On Spiritual Mentors: Fred Rogers

Many of my spiritual mentors are writers — persons whose works inspired me, guided me, even, in a few cases, changed my life. I am grateful for them. They are persons who have provided some light along my spiritual journey. But they are not all writers!

Fred Rogers was a Presbyterian minister who had a Bachelor’s degree in music composition. He also was a television personality best remembered for his show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. But how could the creator of characters such as King Friday and (my personal favorite) Purple Panda from Planet Purple inspire spiritually?

When I watch reruns of his program, I am struck by his down-to-earth approach in which he speaks to children with respect and directness. Over the years, he helped children deal with issues ranging from being afraid of falling down the toilet to facing the death of a loved one.

A deeply spiritual man, he had a grasp on the Christian message better than most. Thus, when asked to castigate gays, he said to gay people “God loves you just the way you are.” Such gentle acceptance stands as a beacon to all who claim to be Christian.

When I think of someone who emulates Jesus in a mixed-up modern world, I can find none better than Fred Rogers.

Reflection: Who are some of your spiritual mentors?

Further viewing: Thankfully there are many episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on YouTube. here is a typical one:


Afterword: I love the story of Fred Rogers getting onto a crowded subway in New York City and all the other passengers bursting into the Neighborhood theme song!