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How do you feel about someone who decides to devote his or her life to their religion?

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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:20 PM
Original message
How do you feel about someone who decides to devote his or her life to their religion?
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 12:20 PM by BurtWorm
For example, how do you feel about someone who decides to become a priest or nun? How about someone who decides to become a member of a religious community, like an ashram? Do you admire this person for having strong convictions and giving himself or herself to them entirely? Do you feel sad for them, like like they're a lost cause?
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:23 PM
Response to Original message
1. As long as they don't try to devote *my* life to their religion.
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atreides1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:25 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Ditto
My vote goes with phantom power.
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hobbit709 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. Ditto here too.
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daleanime Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:25 PM
Response to Original message
3. ???
If their happy and content, then I'm happy for them. Who am I to judge what some one does with their life. :shrug:
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:28 PM
Response to Original message
4. How should I feel? Seems to me that a person should
be able to choose what she/he does. How do you feel about someone who decides to devote his or her life to elementary education?

Why should I feel anything in particular about this person? Do I know the person?
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:32 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. 'Should' has nothing to do with it.
The question is how *do* you feel about it? You're right that how well you know the person would have an influence. So if a close friend were to tell you he's decided to become a priest, you would feel nothing, just support?
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. I used "should" because there is not enough information
in your question. If the person were a close friend of mine, my feelings would depend on what religion. If it were some sort of cult, I'd probably try to influence the person. If it was something like becoming a priest, minister, or Buddhist monk, I'd wish the person success and happiness.

I'm an atheist. That doesn't mean that I don't understand the urge some people have to devote their life to religion. I asked how should I feel because it would depend on lots of things.

I had a high school girlfriend who became a nun some time after we were no longer involved. That seemed to work for her, so I was glad she found something meaningful to do with her life. She's still a nun, and now the Mother Superior of her convent. I haven't talked to her for several years, though. I assume she's still fulfilled doing that.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:48 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. What's the difference between a cult and, say, a religious order?
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izquierdista Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:56 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. Numbers
Someone who stands by himself and looks up at the sky and starts a conversation is a little off upstairs. If you do it in front of a thousand followers, you are a religious leader.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #8
15. OK, good question.
I'd call a cult something like the Moonies or the Hare Krsna folks or any other group that is actively recruiting people to join them and give up their worldly goods to the cult. There's a pretty solid definition of what is a cult. There are Christian cults, and cults with very bizarre religious beliefs that don't align well with what we consider to be normal expressions of religious belief. Jim Jones, for example.

A religious order, generally, is understood to be some sort of more or less monastic group of the religious who make worship their life in some way or another. There are a bunch of these in the Roman Catholic Church, with varying degrees of isolation from the rest of society. It's an established religion, and they don't recruit random people to join these orders. Buddhism also has some monastic orders, with similar variations in the amount of dedication required.

The definition of cult and religious order is pretty flexible, and usually is made by someone not involved with either. It often carries a judgment based on the definer's own beliefs, so I'm a little skeptical when the definition doesn't match the commonly accepted ones.

Again, while I might try to discourage a close friend from joining a cult, I would not try to otherwise prevent the choice. It would be my friend's life, not mine, that hung in the balance. I don't decide things like that for anyone but myself.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 01:02 PM
Response to Reply #8
16. The wikipedia article on cults has a good discussion on the
subject. Much more detailed than I have time to express:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult
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Salviati Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #8
18. My definition:
a cult seeks a monopoly on your perspective in life, every experiance you have in life must be viewed through the prism of the cult. You don't get together with others except in service of the cult, you can't imagine traveling except on a mission from the cult, and this is what the cult demands of all of it's members. A religion may employ people who do live in complete service to it, but it doesn't demand it of all of it's members. To most, the relition provides another viewpoint on the world, to be assimilated with the myriad other perspectives that person has.
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FiveGoodMen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:48 PM
Response to Original message
9. Sad for them. Scared for the world.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 04:59 PM
Response to Reply #9
30. Yeah. nt
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erinlough Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:50 PM
Response to Original message
10. if you are asking what my secret brain says?
You know that honest but frequently wrong judgemental part. I always think, "cop out". I know this is wrong on so many levels but I do not know why this is always my reaction. I never say it to the person, but I think it. It seems like a way to avoid living life. I am embarrassed about it and am thinking of deleting this post, however I would still think "cop-out"
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:53 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. You can delete it, if you'd like. I've taken in what you said and find it interesting
and I can relate. I'm glad you said "secret brain" because that's exactly what I was referring to: your gut, some people call it. And I think your gut reaction is legitimate, frankly.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 05:10 PM
Response to Reply #10
33. Why are you embarassed for having an opinion?
We are judgmental for a reason. We need judgment to find the truth and to allow us to survive. And if your reaction is that these folks are taking the easy way out, I would not be so quick to dismiss its validity just because it is not PC.
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endless october Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:56 PM
Response to Original message
12. i support them.
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 12:56 PM by endless october
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:58 PM
Response to Original message
14. that would be their choice and i would respect their decision
if they can devote their live to helping those in need then more power to them.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 05:13 PM
Response to Reply #14
34. Why do you assume a religious life = helping those in need?
You say you respect their choices, but only after you redefine the choice from one of piety to one of charity. One need not be holy to be good and one need not be good to be holy.
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Salviati Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 01:41 PM
Response to Original message
17. It depends HOW they choose to devote their lives to their religion...
"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"

It can be a good thing, a neutral thing, or an evil thing depending on what actions they take as a result of their devotion.
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rd_kent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 01:49 PM
Response to Original message
19. No, it is a free country. As long as they keep their devotion to themselves, there is no problem.
Unfortunately, this is not the case and religious devotees seem to feel the need to get others to do the same.
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sinkingfeeling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:20 PM
Response to Original message
20. It's their personal choice and I really don't have any feelings about it. However, I do
feel sad that some people become obsessed with their religion to the point it affects their relationship with others. I remember reading posts by someone on the 'rapture ready' site. I thought it was sad that she said she loved Jesus more than her husband and children.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:40 PM
Response to Original message
21. In my denomination (and most other mainstream denominations), you can't just decide on your own
Say if you want to be an Episcopal priest or deacon, you have to first consult with your own parish priest.

If they think you're serious, then you have to form a so-called "discernment committee" made up of equal numbers of men and women from the parish and one person from outside the parish. At the same time, you have to undertake a community service project.

You meet with the committee twelve times in a year, and they pick your life and motivations apart with the zeal of defense attorneys. Why do you want to become a priest or deacon? What else is going on in your life right now? Are you trying to win brownie points with God or is this something you feel called to do? What aspects of being a priest or deacon are attractive to you? What aspects are unattractive to you? How does your family feel about this? Do you think you would be a good priest or deacon? Why? And so on and so on.

At the end, they come to a consensus on whether you should proceed to the next step (approval by the diocese).

I've served on two committees. In one, we unanimously approved the person to seek the priesthood. In the other, we decided after about four meetings that the person should not become a deacon at the present time but did not close off the possibility for later.

After that, their case goes to the diocesan discernment committee, and if they pass that, they are approved to go to seminary.

There are some Episcopal monasteries and convents, mostly on the East Coast, and they won't take just anybody. You have to be psychologically stable, and you must have worked in the secular world for five years. (In other words, they don't want any delusional people or those who are afraid they can't hack it in the outside world, because both types will cause problems in a small community.)

Having grown up as a preacher's kid, I wouldn't want the job myself. But I know that some people have special gifts that make them excellent clergy.

So anyway, in my denomination, anyone who joins the church in an official capacity has been pretty thoroughly vetted.

As for the difference between a religion and a cult, a cult tries to control your life 24 hours a day. It won't let you associate with people from outside the cult or see any information sources not approved by the cult. It relies on physical and psychological intimidation to keep you from leaving. It may put you on an intentionally deficient diet and deprive you of sleep in order to keep you mentally foggy. It centers around a leader who functions as an absolute ruler and tells you that questioning him puts you in league with the devil.
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deutsey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-28-10 08:04 AM
Response to Reply #21
42. Nice post. Thanks! n/t
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Sans Culottes Donating Member (95 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:48 PM
Response to Original message
22. Perhaps a better question would be
"How do you feel about someone who *doesn't* decide to devote his/her life to their religion?"


I'm an unabashed atheist, and have no religious beliefs. I am astounded, however, by the lazy approach most people take towards their "faith". If I *truly* believed that a benevolent creator was responsible for my existence, I can't imagine NOT dedicating my life (which would have to be, also, His/Her/Its life) to whatever my religion required to honor that gift. To actually *believe* that and still be, let's say, a "Midnight Mass Catholic", for example, would seem so disrespectful as to be worse than blasphemy. (NOT Catholic-bashing, but that's the jargon I'm most familiar with; hence, an easier example to frame.)


I find the dedication of fundamentalists of all stripes to be less inexplicable than the "believer" who practices the faith in an occasional, social way. Most churches seem to be neighborhood clubs, more than anything else.

I'd better explain, to ward off some of the Crusade-apologists: Killing people due to their belief in other mythologies is probably the most primordial of our social behaviors. It denies our evolution into a reasoning creature.


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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 01:34 AM
Response to Reply #22
27. The standard answer would be that you don't have to be a formally ordained
clergyperson or monastic to do God's work.

Every church and temple I know of runs on the energy of lay volunteers, some of whom put in amazing numbers of hours.
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Sans Culottes Donating Member (95 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. I don't understand your post
or you don't understand my posit. I know some members of churches are very active and energetic. Many more are *not*. To address my query you need to explain why "believers" take God so much for granted. I
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 05:03 PM
Response to Reply #22
31. I agree. While I think fundamentalists are dead wrong...
...I can at least understand them. Based on their core beliefs, everything else they do is entirely reasonable. The people you mention, however, seem like they don't really believe it.
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Sans Culottes Donating Member (95 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 09:43 AM
Response to Reply #31
37. Exactly, Deep13
(cool nick, BTW)

Insane and dangerous as the Zealots are, at least they "care". I'm not sure who the Pseudo-Christians think they're fooling.

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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 12:32 PM
Response to Reply #37
38. Yours too, btw
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Laura902 Donating Member (333 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 03:38 PM
Response to Original message
23. If it makes them happy anyone outside
shouldn't have much of a negative opinion on them as long as they do not push their beliefs on others.
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:01 PM
Response to Original message
24. The daughter of a co-worker of mine
and her husband committed to becoming Christian missionaries in China for their church. They started in their early twenties and they've been over there for a few years, learning the language and getting other training. They will be there for the rest of their lives, trying to turn the natives into Christians. When I hear about it from my co-worker, I can't help but think that it's a foolish waste of two lives that could be much better spent solving some of the real problems in the world (though perhaps they may still do that), but I would never voice those opinions out loud. It is, in the end, their life and their decision, and none of my business.
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Silent3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:32 PM
Response to Original message
25. Sad.
While I can, in some cases, see a kind of nobility in the kind of dedication it can take to live that kind of life, it still seems to me a terrible waste for a life to be devoted to superstition and imaginary beings.

In case someone is thinking, "Who are you to call it superstition?", or "Who are you to say that their devotion is to imaginary beings?", well... the question in the OP is how *I* feel about this. I think religion is superstition and devotion to imaginary beings, so that's what colors how I feel about a people devoting their lives to such things.

Whether religious life "works for them" or makes such people happy has nothing to do with how I feel about lives being dedicated to what I consider nonsense. I'd be happier if these people could find something real to make them happy, and if nothing else can make them happy, I'd find it sad to contemplate the idea of people who can't find happiness any way apart from losing themselves in superstition.
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 07:19 PM
Response to Original message
26. Fine with me.
If they are doing good works, and not evangelizing and ignoring the physical needs of the people they are converting in other countries.

In college I was dealing with a terrible immature husband. We met at a Presbyterian college. He was a musician and taking organ lessons at Incarnate Word College, which has a convent attached. His teacher was a nun, and I cried on her shoulder many times, and I was always grateful for that kindness. She knew he was wrong and she would cross examine him at his lessons "Does your wife go out with other men?" "No.". All he did was smoke dope, drink wine and seduce seven of my girlfriends. :wtf:
We would go to temple on Friday night and the Unitarian church on Sunday.

Sequel to this one: Saw the ex husband last year 30 years after we separated. Went to his brother's memorial service. He was a reform Jew. Now he's a good person and working on a Master's degree so he can be a Methodist minister. He said, "It's all mythos anyway" since he doesn't take it literally like a fundie. You could have knocked me over when I saw how much he had changed.

I don't understand what it's like to be a christian and be happy with it, because it didn't work for me.

But it makes me feel better that he's done something good with his life. One of his mentors was killed in the hotel collapse in Haiti.

I never thought that I would be crying on a nun's shoulder and being comforted. Raised presbyterian and been Unitarian for the last thirty years.


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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #26
32. Appreciate your insight and sharing that story.
I'm glad things ultimately worked out for you.

Still, that first sentence in your post is a really big "if."
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-02-10 01:35 AM
Response to Reply #32
43. I defend that sentence.
Some people here say they are sorry that people are only devoted to an imaginary god.

I think it's an imaginary god, but if they are doing good works, I see the action as the important part, not the motivation.

That does not cover the people who do evil in the name of their religion. That is a different question.
And it also does not cover those who coerce and scare and shame people into joining their religion.

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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
29. I wish them well but still feel like they are devoted to a lie.
Then I shrug my shoulders and conclude there isn't a damn thing I can do about it.
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saltpoint Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 03:32 AM
Response to Original message
35. One more '6' and the Revelations psychos would go over the top, but
in Matthew 6:6 private contemplation is endorsed:

- - -

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

- - -

That passage doesn't seem to mention multi-million-dollar megachurches or braying like a jackass on television.

Rick Warren, to name names, wears the worst shirts in all Christendom, in the opinion of this observer. His dogma is even worse. The profit-driven life indeed.

If a woman or a man, Christian, Buddhist, or Other, decides that navigating the material world is best managed in a cloistered setting, I respect that calling. It isn't my experience but it's theirs.



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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 07:02 AM
Response to Original message
36. I think it's great....
if they've spent a lot of time thinking about it and considering all the consequences. If they've made the decision lightly? Not good.

I don't feel sad for people who have considered their path strongly and have made an educated and knowing decision about their future.

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MorningGlow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 12:44 PM
Response to Original message
39. I think it's admirable
Edited on Wed Jan-27-10 12:44 PM by MorningGlow
Trying to be more "godlike", no matter what the faith, is quite a challenge. And that's as far as it goes for me, because I really don't give a rip what people do with their lives (as long as they don't decide to be a serial killer)--that's their business. "An it harm none, do as thou wilt."
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ZombieHorde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-27-10 10:15 PM
Response to Original message
40. I think for some, this devotion can be a form of escapism, which I can understand.
Escapism may not be good, but I have been guilty of other forms of escapism.

For others, this form of devotion can be done because the devotee was pressured by family or others. I feel sad for these people.

For others still, this form of devotion can be in pursuit of an intangible treasure, such as grace or enlightenment, whatever those terms mean to the devotee. I hope they find what they are looking for.

For other others, I believe this form of devotion can be in pursuit of another type of intangible treasure, such as respect and/or power. Theses types of motivations and needs are too varied for me to comment on right now.
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deutsey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-28-10 07:59 AM
Response to Original message
41. It would depend on how this devotion is shaping the person's life
Edited on Thu Jan-28-10 08:01 AM by deutsey
Is this devotion deepening their humanity, their compassion, their awareness of the vast complexity and diversity and even paradoxical nature of truth, etc.? Or is it shutting themselves off from the "unbeliever", making them intolerant and condemnitory, giving them absolute certainty that their way is "THE WAY", etc.?

Seems like there's a huge difference between the devotion of someone like Thich Nhat Han and Fred Phelps.
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Iggo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-02-10 01:58 AM
Response to Original message
44. Not sure what to say to them.
"Have a nice life."

"Nice knowing you."

"See you around, maybe."

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