Keeping Faith: Of Terrorism, Mister Rogers, and A More Excellent Way for Our World

Mister Rogers

The Rev. Kyle Huckins, Ph.D., Guest Author

In the U.K., yet another senseless terror attack with multiple needless killings: van mows down people on sidewalks, assailants with knives burst out of the vehicle and assault strangers, others are stabbed in a restaurant.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Muslim apologists go forward to quell onlookers’ sense of reality, otherwise called “Islamophobia.” The founder of the Muslim religion, Muhammad, literally instructs followers 300 times (100 in the Quran) to physically kill or maim those who will not capitulate to Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists pledge to continue their assault until what they call the “decadent West” is defeated and all are suitable believers in Allah.

From Day 1 of their faith 1,400 years ago, Muslims have murdered innocents for their spirituality. This now comes to hundreds of thousands dead every year and hundreds of millions through history.

There is another way.

Fred Rogers of children’s TV fame goes before a U.S. Senate subcommittee to request funding for his program and scores of others as the president at the time wants to deny increased funding for public broadcasting, rapidly expanding in those days.

Sen. John Pastore, the tough, to-the-point head of the panel, turns to the quiet, unassuming Rogers and says, “All right, Rogers, you’ve got the floor.”

The broadcaster informs the chairman he has a lengthy written statement prepared, but he’s choosing not to voice it due to his allotment of six minutes to speak.

“One of the first things a child learns in a healthy family is trust,” Rogers says, “and I trust what you have said, that you will read this. It’s very important to me; I care deeply about children. My first …”

“Will it make you happy if you read it?” Pastore interrupts sarcastically.

“I’d just like to talk about it, if it’s all right,” Rogers humbly answers.

The 41-year-old TV host and writer then relates that he disagrees with cartoons’ propensity to “bombard” kids with ads mixed into content. He volunteers that his program deals with the “inner drama of childhood”: adjustments (such as dealing with new siblings), unfamiliar experiences (like getting a haircut) and so forth.

The chairman gets interested. “How long of a program is it?” he asks thoughtfully, adding a request for a tape of the show.

Rogers praises the viewers who donate money to keep his 30-minute offering on the air in a “community expression of care.”

“This is what I give,” he states emotionally. “I give an expression of care each day to every child, to help him realize he is unique.

“I end the program by saying, ‘You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.’”

Rogers says he believes two men working out their feelings together would be “much more dramatic” television than currently popular violent programming.

Pastore interjects unexpectedly, “I’m supposed to be a pretty tough guy, and this is the first time I’ve had goosebumps in the last two days.”

The TV personality praises the senator’s honesty, and asks permission to recite the lyrics of a children’s song he wrote about self-control. Permission’s granted.

Rogers says:

“What do you do with the mad that you feel, when you’re so mad, you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh-so-wrong, and nothing you do seems very right.
What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag, or see how fast you go?
It’s great to be able to stop when you’ve planned the thing that’s wrong,
And be able to do something else instead, and think this song.

“I can stop when I want to, stop when I wish, can stop, stop, stop anytime.
And what a good feeling to feel like this, and know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there’s something deep inside that helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a lady, and a boy can be someday a man.”

Chairman Pastore appears at peace. “I think it’s wonderful,” he remarks. “Looks like you just earned the $20 million.” The record shows he lived up to his word and the broadcaster’s trust.

Rogers received a Daytime Emmy in 1997 for lifetime achievement in television. “So many people have helped me come to this night. Some of you are here, some are far away, some are even in heaven,” he said as he accepted his award. “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are? Those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life?”

“Ten seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time,” he promised.

As the superstars and multimillionaires felt the conviction of the Lord, the moments passed.

After 10 seconds and a couple of brief sentences, Rogers concluded, “May God be with you.”

Mister Rogers gave nearly a half-century to children’s TV, though he never wanted to go into it, he confessed. He hated what was airing for kids and decided the Lord was calling him to that field. An ordained Presbyterian minister dedicated to the Christian gospel (called “The Way” by the first believers), he never preached to adults. However, he blessed several generations of little ones – including me – with a program and personality that reflected the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). He touched millions every year, hundreds of millions through history.

Jesus Christ came to earth at his Father’s behest, sent to humanity in benevolent response to its ungratefulness and evil. Our Lord did not want to suffer, bleed and die but submitted to the Almighty’s will and complied. In fulfilling God’s plan for reconciling us to himself, the Messiah continually directed glory and honor to the Most High, who focused such back on his Son and raised him from the grave. In the end, the two, with the help of the Holy Spirit, gave us all the means to go to heaven plus live better here and now.

Remember what Jesus’ beloved disciple said so well and so succinctly: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Then decide which way you will go.

Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – April 11, Evening

Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – April 11, Evening

The Rev

Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – April 12, Morning

Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – April 12, Morning

The Rev