Saturday, May 01, 2010

Fox News on Mr. Rogers

I'm part of the generation that was "ruined" by Mr. Rogers, and I'm proud of it.

According to the fine folks at Fox News, "this evil man" has messed up a generation of kids by telling them that they are special for being just who they are, instead of telling them they have to work hard to be special.

First of all, I think Fox is playing with fire here. Many of their core audience are hardcore Calvinists, and Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian minister. Don't bite the hand that feeds you, guys.

Second, Mr. Rogers was right. You and I and every single individual on this earth are special and wonderful for being exactly who we are. As someone trained in theology, Fred Rogers understood that this message wasn't just a cute saying on a poster, it is one of the core truths that the whole narrative of scripture is based on.

Genesis 1:26 says that God created human beings in God's image. If we are God's image bearers, then we are very special indeed. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:26, to be specific), Jesus tells his hearers that God takes good care of the flowers in the field and the birds in the air, and since we are much more valuable to God, we should not worry (easier said than done, of course). Mr. Rogers was right: we are very special.

This doesn't mean we deserve an "A" on every test, as the Fox News anchors claim. That's silly, and Mr. Rogers, Big Bird, and all the other characters I loved as a child never told me that. American kids who have a gross sense of entitlement can't blame that on children's TV. Come to think of it, isn't blaming our problems on others one of the things conservatives rail against? Hmmm...

Mr. Rogers was right. And I am proud to be part of the generation that he "ruined".


John Meunier said...

This is idiocy, Matt. (Fox, not you.)

Fred Rogers led one of the most disciplined and hardest working lives of anyone you'd ever care to know. He taught that "doing your best" was always the standard on anything that we do.


Eve's Utopia said...

Thanks for this post, Matt. If you ask me, it seems that people need to be told more often that it is OK to be who they are!

It strikes me that perhaps one of the biggest problems among people today is not that they love themselves too much, but rather that they don't know how to love themselves enough. Or rather I should say that they don't know how to love themselves properly with the kind of love and compassion in which God loves all things.

And, yes, isn't the gospel about God coming to us and saying: "I love you and accept you as you are! Come as you are! Yes, if you follow me, you will change as you become more like me, but you don't have to change to follow me!"

Any good Calvinist should know that.

This whole ordeal actually upsets me quite a bit.

Katye said...

OK. Having actually watched the video, I should add another comment.

I think it is true that many people do have a sense of entitlement in our culture. For example, I've been in many classes where people do seem to think they just deserve an 'A' without putting forth any effort.

But I think it's absurd to blame this on Mr. Rogers' (and the gospel) message that everyone is special and accepted. Perhaps this sense of entitlement comes from a different vision and maybe unbearable pressure in our culture of the importance of "success"-- that is, "success" as defined by doing certain things, attaining a certain status/position, having a certain job.

Part of me thinks it's no wonder that this generation panics at getting anything less than an "A"...would most of their parents accept it either? Haven't they been taught from the moment they are born that they must be successful to be valuable and loved?

Again I will say, that Mr. Roger's message seems to me to be a welcome corrective to what is an otherwise destructive cultural ethos. I am not at all saying that we shouldn't work hard, but had better be mighty careful in creating blankt standards of "success" and expectations to which all people must live up to in order to be accepted.

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