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Athiests in AA??

Old 01-13-2007, 08:47 AM
  # 181 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by NoelleR View Post
Hey Mowhawk2 ---

I see you're in Round Rock Texas; well, I, for one, as an atheist, did get sober in AA (clean in NA), in what I like to call 'my' little corner of the Bible Belt ---- Houston...and I've been sober since I walked thru the doors of AA

NoelleR
I live in the little corner of RI/MASS/CT in what I like to call the "sucular belt". There are pleny of sober people up here, atheists and believers alike (and a LOT of in between).
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Old 01-13-2007, 08:58 AM
  # 182 (permalink)  
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I have looked all over place for alternative programs, the only one that might actually do me some good is SMART, but they are not doing anything in the Austin area. The online thing might help a little I guess. I guess it just has to come back to me and my decisions. I am committed to my sobriety, but I just can not turn my life over to a shower curtain or what ever else.

Oh yeah, thank you everybody for the encouraging words and ideas.
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:13 AM
  # 183 (permalink)  
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Hey.....again ---

Just thought I'd respond to something you said in your last post:

"I am committed to my sobriety, but I just can not turn my life over to a shower curtain or what ever else."

Well, alrighty then,.....you're committed to your sobriety/recovery; that's a good leg-up. Don't worry about turning your life over to ANYTHING. Regardless how others work a step, even the founders, just remember what the step (Step-3) actually says:

"MADE A DECISION, to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God 'as we understood him.'

For me, that meant to make that decision, and then go directly to Step-4 (which was my way of turning it over.........working the rest of the steps).

And as far as a HP goes, I've never used any a HP external to self....egotistical as it may seem, my HP was, and still is, as far as recovery goes,........me....at least, the me I'll be tomorrow as long as I don't pick up today......and after 20+ years I've taken a lickin' [usually from 'hardliners' in AA who have said that I'm a relapse waitin' to happen (wellllllllll, I'm still awaitin' and I'm waitin for some of those folks to come back......from their relapses.....lol)] but I keep on tickin.'

You just keep puttin' one foot in front of the other.........and just don't pick up! ...... (o:

NoelleR
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:33 AM
  # 184 (permalink)  
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I truly believe that the founders, and most specifically Bill W., intended the program to be as inclusive to all those who suffer from alcoholism, not just those of Christian origins in the Oxford Group who initially helped them (yes, from the bible) develop a plan of action that put alcoholism into remission.

I also believe that though the language of the Big Book is a bit dated, the message is timeless and the interpretation over the years since its writing has kept up with the changing times in all but the most fundamentalist areas of its practice. Yes, I'm an alcoholic, but I'm also most definitely a drug addict, and I'm clean and sober in Alcoholics Anonymous. I don't think dated language is a reason to rewrite the book. I don't see any need to touch the first hundred sixty-four pages, which have come under fire for it's language regarding atheists and its somewhat sexist skew. I can read "To Wives" and know that it applies just as much to my husband as Bill W's Lois. The program, religiously tinged or not, should remain as it is, and we, the new generation of sober alcoholics, should interpret it, with love and tolerance, to others to show that it works, it really does, and this is how it works for us. Experience, strength and hope. I try every day to relate that in one form or another on several blogs that I maintain.

So, finally, I think of the day that my father announced he was no longer listening to John Denver because "that hippy freak thinks that he's god." Well, there is a school of spiritual thought (many, actually) that many label "atheist" (anti theist) because it does not personify god. It does not characterize humanness as a lower condition, but rather one that can attain a higher state of consciousness and can, like John Denver seemed to believe, become one with a connected, collective cosmic consciousness. It is purpose, and it meaning meaning, and it is alive and well in Alcoholics Anonymous. The atheists posting on this thread may not believe in even that much "god," but if they hold any belief in a reason for existence, for even getting sober in the first place (love, good, desire, anything), then that's enough "belief" to find spirituality (whether or not you choose to call it that) and stay sober in Alcoholics Anonymous.

For the record, my sponsor is Christian and all of my sponsees are Christian as well. They don't consider me a heathen or a sinner because I don't elevate Christ's existence as more significant than my own.

Peace & Love,
Sugah
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Old 01-13-2007, 04:43 PM
  # 185 (permalink)  
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Hi Sugah

I do not think that there is no comparison between the language and attitude of the BB in regards to Wives and Atheists.

The BB has a dated but positive message to Women and regardless of what era of the BB message to Atheists, it is negative. Starting with the inevitable Alcoholic death Atheist will experience to how low the Founders found the the nature and character of Atheists to be.

There is no spin anyone can put on this, the words are written in black and white.

I still say that Atheists can benefit from AA, but understand that a lot of the Foundations are not positive toward or made to help Atheists. Some of the Founders attitudes are simply prejudiced toward Atheists.

AB

Originally Posted by Sugah View Post
I truly believe that the founders, and most specifically Bill W., intended the program to be as inclusive to all those who suffer from alcoholism, not just those of Christian origins in the Oxford Group who initially helped them (yes, from the bible) develop a plan of action that put alcoholism into remission.

I also believe that though the language of the Big Book is a bit dated, the message is timeless and the interpretation over the years since its writing has kept up with the changing times in all but the most fundamentalist areas of its practice. Yes, I'm an alcoholic, but I'm also most definitely a drug addict, and I'm clean and sober in Alcoholics Anonymous. I don't think dated language is a reason to rewrite the book. I don't see any need to touch the first hundred sixty-four pages, which have come under fire for it's language regarding atheists and its somewhat sexist skew. I can read "To Wives" and know that it applies just as much to my husband as Bill W's Lois. The program, religiously tinged or not, should remain as it is, and we, the new generation of sober alcoholics, should interpret it, with love and tolerance, to others to show that it works, it really does, and this is how it works for us. Experience, strength and hope. I try every day to relate that in one form or another on several blogs that I maintain.

So, finally, I think of the day that my father announced he was no longer listening to John Denver because "that hippy freak thinks that he's god." Well, there is a school of spiritual thought (many, actually) that many label "atheist" (anti theist) because it does not personify god. It does not characterize humanness as a lower condition, but rather one that can attain a higher state of consciousness and can, like John Denver seemed to believe, become one with a connected, collective cosmic consciousness. It is purpose, and it meaning meaning, and it is alive and well in Alcoholics Anonymous. The atheists posting on this thread may not believe in even that much "god," but if they hold any belief in a reason for existence, for even getting sober in the first place (love, good, desire, anything), then that's enough "belief" to find spirituality (whether or not you choose to call it that) and stay sober in Alcoholics Anonymous.

For the record, my sponsor is Christian and all of my sponsees are Christian as well. They don't consider me a heathen or a sinner because I don't elevate Christ's existence as more significant than my own.

Peace & Love,
Sugah
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Old 01-14-2007, 07:03 PM
  # 186 (permalink)  
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My story is like ExDrunk's.

I got sober 17 years ago, with the help of AA. The religious (because no matter how we spin it - AA is firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian religious philosophy) stuff was a problem for me in the beginning, but I was desperate to stay there, to get sober, because I knew I was going die. One day a guy who had been sober for a few years told me, "believe that I believe," and I could do that. I listened to people who had long term sobriety, and they all spoke of their glorious relationship with a higher power.

Oh, how I tried. I had a Christian sponsor at one point, I was trying so hard. I prayed, I did everything - but I never felt that connection that others spoke so glowingly of.

A few years ago, I became an organizer for a social justice organization. Eventually I became involved with a Unitarian Universalist Church - the and the last place I expected to be was a church!! Some UU's are Christian, some are atheist, some are Jews, Buddhists, humanists, pagans, pretty much anything you can think of. There is no book, no dogma, and all are welcome, regardless of religious background or sexual orientation. I found my place. I found my community - a group of smart, funny people who are deeply concerned with social justice. My minister sometimes reads from the Bible, but is just as likely to read from Ralph Waldo Emerson, or Mary Oliver. I joined the local UU congregation.

Oddly enough, joining a church set me free. I was able to come out of the closet as an atheist - I was able to stop pretending that I had a relationship with a higher power. I haven't been to an AA meeting for about a year and a half - but after reading this thread, I'm going to go back to be there for the newcomers who are atheists. It sounds as if they need "old timers" like me to help teach a little tolerance to the dogmatics.

Thank you, all of you. Reading this had helped me.
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Old 01-14-2007, 07:26 PM
  # 187 (permalink)  
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Hi Spork

As a fellow UU, I an glad to be a part of such a wonderful group of people, I feel welcomed and my views are honored at UU.
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Old 01-14-2007, 07:41 PM
  # 188 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by mike_mass View Post
I live in the little corner of RI/MASS/CT in what I like to call the "sucular belt". There are pleny of sober people up here, atheists and believers alike (and a LOT of in between).
Sorry, I really meant to say "secular belt"...nothing Freudian in my slip.
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Old 01-15-2007, 02:35 AM
  # 189 (permalink)  
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Thanks everyone, really informative stuff.
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Old 01-15-2007, 04:50 PM
  # 190 (permalink)  
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I have talked to quite a few people in several differant groups arouned the Austin area to get the same response, AA is an organization where spirituallity is an important part of recovery. It wasn't like this in the area that I startet my recovery in, but now that I have moved to the Austin area this is what I am running into.

I can't find an Athiest or Wiccaan any where in the area. I just want to find a group where I can feel included and not pushed aside like some sort of lost cause.

Any athiests or non christians out there in the Austin area who might be able to help?
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Old 01-15-2007, 07:14 PM
  # 191 (permalink)  
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A hop, skip, and jump away...

LifeRing Meeting:

Cedar Park Saturday
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............................................... Address: 3315 El Salido Parkway Room 103
.................................................. Focus: How was your week?
.................................................. .. Note: First meeting October 21 2006
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Old 01-15-2007, 07:33 PM
  # 192 (permalink)  
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Thanks

Thanks for the help Door Knob. I am getting so frustrated with the anti everybody attitude of AA it is just crazy. Why is that if you do not fit into the anglo saxon judeo christian world that one can not be allowed to stay sober. I find that behavior repulsive. I choose not to drink, just like the rest of the people who walk through the doors.
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Old 01-15-2007, 07:42 PM
  # 193 (permalink)  
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You're very welcome, Mowhawk. LifeRing meetings are really cool. They are completely secular, and crosstalk is not only allowed, but encouraged, so you can obtain direct feedback, ask questions, etc. It's kinda like a living room discussion. I wish I had one in my neck of the woods...
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Old 01-15-2007, 07:58 PM
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Talking Life ring

Took a look at the web sight. Looks awesome. Some where that people can just go to vent there problems and actually be encouraged by people. Wow, what a concept....lol
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Old 01-16-2007, 04:32 PM
  # 195 (permalink)  
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Unhappy

Hi

In New England outside of Mass there is nothing like that



Originally Posted by doorknob View Post
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Old 01-16-2007, 05:43 PM
  # 196 (permalink)  
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follow your conscience

Originally Posted by mowhawk2 View Post
I am new to recovery, and I am getting frustrated with it all ready. I have been asked not to return to one group because of my atheism. My sponsor tells me to ignore the negativity and work the program the best way for me, but every step has a religious twist and it is driving bonkers. Being an athiest in the middle of the bible belt is tough enough, but it should really not be a factor in my sobriety.

You are right Mohawk. Your beliefs should not be a bar to your recovery. Follow your conscience, just try not to have an attitude of belligerence.
Jim
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Old 01-16-2007, 05:51 PM
  # 197 (permalink)  
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Its funny...I never met an atheist on the battlefield... never been there? Thats what I thought.
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Old 01-16-2007, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Johneebegood View Post
Its funny...I never met an atheist on the battlefield... never been there? Thats what I thought.
You are right. Fear of impending death can lead to irrational thoughts. When I spent the night in the hospital with my dying grandmother who was in terrible pain and suffering horribly, I prayed for her. But in the light of day after she was gone and in the absence of severe emotional distress, I was again fairly certain that God does not exist.
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Old 01-16-2007, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Johneebegood View Post
Its funny...I never met an atheist on the battlefield... never been there? Thats what I thought.
That post deserves a :thefinger

Belief in life after death was a dangerous indulgence in Vietnam

Watching the Vietnam War during the mid-1960s on the nightly news inspired me to perform my patriotic duty and join the Army. There, I was trained as a light weapons infantryman and a paratrooper. I was ordered to the front lines of battle in South Vietnam in September 1966 and fought until January 1968. I extended my tour of duty for the special privilege of an early honorable discharge.

My Vietnam War experiences began in the fall of 1966 fighting the South Vietnamese communists — the Viet Cong. After my first month in Vietnam, I became an atheist. My former religion was Lutheran, due to my Swedish ancestry which traditionally dictates that progeny be so baptized. I could understand only a primitive concept of God. I rebelled. No compassionate God, I thought, would permit all this killing to happen. After witnessing the dead and wounded during my first "firefight," I looked up and said, "You sadistic God! You're not worthy of my worship!"

Medical evacuation by helicopter "dust-off" was a comfort to many soldiers in the jungles. When soldiers incurred critical wounds, they could expect to be returned home to the United States. Otherwise, they could be assured of arriving at a hospital operating table and being treated with professional care, usually in about thirty minutes. However, when ambushed and outnumbered by an enemy force with superior firepower, the fear of dying strikes one's intellect and emotions to the point of crippling panic.

This happened to me near a hamlet northwest of Saigon. I, along with five other men, was assigned to night duty at an outpost about a half-mile from company perimeters. We carried only our M-16 rifles, grenades, Claymore mines, and a two-way radio to protect us. That night we were surprised by an assault group of Viet Cong guerrilla fighters. Three dead young American soldiers were silhouetted by the moon's reflections inside our outpost bunker. The radio man sputtered, "Oh, Lord! Lord! Help us!" My response to him was to stop praying. I exclaimed, "To hell with God! You help us! You radio back for mortar and artillery fire support!" Fortunately, he regained his composure and radioed the forward observers for fire support to be directed at our map coordinates. Common sense dictated that staying alive was more important than wasting precious time praying. Consequently, he save our lives.

The next morning, I was thrilled to see the men from my company. Fortunately, I didn't sustain any personal injuries from the night assault. However, the assaults of the next morning struck me personally when a surviving soldier said to me, "See, Paulson, God answers prayers." I replied, "I'm damn glad that someone was an atheist in a foxhole!" He laughed because he thought I was joking, and I had to allow him to believe that I was — I had to keep my atheism to myself.

I knew that proclaiming to be an atheist while on duty in South Vietnam could likely prejudiced promotions and possibly cause harmful reprisals. An atheist was perceived as tantamount to being a communist. Our army chaplain was a fundamentalist Christian who saw the devil in virtually everything he didn't believe in. Army chaplains wielded a lot of power; their opinions could make the difference between whether or not you got promoted. So, I was quiet about my nonbelief in God.

I suffered through horrifying moments, expecting to be killed. I was convinced that no cosmic rescuer would same me. Besides, I believed life after death was merely wishful thinking. There were times when I expected to suffer a painful, agonizing death. My frustration and anger at being caught in a dilemma of life- and-death situations simply infuriated me. Hearing the sound of bullets whistling through the air and popping near my ears was damned scary. Fortunately, I was never physically wounded.

One day I heard the chaplain preach that we should be happy and willing to die so that we could be with Jesus. After hearing that, some people praised God. I cursed Gold. Cursing and swearing were very therapeutic and healthy for me; it game me the courage of Hercules. It gave me confidence in my ability and skill to stay alive. I was determined to live on this side of the grave. I could not believe that there was a better life than this one, so I rejected the foolish notion that my existence was based upon the extremes of God and the devil, heaven and hell, and life after death.

When facing death, my thought was to stay alive. I was just infuriated by all the people praying and wasting my precious time and theirs. When the chips are down and there's no one to turn to for help, and you've found out that it's just you who has been helping all along, that's the big difference. I discovered in combat that there is no one to turn to — it's just you who has been saving your own ass all along. My answer to death was simply, "Oh well, I'll be pushing daisies." If I survived and looked at another person's death, I'd think it's not my body that's being counted." I was fighting to stay alive — not praying for life after death.

I told my company clerk to issue me new dogtags with "none" stamped on them for my religious preference. The excuse I gave was that I didn't have any religion. Although I didn't know it at the time, I was a humanist.

Later when I was getting short (a term used in Vietnam for guys who were nearing discharge and would be returning home), I felt freer to proclaim my atheism and started spouting off. I figured, what could they do then — kill me?

When I had first arrived in South Vietnam and reported to my assigned military unit, I told my platoon sergeant that I could not kill anyone. He told me that there are no pacifists or atheists in foxholes. He was wrong. One of my army buddies was a very bright and articulate medic. I asked him why he wasn't carrying a rifle or even a pistol, and he replied that he was a pacifist. His pacifism was unpopular with some soldiers in the company, and he received some verbal ridicule and scorn. However, this didn't seem to bother him.

Being under fire didn't seem to bother him either or keep him from performing his duty. I recall seeing my buddy risk his life many times during very frightening battles, fearlessly running about various terrain and attending to the wounded. Then, one dreadful day, I saw his lifeless body riddled with bullet holes, struck dead by Viet Cong small-arms fire. They wrapped him in a body bag for dust-off. I recall my platoon sergeant's remark, "That pacifist might have lived if he had had a weapon to defend himself."

I remember that when I first thought about enlisting, I wondered if I might be a conscientious objector. I really wrestled with that thought at the beginning, wondering, "Could I really kill somebody?" But when ultimately faced with the choice in a combat situation — to kill or be killed — I opted for life. However, my buddy did find himself in that situation: he couldn't kill, yet he chose to go into the service. And they sent him to Vietnam. They should have kept him in the States. He ended up getting killed.

The small bands of Viet Cong soldiers practiced guerrilla warfare: strike and ambush and retreat into the jungle. We searched and destroyed the Viet Cong's sanctuaries with our small platoon and squad-sized patrols. My company was ordered to demolish their tunnels, destroy their food supplies, confiscate their munitions, and take into custody all surviving prisoners of war.

The heavy foliage in South Vietnam's jungles was treacherous. I recall sneaking up death-laden trails and through heavy under- brush where shattered, razor-sharp bamboo booby traps could cut a finger clean off. I recall with disgust the monsoon rains, blood-sucking leaches crawling everywhere, and the merciless malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Every stroke of the noisy machete cutting a jungle trail brought fear of the Viet Cong; they could hear us and planned their ambushes accordingly. Aircraft would sometimes fly overhead spraying orange clouds of chemicals to defoliate the jungle below. This chemical, known as Agent Orange, was sometimes sprayed directly on top of us. Severe skin rashes would result day later.

During one search-and-destroy mission of tunnel complexes, we came upon hundred-pound sacks of rice. My company commander summoned by radio a demolition team to burn up this cache of rice with white phosphorous explosives. I pleaded with the commander to stop the demolition group from burning the sacks. I challenged his sense of moral responsibility, reminding him of the villages and hamlets we had traveled through were we had witnessed thousands of starving refugees crying for something to eat. I threatened to write to my congressman. Frustrated and angry, I climbed atop the pile with my rifle and threatened to remain there and die if necessary, rather than permit them to burn it up. My commander ordered a squad of soldiers to force me down from the pile, but no one could grab me without getting a swift kick off the pile. The commander then threatened, "Come down or you'll be court marshaled." Finally, after much futile prodding, he gave in and said, "Okay, come on down, we'll transport the rice out." He radioed for armored transport carriers to transport the sacks of rice to the local communities for distribution.

My defiant act of insubordination could have resulted in severe disciplinary action. Fortunately, I only received a verbal reprimand by the company commander. But I'll never forget what he told me: "You should know that that rice is going into the hands of the Viet Cong. When we leave, the Viet Cong will come and steal it from the people."

During mid-1967, the North Vietnamese Army marched out of southern Laos along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Our military tactics changed from guerrilla warfare to full company-size combat movement. We confronted full regiments of North Vietnamese combat units in the northern highlands of South Vietnam. I can still vividly remember the carnage, my buddies screaming for help, and my terror at the sight of the dead and dying. I fought in one of the bloodiest battles of Vietnam: the battle for Dak To in November 1967. I deeply missed my army buddies who died in those mountains. In my rage and sorrow, I openly expressed my atheistic philosophy to anyone — whether they wanted to hear it or not.

I was surprised to meet the chaplain again prior to departing Vietnam. He rhetorically inquired if I was ever "saved" and if I had ever felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. he had heard through the grapevine that I didn't believe in God, and he expressed fearful concern that if I died I would go to hell. I told him not to bother worrying about me. I was happy to live a long and happy life. Before saying good bye, I left him with one inspirational thought: "If you think the Holy Spirit is great, try thinking freely — unfettered by superstitions and ritualistic creeds."
http://www.americanhumanist.org/humanism/foxhole.html
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:29 PM
  # 200 (permalink)  
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