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The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers: Writers Read Post #6

It’s time for a book recommendation. Sorry it’s been so long. Are you surprised that it’s December and I’m not suggesting a Christmas book? Me too. I do love a good Christmas book, but please hear me out.

Mr. Rogers is all the rage right now. Maybe you saw the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” that came out in June. The PBS Kids app has classic episodes of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood streaming anytime. And sadly, the attack on a synagogue in Mr. Rogers’ actual neighborhood got us all thinking about who our neighbor is and what Mr. Rogers would say about violence and hate.

Why This Book?

A few months ago, I picked up “The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers” by Amy Hollingsworth. (Click on the title to buy it on Amazon.) As a longtime Mr. Rogers fan, it seemed like something I’d enjoy and I love a good biography. I expected to have my heart warmed and learn a little something about a man we all grew up with. I never expected it to forever change the way I processed the teachings of Jesus. This book is full of insights, letters, and of course the faith behind the man on the screen.

Why This Author?

Amy Hollingsworth was working as a television writer when she asked if she could interview Mr. Rogers. The network said, “Good luck. We’ve been trying to get an interview for 20 years.” Not long afterward, she defended Mr. Rogers when a syndicated column called his show “psychobabble” among other hurtful remarks. She sent a copy of her response to Rogers’ publicist and thereby proved her intentions were sincere. Mr. Rogers agreed to do the interview in 1994. That interview was the beginning of a close, decade-long friendship between Hollingsworth and everyone’s favorite neighbor.

When I was a kid and watched Mr. Rogers, I always felt like he was talking to me personally. He looked right into the camera and said things like, “You’ve made this a special day by just your being you”. He did that on purpose and everyone felt like they had a friendship with Mr. Rogers. Before going on set, he prayed for us and pictured the kids on the other side. He worked tirelessly to show us we are special and capable of great things. Unlike us in the audience, Hollingsworth actually had a relationship with Mr. Rogers. He prayed for her and her family daily (something they both did for one another). He wrote letters to encourage her in her lowest points and ultimately, he taught her what love really is.

Why now?

So, why am I suggesting you read this book (which is not even all that new) during the busiest time of the year? Because I’ve read a lot of advent devotionals and books about Christmas, but this one might be the best I’ve read to really transform my mind to hear the Christmas message properly. You know what was different about Mr. Rogers Neighborhood? He allowed silence to happen. The tempo was slow and gave us time to think and listen. When was the last time you did that during the Christmas season? He didn’t just teach tolerance, he truly saw every individual as a child of God. And he treated them accordingly. If that’s not a Christmas message, I don’t know what is. He believed in a great big God who does great big things through regular people. Sound familiar?

Do yourself a favor. Check out this book. Even if you just get through the section on the importance of taking your time, I promise you’ll be blessed. Then you can put a bookmark in until after Christmas and pick up a romance novel about a corporate woman who falls in love with a local sweetheart working at a tree farm. If you’re like me though, you won’t put it down and that’s my prayer for you.

Merry Christmas!

Shannon