Back in 1994, when Arsenio Hall's late night talk show was winding down, an unlikely guest walked onto stage to an overwhelming standing ovation. The guest was Public Television's Fred Rogers, creator of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.
Very naturally, Mr. Rogers led the conversation in the direction of personal faith. Arsenio said something about how easy it would be to believe "If God still did big miracles, like in the Bible."
"Arsenio," Mr. Rogers replied, "God's revealing evidence is everywhere, you just have to look for it."
Fred Rogers, who died of stomach cancer , was a priceless nugget of God's revealing evidence through his ongoing ministry to children. Ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1962, he was charged by the church to continue his work with children and families through the medium of television.
In an eloquent testimony to the power of simple storytelling, Mr. Rogers captured the hearts of millions of children - along with their grateful parents - over a long career that refused to compromise the good news of grace, unconditional love, and acceptance in a television market that too often relinquishes fundamental accountability in favor of ratings and profit.
Mr. Rogers recognized the disturbing capacity that television has to contribute to the values of impressionable children, especially in families where moral ambiguity leaves such lessons untaught and seldom considered. He harnessed that potential for good, delighting both the mind and the soul of his audiences.
We will miss you, Mr. Rogers. America needs clear voices such as yours to remind us of the rich heritage of faith from which our sense of morality was born. You taught millions of us that creativity, quality, principle, and substance are not incompatible with excellence in the challenging medium of television. It is a lesson that we need to learn every day.
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