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Source: (consider it) Thread: Spectrum of conevo to radical
Gamaliel
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I think it is possible to be conservative and flexible rather than brittle but I suspect that fundamentalism of all kinds is something of a dead-end.

Where the line between conservatism and full-on fundamentalism is to be drawn is, of course, a moot point.

However we cut it, though, it seems to me that both liberal and conservative Christians can end up tumbling off the edge into unbelief.

From what I can gather, Trevor Huddleston the noted anti-apartheid cleric ended up denouncing all religion as baloney.

I would imagine the same applies to hard-line Marxists, hardline anything-ists and whatever else-ists as much as it does to theists of one form or other.

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Martin60
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Well, I started to add my two penn'orth days ago. The stream has tumbled on. To answer Mark's question, the answer is mainly yes. The more educated the less religious as a rule for a start. My journey, chronicled tediously here for years and years and bloody years, exponentially accelerated to the point a year last November when deconstruction and physicalism met at a time of existential threat. An interesting time. By the Spirit I still believe, I bow the creedal knee. Hot eyed there. I don't believe in ANYTHING else. Any claim. I cannot see how transcendence is imaginable let alone possible, yet I believe in the mystical sublimity of the best case God. I always have but He's been decluttered 99.9..%

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I think it is possible to be conservative and flexible rather than brittle

This depends on how one defines conservative and where one draws the line between it and moderate.
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
The more educated the less religious as a rule for a start.

Honestly, I think much of this is because religion, in general, has poorly adapted to the aspects of life that are non-religious.
Religion has, for most of its existence, been presented as the answer. For everything. Education shows that it isn't necessary for very much and that applying religious interpretation to many things illustrates a jarring inconsistency.

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I think it is possible to be conservative and flexible rather than brittle

This depends on how one defines conservative and where one draws the line between it and moderate.
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
The more educated the less religious as a rule for a start.

Honestly, I think much of this is because religion, in general, has poorly adapted to the aspects of life that are non-religious.
Religion has, for most of its existence, been presented as the answer. For everything. Education shows that it isn't necessary for very much and that applying religious interpretation to many things illustrates a jarring inconsistency.

I suppose religion has pulled its horns in in many ways. For example, the notion of divine providence is used less commonly now - to use it about 9/11 is quite eccentric, whereas in the 18th century, I think it was widely used, both for earthquakes and personal tragedies, such as the death of a child.

I'm not really sure how this connects with the trajectory of conservative to radical, but I suppose that religious people have had to adapt considerably to a scientific age, and also a secular one.

These things seem to dissolve faith in some cultures, but not all. But also other things probably, e.g. urban life.

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Arethosemyfeet
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Are the more educated less religious? My experience has been that the pews are occupied by middle class graduates, not working class school leavers. A brief perusal of wikipedia suggests no clear pattern across different countries.
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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
Are the more educated less religious? My experience has been that the pews are occupied by middle class graduates, not working class school leavers. A brief perusal of wikipedia suggests no clear pattern across different countries.

That is pretty much the position here, not just at St Sanity (where from the local demographic you'd expect a congregation of graduates) but the whole country.

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Martin60
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We must have different Wikipedias.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Wuntoo:
There are those, a minority I suspect, who get fed-up with the liberal trends and leave to form their own (new)(back to basics) group.

So the cycle continues.


Interestingly, my sense is that the English are less keen on setting up new churches than they used to be. Secularisation (and perhaps the cost of living) has made the venture much riskier than in the past.

AFAICS, it's now a better bet for evangelicals to colonise existing churches. The CofE offers the most choice, and it also happens to be the most secure and most visible denomination that already has a viable evangelical tradition. Combined with a creeping congregationalism it offers the best of both worlds for congregations that are developing a strong evangelical agenda.

The embourgeoisement of English Christianity has probably also helped to reduce the appeal of the small independent or Nonconformist church, for both lay worship and clergy employment. By contrast, church plants and Fresh Expressions benefit from being denominationally financed, resourced and approved, no matter how defiant or extreme their staff may be.

Church-sect theory is further complicated by David Voas' claim that although some individuals will have a commitment to particular doctrines, what most people want from a church is a supportive community, not a particular theology.

This renders strictness and denominationalism fairly unimportant in themselves, yet it tends to be the churches with a strong sense of identity and vision, and a high level of group cohesion and morale that can offer this kind of community. But such churches then become attractive to people who have little interest in the doctrinal specifics, which means that in the long run, the churches lose what made them distinctive. Ironically, popularity makes evangelical churches quite vulnerable.

One sees it here on the Ship; people complain about 'conevo' churches, but they won't necessarily go and support their local struggling moderate church instead, because what these churches offer in terms of tolerance and social justice engagement they may lack in other aspects. It's easier to criticise a lively but mistaken church than to help revitalise a struggling but right-minded one.

Indeed, it must feel dangerously thrilling to be 'radical' in a conevo church. To be 'radical' in a church that's been promoting its radical message since the 1950s wouldn't offer anything like the same buzz.

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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quetzalcoatl wrote:
quote:
I suppose religion has pulled its horns in in many ways. For example, the notion of divine providence is used less commonly now - to use it about 9/11 is quite eccentric, whereas in the 18th century, I think it was widely used, both for earthquakes and personal tragedies, such as the death of a child.
Sort of - I don't think divine providence has gone away, but a lot of the older interpretations of it owed more to a deist "worldview" rather than a theist one.

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Anglo-Cthulhic

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Martin60
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95% spot on as ever SvitlanaV2. There are NO moderate churches in Leicester, struggling or otherwise, doing anything incarnational. There's the odd Methodist-Baptist hybrid which has a radical group. Moderate is always doomed as it is moderate in all things. There certainly aren't any radical, incarnational Oases either. Char-evo Anglican is the ONLY show in town actually doing anything that stands out by an order of magnitude. And there is NOTHING dangerously thrilling about thinking most usually mutely radical thoughts in it. Expressing them creates a useless frisson. One has to put up with the insane damnationist magic and even find a way to subversively use the language for the sake of being allowed to lift the distal phalange of ones fifth digit in the direction of the poorest.

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SvitlanaV2
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But the question is, why wouldn't it be reasonable join a Methodist-Baptist hybrid and turn it into something that's radical and incarnational?

Don't you think there's something really topsy-turvy about churches with terrible theology doing the good things, and churches with the excellent theology doing... not very much? How do you explain that paradox?

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Honest Ron Bacardi:
quetzalcoatl wrote:
quote:
I suppose religion has pulled its horns in in many ways. For example, the notion of divine providence is used less commonly now - to use it about 9/11 is quite eccentric, whereas in the 18th century, I think it was widely used, both for earthquakes and personal tragedies, such as the death of a child.
Sort of - I don't think divine providence has gone away, but a lot of the older interpretations of it owed more to a deist "worldview" rather than a theist one.
The deist Voltaire did not treat the Lisbon Earthquake as an example of divine providence.

Au contraire.

Even more orthodox Christians at the time were cautious - in my Malone edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson there is a footnote which runs: "To deny the exercise of a particular providence in the Deity's government of the world is certainly impious, yet nothing serves the cause of the scorner more than an incautious forward zeal in determinng the particular instances of it".

[ 13. February 2018, 23:27: Message edited by: Kaplan Corday ]

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
But the question is, why wouldn't it be reasonable join a Methodist-Baptist hybrid and turn it into something that's radical and incarnational?

Don't you think there's something really topsy-turvy about churches with terrible theology doing the good things, and churches with the excellent theology doing... not very much? How do you explain that paradox?

It is droll isn't it? I note you don't refute it. That it is your experience too. My joining a MOTR congo with prophetic zeal would damage at least one of us.

Nothing motivates zeal like damnationism, as demonstrated by all textist theist peoples of the Book. Jews aren't damnationist and therefore aren't proselytizing, aren't desperate to 'save'.

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Enoch
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Martin60 and SvitlanaV2, what do you mean by 'incarnational' in this context? It's a word, or more accurately a concept, which by and large, I think most of us have got wrong.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
But the question is, why wouldn't it be reasonable join a Methodist-Baptist hybrid and turn it into something that's radical and incarnational?

Don't you think there's something really topsy-turvy about churches with terrible theology doing the good things, and churches with the excellent theology doing... not very much? How do you explain that paradox?

It is droll isn't it? I note you don't refute it. That it is your experience too. My joining a MOTR congo with prophetic zeal would damage at least one of us.

Nothing motivates zeal like damnationism, as demonstrated by all textist theist peoples of the Book. Jews aren't damnationist and therefore aren't proselytizing, aren't desperate to 'save'.

To answer my own question, I think the basic problem is that while people often approve of the moderate churches for being tolerant, these churches lack the dynamism and appeal that I mentioned above, and hence end up with a reduced level of manpower and resources to do the work they'd like to do. I certainly have experience of that.

This is where the 'moderate' approach fails. Strict churches end up stronger, for various reasons. And even though the Jews don't have a damnationist or conversionist theology, their ultra-orthodox constituency is likely to continue growing, becoming dominant in Britain and elsewhere.

That being so, my reference to 'terrible' and 'excellent' theology isn't exactly reflective of what I feel. Shippies complain a lot about conservative religion, but my experience suggests that what happens at the moderate ('radical'?) end doesn't offer a viable alternative, and indeed that it deserves a far deeper critique of its attitudes and methods than it ever seems to get.

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Martin60
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Moderate ain't radical. This is a three cornered fight. Radical offers one end of a viable alternative. One end of a front. A conservative-moderate-radical(CMR) front. Divided we fall. Or just carry on. The cons and the rads will always recruit from society, maintain their tiny minorities. Like in the Russian revolution, the second class carriage is the one at risk.

Show me an open, honest, naked CMR Anglican congo and the future's bright.

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Love wins

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Martin60 and SvitlanaV2, what do you mean by 'incarnational' in this context? It's a word, or more accurately a concept, which by and large, I think most of us have got wrong.

I think Martin60 is talking about congregations getting alongside disadvantaged or marginalised groups in a very physical, personal, self-denying way. He's talked about this in relation to damnationist churches that have an ongoing ministry with the homeless, for example.

By contrast, although the moderate churches may talk up social justice, raise funds and even get involved in seasonal initiatives, they don't throw their whole being into serving the disadvantaged; certainly not to the extent of spending large amounts of time with them.

The 'tolerance' of these churches makes them reluctant to seek converts among this (or any) group, but this reluctance also conveniently keeps their churches very 'safe'; mental health and other social issues won't become a commonplace, tangible and significant part of church life, for example.


quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Moderate ain't radical.

Mark Wuntoo used the term 'radical' in his title, but I don't think he meant what you do by the term. You probably mean something similar to incarnational, but as we've sort of agreed, conevo spirituality can be incarnational, and one doesn't necessarily have to leave conservative evangelicalism to serve the poor or the sick. What conevo spirituality can't be, by definition, is 'moderate'.

I think Mark was using 'radical' to refer to a somewhat abstract liberal theological approach rather than in your more liberationist/ incarnational sense.

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Mark Wuntoo
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:

I think Mark was using 'radical' to refer to a somewhat abstract liberal theological approach rather than in your more liberationist/ incarnational sense.

Yes. I see the spectrum as fundamentalist / conservative evangelical / liberal / radical and lots of in-betweens. It's, for me, a theological / belief system although, of course, lifestyles change too but not, I think, as smoothly through the spectrum (as has been pointed out).

Now I think about it, I seem to remember the phrase 'radical evangelicals' being tossed around in my young days: I think that referred to fundamentalists who had erred into conevo! [Biased] But it might have referred to evangelicals who had got involved in community action.

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SvitlanaV2
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BTW, which British churches, in your opinion, are the best destinations for people going from 'conevo to radical'? I don't just mean in terms of their theological position, but also their culture, welcome, community life, rituals, etc?

I get the impression from the Ship that in England almost all roads lead to the CofE, despite the tensions involved in being part of a broad church. I find this a fascinating indication of how the English 'religious market' has largely failed to provide sufficient numbers of attractive, diverse, well-resourced, 'radical' congregations in other denominations.

The Quakers are the most radical alternative, but perhaps they're off-putting to some Christians whose style, if not their theology, remains a bit more traditional. Then there are the Unitarians, but they don't seem to have much visibility.

It would be interesting to come across any research that talks about 'conevo to radical' church switching in the UK (as opposed to the rest of the world). Googling doesn't suggest that anyone has really focused on this issue, although there are some interesting bits of information here and there.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:

I get the impression from the Ship that in England almost all roads lead to the CofE, despite the tensions involved in being part of a broad church. I find this a fascinating indication of how the English 'religious market' has largely failed to provide sufficient numbers of attractive, diverse, well-resourced, 'radical' congregations in other denominations.

I don't really think its a failure specific to the UK as such. Creating "attractive, diverse, well-resourced, 'radical'" congregations (and actually by extension denominations) requires a lot of resources and man power. The density of Christianity in the UK makes this fairly hard (and it's marginal in other places) and as the CofE is relatively accepting of difference, the people inclined towards such movements find it easier to find a home in the CofE.

[ 23. February 2018, 22:31: Message edited by: chris stiles ]

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Martin60
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There's only Oasis in Waterloo. Otherwise join a char evo Anglican congo and subvert it. Or, better, stay where you are. And subvert it. That's a calling.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:

I get the impression from the Ship that in England almost all roads lead to the CofE, despite the tensions involved in being part of a broad church. I find this a fascinating indication of how the English 'religious market' has largely failed to provide sufficient numbers of attractive, diverse, well-resourced, 'radical' congregations in other denominations.

I don't really think its a failure specific to the UK as such.
Well, FWIW, the USA seems to have a much stronger radical/liberal presence. I understand that some Episcopalians as well as the Churches of Christ and the Unitarian Universalists fit into this category, and perhaps some others. The openness and strength of the American religious market and the need for some historical churches to distinguish themselves from popular evangelicalism has probably contributed to this.

And the Scandinavian Lutheran churches are very liberal. This has been put down to the close involvement of the secular state in church life (at least until quite recently) plus the fact that these churches are paid for by the state. They don't need evangelical money.

In England I do agree that it's easier to find a home in the CofE, but let's not forget that for a time, Nonconformity was growing in numbers and power. It sought to offer alternatives to the CofE. What's interesting to me (but perhaps not to others) is how and why this changed. The Nonconformists generally suffered secularisation more deeply than the CofE.


quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
There's only Oasis in Waterloo. Otherwise join a char evo Anglican congo and subvert it. Or, better, stay where you are. And subvert it. That's a calling.

It may well be a calling. The problem is that the journey towards radicalism tends to pass through moderate liberalism. Experience and research show that this process often weakens churches.

AFAICS there needs to be a strong awareness of the the many internal and external challenges a church will have to deal with if it's considering going down this route. Subversion alone risks creating conflict, division and misunderstanding otherwise. You obviously need the church leadership to be on board.

As I said above, though, the CofE is probably a good starting point. Its charevo element appears to have more money and a more youthful, dynamic demographic than others. Although the MOTR Nonconformists in many places already see themselves as committed to social justice, I think they'll be hard pressed to do much more than they are doing. They've been losing members and money for a long time, and sooner or later that undermines a church's mission, radical or otherwise.

[ 24. February 2018, 00:23: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Well, FWIW, the USA seems to have a much stronger radical/liberal presence. I understand that some Episcopalians as well as the Churches of Christ and the Unitarian Universalists fit into this category, and perhaps some others.

You mean the United Church of Christ—the descendant of the Congregationalists (including the Puritans) and the Evangelical and Reformed (aka German Reformed) Church—not the Churches of Christ. There’s a big difference.

And many would include at least some Presbyterian (PCUSA), Lutheran (ELCA), United Methodist and even American Baptist congregations, depending on how radical/liberal you’re thinking.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
I don't really think its a failure specific to the UK as such.

Well, FWIW, the USA seems to have a much stronger radical/liberal presence. I understand that some Episcopalians as well as the Churches of Christ and the Unitarian Universalists fit into this category, and perhaps some others.

So the (at least originally) quasi-ethno-national regional churches which assume some of the role of the CofE (and run a similarly broad church) provide the vehicle for the "attractive, diverse, well-resourced, 'radical'" in the way that the CofE and CoS does. Most states weren't Rhode Island.

At the very least these movements find a home within such denominations - though viewed a little uncharitably, one could posit that they require rather more resources to run that could be easily provided by the movement itself (most of whom aren't big enough to fund seminaries, a press or two and so on).

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Enoch
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This may have been said already on this thread. I haven't been following it. But it's quite a bad misuse of language to use 'liberal' and 'radical' to mean less and more extreme points on the same Christian spectrum. The Little Brothers of Jesus (followers of the inspiration of Charles de Foucauld) are Christian 'radicals' by almost any meaning of that word, but they aren't exactly 'liberal' in any of the various meanings people might give it, however imprecise.

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SvitlanaV2
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Yes, we mentioned above that for some people 'radical' means liberationist or incarnational, while 'liberal' refers to a more abstract theological approach to the Bible. But the distinction isn't always made.

My experience is that in some historical churches the liberationist/radical approach frequently does go hand in hand with a certain biblical liberalism. AFAIUI the South American RC liberation theologians promoted their own blend of both. They weren't the most 'traditional' of RCs.

Moreover, the kind of liberationist radicalism that Martin60 espouses is very affirming with regards to SS relationships. That won't always be the case when more traditional church groups are doing the work. Having said that, I think there has to be a degree of pragmatism in all social ministries these days, especially if the secular authorities are involved with funding, referrals or training, etc. Presumably, only the wealthiest conevo church can run a huge social ministry that bypasses the state completely and hence avoids contact with equality regulations, etc.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Well, FWIW, the USA seems to have a much stronger radical/liberal presence. I understand that some Episcopalians as well as the Churches of Christ and the Unitarian Universalists fit into this category, and perhaps some others.

You mean the United Church of Christ—the descendant of the Congregationalists (including the Puritans) and the Evangelical and Reformed (aka German Reformed) Church—not the Churches of Christ. There’s a big difference.


Yes, you're right. I knew my terminology was inaccurate there. I should have checked it.
Posts: 6655 | From: UK | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged



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