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 Post subject: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:51 am 
B.H. Roberts Chair of Mopologetic Studies
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Let's face it, folks: we live in incredibly cynical times. Our popular and political cultures are laced with viciousness, unrelenting irony, smug condescension, and outright lying. It is thus something of a breath of fresh air that movie theaters were recently graced with the Mr. Rogers documentary entitled Won't You Be My Neighbor? Just about everyone knows who Mr. Rogers is/was, and the sentiment towards him is almost universally one of affection: this was a man known for his gentleness and kindness, someone who insisted on celebrating the "specialness" of every last person. Indeed, the documentary currently holds a 99% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes on the basis of 138 positive reviews (and 1 "rotten" one).

For the sake of our discussions here on this message board, though, I have to say: I have always been struck about how "Mormon" Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood often seemed. Or, rather, the show seemed like a highly idealized version of the ways that Mormons are supposed to behave. Fred Rogers--as I and others have repeatedly noted--epitomized kindness, especially towards children, along with a persistent appreciation for innocence, community, and decency, along with a healthy dollop of self-deprecating humor and a penchant for good-natured imagination. In short: Mr. Rogers was, without putting too fine a point on it, Christ-like. Simply being nice towards others helped to make Mr. Rogers famous, and it helps explain why his legacy endures.

So, I guess it doesn't really come as all that much of a surprise that the Mopologists really hate Mr. Rogers:

DCP wrote:
We’ve just returned from a showing of the documentary film Won’t You Be My Neighbor? about the legendary children’s television personality Fred Rogers, of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

I was, I have to admit, never a Mr. Rogers fan. I doubt that I ever watched an entire episode. I really couldn’t stand the show. So I was a bit surprised at the news that we were going to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor? tonight. It was interesting, though. And there was one section, in the last quarter of the film, involving a young boy in a wheelchair, that was genuinely moving.


Well, *of course* DCP "couldn't stand the show"! What possible use could he have for the brand of kindness and generosity that Rogers embodied? In a somewhat similar vein, Lous Midgley, in the comments, writes that "I have exactly no memories of Mr. Rogers" before spending the next few paragraphs reminiscing on a particular species of pine tree. (Trees, apparently, are easy to like and tolerate.)

It really is remarkable how coldly DCP dismisses Rogers, and it occurs to me that the Mopologists' lack of understanding in this case runs parallel to another case where they don't understand somebody: i.e., Jesus. It has been said many times before, by many people--including in print, in the pages of the old FROB--that the apologists aren't "Christ-like." So it actually makes quite a lot of sense that DCP "really couldn't stand the show." Can you just imagine him trying to sit through it? Seeing this guy--Fred Rogers--being unfailingly nice to everyone and everything? Because it is fundamentally impossible to imagine Rogers being cruel towards an apostate or an EV critic, it's also impossible (one assumes) to think of a reason why the Mopologists would find any reason to respect Rogers.

I noted earlier that Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood always felt vaguely "Mormon-y" to me. It had all the surface features of it, in any event: a seemingly nice, middle-aged white man with neatly combed hair and who wore a cardigan, and who was extra nice to his neighbors, and who spoke directly to the camera (i.e., to us). Plus, each episode featured a trolley disappearing into a tunnel and a subsequent jaunt through an imaginary fantasy-land called the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and what does that remind you of? (And doesn't Lady Elaine Fairchild bear such a striking resemblance to Dr. Midgley? The Wikipedia entry on the "Neighborhood of Make-Believe" describes Fairchild as a "cranky schemer.")

Mr. Rogers, to most, is/was an idealistic model of how one might engage with the world: it was a kinder, more innocent alternative to the viciousness, the competitiveness, and the cynicism of so much of our culture. To the Mopologists, though, Rogers is no doubt both a reminder of all their failures and an exemplar of behavior that is so foreign to them that it is only natural that they would despise both him and his show. Quite revealing, in any case.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:45 pm 
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I doubt Dr. Peterson saw Mr. Rogers as a semi-religious figure. Rogers was the kind of guy who would apologize, did not demand obedience, and would probably have supported the reformation of the Maxwell Institute.

Dr. Peterson was probably more into Nellie Oleson, due to her apologist qualities.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:48 pm 
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DCP wrote:
I was, I have to admit, never a Mr. Rogers fan. I doubt that I ever watched an entire episode. I really couldn’t stand the show.


DCP confessed that he was never a Mr. Rogers fan which is also a confession that he is nothing like Mr. Rogers. Imagine Peterson trying to fill those shoes -- he isn't worthy to unloose Roger's sandal straps. Peterson didn't have the patience to watch an entire episode because he doesn't have time for genuine kindness and affection being demonstrated on a level in which he can't comprehend. Of course he can't stand the show! He can't stand the show anymore than I could stand a boring LDS church meeting.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:05 pm 
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Yikes.

My dad is a lot like Mr Rogers exactly because he has tried to emulate the Jesus of the Beatitudes. It didn't come easy to him, he was raised in an abusive environment, but imo he is an example of genuine discipleship, not apologetics.


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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:18 pm 
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I don't know that it's fair to reach any conclusions about Dr. Peterson based on his dislike of Mr. Rogers, though I confess I've never met anyone who said they "can't stand the show." Maybe he didn't like the format or the puppets or Mr. Rogers's voice. Who knows?

I have fond memories of Mr. Rogers. I was in the hospital at least once a week from birth until age 5 or 6. I have distinct memories of watching Mr. Rogers in a room at Los Angeles Children's Hospital. For a small child who knew he was going to get an injection and go home feeling woozy and sore from having his esophagus dilated, Mr. Rogers was always a comforting presence.

But I'll let Dr. Peterson speak for himself.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:44 pm 
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It should probably be noted that Dr. Peterson was past his childhood years when Mr. Roger's Neighborhood came to the national stage. I remember as a teenager feeling compelled to denounce childish movies and cartoons - it just wasn't the stuff of tough and grown-up Young Adult hombres. We wanted sophisticated fare like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:54 pm 
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I suspect dealing with the constant cognitive dissonance of Mormonism takes its toll. Apologists cannot simply bury their heads in the sand like the G.A.'s and membership at large probably do most of the time. Being nice is probably a casualty of being forced to face reality and having to constantly invent new ways to avoid falsification of Mormonism.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:55 pm 
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Maybe Dr. Peterson's dislike of the show stems from the fact that he isn't among the target audience?

(As for me, the older I get, the more I appreciate what Mr. Rogers stood for and what he was trying to accomplish.)

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:58 pm 
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Exiled wrote:
I suspect dealing with the constant cognitive dissonance of Mormonism takes its toll. Apologists cannot simply bury their heads in the sand like the G.A.'s and membership at large probably do most of the time. Being nice is probably a casualty of being forced to face reality and having to constantly invent new ways to avoid falsification of Mormonism.


Not speaking of Dr. Peterson or anyone specific, I do know people who think that being "nice" is simply a pose people adopt to mask their real intentions. They equate "nice" with obfuscation and deceit and instead think that being bold and blunt are preferable, no matter what. Such people tend not to be diplomats.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:01 pm 
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From where I sit, what separates an apologist such as DCP from Fred Rogers, is sincerity and authenticity. Fred Rogers was authentic, sincere, kind, accepting, and loving toward his fellow human being both child and adult.

I wish you hadn't posted about this today and I will say why. I'm planning to go see the movie this week and I want to see it alone. I need to sit there and remember, and cry.

Several months ago, I asked in Paradise forum--where are our leading lights? Our visionaries? Those who inspire us toward change?

And now I am asking myself, in this current political climate, "Who will speak for the children?"

Were Fred Rogers here today, there is little doubt in my mind that he would go to DC to testify (likely to President himself) to and advocate for the needs of children as he had done in the past.

There's Only One Like You ~ Fred Rogers

There was only one like him, too.

I am so sad.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:10 pm 
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Runtu wrote:
Exiled wrote:
I suspect dealing with the constant cognitive dissonance of Mormonism takes its toll. Apologists cannot simply bury their heads in the sand like the G.A.'s and membership at large probably do most of the time. Being nice is probably a casualty of being forced to face reality and having to constantly invent new ways to avoid falsification of Mormonism.


Not speaking of Dr. Peterson or anyone specific, I do know people who think that being "nice" is simply a pose people adopt to mask their real intentions. They equate "nice" with obfuscation and deceit and instead think that being bold and blunt are preferable, no matter what. Such people tend not to be diplomats.


Good point. There is a distinction to be made between nice and kind.


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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:15 pm 
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I don't recall ever really watching a whole episode either. I recall trying to watch it when I was young, at a friend's or whatever, and it felt rather dismal. The atmosphere was drab and for some reason I interpreted that to mean the show was pretty pointless. It made me sad, when I tried. It never interested me. But, I will say, lately since this documentary has come out and people have spoken about him, he certainly seems like he was a nice guy who tried to promote kindness. Sounds great. I'm for that.

Using this as a means to attack Dr. Peterson seems silly. I don't think his dislike of the show says anything negative about him.


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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:16 pm 
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Stem wrote:
I don't recall ever really watching a whole episode either. I recall trying to watch it when I was young, at a friend's or whatever, and it felt rather dismal. The atmosphere was drab and for some reason I interpreted that to mean the show was pretty pointless. It made me sad, when I tried. It never interested me. But, I will say, lately since this documentary has come out and people have spoken about him, he certainly seems like he was a nice guy who tried to promote kindness. Sounds great. I'm for that.

Using this as a means to attack Dr. Peterson seems silly. I don't think his dislike of the show says anything negative about him.


Yep. Until he tells us what he meant, it's kind of hard to reach any conclusions at all.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:21 pm 
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I was, I have to admit, never a Mr. Rogers fan. I doubt that I ever watched an entire episode. I really couldn’t stand the show.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:23 pm 
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Runtu wrote:
Not speaking of Dr. Peterson or anyone specific, I do know people who think that being "nice" is simply a pose people adopt to mask their real intentions. They equate "nice" with obfuscation and deceit and instead think that being bold and blunt are preferable, no matter what. Such people tend not to be diplomats.


Every single person I've ever known who could at some point been considered a jerk was also nice and kind at other times. There's no doubt in my mind that people use being nice as a means to trick people and use people. It's hard for me not to think everyone out there has done it at times in some way.

I'm not trying to argue your point, though. Just adding, I find it's pretty difficult traveling through the world and seeing people as either/or.


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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:24 pm 
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One of my favorite Mr. Rogers reminiscences:

Quote:
[Francois Clemmons] says he'll never forget the day Rogers wrapped up the program, as he always did, by hanging up his sweater and saying, "You make every day a special day just by being you, and I like you just the way you are." This time in particular, Rogers had been looking right at Clemmons, and after they wrapped, he walked over.

Clemmons asked him, "Fred, were you talking to me?"

"Yes, I have been talking to you for years," Rogers said, as Clemmons recalls. "But you heard me today."

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https://www.npr.org/2016/03/11/46984651 ... n-together

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:25 pm 
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Stem wrote:
Every single person I've ever known who could at some point been considered a jerk was also nice and kind at other times. There's no doubt in my mind that people use being nice as a means to trick people and use people. It's hard for me not to think everyone out there has done it at times in some way.

I'm not trying to argue your point, though. Just adding, I find it's pretty difficult traveling through the world and seeing people as either/or.


I'm not saying it's either/or. Rather, I'm saying that some people are automatically suspicious of kindness. I'm kind of the other way in assuming it's genuine until I find out otherwise. But yes, we are complicated beings, and we're not consistent.

ETA: I haven't always been kind to you, and for that I am sorry.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:36 pm 
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I was, I have to admit, never a Mr. Rogers fan. I doubt that I ever watched an entire episode. I really couldn’t stand the show.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:43 pm 
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Runtu wrote:
I'm not saying it's either/or. Rather, I'm saying that some people are automatically suspicious of kindness. I'm kind of the other way in assuming it's genuine until I find out otherwise. But yes, we are complicated beings, and we're not consistent.

ETA: I haven't always been kind to you, and for that I am sorry.

I'm sure we largely agree here. I see my comments came off a little comabitve, or disagreeable--not my intention. and I don't think you have anything to be sorry about. I'm sorry if ever I've said something or done something to offend (sounds kind of a weak apology, I suppose. But I didn't think either of us have been unkind to each other).


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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:48 pm 
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Stem wrote:
I'm sure we largely agree here. I see my comments came off a little comabitve, or disagreeable--not my intention. and I don't think you have anything to be sorry about. I'm sorry if ever I've said something or done something to offend (sounds kind of a weak apology, I suppose. But I didn't think either of us have been unkind to each other).


This is turning into a love-fest worthy of Mr. Rogers himself! :)

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 Post subject: Re: The Mopologists Don't "Get" Mr. Rogers
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:00 pm 
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Temple Recommend Questions

1 Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual who supports the Mr. Rogers show?

2 Have there been any sins or misdeeds in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but have not been such as watching an entire episode of Mr. Rogers?

3 Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord's house and participate in temple ordinances and covenant to refrain from all things Mr. Rogers?

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