One Pastor's View on the Editorial Letter Entitled: "Letter to the Editor: The Pillow Fight Heard Around the World"

This is in reply to "Letter to the Editor: the Pillow Fight Heard Around the World" found at http://patchogue.patch.com/groups/around-town/p/letter-to-the-editor-the-pillow-fight-heard-around-t....  Please read the letter before reading this reply.

     I want to first establish where I am coming from: I am a pastor working at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Patchogue, which is part of the ELCA.  I am also a certified elementary education teacher and have worked in school settings for over 15 years (ever since I was a kid myself!).  Since this letter references Biblical quotes and the concern about children is evident, I thought I might offer a few thoughts on the matter.
     First, the author speaks about the loss of innocence and the Garden of Eden.  Part of the human condition, if you understand the Garden of Eden to be a metaphorical story, is indeed that as we grow up, it is indeed impossible to go back to the innocence of a child for human experience teaches us that there are other people, other than ourselves, to consider.  The loss of the Garden is actually the acknowledgment that we all do things against others and God.  Children, however, just aren't able to comprehend all of the negative consequences like adults are able to do for it is impossible to put themselves in another person's shoes (developmentally, they don't have the pre-frontal cortex that allows for reasoning out consequences; that develops in the later teenage years).  In a court system, children are held to a different (and often much less) stringent punishment than adults because of how the brain develops.  While it may seem ideal to want to ignore an adult's reasoning capabilities at times due to the tough pressures on our lives, often it is not possible to become a kid again given the severe implications of how your actions may affect other people.  You always have to keep in mind re-activity, however hard it is to predict.
     It is also true that there is a health code concern here.  Humans wear clothing for various reasons, but one of those reasons is for health concerns.  What I'm not suggesting is that the human body isn't truly beautiful and made in God's image (for I believe it is), but rather that there are practical reasons for why clothing sometimes isn't optional.  Our bodies emit germs in more ways than just coughing and sneezing.  Working in the several schools I have, each and every time we were forbidden from sitting on tables because of health concerns; the same was true for the children.  And recently, I visited a restaurant where, while using the restroom, I observed one chef walk from the toilet out the door without washing his hands.  While I am committing a fallacy and even though it was only one chef out of the many who work there (this was a decent size restaurant), I just cannot will myself to eat there in the near future.  And even if the restaurant would take measures to assure me that such an incident would never happen again, sometimes, one incident does tremendous damage.  I'm saying this because I know how hard it may be to trust an establishment like Krazy Kidz again after this private party event.
     I think the reference to Sodom and Gomorrah may be out of reference, as I have come to understand Sodom and Gomorrah to be about a group of people foisting themselves unwelcoming onto a victim.  However, maybe that is exactly what people that attended this event now feel from others, especially given the concerns over death threats, name calling, and the lack of wanting to hear why such an event might be important for the people who attended.  Albeit, the execution of the event might not have been appropriate in that space, but for the people who did attend, this night seemed to provide some escape from the everyday world, something they don't always get to do.
     Don't get me wrong; I don't think it was a good idea to have adult activities in a child's play room if for no other reason than because of what was outlined above, but I also don't think we can hush their voices as inconsequential because of their actions.  Rather, as a Christian, I am compelled to forgive trespasses, especially when these trespasses affect more than the party itself.  Forgiveness isn't about proving one right and the other wrong; it is about seeing the other person as a unique individual, trying to understand where they are coming from, and finding solutions to deeper communal problems.  This event has affected a business owner, the employees, those at the party, the parents, the community, and most especially the children.  As a follower of Christ, I also admit I am not perfect and have made my own mistakes along the way and to various people, possibly as earth-shaking; I'm not excusing my mistakes but rather acknowledging my common humanity to people on both sides of this concern.  I also don't think threatening a person to change is an answer to the much larger problem.  Rather, we should look at this concern from the many people involved and ask questions like: In what ways does Krazy Kidz contribute to our community?  How has Krazy Kidz learned from this event and in what ways are they going to ensure the safety of the children in the future (what Christians call repentance)?  In what ways do we need to understand the concerns of those who don't agree with my position, and what exactly are those concerns?  Communities break down when people throw stones, both literal and figurative.  But if we work together to instead build bridges over these misunderstandings, then we can get back to what is really important here: a place for children to have fun, stay healthy, and be safe.
     I have identified myself not just for credentials but because I hope this conversation will continue in a positive light and I would be happy to continue the conversation myself.
Shana Braff February 17, 2014 at 01:34 AM
What a loving and nonjudgmental perspective from a Christian, who I feel, is doing his best to exemplify the values and compassion that Jesus Christ set forth for his followers. Thank you for sharing!


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