Archive for April, 2007

A lying watchdawggieIn one of Ken Silva’s recent miss-ives, “The Emergent Church Hates the Light”, he once again (expectedly) lies and slanders brothers and sisters in the “emerging church” movement, presenting equal amounts of slander from Phil Johnson and Johnnie Mac.

In this article, JMac states:

One of the big issues is homosexuality in the emerging church; they don’t want to take a position on homosexuality.

This is a lie (amongst others in the article).

As we have noted in the past, this is not a product of the ‘emerging church’ – as many do not endorse participation in a homosexual lifestyle.  The EC is too diverse to say “this is what the Emerging Church believes about homosexuality”.  Why?  Because the ECM is a similar response to post-modernism coming from multiple denominations, where many of the underpinnings are those which came from the original denominations.  Do some EC churches (incorrectly) condone homosexual conduct?  Certainly.  Do other EC churches welcome homosexuals (as guests) but require an change in their lifestyle if they want to become a Christian?  Just as certainly.  In fact, most of the big-name “EC” churches fall into the latter camp than the former.

Bob Hyatt, the lead pastor of an EC church in Oregon, writes:

I think our stance would be what Stan Grenz called “Welcoming, but not affirming.” If people do not know Jesus, I don’t much care who or what they are sleeping with when they come to our community. I want to welcome them and tell them about Jesus.

When they become a follower of Jesus, however, the story changes somewhat in that there are many things that God wants to change in us, our sexual ethic included. Though our elders have decided to take an individual case-by-case approach with everyone and their situation, our general stance is that same-sex sexual behavior is not compatible with being a Christ follower and needs to be left behind.

[...]

By the way, I can name at least one well-known emerging church that has no issue with committed same sex sexual relationships… but I honestly don’t think they are representative.
However, many individuals who identify with the emerging church movement, whose background is the mainline church will share this view…

But I agree- the broad stroke “the ECM” believes this is silly. It’s a nonsensical statement most of the time it’s made, since on other issues and this one in particular, at least half of the “ECM” people you ask will express a different view.

I suppose it’s like saying finding a group of southern baptists who are KJV Only and assuming the Rev Silva must be as well. Or saying that since Mosaic and Saddleback are SBC, that Silva must be down with McManus and Rick Warren.

He snorts, but this is the type of thing he does to the emerging church all the time.

We’ve written about this topic before, refuting the slander, but Ken doesn’t care – he’s got mouths to feed, and if that requires lying about brothers in Christ, so be it…

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[Reader Warning: Frank discussion of a sexual nature likely in this article and discussion thread.]

Watchdawggie Living a Double LifeIssue: How should Christians respond to pornography and addictions to porn?

Slice/CRN Take: No doubt they see pornography as clearly sinful (as do we).   The solution: avoid it.   If you’re addicted to it?   Get help by going to a good (aka Reformed) church.

What about ministries like xxxChurch?   Mock them for their tactics, offer no real alternatives.

My Take: While I think that Craig Gross, founder of xxxChurch, sometimes takes it too far in driving home his message (like with the inflatable phallus), I think that we often go too far the other direction in not discussing (or even acknowledging) the issue, which creates even more problems in rooting out and dealing with this sin.

Pornography is 100% wrong.  This is clear in scripture.  THAT is what these guys are confronting.

I find it to be a good thing, though, that men like Mr. Gross confront this multi-billion dollar industry which is leading millions into hell, and that they are willing (and able) to confront them on their own turf, while maintaining personal purity and giving a Christ-like witness:

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ’sinners’?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:10-13)

I have recommended the X3Watch software, available from xxxChurch, to a number of men, who I know use it with their accountability groups.  Here is how it works:

Let’s say you’re browsing the Internet and you’re looking at porn. The software makes a log of the porn site, and then every two or four weeks your two designated accountability partners will get an email listing all the skin sites you’ve been on. Oh no-busted! Now that’s what we call real accountability. No more secrets!

I also know men who have used xxxChurch’s online’s recovery program, along with attending the Celebrate Recovery program, developed by Saddleback and run at hundreds/thousands of churches, to help men and women escape addictive behaviors – leaving them behind while growing closer to Christ.

The guys from xxxChurch have also been criticized for going to all of the porn conventions in the US and Europe, where they have a booth that gives out Bibles and answers questions from people attending those conventions.  They also have a program to help people in the pornography industry to escape from it.  (I also find it interesting that the same crowd that oozes love for open-air confrontational preachers has disdain for Christians whose very presence in the “lion’s den” is confrontational).

Would Jesus have done this?  Actually, he did.

When Jesus took his disciples on a 16-mile (one way) hike to Caesarea Philippi, he took them to a place that all of the Jewish religious authorities of his time forbade people to go (read more about the context behind this story here).  From the context of the account in Matthew and Mark, it also appears that he was actually within the city complex, which sits at the foot of a cliff called the “Rock of the Gods” with a huge cave in its face, from which a stream flowed, called the “Gates of Hades”.

Caesarea Philippi, culturally, was a place most like the Greco-Roman pagan cities of Asia Minor to which Jesus’ disciples, likely aged 12-20 at the time, were within walking distance.  The open air shrine to Pan, at the base of this cliff, and a goat-woship shrine next to it held pagan rites in which men and women would have sexual relations – in plain view, if we are to believe writers from the time – with each other and with goats.  And what did Jesus say here?

But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:15-18)

When these young men went out into the world, they went to places far more disgusting that this to reach people caught up in the filth of that world.

Apparently, there is an event coming up where Craig Gross will be debating a prominent figure in the world of pornography.  This event is, predictably, being mocked by Slice 2.0.  I think that events like this, and the “porn and pancakes” breakfasts where Gross works with Christian men to get them to confess their problems with porn and to help them confront and repent from this behavior.  While some of their methods do seem over-the-top, this issue is such a deep-rooted (and often well-hidden) problem that this may be what it takes to expose and confront hidden sin so that it may be dealt with and removed from those it is killing.

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What makes something Christian; not someone, but something? 

What makes someone Christian is obvious, but what makes a non-personal thing worthy of the adjectival “Christian?”  We use it all the time; Christian fellowship, Christian website, Christian music, Christian business, Christian this, Christian that, Christian the-other-thing… but what presuppositions allow us to add “Christian” as an adjectival modifier to a noun or verb?

In some cases it’s easy. A bookstore carries only Christian books (rats – “I did it again, used “Christian” as an adjective for a noun) – some bookstores carry only books written by Christians about Christian themes “ therefore we call them a “Christian Bookstore.”  In other scenarios it’s more difficult. A company that sells widgets was founded by a Christian man who runs it on Christian principle, and as far as the law allows employs mostly Christians. We call this a “Christian Company,” but why? Widgets are neither inherently good nor evil; in fact they could be used to either end.

Taking an even more emotionally controversial subject – music. What makes music “Christian?” Some would say if the musicians are writing to the glory of God it is Christian music.  Others would say being written by a Christian is not enough, to be Christian music it must overtly glorify the Lord. Some would argue any style of music may be employed to glorify the Lord and therefore is a candidate for the coveted modifier. Others would say that certain styles of music are inherently evil due to their beat or the culture from which they arose. What qualifies music as “Christian music?”

How you answer this question will have a far-reaching domino effect on how you view the interaction between Christ and culture and particularly what elements of a culture are “Christian” and those that are, nor cannot become “Christian.”

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Here’s a great clip from Tony Dungy and the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

He is a great Christian example for men in and out of football; an example of how to bring Christ into the way you work.

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Ken Silva is constantly attacking the Southern Baptist Convention as being man-lovers, doctrinally unsound and in his latest post, “rapidly apostatizing”. The funny thing is, Ken Silva has chosen to be a member of the very same organization. He subscribes to their doctrinal statement, belongs to a state association… heck, he even is the pastor of Connecticut River BAPTIST church. You can click on the New Hampshire Baptist Association Website and find his name on the roster of men who are a part of, and support the SBC. Does it make sense to anyone why Ken would choose to be a part of a denomination (that he can leave at any time) that he considers to be falling into apostasy.

One might say that he is trying to “fix the situation” from the inside. But, if that is the case, he sure has a strange way of going about it. It doesn’t seem to help when you call the president a “man-lover” and then write public blogs about how doctrinally off base they are for the world to see. In another article today, he said it is like “wading through a spiritual cesspool.” Now that Ken has worked up enough nerve to call his organization apostatizing, one has to wonder… why ya still there Kenny boy?

“It is always better to light a candle than to sit and shout at the darkness”

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On Mike Corley’s Blog, he is asking for people to write in five questions that they would ask emerging churches. In his radio show, he opened it up for people from the emerging side to ask the discernment ministries / traditional church five questions. Head over there and ask some thought provoking questions for people to consider!  However, please respect Mr. Corley’s wishes and just ask questions.  Hopefully this will later turn into a discussion.  Remember, they are our brothers and sisters, even if that mindset is not reciprocated .

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Straw watchdawggieIt seems that Ken isn’t the only one in the “watchdawggie” crowd that builds straw men.  Besides his link to Brian Flynn’s men of straw yesterday, he (or whoever is lurking behind the mysterious “Editor” at Slice 2.0) has linked to another bit of gossip/slander couched as “discernment” today in his efforts to smear other Christians.  This guy, Roger Oakland, has taken a page from the Ken Silva School of Logical Fallacy.  To wit:

For example, I anticipate there will be statements similar to the following one made by Emerging Church supporter Darren King in an article he wrote titled “A Response to Reactionism Against the Emerging Church”:

It is clear that while those of us engaged in the Emerging Church conversation might find new perspectives a helpful thing, there are others, within the larger Christian community, who find these fresh perspectives not only unhelpful, but actually threatening. These people tend to operate under very circular, rigid belief systems. And for these people, any idea that infringes on any one corner of the “faith infrastructure” causes what amounts to a fight or flight response.

This statement illustrates how someone with a rigid perspective (biblical perspective) is perceived by someone with an Emerging Church perspective (“fresh perspective”). From Darren King’s viewpoint, if someone is not willing to abandon their “faith infrastructure,” (the Bible) for the “fresh perspective,” (ideas that are unbiblical or anti-biblical) the person is considered a dangerous crackpot.

Well, sometimes a crackpot really is a crackpot, as you’ve demonstrated with yourself, Mr. Oakland.

For the uninitiated, a straw man is “an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “set up a straw man” or “set up a straw-man argument” is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent. A straw-man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is in fact a misleading fallacy, because the opponent’s actual argument has not been refuted.”

Or, to be more blunt, a straw man is a lie about your opponent which you then paint him with.  In Christianity, we typcially call this ’slander’ or ‘libel’, but the less scrupulous might just call it ‘discernment’.  The typical test of a straw man is to say, “would my opponent agree that my re-wording of his argment is a valid statement of his position?”  If the answer is no, congratulations, you’ve built a straw man!

In this particular case (and others in this article, and ALL THROUGHOUT Ken’s miss-ives) the straw man is the chief tool of persuation.  Notice that Oakland builds the straw man, step by step:

He re-defines the term “rigid perspective” to mean “Biblical perspective”, an opening falsehood that I’m sure that Darren King did not intend with his terminology “rigid perspective” (which more likely implies a false sense of security in having the only possibly valid interpretation of scripture, leaving no room for potential error in interpretation).  He then defines the term “fresh perspective” to mean “emerging perspective” (which is probably closer to the truth).  The purpose of this redefinition is to (falsely) set up “emerging perspective” to be antithetical to “Biblical perspective”, thus slandering Mr. King via straw man fallacy.

Next, Oakland defines King’s term “faith infrastructure” to be “The Bible”, once again creating a falsehood via redefining Kin’s words to mean something not intended.  Finally, as the coup de grâce, Oakland uses his previous straw man (”fresh perspective” = “unbiblical/anti-biblical perspective”) to create an entirely new slanderous falsehood.

The remainder of the article is just more of the same nonsense – a web of lies.

This is what we’ve come to expect, though, from most critics of the emerging church. Lies, falsehood and deceit (not exactly the Fruits of the Spirit, one might add).  Yes, there are things to criticize in any movement, but I think a commenter on Bob Hyatt’s site hit the nail on the head a couple weeks ago during the Kimball/TeamPyro discussion:

i’m a guy who is so much “in the same camp” as these guys on most issues. i love spurgeon, i’ve been called to be a calvinist, i even use jonny mac’s commentaries and other materials fairly regularly.

and i understand why they’re scared of emerging things. i’m not someone who jumps at change (the first time i read your article which used three critera for determing whether you are emerging or not i just assumed you were some pot-smoking west-coast hippie dude), but when i allowed myself to honestly evaluate some of the claims coming from “your camp”, i had to start rethinking things.

what makes me sad is that i’m coming to the conclusion that this is about power. i had hoped it wasn’t. i had hoped there were more pure motives, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

this is about labelling people with a scarlet “E” so that their own “sheep” will steer clear of anyone who might raise some difficult questions

because they don’t think it’s okay for a pastor to say, “you know… i’m rethinking that, so i don’t have a good answer now.”

It’s a sad state of affairs when the “watchdogs” like Ken and Mr. Oakland have become more like the corrupt shepherds of Ezekiel 34, recondemned by Jesus in Jericho.

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Watchdawggie caught doing yogaThere has been a bit of discussion on the topic of Christian Yoga the past couple of days here on CRN.info, and now Ken has decided to post a “source” on Slice 2.0 to back his contention. Granted, his article does nothing more than build some straw men to burn down (which is what we’ve come to expect, anyway).

You can tell from the start of the article that almost no intellectual heavy lifting was done in researching this (kind of like with Johnnie Mac’s “Truth War”), though with less of the pomposity and polemic we’ve come to expect from Ken:

Why is there such a thing as Christian Yoga? It certainly has no scriptural or biblical basis in support of it.

Why is there such a thing as a Christian Website?  There certainly is no scriptural or biblical basis in support of it? In fact, 20% of the websites on the web are pornography sites.  [For the sarcasm/irony impaired, this is not by actual belief.] The logic is similar, and when you boild it down, what seemt to be most of the crux between the ‘externals’ focus of CRN/Slice 2.0 and the ‘internal’ (i.e. what is in the heart) focus here at CRN.info comes down to how we react where the Bible is silent.

The non-denominational church movement I belong to (which comes from the Restoration movement in the early 1800’s) has a particular saying regarding this prediciment:

Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we remain silent.

Additionally, where the Bible does speak (but possible differences in interpretation may create friction), we have used a similar mnemonic sometimes credited to St. Augestine:

In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty.  In all things, love.

So, where the rub tends to come is “Where the Bible is silent, are things permitted or forbidden?” and “What is essential vs. non-essential?” In the case of Christian Yoga, what it really comes down to is this: Is this Bible silent on this topic, and if so, should Christian Yoga be allowed within the church?

Let’s be clear with what “Christian Yoga” actually is and isn’t, though, first. Technically, what is referred to as “Christian Yoga” should really be called “Low-Impact Stretching and Stress Relief for Christians” (LISSRC)  and not “Yoga” because, aside from the stretches and positions, it does not incorporate Hindu mantras or teachings. However, by using “Christian” as the modifier for “Yoga”, that implies the non-incorporation of Hinduism.

[NOTE: Can you see why many prefer "Christ-Follower" to "Christian", since the former can't be used as an adjective?]

First, is the Bible silent on the topic of LISSRC? I can’t find anything that could be tied directly to such a thing, though yesterday Amy suggested that this could be similar to worshipping God in the high places in the OT. However, this is nowhere near such a parallel, because God had commanded that he could only be worshipped in the Temple, which then set the stage for Pentecost 33 A.D., and the elimination of the sacrificial system with the destruction of the Temple, one generation later, in 70 A.D. Neither Ken nor his “expert” offer any scriptural support for their position from prohibition, outside of GBA origins.

Secondly, should this be allowed within the church? I believe that since the Bible is silent on the issue, it should be up to each local church body to decide if they will allow this, but not to condemn other church bodies that do so. However, this is where the rub between neo-fundamentalism (as demonstrated by Slice 2.0) and evangelical/emerging Christianity occurs.

In general, the neo-fundamentalist crowd – which is much more concerned with externals – tends to answer the question of “what do we do where the Bible is silent, and can such things that act where the Bible is silent give honor to God?” with an answer of prohibition based on tradition. The evangelical/emerging view tends to answer the same question with an answer of permission. Neither view, at an extreme, is correct. However, in the neo-fundamental view, there is little need for discernment, because the overriding answer tends to be “no”. In the e/e view, thuogh, there is great need for discernment, because the overriding answer tends to be “yes”.

Which view holds more risk? The evangelical/emerging view.

Which view holds more opportunity for service to God? The evangelical/emerging view.

Which view will be more apt to make mistakes along the way? The evangelical/emerging view.

Which view is more apt to actually BE (rather than just talk about being) salt and light to a dying world? The evangelical/emerging view.

The key, though, is discernment.

For instance, I have a rather large issue with the emergent tendency to use coarse language on a regular basis (though I disagree that “suck” is always coarse language, per our earlier conversation…). I think there’s a great deal of machinations and intellectual dishonesty in trying to justify it as being something on which the Bible is silent.

However, with Christian “Yoga” (LISSRC), I would find no more wrong with this than (as was pointed out in the thread discussion) Christians celebrating Christmas (pagan origin) or Easter (pagan origin), having a Christmas tree (pagan origin), participating in the Olympic games (pantheistic pagan origin), running the marathon (pagan origin), and on and on.

What it comes down to when viewing these two worldviews and their corresponding response to the question of dealing with Biblical silence on an issue is this:

I believe this is part of what is alluded to by Jesus in the Parable of the Talents. One can choose to take the narrowest, safest path and be condemned for burying his talent in a field. Or, one can choose to take the riskier path and bring more honor and reward to the one who gave them the talent in the first place.

Jesus didn’t call us to play it safe – he called us to serve: heart, soul, mind and strength.

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Suddenly prayers on rugs and meditation on scripture are heretical over at AM. Just when you thought their logic was as wacky as it could get, Ken strikes again. This time it is over a video commercial for Mike Yaconelli’s book Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the presence if Jesus. Sounds pretty kosher from the title, right?

Ken prints a section from the forward

you create meaningful silence, covenant communities, and contemplative activities that allow your students recognize the presence of Jesus in their everyday lives. Lovely, teach our young people how to practice “meaningful” meditation and perform other acts of religious bondage in order to try and create an experience with God.

Here is Ken’s interpretation of the whole thing.

I will warn you that this video itself is rather dull as it’s just a voiceover by a few people set against images and pictures of icons, candles, pagan imagery, labyrinths and even someone praying as a Muslim on a prayer rug.

So suddenly praying on a rug makes it pagan because Muslims do it? Are you suggesting, Ken, that Mark Yaconelli is promoting Muslim practices by showing students praying on rugs? I continue.

This is where the Emergent Church, the cult of new post-liberal theology, is taking the mesmerized $evangelical$ community. It is taking the American Christian Church right back into the superstitions and religious bondage of the apostate Church of Rome through so-called “spiritual disciplines” such as “Christian” meditation. You’ll even hear one man say, “Their eyes are open enough to see what’s happening there to know there’s life there and are now starting to say, ‘Maybe this is a model for the rest of the Church.’”

Ken, since you say that spiritual disciplines such as Christian meditation are apostasy, you might want to read the thoughts of some other writers:

  • Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
  • Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love
  • I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
  • I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.
  • I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.

So, either the words of Ken are wrong, or the words of God are wrong. I will go with the former.

Lastly, in classic Ken style, he takes this quote from a youth worker and completely twists it. She says

It’s almost a sense of relief when, um, it’s hard to let go of wanting to impart your wisdom on the kids; um, but them it’s a great, ah, relief to–for instance we’re doing a prayer exercise–to watch kids in silence and pray over them going: They’re having their own encounter with God and God is doing God’s work in them, and I’m not having to do it.

Ken’s interpretation:

“I don’t have to teach because people want to have their own encounter with God and ‘experience’ Him their own way.” O sure, it plays great to a narcissistic culture but it also negates one of the gifts Christ gave to His Church–teachers. Since we’re told to grow in the knowledge of Christ (see–Colossian 3:10)–not some existential subjective experience of Him–take a wild guess just which slimy serpent would be behind this idiotic idea.

This youth worker was not saying that they never teach, or negate teaching the word for this practice. She is saying how great it is to see students connecting with God in a meaningful and personal way. It is awesome that she doesn’t have to force knowledge on these students, but they are interested in growing closer with God on their own. And, I do know one slimy serpent that may behind some of the ideas written in this post. But we won’t got there.

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In another hit piece on Rob Bell, Ken Silva sets the plate by writing “We begin with the most important area which concerns the view of the Bible held by Rob Bell…as you will now see like most Emergents Bell has rejected sola [sic.] Scriptura. This is an irrefutable fact.”

Of course, to do so Silva must do two things, redefine the historical usage of “Sola Scriptura” and misquote Bell.  Ken Silva does not define what he means by “Sola Scriptura” though we can discern his redefinition by his misuse of the term.  Historically, “Sola Scriptura” is the belief that “the Bible as God’s written word is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter (”Scripture interprets Scripture”), and sufficient of itself to be the only source of Christian doctrine.”  It’s easy to see that Luther was contrasting Rome’s belief in the use of church tradition in determining Christian doctrine.

In his missive, Silva sights two quotes by Bell as proof.  The first is Bell’s denial that “Scripture alone” will answer all questions. Silva also takes Bell to task for saying that biblical interpretation is colored by historical context, the reader’s bias and current realities and that the more you study the Bible, the more questions it raises.  Of course, all these are true… there are questions the Bible does not bother to answer… every interpretation is colored… and the more you study, the more questions it raises.  The second quote Silva uses follows his all too often used tactic of leaving out certain parts.  Silva quotes Bells thus; “‘It is not possible to simply do what the Bible says,’ Bell writes. (Online source, emphasis added)” – ironically, Silva adds emphasis, but fails to use the whole statement.  What Bell wrote was “It is not possible to simply do what the Bible says, we must first make decisions about what it means at this time, in this place, for these people.”  This is, of course, the job of the exegete.  It’s easy to dismiss Silva’s sloppy (or devious) use of someone’s words.  But with these to partial statements, Silva weaves the conclusion that Bell denies Sola Scriptura.

Given an accurate definition of this Reformation fundamental, it’s also easy to see how Silva misappropriates the term.  Sola Scriptura means that the Bible is the final source of our doctrine and the practices that come from it.  No where. That I have seen, does Bell deny this – in fact he’s clear regarding the authority of the Scriptures.  What Bell does argue for is a careful use of the Scriptures – of course, when this is done Silva just dismissed it as an attempt to look for loopholes.

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