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Mr. Rogers might have been even nicer than you thought
Mental Floss ^ | May 23, 2007 | Mangesh Hattikudur

Posted on 05/31/2007 8:50:38 PM PDT by van_erwin

15 Reasons Mister Rogers Was the Best Neighbor Ever

1943-1-photo.jpgBack when I was in 7th grade I stood up in front of my English class and delivered a tongue-in-cheek, poorly researched presentation on why I thought Mister Rogers should be the next President. I ate up the first few minutes zipping up my cardigan, and putting on some sneakers, and then I proceeded to mock him roundly. It was a riotous success. Fourteen years later, I’m using this post to repent. The following are 15 things everyone should know about Fred Rogers:

fred-and-Koko.jpg1. Even Koko the Gorilla loved him
Most people have heard of Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who could speak about 1000 words in American Sign Language, and understand about 2000 in English. What most people don’t know, however, is that Koko was an avid Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fan. As Esquire reported, when Fred Rogers took a trip out to meet Koko for his show, not only did she immediately wrap her arms around him and embrace him, she did what she’d always seen him do onscreen: she proceeded to take his shoes off!

2. He Made Thieves Think Twice
According to a TV Guide piece on him, Fred Rogers drove a plain old Impala for years. One day, however, the car was stolen from the street near the TV station. When Rogers filed a police report, the story was picked up by every newspaper, radio and media outlet around town. Amazingly, within 48 hours the car was left in the exact spot where it was taken from, with an apology on the dashboard. It read, “If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.”


3. He Watched His Figure to the Pound!

274149.jpg In covering Rogers’ daily routine (waking up at 5; praying for a few hours for all of his friends and family; studying; writing, making calls and reaching out to every fan who took the time to write him; going for a morning swim; getting on a scale; then really starting his day), writer Tom Junod explained that Mr. Rogers weighed in at exactly 143 pounds every day for the last 30 years of his life. He didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, didn’t eat the flesh of any animals, and was extremely disciplined in his daily routine. And while I’m not sure if any of that was because he’d mostly grown up a chubby, single child, Junod points out that Rogers found beauty in the number 143. According to the piece, Rogers came “to see that number as a gift… because, as he says, “the number 143 means ‘I love you.’ It takes one letter to say ‘I’ and four letters to say ‘love’ and three letters to say ‘you.’ One hundred and forty-three.”

FredRogers_BigBird.jpg 4. He Saved Both Public Television and the VCR

Strange but true. When the government wanted to cut Public Television funds in 1969, the relatively unknown Mister Rogers went to Washington. Almost straight out of a Capra film, his 5-6 minute testimony on how TV had the potential to give kids hope and create more productive citizens was so simple but passionate that even the most gruff politicians were charmed. While the budget should have been cut, the funding instead jumped from $9 to $22 million. Rogers also spoke to Congress, and swayed senators into voting to allow VCR’s to record television shows from the home. It was a cantankerous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family.

5. He Might Have Been the Most Tolerant American Ever

Mister Rogers seems to have been almost exactly the same off-screen as he was onscreen. Despite being an ordained Presbyterian minister, and a man of tremendous faith, Mister Rogers preached tolerance first. Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, “God loves you just the way you are.” Often this provoked ire from fundamentalists.


6. He Was Genuinely Curious about Others

Mister Rogers was known as one of the toughest interviews because he’d often befriend reporters, asking them tons of questions, taking pictures of them, compiling an album for them at the end of their time together, and calling them after to check in on them and hear about their families. He wasn’t concerned with himself, and genuinely loved hearing the life stories of others. Amazingly, it wasn’t just with reporters. Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec’s house, he heard the limo driver was going to wait outside for 2 hours, so he insisted the driver come in and join them (which flustered the host). On the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver’s home on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet his family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life—the house supposedly lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night. Further, like with the reporters, Rogers sent him notes and kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life.

7. He was Color-blind
Literally. He couldn’t see the color blue. Of course, he was also figuratively color-blind, as you probably guessed. As were his parents who took in a black foster child when Rogers was growing up.

nyctransit051223ap.jpg 8. He Could Make a Subway Car full of Strangers Sing

Once while rushing to a New York meeting, there were no cabs available, so Rogers and one of his colleagues hopped on the subway. Esquire reported that the car was filled with people, and they assumed they wouldn’t be noticed. But when the crowd spotted Rogers, they all simultaneously burst into song, chanting “It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood.” The result made Rogers smile wide.

A few other things:

9. He got into TV because he hated TV. The first time he turned one on, he saw people angrily throwing pies in each other’s faces. He immediately vowed to use the medium for better than that. Over the years he covered topics as varied as why kids shouldn’t be scared of a haircut, or the bathroom drain (because you won’t fit!), to divorce and war.
10. He was an Ivy League Dropout. Rogers moved from Dartmouth to Rollins College to pursue his studies in music.
11. He composed all the songs on the show,
and over 200 tunes.
12. He was a perfectionist, and disliked ad libbing. He felt he owed it to children to make sure every word on his show was thought out.
13. Michael Keaton got his start on the show as an assistant– helping puppeteer and operate the trolley.

misterrtrogers.jpg 14. Several characters on the show are named for his family. Queen Sara is named after Rogers’ wife, and the postman Mr. McFeely is named for his maternal grandfather who always talked to him like an adult, and reminded young Fred that he made every day special just by being himself. Sound familiar? It was the same way Mister Rogers closed every show.
15. The sweaters.
Every one of the cardigans he wore on the show had been hand-knit by his mother.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: christian; misterrogers; neighbor
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Talk about a true Christian!
1 posted on 05/31/2007 8:50:39 PM PDT by van_erwin
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To: van_erwin
The first time he turned one on, he saw people angrily throwing pies in each other’s faces. He immediately vowed to use the medium for better than that.

Aim high. It's good to have goals.

2 posted on 05/31/2007 8:55:09 PM PDT by SteveMcKing
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To: van_erwin

I use this as my google query and I come up with almost nothing.

“God loves you just the way you are.” “mr Rogers” -”15 reasons”

Could someone please point me to the fundamentalists who denounced Mr Rogers.


3 posted on 05/31/2007 8:56:13 PM PDT by bahblahbah
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To: van_erwin

Like many people, I had the same quirky humorous bent regarding Mr. Rogers...as I have got older, I realize what he was.

Just a nice, quiet guy.

But I do admit to still laughing at Eddie Murphy doing his version...:)


4 posted on 05/31/2007 8:57:25 PM PDT by rlmorel (Liberals: If the Truth would help them, they would use it.)
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To: van_erwin

Mr Rogers was great.

Check out this clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaJQLgiXKO0

And this is his senate testimony:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a41lJIhW7fA


5 posted on 05/31/2007 8:59:11 PM PDT by ketsu
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To: van_erwin

After watching his show religiously when I was a kid, even in the late 80s and early 90s, I was still upset when I found out he passed on a while ago. I didn’t cry or pray for him, but he was a part of my life when I was a small child.


6 posted on 05/31/2007 8:59:50 PM PDT by wastedyears ( I deleted my tagline by accident =()
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To: van_erwin

What a neat post!


7 posted on 05/31/2007 9:01:10 PM PDT by The_Media_never_lie
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To: van_erwin

Wonderful post. Thanks.


8 posted on 05/31/2007 9:08:36 PM PDT by GOPJ ( When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits--not animals."- Churchill)
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To: rlmorel

I never watched his show, but no one can get through this life without having seen a clip or two somewhere.

He seemed genuinely nice. Sad to say that’s evidently so unusual we all noticed that ‘just a nice guy’ behavior was actually refreshing.

He’s got to have moved on to a higher sphere.


9 posted on 05/31/2007 9:11:47 PM PDT by Beowulf9
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To: van_erwin
Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, “God loves you just the way you are.” Often this provoked ire from fundamentalists.

Of course this provoked ire from Christians because it fails to ask the question "And how do you love God? By obeying his Commandments regarding sexual morality?"

No, it does not and therefore calls evil good.

10 posted on 05/31/2007 9:12:08 PM PDT by FormerLib (Sacrificing our land and our blood cannot buy protection from jihad.-Bishop Artemije of Kosovo)
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To: van_erwin
He Saved Both Public Television and the VCR Strange but true. When the government wanted to cut Public Television funds in 1969, the relatively unknown Mister Rogers went to Washington. Almost straight out of a Capra film, his 5-6 minute testimony on how TV had the potential to give kids hope and create more productive citizens was so simple but passionate that even the most gruff politicians were charmed. While the budget should have been cut, the funding instead jumped from $9 to $22 million.

You lost me there. Good TV doesn't need government support.

11 posted on 05/31/2007 9:15:11 PM PDT by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: van_erwin

““God loves you just the way you are.” “

If you’re proudly living in sin, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that no, He doesn’t. Christ called all men to change and be Holy. So if you’re a theif, murderer, rapist, or shacking up with the same sex, God loves you anyway but wouldn’t tolerate such behavior. Rogers sounds like he caught the same disease killing the old mainstream Protestant churches....Cafeteria Christianity.


12 posted on 05/31/2007 9:16:49 PM PDT by DesScorp
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To: van_erwin

The first few times I saw Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood I thought it was so dorky. But after the frenzy of Sesame Street, it began to be a nice quiet pleasant way to spend 30 minutes with my kids. It also provoked some interesting discussions with them along the way. Of course, as they got older, they thought it was dorky, too, but I still liked it.


13 posted on 05/31/2007 9:17:08 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: van_erwin

I like the jazz piano. Definitely not your typical kids music. Was that him playing?


14 posted on 05/31/2007 9:17:47 PM PDT by yawningotter
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To: van_erwin

Thank you for posting.

BTTT!!!!!


15 posted on 05/31/2007 9:19:08 PM PDT by sweetiepiezer (Pray for W.)
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To: van_erwin

I have no problem with Mr Rogers. I have a serious problem with being taxed, against my will, to fund him (and PBS).


16 posted on 05/31/2007 9:20:18 PM PDT by Wheee The People (Go FRed)
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To: bahblahbah
Could someone please point me to the fundamentalists who denounced Mr Rogers

Why? It said Mr. Rogers said God loves you the way you are. I can easily imagine fundamentalists popping a vein over that.

17 posted on 05/31/2007 9:21:05 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: van_erwin

“Won’t you please...won’t you please...please won’t you be my neighbor.”

Still have that song stuck in my head after all these years...hehe


18 posted on 05/31/2007 9:21:46 PM PDT by MTMS
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To: van_erwin

I’m from the Captain Kangaroo,Mr Greenjeans era,but always found Fred Rogers to be a positive influence for kids of that generation.Fred Rogers did a lot for America’s youth !!!


19 posted on 05/31/2007 9:22:42 PM PDT by Obie Wan
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To: van_erwin

Thanks for a very uplifting post.


20 posted on 05/31/2007 9:22:49 PM PDT by Sergio (If a tree fell on a mime in the forest, would he make a sound?)
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To: van_erwin
Barney for President!


21 posted on 05/31/2007 9:25:12 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: Obie Wan

I believe the man who created and played Captain Kangaroo was a WWII combat soldier of note. Thought I had heard that about Mr. Rogers, also, but apparently not.


22 posted on 05/31/2007 9:30:15 PM PDT by Elsiejay
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To: yawningotter
Was that him playing?

i'm sure it was... he also worked many of the puppets himself... i loved when he received a Life Time Achievement Award at the Emmy's maybe a decade ago... his speech was amazing... the crowd (all those hollywood libs) were on their feet applauding and teary-eyed... it was a very touching moment...

23 posted on 05/31/2007 9:31:42 PM PDT by latina4dubya
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To: Obie Wan
I’m from the Captain Kangaroo,Mr Greenjeans era

i loved this show... i can still hear the music and see Captain Kangeroo's keys unlocking the door... remember Dancing Bear, Grandfather Clock--from where the Captain would get a story book--and all those ping pong balls that would fall from the ceiling? oh--and Bunny Rabbit--who never talked... (and the Town Clown...) i guess i could go on and on...

24 posted on 05/31/2007 9:34:50 PM PDT by latina4dubya
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To: van_erwin
I wrote a letter to him when I was sick when I was six years old. He typed a letter back to me (really him, not someone responding to letters for him.) He answered as much of his mail personally as he could. He also sent me a signed picture. I still have it.

Mr. Rogers is one of my heroes.
25 posted on 05/31/2007 9:35:14 PM PDT by mysterio
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To: van_erwin

Interesting bump.


26 posted on 05/31/2007 9:38:21 PM PDT by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: latina4dubya

i guess i could go on and on...

Don’t let me stop you,those were times I personally could understand.Before political correctness, when people were just people.It’s a shame we’ve let liberals take control of our society and screw everything decent up !!!


27 posted on 05/31/2007 9:41:57 PM PDT by Obie Wan
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To: van_erwin

Gay.
Gay.
Gay.


28 posted on 05/31/2007 9:43:50 PM PDT by WackySam (Just say no to Rudy McRomney)
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To: Cacique
A fine man, a good man. Stiil he represents also the limitations of liberal Protestantism. “God loves you just the way you are Yes, it can be said to Gays. It can also be said to an adulterer or an alcoholic. We know that God loves us, but that does mean we are necessarily justified. How open are our hearts to that love? All should pause daily to ask ourselves that question.
29 posted on 05/31/2007 9:45:23 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: van_erwin

I miss him; he made me feel special.


30 posted on 05/31/2007 9:47:06 PM PDT by Saundra Duffy (Mitt Romney for President !!!)
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To: DesScorp

God does love everyone and specifically beckons the sinner to Him. Until you can distinguish the difference between the sin and the sinner, you don’t understand Christianity. Fred Rogers apparently understood this.


31 posted on 05/31/2007 9:48:37 PM PDT by Kirkwood
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To: WackySam

Your what ???


32 posted on 05/31/2007 9:49:24 PM PDT by Obie Wan
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To: FormerLib; DesScorp

Do you think God loves those kind and gentle people with a genuine heart or bitter, narrow-minded, one-way dogmatic people who frown, condemn and judge others? Perhaps God loves both.


33 posted on 05/31/2007 9:49:24 PM PDT by PicWzrd (Run Fred Run!)
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To: van_erwin

Thank you so much for the post.....


34 posted on 05/31/2007 9:51:40 PM PDT by colinhester
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To: van_erwin
"Mr. Rogers might have been even nicer than you thought"

I can believe that.
I haven't read the whole thread, but don't find "candid"
by word-search of the thread, so I feel free to mention this story.

Soon after Mister Rogers left to meet his maker, I saw a recollection
by Allen Lunt, Jr., son of the creator of "Candid Camera".

He said that the Candid Camera crew was staying at a prime hotel
and overheard that "Mister Rogers" was checking in to the hotel.

Somehow they convinced the hotel staff to hoax Mister Rogers a bit...
telling him at check-in that he wouldn't have a TV in his room.
And subjected him to other inconveniences that one would absolutely
not expect to suffer in a really good hotel.

Lunt said that his crew was amazed at how Mister Rogers let
every one of the inconveniences simply and gracefully
"roll off his back" and never lost his temper or vented at the
hotel employees.

Sure sounds like Mister Rogers walked his talk.
35 posted on 05/31/2007 9:57:26 PM PDT by VOA
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To: Elsiejay
Thank chain email for Urban Legends. Actually Keeshan enlisted in the Marines in June, 1945 - four months after Iwo Jima. He never saw action during the war and never received the Navy Cross.
36 posted on 05/31/2007 9:58:15 PM PDT by endthematrix (a globalized and integrated world - which is coming, one way or the other. - Hillary)
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To: PicWzrd
"Perhaps God loves both."

Jesus Christ made it clear that God loves us all. But please point out where Jesus said that God was OK with people proudly living in sin?
37 posted on 05/31/2007 9:58:17 PM PDT by DesScorp
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To: van_erwin

“Mister Rogers seems to have been almost exactly the same off-screen
as he was onscreen. “

I think my post 35 generally fits with that line.


38 posted on 05/31/2007 9:59:48 PM PDT by VOA
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To: van_erwin

Of course he was nicer than we thought. I really respect the way he lived. He was truly a great man.


39 posted on 05/31/2007 10:09:31 PM PDT by zeugma (MS Vista has detected your mouse has moved, Cancel or Allow?)
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To: van_erwin

IIRC,

He had also been an active duty Marine . . . I forget in what war.

And he had tatoos on his arms which was one reason he wore the sweaters—did NOT want to influence kids to have tattoos.

I think everyone who was ever around him asserted he was exactly the same in person as he was on the show.

What a compliment!


40 posted on 05/31/2007 10:11:46 PM PDT by Quix (GOD ALONE IS GOD; WORTHY; PAID THE PRICE; IS COMING AGAIN; KNOWS ALL; IS LOVING; IS ALTOGETHER GOOD)
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To: Elsiejay

just read his bio, he was a Marine after he graduated from high school


41 posted on 05/31/2007 10:13:13 PM PDT by tina07 (In Memory of my Father - WWII Army Air Force Veteran)
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To: stylecouncilor; windcliff

ping


42 posted on 05/31/2007 10:15:15 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: Obie Wan

I think there was another TV kiddie personality . . . a KOB ALBUQUERQUE fellow . . .

I don’t know if it was the “saddle bags all filled with beans and jerky” one or another . . .

but after the show was over but before they were really off the air, he let loose with profanity cussing out the little brats or some such . . .

That was the end of his kiddie career.


43 posted on 05/31/2007 10:15:15 PM PDT by Quix (GOD ALONE IS GOD; WORTHY; PAID THE PRICE; IS COMING AGAIN; KNOWS ALL; IS LOVING; IS ALTOGETHER GOOD)
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To: Elsiejay

No. I think you’re right that Mr Rogers was a Marine in WWII


44 posted on 05/31/2007 10:15:55 PM PDT by Quix (GOD ALONE IS GOD; WORTHY; PAID THE PRICE; IS COMING AGAIN; KNOWS ALL; IS LOVING; IS ALTOGETHER GOOD)
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To: VOA

...Funt, not Lunt...oops


45 posted on 05/31/2007 10:16:59 PM PDT by tina07 (In Memory of my Father - WWII Army Air Force Veteran)
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To: tina07

thanks for the correction...the evening grows old, as well as my
brain cells!


46 posted on 05/31/2007 10:19:26 PM PDT by VOA
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To: Quix

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Rogers

He didn’t serve, his adopted brother George however was one of the Tuskegee Airmen though...he taught Fred to fly per wikipedia above.


47 posted on 05/31/2007 10:22:58 PM PDT by tina07 (In Memory of my Father - WWII Army Air Force Veteran)
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To: Quix

correction, make that his brother George was an instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen...

...and it was Captain Kangaroo, Bob Keeshan, that was a Marine


48 posted on 05/31/2007 10:25:47 PM PDT by tina07 (In Memory of my Father - WWII Army Air Force Veteran)
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To: tina07

Thanks.

Though I’m skeptical about a lot of what Wikepedia says.

I don’t recall my source.

Much appreciated.


49 posted on 05/31/2007 10:26:01 PM PDT by Quix (GOD ALONE IS GOD; WORTHY; PAID THE PRICE; IS COMING AGAIN; KNOWS ALL; IS LOVING; IS ALTOGETHER GOOD)
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To: FormerLib

Leave God to sort it out. Otherwise, we’re no better than the Taliban and Al Qaeda.


50 posted on 05/31/2007 10:26:02 PM PDT by Hoosier-Daddy
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