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Taking Christ out of Christianity (You are NOT going to believe this!)
The Globe and Mail ^ | March 22, 2008 | The Globe and Mail

Posted on 03/22/2008 6:56:04 AM PDT by mkleesma

That triumphal barnburner of an Easter hymn, Jesus Christ Has Risen Today – Hallelujah, this morning will rock the walls of Toronto's West Hill United Church as it will in most Christian churches across the country.

But at West Hill on the faith's holiest day, it will be done with a huge difference. The words “Jesus Christ” will be excised from what the congregation sings and replaced with “Glorious hope.”

Thus, it will be hope that is declared to be resurrected – an expression of renewal of optimism and the human spirit – but not Jesus, contrary to Christianity's central tenet about the return to life on Easter morning of the crucified divine son of God.

Generally speaking, no divine anybody makes an appearance in West Hill's Sunday service liturgy.

There is no authoritative Big-Godism, as Rev. Gretta Vosper, West Hill's minister for the past 10 years, puts it. No petitionary prayers (“Dear God, step into the world and do good things about global warming and the poor”). No miracles-performing magic Jesus given birth by a virgin and coming back to life. No references to salvation, Christianity's teaching of the final victory over death through belief in Jesus's death as an atonement for sin and the omnipotent love of God. For that matter, no omnipotent God, or god.

Ms. Vosper has written a book, published this week – With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe – in which she argues that the Christian church, in the form in which it exists today, has outlived its viability and either it sheds its no-longer credible myths, doctrines and dogmas, or it's toast.

She is considered one of the bright, if unconventional, minds within the United Church, Canada's largest Protestant Christian denomination. She holds a master of divinity degree from Queen's University and was ordained in 1992. She founded and chairs the Toronto-based Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity.

Other Christian clergy and theologians have talked about the need to dramatically reform the doctrines of a faith that, with the exception of its vibrancy in the United States, has lost huge numbers of adherents throughout the Western world it once dominated as Christendom. In Canada, where 75 per cent of the population self-identifies as Christian, only about 16 per cent attend weekly services.

Addressing those statistics, what Ms. Vosper proposes is not so much reform as a scorched-earth approach.

A number of leading theologians in Britain – where the decline in adherents is more dramatic than in Canada – are on the same path, people like Richard Holloway, former bishop of Edinburgh and primate of the Scottish Episcopal (Anglican) Church, who has likened the Christian church to a self-service cafeteria stacked with messy trays of leftover food urgently in need of being thrown out.

Like Bishop Holloway, Ms. Vosper does not want to dress up the theological detritus – her words – of the past two millennia with new language in the hope of making it more palatable. She wants to get rid of it, and build on its ashes a new spiritual movement that will have relevance in a tight-knit global world under threat of human destruction.

She says there's been virtually a consensus among scholars for the past 30 years that the Bible is not some divine emanation – or in Ms. Vosper acronym, TAWOGFAT, The Authoritative Word of God For All Time – but a human project filled with contradictions and the conflicting worldviews and political perspectives of its authors.

And yet, she says, the liberal Christian churches, including her own, won't acknowledge that it is a human project, that it's wrong in parts and that, in the 21st century, it's no more useful as a spiritual and religious guide than a number of other books.

She says now that the work of biblical scholars has become publicly accessible, the churches and their clergy are caught living a lie that few people will buy much longer. “I just don't think we can placate those in the pews long enough to transition into a kind of new community that doesn't keep people away.”

She wants salvation redefined to mean new life through removing the causes of suffering in the world. She wants the church to define resurrection as “starting over,” “new chances.” She wants an end to the image of God as an intervening all-powerful authority who must be appeased to avoid divine wrath; rather she would have congregations work together as communities to define God – or god – according to their own worked-out definitions of what is holy and sacred. She wants the eucharist – the symbolic eating and drinking of Jesus's body and blood to make the congregation part of Jesus's body – to be instead a symbolic experience of community love.

Theologians asked to comment on her book said they wouldn't until they've read it.

But one of her colleagues who knows her well, Rev. Rob Oliphant, the progressive pastor of Toronto's Eglinton St. George's United Church, said, “While I'm somewhat sympathetic to the aims of it all – getting rid of the nonsense and keeping the core faith – I think that there is something lacking in it all. Gone is metaphor, poetry, symbol, image, beauty, paradox.”

Ms. Vosper said she and her congregation have tried hard not to lose those elements in their search for the sacred and the transcendent in life.

She met with members of her congregation last Sunday to discuss what the impact might be of her book.

She said it would take only a single vote of a presbytery – a local governing body of the church – to bring her before the church courts if a complaint against her is made, and the courts could be interested in examining what it means to be in “essential agreement” with the church's statement of faith.

“I can find myself in there [the statements of faith] but there's whole parts of it where I go, ‘Oh my goodness, this is terrible.' If someone says to me, ‘Do you believe in God?' I can come up with an answer that would satisfy the courts of the United Church. But would it reflect what's stated in their statement of faith? I don't think so. But it wouldn't be very far from what my colleague down the street, and what his colleague down the street from him, would say. That's the problem.”


TOPICS: Canada; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: apostasy; blasphemy; canada; deception; falseprophets; grettavosper; heresy; humanism; moralabsolutes; narcissism; newage; religiousleft
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When I first read this article, I thought, "You're kidding, right?" Unbelievable.
1 posted on 03/22/2008 6:56:05 AM PDT by mkleesma
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To: mkleesma

lucky for them I’m not God.


2 posted on 03/22/2008 6:58:23 AM PDT by the invisib1e hand (Free New York)
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To: mkleesma

As the Man said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


3 posted on 03/22/2008 6:59:18 AM PDT by Don Corleone (Leave the gun..take the cannoli)
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To: mkleesma

Glorious Hope? H-O-P-E? Sounds like Obama would fit right in there.


4 posted on 03/22/2008 7:00:03 AM PDT by jdm
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To: mkleesma
There is no hope without the resurrection of Christ.

“By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

5 posted on 03/22/2008 7:01:47 AM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: mkleesma

I see churches in my hood who do not/refuse to display the Cross out of fear they will offend someone.


6 posted on 03/22/2008 7:03:30 AM PDT by devane617 (Find friends, ditch enemies !)
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To: mkleesma
or in Ms. Vosper acronym, TAWOGFAT, The Authoritative Word of God For All Time – but a human project filled with contradictions and the conflicting worldviews and political perspectives of its authors.<

She can call it that, when she retitles her book FATASS, For All Time, A Simpering Sophistry

7 posted on 03/22/2008 7:03:54 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: mkleesma
Ms. Vosper has written a book, published this week – With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe

Without repentance, there is no forgiveness of sin.

8 posted on 03/22/2008 7:04:56 AM PDT by HarleyD
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To: the invisib1e hand

If Gretta Vosper really believed she would heed this but it is a fulfillment of Peter’s prophecy:

http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=2Peter+2


9 posted on 03/22/2008 7:05:07 AM PDT by DarthVader (Liberal Democrats are the party of EVIL whose time of judgement has come.)
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To: mkleesma

The world has two choices - you can believe in the son of God and join with the faithful in his church or you can hang with others who play church.


10 posted on 03/22/2008 7:05:12 AM PDT by Last Dakotan
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To: mkleesma

“She said it would take only a single vote of a presbytery – a local governing body of the church – to bring her before the church courts if a complaint against her”

So how does one go about doing that. Personally I think this twit and her adherents should be burned for heresy.


11 posted on 03/22/2008 7:05:16 AM PDT by swmobuffalo ("We didn't seek the approval of Code Pink and MoveOn.org before deciding what to do")
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To: mkleesma

It’s all about change you can believe in...bwahahahaha... this is truly sad, but the Bible warns against going with every wind that comes along. I noticed the church was referred to as “progressive” sounds like LIBERAL to me!


12 posted on 03/22/2008 7:05:25 AM PDT by lexington minuteman 1775
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To: gusopol3

I had people all this week wish me a “Happy Holiday”.

Isn’t it EASTER? What Holiday? Now you can’t say Easter. I made sure I replied by saying “Happy Easter to you”.


13 posted on 03/22/2008 7:05:35 AM PDT by angcat (Indian name "She who yells too much")
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To: mkleesma

They might as well stop calling themselves Christians and rename their church to a branch of the Unitarian Universalists.


14 posted on 03/22/2008 7:05:51 AM PDT by Digital Sniper (Hello, "Undocumented Immigrant." I'm an "Undocumented Border Patrol Agent.")
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To: lexington minuteman 1775
I noticed the church was referred to as “progressive” sounds like LIBERAL to me!

Liberals demand to be called "progressive" because they are ashamed to be called what they are: liberals.

15 posted on 03/22/2008 7:06:38 AM PDT by Digital Sniper (Hello, "Undocumented Immigrant." I'm an "Undocumented Border Patrol Agent.")
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To: swmobuffalo
Personally I think this twit and her adherents should be burned for heresy.

Every thing in its time...

16 posted on 03/22/2008 7:07:56 AM PDT by Corin Stormhands (When life gives you lemons...don't forget the vodka...)
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To: mkleesma

Why don’t they call themselves a mutual admiration society and quit the facade?


17 posted on 03/22/2008 7:08:16 AM PDT by PORD (People...Of Right Do)
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To: mkleesma

Better to believe in God and find out you’re wrong when you die, than vice versa.


18 posted on 03/22/2008 7:09:21 AM PDT by atomicweeder
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To: mkleesma

Satan should be well-pleased.


19 posted on 03/22/2008 7:09:26 AM PDT by KStorm (Today's liberal is tomorrow's fascist. Well, okay--today's fascist.)
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To: angcat

Well its more than just a Holy Day since it’s called Holy Week. You know Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday :)


20 posted on 03/22/2008 7:10:54 AM PDT by xp38
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To: mkleesma

There’s a special place in hell for these folks.


21 posted on 03/22/2008 7:11:49 AM PDT by Eurale
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To: BenLurkin

You hit the nail on the head. Many preachers thrive on the lost, and they make a lot of money from them. What they forget is “Where do you get hope from?”


22 posted on 03/22/2008 7:11:53 AM PDT by RC2
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To: mkleesma
But one of her colleagues who knows her well, Rev. Rob Oliphant, the progressive pastor of Toronto's Eglinton St. George's United Church, said, “While I'm somewhat sympathetic to the aims of it all – getting rid of the nonsense and keeping the core faith – I think that there is something lacking in it all. Gone is metaphor, poetry, symbol, image, beauty, paradox.

And that God guy, too.

23 posted on 03/22/2008 7:12:04 AM PDT by nina0113 (If fences don't work, why does the White House have one?)
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To: Digital Sniper

The United Church of Canada is where the socialist New Democratic Party sprang from so I can confirm this.


24 posted on 03/22/2008 7:12:20 AM PDT by xp38
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To: devane617
Most congregations derivative of the Christian Church Movement of the 1800s may or may not even have a steeple. The point being made is that it's just adornment better spent on the poor ~ but they do have crosses inside ~ but without the guy on them ya' know.

Quakers don't have steeples either ~ (traditional Quakers).

25 posted on 03/22/2008 7:12:43 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: mkleesma
Well, at least they've given up the pretence that they are Christ centered. This church is really not such an anomaly as the article makes out. On the leadership level, almost all the mainstream denominational churches in North America are now totally controlled by the religeous left.

They all share the same basic belief that America is a retrograde force in the world, that national sovereignty needs to be done away with, that gay relationships should be celebrated, that there needs to be massive global wealth redistribution mediated by international political bodies, and that the gospel should be understood through the lens of progressive politics.

These beliefs are not always carried by churches on the local level (not yet, but they're getting there), but at the highest levels the views must be acceptable to the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, which are made up entirely of dedicated socialists.

26 posted on 03/22/2008 7:13:25 AM PDT by Thudd ("It worked fine in the store")
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To: swmobuffalo

“Personally I think this twit and her adherents should be burned for heresy.”

That is left up for the Lord at a later date.


27 posted on 03/22/2008 7:13:56 AM PDT by DarthVader (Liberal Democrats are the party of EVIL whose time of judgement has come.)
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To: devane617

As my Priest said yesterday at Good Friday services, you can’t have Easter without the Cross.


28 posted on 03/22/2008 7:14:39 AM PDT by Mercat (If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue)
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To: mkleesma

Dumb question: is the United Church considered “Christian”?


29 posted on 03/22/2008 7:15:00 AM PDT by DieHard the Hunter (Is mise an ceann-cinnidh. Cha ghill mi do dhuine. Fg am bealach.)
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To: Thudd

Did anyone else see that puke on PBS last night spouting religious relativism? God.


30 posted on 03/22/2008 7:15:11 AM PDT by Eurale
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To: mkleesma
Luke 9:26
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
31 posted on 03/22/2008 7:15:27 AM PDT by Manic_Episode (Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps...)
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To: mkleesma
she would have congregations work together as communities to define God -- or god -- according to their own worked-out definitions of what is holy and sacred.

BYOGC (bring your own golden calf).
32 posted on 03/22/2008 7:15:28 AM PDT by Telepathic Intruder
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To: mkleesma
She met with members of her congregation last Sunday to discuss what the impact might be of her book.

We already know.

Aging congregations, breeders flee, homosexuals come in, can't pay the heating bill, denomination disappears - and that's BEFORE they meet Satan at the end...

33 posted on 03/22/2008 7:15:54 AM PDT by Jim Noble (I've got a home in Glory Land that outshines the sun)
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To: PORD
Narcissismis so "me" dontcha know!
34 posted on 03/22/2008 7:16:15 AM PDT by acapesket (never had a vote count in all my years here)
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To: gusopol3

LOL


35 posted on 03/22/2008 7:16:21 AM PDT by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: mkleesma
"The Devil goes to church. He doesn't have to go to the saloon; he's already got THEM!"

Quote from a Pentcostal pastor from my youth.

36 posted on 03/22/2008 7:16:22 AM PDT by JimRed ("Hey, hey, Teddy K., how many girls did you drown today?" TERM LIMITS, NOW!)
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To: Jim Noble

Meeting with Satan isn’t what they need to fear most.


37 posted on 03/22/2008 7:17:11 AM PDT by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: DieHard the Hunter

Another dumb question. Is this part of the United Church of Christ?


38 posted on 03/22/2008 7:17:33 AM PDT by rwa265
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To: mkleesma

This church should definitely learn the words to “At the Name of Jesus, Every Knee Shall Bow”.


39 posted on 03/22/2008 7:19:08 AM PDT by Hat-Trick (Do you trust a government that cannot trust you with guns?)
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To: angcat
I learned an Easter greeting from a former co-worker: “Christ is risen!” to which the response is: “He is risen indeed!” I think it's from the Orthodox church. Very lovely and I wish it would catch on. It always lifts my heart to hear it.

I respond to “Happy Holidays!” with “Happy Holy Days to you” which I cribbed from someone on FreeRepublic, but I don't remember who.

40 posted on 03/22/2008 7:19:35 AM PDT by nina0113 (If fences don't work, why does the White House have one?)
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To: All

Our society is moving further away from God. This action is a rejection of Christ and a turn to humanism. The turning to secular-humanism is an evolution to the total rejection of God and the eventual persecution of Christians.

We need to teach our children to be strong because they may have to face this persecution. The fact that this is happening in a “church” is suprising now, yet one day may be totally expected and common.

“Be not afraid”


41 posted on 03/22/2008 7:19:39 AM PDT by rbmillerjr ("bigger government means constricting freedom"....................RWR)
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To: xp38

No I believe people are scared to say Happy Easter.


42 posted on 03/22/2008 7:20:00 AM PDT by angcat (Indian name "She who yells too much")
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To: nina0113

It’s followed by “Alleluia, Alleluia!”


43 posted on 03/22/2008 7:20:48 AM PDT by bonfire
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To: mkleesma

“Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.”

—Screwtape, “Screwtape Proposes A Toast” by C. S. Lewis


44 posted on 03/22/2008 7:21:23 AM PDT by RichInOC (...William Frank Buckley, Jr., November 24, 1925-February 27, 2008, R.I.P.)
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To: mkleesma

So why even call yourselves a “church”?


45 posted on 03/22/2008 7:21:53 AM PDT by Past Your Eyes (Bill Clinton: Life Member of the Liars' Club.)
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To: mkleesma

2 Timothy 3

1. This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3. Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4. Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
8. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
9. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
10. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
11. Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
12. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
13. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
14. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15. And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.


46 posted on 03/22/2008 7:22:27 AM PDT by kindred (He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.)
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To: mkleesma

Ms. Vosper is a throwback to the late 1800’s when all sorts of people were coming up with forms of desacralized Christianity. She’s repeating history as farce.


47 posted on 03/22/2008 7:22:54 AM PDT by aruanan
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To: mkleesma

The West Hills Hopean Church.


48 posted on 03/22/2008 7:23:41 AM PDT by Erasmus (Nihilism never amounted to anything.)
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To: mkleesma
I thought, "You're kidding, right?" Unbelievable

I'm not at all surprised, and neither should you be if you believe Jesus' own words. He foretold the apostasy that would come to prominence in the last days of this dispensation and eventually pervert true Christianity throughout the world, culminating in the false, perverted "church" of the AntiChrist and his false prophet sidekick.

49 posted on 03/22/2008 7:23:53 AM PDT by epow (Obama for President, in your heart you know he's the Wright man for the job.)
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To: mkleesma

I have glorious hope that this church has a big enough lightning rod.

God is not mocked. What a man sows, that shall he reap.

This is humanism is yet another form.

And destined to the same end.


50 posted on 03/22/2008 7:24:00 AM PDT by exit82 (People get the government they deserve. And they are about to get it--in spades.)
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