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Sat Nov 10, 2012, 12:01 PM

All souls welcome at church's morning service for atheists

By BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Published: 11/10/2012 2:21 AM
Last Modified: 11/10/2012 7:31 AM

Why would atheists go to church?

Wouldn't that be like someone going to a movie theater, staring at a blank screen for an hour, and then going home?

Not at all, says the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, who this fall started a special service for non-theists at All Souls Unitarian Church.

"These are people who are not inspired to live their lives a certain way by ideas of God or by Scripture but who have the same human needs for community, compassion, meaning and marking the significant passages of birth, coming of age, marriage and death," he said.

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=18&articleid=20121110_18_A15_CUTLIN179644

62 replies, 3976 views

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Arrow 62 replies Author Time Post
Reply All souls welcome at church's morning service for atheists (Original post)
rug Nov 2012 OP
Marr Nov 2012 #1
cbayer Nov 2012 #2
rug Nov 2012 #3
cbayer Nov 2012 #4
cleanhippie Nov 2012 #6
rug Nov 2012 #7
AlbertCat Nov 2012 #8
rug Nov 2012 #9
AlbertCat Nov 2012 #10
rug Nov 2012 #13
AlbertCat Nov 2012 #15
rug Nov 2012 #20
Angry Dragon Nov 2012 #19
rug Nov 2012 #21
Angry Dragon Nov 2012 #24
rug Nov 2012 #25
Angry Dragon Nov 2012 #26
rug Nov 2012 #27
Angry Dragon Nov 2012 #28
rug Nov 2012 #29
Angry Dragon Nov 2012 #30
rug Nov 2012 #31
skepticscott Nov 2012 #12
rug Nov 2012 #14
AlbertCat Nov 2012 #16
rug Nov 2012 #22
AlbertCat Nov 2012 #34
skepticscott Nov 2012 #11
Starboard Tack Nov 2012 #37
skepticscott Nov 2012 #56
Starboard Tack Nov 2012 #57
rrneck Nov 2012 #5
mr blur Nov 2012 #17
cbayer Nov 2012 #18
rug Nov 2012 #23
beam me up scottie Nov 2012 #32
cbayer Nov 2012 #33
beam me up scottie Nov 2012 #35
cbayer Nov 2012 #36
beam me up scottie Nov 2012 #40
cbayer Nov 2012 #41
beam me up scottie Nov 2012 #42
cbayer Nov 2012 #43
beam me up scottie Nov 2012 #44
Starboard Tack Nov 2012 #38
beam me up scottie Nov 2012 #39
rug Nov 2012 #45
beam me up scottie Nov 2012 #46
rug Nov 2012 #47
beam me up scottie Nov 2012 #48
rug Nov 2012 #49
beam me up scottie Nov 2012 #50
rug Nov 2012 #51
beam me up scottie Nov 2012 #52
rug Nov 2012 #53
beam me up scottie Nov 2012 #54
rug Nov 2012 #55
brooklynite Nov 2012 #58
cbayer Nov 2012 #59
brooklynite Nov 2012 #60
cbayer Nov 2012 #61
dmallind Nov 2012 #62

Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 12:02 PM

1. To meet loose women. /nt

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 12:21 PM

2. Interesting, and in Oklahoma of all places.

IMO, people crave community. In some places churches provide the primary purpose of providing that community. That this is a success should not be a surprise.

On caveat, though, is that the minister indicates that some become theists after attending for a while. If this has the faintest whiff of proselytization, I would predict that it will eventually be a dismal failure. OTOH, if it stays true to it's stated mission, it could be an opportunity to create some healthy social activism in addition to providing community for those who may not find it elsewhere.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 12:25 PM

3. Intellectually honest theists should be open to the notion of atheism.

The opposite is also true.

Socializing aside, this seems a good place to explore those ideas.

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Response to rug (Reply #3)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 12:55 PM

4. Agree completely, and whatever anyone else thinks, that is the kind of environment

I strive for in this group.

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Response to rug (Reply #3)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 01:21 PM

6. And most atheists are open to the idea of theism. All that we need is the proof...

but since there has yet to be any put forward that stands the empirical test, that idea is rejected as false. But most of us are quite open to hearing about anything new that may have been discovered.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #6)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 03:30 PM

7. Are you open to re-examing empiricism as the standard of proof when it comes to nonmaterial matters?

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Response to rug (Reply #7)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 09:39 PM

8. Are you open to re-examing empiricism as the standard of proof when it comes to nonmaterial matters?

Why would we? Empirical proofs have been wildly successful so far.

Other kinds, not so much.

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #8)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 10:25 PM

9. We? I was talking to cleanhippie.

But since you're here, empirical proofs are generally successful for material matters but are inapplicable for nonmaterial matters.

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Response to rug (Reply #9)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:47 AM

10. I was talking to cleanhippie.

No. You were talking on a public message board.


And empirical evidence is working astonishingly well with things like emotions and delusions and ideas about gods and such...which happen physically in the brain.

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 10:01 AM

13. And I was responding to a particular poster.

If by "we" you are informng me that there is an oraganized group to which you both belong, by all mean, identify it so I can address its agenda.

As to neuroscience, empiricism works to the point that it can prove that "things like emotions and delusions and ideas about gods and such" (which are entirely separate things) are entirely the product of electrical cerebral impulses and nothing more. If it doesn't, the empirical method ends there. Can you post a reference that it does?

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Response to rug (Reply #13)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 11:00 PM

15. If by "we" you are informng me

Stop playing dense. "We" is not the royal plural. It means "we"...here, on the planet.


And you'll just have to read Pinker's "How the Mind Works" yourself.

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #15)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:43 PM

20. Who's being dense?

"It means 'we'...here, on the planet."

Unless you believe everyone on the planet has the same opinion as you on this, you're being disingenuous.

Here's a book for you.

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Response to rug (Reply #13)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:38 PM

19. Are you saying all christians are the same??

All Catholics. Lutherans, any one that belongs to the same religion??

Do they all have the same agenda??

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #19)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:47 PM

21. If you infer that from the post, here's a tip.

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Response to rug (Reply #21)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:53 PM

24. I was just using your logic

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #24)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:57 PM

25. Oh, you can't blame that fiasco of cerebral impulses on me.

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Response to rug (Reply #25)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 05:23 PM

26. Sure I can

'If by "we" you are informng me that there is an oraganized group to which you both belong, by all mean, identify it so I can address its agenda.' ..... your words .... by the way you really should use spell check and reread your posts


By your words you are saying people that belong to an organization share the same agenda .....
You could have avoided that by asking the agenda of the poster

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #26)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 05:29 PM

27. And you said by "we", you meant everyone on the planet.

Sorry, I'm swimming away before the suction gets me.

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Response to rug (Reply #27)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 05:34 PM

28. I never said 'we', that was you

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #28)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 05:36 PM

29. Post #8

Why would we?


Catch you later. I see an island in the distence.

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Response to rug (Reply #29)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 05:57 PM

30. The thing is that my name is NOT Albert Cat

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #30)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 05:59 PM

31. Oops, you're right.

Sorry. The A threw me.

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Response to rug (Reply #9)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 09:27 AM

12. Empirical proofs work just fine for energy as well as matter

Or by "nonmaterial matters" did you mean magical, superstitious, supernatural woo-woo that can only be understood by those undemonstrated "other ways of knowing"?

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #12)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 10:04 AM

14. So it does.

Do you mean to say that contemplation of the existence of a god is "magical, superstitious, supernatural woo-woo"?

If you do, you've placed yourself in a locked room of the intellect that I'll gladly leave you in.

If you don't, empiricism is of no use to that contemplation.

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Response to rug (Reply #14)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 11:07 PM

16. in a locked room of the intellect

Nonsense. The door is open. You may come in to the warm brightly lit garden (not a room) from your wilderness of ancient superstitions any time.

BTW, contemplation is a physical act in the brain. It is a real thing governed by the laws of physics. Not magic.

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #16)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:48 PM

22. The lock is on the inside.

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Response to rug (Reply #22)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 07:49 PM

34. The lock is in your mind.

There is no lock! Access to the bright garden is free and easy.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 09:24 AM

11. How could atheists NOT be open

to the idea of theism? In addition to having it waved in our faces and shoved down our throats on a daily basis, a lot of us started out as theists. Theists cannot say the same about atheism.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #11)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:06 PM

37. "shoved down our throats on a daily basis" "started out as theists"

How thou dost exaggerate. I'm sure you have suffered at the hands of fundamentalists, a la Carrie. Most of us got to where we are more peacefully. I started out as a baby, knowing nothing of gods or theism. I choose to explore the possibilities of deities as I evolved. Nobody forced anything down my throat and I have never met anyone in real life who claimed such. This is the first place I have ever seen strident fundamentalism and unfortunately, it comes from fellow non-theists, who attempt to cram their negativity down everyone's throat. Shame on you.
"Theists cannot say the same about atheism." Of course they can't, an -ism doesn't shove anything down throats, only certain adherents to that -ism do the shoving, probably because of their own insecurity. I truly feel for you. Obviously, you have been traumatized by your past experiences and have become the mirror image of all that you despise. I hope you find a restful place for your angry soul. Introspection requires no microscope, or other scientific equipment.

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Response to Starboard Tack (Reply #37)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 05:37 PM

56. Spare me your condescension

And your dime store psychotherapy. You know nothing about me, and are wrong on every count.

We're done here.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #56)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 05:56 PM

57. So you actually arrived there under you own steam?

Yet you say " In addition to having it waved in our faces and shoved down our throats on a daily basis, a lot of us started out as theists.
You claim to represent non-theists. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you didn't suffer in that way, why do you say "our faces" and "our throats". Speak for yourself, not those who have truly suffered abuse, because they are real. Piggybacking on their suffering to spread you intolerance is real classy.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 01:15 PM

5. We need the dues



With liberty and fraternity for all, amen.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 11:53 AM

17. Wow, rug found some more patronising shit to throw at atheists. Colour me shocked.

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Response to mr blur (Reply #17)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:04 PM

18. What is patronizing about this?

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Response to mr blur (Reply #17)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:51 PM

23. Maybe I should colour you sensitive.

I'm so sorry for offending you. It is particularly unwarranted in your case.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 07:31 PM

32. A "special" service, you say?

No ulterior motives there, eh?

Sorry to disappoint Rev, but I've been avoiding the pervert with the candy since I was a kid.

That's probably my "fourth-grade concept of God" showing.

This guy is an IDIOT.

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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #32)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 07:46 PM

33. Idiot?

"Lavanhar said the new 8:30 a.m. non-theist service has drawn as many as 280 people and averages between 100 and 200".

No one is forced to go, but all are invited.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #33)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 07:52 PM

35. Okay, he's an asshole who thinks atheists are stupid.

I was being kind.

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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #35)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:05 PM

36. He's a UU minister providing a service that a certain group of people apparently

are interested in. I don't think that makes him either an idiot or an asshole. There is nothing to indicate that he thinks atheists are stupid. Quite the contrary, actually.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #36)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:22 PM

40. "Many people who come to All Souls as atheists have not rejected God"

Many people who come to All Souls as atheists have not rejected God but their fourth-grade concept of God, he said.

"I say to them, 'Tell me what God you don't believe in, and I'll probably tell you I don't believe in that God either.' "

As they learn more, they sometimes come to a theistic position, he said.


"As they learn more"?

Any idea how many times we've heard that ?

He's not just an asshole, he's an Asshole.


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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #40)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:35 PM

41. Yea, that part made me uncomfortable as well, which is why I made the

comment above about proselytizing.

OTOH, I don't see any harm in this. You, may not, but some people who move from theism to atheism feel that they have lost something that has nothing to do with god. Some miss the community and fellowship. If he can provide that in a way that speaks to people, I don't see the harm in it. I certainly don't see how that makes him an asshole.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #41)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:56 PM

42. People who proselytize are Assholes.

Inviting someone into your house and insulting their intelligence sucks.

If only we knew about HIS god, HIS god is the One True God and we just need to listen to him and we'll know it's true...blah blah blah.

Like I said, any idea how many times we've heard that?


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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #42)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:58 PM

43. I understand your objection to hearing that. I'm just not sure that is what he is doing.

Anyway, attendance is voluntary and those are some pretty high numbers. If he is really insulting them, I doubt they would return, which they appear to be doing.

You have a nice evening.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #43)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:14 PM

44. Right, and he has no reason to lie about his success.

Imho, proselytization should be equally offensive to liberal believers.

Peace.

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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #35)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:12 PM

38. Many are stupid, as evidenced by their posts here.

Do you want to expound on why you consider him an "asshole who thinks atheists are stupid"?
Do you also consider his congregation of non believers assholes? Are you an expert in assholery?

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Response to Starboard Tack (Reply #38)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 08:15 PM

39. If I was an expert in assholery I would saved myself the trouble of reading your post.

Alas, it's too late now.

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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #32)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:30 PM

45. I take it you oppose Unitarian Universalism along with other religions.

So many things to hate, so little time.

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Response to rug (Reply #45)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:38 PM

46. So many feelings to project on others...

and obviously all the time in the world to do it.


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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #46)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:41 PM

47. I didn't come in this thread ranting about asshole this, asshole that.

Maybe you're just sublimating.

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Response to rug (Reply #47)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:05 PM

48. Posting endless threads offensive to atheists in this forum: free.

Long days and nights harvesting the anger of people you hate: priceless.

You got what you wanted.

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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #48)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:08 PM

49. Oh, here's one.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/121854485

Are you offended again? I wouldn't want to tax your fields of anger.

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Response to rug (Reply #49)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:25 PM

50. A link to this forum.

Okay, moving on...

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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #50)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:34 PM

51. Fixed.

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Response to rug (Reply #51)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:39 PM

52. Is this where I'm supposed to post links to all of your other threads?

Sorry, not in the mood.

The players know what's what in this forum.

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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #52)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:42 PM

53. By all means, start with the OP which you find highly offensive.

It's here for discussion not playing. Besides, I do not play well.

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Response to rug (Reply #53)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:54 PM

54. Like the Good Reverend in the op, you invite atheists into your house so you can insult them.

I'm sure he's pretending to be puzzled by our reaction as well.

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Response to beam me up scottie (Reply #54)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 11:00 PM

55. Sure, whatever you say.

Sorry to break off this lovely exchange but I must finish the invitations before bed.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 12:00 AM

58. I agree: I like having community and marking the passages of life...

...but why would I want to do it in a Church? And why do I need a Pastor to give me guidance on how to live a compassionate life?

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Response to brooklynite (Reply #58)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 10:32 AM

59. Where else might you do it? And who would you like to have lead it?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #59)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 10:38 AM

60. Well, let's see...

I'm a member of the Boards of three non-profits; each has leadership with specific skills for the needs of the organization. Somehow, the groups function without a "leader" giving us personal moral guidance. As for commemorating key moments in life, I got married without a Church, and commemorated by father's passing without a Church.

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Response to brooklynite (Reply #60)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 10:45 AM

61. It's great that you have that. I wasn't saying that it doesn't exist, I just wondered where else

people who want this kind of community might find it.

FWIW, lots of atheists and agnostics attend UU churches and the UU's go out of their way to be inclusive. We actually have a few who post here in that group.

The bottom line, for me at least, is that people ought to be able to do whatever works for them, and the more options available, the better.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 11:38 AM

62. Meh - fine and dandy for those who need such things I guess

But trust me Rev, there's just as much reason to assume that any grade of god you care to mention exists - none whatsoever.

What type of god don't I believe in? The ones for which there is no evidence or convincing argument. If you don't believe in those kind of gods either, Rev, then you're an atheist too. You'd know that, if you'd learned more.....

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