Mr. Rogers’ Light Burned Bright

The world needs more culturally savvy Christians and sadly, we just lost one with the death of Fred Rogers.

A culturally savvy Christian: 1) “Gets it,” is both culturally and biblically literate and knows how they relate to each other. 2) Practices shrewdness and discerning when dealing with popular culture. 3) Possesses special skills and knows how to enjoy culture at points of resonance, evaluate it at points of dissonance and employ it for the gospel’s sake.

Mr. Rogers, while considered “square” by many cultural elites, was actually quite culturally savvy. He understood that a mass medium like TV could actually be quite intimate. An ordained Presbyterian minister, he understood storytelling was an indirect way of communicating gospel.

He once said: “At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.” While some advocates of a more direct style of “gospel preaching” complained about his “general” communication the kids got it. They were comforted by his presence. They learned good moral lessons. And they understood that this man derived his peace from God.

How amazing that in a generation marked by broken marriages and instability, the father figure the younger generation universally embraced was a follower of Jesus who they welcomed into their homes every afternoon. Young men in their 20’s with spiked hair and nose rings wept yesterday when they heard the news of Mr. Rogers death.

Julie Durst, a 33-year-old mother of two in Vancouver, Washington sent a wonderful adaptation of Mr. Rogers theme to Seattle Times columnist Kay McFadden:

“It’s an overcast day in this neighborhood,
A very sad day for a neighbor,
We wish you were here,
We’re sad you’re not here.
Not a dry eye around in the neighborhood,
Lots of tear-filled eyes in your neighbors,
We wish you were here
We’re sad you’re not here.
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
But let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
And now that you’re gone, we all have to say:
We wish you were here.
We’re sad you’re not here.
We wish you were still our neighbor.
Sad is me
Sad are we
We’ll miss you terribly, our neighbor.”

With one culturally savvy Christian’s light moving on to eternity, who will heed the call to replace the missing light by burning even brighter on earth to the glory of God?

Posted in Staublog, Thoughts in February 28, 2003 by | No Comments »

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