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  • Kevin Shorner-Johnson

Interfaith Perspectives of Care

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

We have long known that there was something uniquely spiritual in the work of Fred Rogers. His ability to penetrate the TV screen with his presence and compassion was a spiritual part of what made him such a pioneering figure in education. Without naming it, he transformed the art form of children's television programming into practices of peacebuilding, compassion and care. Consider the clip below as one of the moments that transcended the time and space of the moment to enter a deep sense of spiritual care.




At Elizabethtown College, student Emily Derstine has been exploring this kind of transcendent spirituality within early childhood music teaching through the capstone experience of her minor in Interfaith Leadership. Emily has studied the example of Mister Rogers as well as interfaith literature on the nature of community, connection, and the liminal space of loving eye contact and engagement.


Emily states,


I am reflecting on how I am changed and affected when opening my mind for human connection through eye contact, mindful meditation,and being observant through music. . . . As the lead teacher, I actively seek human connection with my class and after each class I then add to my autoethnography and reflect how I, as a musician, student, teacher, and person have been affected by my efforts to connect with those in my class. By practicing these mindful habits in this context, I can then apply the skills in Interfaith dialogue and conflict.

This is the kind of peacebuilding practice that embodies the lofty ideals of peacebuilding within the embodied practice of teaching. When mothers turn to face their children, engaging in moments of creative, musical synchrony, we all build moments and futures of peace.

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Dr. Kevin Shorner-Johnson

Music & Peacebuilding

Elizabethtown College

1 Alpha Dr.

Elizabethtown, PA 17022

© 2019 Music & Peacbuilding.