Mr. Rogers and the Garden of Your Mind

Longtime readers of this blog may recall the fondness and respect Chris and I have for Fred Rogers, the Presbyterian minister and educator from Pittsburgh who invited us all to be part of his TV neighborhood. In a recent Q essay on the “Ten Most Significant Cultural Trends of the Last Decade,” Andy Crouch listed Place at #2, writing, “This quest for local, embodied, physical presence may well be driven by the omnipresence of the virtual and a dawning awareness of the thinness of disembodied life.” It is fun to speculate – and speculation is all it can ever be – that Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired about 900 episodes over nearly 45 years, baptized the imaginations of several generations of young people, giving them a glimpse of what local, embodied presence can look like.

Chris and I were thus both delighted to see a recent PBS Digital Studios video of “Mister Rogers Remixed.” It’s called “Garden of Your Mind” and it’s a reminder of some of the reasons we all loved Fred Rogers so much. The video has gone viral, as the kids say, with nearly 5 million views on YouTube in just two weeks. What do you think? Bizarre? Awesome? Maybe both?

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  • Cary

    I love it. He’s nonthreatening and full of wonder. I think he makes us ache for something simpler.

  • Marlene Mead Stewart

    Mr. Rogers is my hero. I’ve never seen him portrayed as “creepy,” before.

  • Susan Adams

    I really enjoyed the video and I think Mr. Rogers would have like it, too. Fred Rogers was a visionary and I still miss him. Though I am too old to have watched him as a child, I watched him with my own kids and deeply appreciate his contribution to the development of several generations of children.

    I did, however, turn on the TV a few times in the 1970′s when I was home sick from school and tried to figure out what the heck was going on as I watched the show. With no context and under the influence of a high fever, the Neighborhood of Make-Believe is pretty surreal. I could make no sense of some guy talking to a trolley, the same guy voicing all the puppets so obviously, and then changing his sweater and shoes right on TV. It made a lot more sense to me as an adult than it did when I was 10. In retrospect, I think I tuned in the first time to see one of the operas, which I still have to admit was a turn toward the weird.

    Rest in peace, brother Fred:)