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Old 01-28-2009, 08:56 AM
Sylvia A. Wall
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Default Hugging

Greetings! I just survived my first day at Drew. My classes are great and I am excited about this new journey. Yipee! I have a problem and I would appreciate some suggestions on the best way to handle it. I do not want to be hugged in chapel. It seems that saying "do not hug me" isn't effective.

There are many reasons why people do not want to be hugged. There are some people whose immune systems are suppressed and hugging during the cold and flu season puts them at risk. There are people who have been abused, and hugging can be retraumatizing. And, there are people for whom hugging may cause physical pain. I can remember hugging one of my mother's friends. She had shingles and it was very painful for her. I serve as a church organist; I have had parishioners shake my hand so hard that I never thought I would be able to play a note again.

We teach our children that they have the right to say "no" to anyone who wants to touch them. Is this rule abrogated in the church setting? Too often when one says no to a hug in church, the response is, "aw, come on, give me a hug. Suppose that was the response to a sexual advance?

I assure you that there will be some people who will not return to your congregation if they are too enthusiastically hugged. How has this subject been handled in the Craig Chapel? Thanks for your input.

Christian Century has a blog on the subject: "To hug or not to hug." http://www.theolog.org/blog/2007/10/...-or-not-t.html
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