All while singing softly an invitation to friendship.

Aside from the absurdity of taking off one pair of shoes and putting on another, it did two ingenious things. First, it gave the kids a calm routine to open things up. They knew the routine by heart by the third or fourth time they saw it, and it shepherded them in with familiar terrain. Secondly, it focused, without mentioning it, on one of the few concepts truly familiar to and central to young children's lives: the changing of clothes. It didn't matter that it was arbitrary - hell, all clothes-changing is arbitrary when you're two - it just mattered that hear was a guy who did the same things they did, and was comfortable with them.

Which brings us to the bathroom drain. I could make as much fun of Mr. Rogers as anyone when I was an adolescent, but I was afraid of the bathroom drain as a toddler. I bet many - if not most - of us were. That song was what did the trick. I don't know how it got through to me, but it did.

Now let's think about this. When you're a kid, particularly a very young kid, very few concepts are clear and important to you. If you're having dinner, you don't understand cooking, or why you eat, or much beyond meals other than where you sit at the table, and whether you think you'll like whatver food you're given. If you're being put in the car, you don't understand where your going, or why, or why it needs to be now and not after your done playing, but you know your car seat. And you know bathtime, and the way that it can both be a chore or a playtime or a horror depending on context.

If all of us were creating a t.v. show, how long do you think it would take us to hit upon "let the kids know that the bathroom drain won't hurt them" as a viable segment idea? And what are the odds that we would've gone through with it? Mr. Rogers understands kids, and how small their world is, and how things that no adult pays any real attention to constitute EVERYTHING that they pay attention to.

So hear hear! for Fred ROgers, and the WWMRD bracelets.

As a side note, if there's any sort of afterlife, then Fred Rogers and Steve Irwin are getting along like gangbusters, and just waiting for Bill Watterson to join the party.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:39 PM on June 2, 2007 [9 favorites]


Navelgazer -- a totally eponysterical comment -- but, very much right on. Oh the innocence of our childhoods.
posted by ericb at 5:09 PM on June 2, 2007


if there's any sort of afterlife, then Fred Rogers and Steve Irwin are getting along like gangbusters

And the first to vote Jerry Falwell off 'The Island.'
posted by ericb at 5:12 PM on June 2, 2007


A 100+ comment thread about Mr. Rogers and only sparing token references to pederasty? It looks like we may have finally got all the hurf durf out of our system.
posted by tehloki at 7:52 PM on June 2, 2007


Doesn't that vary from sect to sect?

/not a Christian... genuinely curious


While I believe most modern Christian sects or denominations will claim the both fully human/fully divine model, you hear (or I hear) a lot of things from practicing Christians which seem to indicate that they, personally, see him as much more in the divine side of the spectrum -- I guess to make it easier to separate his actions from theirs. I once sat through a sermon at my parents' church in which the preacher explained why the whole "giving your possessions to the poor" thing was symbolic and that Jesus doesn't actually expect you to do that.

The best sermon I've ever heard came from a man, who, now that I think of it, must be a lot like Fred Rogers was - open and sincere, unabashedly curious and caring about the world and people around him, unconcerned with being cool or sophisticated-seeming. In the sermon he speculated on what Jesus' life may have been like before the events of the Bible, including wondering, for example, if he had ever had a girlfriend. At the time I had been defining myself as 'non-religious' for a while but that still jolted me - although I grew up in a fairly liberal Christian tradition, such a question about Jesus would have been beyond the pale - anything that would have made him seem truly human wasn't ever talked about, with the exception of the losing-the-temper-in-the-temple thing. I guess keeping him so out-of-reach and untouchable can make his actions seem divine and unattainable for most Christians, whatever their professed divinity theory of him is.
posted by frobozz at 10:08 PM on June 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mr. Rogers may have saved my life. I had a violent and chaotic childhood. His show gave me guidance and hope that not all adults were violent crazy people who changed the rules on you at a whim. I base a lot of my parenting on what I learned from him. I'll always miss him.
posted by pywacket at 10:22 PM on June 2, 2007 [4 favorites]


As a side note, if there's any sort of afterlife, then Fred Rogers and Steve Irwin are getting along like gangbusters, and just waiting for Bill Watterson to join the party.

That'd be heaven - hanging out with Steve-O and Mr. Rogers.
posted by cmyk at 11:32 PM on June 2, 2007


I grew up in Pittsburgh. My school's elementary school (it was a private k-12 dealie) had an event called "Grandparents and Special Friends" day, where you would bring a grandparent to school if you had one. Mr. Rogers routinely came with those kids who didn't have grandparents. It was really sweet.
posted by timory at 8:05 AM on June 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I know what you mean John. I do that every rare now and then when I think about Jim Henson.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:58 AM on June 3, 2007


Fred Rogers, Jim Henson, and Charles Schulz are my holy trinity. If I could live my life with half the grace, love, art, and goodness of spirit they had, I'd be living a fuller life than most people I've ever met.

Sigh...I miss those guys.
posted by crinklebat at 12:56 AM on June 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's all wrong. Fundamental to Christianity is the idea that, while divine, Jesus was also a man.

I know, I know, I grew up Christian. But the gap between what people say and what they do is often great.

Jesus was, above all else, a challenging figure. All too frequently, I see it drawn out as a kind of necromancy, concerned with mystic formulas like "I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior," than as a way to live.
posted by JHarris at 3:48 PM on June 5, 2007


"Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, 'God loves you just the way you are'.”

You know, if at any point during the 12 years I attended Catholic school, any of the authority figures there had said that to me, there's at least an outside chance that I would still be a Catholic, or at least a believer of some kind.

Instead I got bizarre ritual and castigation for not following rules seemingly designed to trip you up so you COULD be castigated.

No, I'm no longer a believer but those who claim to be couldn't find a better role model than Fred Rogers.

Pastabagel nailed it. We're so used to, and expect, INsincerity that we don't even know how to process true sincerity when it confronts us. How sad for us.
posted by Cranky Media Guy at 12:10 AM on June 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


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