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Author Topic: Tattoos and Leviticus 19:28 Yes or No?  (Read 8349 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: May 08, 2006, 11:11:23 PM »

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19:28 Do not make gashes in your skin for the dead.


Are we prohibited from getting tattoos? I was planning on getting a few, but now another question comes up too. If I may get a tattoo, can it infact have anything to do with a date or time when people died (such as 1389) ?
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2006, 11:52:28 PM »

I think this has been discussed in a few other threads, including this one:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=5844.0


The impression I get is that there is not exactly a consensus on the subject, but that it is more common and accepted among the OO's than among the EO's.
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2006, 11:59:48 PM »

I think this has been discussed in a few other threads, including this one:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=5844.0


The impression I get is that there is not exactly a consensus on the subject, but that it is more common and accepted among the OO's than among the EO's.

Thank you. Sad stories about the Copts and Armenians in there, basically showing that the tattoos symbolize the suffering or historical meanings.
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2006, 12:12:30 AM »

THe majority of the clergy that I've heard address the issue (EO only) have spoken negatively about it, and to date I haven't heard any one clergyman in the EO say it's okay to get a tatoo.
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2006, 01:22:59 AM »

But I have seen some Coptic Orthodox women with what appears to be a tattoo of the Cross on their foreheads.
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2006, 03:21:33 AM »

But I have seen some Coptic Orthodox women with what appears to be a tattoo of the Cross on their foreheads.

And quite often more than that too. I went to uni with a Coptic girl who told me her grandmother had a cross tattooed on forehead, both wrists, both ankles and (I seem to recall, though this may be a faulty recollection) on her back and side. Apparently these are representative of the wounds of Christ and some or all of them are tattooed quite commonly on the older Copts. My acquaintance from uni didn't have any, though. I'd guess that whether or not a tattoo is actually wrong would depend on what it is and the motivation for having it, though I fully accept that it isn't generally considered a good thing.

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« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2006, 05:32:42 AM »

Here is the answer of His Grace Bishop Youssef (the Coptic Orthodox Bishop of the Southern Diocese of the United States) to a question petinent to the matter:

Quote
Inquirer:

If tattooing is a sin, according to the Holy Book of Leviticus 19:28, "You shall make no cuttings in your flesh" is having a cross tattoo an exception, or is it to be considered the same as a tattoo of the sun or moon and therefore a sin?

His Grace Bishop Youssef:

Tattooing was a ceremonial rite according to which people expressed their sorrow at funerals. The heathen did so to pacify the infernal deities they dreamt about, and to render them favorable to their deceased friend. God commanded that this must not be imitated by His people. His people, whom the God of Israel had set apart for Himself, were not to receive the image and superscription of these worthless deities, and were therefore not to make cuts or prints in their flesh. Such practices were signs of rebellion against God Himself.

During the era of persecution, the Coptic Christians were prevented from wearing crosses or declaring themselves Christians. As the persecution increased, Christians started to tattoo the cross on their skin as a sign that they would never denounce their Christianity. Henceforth the cross tattoo became a sign of holding on to the Christian faith. I think that in our time it is more important to tattoo the cross on our heart rather than our skin.
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« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2006, 06:35:14 AM »

You'll be sorry when you're forty.
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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2006, 08:45:16 AM »

So I've got two years then?  Wink

I can't see mine, so I don't even think about it half the time. Plus its just a small one, and i don't think anybody else usually sees it either.  And tattooing isnt really cutting the flesh.  Not like those scar tissue decorations some tribes do.

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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2006, 08:49:57 AM »

OCA statement:

http://www.oca.org/QAPrintable.asp?ID=71

Personally, I would say tattooing is not wrong, but there are some Copts I know who abuse the practice of cross tattooing into something that makes them fit in the culture of "tattooing makes me look cool" type of practice.

So if you ask me, where I live, I'm totally against it.  Everyday, as I see more and more youth getting huge cross tattoos with amazing designs, I am more convinced that the East Coast American Coptic youth should be prohibited of cross tattooing, since it defiles, not confirms, the ancient Coptic practice.

God bless.

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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2006, 08:52:37 AM »

Did anyone catch David Blaine's gigantic crucifiction tattoo last night?
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« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2006, 02:19:42 PM »

Did anyone catch David Blaine's gigantic crucifiction tattoo last night?

I thought he was Jewish? Do you have any pics of it?
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« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2006, 02:21:35 PM »

OCA statement:

http://www.oca.org/QAPrintable.asp?ID=71

Personally, I would say tattooing is not wrong, but there are some Copts I know who abuse the practice of cross tattooing into something that makes them fit in the culture of "tattooing makes me look cool" type of practice.

So if you ask me, where I live, I'm totally against it.  Everyday, as I see more and more youth getting huge cross tattoos with amazing designs, I am more convinced that the East Coast American Coptic youth should be prohibited of cross tattooing, since it defiles, not confirms, the ancient Coptic practice.

God bless.

Mina

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« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2006, 02:58:59 PM »

I understand that you were looking from answers from practising Orthodox Christians, but I just can't help myself when it comes to this issue.

As far as Leviticus goes, I do not know. Ripping quotes out of the OT for the sake of it might not be a good idea; Leviticus deals with a number of issues. You should ask a priest about it, particularly since you are thinking about a date and time.

I think this issue has to be dealt with on a personal level. My reason for getting tattooed might be different from yours. I certainly don't think they are "evil" in themselves, but there is a time and a place for everything. I wear long-sleeved shirts to church for a number of reasons, one of them being my tattoos. I live in a town with a large Oriental Orthodox population , and many of the young men and women are tattooed (they are not Copts).

Some people seem to find the attention-factor very important, but they are also the ones who tend to regret their tattoos later in life. Please don't rush into anything, and please make sure to pick a really good tattoo-artist _if_ you do decide to go ahead with it.
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« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2006, 03:49:29 PM »

I think its important to keep in mind that a big reason why Coptic women tatoo a cross on their forehead is because the muslims/pagas/anyone else would have to cut their head off in order to make them get rid of it.  There are stories of how the muslims would start cutting off hands, feet, etc. in order to get rid of tattoos of crosses on Coptic people's bodies, so they made the tattoo on their head, so that they would have to be martyred...

This was my understanding and 2 cents.   Smiley

Sloga,

If you want a hard-core tattoo on your arm or whatever, just remember that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  If you want to spray-paint on the temple....That's your business  Wink
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« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2006, 06:17:31 PM »

Ok thanks for all your advice. If i do get a tatoo (I havent decided yet), it will not be some jibberish on my arms to make me look cool. It will be on my back side, so it won't be one of those "showoff tattoos". On my left shoulderblade I'm planning to get an Orthodox Cross, not to big not too small, no markings (such as CCCC), and on the other shoulder blade in small writing I'm planning to get a "1389-1912, 1999- (blank)".

By no means is it comparable to the Copts, but I chose those 2 as a way of expressing the suffering the Orthodox and Serbian people have gone through... Although I have not made my final decision yet.
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« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2006, 07:52:59 PM »

What about tatoos of Jesus and whatnot? Can't it be seen as a form of mortification?

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« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2006, 08:54:34 PM »

The best advice that can be given to you, is to talk this over with your Spiritual Father before you do anything as drastic as getting a tattoo.

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« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2006, 11:34:08 PM »

I think the question boils down to:  Shouldn't the sanctity of our bodies be foremose on our minds??

Also, you are making a decision which is basically unrepentable.  It would take hundreds of dollars to remove a tattoo, so you're making a decision that is forcing yourself outside of the help of the church.  Isn't this problematic?  Shouldn't just your person be enough "proof" of who you are (as a Serb or anything else)?  Just some thoughts...
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« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2006, 08:30:17 AM »

I wouldn't use OT verses to prove points.  In the OT, it was forbidden to cut your hair like modern day "shrooms" or "fades."  And definately, it the OT, it was forbidden to eat pork.  So these practices had cultural/spiritual meanings at the time that the fulfillment brought by the NT rendered the OT laws useless with Christ.

God bless.

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« Reply #20 on: May 10, 2006, 10:29:12 AM »

Yes I am so sure most of the people these days getting tatoos is because they want to show their strong faith, about the getting martyred part for your faith and having the cross on your forehead and so on, well I'm not going to comment on that,because I don't know much about that,but lets get real though the majority of the people who get these tatoos get is for the look, or just for the sake of it, I'm sure a big cross on my right shoulder, with all the cool designs and colours is really going to let everyone know that I have strong faith, come on I don't buy into it, their are people who get them for the right reasons I suppose, but from where I see this tatoo situation, where I live at least, it's the opposite, just becauses its "cool", most people don't even know the real meaning behind the cross, just like wearing a gold cross around your neck, they just wear it because it's the style. So in my humble opinion, I don't agree with having a tatoo.
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« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2006, 05:11:54 PM »

A friend of mine who has spent much time in the Middle East told me that Coptic Christians tattoo their children, and that many Arab Christians wear crosses on their clothes for a very specific reason: Muslum law requires that a dead person be buried within three days. So, if an unidentified person is found dead, it is assumed that this person was Muslim, and is buried according to Muslim burial rites. Hence, most Christians specifically try to identify themselves as such, so that in case they die and their body is found by Muslims, the Muslims will take the body to a Christian priest.

Or so I've been told.
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« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2006, 08:47:31 AM »

A friend of mine who has spent much time in the Middle East told me that Coptic Christians tattoo their children, and that many Arab Christians wear crosses on their clothes for a very specific reason: Muslum law requires that a dead person be buried within three days. So, if an unidentified person is found dead, it is assumed that this person was Muslim, and is buried according to Muslim burial rites. Hence, most Christians specifically try to identify themselves as such, so that in case they die and their body is found by Muslims, the Muslims will take the body to a Christian priest.

Or so I've been told.

Other traditions I've learned from the practice is that due to the kidnappings done by Muslims, children get tattooed to perhaps prevent one or keep their identity when they grow.  It is true that some Copts in Egypt growing up do not remember getting a cross tattoo, but know that they have one.  The tattoo must be a small cross that is either green or blue to commemmorate the times when Copts were persecuted by wearing black and carrying heaving cross chains that left a blue mark on the neck.

Basically, Coptic Christians in Egypt get the tattoo for necessities, but outside of Egypt, it loses its purpose, and many youth start to abuse the practice by making the cross bigger, colorful, designable, etc.  This I am against.

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2009, 03:29:17 AM »

Here is my humble opinion, being that I am a heavily tattooed OO Christian myself:

From a biblical standpoint, I think that the Levitical verse is prohibitive because of the association of tattoos with paganism. Therefore it is a matter of grace and conscience, and this should not be taken lightly. There are consequences to our decisions, and what may not condemn us to hell may still cause us much unintended hardship while on earth. For example, as Christians we are not forbidden by divine Law from eating meat. And yet, the indulgence of meat-eating - especially beef and pork - can have severe physical ramifications. I have often told people, "Eating meat won't send you to hell, but it might send you to heaven a lot quicker!"

I got my first tattoo when I was 23 years old and a Protestant Christian. The tattoo was a simple cross on my left bicep. Over the years I have become pretty heavily "tatted up," and all of my tattoos have some Christian and spiritual significance for me. I also associate each tattoo with a certain period in my life, and I am reminded of what I was going through at that particular time.

But if I am truly honest with myself, my tattoos are the result of vanity more than anything else. I like the way they look, and I like the image they portray. I try to rationalize it by telling myself that Christians should be "cooler" than the pagans, and that my tattoos often lead to spiritual conversations- which they often do. But I'm afraid that vanity is too much of the motivation. And vanity is certainly a sin I do believe.

The true Rastafarian culture rejects tattooing, based upon Levitical law and upon the desire to live as naturally as possible. Since I already had tattoos before I embraced the Rastafarian lifestyle, I just added some Rasta tattoos such as the star of David, a nice portrait of Bob Marley, an Ankh, and various other tattoos.

When I was babptized into the EOTC, my Priest suggested (not commanded) that I get my Ankh changed into a Cross, which I did. I also recently got a small Cross tattooed on my right hand in the Ethiopian tradition.

I am 40 years old, and if I could magically have my tattoos removed then I would have them all disappear except for the Cross on my hand. And yet - that being said - I'm still glad that I have my tattoos! I like them. And I know that sounds paradoxical.

I have shared this personal information in the hope that it will benefit my Christian brethren who may be considering a tattoo. My advice is that you consult your Priest and follow his counsel. I really thnk that at the core of the tattoo issue is the sin of vanity. And yet we all adorn ourselves and look in the mirror in order to present ourselves in the manner in which we would best like to be seen by others. Conformity and societal standards are very subjective, and therefore we must tread cautiously before judging one another on these matters.

I have often thought that I would like to look like Father Seraphim Rose, with no tattoos and a long dreadlocked beard. But even in desiring to look like that I am being vain. I can become more concerned about looking holy than being holy.

So, I am a tattooed Orthodox Christian who is struggles with vanity- and this is probably the least of my sins. I hope that those of you who read this will not judge me too harshly, and I hope that those who are considering getting a tattoo will prayerfully consider this action. A good rule to follow is this: When in doubt, don't shoot! In other words, if you are hesitant then don't do it.

Finally I will say this: If you do decide to get tattooed, then get tattooed on an inconspicuous part of your body first. Also, take the time to find a really good tattoo artist. There are some really bad ones out there!

I can't make the decision for you, I can only offer you these words from my own experience. I hope that I have been helpful in some way.

Selam   
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« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2009, 05:03:56 AM »

I used to want to fill my arms solid with tattoos; "full sleeves" as they call it.  Over time I never had the money or the motivation, and now that I am getting older (26!) I am honestly glad that I do not have any.  In hindsight, it would have been a source of pride and vanity for me, which are the real issues, as I think that there is probably nothing intrinsically wrong with the art form.  Never mind that tattoos are quite expensive, and I'm sure the ikon fund at one's church could better use the money if one has it to throw around.  That way the images that are created with the money are solely for the glory of God and the benefit of others.
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« Reply #25 on: April 23, 2009, 08:42:22 AM »

When I asked my priest about the Cross tattoos, he basically said it's fine if you're a Copt and it is part of your religious heritage, but for someone outside that tradition it is inappropriate, not to mention the fact that it might scandalise others who are not familiar with said tradition.
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« Reply #26 on: April 23, 2009, 02:48:07 PM »

I am 30 and have quite a few tattoos that I will be getting in the future as well as a large septum ring. I discussed this with my priest before we were brought into the church. This is a American Indian cultural thing for me, not something for vanity, style or rebellion. Ultimately this is an issue that must be discussed with your spiritual father.
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« Reply #27 on: April 23, 2009, 02:53:02 PM »

I personally do not understand tattoos. I think we should not touch or mar our bodies, and for me, recently having had to undergo a surgery which left me scarred was a source of terrible grief. I can't see how anyone could stand to intentionally mar the precious and beautiful  bodies God gave us.
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« Reply #28 on: April 23, 2009, 07:12:38 PM »

I don't see anything wrong with tattoos per se.  I mean, it is just ink on a body.  However, I am concerned that they are vain.  I mean, a tattoo is meant to adorn the body.  But then again, that would make me a hypocrite.  I like to buy clothes and have a hairstyle that I feel makes me look nice.  At the end of the day, I see tattoos as being no different than earrings or jewelry.  Just my two cents though, I could be off. 
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« Reply #29 on: April 25, 2009, 07:23:03 PM »

When I asked my priest about the Cross tattoos, he basically said it's fine if you're a Copt and it is part of your religious heritage, but for someone outside that tradition it is inappropriate, not to mention the fact that it might scandalise others who are not familiar with said tradition.

Even for a Copt, especially outside Egypt, we now tend to teach that we should not be too concerned with following our heritage adorning the skin when we should be "tatooing our hearts" with the cross. (His Grace Bishop Youssef's quote).
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« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2009, 02:27:53 AM »

I don't care to much for tattoos. I wonder what the girls will be like, when they turn Eighty, and they are looking at their colorful, wrinkling tattoos. Provided they don't turn blue.
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« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2009, 02:39:46 AM »

You have to take proper care of tattoos- sunscreen with each sun exposure and re-coloring them at regular intervals in order to have them continue to look good. Just like you have to trim your hair regularly as well.
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« Reply #32 on: June 26, 2009, 12:25:26 AM »

You'll be sorry when you're forty.
Make sure you get it when you're past 40!
 

On another note, my nephew is "sleeved out". His arms are full of tattoos. They start from his wrist, go across his chest, and down the other wrist. He did that when he was in a rock band in his rebelious days.

 He then got serious about his spirituality and started attending church. He is now a lector or reader in the church, but makes sure his tattoos are always concealed.

He looks very respectful and you'd never know he had marks all over his body since he wears long-sleeves all the time, no matter what the weather is like.

You have to weigh the pros and the cons. Being active in church life should be enough to disuade most people.

Just my opinion. Nothing written in stone Roll Eyes
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« Reply #33 on: June 26, 2009, 01:46:50 AM »

 I do like tattoos of crosses, like this one of a Celtic Cross:




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« Reply #34 on: June 26, 2009, 02:36:22 AM »

I do like tattoos of crosses, like this one of a Celtic Cross:






Those are nice!

My new tattoos have finally healed now. Time to get some sun finally. My new tattoos are a small protrait of the Virgin Mary of my right forearm (I drew it myself), and an Ethiopian Cross, Coptic Cross, and my own design of a small Cross on my left forearm. And finally a Ghanain symbol called "GyeNyame" which means "I only fear God" which is on my right elbow. Oh yeah, and an Easter star on the left side of my neck.

OK, those are my latest additions to the many I already have. All my tattoos are solid black, no colors. I get heavily tanned in the summer time, and I figured the colors would fade. Black tattoos just look blacker when you get tanned.

OK, I admit there's a lot of vanity in it. So I confess. But there is a spiritually profitable aspect to it as well. For example, when attractive females try to approach me by commenting on my tattoos and asking about their meanings, they quickly realize that I belong to Christ and that I am not suitable prey for their wiles. (Gosh, I guess even that sounded vain too huh Undecided)

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« Reply #35 on: June 26, 2009, 02:48:55 AM »

Do you have pictures of your tattoos? I am curious   Smiley

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« Reply #36 on: June 26, 2009, 04:11:01 AM »

Do you have pictures of your tattoos? I am curious   Smiley



Alas, I am so computer illiterate. I can't even figure out how to get an icon of my Patron Saint up next to my posting info. One day soon I'm gonna figure out how to get pictures onto a disc and onto my computer. I just dread the aggravation. Anyway, I'll try to get to it eventually. Undecided

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« Reply #37 on: June 27, 2009, 10:00:54 AM »

Didn't know we still adhere to the Mossaic Law.
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« Reply #38 on: June 27, 2009, 02:32:38 PM »

My own experience and opinion...

I have scores of tattoos, they cover most of my arms, hand, back, chest, behind my ears, and down both legs...all at different phases of my life, starting when I was 15 to 24. I can say now, with full assurity, that it was in vanity that I did these things. My stretched earlobes and scars from piercings will never fully mend and my tattoos will be there forever. Do I regret them? Every single one, even the ones I still think are beautiful and have some meaning to who I am now. (much has changed, the old man is almost gone) I was focusing too much on my exterior instead of on my interior.
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« Reply #39 on: June 08, 2010, 11:42:04 PM »

wow.... sorry to resurrect an old thread but looking back four years ago when I made this topic  I see I've grown and matured a lot. I did end up speaking to a priest about it (God Rest his Soul), and at first he was against it but after discussing it further he swayed more to a middle ground.

I did get a tattoo, a very personal one. I got it below the pant line so no one really sees it except me. I have also decided that I will eventually get two tattoos, On my back a Constantine Cross (XP Chi Rho) with writing on one side in Greek and the other Latin saying "with this you will conquer". And on my arm I will get IC XC. both will be small and will only be for the purpose of showing my faith not with some crazy designs or to attract attention.

Its funny how the way we think and act can change so greatly in such a short span Smiley
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« Reply #40 on: June 13, 2010, 10:39:21 AM »

Hi there, Sloga!  Long time, no read, as it were. 

It can be very interesting to find how one has changed over just a year or so.  I hope all is well with you.

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