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  1. 2 points
    Greetings! My name is Miriam, and I have only recently come to reclaim the Christian label in my spiritual life. Coming from a more fundamentalist background, I have had to take time to reflect on my experiences of Christianity from a safe distance before re-engaging with organized religion. The writings of such authors as Rob Bell and John Shelby Spong have been a valuable support in that process. I am grateful to have recently found a local church group that accepts and supports me as an eclectic, progressive Christian, and I now hope to build on that experience by connecting to wider discussions of faith online. I am also in the process of developing a blog that focuses on engaging with faith through questions, so I hope that learning from fellow members will help to better inform my writing in the future. I look forward to taking part!
  2. 2 points
    Good evening, I am a Borg- and Spong-inspired justice-focused Christian. I was raised as a United Methodist and felt my faith gain traction and teeth upon discovering Marcus Borg, and also my aunt who is a leftist-Christian clergy! My hope for joining this space is to connect with other like minded people- especially if they are young-ish professionals who are now at home raising kids in a small community which is quite moderate-to-right leaning (although not fundamentalist!) now that's a tall order!
  3. 2 points
    Non-Progressive Christian are not allowed post in the Progressive Christianity thread. Which is fair enough. Anyway this led me to clarify for myself, if no one else, Why I am not a Progressive Christian. Progressive Christians: Point 1: Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life; Not sure I believe in the Sacred. The uppercase Oneness and Unity fill me with a little trepidation, I suspect it could be pointing to something that is not really there. I can see a unity and a oneness in existence but ... Point 2: Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey; Sacredness and Oneness of life, again the upper case. Sure the teachings attributed to Jesus might lead to the understanding the S and O of life. But I would argue it is not that we can draw from diverse sources ... we have to. Point 3: Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, ... I have no problem with this, but the wording is strange (I thought). While the word all is in upper case atheists are not mentioned but agnostics are. Also the incentive to write this post to some degree is caused by a lack of "complete" inclusiveness. OK I understand the wish to protect parts of the community; but ... Point 4: Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe; In a way I agree with this statement. It is a bit more complex than that. My behaviour alone is not the "fullest" expression of what I believe. Point 5: Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes; Again not sure what is meant by grace ... but using my definition (an ease) I would agree. But I have admit I find value in reconciling the results of our searches with the scientific method. Point 6: Strive for peace and justice among all people; I have no problem with this, but it is a bit of a motherhood statement,. Point 7: Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth; This brought me head to head with the free will debate. Can the Earth be any other way than it is? Now I might want it be different/cleaner/whatever but then, the universe unfolding will determine whether or not I will do anything about it Point 8: Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love. Well I have had a life-long path of learning. All of us do that to some degree or another. When the universe unfolds I may or may not find compassion Selfless love? "Love your neighbour as you love yourself"? Overall this 2011 version (for me) is harder to argue against than the original eight points highlighted in the front page of the forum. Perhaps it is time to update the points to the new Eight Points? Overall I cannot call myself a Progressive Christian, though (I think) I see fairly closely eye to eye with Paul when it comes to the profane and Joseph when it comes to oneness and unity (note the lower case ) Would others like to comment on where they agree or see differences in their take on the 2011 Eight Points.
  4. 2 points
    In the NT, it seems like the standard communication method is "feeling something in ones spirit", visions and dreams, though. Like f.e. Peter on the roof having the animal vision, or Paul seeing a vision of a Macedonian man asking him to come over etc. The quotes make my posts look much longer than they actually are I am dealing with a similar conflict myself. The God I know through experience and intuitions etc. seems to be much more of a peaceful, understanding and a nice guy than the God of the Bible, especially the OT one. On the other hand, especially teachings of Paul and some teachings of Jesus heavily resonate with me. So, I am caught in-between of Christianity and something else that I can't quite define. I have tried other religions, it doesn't work, too much of the Bible is indeed my religion and I lose that if I try any other approach. Right now I feel like I'm too Christian to be anything else, but not Christian enough to be a proper Christian either.
  5. 2 points
    I know the feeling Lani and I felt very much the same when I was going through my period of anxiety and depression (which coincided with my kids being about 2 & 4). My wife was also experiencing post natal depression and we didn't recognize it for that until she sought help. I know there can be a stigma associated with depression/anxiety but I would encourage you to consider talking to a professional if that might be a possibility. There's nothing wrong with that and both my wife and I found such a process exceptionally beneficial. I am not saying that is your predicament, but it could possibly be feeding into your anxiety about your children. I don't know where I read it and I have since had trouble locating it, but I remember reading a a story around that time that I found particularly comforting. It went along the lines of this: A distraught mother had her three young toddlers in a bath, preparing to drown them. She was distraught with the thought that if she didn't raise them properly that they might not 'choose Jesus' and would go to Hell. She thought it better to kill them now as innocents so that they would see heaven, than take the chance of raising them and they possibly end up in Hell. In distress at the thought of killing her kids the woman cried out to Jesus saying "please don't let me do this - take my life instead and spare my children - grant them life with you". To this Jesus replied "Woman, if I loved you so much that I was prepared to die for you, do you really think I could allow you or your children to be separated from me". Now I could have the story wrong (wherever it was written) but that's how I remember it. For me personally, it just made me think that if there is anything 'existential' or 'spiritual' to our existence, whatever it is can only be a good thing in the end rather than a harmful thing. If my kids (or I) get it wrong in our tiny blip of an existence on an eternal timeline, then I'm certain that whatever 'higher power' might possibly exist, it would understand. This in turn has allowed me to better accept the day to day. I ponder spirituality and religion, as I do life in general, however i feel no compulsion to 'get it right' or for my kids to. In the end, they will simply work out for themselves what works for them. Sure, guidance is important in life, and opening up our children's minds to the possibilities of all things (not just the spiritual) is a burden that all parents practice to different degrees, but I rest easy knowing that what works for them, will be what works for them. I hope I make some sort of sense. Cheers Paul
  6. 1 point
    My sense is that the bible is a literary collection of songs, poems,stories and history written by a faithful people. The concept of sin had very little meaning for me for much of my life mostly, I think, due to how it is used in many churches as an sword to keep followers in line. I always bothered me because I see some good coming out of forgiveness of sins if it is handled properly. People need to know that they can be forgiven for the mistakes they make. My current thinking on sin is that sins are nothing more than counterproductive mistakes humans make. and Original Sin is humans tendency toward hurtful thoughts and behavior many of which are remnants of our evolutionary path. Lust, selfishness, gluttony to name a few can be traced back to non-sentient animals and served them well in their society but are a problem in ours, so humans fight the urges. That, to me, is original sin. s
  7. 1 point
    I don't think stories in the Bible must necessarily be understood literally or as scientifically verifiable facts to be sacred and meaningful. That is a common approach to the Scriptures in my church denomination; neo-orthodoxy rather than liberalism or fundamentalism. I see too much needless suffering in the world, based on nothing more than empty fear and hatred, to be unconvinced that salvation no longer matters. As a Lutheran, I believe salvation entails more than going to heaven when one dies, it also implies being open to living a life as a disciple of Jesus Christ because the evil of the world is contained by the hope in God's promises. Through trust in God's promises as a gathered community around the Word, life is transfigured into a sacred calling or vocation where we become God's hands in the world doing God's work.
  8. 1 point
    Joseph, thormas and Rom, I'm reminded of the blind men surrounding the elephant. Rather than comparing and discarding different positions in search of the one truth, you at least recognise that we're attempting to integrate limited, sometimes contradictory and/or overlapping subjective experiences - communicated from different positions - into one holistic understanding. If what at first thought couldn't possibly be flat, broad and solid as well as long, cylindrical and hollow can eventually be conceived of as two limited experiences of one large elephant, then there is certainly hope for these discussions yet... In the meantime, you have all provided plenty of food for thought, and the fact that I more or less agree with so much of what each of you have said at any one time is not only rather confusing for me, but also suggests to me that, yes - you are perhaps not far apart at all. Certainly much closer than those blind men... Cheers
  9. 1 point
    I have found what gives life meaning and thanks. And, even though I borrowed from Sisyphus and Greek myths, it's more accurate to say, "all power to you and panentheistic (or even progressive) Christian theology." Twas fun!
  10. 1 point
    Not suggesting I am a hero of any description () , the idea is Joseph Campbells. He seems to see everything in the context of this idea. Not so sure myself. Anyway, I am reading his "Creative Mythology" at the moment and would recommend it. Nice pictures and the ebook has less typos than some of his others - though I had to laugh at the point where he quoted the zen master who said that we "must seek the face we had before we were BOM"........ Moving on, I had a dream last night where I saw and met once again the old guy who converted me to the Lord all those years ago. I think he must be long gone now ( with the Lord? ) and I only stayed with his version of the Lord for about six months. But in the dream I thanked him and told him it had changed my life for the better. I remember though that his face dropped when I added that I had moved on. Well, my reading "inspired" the blog below, to be found ( with illustrations ) on mydookiepops.blogspot.co.uk. So my own journey has been to return to where I started and knowing it for the first time (where have I heard that before?) The simple love for another. I am still ploughing on with Mr Joseph Campbell, now with his "Creative Mythology". I have reached Chapter 3 and a section entitled Symbolic Speech. Here is how that section begins:- The best things cannot be told, the second best are misunderstood. After that comes civilised conversation; after that, mass indoctrination; after that, intercultural exchange. And so, proceeding, we come to the problem of communication........ What sort of "problem" is communication? What exactly needs to be communicated? What would we wish to be communicated? Turning once again to Thomas Merton, in one of his very last talks before his untimely death, he had this to say:- True communication on the deepest level is more than a simple sharing of ideas, conceptual knowledge, or formulated truth...............And the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless, it is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover an older unity. My dear brothers and sisters, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are. So, if this is correct, what we should wish to communicate is the means of becoming who we are. (At this point I would just say that more often than not I am talking to myself, even learning from myself. Whatever anyone else may or may not gain from wading through my blogs, in writing them I clarify my own thoughts. Often things come together, for better or for worse) Just thinking back I remember the little story of the Jewish guy who travelled far upon hearing of a certain holy man - not to hear what he had to say but "to see how he tied his shoelaces." I think all good stories are multi-faceted but this one now takes on added resonance in the context of the questions raised here. Anyway, onward, from the Jewish to the Japanese. There is an old word in that language, menju, meaning "face to face transmission", person to person, a learning not to be found in books. I learnt about this in a book (!) and its author, Hiroyuki Itsuki, spoke there of his own attempts to learn. Itsuki spoke of all the philosophers he had read and yet, he said, he had "learnt more from his father's sigh" than from any of them. His father's sigh when, at the end of a long day, life's ambitions thwarted once more, he sunk down upon his bed. Others have said that we can only ever truly learn that which is already in us, that which we already know at some level. If true, this would bring me back to "salvation" being recognition, realisation, and not any accumulation of knowledge. Which again suggests that, indeed, we are already one, and that what we have to become is that which we already are. By grace we recognise grace in others; I think not by seeing perfection in them, but simply by seeing their humanity, pure and simple. Lay your sleeping head , my love, Human on my faithless arm...... .....but in my arms till break of day Let the living creature lie, Mortal, guilty, but to me The entirely beautiful. (W H Auden, lines from "Lullaby") I have never really been sure of the exact meaning - or meanings - of the whole of the poem "Lullaby" by Auden. I have gathered it speaks of "gay" love. Of what else I'm not aware. But I have always loved some of its lines. Moving on, but on the same theme, the love of Heloise for Abelard, a truly tragic story recounted by Joseph Campbell in "Creative Mythology". Campbell summarises the love of Heloise after first calling it "(perhaps) the noblest signature of her century":- (her love was) not the natural, animal urgencies of lust, nor the supernatural, angelic desire to glow forever in the beatific vision, but the womanly, purely human experience of love for a specific living being, and the courage to burn for that love were to be the kingdom and the glory of a properly human life. So, communication, or rather communion. That is it for now. Just the final thought that the love of Heloise was unrequited. Does it take two to tango? Thank you
  11. 1 point
  12. 1 point
    One of the Lindau gospels.
  13. 1 point
    In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the ones who, a few years back, did not care for the 8-Points removing God-language from their tenets, and I said so. My thinking at the time was, "God was at the center of Jesus' life and teachings, so how can we remove something Jesus believed in and experienced, and still call ourselves Christians?" My thinking has changed since then. It will, no doubt, continue to do so. So I reserve the right to change my mind. Nevertheless: All words are human words. None of them are divine, as such, at least not in the way that most religions teach (from the mouth of God). We are the ones who fill these combinations of vowels and consonants with meaning. This is especially true with the words that we have elevated to divine status, such as 'God', 'Jesus', 'Spirit', 'Bible', etc. I doubt that our human propensity to idolize and worship words can be helped. We are, by nature, meaning-seeking and meaning-making creatures, and these words are boiler-plates that we use to categorize our best understandings or descriptions of our deepest meanings. But the fact of the matter is that the word 'God' means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There is a sense in which I don't believe in the same 'God' now as I did when I was younger. God may not (or may) change, but my understandings and experiences of God certainly have. Knowing this, I was wrong to be dogmatic on who/what God is. Jesus was, no doubt, a Jew, a first century Jew. It is very doubtful that his understanding of God has much to do with the popular Christian concept of God. Which brings me to my conclusion. We have no concrete knowledge of anything. All we have available to us is our concepts. I think some concepts are better than others, that some concepts of God are better than others. But I think we should hold to these concepts lightly and be ready to modify them if necessary. It is much the same with the word 'Christian'. I no longer wear the label because, in the West, a Christian is someone who holds to the Creeds, which mention nothing Jesus taught. I still respect Jesus greatly and endeavor to live out his humanistic teachings, although I reject the mythical aspects that, IMO, have grown up around him. So I doubt I would fit most people's definition of 'Christian.' And that's okay. It is just a human word. If I'm defined these days, it is by my actions, not by my beliefs. I still have my own thoughts about 'God', but they belong to me and are not binding on anyone else.
  14. 1 point
    Obviously the Bible is considered Christianity's 'Holy Book' and many Christians believe it is either directly communicated by God to man, or they think it is 'inspired' by God. Most Christians believe the Bible to be, at the very least, a guide book towards what God wants and interpret variously the messages within this library of books as messages from God. Recent comments on another thread about the Bible expressing key elements about God's relationship with man, as though this Book is the only one that speaks for this man/God relationship, reminded me of this pic. To think that of the millions of years that mankind has existed, that one collection of books from a very limited geographical and cultural perspective somehow holds the key to the universe, is hard for me to accept. Every place and culture referred to in the bible fits within this little red circle and was written within a time frame of no more than 1000 years. I can't help but think that if it wasn't for the Romans taking Christianity on and then colonising the world, Christianity may well have died the death of so many other religions from so many of these other countries. In my country, Aboriginal people lived some 50,000 years without any knowledge of the Bible or believing of a God like that in the Hebrew bible. It seems to me that if God really did inspire the Bible, then he left some very big gaps concerning the history and 99% of the population of the world.
  15. 1 point
    Hello, i am a 30 year old mum of 2 year old and 4 year old. Although i have never really had spiritual peace i believe that since becoming a mother i have become more existentially anxious. I love my children so much that it is quite overwhelming. I feel a big burden that i brought them into this beautiful yet complex world. i am wondering if you know of any good books, pod casts etc anything for children to introduce them to spirituality in an open and relaxed manner (not dogmatic and non specific). Does anyone have any tips in regard how to overcome my guilt as a parent for not having all the answers (let alone the answers that humans have been seeking since the dawn of time). I know from a biological point of view obviously most of us are meant to have children (hence why we are all here). From a soulful point of view i feel a massive weight on my heart that i brought these two wonderful people into the world and now what..... so many unknowns ! Any tips or words of progressive wisdom appreciated
  16. 1 point
    Welcome Lani, I grew up in a fundamental church in Australia (Churches of Christ) which was very much like the Baptists. Around 18/19 I was leaving that sort of Christianity but came back for a brief 6-9 months to a Baptist church (before I finally decided that I was right in leaving Christianity behind in the first place ). So I am very familiar with those teachings of Hell. When I was 40 (9 years ago) I too suffered a bit of an existential crisis when as a result of suffering anxiety (caused by financial matters and probably aggravated by career and young family pressures) my friend told me it was Jesus trying to call me back. This brought back all my childhood teachings about Hell and the requirement to 'believe in Jesus'. I had a very hard time of it for nearly a year. But I found this forum and some other progressive christian authors and scholars who helped me learn more about the history of Christianity, including what we can say for certain and what we can't. Why I like this forum is it has shown me that I didn't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are some positive things about progressive Christianity that I find value in (which incidentally I think can also be found elsewhere too, but Christianity is the religion I am most familiar with). But for me, condemning unbelievers to an eternal punishment is certainly not one of them and this place has helped me understand what I consider a better picture of Christianity, based on better biblical scholarship and interpretation than what I had been indoctrinated with. I hope you enjoy participating here. There is also a lot of information in previous threads that you will find throughout the archives. Cheers Paul
  17. 1 point
    Hello to everyone. Talking with you from southwest Louisiana. Glad to be part of this community. Hope to make many new friends. Please say Hello.
  18. 1 point
    Hi Im bonnie..Ive been searching for quite some time for a place I could "be" and actually be me and I feel pretty lucky to have found this forum.Havent felt at home in other christian forums and churches in town..though there is a Universalist church I found recently that I might try.Im pretty introverted...on the freespirited side..as odd as it is to say Im a freespirited introvert.I really love walking and writing..I really love feeding and watching birds ..in my situation /area I dont get to do it as much but when I do I really enjoy the surprise .Anyway its nice to meet you.
  19. 1 point
    Hi Bonnie, It's nice to meet you also and welcome to the forum. I would strongly encourage you to be as 'me' as you want. In general, we have a understanding and accepting group here. There are sometimes diverse views on many things, but as long as we remain civil to one another and respect that many of us have different beliefs and views on things, then we can all get along just fine. I hope you enjoy participating here. Cheers Paul
  20. 1 point
    I feel Jen's frustration here. This site isn't really what it should be. But when I started posting in the early 2000s (a little before Jen did), I don't recall it being any different. I was a Christian humanist (or whatever you want to call it). I believed in a non-personal God if at all. I spent most of my energy trying to debunk essential components of Christianity. And so I fit right in. This, and people who felt beaten up by traditional Christianity, were the target audience and that hasn't changed. I changed though. I had a spiritual awakening that put me at odds with the spirit of this site. There was a small group of us who raised up issues of spirituality (Jen, myself, Alethia Rivers, and Soma.) There were many good discussions, but we were always the minority. Also, there has also almost always been a more traditional Christian who gets treated like a troll here. Nothing new here. I've attended an all progressive church which at one time posted the eight points on the wall by the sanctuary. And many of the members share the same atheistic tendencies. But many were also very spiritual and participated in prayer and meditation groups. Everybody gets along there for the most part. No one runs the show really. I think the frustration for people like me and Jen is that atheists are running the show at a Christian site. From an outside perspective, it looks like trolls have long since taken over this site. I know from the inside that that's not a fair characterization, but you have to admit that that's a reasonable conclusion. I've seen members bully on the basis of science and intellect (me included) those who's faith it spiritually, faith-based. I've been called immature for taking a spiritual approach to faith, and it has been suggested that when I "grow up", I'll see that science is the only answer. I've been accused of being mentally ill for having spiritual experiences. This is not in any way in accord with the 8 Points, and it is most certainly keeping spiritual-minded progressive Christians away from what could be a valuable experience within an accepting community. But like I said, it's not like this is new, and there's really no point in fighting it at this point. I accept that that's who were are here, and I do my best to find meaning here among you. I hope to be a participant here for many years to come.
  21. 1 point
    Tom, the Catholic monk Thomas Merton once said that a "saint" is not so much one who has reached a certain level of sanctity, but more that they always see something to love in others.
  22. 1 point
    You'll probably be shock to hear *me* say this, Burl, but one of the reasons I became so disillusioned with the church (as an institution) is that because the more I read the gospels and what Jesus had to say about the kingdom of God, the more I became convinced that the koG and the church are not the same thing. I mean, there are definitely hints of the kingdom (as Jesus interpreted it) in the OT. I think he fleshed it out more with his teachings, parables, and interactions with people. Granted, the church has sometimes done some very good things. But I don't see it as a fulfillment of the koG on earth. It seems that, even at the beginning, the disciples believed the church was going to be about who had the most power, who had the best seats. That is far from what Jesus taught, IMO. I've been Baptist, Southern Baptist, Assembly of God, Bible Church, Disciples of Christ, Pentecostal, Pentecostal Holiness, Wesleyan, and UMC. I've learned a lot in each of these churches. I've had good friends there. And there have been some good times, times that I would even call holy. But I've never felt that any of them were the kingdom. As the U2 song says, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for."
  23. 1 point
    Not to derail this thread further (for many people are blessed by Lectionary readings and study), but I think you make a great point, Paul, about the state of the world and Christianity's role in helping our world. For far too long, IMO, Christianity has embedded itself in the sin/savior myth that posits that the world is broken, in sin, and that the only remedy is for God and/or Jesus to save it through either forgiveness or destruction (in order to create another world). This myth teaches that we can do little to nothing to help our current state except to plead to God to come rescue us. The result of this, in much of Christianity, is escapism and waiting for Jesus to return at any moment with God's divine clean-up plan. Granted, it is an appealing myth. But I don't find it to line up very well with most of Jesus' teachings. I don't see anywhere in Jesus' teachings where he says that we are born in sin. And while some of his statements seem to imply that he would return shortly, he also stressed that his followers should be about the business of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping the poor, working for justice, visiting prisoners, etc. I haven't been able to thoroughly plumb all of his teachings about it, but Jesus seems to say that the kingdom is already here, already in the human heart. I don't see this so much as a remedy to some "sin problem" but as a seed to the growth and maturation of humanity that could heal the places in ourselves and in our world that need healing. Yes, the world is a wonderful and amazing place and we are an incredible species. But we are still immature and have a ways to go before we are fully human. And I think, in my own Christology, that Jesus, in some sense, shows us what it is like to be fully human. He was ahead of his time. The Gentile church didn't know what to do with that, so they declared him to be divine. In doing so, he lost his humanity. And I think that changed his role from example to savior, and I think a great deal was lost in this demotion. This is why, for me, Jesus is not a way to get to heaven. Rather, he shows me how genuine relationships grounded in compassion can change the world, not from sinners to saint, but from strangers to friends.
  24. 1 point
    Well very interesting, I will have to reread the blog and responses, but I can surely see where, environment and how we were raised greatly influences us throughout life. My RC's beliefs were ingrained from a early time and I never questioned till my 50's, so I pretty much just believed and my actions in life were based on my family and religious upbringing. Since I have got to this point now, I am more clear, or how should I say more aware of my reaction to things, and how I would normally react, say feel hurt, now I can look at the person who perhaps said a hurtful thing and choose not to react to it as I understand more why the person may of said it. I read something that by the time were about 7-10, what ever has been put in our sub conscious mind will become automatic behaviors that we keep repeating and repeating until we become aware, and then we can change our reaction. So say if my husband comes home moody , its not me, its because he had a bad day, or when the check out person is short and rude, I chock it up to her having a bad day, we just don't know. The choices we made or make in life are greatly influenced by events prior and , so in a way I think the more older and wiser we become , they call it street smarts or life experiences I guess, yes I think the more free will we might have or the illusion of having more free will. Goodness who really knows anymore.
  25. 1 point
    To me, Progressive Christianity means applying the “new story” of science and anthropology to the myths and beliefs of traditional Christianity and thus opening the door to probe for a deeper meaning. It means looking beyond bible inerrancy and dualistic thinking to a more meaningful relationship with God who is always present and active in, with, and through all. Progressive Christianity, to me, means letting go of ideas of exclusivity, accepting that my faith is not the one and only truth. And, by learning of other faiths, enriching my own faith. Finally, it means being allowed to explore ideas that mainstream churches would find uncomfortable, if not blasphemous, and find both tolerance and agreement.
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