Making Sense of Mister Rogers’ Legacy

Dec 05, 2019

From the recent HBO documentary to the feature film starring Tom Hanks, Fred Rogers is having a moment. But why is this cardigan-donning TV host getting so much attention now? In this episode, Nathan and Cameron aim to push past the superficial answers and consider what’s given Mister Rogers such staying power.

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Photo from Rogelio A. Galaviz C.on Flickr (license). Photo cropped for website.

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Nathan Rittenhouse: Hello and welcome to Thinking Out Loud. Thinking Out Loud is a podcast where we think out loud about current events and Christian hope. I'm your cohost, Nathan Rittenhouse.

Cameron McAllister: And I'm your cohost, Cameron McAllister.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Cameron, it seems like you never know what's going to happen next in the world. There are cycles and rhythms to things, and all kinds of chaos. But one of the things that's been popping up time and time again, get ready for this, is a deep fascination with the person of Fred Rogers.

Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood just keep coming back around, and here we are right around the time of the release of a yet another film about his life, and it's just fascinating to see the range of commentary and thoughts and reflections and memories that people have about the man, his life, his shows, articles being written. Where are you running into, or maybe, back up and give us a little bit of your history with Mr. Rogers, and what pops into your mind when you think of him?

Cameron McAllister: Well, I grew up as a missionary kid in Vienna, Austria. So we actually, at the time, Mr. Rogers had not made it across the pond. So he was a special treat for me when I visited the United States. We would visit the United States roughly every three years, because we were missionaries. That's about all we could afford. And we would visit my mom's side of the family.

And so I would watch Mr. Rogers with my grandma right before nap time, and I remember it as being a very special time. There was just something otherworldly about Mr. Rogers, and even as a little kid, what always sticks out to me about Mr. Rogers, and we're in a whole new phase of watching him now, because I have little kids of my own, but what strikes me about it now is that Mr. Rogers grasped that kids are always really earnest.

A lot of grownups miss that. And when you have little kids, this is reinforced for you, I think, a little bit. But I don't know if this makes sense, but a lot of adults will talk to kids like they're little kids, and they'll talk to them in a really silly way. They'll say, "Oh yeah, isn't that funny?" And they'll use all these funny voices and all of it.

It kind of communicates, "I'm not really taking you that seriously. Oh, you and your little statements. Oh, you and your little games." But Mr. Rogers addresses kids with real seriousness, and with real earnestness, because kids are really actually very serious and very earnest. And I think sometimes, adults laugh a lot at what they say, because kids will, let's face it, they'll say funny stuff.

Dylan, my son's, latest thing is, he'll pick something up and he'll go, "What's this for doing?" But he's completely sincere and serious. And so if we laugh at him, he's not hurt, he just pauses and sort of analyzes us for a second. But Mr. Rogers took kids seriously, and that really, that broke through for me as a little kid in a really unique way.

I was being treated with real dignity and with real respect. And Mr. Rogers is so slow when he talks to you, and you look at the way he carefully, painstakingly goes through, whether it's crayons being made and manufactured, or an instrument being played. And it's riveting. Even as an adult, there's a hypnotic quality to it.

And it's amazing, because supposedly, it cuts across all the assumptions. "Well, you know, there's no attention spans anymore. You have to get really, really fast into the point, and you have to load in all of the silly entertainment to keep the attention of young people." But he didn't do any of that. So, and I think a lot of it is encapsulated in that earnest sort of dignity, conferring seriousness.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Also, my Mr. Rogers watching experience was with my grandparents, and so it was a bit more of a rare treat for us. But yeah, I definitely have kind of fond memories, not necessarily just of the show, but the context in which I viewed the show in, and who I viewed it with that are part of that.

Now, there is one big problem with his life, and that is we don't have a good controversy to go with him. Like, what's the scandal? What do we do with that?

Cameron McAllister: Yeah, well, there was that rumor for a while. You've heard the rumor about Mr. Rogers, haven't you?

Nathan Rittenhouse: Sure. You almost have to fabricate something scandalous to go with somebody to make them an interesting public figure.

Cameron McAllister: Exactly. So, yeah, there's this bizarre urban myth about Mr. Rogers that he was supposedly this military killing machine and that this was kept under wraps, but this functioned as the kind of necessary skeleton in the closet to make him more plausible. It's almost like a defense mechanism, really. And it's not true, by the way. It's been debunked time and time again.

The recent documentary, the HBO documentary, debunks it thoroughly and shows that it simply isn't true. And of course, just a little bit of modest research will confirm it, and yet it's still really prevalent. But it looks almost like a defense mechanism to me, sometimes. How can this guy, is this guy, is he for real?

Just to get a little dark here for a moment, you do have, one of the striking contrast here, a contrasting figure, who would initially have looked a little similar, and you'll know immediately where I'm going with this, I think, Nathan, would be Bill Cosby, right?

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah, yeah.

Cameron McAllister: And now, I think that whole scandal was so disillusioning for so many, even though, actually, if you look into it, sadly, there had been warning signs, actually, for several years. But it kind of, something like that happens, and I think, sometimes, we just think, "Okay, see? This makes sense. It couldn't have been real. That's who the person really was." But with Fred Rogers, he still seems too good to be true.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Well, and you know what, I was reading something where his wife goes out of the way to make the point that he wasn't a saint, or he wasn't perfect. And she said the reason she was doing that was not necessarily some kind of horrible critique of him, but just, if we put somebody in a different category of personhood, then we never try to reach that level or desire to be like them.

And so we can put people on a pedestal in the other direction of saying, "Well, that was just unique." But I think his thought was is that kindness can be developed and learned and shared and grown, and that it wasn't unique to him, but it's something that he wanted to, a seed that he wanted to plant and have it grow.

So that's an important part of who he was, and what his mission was, is yeah, it's not a statement of perfection. And I think his wife was wise to point that out, that kind of labeling him as more than he was reduces our likelihood of being inspired by who he was.

Cameron McAllister: But what's going on now? Why are we so obsessed with him, though?

Nathan Rittenhouse: Well, I think it's because, even the people who tried to be critical of him leaned into it and enjoyed it. It's like we have a patch of mint growing along one of our fences, and every time I accidentally mow over it, it just smells really nice. So by trying to destroy it, it ends up being a pleasant experience.

I don't know, is there a little bit of that feature with him, of even the people who really looked critically at his life felt themselves personally challenged and changed by him? It's totally unique, so maybe that's the answer to your question, is just the oddity of him as a person, not just as a public figure.

Cameron McAllister: Yeah, I guess. But why now, though? It's weird, because he's been around for a long time. There was a backlash against Mr. Rogers for a while. Look at me slipping into calling him Mr. Rogers, the mythical Mr. Rogers, Mr. Rogers, to me.

But there was a backlash a while, and the HBO documentary highlights this a bit, where a lot of the kids grew up watching him or who were featured on the show turned and said, "You told me my whole life, I was special just the way I am, and I had this exceptional view of myself, and then the harsh realities of the world kind of beat that out of me. And basically, you gave me a false hope. How dare you."

And he was really affected by that. This exercised a real toll on him. And he went through his years of wrestling with his own legacy and thinking, "Have I misled people, or has what I've done really made a difference?" So he had those dark moments himself, but now all of a sudden, I don't know, 2017, 2019, around this little range, he's having this moment.

I think there's a superficial read on it where you can say, "Well, look at our time right now, right? We're so polarized, and we're all clawing each other's eyes out on social media, and we're just at each other's throats all the time, and here's a guy who stands for decency, kindness, and civility." But I don't...That's part of it.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah.

Cameron McAllister: There's more, though.

Nathan Rittenhouse: So the sense you're pointing to there is, he gives us a hope for humanity of a way that people can behave.

Cameron McAllister: Right. Right.

Nathan Rittenhouse: But you're saying that's not the deepest, you don't think that's the deepest level of attraction right now.

Cameron McAllister: I don't think so. I think there's more. We're thinking out loud, and I really am. So here I am, out on the limb, maybe the limb's a little bit flimsy right now. I think there's more there. Do you think I'm onto something?

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah, well, I have no idea what that more thing is. So let's just kick it around here a minute and see if we get there.

Cameron McAllister: Let's do it.

Nathan Rittenhouse: But so, obviously, there are the TV shows, seeing those, documentaries upcoming. And then, of course, most major news organizations have some sort of journalistic attempt at speaking to this. So I thought I'd go totally off the record, and like five minutes ago, I called one of my cousins in Pennsylvania, so total anecdotal, and said, "Hey, look, I know you grew up and your family enjoyed this. Give me what pops in your mind when you think of Mr. Rogers."

And he very thoughtfully, for the spur of the moment cranked off five really insightful things that I think most of us would pick up on. But to loop back around, he said his fifth one was, is that Mr. Rogers was intentional about giving people self-worth, and he recognized that people would push back and say, "Well, you know, that's just kind of a stereotypical, millennial, pat you on the head kind of be whatever you want to be."

And he said, "No, I don't think that's actually what Mr. Rogers was doing." And like you're saying, he wrestled with that. But from my cousin's perspective, he said there's something that's deeper and more encouraging there than just, "Everything's fine." So his read on watching Mr. Rogers was that there's a deeper level of encouragement that came from conferring dignity. I liked the line he used. He was intentional about giving self-worth.

What's your read? Do you think there's possible that there's a deeper level there that, sure, we can look at it a superficial level and react against it, but was he really on to something, I guess, is my question?

Cameron McAllister: Yeah. Well, first of all, Nathan, can't you just learn how to Google something for a change? No, that's insightful. And how many of you listening right now would think to, if you're researching a subject, call a family member instead of going to Wikipedia or reading a book on it? I hate talking to another person. There's an idea.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Here's the thing, is that we're trying to step outside of the...What do all the professional thinkers think about thinking about things?

Cameron McAllister: Oh, yeah.

Nathan Rittenhouse: So, Mr. Rogers' neighborhood was not geared toward, how do we craft a show so that the critics like it?

Cameron McAllister: No, and actually the opposite, in many ways. Yeah.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Exactly. So it's interesting of who we're listening to, to be a critic of the show, when the critics themselves actually, oddly, for him, and maybe this is part of it, weren't the point of what it is that he was doing.

Cameron McAllister: That's a really good point, because for those, some of you may not know this, but Fred Rogers was convinced that television had tremendous possibilities, but it was done so, so poorly. So part of his motivation for doing the show in the first place was to, in a sense, I hate to use this phraseology, but kind of redeem the medium a little bit.

That is just not take it back in a culture warring sense, or anything like that, but use it in a way that really was not only educational, but deeply nourishing for viewers. And I think most of us would agree that he pretty much accomplished that with the show. Now, there's been offshoots, and his continuing legacy we could talk about a little bit, I guess, we can get into this, with Daniel Tiger, which...

Nathan Rittenhouse: Oh, goodness.

Cameron McAllister: I'm not a fan of, by the way. But that's...We don't have to necessarily go down that road. But back to what you were saying. Those are some insightful remarks, there. And I think, I guess, for my part, one of the factors that comes into play here, you always bring it back to, let's get away from all the professional thinkers and their professional domes, writing their professional papers, and disseminating them to us, or all of the cultural critics and their blogs, and let's just, what do we all think on the ground?

Well, a lot of people like us who grew up on Mr. Rogers, now we have kids. We're watching it with our kids. So I think, in some ways, that's one of the real grassroots reasons. He's kind of making a comeback. I'm watching Mr. Rogers now with my son Dylan, and watching the way Dylan just loves the show, loves the man. I remember him one day saying, "I want to hug Mr. Rogers."

We haven't even broken it to him that, you know, Mr. Rogers is not around anymore, or the characters he created in the land of make-believe. All of that. So it's a point of re-entry, again, for those of us who grew up watching it.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah, okay. But here's the interesting thing. You wouldn't mind, actually, if Mr. Rogers hugged your kid.

Cameron McAllister: No, no, I wouldn't.

Nathan Rittenhouse: But there are people who you've seen on TV, you'd be like, "Well, that's a little creepy."

Cameron McAllister: That's true.

Nathan Rittenhouse: So the buy in that you had as a child, maybe some of this is the market value of nostalgia, too, speaks to why he's so popular, is that most people who have very deep thoughts on this are now rewatching a lot of this content with their children and recognizing, you know, maybe if you'd asked me five years ago, I wouldn't have had these thoughts, but now that I have children, I can pretty quickly identify the things that I think are important that we see in the show.

Cameron McAllister: Okay. So let's, in order to answer my something more question, let's strip away some of the superficial elements real quickly here.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Okay.

Cameron McAllister: So the one superficial element, which, again, these are important factors, but they're the surface factors, right? I mean superficial in a descriptive sense. So the hunger for civility and kindness. Let's set that one aside.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah, all right.

Cameron McAllister: And then the nostalgia factor. Right?

Nathan Rittenhouse: Okay. Yeah.

Cameron McAllister: That's clearly a factor. Let's set that one aside. So what remains? I think your cousin was getting at this. I think Mr. Rogers presents a believable picture of holiness.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Dun, dun, dun.

Cameron McAllister: That's...Okay. There's my thesis. We can unpack this a little bit. Yeah.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Okay. Well, let's go with it. So, all right, here's the question of, and why I think this is a little bit fascinating is that, how much of his Christian faith, or what part of the market share of the description of his life is based off of his deep formation as a Christian?

Cameron McAllister: Right. From public discussions, I would say it's almost completely absent.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Right. So, on the one hand, you're like, "Well, let's be like Mr. Rogers." Does that mean we all need to...I mean, here's a man who got up at five o'clock in the morning to pray and read his Bible and pray for his friends and his impact and his enemies.

Cameron McAllister: Right. And then go swimming every day.

Nathan Rittenhouse: And then go swimming. Yeah. And so I'm just saying, there's a massive...So, when you talk about a practical, how did you say, a practical holiness, or a believable holiness?

Cameron McAllister: Believable holiness. Yeah, practical holiness is fine.

Nathan Rittenhouse: It seems like maybe the media version of him is rejoicing in the fruit without really looking at the root.

Cameron McAllister: Yes. Rejoicing in the fruit without really looking at the root. I like that. Here's why, okay, that's why I don't like Daniel Tiger.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Okay.

Cameron McAllister: In a word, that's why I don't like Daniel Tiger. Daniel Tiger is this emaciated, utopian vision. I'm sorry if I'm stepping on toes here. I know. I have a lot of friends who like it. My son likes it.

Nathan Rittenhouse: You just caught a tiger by his toe.

Cameron McAllister: Well, Daniel Tiger just, it's...Mr. Rogers, let's also talk about the fact that he went there on the show, right? He had a whole episode on divorce.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah.

Cameron McAllister: He had children with serious disabilities on his show, as well. He was not only featuring serious subjects. Again, this is part of his earnestness with kids. He was featuring serious subjects with the understanding that kids were going through a lot and that they could handle this. But also, in other words, he wasn't smoothing over the rough edges of the world.

That's why that I think that backlash against him was so wounding for a time, because he really doesn't, he was also pushing the envelope when it came to race, as well.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah.

Cameron McAllister: There are some radical dimensions of the show, but radical in the best sense of that word. So part of why I think his holiness is believable, and why that's part of what makes his draw so powerful, is that his holiness was, had the same ruthlessness that Christ calls us to. That same ruthless love that doesn't pay attention to the cultural barriers.

It doesn't give you license to trample people or mistreat them in the process. But there's a prophetic element to Mr. Rogers, where he's cutting across some of these superficial lines, and that's part of what makes his holiness so persuasive, I think, as well. There's a lot there. Sorry.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah, no, that's good. I was thinking, as you were saying that, I wonder if there's something too, about...I mean, he won all sorts of awards and accolades in his lifetime. Just phenomenal list of really random things conferred upon him, which is great, but I wonder if...So, back to your original question of why now, is that I think a lot of the things that endear him to us are things that we found out that he did that weren't done for the camera.

And it takes a certain amount of time for the ethos of the person to continue, and the fullness. Well, and now we're just connected in a way that, kind of, the peak of the viewership, I think, was in the mid-eighties. I mean, nobody was on Twitter at that time, or social media, talking about his private life, or what they saw Fred Rogers do off stage or whatever.

Now we almost have the ability to connect and piece together the behind the scenes from a whole lot of different anecdotal things that we're actually forming a character more clearly, however many, what, 15 years after his death. Just a little bit more than that, now. Unlike we could during his lifetime. Is that possible?

Cameron McAllister: Yeah, I think, well, wait. Restate that real quickly, Nathan.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yes. So I'm just saying, so like, when you look at these documentaries, and the things that are done about really pushing into his life, the average, original Mr. Rogers viewer knows more about his life off the screen than they did as a child watching him on the screen.

Cameron McAllister: Nowadays.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Nowadays. So we're matching, we're just now really getting the fullness of matching who he was off screen with who he was on screen and seeing a continuity there.

Cameron McAllister: Ah, now, that makes sense.

Nathan Rittenhouse: That is refreshing to us.

Cameron McAllister: Yes. Okay, so now we got plausible holiness. It sounds like I'm presenting a case in court. Your honor, we have plausible holiness. No, but we've got plausible holiness, and now, we also have consistency being confirmed. This goes back to something that you've been saying on, I think, several episodes, now. I think you talked about it on the Kanye episode as well.

But that there's...In an age where so much is being exposed, right, but also just where we tend to be much more interested in all the meta dimensions, right? We want to know about what happens behind the curtain, life behind the scenes, so to speak. So with that kind of focus now, Fred Rogers is coming into...His image is being sharpened for us in a new way.

And as we learn more about the man behind the set, it just seems that this man really was a remarkable human being. And that stands, again, in sharp contrast to so many of the other kind of disillusioning moments for us.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Okay, so here's an interesting thought that pushes or supports that is, look at how deeply people cared who played Fred Rogers. It was almost as if you had somebody...I mean, people generally like Tom Hanks, so this is going to work, but there's almost a concern that the wrong private life of an actor playing the private life of a guy we like was going to be a concern.

Cameron McAllister: So you're saying Johnny Depp would not play Mr. Rogers?

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah, I'm putting that out there as a theory. Yeah. I mean, don't you think that there would be something that would be difficult about that?

Cameron McAllister: I can tell you that the reason we have Daniel Tiger, the reason we have a cartoon now, instead of another host, is because the network executives, all the producers, basically just thought, "Well, we're never going to find a person like this." It's not just that there's no filling Fred Rogers' shoes. He was a remarkable human being. He was totally unique. Everybody's totally unique, but it's that there aren't people like this. He was a very rare person. We're not going to find somebody else. So now we're going to give you this cartoon tiger.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Well, yeah.

Cameron McAllister: Now, that sounds a little dismissive. Now, of course, Daniel Tiger was originally, he's a puppet in the land of make-believe. But part of that, again, the reason that show feels kind of so anemic to me is because you don't have that person there.

So yeah, there's this rare quality to him. So yeah, if you're going to have an actor play Fred Rogers, yeah, you do, you need a safe, America's sweetheart kind of guy to fill that role. Even though Tom Hanks looks nothing like Fred Rogers. So it's a little bit of a weird...

Nathan Rittenhouse: Well, they are sixth cousins. I mean, that's an important, everybody's pointing that out now, so.

Cameron McAllister: Yeah, I suppose so. I suppose so. Yeah, I don't know. I'm kind of skeptical about the movie. Who knows, who knows?

Nathan Rittenhouse: Let me drive another point here. So, you asked me, could you have Johnny Depp as Fred Rogers? Let me ask you this. Could you have a non-Christian Fred Rogers?

Cameron McAllister: You would ask me that, because you want to get me in trouble.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Well, no.

Cameron McAllister: You say you like me, but you don't.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Won't you be my neighbor? Here's a hard question.

Cameron McAllister: I don't think so.

Nathan Rittenhouse: I don't think so, either. Now let's justify our thesis.

Cameron McAllister: All right, well, let me get theological just for a second. And theological language is safe and convenient and distancing. So maybe this will insulate me a little bit from the onslaught of arrows that'll be coming my way here.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah, hopefully it will.

Cameron McAllister: No. Well, honestly, on a serious note, okay, let me just say this for the record, very carefully. I do not think you have to be a Christian to be a decent person.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Agreed.

Cameron McAllister: Please. Yeah. So please don't hear me saying that at all. If you're listening in and you're not a Christian, that's not at all what...I'm totally not saying that. In fact, I can prove it, because I have a lot of friends who are not Christians, and they're lovely, and great people.

But the kind of selfless love that is a prerequisite of true biblical holiness, right, the two central commands that Jesus gives. I put so much stress on this in so many places, so sorry if you're hearing this again. I say this on the Vital Signs Podcast all the time. I say it in messages all the time. But when Jesus was asked the greatest commandment, he does something pretty rare. He gives a straightforward answer.

He'll usually answer with a question, or he'll be somewhat evasive, sometimes, and he tries to put the onus on the other person to kind of take ownership. But here, he gives a really straightforward answer. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” But then he gives a bonus answer. He gives the guy more. He says, "The second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself."

And I've always said the sequence right there is absolutely crucial. Only if you love the Lord your God with all that you are can you be liberated to love others selflessly. You can be decent to human beings. You can be a really nice, nice person, in the sense that you treat people with civility and decency. You're kind, you can be relatively humble, but you can't love others selflessly unless you first love the Lord with all that you are.

Because again, scripture has a huge stress on this. We're told we love because Christ first loved us. So again, that sequence right there is crucial, and that's the determining factor for Mr. Rogers. He's not civil, he's deeply loving. There's a difference. He's way more than civil. He's deeply loving. And when you see him, there's an ineffable quality to it.

You mentioned it when you said you would let him hug your son. Absolutely, I would. And it's not just in his comportment, it's in his eyes. It's in his whole, this sounds a little mystical, but the man really did embody selfless love. That's the way I would put it.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah. Well, and I was just thinking of, there's an article that Vince sent over to us, Vince Vitale, to read about some of these thoughts, and I think something that points to that is, did you read the story about him having the little boy pray for him?

So, there's this a young man, I guess he's in his early teens at this time, born with a debilitating disease, can only speak and communicate through a computer, hits himself, has all kinds of self-anger issues, but loves watching Mr. Rogers. And then one day, finds that Mr. Rogers is coming to visit him. For some reason, it makes him more mad. He's punching himself, and Mr. Rogers just waits until the boy kind of gets himself under control and comes out.

And then, if I can just read here from the article for a second. “So, Mr. Rogers talked to him, and then he made his request. He said, ‘I would like you to do something for me. Would you do something for me?’ On his computer, the boy answered, ‘Yes, of course.’ He would do anything for Mr. Rogers. So then Mr. Rogers said, ‘I would like you to pray for me. Will you pray for me?’

And now the boy didn't know how to respond. He was thunderstruck. Thunderstruck means that you can't talk, because something has happened that's sudden and as miraculous and maybe as scary as a bolt of lightning, and all you can do is listen to the rumble. The boy was thunderstruck because nobody had ever asked him for something like that, ever. The boy had always been prayed for. The boy had always been the object of prayer, and now he was being asked to pray for Mr. Rogers.”

And although at first, he didn't know if he could do it, he said he would, and he said he'd try. And ever since then, he used Mr. Rogers in his prayers, and doesn't talk about wanting to die anymore. Because he figures Mr. Rogers is close to God, and if Mr. Rogers likes him, that must mean God likes him, too. That's powerful in and of itself. But what's fascinating is that the journalist says that Mr. Rogers didn't see that way.

It says, “In fact, when Mr. Rogers first told me this story, I complimented him on being so smart for knowing that he was asking the boy for his prayers would make the boy feel better about himself. And Mr. Rogers responded by looking at me with a puzzlement, and then was surprised. ‘Oh, heavens, no, Tom. I didn't ask him for his prayers for him. I asked for me. I asked him because I think that anyone who has gone through challenges like that must be very close to God, and I asked him because I wanted his intercession.’"

Cameron McAllister: Yeah.

Nathan Rittenhouse: That's different.

Cameron McAllister: Pretty powerful.

Nathan Rittenhouse: Yeah.

Cameron McAllister: Yeah.

Nathan Rittenhouse: And so I think maybe some of the, to use an Alan Noble phrase, the “pattern disruption” there of his life comes from the things like that, where he wasn't speaking to children to be smart or strategic. And his show was deeply psychologically informed, and you had people consulting on the child psychology part, and all of that. And that's great, and that's appropriate.

But there's something deeper here that's a level of beauty that we don't typically get. And I think that's what kind of sucks us into the personality and the aura around what's going on, even now, in our time.

Cameron McAllister: Yeah, I think we'll never...You can never undervalue the persuasive power of true holiness, and Mr. Rogers happens to be one particular celebrity who modeled it. And so yeah, in a culture with quite a few warning signs, and a lot of bad news, one good feature that we can consistently point to right now is the interest in Mr. Rogers, and I think that that's been good.

And I think, actually, this has been valuable, Nathan. I think we've maybe uncovered a little bit of the deeper reasons, maybe, or pointed, at least, in the direction of the something more that's going on here culturally. So thanks for thinking out loud about that with me, and thanks for helping me sharpen the focus a little bit, and as you always do, Nathan.

But hey, thanks for listening along with us. You have been listening to Thinking Out Loud, a podcast where we think out loud about current events and Christian hope.

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