Saturday, March 21, 2015

Remembering Fred Rogers: You Can Grow Ideas

Yesterday would have been Mr. Rogers' 86th birthday. I didn't know much about Mr. Rogers growing up except that it was one of my favorite shows on PBS. I love the music video remix above that captures just a few ways Mr. Rogers helped unleash generations of creativity as he encouraged young people to use their imagination to grow ideas in the garden of their mind.

I love seeing some of the old props from the show when I have a little extra time in the Pittsburgh Airport. And I love learning more about Mr. Rogers himself. For example, I did not know when I was  little that he was a Presbyterian minister and that he went to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary while he was helping to build the nations first community sponsored educational television station, WQED in Pittsburgh. Living within the broadcast reach of WQED, I have to say I really love the programming they offer that highlights some of the great venues, neighborhoods, and history of Pittsburgh and the region. 

I learned yesterday through an article on Huffington Post that Mr. Rogers' cardigans were hand-made by his mother, that she made sweaters for many, and that this was a one of the ways she showed her love. What an amazing testimony, and what an incredible family. I felt an echo of my own mom's generosity as I read that story. She used to make baby blankets for friends, neighbors, and relatives, and she made quilts that me, my brother, and sister still treasure to this day.

May we each take time to unleash our imagination, and grow ideas that can change the world. And may we each be instruments of compassion and good neighbors to those who God places on our path in this life. And may we aspire to leave a legacy for future generations as Mr. Rogers did for so many of us. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review and Reflection: Unbroken

As I mentioned in my last post, Jamie and I have a tradition of going to the movie theater in the winter time, and we look for movies specifically that move us, that stir us, that cause us to think deeply about this world we live in, our purpose in it, and how we can help it be better. We watch movies that help us reflect, to set our intentions, and to become a better version of ourselves as well.

And this past winter, we discovered the story of WWII Veteran Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was an Olympic athlete, a Japanese WWII prison camp survivor, and a deeply committed Christian. And this winter, Angelina Jolie told a portion of his story in the movie Unbroken. Unbroken is also a book, and I am sure it is a great one, but I have not read it yet.

Jamie and I had done some reading about Louis Zamperini before watching the movie. His life was amazing, and the movie only carried the viewer through a small portion of it. Zamperini, after the events of the movie, became a deeply committed Christian, and worked to be reconciled and to forgive his captors after his faith was re-ignited at a Billy Graham crusade in 1949.

As I watched the movie with Jamie, there were several points I found myself in tears. There's something about taking in a story of a person who perseveres, who overcomes, and who refuses to give up that ignites a spark deep inside.  Our world needs good stories like Louie Zamperini's. Our world needs you and I to also begin living a better story.

Would I recommend this movie to you? Absolutely! But, I must warn you. The pain that this man went through, and that was portrayed on the screen is pretty overwhelming. But maybe, in getting a glimpse of this man's story, you will find yourself more ready to engage in the trials that emerge in your own life, maybe you'll find yourself pushing your limits and refusing to quit, maybe you will find yourself more able to be reconciled to others. I sure hope so. The world will be better if more of us dig in our heels and refuse to give up when the going gets tough.

May we all grow in our resolve to do the right thing and to never quit!

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Review: Selma

Every winter since we started dating, Jamie and I have a bit of a tradition. Neither of us can recollect making this an intentional tradition, but the pattern emerged, and we can both trace it back to winter 2008. Winter is our moving watching season, but not just any movies, we end up watching really serious historical/biographical films that give us an opportunity to think about justice and the perseverance of the human spirit. This winter has been no exception.

One of the movies we watched this winter was Selma, a movie that tells the story of the planning and events that led to the march 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama on March 7, 1965. As I started writing this post, I just had the realization that today marks 50 years since that march. The march itself led to President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights act of 1965, and was a massive milestone in the civil rights movements of the 1960s.

I won’t go into the details of the film, but I do recommend you go watch it. I recommend it for a couple of reasons. First, it is a great film. Beyond being a great film, it carries the viewer back 50 years to a very different United States, and portrays just how overwhelming the opposition was to equal voting rights in parts of this country, and also carries the viewer to see how that opposition was overcome. Movies like Selma are a reminder that as Dr. King said many times, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” May we all remember that the path toward a better world may not be an easy one, but it is always worthwhile to labor for the betterment of others.