Things I Think…

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73 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    “they just need Jesus’”<<<

    Well, this IS the answer, because Jesus is the answer to everything, one way or the other.

  2. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    It’s a throwaway response that believes there is a simple answer to complex issues…and it offends me deeply.

    There isn’t going to be a massive revival in which everybody gets Jesus…but we can and should do things that promote human flourishing and stop doing things that diminish it.

    I’m sick and tired of people throwing the name of Jesus and “the Gospel” out as turnkey solutions without doing Gospel centered, Jesus informed actions…

  3. Robin says:

    It started with smart phones, once we had these gadgets our own thinking went down the drain. I heard someone said that these problems started around 2011, which is the time when smart phones became accessible and affordable.

  4. Michael says:

    Robin,

    I think they have certainly shortened our attention spans and ability to concentrate for longer than a couple of minutes…I actually think this is a real crisis…

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    #1… There simply are no words left to say…

  6. Dan from Georgia says:

    My view is that there was no real start to the rage, but it’s been a continuum of events. I can trace back to 2000-2001 during GW2’s first Presidency, one particular scientist’s rage-filled diatribe against against GW2, a diatribe that could have been passed off as written today. But I bet we can look back even further for examples of similar rage. But I also believe it’s accelerating and getting worse.

  7. Michael says:

    Dan,

    I would like to see numbers on the how many families and how many churches have split the last four years…and the next election cycles will amplify it…

  8. Steve says:

    #9 is disturbing. It may not always be easy to discern between real victims and professional ones.

  9. DavidP says:

    #9 seems to be a growing problem — and I’m worried about the backlash. Problematic people are one thing, “Advocates” on Twitter trumpeting their stories and not taking accountability for things when it turns out they were used? That’s another layer of awfulness. With the way Twitter is, I expect people to just move on to the next outrage without cleaning up after themselves.

    P&P isn’t a good blueprint for discernment, kids.

  10. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael,

    I bet it would be unsettling to say the least. I agree with Robin that technology has made it easier to vent hatred and strife.

    And like we have both said, gone are the days of the politician who works with both sides. Now all we want is the next extremeist to vote for to “own” the other side. Sometimes the worst thing in the world is getting what we want.

  11. Michael says:

    “P&P isn’t a good blueprint for discernment, kids.”

    What’s P&P?

  12. Michael says:

    Dan,

    I see that over 200 people were shot over the weekend…and we don’t bat an eye unless they’re slaughtered in bulk.

    If we had any leaders we might get through this…but we don’t.

  13. DavidP says:

    Sorry, Pulpit & Pen aka Protestia.

  14. greg says:

    Michael,
    I think you are a bit harsh with Xenia’s post. While I agree in context with what you are saying, that is that we seem to have a lot of hearers of the Word and not enough doers of the word. Since the beginning of the Church in Acts 2 and all through church history to the present Church season, this has been the case. That will not change, not all are going to believe the bible tells us. People that profess to be Christians, however when you talk to them for a few minutes you realize that the Jesus they worship is the wrong Jesus and not the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. While this is disappointing….it is reality. We want them in the church (hospital) where they can hear the truth and be set free. I believe we are at risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water when we say, “I am sick and tired of people throwing the name of Jesus and the Gospel out as turnkey solutions without doing Gospel centered and Jesus informed actions” without balancing that thought out with what Xenia has said, “they just need Jesus.” There are obviously many in the faith that walk closely with Jesus. We should NEVER lose sight of the fact that Jesus us the ONLY one who can change hearts…..oh not make them better but rather give the unsaved brand new hearts of flesh that He promises to write his will on. It is the power of Jesus working in us and through us by the power of the HS that can move people who have not yet believed toward the cross and salvation. You see if we were able to do this work we would not need the Gospel. Since we are miserable failures at saving anyone, what we can do, are called to do and get to do is share the Gospel anywhere and everywhere….the rest is up to God. Paul said in Rom 1 that the “gospel is the power of God unto salvation” Good works are nice and it can build relationships that assist in someone coming to Christ, however I have lead many to Christ over the years that I had no particular relationship with other than an initial introduction. When and if the Lord is prompting me to speak…..I do and if possible include what God has done in my life personally. I believe there is nothing more powerful

  15. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael,

    My wife’s sister lives about a 30 minute drive from the shooting in the Chicago area on July 4. And yet our “leaders” tweet stupid stuff defending the indefensible.

    I guess we want someone who mirrors what we watched on the cable “news” last night, so we get ideologues and idiots.

  16. Michael says:

    Greg,

    I stand by what I wrote.

    I’m bone tired of hearing that the answer to racism or the American killing fields or any other issue is the Gospel.
    What is really being said is that the person doesn’t like real world solutions to issues being offered and is convinced that if everyone went to their church all would be well.

    This country is saturated with “the Gospel” but we still have increasingly difficult issues to solve that require more thought and substance than passing out a tract .

  17. Officerhoppy says:

    I’m with Michael on the “they Just need Jesus” response. It is simplistic and misleading. They need to “start” with Jesus, the the work of transformation doesn’t work without our partnering with the HS. It just takes lots of work. Many come Jesus but not all are disciples. That’s the heavy lifting of being a follower of Christ. And not all stick it out.

    Just my thoughts

  18. Michael says:

    “I guess we want someone who mirrors what we watched on the cable “news” last night, so we get ideologues and idiots.”

    and we become what we consume…

  19. greg says:

    Fair enough Michael, I think you are in the wrong lane on this one. We spend way to much time in this country doing what we think is going to work. It is the sick and sinful heart of man that is the issue. Guns are not the problem the sick, sinful man behind the gun is the issue. We must direct, to the best of our ability, those who have not believed yet to this Jesus we know for two reasons……one we are not able in our own power able to effect change on a long term basis (examine all of history from Eden forward to today….I rest my case) Obviously sharing the Gospel with those who have not yet believed must be done and can only be effectively done by those who have had an encounter with the living God. We have way too many wanna be Christians that have not yet had that encounter. Net result is a lot of unchanged people that end up doing what is right in their own sight instead of living a life with a new heart and a new direction. It is our ONLY hope.

  20. greg says:

    point two (sorry) and closely connected to one is that Jesus can and has in many cases through the history of the Church and is still in the business of redeeming people today.

  21. Michael says:

    Greg,

    There are churches on every corner, the airwaves are saturated with Christian media …the Gospel is everywhere.

    It’s not working to solve any of our issues.

    Some who claim it are creating issues themselves.

    I’m not in any way opposed to evangelism…but saying that it is the answer and stopping is pointless….

  22. greg says:

    Michael,
    I believe suggesting that the Gospel and the Gospel alone is not the answer is a slippery slope.How are you or I ever going to be a credible witness to those who have not yet believed in the power of what God has done, is doing and will do until He comes, if we are not able to articulate that message from a deep appreciation of what he has done in our own lives by the power of the HS. That is where the power to change lives is….
    God speaking through us in powerful ways. God was invited out of basically everything in this country about 50 years ago. We are now dealing with the consequences. As well, from the bible we understand where the world is headed…..for me that does not mean I set on the couch and wait for the rapture but to energize and learn to hear God’s voice when He is prompting me to speak to that one person…..it is for me pointless to waste too much energy on trying to come up with plans and programs that we feel are going to change the course of mankind. The course correction that is needed is in the heart of man. Everything runs downstream from there……in a good way

  23. Michael says:

    Greg,

    We have very different ways of looking at this.

    Peace.

  24. Linn says:

    Michael and Greg,

    I think it might be Jesus snd discipleship, not the cheap Grace so easily peddled today. I would call it the Bonhoeffer approach.

  25. Eric says:

    For any problem in society, when different people talk about how it might be solved (or why it can’t), the difference often lies in which party you are hypothetically presuming to direct. “What would you do about this potholed road if you were the local farmer?” is a different question from “What would you do about this potholed road if you were the mayor?”

    So when asking the question “What should we do about…”, it matters who the WE is. The answer will be different if it’s me, lots of people like me, the Church, the federal govt, the state govt, (and different entities within the govt systems) the legal system, the UN. Some of those may not be able to do anything.

    I think the easiest solution to the Ukraine war is Putin calling it off. But of course most people thinking about the problem are saying “Given that Russia is doing what it’s doing, what should western governments be doing in response”.

    It gets more complex when we add God into the mix. God whom we believe can do anything, but seems not to do much out of the ordinary in our times. While many churches struggle because the spiritual water level is low, I spent 5 years in a church where faith was higher, but differences of ideas in how God might work led to differences of ideas about how to proceed in serving him.

    Do not criticise another simply for answering a different question from the one you are answering. You may, however, acknowledge their answer to a different question yet criticise them for ignoring the one you are asking.

  26. Dread says:

    “Tell me everything will be OK if I just stay on my knees and keep praying
    believing in something
    Tell me everything is all taken care of by those qualified to take care of it all …

    One day, do you think we’ll wake up in a world on it’s way to getting better?
    and if so can you tell me how?

    I have been thinking that lately the blood is increasing
    the tourniquets not keeping hold in spite of our twisting
    though we would like to believe we are
    we are not in control
    though we would love to believe “

    I often hum this to myself and lament

  27. greg says:

    LInn,
    Agreed….all I am saying is that one at the exclusion of the other minimizes the power of God to do what He wants to do and is out of balance. That is to work in us and through us in powerful ways to reach the unsaved. Sometimes that may be working on the relationship to get to a point where one might come to trust us and receive the gospel. Other times there is no doubt that God prompts me to speak truth into someone and ALWAYS opens that door at that point and gives me utterance. My wife and I mentor several people frequently and we have both of these scenarios playing out all the time.

  28. Gregq says:

    Michael,
    Appreciate your insights

  29. Reuben says:

    #8

    Meh…

    You know why numerous people don’t want “word, prayer, fellowship” including me. It is through all three that I became jaded, angry, sad, and eventually running. And you remember the day I ran. In fact, it was you who instructed me to do so. You could say it was situational, but it was the same everywhere else.

  30. Dread says:

    Rueben

    I’ll hazard a guess. What he told you to run from is not what he’s advising you run after now. From evangelical to sacramental is a leap.

    The evangelical world of endless introspection self-improvement is not the same as the constant rhythm of prayer and sacrament.

    A side note— the secular religion of woke activism is a godless version of born again evangelism. Except now the public servants can be the ministers since is no god in it.
    Well there is a god but it’s human – the sovereign victim and omnipotent self.

  31. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    I was conflicted as soon as I wrote that so thank you for bringing it up.

    If someone were to ask me what church to attend here locally, I’d probably tell them to stay home.

    Having said that, we must still pursue Jesus…and there are other ways to do so, despite the biblical and traditional significance of the local church.

  32. Muff Potter says:

    Regarding your no. 1 up top, I do know what to think and say:
    The current gun control laws need to followed and enforced with extensive background checks.
    There is no reason on God’s green Earth why just any Bob, Bill, and Dave should be allowed to own a military style assault weapon.
    In every one of the current mass-shooting tragedies, they (assault weapons) were easily purchased.

  33. Xenia says:

    My husband and I are reading the book Father Arseny. It is about a Russian priest who was sent to a work/death camp in Siberia under the reign of Stalin. Fr. Arseny, not a young man, was given the task of keeping his barracks clean and keeping the wood stoves stoked with the wood he had to find and chop.

    He was surrounded by vicious criminals and political prisoners, most of whom were haters of Christianity and who did their utmost to make life miserable for Fr. Arseny. It goes w/o saying the prisoners were cold, hungry, overworked and tortured. It is hard to imagine a worse living situation than the one where Fr. A. found himself.

    Fr. A. prayed continually as he worked. He did his job diligently, as unto the Lord. He showed the love of Jesus Christ to the other prisoners, who often responded viciously. But by and by, his kindness and self-sacrifice towards even the most brutal criminals began to do its work. Hearts softened, men became Christians, and after a few years the whole atmosphere of that particular barrack was changed. They were still hungry, cold, overworked and beaten, but the prisoners began caring for the sick and sharing their food. And through it all, Fr. A. prayed “Lord JESUS CHRIST, have mercy.”

    He could not do anything to thwart international Communism, have any affect on the cold war, feed hungry orphans in India, etc. etc. All he could do was bring Jesus to the people in his barracks.

  34. Xenia says:

    But if it’s just the phrase “s/he just needs Jesus that is found offensive,” I must confess that I’ve said this myself a few times when I was so dumbfounded by degenerate behavior that I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

  35. Xenia says:

    Dread, I am always amazed and edified by the things you write here.

  36. Xenia says:

    Fr Arseny a true story, by the way, not fiction.

  37. Michael says:

    I guess I have to give more clarity on what I wrote again.

    A good example is the the last SBC Convention.

    When certain groups were asked to address racism, the response was always “the only answer is the Gospel”…which was code language for “we don’t want to deal with the issue”.

    The same groups addressed abuse concerns the exact same way…with the exact same intent.

  38. Dread says:

    Bless you Xenia

    And thank you for the witness of Father Arseny — when I preach my wife asks me to tell them what they can do. Arseny is instructive.

    Honestly, I think we are on an overloaded 18wheeler with failing brakes and no off-ramp coming down a steep mountain. This ride is simply going to crash.

    So she says “tell them what to do.” — There is only one answer… the table. By this I reference the centrality of the family table – the proper place for all of life to be explored and sorted. Behind the image of the table is — The Table and the one who offered his body and blood to us.

    So I am telling people … do not start with the large institutional giants and attempt to halt their crash. No. Start with those with whom you break bread. Slowly, patiently, daily, continuously — offer yourself to them. And of course the table is the place for stranger, alien, and the ‘other,’ whom we don’t understand but receive.

    But these are an aging man’s reflections upon a world he couldn’t change.

  39. Michael says:

    I may well ban the word “woke” from this site.
    It’s a lazy, throw away perjorative that is only used to demean and silence discussions that people don’t want to have.

    There are progressive ideas that are anti-Christ and foolish…and ones on the right that are equally odious.

    I’m steaming about some progressive idiocy myself at the moment…

    Name them and discuss them…but do so with thought and integrity.

  40. Xenia says:

    Well, I myself don’t spend much time thinking about the Southern Baptists. There is nothing I can do to make them “behave better” and the answer is still the same: they need Jesus, or more Jesus, in their lives. Their version of the Gospel message is a hindrance to this, I think, but we’ve discussed this here endlessly already.

  41. Dread says:

    I mulled the use of woke and have seen you rail over it before. Nevertheless woke seemed an adequate antonym to born again in context, both entailed a crystallized form of ‘enlightened’ religious fervor that fuel young zealots. Born again has found the dustbin and I hope woke will as well. My use was not lazy but I get the reaction.

    Woke is definitely too broad and racial essentialism is too narrow so perhaps identitarianism … but I think my point was clear. The two movements act similarly but I think the secular version will come to a far more vicious end.

  42. Dread says:

    Shall we agree to ban it? I can do that but my other words will likely inflame more.

  43. Xenia says:

    So I am telling people … do not start with the large institutional giants and attempt to halt their crash. No. Start with those with whom you break bread. Slowly, patiently, daily, continuously — offer yourself to them. And of course the table is the place for stranger, alien, and the ‘other,’ whom we don’t understand but receive.<<<

    This is it, folks!

    (This is not to say some people may be especially called by God to engage the culture in a larger way, such as the Supreme Court Justices recently, God bless them.)

  44. Michael says:

    “Woke is definitely too broad and racial essentialism is too narrow so perhaps identitarianism …”

    Maybe…

    So…I checked this out forwards and backwards and it’s true.

    Our local high schools have students who identify as animals.

    The proper name is “furries”.

    One student who identifies as a cat was defecating in the corner of the restroom .

    They have now provided her with a litter box which she picks up in the office, uses, cleans, and returns.

    I am told that more than one school now provides litter boxes for furries.

    I am desperately hoping the pre-trib people are right…

  45. Xenia says:

    If I can’t say “woke” I will just say sodomite or pervert….

    Bestiality is next on the agenda, folks.

  46. Xenia says:

    I just hope “science” doesn’t come up with hormones and surgeries that can fulfill a child’s desire to be a cat.

  47. Michael says:

    Dread,

    I have been told that I am ‘woke” for advocating for biblical immigration policies and attitudes toward migrants.

    I’m ‘woke” for recognizing that this country still has vestiges of systematic racism.

    I’m “woke” because I fear religiously produced authoritarianism as much as secular authoritarianism.

    We can address the issues specifically without a blanket dismissal on political grounds.

  48. Dread says:

    Michael

    Point taken —- but you ain’t woke. You’re just belligerent like me but different.

    Do you think we are nearer to religious or secular authoritarianism. Or like me that the secular brand is religion in street clothes.

  49. Michael says:

    Dread,

    I think with the current Court and shifting political winds we are closer to a form of religious authoritarianism.

    Either way…the backlash will be deadly.

    In my mind they can both go to hell, but the church has to recover it’s own identity apart from either.

  50. Dread says:

    And no one speaks plainly better than Xenia … beastiality — horror of horrors

    I would agree with that horrific thought while always having an eye on the beasts of land and sea.

  51. Steve says:

    There are churches on every corner, the airwaves are saturated with Christian media …the Gospel is everywhere.

    It’s not working to solve any of our issues.

    ___________________________________

    Christendom is everywhere but I’m not convinced the gospel is. Forget who said this, but said something like the biggest threat to the gospel is the church itself. Think about it, if we could even agree on exactly what the problems are, let alone the complex solutions to these complex problems and somehow act on it to make it a reality what exactly would that accomplish for the kingdom? If we make society better, could we get to a point where see no need for a personal gospel.? For instance let’s say hard core drugs is the main issue and we fix it for good. No more drugs to be found anywhere. Sounds great, but would this make anyone fall on their knees and cry out to God for mercy? Of course not. Every societal problem is this way. There is a tension, the more all the evils of society are dealt with, the less and less anyone would see their own need for mercy and cry out to God. This is the tension I see with the social gospel and the personal gospel and I tend to view the social gospel more as social justice which although biblical to an extent is not the gospel.

  52. Dread says:

    Michael

    I get it but this court … really in my mind has just stopped being the legislative branch and insisted that states and Congress do their work.

    Won’t matter in an identitarian world all ills fall upon the perceived evil of one identity group and all that it gave us must die… now that I have seen that … I think it will surely be as deadly as we both suspect.

    God can help us but history has shown that the help comes in the form of unleashing the beasts.

    But I am no prophet just a man with a table and some bread and wine.

  53. Michael says:

    “But I am no prophet just a man with a table and some bread and wine.”

    I think this is the only thing worth keeping on this thread.

    If you ever decide to write about it or have a sermon video on it…I’ll publish it promptly.

  54. Michael says:

    Steve,

    Social justice will always follow the Gospel or the gospel is false…

  55. Steve says:

    Michael, I was careful with my words. Social justice is no way equivalent to biblical justice but overlaps at times. However, social justice is often wordly and antithetical to the gospel.

  56. Michael says:

    Steve,

    Go read the prophets and get back to me…

  57. pstrmike says:

    I think there is this latent expectation that if people become Christian, that they will settle down and shed their activism. That was a colonial model that was used by the Spanish in the New World and has been copied ever since. It doesn’t appear to be very successful. I do like Xenia’s story of a man who endured much hardship and remained faithful. Too often we hope to see conversion as a painless, quick and easy process.

    As to the importance of the church in the lives of individuals and communities, I’ve had this discussion several times with different people. I don’t have any church here locally that stands out as one that I would want to be a part of when I finish my current work here. I’m interested in a more sacramental expression, but I can’t stomach the out of balance liberalism of some of them. Have spent enough time in some “liberal” circles, I’ve found that they are no better in engaging with a variant to their own personal views than most conservatives. Perhaps the answer might be to meet with a group of people on line and have the assembly be similar to an AA meeting in format and structure. Of course, that can be easily disrupted my some narcissistic fool who cannot exercise any self-control. Still thinking this one through.

  58. Dread says:

    Steve,

    I agree with you completely but the use of those phrases is quite often intermixed. In my own language justice stands alone needing no qualifier. As such it is a Judeo-Christian value. The use of ‘social’ has become something of a qualifier than means revolution … and redistribution. It carries marxist not christian intent.

    But it still has generic use among many people… and I try to be generous…

  59. Dread says:

    Pstr Mike

    Activism is something of an equivalent to evangelism/missions — it is the “what am I here for?” Activism is reason for being… this is also why missions became “missional” a wedding of the two I think.

  60. Michael says:

    Dread,

    In all my years involved in social justice of a sort …I’ve never once thought or framed it in terms of revolution or redistribution.

    Neither did Jesus or the prophets…

  61. Duane Arnold says:

    Social Justice…

    “When we struggle for human rights, for freedom, for dignity, when we feel that it is a ministry of the church to concern itself for those who are hungry, for those who have no schools, for those who are deprived, we are not departing from God’s promise. He comes to free us from sin, and the church knows that sin’s consequences are all such injustices and abuses. The church knows it is saving the world when it undertakes to speak also of such things.”

    Oscar A. Romero

  62. Dread says:

    Michael,

    I was careful… in how I parsed it… and I made room for your usage. The word ‘social’ is redundant in the phrase. IMO… but I won’t use it for the reasons I state… it has too much association with a political bent. Justice is not a politic … it is an ethic and a morality… I don’t think we disagree really

  63. Michael says:

    Duane,

    Great quote…amen…

  64. Michael says:

    Dread,

    Here’s the problem…and I’ve lived this and paid dearly for it.

    When the concept is politicized then any mention of injustice associated with America is dismissed as woke or Marxist…and then “the Gospel is the only answer” while injustice marches on…and biblical speakers for justice are demonized.

  65. Duane Arnold says:

    Yes, things are bad. I’m left wondering what I can do as an individual believer. Thus far I’ve come up with this:

    I can say Morning and Evening Prayer even when it feels as though the heavens are made of brass.

    I can go to the little church that I attend, and be faithful in my attendance, even when things are not always done the way that I would like them to be.

    I can be supportive of my pastor, even when he doesn’t do things exactly the way that I think they should be done.

    Sunday by Sunday I can prepare myself to receive Holy Communion, even when I feel unworthy, even when I have to pray that God will help my unbelief.

    I can be just in my dealings and seek to maintain a Christian ethic in my relationships with others.

    I can be generous as a steward of that which I possess and express this in tithes, offerings, and in seeking to alleviate suffering through private giving.

    I cannot change society… Yet there are some things I can do…

  66. Duane Arnold says:

    I should have added that others may have a better list…

  67. Michael says:

    Duane,

    I think it’s a good list because it is activism centered on Christ, done consistently.

    It fits…some others may have better fits…

  68. Steve says:

    Dread @ 10:46, I want to be generous too and you are right “justice” needs no qualifier however, “social justice” needs definition. You are right that some view social as having a Marxist intent. But my concern with “social” is it’s also intricately associated with the pride movement, abortion rights, queer ideology, LGBTQA2+ which from a historical judeo-Christian ethic I find completely incompatible. This seems to be blatant sin on full display wanting ‘justification’ as a pillar of ‘social justice”. It seems to me, we need to differentiate true justice from this false imitation.

  69. Linn says:

    9:04 am
    Summer school all day…so a little late to the party.

    Maybe when we hear “they need the gospel”, our response should be “how do you propose to apply the gospel to this situation?” So, if someone were hungry, you would share the gospel and feed them. If someone were caught in adultery, you would share the gospel and explain God’s plan for sexuality in marriage…and so on and so forth.

  70. Linn says:

    So if I identify as a tomato, will they send me to the school salad bar?
    I had read something about the student and the litter box in my local paper. That would make me resign from a school!

  71. Dread says:

    Steve

    The Marxist roots of of all kinds of “critical theory” intrusion into the education system is abundantly evidenced. Check out James Lindsay’s work at New Discourses podcast.

    We are experiencing the outcome of over 60 years of institutional capture as a culture. It has brought us to the presence of the sexual grooming of prepubescent kids in public education. All that in the name of social justice.

    Biblical justice would not land us there but it would have us more active.

    One of the difficulties we face is the resistance on the part of public and private systems to distinctly Christian initiatives. But I maintain that Christians are engaged at every level of public and private life without open Christian identification. We serve in Caesar’s house even now

  72. Steve says:

    Dread, I believe James Lindsay is an atheist which makes it even more provocative with the incredible insights he has.

  73. Dread says:

    Steve

    He was part of the New Atheist movement but has a podcast the Theology of Marxism and another on the Meaning and Necessity of Theology and he’s appealed to the SBC strongly on the matter of CRT and resolution 9 from 2019 I think.

    He’s not hostile to Christianity at this point and I think is not avowed in his atheism.

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