Sunday, October 7, 2012

'Beware the Red Mass...'


This is one of the creepier church-state essays I've read in a while, by Marie Griffith, editor of Religion and Politics.

Griffith, with my commentary:

Any reader of U.S. history knows that religion and politics have mixed in a multitude of ways from the time of the nation’s founding. Motivated by the two-sided hope of protecting the state from religious incursions and religion from state regulation, our founders crafted documents that nonetheless acknowledged a modicum of inevitable exchange and mutual influence.

Our nation's founding document-- the Constitution acknowledges the Declaration as our founding document-- specifically attributes our unalienable rights to God. Hardly a "modicum" of exchange and influence between church and state.
Since then, the limits of religious influence on political governance have been debated countless times in legislative bodies and courts of law.

Religious influence was expected by the Founders, who were profoundly religiously-influenced elected leaders of a profoundly religious nation.

Neither the American populace nor our leaders can ever expect consensus on these profoundly contested questions; even today, we live amid a jumble of contradictions and compromising positions.
The Constitutional issue is rather simple. The First Amendment prohibits a federal church, and guarantees free exercise of religion, which prohibits the government from interfering in religious practice in church or civic life.


Last Sunday, September 30, witnessed one of the most vivid and, to many, disturbing examples of this religion/politics paradox. On the day prior to the opening of the new term of the U.S. Supreme Court, six out of the nine current Supreme Court justices, along with members of President Obama’s cabinet, members of Congress, and members of the law profession attended the 60th annual Red Mass, a Catholic worship service held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl acted as principal celebrant, alongside several other Catholic leaders.

Actually, "many" were not disturbed by the Red Mass. A few atheists and leftie cranks were disturbed.
 After all, what, pray tell, is "disturbing" about public officials gathering to worship?

In his address to the crowd, Timothy P. Broglio, archbishop for the U.S. military, called for people to become “instruments of a new evangelization” and stated, “The faith we hold in our hearts must motivate the decisions, the words, and the commitment of our everyday existence.”
Unexceptional homily. Of course Catholics are asked by the Church to live their faith. 
In these times, as Catholic leaders have increased their public speech on any number of political issues, from contraceptive coverage and abortion to gay marriage, these words are anything but impartial.

Why, for goodness sake, would Ms. Griffith expect a homily by a priest to be "impartial"?

This year, the subject of gay marriage will be particularly important as the Court considers the Defense of Marriage Act. 
I hope the archbishop made the Catholic position on gay marriage clear, and emphasized the obligations of Catholic public officials to carry out their duties in a manner consistent with Catholic moral teaching.

Catholic bishops are currently spending money to fight same-sex marriage. Timothy Dolan, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been an outspoken critic of legalizing same-sex marriage, saying it’s not about gay rights, and concluding in a press release, “You don’t redefine marriage—a given—just to accommodate people’s lifestyle.”

Cardinal Dolan is teaching what the Church teaches.



Elena Kagan’s presence at Sunday’s Red Mass, her first appearance, may seem the most surprising.

She's a pro-abortion Catholic. I'm relieved she didn't burst into flames.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a fellow Jewish member of the court who holds a similar stance on questions such as abortion, has been openly critical of the Red Mass, citing one sermon she heard there as “outrageously anti-abortion.”
Catholic priests should get their homilies pre-approved by pro-abortion pro-eugenic Jews.

As she wrote later, “Even the Scalia’s—although they’re much of that persuasion—were embarrassed for me.” 

"Scalia's"? The Associate Justice should have one of her law clerk's check her grammar.  


Perhaps one day we will learn what Justice Kagan thought of Broglio’s message of living one’s Christianity in every part of one’s life. “We are instruments in the hands of the Lord, and so we pray to be ever open to his presence.”

Let's hope that Justice Kagan thinks a lot about it.

As Barry Lynn, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, noted, “There is one purpose to have this. It is to make clear … just what the church hierarchy feels about some of the very issues that are to come before the court.” Those issues, of course, are the very ones on which some in the Catholic hierarchy have vociferously advocated.
Ms. Griffith likes sermons from Rev. Barry Lynn. They're not "disturbing".

At Religion & Politics, we welcome all viewpoints, on the conviction that ‘tis better to air strong arguments openly and civilly than to foster likeminded cliques that echo and leave unchallenged one another’s biases.

A homily in a Catholic Church certainly seems to be a fine place to air strong arguments openly and civilly...
Challenge me, do, but I must register deep discomfort with the cozy government-church embrace represented by the Red Mass in Washington D.C.
The idea of elected/appointed government officials privately and voluntarily attending a worship service of their choice causes Ms. Griffith "discomfort".
However well intentioned, the attendance of 2/3 of the U.S. Supreme Court at a holy service that explicitly promotes the Catholic faith sends a bewildering message to citizens who hold other religious beliefs, and those with no religion at all.
 Why would the "intentions" of Mass attendees be a matter of concern for Ms. Griffith?

And what is "bewildering" about Catholic officials attending Mass?

Perhaps the real question to ask is why some Supreme Court justices who clearly disagree with current Catholic pronouncements on political matters that divide the court—or who disagree with any perceived religious interference whatsoever, despite their own beliefs—nonetheless, apparently, feel the need to attend the Red Mass.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they are imperfect Catholics, like the rest of us Catholics, and they are trying to understand what God wants them to do?
Why?
Why is any of Ms. Griffith's business why they are attending Mass? Perhaps they attend Mass because they (rightly) believe it is the sacramental re-presentation of the Lord's sacrifice for us? Same reason all the other folks in the cathedral are attending Mass.
In case it needs noting—and these days, who knows—let me note that it is not anti-Catholic to ask these kinds of questions.
Yea. Ms. Griffith has no issues with the Catholic Church. Why, just yesterday she wrote an essay criticizing Jewish government officials from attending Temple services, and Muslim government officials from attending Mosque, and atheist government officials from attending Richard Dawkins book signings.

Oh, wait....
As President John F. Kennedy stated, “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant, nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the pope, the National Council of Churches, or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”
No one ever accused Kennedy of paying too much attention to Catholic moral teaching.

In other words, if any religious body—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or you-name-it—imposes upon political leaders some supposed necessity to attend its own worship service in order to be considered legitimate, beware.

How to say this, without being too blunt?

There is a thread of hate in Griffith's essay- 'intolerance' is too soft a word. What the Catholic Church, or any religious body, tells its parishioners is only the business of the Church and its parishioners. Of course, if Ms. Griffith disagrees with the Church (she obviously despises the Church), or if she disagrees with the actions of the government officials attending the Church, she need not attend the Church nor vote for or support the appointment of the government officials who have offended her.

Catholics have the same right to meet, worship, and express and advocate their views that any secularist has. Catholics being Catholics is no more or less "disturbing" than atheists being atheists or lesbian editors being lesbian editors (I just chose the example randomly).

Again, we see the cornerstone tactic of the Left. They scurry away from rational engagement of issues. Censorship, explicitly advocated or implicitly invoked and often leavened with anti-Christian bigotry, is their recourse when faced with truth.

 

29 comments:

  1. Pathetic, corrupt politicians groveling to a bunch of corrupt child molesters in pink dresses.

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    1. You must have accidentally clicked the link to the story about the Barney Frank Farewell Party.

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    2. Well, at least Frank is honest about being gay. Unlike the pope in his white dress and his effeminate diction, who covered up countless cases of child rape by his fellow priests. How can anyone in his right mind willfully be a member of that criminal cult?

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    3. 'Troy'
      You're such a dishonest ass: you're a liar, and worse than a liar, for you are a fool (which word is to say, you are intellectually dishonest).

      While there are Christian reasons that one would prefer one's fellow Christians to not be Roman Catholics, the hatred and lies you spread are not among them.

      And, in any event, being a Roman Catholic is far preferable to being a God-denying liar-and-worse-than-liar, such as you are.

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    4. Ouch. That hurts. Especially coming from an ignorant code jockey who thinks he knows about science. If you really had something profound to say, you'd try to publish in science journals, but you're too much of a coward to have your ideas scrutinized by professionals such as myself.

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    5. someone who isn't rational enough to really be named 'troy': "Especially coming from an ignorant code jockey who thinks he knows about science"

      Or, to put it in other words, I earn my daily bread by the practical application of stringent logic -- therefore, when I criticise as illogical the 'Science!' that 'troy' worships, chances are good that I know what I'm talking about.

      someone who isn't logical enough to really be named 'troy': "If you really had something profound to say, you'd try to publish in science journals, but you're too much of a coward to have your ideas scrutinized by professionals such as myself."

      This assertion is both a non sequitur, and false.

      My ideas have been "scrutinized by professionals such as [him]self" ... the "professional" I most dealt happens to have been intellectually dishonest, besides being a mere liar -- and his "reasoning" was that since I couldn't force him to admit that he was misrepresenting both the known science touching on the matter and the content of 'modern evolutionary theory', that he had "won". But he still felt compelled to post a (misleading) series on Panda's Thumb.

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    6. @troy:

      "...to have your ideas scrutinized by professionals such as myself."

      "... a bunch of corrupt child molesters in pink dresses."

      You're a professional? You're kidding, right? I thought you were just a bigot living in your mother's basement.

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    7. As usual, your attempt at thinking failed miserably.

      It's not bigotry to point out the facts that the Vatican is a criminal organization, run by a mob of child molesters and racketeers, supported by brainwashed suckers like you.

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  2. Mike,
    It is beyond strange that a nation settled by 'Puritans' and 'Pilgrims' and founded by deeply religious men that such a debate should ever see the light of day.
    I am reminded of Rome in her last days as a Republic.
    These idiots who call themselves 'secularists' have no idea what type of blowback they are working towards. They walk blindly into it.

    Troy,
    Are you aware of Dutch anti-hate and libel laws? My Dutch (Christian) colleagues in Brussels sure are.
    Maybe you have not reached that far in school yet? Look it up ...and think before you write.

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    1. Isn't it just the most unfair thing that such a willful ignoramus is being allowed to call himself by my name?

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    2. Are you aware of Dutch anti-hate and libel laws? My Dutch (Christian) colleagues in Brussels sure are.

      Am I supposed to be impressed that you have Dutch Christian colleagues in Brussels? Are they going to sue me?

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    3. Isn't it just the most unfair thing that such a willful ignoramus is being allowed to call himself by my name?

      It's not unfair at all that you are being allowed to call yourself by your own name.

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    4. Ilion,
      My deepest condolences, mate.
      But rest assured the nickname is not the real name.

      Troy,
      My comment was not meant to impress. I am simply pointing out to you that my colleagues and regular contacts at NATO (KL and KLu) are very careful about how they express their prejudices. They seem to feel that Holland has very stringent anti-bigotry laws. I am suggesting that your comments equating ALL clergy of a specific faith group is a contravention of those laws. If someone were to act out and quote you as an inspiration, you would be held accountable as the law has been explained to me by my colleagues. Even a complaint could be very detrimental to ones education or career.
      Personally, I don't give a shit what you say. Rant all you want. I am for free expression, not censoring people's speech - regardless of what they are saying.
      Sticks and stones and all that jazz.
      Besides.
      Your commentary is an excellent example of the novice level unhinged atheistic left for any readers on here.
      But I sense you're a young person (your diction, expressions ect), and I would not want you (or any young person) to 'step in it' for some juvenile nonsense you will no doubt grow out of later in life when you have a family etc.
      As for your question: "Are they going to sue me?" , the answer is no. They are military and do not operate in a law enforcement capacity (at least within the Netherlands or any NATO country).
      Actually NOBODY will sue you - the hate crime laws are CRIMINAL not CIVIL. If you break them and are reported or detected you will be arrested and investigated - not sued.
      Nobody is threatening you with a law suit and nobody is calling the police. I certainly have no desire to. I am just pointing out to you that your rhetoric is dangerous considering your geography.
      Think on it...while sober.

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    5. My comment was not meant to impress. I am simply pointing out to you that my colleagues and regular contacts at NATO (KL and KLu) are very careful about how they express their prejudices. They seem to feel that Holland has very stringent anti-bigotry laws. I am suggesting that your comments equating ALL clergy of a specific faith group is a contravention of those laws. If someone were to act out and quote you as an inspiration, you would be held accountable as the law has been explained to me by my colleagues. Even a complaint could be very detrimental to ones education or career.

      Actually, Holland doesn't have very stringent anti-bigotry laws. Too stringent, yes sir we agree, but not that stringent. It's been a while since anyone received serious punishment for breaking those laws.

      Still, if only the theists wouldn't get in the way of getting rid of those laws. That's right, the Christians are blocking efforts to get rid of blasphemy laws.

      And don't you worry about my education and career. I'm untouchable.

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  3. PS Happy Thanksgiving from Canada to all!
    (And a Happy Columbus day weekend to all the folks down state-side).

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    1. Crus:

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and you family, and to all of our friends in Canada!

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  4. "The Constitutional issue is rather simple. The First Amendment prohibits a federal church, and guarantees free exercise of religion, which prohibits the government from interfering in religious practice in church or civic life."

    And, indeed, despite the lies of the "secularists", our Revolution and our Constitution do not establish a secular State, but rather, a non-sectarian State.

    It was the French Revolution which established a secular State ... and we all know how that turned out.

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  6. (@Dr. Egnor: I beg your pardon, in advance, for going off on a tangent - what some might call hijacking a thread. If it's too distracting, please feel free to remove my comment.)

    I'm curious to hear what people have to say about something I've been pondering for the past few months. As Dr. Egnor says, "The First Amendment ... prohibits the government from interfering in religious practice in church or civic life."

    I'm wondering what, exactly, this looks like in practice.

    Does this mean that Congress is forbidden to pass any laws that might infringe on someone's religious practice? That sounds impractical, especially in a religiously diverse country - at some point, one of your laws is going to bump up against someone's doctrines.

    Does it mean that any laws that are passed must make exceptions for people of faith? That too seems impractical, and actually somewhat unfair. (Why should I be granted an exemption to a law because of my faith, while my neighbor is denied such an exemption because his reasons for not wanting to comply with the law stem from aesthetic or philosophical views rather than religious views? For instance, why should a Quaker be allowed to exempt himself from the draft for religious reasons, but a secular pacifist would not be allowed to do so for philosophical reasons?)

    It seems to me that the way this winds up shaking down in practice is that some concessions are made if the courts decide it's fairly convenient to make them: Quakers can exempt themselves from the draft, but Rastafarians cannot exempt themselves from the controlled substances act.

    This, to me, seems arbitrary and unfair, and I have enough respect for the Constitution and its framers to believe that they could not have included such a clause in the document without thinking through these kinds of implications very carefully.

    I'm beginning to believe that the free exercise clause does not exempt anyone from any laws at all (as that would either eventually render all laws meaningless or require selective and arbitrary application of the law.) Instead, it is meant to prevent laws being passed that have no purpose other than to prohibit religious practices - that it's fine to pass a law forbidding animal cruelty that just so happens to also forbid animal sacrifice, but not to pass a law that allows animal slaughter except during the course of a voodoo ceremony. In consequence, I'm forced to think that the (grossly unfair and completely objectionable) HHS mandate is bad law, bad policy, and an all-around bad idea... but is not unconstitutional.

    Curious to hear everyone's thoughts, if you can spare a few minutes to comment.

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    1. John Henry: "I'm wondering what, exactly, this looks like in practice."

      Concerning "religion", the First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

      The first clause means simply that the Congress -- which is to say, the Federal government, or the "general government", as they tended to say in those days -- shall make no laws, whatsoever, which touch upon any "establishment of religion". To expand this, the Congress:
      1) shall not establish any sect at the Federal level;
      2) shall not disestablish within any State any sect which said State has established;
      3) shall neither order nor induce any State either to establish or disestablish any sect within its jurisdiction.

      So, in practice, if Massachusetts has an established church, as it did at the time of Ratification, it is no business of Congress, one way or the other. Nor is it any business of mine (nor likely of yours), for I am not a citizen of Massachusetts.

      The second clause, that "Congress shall make no law ... prohibiting the free exercise thereof [of religion];" is, again, a limitation on what Congress may do.

      The whole point of the Constitution and Bill of Rights is to delineate what Congress may and may not do.

      Hint: your high school "civics" classes, if you are even old enough to have had any, taught you mostly false "facts". For starters, the Constitution does no establish "three co-equal branches" of government. Rather, it establishes Congress as Writer-of-Laws; it establishes the Federal courts as entirely creatures of Congress; it establishes the Presidency as the Executor of Congress' Laws, with some limited and well-defined independence of Congress.

      Moreover, since at least the 1950s, the Federal government has actually operated is as though the Federal Courts -- which are entirely creatures of Congress -- were the preeminent and supreme branch of government.

      So, "civics" classes have not taught the truth about the actual design of the Federal government, nor have they taught the truth about the actual present-day operation of the Federal government.

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    2. @Ilion: I have rarely met someone who had as little grasp on the nature of the Constitution as you do. To get to your bizarre reading, one has to ignore all of the Reconstruction amendments and portions of Article III.

      If you did read Article III, you would note that it creates a Supreme Court. The only parts of the federal judiciary that are "creatures of Congress" as you put it are the inferior federal courts.

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    3. (@Dr. Egnor: I beg your pardon, in advance, for going off on a tangent - what some might call hijacking a thread. If it's too distracting, please feel free to remove my comment.)

      John, Your comments are always thoughtful, apropos, and welcome.

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    4. Ilion:

      One of the best synopses of the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses I've read. Like a breath of fresh air. Thanks.

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    5. @Anon:

      [To get to your bizarre reading, one has to ignore all of the Reconstruction amendments]

      Justice Thomas and many others have pointed out that the incorporation clause of the 14th amendment (which you are referring to) can't be applied to the establishment clause, because you can't "incorporate" to the states a clause (establishment clause) that specifically prohibits interference of the federal government with the states.

      The establishment clause is essentially an anti-incorporation clause, and it remains in effect. It cannot be "incorporated" to the states.

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    6. Anonymouse: "If you did read Article III, you would note that it creates a Supreme Court. The only parts of the federal judiciary that are "creatures of Congress" as you put it are the inferior federal courts."

      One wonders, is this Anonymouse a liar or simply intellectually dishonest? I suppose that his false assertion could be explained as an artifact of simple stupidity, but I'd rather not contemplate that logical possibility.

      What the Amonymouse's false assertion cannot be explained by is honest ignorance (*), for he implicitly claims to have read and inderstood Article III.

      This is from Artilce III, Section 2: "In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."

      Note the part I have bolded -- the Constitution of the United States of America explicitly gives Congress the power and authority to set and regulate the jurisdiction of the "supreme Court" (notice lack of capitalization of "supreme") -- excepting that jurisdiction which the Constitution explicitly confers upon the "supreme Court"; which is to say, excepting the limits which the Constitution itself imposes upon the Congress.

      In other words, and just as I said, even the "supreme Court" is defined by the US Constitution as being a creature of the Congress.


      (*) And there are only these three possible explanations, plus complex interactions between them, for his false assertion:
      1) stupidity, which is incurable;
      2) ignorance, which is curable;
      3) dishonesty, which is willfully chosen.

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    7. Justice Thomas and many others have pointed out that the incorporation clause of the 14th amendment (which you are referring to) can't be applied to the establishment clause

      Justice Thomas' position is willfully wrong, and is unlikely to ever prevail in practice. Scalia and Thomas are the last dying gasps of anti-establishment clause jurisprudence.

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    8. @illion: You're not even close enough to the truth to be called wrong. Article III creates the supreme Court, and endows it with jurisdiction. Congress certainly has some say in the jurisdiction of the Court, but it cannot override the Constitutional grants that you breezed by on your way to your inane conclusion. One has to wonder if you ever actually studied law, or if you are just another ignorant moron spouting silliness on the internet.

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    9. @Ilion: Thanks for at least attempting to answer my question. I think I must not have refined my point very well.

      At this point, I'm not asking about whether the bill of rights has any jurisdiction over non-Congressional bodies. Whether it does or not, I think we all agree it limits the powers of Congress.

      So when Congress passes a law (like the Selective Service Act or the Controlled Substances Act or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) how do you think the courts should rule on that law, in light of the establishment clause?

      1. Is Congress forbidden by the establishment clause to make any law that might compel some people to behave contrary to the doctrines of their faith? For instance, is the Selective Service Act unconstitutional because it punishes Quakers for refusing to go to war?

      2. Or does the establishment clause just mean that people should be granted exemptions under the law if their religion requires certain prohibited behavior? For instance, are we required to exempt Rastafarians from the Controlled Substances Act in the same way we exempted Catholics from the Eighteenth Amendment?

      3. Or does it just mean that Congress can't make a law the sole purpose of which is to restrict religious exercise? So, for instance, Congress can pass a law requiring employers to pay for sterilization procedures for their employees, even if some Catholic institutions might not be able to comply without violating the tenets of their faith, because the law does not target Catholics specifically, but only requires them to adhere to the same rules that apply to all other employers?

      4. Or does it mean something else entirely?

      I've been pondering this lately because of the HHS contraceptive mandate. (details here) A lot of people I respect are calling it unconstitutional, but I'm having trouble seeing why, given that we generally expect people to obey the law of the land, even when their religion requires them to do otherwise. (I couldn't get away with things like widow-burning, human sacrifice, or even smoking marijuana just because I happened to belong to a religion that requires them.) I fully believe the mandate is tyrannical but don't see it as unconstitutional.

      Truth be told, I'm still not 100% sure I fully understand the purpose and implications of the establishment clause in general. Given the author and readership of this blog, I was hoping to be presented with some perspectives I hadn't considered before.

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