As Methodists tarry, there's gay pain: 3-19-18
The challenge of change in Islam's ground zero: 3-21-18

Why we still need Mister Rogers: 3-20-18

My bride and I have a four-year-old granddaughter who has fallen in love with Mister Rogers. She watches taped old shows of his and specifically asks for "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" when given a choice of something to see on TV. This kid has good taste.

FredrogersBecause today would have been Fred McFeely Rogers' 90th birthday (and because he also was a Presbyterian minister and because people are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the start of his TV show), I want to say a few nice things about him here today.

In fact, it's hard to imagine anyone saying anything about him that wasn't nice.

What recommends Rogers to the world is not simply that he was a nice man, though in these days of repugnant bullies at almost all levels of society and politics, that surely counts for something.

Rather, Fred Rogers is important because he taught a lot of kids how to be honest -- both about what they've done and how they feel.

Which is to say that he let them acknowledge that sometimes they're sad, sometimes they're angry, sometimes they're frustrated. Those are natural feelings, he taught them. What matters is how you handle those emotions.

I am not trying to convince you that Fred Rogers was a nice and profoundly moral man because he was a Presbyterian, though I'm thinking that didn't hurt him (and yet I've known some fellow Presbyterians who were not nice and not very moral).

But somehow Rogers learned how to set priorities, learned what was important in life and what was fluff. And on his long-running TV show he tried to teach that kind of discernment to his young viewers.

I could be wrong about this, but I'm betting our politics would be much more sane and empathetic if we required everyone holding elective office to take a week off and spend it watching reruns of the "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Maybe, just maybe, they'd begin to understand what makes a good neighbor. (A clue: It's not revenge, not payback, not fabrication.)

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Can a social activist also be a theologian? That's the question a pastor raises in this Religion News Service piece. And a good question it is, too. The reality is that each of us is a theologian whether we want to be or not, and that goes for atheists and agnostics, too. As others have said, however, our task is to be modest theologians, showing a little humility about those matters we think we're sure of.


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