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William
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« on: August 20, 2012, 11:42:55 PM »

Does anyone have advice for how to deal with a highly syncretist, theologically lax classroom environment? For example today we opened class by using a singing bowl and the teacher told us we'd be able to make it make noise if we had the Buddhist spirit. He also said we're going to do dharmic meditation techniques at some point.
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« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2012, 12:02:58 AM »

"Picture, if you will, a huge field. At the center is the biggest tree you can imagine. There are perhaps a million or more ways to get to that tree. It all depends on where you are currently standing. There is no one right way to get to the center. Will not any path to the center of the field get you to the tree? No matter what side of the field you are on, your path is to the center. The tree is the Tree of Life. It is the source of all knowledge."

...
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« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2012, 12:04:38 AM »

I avoided Philosophy and Religion classes in college.  Is it too late to drop?
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William
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« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2012, 12:05:32 AM »

It's required.
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« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2012, 12:06:01 AM »

Generally speaking, I'm a very tolerant person.  Too tolerant according to some, but this sort of thing is a no go for me.  Personally, I'd first try to explain to the teacher that for reasons of conscience I could not participate in the more hands on stuff.  I'd be clear that I respect the beliefs of others and fully understand why he would want to share different traditions in a very tangible way, but that for me personally, I couldn't do it without seriously compromising my own values.  Hopefully he'd be cool with it.  If not, I'd drop the class.  I've had to excuse myself before from activities, both personal and professional for similar reasons.  I've been very respectful about it and thus far haven't really experienced any push-back.   

EDIT: I just saw that it was a required course.  Is that specific course required?  If it is absolutely required, then you might have to do a bit more advocating for yourself.  Of course be humble in every way, but violating your own conscience is no small thing.
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« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2012, 12:19:18 AM »

Generally speaking, I'm a very tolerant person.  Too tolerant according to some, but this sort of thing is a no go for me.  Personally, I'd first try to explain to the teacher that for reasons of conscience I could not participate in the more hands on stuff.  I'd be clear that I respect the beliefs of others and fully understand why he would want to share different traditions in a very tangible way, but that for me personally, I couldn't do it without seriously compromising my own values.  Hopefully he'd be cool with it.  If not, I'd drop the class.  I've had to excuse myself before from activities, both personal and professional for similar reasons.  I've been very respectful about it and thus far haven't really experienced any push-back.   

EDIT: I just saw that it was a required course.  Is that specific course required?  If it is absolutely required, then you might have to do a bit more advocating for yourself.  Of course be humble in every way, but violating your own conscience is no small thing.

The specific course is required. I'll do as you say and tell the teacher I can't do those things in good conscience when they come up.
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« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2012, 12:31:50 AM »

What a vapid load of expletive.

If he really whips out a singing bowl, I'd deal with it by lmao. If asked to do dharmic stuff, refuse on basis of freedom of religion.
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2012, 01:44:17 AM »

I avoided Philosophy and Religion classes in college.  Is it too late to drop?
I enjoyed my philosophy and religion classes in college more than any others, but I did go to a more Christian friendly school.
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2012, 02:27:39 AM »

It's required.

What happened to freedom of religion?
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2012, 05:42:17 AM »

may God guide u.
i still remember the discussions i had with our religious education teacher (an atheist who taught us his interpretation of the Bible!)
they were not always comfortable chats  Wink
when u can, stand up for your beliefs with all love and tolerance of the other view.

if u just have to listen to someone talk nonsense, go with the flow and write on your essays 'according to x's theory...' and make sure u study well the rubbish theory and get good marks (this shows u are a good student and not trying to misbehave).

but when it comes to taking part (don't do any rituals from other religions), or if u are asked a question, then say what u believe and why.

enter the situation with prayer, coming close to God in humility to receive His mercy.

remember 1 peter 3:15:
'but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everybody who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear'.

may God give u strength.
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2012, 06:09:59 AM »

I don't understand what the problem is.  It sounds like the class could be interesting and the instructor is trying to make it more interactive rather than lecture format. 
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« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2012, 07:02:25 AM »


but when it comes to taking part (don't do any rituals from other religions), or if u are asked a question, then say what u believe and why.

enter the situation with prayer, coming close to God in humility to receive His mercy.

This. Never take part in rituals from other religions.

I was forced by my high school teacher in religion in class to sacrifice rice and flowers to an hindu idol. I said I didn't want to do it but she kept on pushing.  I feel so bad that the martyrs wouldn't do it, under threat of death, but that I did it reluctantly (not that it makes under pressure of some teacher). I still feel very sad about it. But I was only 15 back then Sad
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2012, 10:05:42 AM »

I don't understand what the problem is.  It sounds like the class could be interesting and the instructor is trying to make it more interactive rather than lecture format. 
Undoubtedly it is an interesting class. Yes, one should become informed about other religions. The point of this course, I expect, is to develop an understanding and respect for religions. The problem comes with the requirement to participate in the practices of other religions. It would be rather ironic if William and his faith were to be disrespected. The professor would be failing his own course  Smiley.
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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2012, 10:40:07 AM »

a thought: Isn't the professor disrespecting other religions by having their rituals put on show, and practised by non-believers. Imagine how we would feel if they did the DL, and the entire thing, including and especially the Eucharist.
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 11:17:56 AM »

a thought: Isn't the professor disrespecting other religions by having their rituals put on show, and practised by non-believers. Imagine how we would feel if they did the DL, and the entire thing, including and especially the Eucharist.

Exactly! I've always thought that it was highly disrespectful for non-believers to perform or mimic the rituals and beliefs of any religion.
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« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2012, 11:49:12 AM »

It seem that many religion teachers today are not themselves religious. Just one famous example: Bart D. Ehrman, who is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (at UNC he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies). After being a liberal Christian for fifteen years, he later became an agnostic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bart_D._Ehrman#cite_note-JInt-1

This is a man who "has served as President of the Southeast Region of the Society of Biblical literature, chair of the New Testament textual criticism section of the Society, book review editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature, and editor of the monograph series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers (Scholars Press). He currently serves as co-editor of the series New Testament Tools, Studies, and Documents (E. J. Brill), co-editor-in-chief for the journal Vigiliae Christianae, and on several other editorial boards for journals and monographs in the field."

http://www.bartdehrman.com/biography.htm
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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2012, 12:34:30 PM »

this is why we need to be careful when we read the work of 'Bible scholars' from big universities.
better ask yr priest instead!
 Wink
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« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2012, 12:37:49 PM »

Having been associated with academic institutions in one capacity or another my entire adult life, I can tell you it is really a mixed bag in terms of instruction. I've met some wonderful believers in the field of religious studies, and also some of the most wounded people I've ever known.
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« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2012, 01:06:24 PM »

Does anyone have advice for how to deal with a highly syncretist, theologically lax classroom environment? For example today we opened class by using a singing bowl and the teacher told us we'd be able to make it make noise if we had the Buddhist spirit. He also said we're going to do dharmic meditation techniques at some point.
My understanding of the singing bowl is that it is a bowl that you tap on the side/top with a small mallet, used to mark time or when meditation begins/ends. There's no praying to deities or bodhisattvas involved in the hitting of the bowl itself.

And a dharmic meditation technique could simply be sitting quietly, and counting one's breath, again, without invoking any deities to which one claims devotion.

These seem to be pretty harmless activities. The singing bowl is nowhere comparable to a DL. As far as I know, singing bowls are not mentioned in the Buddhist sacred texts (at least Theravada texts) as being inherently "sacred". Dharmic meditation techniques are just that -- techniques -- which can be divorced from philosophical or theological presumptions, assumptions, or associations.
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« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2012, 01:09:17 PM »

Having been associated with academic institutions in one capacity or another my entire adult life, I can tell you it is really a mixed bag in terms of instruction. I've met some wonderful believers in the field of religious studies, and also some of the most wounded people I've ever known.

i agree with u.
i suggest that if someone is strong in faith and able to give good advice and help to heal the wounded, they should go to a big academic institution.
also we need these people to come on orthodoxChristianity.net!
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« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2012, 01:30:42 PM »

Having been associated with academic institutions in one capacity or another my entire adult life, I can tell you it is really a mixed bag in terms of instruction. I've met some wonderful believers in the field of religious studies, and also some of the most wounded people I've ever known.
I was fortunate to go to a university where a good chunk of the History and Philosophy departments were religious, or at least friendly to the religious. It made for a well balanced exposure since the professors took Christian philosophy seriously.
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« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2012, 02:07:07 PM »

I don't understand what the problem is.  It sounds like the class could be interesting and the instructor is trying to make it more interactive rather than lecture format. 

The problem is praying to an idol.  Participating in heretical prayer.

I'm all for learning what other cultures believe...but, actually participating in their misguided rituals is more than any class should require.
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« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2012, 02:59:20 PM »

I don't understand what the problem is.  It sounds like the class could be interesting and the instructor is trying to make it more interactive rather than lecture format. 

The problem is praying to an idol.  Participating in heretical prayer.

I'm all for learning what other cultures believe...but, actually participating in their misguided rituals is more than any class should require.


I agree. It's the participation that's the problem - for a couple of reasons. We shouldn't be participating in non-Orthodox rituals, and as noted before, it's disrespectful to other believers for non-believers to perform them.
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« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2012, 03:26:20 PM »

The OP goes to private Roman Catholic school. He gave up freedom of religion the moment he was enrolled since it is a private institution.
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« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2012, 03:32:43 PM »

The OP goes to private Roman Catholic school. He gave up freedom of religion the moment he was enrolled since it is a private institution.

I don't think you can give up fundamental human rights.

And RC'ism isn't officialy "highly syncretist [and] theologically lax "
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« Reply #25 on: August 21, 2012, 03:38:27 PM »

Does anyone have advice for how to deal with a highly syncretist, theologically lax classroom environment? For example today we opened class by using a singing bowl and the teacher told us we'd be able to make it make noise if we had the Buddhist spirit. He also said we're going to do dharmic meditation techniques at some point.

I'd be interested in the metallurgic properties and the physical aspects of the singing bowl myself and from one that I saw long ago "spirit" has nothing to do with it. (I'd try to not be a joker about it).   It could be as others have said that he's trying to do more than just lecture.

One question I have is: Are you allowed to ask questions or not necessarily agree with the instructor?

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« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2012, 03:52:52 PM »

The OP goes to private Roman Catholic school. He gave up freedom of religion the moment he was enrolled since it is a private institution.

I don't think you can give up fundamental human rights.

And RC'ism isn't officialy "highly syncretist [and] theologically lax "

What I mean is that since he attends a private institution the right to freedom of religion does not really apply fully to him since he is consenting (or at least his parents are) to send him to that school. If they don't like it then they can leave. And I know from experience because I attended a private Protestant school.
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« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2012, 04:32:15 PM »

What it sounds like to me is that there are a few guided meditation type things.  As others have mentioned these tend to be devoid of any sort of theistic influence or mention.  If you don't wish to actively participate there is no way anyone would know provided you sat there quietly and didn't draw attention to yourself.  Mountain.  Molehill. 
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« Reply #28 on: August 21, 2012, 06:55:03 PM »

IMHO there are some degrees not worth the torment.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge".   - Proverbs 1:7, Psalm 111:10, and Proverbs 9:10

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« Reply #29 on: August 21, 2012, 07:23:20 PM »

The OP goes to private Roman Catholic school. He gave up freedom of religion the moment he was enrolled since it is a private institution.
Incorrect, completely.
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« Reply #30 on: August 21, 2012, 07:25:36 PM »

The OP goes to private Roman Catholic school. He gave up freedom of religion the moment he was enrolled since it is a private institution.

I don't think you can give up fundamental human rights.

And RC'ism isn't officialy "highly syncretist [and] theologically lax "

What I mean is that since he attends a private institution the right to freedom of religion does not really apply fully to him since he is consenting (or at least his parents are) to send him to that school. If they don't like it then they can leave. And I know from experience because I attended a private Protestant school.
Still incorrect.  Does he have to take the class?  Yes.  Is he required to attend Mass?  Yes.  Is he required to take communion?  No.  There are limits.
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« Reply #31 on: August 21, 2012, 07:31:38 PM »

I would say you are willing to learn anything taught, but unless he can be all inclusive of every religion on the planet, you find it disrespectful to participate in a select few.  Someone may be offended.  If he wants to take a poll, be the one offended.  I wouldn't participate.  If you are forced by the school to participate, and its a Catholic school, I would request to speak to the Bishop and ensure he has no problem with it so you don't have to go to him for confession about it later, if your priest is part of the school.  But I tend to ruffled feathers. 
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« Reply #32 on: August 21, 2012, 07:39:26 PM »



I'd be interested in the metallurgic properties and the physical aspects of the singing bowl myself and from one that I saw long ago "spirit" has nothing to do with it. (I'd try to not be a joker about it).   


They are cool objects in and of themselves.

I would have bought one in Nepal, had the price not been outrageous.
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« Reply #33 on: August 21, 2012, 07:41:43 PM »

Mountain.  Molehill. 
Still, it would have been far more interesting if the Prof. had actually taken them to observe a Buddhist service.

Or a Tibetan Buddhist service.

The best way to turn westerners off to Buddhism is to take them to a Tibetan Buddhist temple. Not because it's particularly evil or anything polemical like that, but because the rotting barley effigies, oppressive incense, Inception horn-blowing, and giant protector demon statues are too much for bourgeois sensibilities.
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« Reply #34 on: August 22, 2012, 12:03:15 AM »

It's required.

What happened to freedom of religion?

Constitutional rights don't apply to minors. Can't count how many times my teachers used that one on me.
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« Reply #35 on: August 22, 2012, 12:04:13 AM »

Mountain.  Molehill. 
Still, it would have been far more interesting if the Prof. had actually taken them to observe a Buddhist service.

Or a Tibetan Buddhist service.

The best way to turn westerners off to Buddhism is to take them to a Tibetan Buddhist temple. Not because it's particularly evil or anything polemical like that, but because the rotting barley effigies, oppressive incense, Inception horn-blowing, and giant protector demon statues are too much for bourgeois sensibilities.

That sounds like a cool place.
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« Reply #36 on: August 22, 2012, 01:43:44 AM »

Mountain.  Molehill. 
Still, it would have been far more interesting if the Prof. had actually taken them to observe a Buddhist service.

Or a Tibetan Buddhist service.

The best way to turn westerners off to Buddhism is to take them to a Tibetan Buddhist temple. Not because it's particularly evil or anything polemical like that, but because the rotting barley effigies, oppressive incense, Inception horn-blowing, and giant protector demon statues are too much for bourgeois sensibilities.

Good point.  I attended a few Buddhist services when I was in Mongolia.  Buddhism as practiced in the old world has much to offend bourgeois sensibilities, but I doubt you'd find that in a Western Buddhist service.  I suppose the same principles are at play in Old World Orthodoxy vs. New World Orthodoxy.  Tibetan Buddhism shows what a PR makeover can do as few Westerners seem to appreciate how brutal the Lamas were until the Communists and / or Russians came along to replace them. 
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« Reply #37 on: August 22, 2012, 02:16:45 AM »

Mountain.  Molehill. 
Still, it would have been far more interesting if the Prof. had actually taken them to observe a Buddhist service.

Or a Tibetan Buddhist service.

The best way to turn westerners off to Buddhism is to take them to a Tibetan Buddhist temple. Not because it's particularly evil or anything polemical like that, but because the rotting barley effigies, oppressive incense, Inception horn-blowing, and giant protector demon statues are too much for bourgeois sensibilities.

Good point.  I attended a few Buddhist services when I was in Mongolia.  Buddhism as practiced in the old world has much to offend bourgeois sensibilities, but I doubt you'd find that in a Western Buddhist service.  I suppose the same principles are at play in Old World Orthodoxy vs. New World Orthodoxy.  Tibetan Buddhism shows what a PR makeover can do as few Westerners seem to appreciate how brutal the Lamas were until the Communists and / or Russians came along to replace them. 
True, though I don't think the communists are an improvement.
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« Reply #38 on: August 22, 2012, 02:49:56 AM »

Mountain.  Molehill. 
Still, it would have been far more interesting if the Prof. had actually taken them to observe a Buddhist service.

Or a Tibetan Buddhist service.

The best way to turn westerners off to Buddhism is to take them to a Tibetan Buddhist temple. Not because it's particularly evil or anything polemical like that, but because the rotting barley effigies, oppressive incense, Inception horn-blowing, and giant protector demon statues are too much for bourgeois sensibilities.

Good point.  I attended a few Buddhist services when I was in Mongolia.  Buddhism as practiced in the old world has much to offend bourgeois sensibilities, but I doubt you'd find that in a Western Buddhist service.  I suppose the same principles are at play in Old World Orthodoxy vs. New World Orthodoxy.  Tibetan Buddhism shows what a PR makeover can do as few Westerners seem to appreciate how brutal the Lamas were until the Communists and / or Russians came along to replace them. 
True, though I don't think the communists are an improvement.

It's a mixed bag.  Pre-1959 Tibet was no idyllic paradise and it is hard to see Mongolia as being independent today without the backing of the USSR.  In any case the reinvention of Tibetan Lamas as democrats, populists and protectors of the people is a positive development. 
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NicholasMyra
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« Reply #39 on: August 22, 2012, 03:04:19 AM »

true, Nectarios. But make no mistake, China-occupied Tibet is a hellhole.
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« Reply #40 on: August 22, 2012, 03:15:14 AM »

true, Nectarios. But make no mistake, China-occupied Tibet is a hellhole.

Absolutely no argument from me on that point. 
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« Reply #41 on: August 22, 2012, 04:23:19 AM »

Does anyone have advice for how to deal with a highly syncretist, theologically lax classroom environment? For example today we opened class by using a singing bowl and the teacher told us we'd be able to make it make noise if we had the Buddhist spirit. He also said we're going to do dharmic meditation techniques at some point.

I'd be interested in the metallurgic properties and the physical aspects of the singing bowl myself and from one that I saw long ago "spirit" has nothing to do with it. (I'd try to not be a joker about it).   It could be as others have said that he's trying to do more than just lecture.

One question I have is: Are you allowed to ask questions or not necessarily agree with the instructor?



He encourages us to give our opinions. But I think he frowns on us holding any view dogmatically.
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« Reply #42 on: August 22, 2012, 04:26:23 AM »

Mountain.  Molehill. 
Still, it would have been far more interesting if the Prof. had actually taken them to observe a Buddhist service.

Or a Tibetan Buddhist service.

The best way to turn westerners off to Buddhism is to take them to a Tibetan Buddhist temple. Not because it's particularly evil or anything polemical like that, but because the rotting barley effigies, oppressive incense, Inception horn-blowing, and giant protector demon statues are too much for bourgeois sensibilities.

That does sound interesting as long as one is simply an observer.
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« Reply #43 on: August 27, 2012, 07:22:58 PM »

So would I be obligated to correct him? He keeps saying stuff that ain't true to the class. Like that Vatican II did away with dogma and seeing Catholicism as the one true faith.
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« Reply #44 on: August 27, 2012, 07:56:57 PM »

So would I be obligated to correct him? He keeps saying stuff that ain't true to the class. Like that Vatican II did away with dogma and seeing Catholicism as the one true faith.

I might personally be inclined to do so in that situation. That's just me.
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