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Authenticity and Mr. Rogers

A friend challenged me today to do some thinking about why authenticity keeps showing up as a value of young people. Looking for a place to start, I checked out some dictionary definitions for authentic. What I found wasn’t surprising:

Definition: Not false or copied; genuine; real

But then I bumped into something I want you to see. My Google search led to a blog by John Kinde who introduces what I think is a powerful illustration of authenticity. He sets up and then links to a YouTube clip of the late Mr. Rogers in a 1969 appearance before a crusty Senate SubCommittee Chairman. Kinde’s point is to watch what happens when, without a polished presentation, Rogers brings the previously dismissive chairman to “goosebumps.”

I encourage you to take the time to read Kinde’s brief introduction and then follow his link to the short YouTube video. I think it will surprise you.

If the John Kinde link doesn’t work, try pasting this into your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a41lJIhW7fA

Once you watch the video, I’d love to hear whether you agree that this is a great example of the power of authenticity, and if so why? Then, what I’d really like to know is– more importantly– does this illustration help you to think of parallels to the far greater authenticity of Jesus? I’d like to use this to introduce what has been for me another Bible Ah-Ha! moment.

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6 Responses to “Authenticity and Mr. Rogers”

  1. Gale L. Jarvis says:

    Mart after seeing the video, i must admit, i never watched Mr. Rogers, and to my knowlege there is no one on T.V. today caring for Children such as this man did, but if there are, and you know of them, i would like to hear from you as to who they are.
    Authenticity is hard to find, at least it has been for me over the years, words do not get it with anyone, especially children, telling a child drinking alcohol, smoking, drugs, or many other things are bad for them, and often telling them you never want to ever see them doing these things, but involved, and taking part in one, or probably all of them is criminal in my opinion.
    i believe in the security of the believer, but even though i am not God, there are more church goers, that say they know they are saved, but showing they are authentic outside the church building is very rare.
    i absolutely do not believe a person will be saved by their works, but as God tells very plainly, Faith without works is useless, or dead.
    The Lord needs more authentic children in these last days, we must be the light, by letting the Lord have our lives, so others can see Jesus through us, and be the salt that will cause others to thirst after the life we live.

  2. Chuck Franke says:

    The message Mr. Rogers gave in his testimony, that every child (person) is special, is a secular, indisputable, non-confrontational way of saying God loves everyone just the way they are. But, despite the $20 million that was awarded PBS to produce these types of programs, there seems to be more children than ever loosing control over themselves. When they get those evil thoughts they cannot “stop, stop, stop.” There is a disconnect for me regarding the results of Mr. Rogers wonderful program and wonderful life. Without Christ the evil has spread.

  3. Mart De Haan says:

    Yes, Chuck, I agree with you. There’s a lot that is missing. But while thinking about the “disconnect” that is all too real in our world– and even between us and Christ– look at another anecdote about Rogers that I found on Wikipedia:

    “During the 1997 Daytime Emmys, the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Rogers. The following is an excerpt from Esquire Magazine’s coverage of the gala, written by Tom Junod:

    Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award — and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons…, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence.”

    And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, ‘I’ll watch the time.” There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn’t kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, seven seconds — and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly, “May God be with you,” to all his vanquished children.

  4. bondservant2 says:

    My daughter was raised watching Mr. Rogers, Sheri Lewis and other children’s programs that set a good example. The children’s programs now are into the ocult, anger, self, pride and everything wordly. How I pray for our children’s children and all the wordly ways that is being taught to them.

  5. Geyegeroffe says:

    I may have said it a million times, but I’ll say it again, the Lord works in mysterious ways. I must admit that this is my first time on this site, after I felt compelled to read the entry for March 30th, 2008 of Our Daily Bread. From there I found this site, which dumbfounded me even more. Dumbfounded may be the wrong word… Maybe Awe Stricken… Yeah, that’s better. I stumbled upon this blog entry and I think I figured out what our Father has been trying to tell me, about Authenticity and its role in my life. I was spiritually struck to the core when I watched the video of Mr Rogers. I grew up with Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood, of which he talks about, and, in hind-sight, I’m glad that I got that opportunity. I have to admit that I miss those pure shows, the honest, authentic shows of that era. So what does that have to do with this post, you ask? Plenty. God spoke to me in a way that is indescribable at best, and revealed to me that the work that he has for me has only begun to be revealed, but that in time, I will do great things for him, BUT, I must maintain the path of authenticity that he has set before me. I am the kind of guy that always goes out of the way to help, disconnected from the need of a reward, since the satisfaction that someone is better off thanks to my help IS my reward. I give of myself whenever I can, regardless of who gets the credit, as I am happy just to have helped. The Lord has been very much with me these recent years, and I am eternally grateful, but he has also reminded me that the path he leads is a very narrow one that I can easily stray from… It is up to me to follow His lead. I end this with the following question. Who is best to declare one to be Authentic, oneself, or one’s peers if none of us are truly Authentic without the Lord?

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