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The Simple Faith Of Mister Rogers Ė Spiritual Insights From The Worldís Most Beloved Neighbor
Author: Amy Hollingsworth
Publisher: Integrity Publishers
Length: 175 Pages

A friend, who just recently had his 100th book published, once told me that the biography that he most wanted to write was the life of Fred Rogers. I was intrigued. 

In the months before Mister Rogersí death, I read the articles that began to appear about him. I even read an article that he wrote, which appeared in Readerís Digest. It all confirmed to me that he was an extraordinary man. When I saw that this book had come out, I couldnít wait to read it. 

My expectations were high, and I was not disappointed. Just pages into it, an obscure image from the movie review section of the San Francisco Chronicle summarized what I was already feeling. On weekends the Chronicle published summary reviews of movies in a pink Datebook edition. Each review was accompanied by a depiction of a man sleeping, looking bored, sitting and clapping, or standing on his seat clapping fanatically. It served as a visual summary of how good the movie was. As I read through the introduction and opening chapters of Amyís book, inside I was like the little man who was on his seat clapping hysterically. I was singing on the inside. This is a gem of a book.

Not only is the book extremely well written, the author made a great choice in how to present the material. Itís not a beginning to end life story of Mister Rogers. Instead the author gives an overview of his life in the introduction and sets the stage for what is to follow. The book has much more to do with the legacy of Mister Rogersówhat we can learn from himórather than a chronology of events. 

Each chapter covers a different subject. How Mister Rogers lived and thought about solitude and silence, prayer, the work of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness, difficult times and more are covered. 

The opening chapter on taking time to be alone and quiet immediately captivated me. Mister Rogers knew that he was a quiet person. He didnít try to be what he was not. Iím not a quiet person, someone might think. The beauty of Mister Rogersí legacy was that he encouraged people to be themselves. I was inspired by what I read; in fact, I found it potentially life-changing. Mister Rogers made taking time alone and being quiet seem so natural. There was nothing mystical about it. Inside I was saying, "Yes, this is right. I ought to do this." I received the gentle encouragement. That was Mister Rogersí way.

This book never would have come into being if it were not for an interview. The author was granted a rare interview in part because she came to the defense of Mister Rogers when he was criticized unfairly by a newspaper columnist. That first interview led to return visits and a deep friendship developed. We are fortunate that the author is able to share from her personal experience and correspondence with Fred Rogers. We get the viewpoint of a close friend rather than a detached observer. 

I thank God for this book. Itís sprinkled with so many simple yet profound and life-changing truths. Itís full of practical wisdom that can be mined by ministers, teachers, speakers or anyone just for the anecdotes, quotes and ideas. I hope that it will always have a place in my library. Itís a book that I didnít want to read through too fastóone that I didnít want to end. 

I think one of the things that make the book and Mister Rogers so special is that we are given a glimpse of Christ that we seldom see. Fredís gentleness, kindness, tenderness and love remind us of that part of Christís nature. 

Fredís life makes me realize that too many of us are a product of our environment and culture. We absorb too much of it. Mister Rogers was so different! He was so unique that people made fun of him, but he bore it all with the grace that was so characteristic of him. I joke to myself that he would never have been invited to a Promise Keeperís rally, but maybe he should have been. Men, and women, could learn a lot from his example. 

I never grew up watching Mister Rogers, but I sure enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to anyone. Itís packed with gentle encouragement and it will warm your heart. If we take to heart Mister Rogersí legacy, we can help make it a better neighborhood for all.

Michael Dalton  4/2/2005


 

 
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