‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ leads July’s family-friendly spotlight

‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ leads July’s family-friendly spotlight

There was a time I enjoyed watching the news, perusing Twitter and scanning Facebook.

No longer.

Those days are long gone due to a culture that has forgotten how to disagree without being disagreeable. Friendly dialogue has been replaced on those platforms with a cesspool of shouting and endless arguments — and it’s affecting every part of our culture.

Perhaps we need to go back to the basics, beginning with how to have conversations and make friends. Perhaps a visit to “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” would help.

The man behind the iconic show — Fred Rogers — would have been 90 this year. He died in 2003 but is being remembered in 2018 with a theatrical documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Rogers did not discuss his faith explicitly on his program but nevertheless wanted it to be his “ministry” to the country. He was an ordained Presbyterian Church (USA) minister and graduated in the 1960s from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Shortly thereafter, he launched his TV program.

More than 100 episodes of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” are already streaming on Amazon Prime. It’s much-needed television for our children, but it’s helpful TV for adults too.

In what other television show can you learn how to forgive others, how to make orange juice and how to tie your shoes?

Also worth watching this month:

  • “America’s Got Talent” — Most modern-day talent shows spotlight singers. NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” — now in its 12th season — gives everyone the stage: illusionists, dancers, contortionists and, yes, singers too. Occasionally the acts borderline on the risqué, but most stay in the family-friendly realm. Still keep the remote handy. This summer Michael Ketterer, a worship leader at a nondenominational California congregation, Influence Church, is trying to win. He received the coveted “golden buzzer” in the early rounds, sending him automatically to the final rounds. He’s also the father of six children — five of whom were adopted through foster care. “America’s Got Talent,” a staple of summer television, airs Tuesday nights.
  • “The Star” — Affirm Films, the same studio behind “Courageous” and “Heaven is for Real,” released this animated faith-based movie last year. It’s now on Netflix. “The Star” (PG) tells the story of Mary, Joseph and the birth of Christ through the eyes of the animals who witnessed the event. My kids loved it. It’s suitable for all ages.
  • “Father Brown” — This live-action British mystery series is based on novels by theologian and author G.K. Chesterton, but that doesn’t mean the TV show is appropriate for children. I’d recommend it for adults and teens. It was made by the BBC but is now on Netflix. (The sixth season recently was added.) The plot is simple: A murder takes place in a small British village and Father Brown tries to solve it. This recommendation comes with a caveat: Some of the episodes (such as the first episode in season 1) cover questionable topics I don’t find entertaining. Skip them and watch the others.
  • Gospel film series: Matthew, Mark, Luke — Have you ever wanted a biblical movie that doesn’t take liberties with the text? If so, then these films are for you. Three movies — “The Gospel of Matthew,” “The Gospel of Mark” and “The Gospel of Luke” — are now on Pureflix. They were released to DVD in the past five years and received little media attention, but they are some of the best biblical movies I’ve watched.

These films are unique for two reasons. First, the screenplay uses the biblical text, word for word. Second, the films use Middle Eastern actors and actresses. More than likely, you’ve never seen anything like it.


Meet the reviewer

Michael Foust covers the intersection of faith and entertainment as a media reviewer for The Alabama Baptist. He also is the husband of an amazing wife and the father of four young children.