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Source: (consider it) Thread: Sure I can halt the process - can't I?
quetzalcoatl
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Anglo Catholic Relict

Great stuff.

I sometimes think about this stuff in relation to the 'hiddenness of God' topic, which seemed to be hot a while ago amongst some atheists. But you are the one who is hidden! I used to say to people, perhaps rather arrogantly. There are often good reasons why people should be hidden, after all.

One of my oldest friends is a Sufi, and he is now dying (going to meet the Beloved, in Sufi language), but he would always say that there is nowhere where God is not. I suppose you can find that in Christian mysticism; in fact, many Sufis have been heavily persecuted for saying it, even killed. Alas, that men and women so close to God would be persecuted, but then God must be hidden away from men's eyes!

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Now that, after the third time of reading, is most wise. How should one judge ones means? By their fruits? Or should they seem good in themselves some other way? And how does one measure their concreteness? Open, not rhetorical questions.

Yes, by their fruits one will know them. But what this means is that one takes most of the time typically devoted to worrying about the future, and instead devotes it to reflecting upon the past. It is not the future fruits that we are to worry about, it is the ripe fruits of the past that we are to judge now as sweet or rotten. For these we can know the means and the outcome, that is concrete. Whereas the future is nebulous and anybody's guess.

If we habitually reflect upon the past and judge the present, then we actually gain true freedom to explore and try something new. Because we know that the novel path we take now will also be judged in the future: soon enough we will stop, take a step back and evaluate if we are in fact going where we want to be going. And if that is not the case, then we will correct our course and if need be double back. Whereas if we always look toward the future fruits, speculate about what this or that may bring one day, then we are like the donkey running after a carrot dangling in front of its nose. That can take us to places good, bad or ugly, because we are running after a dream, and our dreams always outrun us.

The old instructions for Compline say that if Compline is the last prayer for the day before sleep, then one should replace the formal prayer of the Our Father contained therein by an examination of conscience of reasonable length. The length of a solemnly spoken Our Father gives an idea of what is "reasonable" there. That to me is full of practical wisdom. Stop, reflect, evaluate - not lengthily and obsessively but briefly and habitually - and then sleep in peace, for tomorrow is another day wide open for another try.

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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Curiosity killed ...

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No, you misunderstand me, I do not want to put my name to the opposition to same sex marriage ~ and the failure me women bishop vote last year.

[ 25. August 2013, 14:44: Message edited by: Curiosity killed ... ]

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Anglo Catholic Relict

Great stuff.

I sometimes think about this stuff in relation to the 'hiddenness of God' topic, which seemed to be hot a while ago amongst some atheists. But you are the one who is hidden! I used to say to people, perhaps rather arrogantly. There are often good reasons why people should be hidden, after all.

Quite right. We hide ourselves in God, and wrap ourselves in his love. [Smile]

quote:

One of my oldest friends is a Sufi, and he is now dying (going to meet the Beloved, in Sufi language), but he would always say that there is nowhere where God is not. I suppose you can find that in Christian mysticism; in fact, many Sufis have been heavily persecuted for saying it, even killed. Alas, that men and women so close to God would be persecuted, but then God must be hidden away from men's eyes!

In Christian terms, there is only one kind of place where God is not. God withdraws his presence from the presence of evil, because the two cannot exist in the same place together. God's holiness would destroy evil in a moment.

Where there is pure evil God is not present on purpose; to give time for repentance and amendment of life. We see evidence of this in the Old Testament; we are told that no man can look upon God and live, and even those who touch the Ark of the Covenant drop dead in an instant.

In Christ God is able for the first time to look sinful man in the eyes, and not destroy him. Us. And in return sinful man is able to see God's compassion looking back at him, again for the first time.

The more we withdraw our own will from what we do, the more of Christ will be visible when people look at us. Theosis is not imposed on anyone, but we can choose to co-operate with it, and God will always meet us more than half way when we do.

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:

One of my oldest friends is a Sufi, and he is now dying (going to meet the Beloved, in Sufi language), but he would always say that there is nowhere where God is not.

... I should have said, I am sorry about your friend. You are very fortunate to know him.
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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglo Catholic Relict:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:

One of my oldest friends is a Sufi, and he is now dying (going to meet the Beloved, in Sufi language), but he would always say that there is nowhere where God is not.

... I should have said, I am sorry about your friend. You are very fortunate to know him.
Thank you. Yes, he is incomparable. He will be a grievous loss, and I can't really face it yet.

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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Martin60
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Thank you IngoB. And you know I mean that.

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Love wins

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Jack o' the Green
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglo Catholic Relict:
In Christian terms, there is only one kind of place where God is not. God withdraws his presence from the presence of evil, because the two cannot exist in the same place together. God's holiness would destroy evil in a moment.

Where there is pure evil God is not present on purpose; to give time for repentance and amendment of life. We see evidence of this in the Old Testament; we are told that no man can look upon God and live, and even those who touch the Ark of the Covenant drop dead in an instant.

In Christ God is able for the first time to look sinful man in the eyes, and not destroy him. Us. And in return sinful man is able to see God's compassion looking back at him, again for the first time.

If God's presence is totally removed from evil, then how can evil exist? God is the creator and sustainor of existence according to Classical Theism. To say that evil exists without God's presence implies that evil is in some sense an independent power and risks dualism.
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Chorister

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quote:
Originally posted by Anglo Catholic Relict:
You spoke of edges. Perhaps being on the edge is part of finding God; coming to the edge of resources of other kinds, whatever they may be, leads us to face God in a more personal way.

[Smile]

Richard Holloway talks of people who are 'Dancing on the Edge' - that doesn't, to me, sound like the action of someone afraid they are going to fall off.

However, I have also heard of the view that, at the extremes of life, people often undergo a seismic paradigm shift - which for those formerly conventional Christians may mean a transformation to unbelief, but equally for non-Christians to be propelled into belief. Who knows how any of us will react under extreme conditions - until that faith (or lack of it) is severely tested?

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RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
If you want substantiation and some stats for this ...

I was kind of hoping you'd make the argument yourself, which would be something I could read in a couple of minutes. I'm not going to spend hours reading essays!
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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
If you want substantiation and some stats for this ...

I was kind of hoping you'd make the argument yourself, which would be something I could read in a couple of minutes. I'm not going to spend hours reading essays!
Well, I did explain what the basic sociological position was, and what I meant by 'a loss of spiritual vitality'. I then posted some titles, as requested. But perhaps I overestimated your awareness of British church decline. Basically, demanding denominations became comfortable and upwardly mobile, and required less of their members. This made it easier to belong (which you and I will both appreciate), but it also made it easier to leave. Evangelism and the transmission of Christian teaching to one's own children have become less urgent. Expectations of serious commitment or theological conformity are fairly low in the mainstream churches, and when people, especially the young, drift away for want of any particular reason to stay, few are surprised. This is the low-key fall-out of a general liberalisation in atmosphere.

However, the OP was referring more specifically to church folk reading too much 'dangerous' theology that risked damaging their faith. The clergy used to worry about this. I once heard a liberation theologian admit to me that he advised ordinands not to share some of this stuff with their congregations, because they'd only do it badly and end up driving people away from Christianity! So the fear exists at quite high levels.

IMO the former problem is greater than the latter, because a changing atmosphere can affect far more people than a few churchy intellectuals reading or recommending 'dangerous' books. But theology does help to create a certain atmosphere, because intellectuals in a congregation or a denomination have influence. I've realised that what a clergyman doesn't say is almost as revealing as what he does say.

Sorry if I've misunderstood you again! It happens to us all sometimes. [Smile]

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Jack o' the Green
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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
Richard Holloway talks of people who are 'Dancing on the Edge' - that doesn't, to me, sound like the action of someone afraid they are going to fall off.

Richard Holloway is quite a good example of someone who moved through Christianity - gradually becoming more liberal until he could no longer call himself a Christian. He now defines himself as a 'Post Christian'. I remember buying his book 'Dancing on the Edge' while on holiday in Edinburgh about 5 years ago which was on the Liberal end of Christianity. That book was published in '97. Waiting for me at home from Amazon was his just published 'Looking in the Distance'. In between the two books, Holloway had written 'Godless Morality' and 'Doubts and Loves'. There is a very clear progression through the books from a liberal Christian perspective through to a Post Christian (sometimes he calls it Recovering Christian) perspective.

I'd agree - Holloway isn't afraid he's going to fall off, but "fallen off" he has - at least from a Christian point of view.

[ 26. August 2013, 09:09: Message edited by: Yonatan ]

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Thank you. Yes, he is incomparable. He will be a grievous loss, and I can't really face it yet.

Istm, grief is the tax we pay on love; the greater the love, the higher the cost. I am really sorry.

I am glad you still have time together, and that is what matters.

[ 26. August 2013, 09:34: Message edited by: Anglo Catholic Relict ]

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by Yonatan:
If God's presence is totally removed from evil, then how can evil exist? God is the creator and sustainor of existence according to Classical Theism. To say that evil exists without God's presence implies that evil is in some sense an independent power and risks dualism.

You are right, of course. I am not very good at explaining what I mean.

Not totally removed; withdrawn or perhaps veiled. Like Moses coming down from God's presence. Or like the sun hidden by thick cloud as an act of mercy, to prevent sunburn.

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
quote:
Originally posted by Anglo Catholic Relict:
You spoke of edges. Perhaps being on the edge is part of finding God; coming to the edge of resources of other kinds, whatever they may be, leads us to face God in a more personal way.

[Smile]

Richard Holloway talks of people who are 'Dancing on the Edge' - that doesn't, to me, sound like the action of someone afraid they are going to fall off.
Well, I am not familiar with Mr Holloway or what he has to say, but I would not risk dancing on any edges myself. That strikes me as somewhat dangerous.

quote:

However, I have also heard of the view that, at the extremes of life, people often undergo a seismic paradigm shift - which for those formerly conventional Christians may mean a transformation to unbelief, but equally for non-Christians to be propelled into belief. Who knows how any of us will react under extreme conditions - until that faith (or lack of it) is severely tested?

Indeed so.

It is possible to lose faith in an insufficient version of God or of Christianity, and to move towards a broader or more meaningful one. And no doubt the same applies in a life without much awareness of God; he may well make his presence known at some point.

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by Yonatan:
Richard Holloway is quite a good example of someone who moved through Christianity - gradually becoming more liberal until he could no longer call himself a Christian. He now defines himself as a 'Post Christian'.

...

I'd agree - Holloway isn't afraid he's going to fall off, but "fallen off" he has - at least from a Christian point of view.

Our eternity is not determined by how we define ourselves, nor indeed by how we are judged by our brothers and sisters.

I think we can all be grateful for both of these mercies. [Smile]

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Gamaliel
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This thread has made me wonder about what happens with the same process in reverse - ie. with people who moved to a very conservative theological position.

It strikes me that there are convenient staging posts and stepping off points in both directions.

So, for instance, looking back at the trajectory I followed after my own evangelical conversion, there were points where I could have opted to stop short of the positions I eventually adopted - whether they were conservative evangelical or charismatic evangelical.

Conversely, now I've swung back from that particular direction it seems to me that there are choices and stepping off points that I can choose to take or to ignore - whether that be in a swing of the pendulum towards theological liberalism or towards a more sacramental/liturgical position or whatever else.

We are adults, and whilst we might not completely be the masters of our fate and captains of our souls, it seems to me that we are all mature enough here to ring the bell for the next stop at any point along the line.

I don't see it in deterministic terms in the sense of there being a particular inevitability in the trajectory that any of us take. Chorister strikes me as eminently sensible and more than capable of choosing which stop or station to alight at rather than being carried inexorably along in one direction or other.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Chorister

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Richard Holloway was one of the particular theologians I was thinking of when I wrote the OP. I, too, enjoyed his earlier books, but thought 'Oh no, not another one!' when he became post-Christian. Ditto with some of the feminist theologians (who also seem to have an unerring ability to travel in one direction, ultimately to way beyond the 'Christian' boundary).

Still, I take comfort from those who assure me that, like the Good Ship Lollipop (and SoF?), I might not fall off the edge but merely travel around in a (or many) great big circle(s). As a Moor walker, that appeals to me very much!

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

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RuthW

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Sorry if I've misunderstood you again! It happens to us all sometimes. [Smile]

No, not at all! A more substantive response later when I have more time, but for now let me say that I appreciate your efforts very much.
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Pomona
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I can't help but think that churchmanship and liberal/conservative status is more about personality than piety. Liberals are not by default less religious than conservatives - the emphasis is just different.

Personally speaking, having got (from outside appearances) less conservative, I've actually always been at about the level I am now - I just didn't feel confident in my own faith as opposed to that of those teaching me. YMMV.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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pererin
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I sometimes worry I'm turning into a conservative evangelical. But I think it's just that I'm mellowing with age...

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"They go to and fro in the evening, they grin like a dog, and run about through the city." (Psalm 59.6)

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Chorister

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quote:
Originally posted by pererin:
I sometimes worry I'm turning into a conservative evangelical. But I think it's just that I'm mellowing with age...

Cripes, pererin, if that's you mellowing with age, whatever were you like before??!

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Returning to the OP - your car is more likely to crash if you're driving it than if it's sitting on the driveway. Nevertheless, it's a risk you have to take if you want to get anywhere.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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LutheranChik
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I don't think that a liberal slippery slope is inevitable. I grew up in a very conservative, theollogically xenophobic religious milieu, so when I got to the university and found earnest Christians who had a critical/nuanced/contextual understanding of Scripture, a liberal social outlook and a more expansive understanding of the religious experience in general, it was very liberating for me.

But later in my life I found myself in church situations with progressive leadership that had pretty much fallen off the Christianity bus; people in positions of pastoral or teaching authority who were either cynically phoning it in or whose attitude had become, "Well, all of this Godstuff is really just a fairy tale that we've been telling ourselves for centuries; but it helps ease people's anxieties about their mortality, gives a chaotic world meaning for them and makes people more compassionate toward one another, so let's keep telling ourselves the fairy tale -- except that we won't actually explain to the simpler people that it's a fairy tale because that would upset them." Those sorts of experiences with clergypeople and teachers have moved me farther back to the center of the continuum, although I still fall on the liberal side of things...call me squishily optimistic that we're not just making up the idea of a God and the basic Christian narrative.

[ 28. August 2013, 22:20: Message edited by: LutheranChik ]

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tclune
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Returning to the OP - your car is more likely to crash if you're driving it than if it's sitting on the driveway. Nevertheless, it's a risk you have to take if you want to get anywhere.

This. But I do think that it is important to have a community of the faithful whom you trust and respect to help you think through your faith journey as you grow.

--Tom Clune

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This space left blank intentionally.

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Russ
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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:

I am sometimes rather concerned that I'm on the same journey myself, but certainly don't want to travel the whole distance. But, once you start, is it possible to stop? And if so, how and where?

You can always stop journeying, decide you're too old to change any more and stick with where you are. Abandon the Quest for Truth & Maturity and tell God that you're just not capable of going any further.

What you can't do is go back to where you used to be and have things be the same as before. Because you'll have changed.

best wishes,

Russ

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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LeRoc

Famous Dutch pirate
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quote:
Anglo Catholic Relict: God withdraws his presence from the presence of evil, because the two cannot exist in the same place together.
This is not what I believe. God is always present when evil is done. He is always right there with the victim.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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quetzalcoatl
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Yes, I was sort of working my way towards that thought. God must be present where evil is present, since that is how evil is recognized.

OK, that's not true if you define evil as 'something that contradicts my view of virtue', or something like that, which is more pragmatic.

But in a religious sense, evil is defined by God, isn't it?

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
But in a religious sense, evil is defined by God, isn't it?

I think the blessed Isaac can express this one far better than I can. I am aware that this steps away from mainstream Anglican thought somewhat, but nonetheless, Isaac describes the God I know.

http://afkimel.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/st-isaac-the-syrian-love-and-the-punishment-of-evil/

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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http://afkimel.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/st-isaac-the-syrian-preaching-the-astonishing-love-of-god/

http://undeception.com/st-isaac-the-syrian-on-the-wrath-of-god/

I think you get the general idea. [Smile]

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