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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the church system I was always taught that the pastor was the authority on anything spiritual. After all, they had been ‘called’ and had gone to college to be taught everything about God and the bible.

I remember how impressed I was by pastors. If I had a question about the bible I could make an appointment and go in and talk with the pastor. I figured he would have all the answers.

As I got a little older, I became infatuated with some of the big named evangelist. I would listen to them, send them money and if at all possible, go to their crusades. I can remember thinking if I could only be like them. They were super-spiritual and knew all about God and had the answers to all spiritual questions.

I really thought that was the way to learn about God, by going to church, reading the bible and getting all the wisdom of the pastors and evangelists.

Fortunately, I got to a point where I realized the pastors and evangelists were no different than me. They did not have all the answers and they were not super-spiritual like I had always imagined. I came to understand that people are people. None are closer to God or more special to God than another. Yes, some are more knowledgeable due to more time reading and studying but no one is higher up or more important in God’s eyes.

Now days I really do not care much what men and women say, it is just their opinion. They are humans like the rest of us. We can certainly discuss things and get insight from one another, but God loves each of us the same. The Spirit within us can guide and teach us without the help of any human being. If we believe the Spirit lives within us, why are we more interested in what another human says? Why not learn how to hear the voice of the Spirit from within rather than the thoughts and traditions of men?

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By Mike Edwards

Beliefs claimed about God lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I suggest HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others? A loving God couldn’t possibly have anything in common with extremists or terrorists!

We must avoid claiming a good God is determined solely by a Book.  

We can’t prove when the Bible records “God said” that the biblical writers/editors always heard from God correctly. The idea that the entire Bible is inspired or approved by God, without questioning, often leads down the slippery slope of inspired interpretations. We can’t utter “the Bible says so” because our interpretation may be wrong. It is very different to approach the Bible from the perspective that God is uncontrolling but continually seeks to influence for one’s good. 

Jesus when leaving this earth didn’t promise to leave us with a Bible but God’s Spirit in discerning good from evil (Jn. 14:16). Supposed right beliefs or interpretations are less important than simply loving others. Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation, written thousands of years ago, should be read so dogmatically? A fallible Book can lead to listening to different opinions as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. The Bible wouldn’t be God’s main communication anyway, because the majority born into this world never had a copy.

Terrorists seldom are Gandhi-type individuals who seek to treat all like they want to be treated. Doesn’t true religion seek to serve not be served? Terrorism seems driven by power and control. If certain claims about God in any Book are questionable of a morally perfect God (most agree One claiming to be God must be perfect), it is doubtful God inspired such false beliefs.

We must avoid implying a loving God seeks to control freedom of beliefs.

One would think a God who is powerful enough to create, unless a respecter of freedom of beliefs, would annihilate immediately those who choose evil and oppose God. God’s love in the Bible is most frequently compared to that of a human parent. Human or spiritual parents bring children into the world hoping their children freely reciprocate their love for authentic relationships. Forced love is an oxymoron. A good God couldn’t possibly want to control beliefs through fear.

We must intervene with family or whoever when we notice one’s beliefs leads to forcing their religious practices on others or blowing up innocent people. Terrorists don’t just blow themselves up to spread their gospel. Jesus felt His own suffering for something He believed would change lives for the better. A loving God surely respects the freedom of beliefs in this life and after death, encourages men and women to be equally vulnerable to one another, seeks only to convert others from evil actions, and guides through a relationship and not a book written thousands of years ago.

We must avoid claiming a loving God’s view of women hints of inequality.

I am not suggesting all religious extremists are saying Paradise is a lustful adventure for men at the expense of women, but it is important to not be dogmatic that the Bible teaches women are under the authority of men in the God of the Bible eyes. This can encourage dominance on the man’s part. Women and men surely need unselfish partners who have the heart of a servant. Some religious extremists would rather be dead than advocate for that. We must avoid proscribing gender roles which more frequently are used to oppress women than men.

We must avoid suggesting a loving God would torture unbelievers before or after death.

Delayed torture is still torture in the eyes of many. We mustn’t claim Hell is real because biblical scholars don’t agree the traditional understanding of Hell exists in the Bible. Most humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies! The word hell is a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words and seems invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience. A loving God respects the right to choose your own personal beliefs in this life, and God wouldn’t torture people after death for such decisions.

Conversion to certain beliefs is never the loving goal.

I believe Christianity or any religion must differentiate themselves from terrorists or extremists. Who doesn’t know it is right to encourage treating others like you want to be treated, but we must avoid attempts to convert others to a set of beliefs associated with our religion. Jesus had no evangelical spiel other than to encourage people to shun evil and do good. Jesus encouraged spirituality for self-interest and the interests of others. Jesus did want us to know God was the kind of Creator or Parent who desired a friendship to encourage such a journey. Attempts to convert suggests a not so hidden agenda. Since Hell doesn’t exist and billions have lived who have never heard of Jesus or the Bible, a loving God would not require certain beliefs for a relationship.

MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD REALLY ……

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

Why I Doubt God Is A “Hidden Agenda” Proselytizer

 

 

 

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by Jim Gordon

We hear the word fundamentalism often in the christian world. I actually grew up as a fundamentalist but never realized that was what I was because I never put much thought into all the different terms and labels. I just loved God and went to church because that was the way I thought we lived the christian life.

When I looked up the word fundamentalism in the dictionary I found the following definitions: 1. a conservative movement in theology among nineteenth and twentieth-century Christians. Fundamentalists believe that the statements in the Bible are literally true. 2. in Christianity the belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true. 3. a religious movement characterized by a strict belief in the literal interpretation of religious texts, especially within American Protestantism and Islam; the beliefs held by those in this movement; strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.

Now that I know what fundamentalist means, I no longer believe I would be considered one. My views, beliefs and interpretations have changed so much over the years, especially since leaving the organized church. For some reason I never felt comfortable asking questions while in the organization. I just took what the pastor said as gospel truth and never questioned anything. Being outside the walls of religion I can let all those questions come out and seek truth from the Spirit of God rather than from a pastor.

I believe fundamentalism leads more to separation, condemnation and being judgmental. It seems to me being so set on specific doctrines, beliefs and interpretations can prevent us from asking questions, learning, accepting and loving others.

Are my thoughts a popular way of looking at the christian life? Of course not! I grew up in the organized church from a very young age and spent nearly sixty years in it. I also used to think everything depended on my works such as attending church, tithing, doing good works, reading the bible and believing it was perfect, completely literal and the only way God spoke to us today. There are many people still doing all this and they sincerely love God and think this is the way we are to serve God. Yet being outside of this setting I have seen what is for me a better way. A way of depending on the Spirit within to teach and guide us. A way that loves and accepts others even when they do not see things the same.

Today the term fundamentalist christian seems to have more of a meaning of being hateful and not being accepting of others views. Completely different from what Jesus taught and what God is like.

Jesus was not a fundamentalist, he was not even a christian. Jesus was the personification of the Father who is a God of love. Even those writings from the old testament where men wrote from their beliefs, ideas, interpretations and what they thought about God were shown to be wrong when Jesus arrived. He showed us that God is not a god of vengeance, hatred and murder but a God who loves all of us.

We are to love God and love one another. Loving our neighbor does not mean just loving those who live next door, or loving those who believe like we believe. Our neighbor is everyone else in the world. Seems to me most fundamentalist reject those who see things differently and prefer to stay away from those who do not believe the same.

I would rather be known as a follower of Jesus rather than a fundamentalist christian. The way of the law and following rules and set doctrines of men have come to an end. The way of loving one another because of the grace of Christ is the new covenant way. I have actually become quite tired of using labels at all. We are all human beings who are loved by God. We should all be treated with love, respect, acceptance and have the same rights as everyone else. God did not create some people better than others, we are all created in the likeness of God and are loved by God.

There are so many topics and beliefs I grew up learning in the fundamentalist church that I no longer accept. I certainly have not lost my belief in or love for God, yet the many interpretations that were taught by men and women in the institution I now find wrong and not like Christ.

Rather than adhere to a set of rules and institutional-taught beliefs we are to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Learn to hear the voice of the Spirit and let your life be a daily communication of the love of God to others.

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By Mike Edwards

Beliefs claimed about God lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

Friends can smell a hidden agenda a mile away.

It simply is wrong to engage in friendships for the purpose of converting them to your beliefs without advising upfront this is your agenda. It should be obvious that we need to start acting like true friends act toward one another. We engage in relationships because we are interested in having friendships with others, both to love and be loved. Discussions about spirituality or God best come up naturally.

If people want to pursue a relationship with God, they should see in our life something worth asking about. What if I told you the Gospel is: God loves you and longs for a relationship so you can be the kind of person you deep down truly desire to be. I am convinced God wants you to know true freedom is knowing your Creator’s love for you so you might love others similarly. 

God has been a respecter of freedom of beliefs from the very beginning.

Why would a God who is powerful enough to create not annihilate immediately those who choose evil and oppose God? Jesus did not force God on others but discussed spirituality in a natural, relational way. Jesus brought up spiritual matters when it seemed appropriate and was accepted. Jesus’ agenda was to simply love people in the moment, not to manipulate them.

We have portrayed God as a Parent who has certain conditions to be loved and accepted. We portray God as wanting to save people from hell, which is a myth, rather than being a God who respects one’s freedom to consider how they might make for a better world. God knows what human parents know. Love is the only path to authentic relationships but can’t be forced. “Controlling love” is a contradiction in terms. Relationships come out of inspiration not fear!

Even the Son of God in the Bible didn’t require certain beliefs.

Jesus simply invited His disciples to follow Him and see for themselves as opposed to adhere to a set of beliefs. He told Levi (Matthew): “follow me” (Lk. 5:27). Jesus basic message could be summarize as: “But to you who are listening I say: ….Do to others as you would have them do to you” (6:27-31). Jesus only encouraged those seeking a better life to follow His example. 

We all know the story of how Jesus responded to the religious elite who had caught a woman in adultery (Jn. 7:53-8:11). When Jesus rightly shamed the crowd, they dropped their stones and left Jesus and the woman alone. Jesus didn’t lecture, pray with the woman, or tell her to go to church. Jesus simply said: “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus showed the woman all she needed to know – God loves you and encourages you to do what you know is right in your heart.

Jesus saved tough conversations for religious pretenders who claimed to represent God. The Pharisees were in love with their power, thus making religion self-serving rather than self-sacrificing. Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees for their misguided emphasis on rules and obedience rather than a relationship and God’s radical love. 

Many may be surprised what Jesus said when asked how to have eternal life.

Jesus did not warn one to run like/from Hell. Jesus simply advised to love God and your neighbor. One saves their life by running from selfishness. A religious expert asks Jesus: “what must I do to inherit eternal life” (Luke 10:25). Jesus didn’t admonish one to get on their knees and pray for forgiveness. Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” (10:25-27). Jesus knew loving God can empower us to be the person we deep down desire to be.

Eternal life in the Bible isn’t about one’s destination in the future but life in the present. J.D. Myers is right: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.” https://redeeminggod.com/confess-jesus-romans-10-9-10/

God-followers need to worry more about their example than what others believe.

Baptists, Methodists, Protestants, Catholics, etc. fight over their different doctrines, yet all supposedly believe in the same message of loving your neighbor as yourself. Why would anyone seek spiritual guidance from people that can’t get along? We have enough conflict in our families, friendships, and places of work. Christianity or any religion is better off without buildings with names on them. We simply need relationships that encourage one another in their spiritual journey.

What does God believe in and desire for us all?

People feel manipulated rather than loved when spiritual folks have an agenda. Engage in relationships only with the desire to love others as they wished to be loved. The Gospel is simply that our Creator desires a relationship to influence us for the world and our own good. Jesus only wanted to help others listen to their heart. I am convinced a close relationship with my Creator helps me to be a better man, husband, father, and friend. Loving parents seek the admiration and respect of their children, so they want to follow in their footsteps to make this world a better place. Similarly, knowing and understanding God’s radical love can inspire selfless love toward others.

More posts in the I Doubt God Really ………. series:

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

 

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by Jordan Hathcock, Guest Blogger
https://welcometothetablesite.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/knowing-souls/

“So let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint
Let’s head on down the road
There’s somewhere I gotta go
And you don’t know how it feels
No, you don’t know how it feels to be me”. – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Do we really know “how it feels” to be in someone else’s shoes? Can we really comprehend the magnitude of other people’s experiences? Hard to say, really.  I know for myself; it is not easy trying to empathize and relate to others experiences and dispositions. We all attempt and often fail miserably. Often, our motives are what really play a huge part in how we engage with others and their issues. Coming from the Christian perspective, I think we are on the failing end of making a positive difference in others who are different then us.

It has become a competition in winning the souls of others, instead of building authentic relationships. Numerous of factors come into play of why this is. Not to get to long winded on this blog post, but the biggest driving force is the concept of hell. The Christian tradition has morphed into a factory of “get people of hell in the afterlife” instead of letting people experience “heaven on earth in the here and now”. Fear, greed, and the us vs. them motif is the foundation of this unfortunate state of affairs we are currently experiencing.  When you make a belief system of fear and hate into a thriving institution, the effects are direly devastating.

But, I don’t think all is lost (yes, very optimistic of me I know).  There always has been another spark and remnant that comes out of the evil empire that brings about hopeful change. I would like to quote this verse from the Christian scriptures that brings to light these two contending ideas of winning souls vs. entering in genuine relationships:

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

The premise I take here (from the many different interpretations and commentary I have found with this scripture verse, and guess what? That’s ok!), Paul was trying to bring about blessings to those he made contact with for the sake of the gospel. It states: “I have become all things to all people…in order to save some”. It has the “winning souls” rhetoric here and to the first century readers that could have been more of a way of getting to a better way of being to escape the oncoming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D (just a little side note hehe). But, I think how Paul finished up this passage is showing the real intention of “becoming all things to all people” (the true relationship builder): SO THAT I MAY SHARE IN ITS BLESSINGS! This right here is the point of entering in relationships with others.  This is what the Gospel of Christ should bring to ALL PEOPLE.

It about truly knowing people.  When Jesus says: To know God and His Son, this knowing is ginosko and this literally means “a felt knowing”, as in RELATIONAL! No matter who it is–black, white, gay, straight–experiencing the blessings of peace which produces love is what it’s all about. It is going out there and becoming friends with others (I know we can’t do this with everyone, but I think we can fucking do a better job than what we are doing now)! This is what brings us out of the hell we sometimes find ourselves in this life. The Kin-dom reality is about the here and now.  We will never develop and evolve (aka salvation) as a species until we realize that its real relationships that will get us there…

“Self-sufficiency makes God experience impossible! That’s why Jesus showed up in this world as a naked, vulnerable one, a defenseless baby lying in the place where animals eat. Talk about utter relationship! Naked vulnerability means I’m going to let you influence me; I’m going to allow you to change me. The Way of Jesus is an invitation to a Trinitarian way of living, loving, and relating—on earth as it is in the Godhead. We are intrinsically like the Trinity, living in absolute relatedness. To choose to stand outside of this Flow is the deepest and most obvious meaning of sin. We call the Flow love. We really were made for love, and outside of it we die very quickly.”

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By Mike Edwards

I am convinced there are beliefs claimed about God that lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different.  Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

The Bible often does portray God as an angry hothead.

Many Old Testament passages just can’t be rationalized away. The story starts off by God destroying the world minus eight with a Flood. Even if it was a local as opposed to global flood, the metaphor still stinks! There were surely a few people innocent of evil so horrific to escape such actions by God. Who doesn’t think it is wrong to drown just one child in a bathtub? It gets worse by killing babies in Egypt and God supposedly ordering the Israel army to “not spare them: put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys”(I Sam. 15:3). Hundreds of passages seem to advocate evil behaviors in God’s name.

Hundreds of passages also speak of God’s love and mercy. Did the biblical writers think it sacrilegious to not portray God in controlling terms like the others gods at that time? We have every right to question if the writers’ views of God evolved over time. God can handle it. I wish the writers had clearly indicated God was angry at evil as opposed to people. God violent one minute and merciful and loving the next minute sounds like an abusive spouse or parent.

Doesn’t the Bible say “fear God” or else?  

We are often encouraged to fear God as if God thinks such fear and obligatory loves leads to a genuine relationship. God supposedly demands fear for ego reasons or as a sign of reverence. Fearing someone seldom leads to an inspiring relationship with that person. Some scholars suggest “fear God” is better phrased “respect God.” God’s request for respect (glory) is no different than a loving parent’s hope for respect because their love should have their child’s best interest in mind.  

Are humans really holier or more moral than God?

A human parent warns or gets upset with a child’s actions not in their best interest or the welfare of others, but that doesn’t lead to them wanted to annihilate their child. What God or parent doesn’t know sin has its own consequences; God doesn’t seek to pile on the anger. God doesn’t worry that their unimaginable love gives us further license to keep sinning. Acting selfish is natural and doesn’t wait for permission. God seeks to continually assure us of their love so we don’t every give up no matter how demoralized we may feel.

God couldn’t be egotistical!

If God was so worried about their reputation, God certainly would not have given us freedom to contradict their wishes. All the evil in the world suggests God isn’t controlling. God is not more concerned with restoring their honor than expressing a desire for a relationship freely chosen. Many religions today imply their god expects certain beliefs or face immediate extinction. Not the God of the Bible! And what kind of all-powerful God wants to be friends? Abraham (Jm. 2:23) and Moses (Ex. 33:11) are called God’s friend, and Jesus called the disciples His friends (Jn. 15:15). God is our Creator and Friend.

God isn’t possessive of their glory.

What kind of parent wants to be alone in their glory? Jesus says in John 17:22 after speaking on fulfilling his mission with his disciples and then turning his attentions to all who believe: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.”  We cannot be God, but we can strive to be like God. God’s request for glory is not self-infatuation. Imagine a world that glorified God in all they did! There would be no evil or suffering caused by others in the world. There would be no physical or sexual abuse in the world. There would be no parents living out their dreams through their children. There would be no bigotry based on the color of your skin or the gender you were born.  There would be no locking of cars and houses. God gets a bad rap when portrayed as selfish or obsessed with themselves.

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

 

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by Rocky Glenn

It’s that time of year again.  This coming Monday my son begins his fourth and final year of band camp for his upcoming senior year of high school.  When he began his high school marching band career four years ago, I did not realize it would rekindle the love of halftime shows and band festivals I once experienced myself.  It’s not that my admiration for the art had ever really faded, but dormant memories of afterschool practices, Friday night football games, and Saturday competitions resurfaced for the first time in many years.  Many times over the last three years I’ve mentally been taken back to playing stand tunes, loading and unloading buses, moving equipment, and anxiously awaiting to take the field for performance.

At one competition last fall, just as a band had taken the field and was about to begin, I heard a simple phrase I do not recall ever being uttered at a band competition.  Once the PA announcer had given the command to enter the field in competition and the spectators had fallen quiet in anticipation, three little words were heard from the band director standing on the sideline, “Enjoy the moment!”

Those three words stuck in my head.  I knew from experience all the work, energy, sweat, dedication, and effort required to get to this point.  For the last three months the students had prepared and rehearsed meticulously every minute musical and visual detail yet to be revealed in the minutes to follow.  A typical marching show lasts between eight and nine minutes and is the result of over two hundred hours of practice which many times consists of repeating the same thirty seconds of the program constantly for half an hour or more.  Every second and every minute of rehearsal and each football game performance had been building to this moment and the final words of instruction are not, “Give your all!”, or “This is it!”, or “Remember . . . “, but simply, “Enjoy the moment!”

To enjoy something is to experience it with joy and find pleasure and satisfaction in it.  A moment is an exact point in time.  To enjoy the moment is to experience this point in time with joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.  Put a different way, to “enjoy the moment” is to “be here now.”  I’ve had a coworker once use that phrase as a password.  At first glance, it seemed to indicate a lack of patience, but upon closer look it serves as a reminder to be present where you are.

For the sake of storytelling and narrative of this post, it would be amazing to write from the perspective of one who has conquered this idea.  I can’t say whether anyone else in attendance, in the stands or on the field, was struck by the director’s words, but the image of that moment is etched in my memory.  As awe-inspiring as it would be to write how it was a life changing moment and I have enjoyed every moment which has come my way since that blustery Saturday afternoon last October, to do so would be false and a lie. Still yet, the words echo in my head.

In the posts and weeks ahead, I intend to take a closer a look at what it means to enjoy the moment, why we often do not enjoy the moment, and exactly how we can truly enjoy the moment.

I look forward to the posts to come and sharing my thoughts with you.

Rocky

More posts in the Enjoying the Moment series:

 

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