Daily Archives: July 18, 2013

Two Freds, One Faith

One could hardly imagine two more disparate Presbyterian ministers than Fred Rogers, best known as beloved children’s show host “Mister Rogers,” and Pulitzer Prize-nominated novelist Frederick Buechner. One man, wearing a zippered cardigan, sings “Won’t you be my neighbor?” before placidly discoursing on themes such as courtesy, personal hygiene or regular school attendance; the other writes decidedly “grown-up” fiction and non-fiction, frankly discussing the crippling tensions he has felt between faith and doubt. One man’s pulpit is television; the other’s pulpit is his desk. Both are influential in vastly different spheres.

Nonetheless, the two Freds interacted during the early 1980s. Among the papers of Frederick Buechner (SC-05) are three notes from Mr. Rogers. For the first two, dated July 14, 1981, Rogers thanks Buechner for a phoned chat, and for “…what you called out of me.” Rogers then invites Buechner to visit him during August if he is near Pittsburgh or his summer home in Nantucket. On the other note he writes his address. On the third, dated August 27, 1981, Rogers thanks Buechner for sending a gracious letter which welcomed his return to Nantucket. He also thanks Buechner “…for you and your superb work.”

(Researchers desiring access to those portions of the collection classified as Private Materials or Special Private Materials must obtain written permission from the Buechner Literary Trust.)