Did you know that Mr. Rogers was an ordained pastor? Yep, that Mr. Rogers. What would it have been like to attend a church service where “Pastor Rogers” preached?
My old comedy act Mitch & Allen (I was Mitch), started riffing on the idea of a laid-back zinger-dropping Pastor Rogers and a religious hypocrite named Mr. Deacon.
Watch the video now, and then meet me for milk and cookies below!
“God loves you, but if you don’t get right, he’s gonna fry your face off!” A smidge condemning, perhaps. But then Mr. Deacon is the world’s most annoying person, so you almost want him to go to hell.
Have you ever known a religious hypocrite? I guest-preached at a church in Chicago one Sunday. It was a great morning. Until a stiff-suited man came up and rebuked me for “cussing,” then turned and walked away.
What? (I do not “cuss” when I preach.)
“That was Frank,” the youth pastor explained. “It was because you said ‘gee,’ I think.”
“And you consider that ‘cussing’?”
“No, but Frank does. But only on Sunday. He cusses like crazy the rest of the week. Plus, I’m pretty sure he’s having an affair with his next door neighbor. I don’t think he gets the whole Jesus thing. He’s just ‘religious,’ you know? We’re trying to fix that.”
Psychologists call it cognitive dissonance: the uncomfortable state of living at odds with what we believe.* To resolve it, we have to make one of two choices: either live what we believe, or believe what we live. The first takes effort. And humility. The latter is easy, but requires some mental twisting. E.g. Do you steal from the company you work for? Don’t stop stealing, just tell yourself, “They underpay me and they know it. It’s expected!” Voila! You now officially believe what you live.
The problem with believing what you live is that your hypocrisy can be exposed at any time. Pastor Rogers’ biblical zingers have this effect on Mr. Deacon. Stripped of his self-deception, he collapses in a fit of self-pity.
But there is a way out, Pastor Rogers explains. Not just an escape from some future hell, but from the hell of self-deception. Right now. It’s a matter of giving up and letting God remake you into “a new creature.” Jesus’ message really is that simple. He tells us we must “become like little children.” (Matthew 18:3)
Before an infinite Creator, how could it be any other way? There’s nothing we can give God—and nothing else he wants—but our love. The real Mr. Rogers understood that. And, yeah, he was a first-class preacher!
Now, who’s up for milk and cookies?
If you’d like to own a copy of this video, you can download it here!
*This is one of several ways in which the term cognitive dissonance may be applied.