Fred McFeely Rogers (1928 – 2003) was an American television personality, puppeteer, educator, Presbyterian minister, composer, songwriter, author, and activist. He’s undoubtedly the most known for his phrase and song “Won’t you be my neighbor?” which he sung each episode of the educational preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001), which he created and hosted.
He had a life-changing conversion moment when he first saw television in his parents’ home. He graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was ordained a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1963. He was impassioned by television after his first viewing experience. And pursued the exploration of it as potential medium for communication. In an interview with CNN in his later years, Rogers stated, “I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there’s some way of using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen.”
Rogers touched countless lives (including my own), received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, some forty honorary degrees and many of the other awards that prestigious artists are awarded. I loved that one of his trademark sweaters is displayed as a “Treasure of American History” in the Smithsonian Institution.
Here are some quotes of his upon which we can meditate in Advent – a time in which we await the great birth of a small child, one who might have loved to take in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”
“You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.”
“The kingdom of God is for the broken hearted”
“Life is for service.”