Thursday, August 6, 2020

59. The Mister Rogers Effect

The Mister Rogers Effect. Dr. Anita Knight Kuhnley. 2020. Baker Books. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I will never forget the day I had a discussion with my students that would send me on a transformative quest. It was quiet in the large, dark classroom filled with aspiring counselors. I flipped on the fluorescent lights and looked out into the sea of faces.

Though it is published by a Christian publishing company, Baker Publishing Group's Baker Books division, The Mister Rogers Effect isn't particularly Christian, religious, or spiritual.

This bothered me. A lot. It bothered me a lot. But I looked up BakerBook's mission statement (is that the right word?!?!) and this is what it said, "Baker Books has a vision for building up the body of Christ through books that are relevant, intelligent, and engaging. We publish titles for lay Christians on topics such as discipleship, apologetics, spirituality, relationships, marriage, parenting, and the intersection of Christianity and culture. We also publish books and ministry resources for pastors and church leaders, concentrating on topics such as preaching, worship, pastoral ministries, counseling, biblical reference, and leadership."

I suppose The Mister Rogers Effect falls under the "intelligent" and "engaging"? Or perhaps "the intersection of Christianity and culture." I won't lie.

The premise of The Mister Rogers Effect is simple: EVERY ONE SHOULD EMULATE (IMITATE) MISTER ROGERS. The world would be a better place if Mister Rogers could be duplicated a thousand-fold. Kuhnley offers readers the SEVEN SECRETS in how to be more like Mister Rogers.

Those secrets are:
Secret 1: Listen First: Listen with More than Your Ears  
Secret 2: Validate Feelings: Feelings are Mentionable and Manageable
Secret 3: Pause and Think: Take Time to Discover What Is Inside
Secret 4: Show Gratitude: Be Kind and Be Thankful
Secret 5: Develop Empathy: Be with People Where They Are
Secret 6: Practice Acceptance: Who You Are Right Now Is Acceptable
Secret 7: Establish Security: People Need to Know They Are Cared For

The chapters are written with a psychological approach. Everything is written with a psychological approach. This one is best for those with an interest in child development, sociology, or psychology. It is a technical book--but not technical in a theological sense. As I said the approach in this one leaves God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, the Christian faith, the Christian worldview out completely and totally. So when words like grace, gratitude, forgiveness, love, etc., are used they are not used in a biblical sense.

On the one hand, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Mister Rogers. I do. I felt loved, accepted, welcomed when watching the show. His songs spoke to me--and continue to speak to me.

On the other hand, I am not a disciple of Mister Rogers. Fred Rogers is not the center of my life. I have no need to channel Mister Rogers, to seek to be more like him, to ask what would Fred Rogers do in any situation. I do not think that Mister Rogers holds the answers and solutions for what is wrong with society. Even if people take away valuable lessons--moral and ethical lessons--that make them "better" people, this kind of reform cannot actually save. Now, I am not suggesting the author is suggesting this--that Mister Rogers has replaced the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. That we will be judged by God on judgment day based on how well we lived up to our vision of Mister Rogers.

The world has many, many, many problems. I think Christian publishers should be pointing people to the actual savior, Jesus Christ, and not directing them to copy Fred Rogers.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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