When Fred Rogers died of cancer in 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously voted to honor “his dedication to spreading kindness through example.” (Variety) Tyler Huckabee at the Washington Post observed, “Rogers was a man defined by his Christian faith, and the message that he taught every day on his beloved children’s show was shaped by it.”
Now, as Tom Hanks is slated to portray Fred Rogers in a coming biopic, there is renewed interest—and nostalgia—about Mister Rogers and his perspective on a gentler, kinder way to endure life’s storms . . .
“Mister Rogers” even showed up at the Sundance Film Festival this year in a documentary titled Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Variety notes: “[Director Morgan] Neville’s fantastic archival footage reveals . . . his philosophies, if not the childhood memories that gave Rogers the ability to understand a four-year-old’s brain, almost as if he still carried his in his cardigan pocket. He knew what kids needed to know.”
Huckabee opined, “[Mister Rogers’] show debuted . . . after the Cuban missile crisis, and the world remained on tenterhooks. [His] message upended a few apple carts in his own time, and remains countercultural today. He said, ‘When we look for what’s best in the person . . . we’re doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.’ Mister Rogers’ theology was radical in 1962 . . . and it remains radical today.”