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Mister Rogers Theses


When I was trying to decide my thesis last year (two years ago?), it was right around then that my love for Mister Rogers was kindled.  I had watched him perhaps a little as a child, but never been such a great fan.  And now, if he is mentioned, I will talk about him for ages!  It all started with this video:

From there, I did hours upon hours of research and development looking into Fred Rogers and his ministry and work.  I still want to write a book about him– perhaps a biography.  But at the time, I needed a thesis, and I had a few ideas about Mister Rogers.  Here they are.  Hope no one reads my blog and steals them.  But if they do, it’s okay, because it just means the story of Fred will go further on.


Mister Rogers and the Church

–          The television program as a model of a liturgical church service *

  • Flow of songs
  • Welcoming Message
  • Look at outside world
  • A parable / story / fantasy in make believe
  • An exposition on lesson
  • A Benediction

–          The principles espoused as principles shared by the church *

  • Love
  • Service
  • Community
  • Value
  • Growth/Learning
  • Activity

–          The use of multiple means to carry its message: television, books, music, etc.


Mister Rogers, Fantasy, and Reality

–          The layers of reality in Mister Rogers Neighborhood, akin to the allegory of the cave.

  • The puppets- Shadows on a wall
  • The television characters- Captors in a cave
  • The television itself- The water reflecting reality
  • The life of the child- The most real thing there is

–          The role of fantasy

  • from child development literature
  • from literature (Tolkien, Chesterton)
  • from television studies



Mister Rogers and the Broadcasting of Grace

(“Why in the world couldn’t we use this thing called television for the broadcasting of grace through the land”)

–          The different forms of grace that Rogers touched on

  • God’s unmerited favor- “I love you”
  • Grace to others- “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
  • Grace of form/nature- “Your body is fancy, mine is too”
  • Grace of speech- “There are many ways to say I love you”

“At the center of the Universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything that 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 us to continue against all odds. Life is for service. (Two signs in his office included the Hebrew word “chesed” for grace and the Greek word “agape” for “unconditional love”

Thank you, Mister Rogers, for all you did and for your impact of love that still rings throughout the world…

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