Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Response to an Anonymous Commenter on April 8 Post

"Anonymous said...
I saw this clip on the Today Show along with an interview of the family. The dad wanted to surprise his son. The media was tipped off. I don't believe the family had a hidden agenda; all they wanted to do was see each other once again. That boy is going to remember that moment for the rest of his life and the fact that it is captured on camera doesn't take anything away from the joy he felt.

Perhaps as a Christian you should stop being less judgmental and more accepting. Or hey, maybe you could even post something about Jesus' resurrection, after all Sunday was Easter.

Just a thought!"

Re: Anonymous

I must admit, I was quite shocked to see such a vehement reaction to my post regarding a private family moment. The fact that you read my words as somehow condemnatory of this family was definitely a disappointment. The very reason I posted this, was that seeing this moment between the father and son, brought up feelings for me personally that made me want to protect this family and their experience. I am asserting their worthiness, not laughing at them. I didn’t feel it was necessary to make assumptions about how the media had probably been tipped off, or how it must have been someone else’s idea to have the reunion happen at school and on camera, because this seemed like a given. I give the benefit of the doubt to the parents, that their first concern was about their son, not the media. And yes, this is a moment the son will remember forever, and he will have a taped document to re-watch, as he gets older. But my feelings in watching it was, if this had been my family, my husband, my son, my hope is that I would have embraced the right to keep my son home that day- so that we could be together as a family without the pressures and concerns of who is watching us- we would have time and space for all that needed to be said and felt, without the constant awareness of having an audience. At the end of the clip where we see the boy passing out cupcakes to his classmates and introducing his father to the class, in tears, I was just wishing that someone, be it newsperson, teacher or classmate, had said “Why don’t we leave them alone for a little bit- I don’t need a cupcake as much as they need to look into to each other’s eyes and hold each other. I’ll be happy to meet Bill tomorrow or the next day.” So many times in my life, when faced with tragedy or extreme emotion, I’ve ended up having to bypass what I really feel for the sake of meeting an expectation or playing a role- “take care of everyone else before you even know what you, yourself are feeling.” Seeing this little boy crying in front of his class while being asked to talk about his father, brought up those experiences in me, and that is a large part of why I felt it was important, on Easter Sunday, to post about something that has been sitting on my heart.
I’m curious about the accusatory tone you use at the end of your comment about seeing me as unaccepting, and questioning my faith because I wrote about this story instead of Jesus’ resurrection. A couple questions come to mind, and I hope you might respond to them. How do you know I’m a Christian? Do you know me? And if you know me, why have you written anonymously? I ask, because though I would love to think that somehow through my posts about Eugene Levy, Lethal Weapon and Haiku, that my faith in the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus, and the hope for all humankind to know the God of creation, would shine through, but since I can’t really think of a single place where I outwardly name myself as a Christian, I wonder how you were able to feel so assured in your condemnation of what to you experienced as non-Christian statements. Given what I believe is in fact, a shared faith between us in Jesus, who died and rose again so that all could be eternally reunited with a God who created us for relationship and exists as relationship Godself, I hope that you’ll ask yourself again whether or not I chose to write about the resurrection in my post. I saw a reunion marred and mangled by observers seeking to exploit the love of a father for a son, and that made me deeply sad in light of my own desire for love, relationship, and true reunion both with God, and my fellow human beings. I feel so often that our culture has given me the easy way out of resurrection and relationship. It’s been made so easy for me to “pass out cupcakes and make a speech” instead of saying “I’m going home now to be with my father whom I have cried over for seven months, and is now home. I want to sit in his lap, hear his voice, and tell him how I love him and have missed him.” The pressures to put my heart aside for the sake of what’s expected has made it so that until recently, I forgot what it was like to stand up on behalf of my heart, and align with love and relationship, instead of cultural expectations. This is what Easter has been about for me this year- a joyous welcoming of the risen Christ who says that my heart is worthy of reunion with him, and he will suffer death that I might no longer live in numb, heart-silenced death. That I will never have to be embarrassed to weep in my father’s arms.
I appreciate the information you shared about seeing the family interviewed, and I’m glad to know that they’re happy to have had the chance to share their story that has touched so many people. It certainly has touched me, and I would hope you could hear that this time in a way that had been unclear to you in my original post. But my hope still remains, that as more fathers come home, that more people would turn off their cameras, but instead, bow their heads in awe and wonder before the love of a father for a son and a son for his father. May we as a culture fight with righteous anger to protect those sacred things, where others would have them exploited for personal gain.


Anonymous said...

Wow Kj... it's for posts like this that I'm so glad you have a blog. I love reading it. You expand my mind!


jody said...

kj, i love your heart, your passion, your faith, your convictions, your clear and wonderful mind. keep it up forever.

Anonymous said...


I apologize for the tone of my comment. I realized too late that my comment came off in the judgmental tone that I accused you of using. No, I do not know you. I just happen to stumble across your blog on accident. I assume you are a Christian because of your Mars Hill affiliation. I am familiar with the school.

I did, actually, find your post to be critical of the family and not the media, which is why I chose to respond. I now have a better understanding of where you are coming from. I have also grown frustrated with the media regarding events both happy and sad.

I'm sure this family did have some alone time post cupcakes. And I think part of the reason why the parents chose to surprise their son is because the class had been so supportive of Bill while he was away.

Furthermore, I am sorry that you feel the need to make others happy before yourself. Perhaps that is what we can take away from this little boy. He didn't care who was watching him. The emotion we see in that clip is raw and sincere. He pays no attention to his classmates or anyone else watching him cry when he sees his dad. I believe the country and world could greatly benefit from wearing one's heart on their sleeve.

Anyway, I enjoy reading your blog and I appreciate the comments that have been made about this clip. Hope this clears things up!

Rick said...

I thought that your posts on this subject were incredibly well put, K.J.

It's very interesting that your anonymous commentator has such strong opinions about your blog—ranging from the sort of material you should be posting on Easter to the degree you are willing to make others happy regardless of your own relative happiness. The sign of a dedicated reader, I suppose.

Well, I'm a bit of a dedicated reader myself, and while I'll keep my own opinions re: the Today Show's Iraq war coverage to myself, I say well done. I hope that Anonymous' anonymously-penned criticisms don't keep you from writing on this sort of material in the future.

—Rick S.

Kj said...

I'm kind of overwhelmed, in a really great way by all of this. i don't have much more to say right now, other than thank you Anonymous for your words here. I like where we've ended up on this one. Thanks for working to clarify your experience of this story, and your experience of what I wrote. I'm not too concerend about wanting things cleared up, but rather, being heard more clearly, and hearing you more clearly, and I feel like that has happened. Which is pretty surprising, considering we don't know each other at all and are communicating through quite a silly, strange medium, meaning blogland.

And i just want to basically write songs about how cool it's been for me to hear from you guys- both in these comments and on my voicemail. (Kiko, we'll talk ASAP). I feel humbled by the awesome (stress on AWE) minds that i get to call friends. I'm feeling a bit hyperbolic here, but i just love knowing you guys are out there, and that through crazy, weird blogland, we get to connect about this stuff.

what the heck am i gonna haiku about tommorrow? good grief.

i heart community.

Garth said...


I just want to say, because I didn't have a chance to before, how much I appreciated not only your original post, but your insightful and delicate follow-up. Well done, my friend.

kikodelo said...

I heart Kj ;)

jessi knippel said...


friend there is so much that i want to say in responce to all that has been written. but for now just a few.

first of all thank you for the challenging and thought provoking questions.

second, i agree that there are things that are sacred and do not need the media around...i wonder how our saturation in "reality tv" has allowed for the crossing of borders and boundaries? should we be ok with the fact that EVERYTHING in life is now an acceptable space for agenda driven marketing? yes it is true but is it ok or does it take away from our humanity and make us less than because we are seen as only product to be bought and sold?

i also wonder what those who have left comments that are very antagonistic towards MHGS have experienced?

lastly i just wanted to say that i love your hope that faith will be underlying in everything you do. what i hear you saying in that is that your heart will be present. which is beautiful.