“I’m Proud Of You” – My New Hero

By

“L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” (What is essential is invisible to the eyes – from Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince)

These are the words on a plaque hanging in the office of my new hero. Who might that be you may wonder? Kierkegard? Billy Graham? Bono?

Would you be surprised if I told you it was…Mister Rogers?hz6161-061616-classic-trolley-mister-rogers-neighborhood-lg2

Let me explain:
On a recent set of dates in TX, I was talking books with Neil Tankersly, keyboardist for Echoing Angels, when he recommended to me a book he was reading about children’s television icon Mister Rogers. At first I was skeptical and feigned enough interest to be polite, but not enough to encourage him to tell me more about it. Not taking my cue, he continued to rave about the book and then even started looking up YouTube videos of Mister Rogers for me to watch. This was not cool, and it made me seriously question not only my new friend’s taste in books, but his masculinity as well.

I remember groaning inwardly at the prospect of having to sit there and watch what I imagined would be lame video clips of a man I had pre-judged as a bland, out of step, simple, cardigan-wearing milquetoast with little to interest or offer a cultured and savvy sophisticate like me.

The lesser of my confessions to you today is my regret over my self-righteousness and the countless ways it blinds me. But my more pertinent confession is that I write to you today to tell you that I couldn’t have been more wrong about Mister Rogers! It wasn’t 30 seconds into the first clip before I found tears in my eyes and was doing everything I could to suppress embarrassing sobs as I watched Fred Rogers’s acceptance speech at the Emmy Awards–a speech that was such a selfless and honoring expression of love that as the camera scanned the audience, even the posturing Hollywood crowd in attendance was transformed–beautiful actors and actresses losing their composure, their make-up running as they fought back their own tears. What was visited upon them–and me–through Mister Rogers was a moment of humanity and grace.

An accident? I don’t think so. In another YouTube clip we learned about Rogers’s guiding philosophy for his beloved show, he talked about what a powerful medium television is, and wondered “why wouldn’t we use this medium to broadcast grace?” And it was then that the scales fell from my eyes and I felt as if I saw this dear man correctly for the first time. Far from the bland, weak, pushover I had earlier dismissed him as, I now saw an intentional and innovative champion of the gospel whose brilliance was outmatched only by his capacity for kindness.

So now I come to you, reader, willing and even eager to risk you thinking me uncool by daring to recommend, as Neil Tankersly did to me, that you too would do well to spend a little time in Mister Roger’s neighborhood. You will find that your days there are beautiful ones indeed.

After returning home, I immediately ordered the book, I’m Proud Of You by Tim Madigan, the story of a surprising friendship that was born out of a visit when Madigan–a journalist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram–flew to Pittsburgh to interview Fred Rogers for a piece he was writing.

Expecting little, Tim was immediately disarmed by the intense sincerity and humble kindness of this giant of children’s television. As Rogers spoke to him about his philosophy of imagining he was looking through the camera into the eyes of each child watching, trying to be fully present to their feelings and needs, Tim writes of how Rogers demonstrated this the first time they spoke:

“Do you know what the most important thing in the world is to me right now?”

“No,” I said.

“Talking to Mr. Tim Madigan on the telephone.”

At the time of their initial meeting, Madigan was in the throes of a desperate depression and on the verge of divorce. His personal and professional life caving in around him, he found an unlikely offer of friendship from Rogers–a relationship that would help shape his reformation in the years to come.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away here, but the book chronicles how Rogers’s wisdom, kindness, and unconditional love guided Madigan through the darkest days of his life, giving him the grace and the courage to find a way out of the darkness, and giving him a glimpse of the Jesus Rogers testified about.

The book is named after a key moment in their relationship when Madigan realizes that much of his pain and inability to love stemmed from never feeling like he could be good enough for his dad. In a moment of truth, Madigan wrote a courageously honest letter to Rogers saying:

“…the last several years have been a very profound time of intense personal pain and great healing, a time of great self discovery as I’ve tried to come to terms with the realities of my life, past and present. At the forefront of my mind and soul right now is how hard I tried to get my dad to be proud of me, through sports, through school, through the ways I tried to be obedient and good. But no matter what I did, it never seemed enough. I could never wrest from him the sense of acceptance I so desperately craved as a child and have been craving ever since.

I realize now that God is the ultimate source for that kind of love and acceptance. But I have also realized that I have gravitated toward older men in my life without really knowing why. Now I think I know….

…I read Henri Nouwen this morning, and several chapters in the book of Matthew, and meditated for a long time on my pain, and realized what I need to do… In your letters and during our brief time together, you have done so much to teach me how to be a person and a man. And now I have this favor to ask of you. Will you be proud of me?“

Such risky vulnerability! A risk that was rewarded: Rogers’s reply was immediate and transformative:

“YES! A resounding YES!

I will be proud of you. I am proud of you! … Nothing you could tell me could change my YES for you. Please remember that…. I feel blessed to be one of your friends. Only God can arrange such mutually trusting relationships…. YES Tim, YES.”

Every letter Madigan would receive from Rogers after this closed with the initials, IPOY–I’m proud of you–a simple and constant affirmation that would seep like water into the deepest, darkest corners of his life.

Throughout the book, Madigan invites us to eavesdrop on their conversations and correspondence, which throughout reveal Fred Rogers as a faithful Christian man who lived out the gospel with the kind of grace, kindness, and unconditional love that every soul longs and hungers for. “He was a man in touch with the eternal,” his friends would say of him after his death.

Mister Rogers could be an easy target of ridicule and parody (and even was in Eddie Murphy’s “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” on SNL), and the book talks about a piece that Esquire, a men’s magazine whose content is just shy of Playboy in its edginess and carnal sensibilities, did on Rogers in the late 90’s. What good could come of a feature in a magazine so antithetical to Roger’s priorities?  The worldly and cynical journalist–whose predisposition to Rogers was much like mine–was surprised to find himself victim to the irresistible kindness, selflessness, and humility of this man who saw his ministry as not only broadcasting grace to children, but helping to put us in touch with the child in all of us. The journalist recounts their first encounter:

“…and though I tried to ask him questions about himself, he always turned the questions back on me. And when I finally got him to talk about the puppets that were the comfort of his lonely boyhood, he looked at me, his blue eyes at once mild and steady, and asked, ‘What about you, Tom? Did you have any special friends growing up?’

‘Special friends?’

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Maybe a puppet or a special toy, or maybe just a stuffed animal you loved very much. Did you have a special friend like that Tom?’

‘Yes, Mister Rogers.’

‘Did your special friend have a name, Tom?’

‘Yes, Mister Rogers. His name was Old Rabbit.’

‘Old Rabbit. Oh, and I’ll bet the two of you were together since he was a very young rabbit. Would you like to tell me about Old Rabbit, Tom?’

And it was just about then when I was spilling the beans about my special friend, that Mister Rogers rose from his corner couch and stood suddenly in front of me with a black camera in hand. “Can I take your picture, Tom?’ he asked. ‘I’d like to take your picture. I like to take pictures of all my new friends so that I can show them to Joanne [his wife]…’ And then in the dark room, there was a wallop of white light, and Mister Rogers disappeared behind it…”

In another scene, we are witness to the tender sensitivity of Rogers when he goes to visit a severely handicapped boy with cerebral palsy:

“At first the boy was made very nervous by the thought that Mister Rogers was visiting him. He was so nervous, in fact, that he … got mad and began hating and biting himself, and his mother had to take him to another room to talk to him. Mister Rogers didn’t leave though. He wanted something from the boy, and Mister Rogers never leaves when he wants something from somebody. He just waited patiently, and when the boy came back, Mister 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 Mister Rogers, so then Mister 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… 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 Mister Rogers, and although at first he didn’t know if he could do it, he said he would … and ever since then he keeps Mister Rogers in his prayers and doesn’t talk about wanting to die anymore, because he figures Mister Rogers is close to God, and if Mister Rogers likes him, that must mean that God likes him too.

As for Mister Rogers himself… he doesn’t look at the story the same way the boy did or I did. In fact When Mister Rogers first told me the story, I complimented him for being smart–for knowing that asking the boy for his prayers would make the boy feel better about himself–and Mister Rogers responded by looking at me first with puzzlement and then with surprise. ‘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. I asked him because I wanted his intercession.’

The book chronicles how Rogers’s friendship helped walk Madigan through the process of reconciling with his wife, forgiving and loving his father, surviving depression (“The Furies” as Rogers called it), and grieving his brother’s death from cancer. Throughout are excerpts from their conversation that make us witness to an unabashed commitment to intimacy that, for me as the reader, had the effect of gently shining a light on my own sad attempts to keep people and love at arm’s length, my own fear of risking love and intimacy.

Throughout the book, I was delighted to learn that Rogers and I shared an admiration for many of the same spiritual writers like Frederick Buechner, Anne Lamott, and Rogers’s friend and favorite: Henri Nouwen – an author whose work the Holy Spirit has used to shape and guide my own ministry.

What is essential is invisible to the eye reads the plaque on the wall in his office, and it was the essential that Rogers was always trying to impart to us. In the book we learn how intentional he was in his television show, understanding it as a ministry and lovingly using it to impart the values of the gospel that was so dear to him: grace, forgiveness, kindness, and trust in an Unconditional Love.

I’m Proud Of You is an understated and modest book, competently written. But within its pages you find the best kind of story–the kind of story that not only inspires you to be more human, live an ennobled kind of life, and to love better than you thought you could, but that also reveals the grace that makes these things possible. I told my wife that it was a very cleansing book, one that blew through me like a light and fragrant Spring breeze, warming places where the frost had set in.

But looking back over what I’ve written here, I can’t help but feel I’m failing this book because I keep talking about what it’s about, sharing little passages and tidbits that are interesting as matters of fact. But what the book is about is less important than what the book is and what it did to me. Because what it is, of course, is a big heart of a book that opens a window in the world to offer a glimpse of another kind of life that could be lived–the kind of life the gospel reveals. In Mister Rogers we discover a man shaped by the tender heart of Jesus, and as I read I found myself looking for ways to bless others, to be more present to them, to be less afraid to speak tender words of intimacy to those around me, to be kinder and more forgiving.

As for what the book did to me, it caused me to ask myself, “What might my life look like if I better incarnated the grace of God? How would my wife’s life be different if this were true of me? My kids? My friends and those around me whom my life touches?   Though I was always less than enthusiastic about the whole What Would Jesus Do thing a number of years ago, nonetheless I find myself asking a similar question: what would Mister Rogers do? I mean no disrespect to Jesus, of course. It’s just that Jesus sets such an impossibly high bar, you know? But in Mister Rogers I find a man, a broken sinner like me, set free to love and live the kind of life that Jesus points to. If Mister Rogers can find that kind of grace, maybe it’s available to me, too.

In other words, I found “I’m Proud Of You” to be a sweet invitation to spend a beautiful day in the neighborhood of Mister Rogers, a neighborhood made beautiful by the grace of God. It has stirred a hope in me to live a life that invites that kind of grace and beauty to my own neighborhood–the one I take with me wherever I go.

(Here are the two video clips I mentioned earlier, both from the presentation of his Lifetime Acheivement Award at the Emmys.)


53 Comments

  1. Andy

    Thank you Jason. We’ve just rediscovered Mr. Rogers with our children in the past month and I’ve been flabbergasted at his impact on them, how they quote him and sing his songs. It forced me to reevaluate my unfair caricature of him and has sent me back to consider what caricatures and unfair views of the Savior I have that steal his glory and rob me of the blessing of knowing him intimately and well. I’m going right out to get I’m Proud Of You.

  2. PaulH

    Jaosn,
    I grew up loving and enjoying Mr. Rogers from a child’s perspective. I too just recently have rediscovered that everything he stood for was to convey God’s love through everything he did. Even the set of his show was hand picked and done “on purpose” to show a child that it is safe and ok there. The yellow caution light was one of them.
    I hope I conduct my life for the glory of God in any way, shape or percentage like this.

    I highly recommend, “The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers:Spiritual Insights from the World’s Most Beloved Neighbor” by Amy Hollingsworth. I have read it fully twice and several other bit by bit. You will fall in love with “Toast Sticks” I guarantee it

    http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Faith-Mr-Rogers-Spiritual/dp/1591452295

  3. Toni Whitney

    Thank you, Jason. Looking back, i can see what a gift of grace Mr. Rogers was for all of those years; never wavering. I am grateful that his legacy will continue for my grand-children.

  4. Dan Page

    Wow! Such grace, such power, such gentleness, such beauty. Love you brother. IPOY too 🙂 … can’t wait to see you in September. Will be in touch about that. Thanks for your note to me yesterday.

  5. redhead.kate

    I grew up on Mister Rogers and have always loved him. Can’t wait to read this book.

    Had to laugh at the timing of this post. Last night as I drove home, I caught myself singing songs from Mister Rogers. You know, they are good songs, full of love and compassion. Then I read this post this morning. I guess Mister Rogers is on everyones mind.

  6. JacobT

    What a great tribute to Mister Rogers. I always enjoyed the great music on the show. I think that the jazz trio that played was located just off-stage and just followed the host as he improvised as well. I guess that would make it a quartet.

  7. Jessie Hagan

    Jason,

    You know that we love you for your music, but I think it is your insights into life in these Rabbit Room outpourings that make me respect you so much more as a person, rather than as an artist.

    I call these entries outpourings as opposed to blogs, because just as Mr. Rogers, you seem to put your heart and soul into them. As I have read many of your entries, you make me feel better about life, and about myself as a husband and father.

    I will never forget the few minutes you spent with Clare to work on her song. That was such a selfless gift that you gave her in that rushed time of preparing for your show, when you could have been spending time with your wife, or centering yourself to prepare for your show.

    I hope that someday, she will realize what a gift that was, and perhaps she will share her gifts with a budding artist.

    Jessie Hagan

  8. Tony from Pandora

    One of my favorite shows is ‘How It’s Made’ That show reminds me of when Mr. Rogers would show us how things were made, whether it was a factory that made balloons, pencils, etc. He had that child-like curiosity that was so engaging for me… and now for my kids.

  9. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Jason,

    In a world that stresses Screwtapian philosophy – competition, masks, and veneers – it was refreshing to see your post and the clips of Fred Rogers. That speech feels like a dousing of grace, without any lessening by a spirit of sanctimonious humbug. Thanks for posting this.

  10. Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    Ah! What a beautiful post. Thanks for pouring so much into it, Jason. I, too, grew up on Mister Rogers, and it was only recently that I realized he’s basically a male version of my mother. Comforting, soft-spoken, and able to make a child feel the weight of their own significance. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be that unself-conscious?

  11. Rachel W

    What a beautiful post, Jason! I am reading The Little Prince with my daughter right now, and saw it quoted and read your article. Excellent. Now I want to read the Mr. Roger’s book!

    The outpouring of grace reminds me of Flannery O’Connor and wondered if you read her stuff.

  12. Jeff Berry

    thanks Jason for this reminder today – for taking the time to share it…..
    what a great message!!

  13. Leanne

    Wow. So great. And the bit about Mister Rogers being fully present and attending to the needs and feelings of each child on the other side of the camera…. This totally underscores a little tugging that God has been doing on my heart. I find it hard to be present with my own children sometimes, who are right in the room with me. Distractions and a full “to-do” list make me way too inclined to bolt from the present moment. Slowing down and being present requires a lot of discipline. Good inspiration from Mister Rogers!

  14. Linda Rothluebber

    Wow! Thanks Jason, for your honesty and for the closer look at a man who was an important part of my kids days…Even more, thanks for the opportunity to hold myself, as a Christian, Child of God and Human being to a higher standard…Thanks to you Mr. Rogers for raising that bar and for sharing your love and light! I pray that my walk and my life will be made better for the sake of all I come in contact with…..

    P..S. I will be reading this book!

  15. Marilyn H.

    I wonder if the show’s message may have primed my little heart to accept the true message of grace when it was presented to me at VBS? I was just thinking I watched that show around the same time I first yearned for the love of God and embraced Jesus as my savior.

  16. davidp

    This is a great little book as is “Simple Faith of…” as is almost anything I’ve ever been able to get my hands on about this very special man. I grew up with Mr. Rogers & still love to watch him to this day. I figure I’m never too old to stop learning.

  17. Beau

    Ah–thanks for posting (and thanks, John, for shooting me the link).

    Am at a point professionally where I’m rethinking a lot of things–not what I do, but how–and that landed at a good moment.

  18. miles

    There’s a couple of great short interviews at charlierose.com with Mr. Rogers that I came across last year. He talks about the plaque in the interview from 97. An inspirational man.

  19. Jeff Cruz

    Jason,
    Man, I had to work really hard to get through this post without just bursting into tears. (I am at work, do not want people coming to my office thinking I have lost it…)

    Thanks for not only sharing about the book and videos but doing so in such a wonderful way. It allowed me to go right back to the shag carpeted floor in the den of our house in North Carolina where as a child I would sit and watch Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. At 43 I honestly do not have a lot of really clear memories from the early years anymore (mostly I remember the snapshots from the photo albums I think) but I clearly remember those TV experiences.

    Probably my favorite part of the video clips was during his acceptance speech when he took 10 seconds of silence, on camera, on worldwide, prime-time TV. Being a broadcaster myself who is trained (for better or for worse) to fill up every single second so that there is NO “dead air”, I found that part refreshing. Especially so, in light of the fact that it allowed the camera man the time to pan the audience and show how quickly moved the people were by his kind gentle words. And like he said as he ended, “May God be with us all.”

    ~jeff

  20. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Thanks Neil! I was so hoping you’d read this post… so grateful for how you recommended the book and pressed through my snobbery to make me pay attention! Miss you man, hope you’re well…

  21. LauraP

    A friend gave me a sweet little gift book called “The World According to Mister Rogers – Important Things to Remember”. It’s a collection of his observations, quotes and a couple of songs, with a foreword by his wife, who clearly loved him deeply and valued his gifts. In addition to being an ordained minister, he also had a degree in music composition. Pretty sure he would have loved the Rabbit Room neighborhood.

    Here is one of my favorite quotes from the chapter called “We Are All Neighbors”:

    “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you many never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

    Makes me want to be a little more mindful of what I leave.

  22. Heather Ivester

    I enjoyed this post and book review. I’ve seen the book but never read it — now I think I will! This brought back good memories of watching Mr. Rogers on TV as a child, as well as with my own children when they were younger.

    A few years ago, we were in the midst of building a house, living in a tiny rental home. I was expecting my fourth child, while trying to homeschool the others, and felt myself going a bit mad. My car was in the shop for a month, and we couldn’t even leave the house. Mr. Rogers, God bless him, became the anchor of our day.

    We’d school in the morning, eat lunch, and I found myself saying, “Let’s stay on track and get our work done. Mr. Rogers comes on at 1:00!” Then, exhausted, I’d sit down with the kids, and we’d watch the show together. When the baby was born, he joined right into our Mr. Rogers’ schedule. I can’t tell you how much that show meant to me! 🙂

    Years later, I don’t have to make up a schedule anymore. I gave up homeschooling, and my youngest starts kindergarten in the fall. We all cried when Fred Rogers passed away. Anyway, your review stirred up some great memories!

  23. Josh Bishop

    Thanks for this beautiful post. Thankfully, my local PBS station still airs Mr. Rogers episodes, and I’ll be taping tomorrow’s 6 am showing so I can watch it with my son.

  24. Dave Elkins

    Wonderful post, Jason. Thank you for reminding us of why Mr. Rogers is so special!

  25. sarah

    Ok so I LOVED Mr. Rogers growing up and cried the day he passed away. I didn’t know about the book but have ordered it from amazon to take on my beach trip next week. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Joel Bassett

    I am glad to see your post here. I read IPOY about a year ago and experienced similar responses to you – an embarrassment at my lack of personal-ness, with others, my leading with superficiality instead of what really matters, and an image that showed grace being incarnated to people of all ages.

  27. Deb

    Safe people who are kind, gentle, loving & gracious…what a refreshing cup of cold water to a frightened and weary soul. Jason are so often a refreshing cup in my life…I am deeply grateful.

    Staying up all night writing…pouring yourself out so others can be refreshed even while having such a sore throat and needing the rest so much…yes, God’s strength is made perfect yet again your weakness. Praying you are feeling better and that you’ve been able to get some much needed rest…

    I reserved a copy of this book today…so looking forward to reading it. Thanks so much for sharing your bread with us…

  28. Paula

    Beautiful post! Just checked and our library has the book. I can’t wait to read it…and to introduce my own kids to this icon from my childhood. How have I not done that yet?? Oh, well, thanks for the reminder.

  29. whipple

    Thank you so much for posting this, Jason. In my world of GI Joes and He-Man, Mr. Roger was probably the first to present me, even as a child, with the idea that people, made in the image of the One God, are a bigger adventure than swords and helicopters and castles. That idea was slightly put on hold when I stopped watching that as I got older and is now being rekindled as my family grows.

    I will never get over the time I saw Fred Rogers on Candid Camera. They went to a motel where he was on the road to play some harmless prank on him like they did everyone else. He laughed a bit with them and with the effortlessness that only graceful humility can provide, he disarmed their crew with his loving conversation and spoke about how it was so wonderful when people used television to bring goodness into people’s lives.

    And thank you as well to Paula for reminding me to seek in the library before I give more of the bank account to Amazon.

  30. Kellie

    I read this post and viewed the clips through tears. When I was a young girl, I spent most afternoons alone. Mr. Rogers was a constant companion, and as strange as it may sound, I felt he was my friend. His impact on me has been far bigger than I’ve realized. I look forward to reading the book. Thanks for the post!

  31. Dryad

    When I was very young, my sister and I sent a letter and hand drawn pictures to Mr. Rogers. He responded personally, citing details from our letter and commenting on how much he loved our beautiful pictures. (Think five year old) We have treasured those letters, and on the day he died, we wept over them. It may have seemed like a small thing, but it was an act of grace to me.
    He truly is a hero.

  32. Ally

    lovely post (and I’m so glad to hear of this book I haven’t read yet) – I wrote Mr. Rogers a letter when I was in middle school (I’d never seen an address for him before then) and got a lovely letter in return that I have framed in my home office. I do not believe anyone but Fred Rogers could write typed letters to his fans and come across as if he was actually really talking to you personally – I get tears in my eyes every time I read the line about “being special just by being you” because somehow despite the fact that he said it a million times to a million kids via the television – we all know he really did mean it to us all (and somehow I feel extra special to have had it written specifically to me!)

  33. Jesse D

    Jason, this is a gorgeously written review. My family didn’t have a TV growing up, so I never had the experience with Mr. Rogers that many others in my generation did, and you make me miss that. I’d like to expose my children, though, to this man of faith and his ministry. Thanks for bringing him to our attention.

  34. Canaan Bound

    Funny, I was just reading Madigan’s article about his relationship with Mr. Rogers in Guideposts Magazine the other day…both then and now I am brought to tears. Thanks for this post!

  35. Matt

    just thought I’d throw out there as well that Mr. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian pastor, and was ordained by Pittsburgh Presbytery to his unique call – not one of parish ministry, but his ministry with children in the media. He lived out his calling every day – may we do the same!

  36. Jennifer

    Thanks Jason! After reading your post a couple of weeks ago, I went to my local library to check it out. They only had the audio version but that’s okay b/c I had a lot of driving to do last week. I saw that Publisher’s Weekly had said not to drive or operate big machinery while listening and I can see why. It is such a beautiful story, it brought many tears to my eyes. I Want my own copy to read again and again. And I hope that one day I can respond to the world the way Mr. Rogers did. So beautiful! Thank you for your wonderful review. I will be giving this book to several friends for Christmas.

  37. Heather Ivester

    Hey, I just wanted to let you know I checked this book out from my library and read it over the weekend. It was wonderful! Thanks for telling me about it.

    The book showed me how much difference we can make in people’s lives if we can step out of ourselves and really listen, like Mr. Rogers did to Tim Madigan. I also couldn’t help but compare him to Harper Lee, who hasn’t let a media person near her in the last 50 years. Mr. Rogers could have blown Tim off, but he didn’t. He invited him to church. He invited him to grow in his faith. It did remind me so much of Tuesdays With Morrie, another one of my favorites.

    Lots to ponder …

  38. DUANE

    Hello Mr Gray:

    I only met you today on the radio “More Like Falling in Love”. IPOY. I am a free grace believing blood bought christian, and yet have spent almost 30 years as a christian serving the law. I think what you and Mr Rogers are talking about is “Affective Theology” which I have begun to learn about this year. You are not going to do what you don’t love. Only Jesus can give that kind of love. So you go to the well and…live there “Abide in Me”.
    I saw a blog about a daily devotional. All I ever got from that particular study was “run here” ok I ran there. “No your motivation is all wrong go here”, ok, and on and on “you’re not getting it”. I felt like a performing dog.
    Contrast this: “Martha, Martha, only one thing is necessary, and Mary has chosen the greater part.”
    “Come unto me ye who are weary and heavy laden, and you shall find rest for your souls.”

    Lean on His breast, wash one another’s feet.
    An eternity of love poured out for us. Let’s enjoy Him and pass Him around.

    Pray for me that I begin to live what I just wrote.

  39. Tim Madigan

    These are among the most beautiful words I’ve read about Fred Rogers, and my little book. I’m deeply grateful and humbled. It’s still a great mystery why Fred and I would have become friends, but as long as I live, I will try to share the lessons of that experience. That such a talented artist and writer like Jason would assist in that is so, so cool. Peace, Tim

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