This movie is about a jaded journalist interviewing Mister Rogers for what turned out to be this article back in 1998. Fred Rogers of the children’s TV program fame, is sincere, unwavering, prayerful, a transformation delivery man. He focused on bringing to the world what it needed, and this is just one story of him doing so.
I particularly loved how he said, “Anything human is mentionable, and anything mentionable is manageable,” and how that breaks through a lot of struggles and fears. It helps to talk about stuff, and when people open up, to carefully listen to them. I also liked how Mister Rogers always took time to pause and define his terms, not making any assumptions on what people know, while not letting anyone feel stupid or left out of what was being discussed. He saw television programs for children throwing pies at each others’ faces, and knew that was no way to raise a considerate, healthy generation. His thoughtful response to that insight, and pervasive, attentive action, is a model for us all, in whatever medium or career path we devote our time to.
The reporter this movie is about, is still alive and well. He wrote this article recently about Fred Rogers and the movie. Commenting on the film’s pertinence now, he writes, “The story was no longer just about a midlife journalist choosing what kind of man he wanted to be; it was the story of a people choosing what kind of country we want to live in.”
We need more secular ministries like this, and it occurs to me that we all can (and maybe should) have one too, right here in our own neighborhoods. For example, I hope this blog is a secular ministry a bit like that. More than ever, we need people who believe in humanity, who act out of goodness, and who can create moments of authentic connection and deeply perceptive honesty.
It is Mister Roger’s legacy to encourage us to do this. He would want each of us to remember everyone was once a child. He would have us consider carefully what kind of parent we want to be– what do we want to do and be to bring about our own heaven, right here on earth.
To me, Tom Hanks did a fine job playing Fred Rogers, but admittedly, I did not know the original one enough to be distracted by the difference. But anyway, this film’s themes go well beyond the characters. Even though I give this film five stars for its timely contribution, I don’t think it needs to be seen on the big screen. What it needs more, is reflection put into action. Let’s ask ourselves how we can be a more kind, healing presence in the world, and then diligently do it.