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Atheists at Christmas: Eat, drink and be wary

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I nominate this whole article as my answer to http://www.japantoday.com/category/have-your-say/view/if-you-were-going-to-recommend-something-about-japan-to-your-friends-and-family-back-home-to-get-them-to-visit-here-what-would-it-be#comment_403334. It's nice that no one tries to shove religion down your throat, while those who want to indulge can without anyone else getting upset about it.

Not that Christmas in Japan is anything to get excited about, but at least folk don't get uppity about it.

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"Food we like. Presents we like. Seeing family we like."

What's not to like?

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chill out, atheists

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she wished parents would tell their kids there is no God at the same time they pass along certain information about Santa Claus.

so she wants parents to brainwash their kids from an early age against religion in the same way that most religious parents brainwash their kids into believing.

Hypocrite alert!

I do it this way. "Son, in Japan people believe.....and in India people believe.....etc

I present the facts and he can make up his own mind and discover it for himself. So far the concept of God (of which I have been brainwashed and still confused about) is complete nonsense to him.

when I was at school we had Scripture class once a week and 2 JW kids were hauled from class as well as a couple of kids from atheist families.

I can understand the logic in pulling them from class. Kids should have a religious studies class to teach tolerance and respect for other cultures and beliefs. Kids should not be indoctrinated.

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yeah really! you make atheist sound religious lol! But really, atheism is just another religion that most don't even know they believe in. "The strong belief in the no-existence of God" Someone who is really not religious would not call themselves an atheist & wouldn't care if they attended church or went to a shrine cuz it just really doesn't matter to them. Something to think about atheist.

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I am an agnostic and I have very little affection for religion. But I love Christmas. I don't even mind the religious overtones. And I think the crowd who torture themselves resisting the season should lighten up a bit.

Why?

Well... Christmas is hardly the hard core sacred holiday it once was. If anything it is the most commercial holiday on the calendar other than Halloween and Valentines day.

The Christian story is heart warming and filled with natsukashi sentements and I don't find the presence of a nativity here and there any trouble at all. Especially when you weight it against the presence of pagan decorated trees and commercial Santa images.

Like it or not atheists, most of western culture has roots in Christianity and short of moving to somewhere with a whole different dominant religion, you won't escape it. So maybe it is a time for different perspective?

Separation of Church and State is essential. So keep religion out of things we all pay taxes for.

Let Christians enjoy their holiday and we can enjoy it too. Choose to look at it as a rationale for family and social gatherings, a chance to remember the year and enjoy time together. Sing the old natsukashi songs and lighten up. No one is going to convert you unless you want to be. So enjoy and appreciate the heritage of the season.

Don't forget that most of Christmas is commercial. Again, lay back and enjoy the ride. Don't you love the smell of a good Turkey or pumpkin pie? Or a sip of eggnog or hot spice wine on a cold night? Life is short and from your point of view, nothing follows so have fun while you are here.

Absolute belief in the absence of divinity is just as unreasonable as absolute belief that divinity exists. Until one dies, no one and I man NO ONE, knows what comes next beyond our human perception, science and belief systems. Ease up and save your energy to fight against topics that really do threaten you, where religion invades our schools or communities beyond accepted levels. Let Christmas be what it is and try to enjoy it.
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Lets have a festival.

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God...yes Religion...no!

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The thingabout atheists is, they are extremely intolerant people. They just hate God and anything to do with Him, and they cant stand those who do. Most of the population are not Christians in America and most other countries, but that doesnt stop them having a life and enjoying a nice festival. The majority of people dont know the real meaning of Christmas, or indeed of the Christmas songs and carols, but they enjoy them anyway. I have no qualms about Hanukka or any other "religious " festival. Live and let live. Problem is, the atheists often have a very disagreeable spirit and attitude. Intolerance and downright agression towards anyone of faith. Sad, really. They need to get a life.

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I agree with most posters here. These atheists need to lighten up a bit. If you really don't believe in God then it shouldn't bother you that other people want to indulge in their own beliefs. Sounds like people would like to shove atheism down other people throats: There is no God! I'm right and you're wrong! This is no better than the religious nuts who insist: There is a God! My beliefs are right! They should put their energy into something more worthwhile rather than spending all this energy trying to avoid religious customs.

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well said meloveulongtime & dolphingirl!

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I think most atheists are much more laid back than the ones described in this article, and treat other's beliefs the they way they their non-belief to be treated (respected and left alone). Battling against Christmas and religion seems like battling against human culture and diversity. But unfortunately some atheists do, and by the nature of that they're the more loud and visible ones.

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She “believes all that crap,” he said.

My mother doesn't. She has a "Darwin Loves Me" bumper sticker on her car. Not all elderly women sit at home poring over the New Testament as they await salvation.

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I love the atheism is a religion argument. It makes no sense, of course, but I still like it. And most atheists I have met don't 'hate' god because it is almost impossible to hate something that doesn't exist. Like hating the flying spaghetti monster. Also, most everyone doesn't believe in some gods. There is, after all, more than one god as seen by the many religions of the world. (as bobbafett alluded to.)

And I agree with Airion. People probably know more atheists than they think because most atheists don't mind if you worship the god of your choice; just as long as you don't want them to worship it, too.

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Let Christians enjoy their holiday and we can enjoy it too.

No one is going to convert you unless you want to be.

amen and amen.

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i've always found that people who want you to listen to their religious beliefs have no interest in listening to yours

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We have Christmas here in Japan. A Buddhist-Shinto country. What does that tell you about Christmas. I hear from Chinese friends that it is becoming a big event in Shanghai - athiestic AND communistic. Is it even a religious event any more?

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Funny that the post accusing atheist of being intolerant and hating people should show exactly the same qualities. As an atheist, I celebrate Christmas because I enjoy it - I'd say it's more relevent to me than the Winter Solstice (which is on the 21st, isn't it?). Some people get upset about that, but I just let them give themselves an ulcer while I get on with my life. Happy Christmas, everyone!

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Hmmmm....

Interesting that this debate always has to rage. Christians want to celebrate the holiday as the celebration of Jesus Christ's earthly birth. Jews and posteltyes want to scelebrate Hannukah. Some African Americans want to celebrate Kwanzaa. And finally, Agnostics don't want "religion shoved down their throats."

Newsflash to Agnostics - This time of year has been a religious occasion for centuries, even before the Early Church made December 25th the day to celebrate the Birth of Christ. Nobody is trying to shove religion down anyone's throat. Its just that this time of year brings religious observation naturally. It's kinda' like what Easter does in the Spring.

Why don't we just do this: why don't we just celebrate and have fun? While I realize that there are militant Agnostics who want to do away with religion, religious tradition, and say "Down with anything having to do with Jesus Christ", the fact fo the matter is, Christmas is the time of year for such. If agnostics don't like it, too bad. That's just how it is. Yes, this is rather blunt, but agnostics seem to be getting their way in other aspects of life (In the USA there is no prayer or mention of Jesus Christ in public school; the bogus ideology of separation of Church and State; the ACLU ready to help agnostics at the drop of a hat).

Christmas is a religious holiday, and a religious time of the year. If one wishes to celebrate Hannukah, celebrate Hannukah; if one wants ot celebrate Kwanzaa, celebrate Kwanzaa; if one merely wants to celebrate family, presents, and having fun, then please, by all means, celebrate family, presents, and having fun. But please stop whining about it being a "Religious" time of the year. That's what it is and has been for millenia...

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As an agnostic, I neither accept or reject theology, though I am skeptical. Simply put, I don't know what the answer is or whether there is an answer to the question of God(s) (or a separate spiritual existence). However, I do not mind if people practice their religion and give voice to their beliefs. Expression of belief does not necessarily translate into imposition of belief. Religious expression surrounds us; it is part of every society's culture. The vast majority of it is fairly innocuous, some of it is charming, and a bit of it can be annoying, but that's life. Live and let live.

For those observing their holy days: enjoy them and be of good cheer, just don't puke or relieve yourself in front of my stoop on the way home from your parties.

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Whatever, I'm not religeous but Christmas is: wait for it wait for it: a Christian holiday. We do Santa for the kids and gift giving and a big family gathering and it has nothing to do with church for us. Atheists who are so anti-religeon are just as bad as prosletizing Christians. Live and let live, have some fun, appreciate your friends and families that's what this time of the year is for even if you aren't a Christian.

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I'm really glad that JT ran this essay, because JT is my primary source for information on atheism at Christmastime in the U.S.

Blue Tiger: Don't confuse Kwanzaa with religion. It was made up in 1966 so that black Americans would have a winter solstice holiday for themselves. It's used mostly to celebrate African heritage.

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After all the complaints I hear from athiests that religious people try to shove their beliefs down other's throats, this article really points out the opposite. "O’Neill, who declines to give her age, said she wished parents would tell their kids there is no God at the same time they pass along certain information about Santa Claus." <-- Wow...

Most Christians just want to have fun with family and friends on Christmas, much like the rest. Athiests, like some in the article, should do the same and not intentionally act like scrooges just to affirm their beliefs. Eat, drink, trade presents, have fun!

Finally, why would an atheist ever want to spread their "belief"? What does anyone gain out of believing in nothing? You'll only bring bitterness, depression, etc to those who believed in a (non-crazy!) religion. In the opposite case, those who believe (in whatever) obviously want others to gain the benefits they believe granted by their religion.

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Just like the atheists -sometimes it just makes more sense to celebrate against something rather than for.

At Christmas I celebrate against the atheists. -The holiday just makes more sense as a Marxist that way.

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Dang, if atheists don't like the stuff, why don't they just not participate...you know live and let live...It is wrong to try to dictate to other people how they should celebrate the holidays. Merry Christmas everyone!!! And no apologies from me...

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But the whole God monotheist thing is literally made up, kids should be told the truth. It's not real.

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I'm an atheist. I love Christmas. I don't freak out about the religious aspect. I find it kind of strange and almost hilarious that there are atheists out there that are bothered by the religious aspect. Why don't they just remind themselves that originally (in Europe) these winter festivals were celebrated by pagans and were adopted by the church once Christianity began moving through Europe? Plus, if you harp on the Santa Claus aspect of it it becomes even less religious.

The only time church factors into my Christmas activities is if my family wants to go to Midnight Mass. Usually I find a way to avoid going (such as offering to take care of the kids at home, or I feel too tired from jet-lag, etc.). Maybe it's b/c I'm not 80 years old or something but most xmas activities where I'm from don't involve boring old church.

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I like the rituals of Christmas, Halloween, New Year's, Obon, Buddhist temples and St. Paddy's day. I don't believe a word of any of their affiliated religions. All of them are very enjoyable until somebody makes a concerted effort to recruit me into believing their superstitions.

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Sing the old natsukashi songs and lighten up. No one is going to convert you unless you want to be.

We don't need to lighten up, the article presents a problem many atheists face every year and offers some practical solutions.

Having a 'christmas' party with your family or friends just to meet, eat and have a good time is not a big deal for atheists, it can be a fun day too, just like Halloween. Having a Christmas party with your deeply religious family or friends is like a Halloween with people who believe the witches and skeletons ringing your doorbell are real.

At best you're just treated as a lost sheep which will find its way eventually. As an atheist coming from a religious environment I too learned to keep my mouth open for the delicious christmas dishes only. But still there are other things you just can't avoid, the constant gentle pressure to conform to customs when everybody else is singing carols, going to the church or saying 'grace', 'amen', or 'praised be the lord'.

I prefer the 'don't ask don't tell' policy when it comes to beliefs but the downside is other people just assume you're a Christian because you come from a Christian country. It may be not seen by the believers as pushing religion down your throat, but it's pretty close. If you don't think so try imaging being expected to say 'praised by Allah' or enjoy Ramadan.

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Advice to the author: Stop thinking about Christmas, then it won't bother you so much.

And get over with being an atheist. It is not a religion so you do not need to fiercely defend yourself for believing in nothing; or are there still the voices of your parents scolding you for leaving the holy church in your head?

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Christianity: A model to describe reality that is beyond our limits of human comprehension.

Atheism: A model to describe reality that is beyond our limits of human comprehension.

Christianity is more popular because it leads to easier government of millions of people.

Sounds like these particular atheists are angry because their particular viewpoint doesn't get as much public recognition as the Jesus lovers.

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O’Neill, who declines to give her age, said she wished parents would tell their kids there is no God at the same time they pass along certain information about Santa Claus.

Rude.

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Christianity: A model to describe reality that is beyond our limits of human comprehension.

I disagree. Christianity is an invented reality used to "explain" the limits of human comprehension.

Atheism: A model to describe reality that is beyond our limits of human comprehension.

Atheism is simply an observation. There is no evidence of any god having ever existed so there is no reason to suggest otherwise. See Occam's razor.

Atheists observe the natural world. The religious observe the natural world and then create stories when they encounter something they can't explain.

This Christmas outrage, as a couple of others have already pointed out, is manufactured by the religious. No, there is no War on Christmas, Bill O'Reilly (though some of us do think the holiday needs to be moved back four days where it belongs). Non-believers just don't want public policy shaped by the religion. That's really it.

Some of us even like the holidays and the pagan symbolism appropriated by Christianity; we put up our trees and invite Santa down our chimneys for milk and cookies. We exchange gifts and spend time with our family and friends.

And the term, "atheist", as a label is rather silly to begin with. We don't have a label for people that don't believe in ghosts, the Loch Ness monster, fire-breathing dragons, or magic (except perhaps, "adult") and yet there are people that believe in these supernatural things, too.

After all, we're ALL atheists. Some of us just take it one god further.

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the bogus ideology of separation of Church and State

hardly bogus, Blue Tiger...its in a little piece of paper called the US Constitution, and the factual history behind that idea is compelling

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Good to see atheists also pushing teh victimhood agenda.

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I think people who are atheists have to have the courage of their convictions and stand up for what they believe in without being defensive towards or resentful of Christianity. I imagine it isn't easy to be a non-believer when your whole family are strongly Christian but I figure if you are an atheist then you just have to tell them kindly but firmly that you don't want to participate in any religious customs. Ask them to respect your beliefs as you do theirs.

It's kind of like being gay or being a vegetarian. People will assume you are heterosexual and people will often assume you eat meat. Just as many will assume you believe in some kind of God. It's up to the atheist to stand their ground and hopefully everyone can respect each other whether they believe in God or not,

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DophinGirl come on now we don't need to have some sence of life not every believes in Kids stories from the BCs

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I can't help but feel a little frustrated when people feel the need to insult what they don't believe in. As stated in the article, no one ever says they don't want the holidays themselves...they just want the entire culture to conform to their personal beliefs. What is wrong with accepting the holidays as part of the western culture? Christianity is the basis of any culture that celebrates Christmas. Less people may believe in God, but everyone still believes (I hope) in love and gratitude, family and friends. Isn't that really what it's all about? And I have heard very few people speak out against presents and food and national holidays.

If you don't believe in God, that's okay. Enjoy the family, peace, love presents and overindulge with the rest of us.

Rejoicing in culture is okay. You don't have to believe in God, or religion or anything else to enjoy the Christmas holidays.

Respect for others and their beliefs, acceptance of the culture you live in, whether it be a Budhist/Shinto based culture or a Christian based culture, and tolerance....That's what I wish for this Christmas Season.

Yoi otoshi wo. Rainen mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

and Merry Christmas!

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See Occam's razor.

this is often widely misinterpreted and applied. Firstly, the concept came from a monk who belonged to an ascetic sect, who saw the world through a lens of simplicity. A case of only having a hammer and seeing nails every where.

Secondly, people usually mistake it to mean that "when there is no obvious solution, a simplest one works best." When in actuality it means that "When a simple solution has been found, there is no need to look for a more difficult one."

To the question of existence, humanity, why we are here, what, if any, our purpose is, I daresay that a simple solution has not been found.

Merely different models have been suggested that involve varying levels of complexity and acceptance.

The word "Atheist" itself is a reactionary term to "theists." With no theism, there would be no need for atheism.

The whole "atheist" movement and belief is "against" another movement.

If you guys were really honest you'd call yourselves pagans, or wiccans or something. Or a layman's term for scientist, like naturalist or something. But that wouldn't be very popular, and people would look at you funny.

Which is why I suspect the intention behind this article is the same as any other group which is in the minority, and doesn't feel it's getting it's fair share of props.

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Secondly, people usually mistake it to mean that "when there is no obvious solution, a simplest one works best." When in actuality it means that "When a simple solution has been found, there is no need to look for a more difficult one."

You're close. It means that when faced with two hypotheses, the one without unnecessary complexity should be considered stronger:

You see Jesus' face burned in a grilled cheese sandwich by a divine entity. I see pareidolia.

You see a world created by a god when no evidence for a god exists. I see a world where no evidence of a god exists.

This is Occam's razor.

The whole "atheist" movement and belief is "against" another movement.

If there is also a movement "against" unicorns, then yes (aunicornist?).

If you guys were really honest you'd call yourselves pagans, or wiccans

You got us. It's only monotheistic religions that we find irrational; we actually worship two gods and pretend to cast magic spells when the theists aren't looking. Busted . . .

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You're close. It means that when faced with two hypotheses, the one without unnecessary complexity should be considered stronger:

Very well then, I'll bite. I can't resist. Which is the simpler explanation:

1) God created the heavens and the earth, and it was good.

2) Humans are the result of tiny errors in replication, mistakes which resulted in subsequent generations having a higher efficiency of replication, continuing over countless generations for millions and millions of years, starting with a single cell organism and culminating in a supremely intelligent, multifaceted, sentient entity playing devils advocate on a message board dedicated to Japanese news.

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To all atheists:

Christmas is no longer the Christian festivity you think it to be.

It's the most blatantly non-religious, capitalistic, money-centric holiday ever invented. Only Jews celebrate Hannukah, Only Muslims celebrate Ramadan, but the whole world knows December 25th as the day to buy and give out stuff. Does anyone know it's not actually Christ's birthday? Who cares?

So stop making a fuss about Christmas being a Christian holiday. It's now more pagan than Stonehenge.

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@bamboohat - Now you're getting it.

The answer is 2. This is because:

a. We see evidence of this

b. The other hypothesis requires the creation of a god (adding unnecessary complexity).

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Christmas is Christmas, enjoy it and celebrate it unless its against your beliefs. If its a against your beliefs then why on earth would you try to celebrate it then tell others that they shouldn't believe in what they want to believe during Christmas.

Athiesm is a religion of non-religion. Its still a belief system. Personally I don't care if they don't believe in anything, but just like evangalists, krishnas, and others that are intent on trying to force me to believe in what they believe just isn't cool. Leave Christmas alone... Let Santa Claus, the easter bunny, tooth fairy, boogyman, and other things have their fun.

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I celebrate the yule tide, you insensitive intelopers.

Atheists are great, except too many are evangelical atheists. All evangelization is absurd, to me.

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I celebrate the yule tide,

I celebrate Mr. Hanky, the yule log.

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m5c32: Atheism is a religion too. Atheists also believe in something (that there is no god/god-like thing managing the universe and all the parallel universes), thus the need to proselytize.

Total skepticism is the true non-religion because it doesn't believe in anything (which is a rather sad thing, in my opinion).

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“ “Sacred trees are an ancient custom. It’s pretty, it smells nice and it’s pagan,”

Some of us even like the holidays and the pagan symbolism appropriated by Christianity

Why would you(and the people from the above quote) as an Atheists differiante Christianity from Paganism? Pagan's had deities, god and goddess worshipped. The sacred trees were an ancient custom, which some believe is traced back to worship of Thor's oak or early pagans trying to keep the sun from completely disappearing. It seems like a very inconscient view point to have.

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“Sacred trees are an ancient custom. It’s pretty, it smells nice and it’s pagan,”

Some of us even like the holidays and the pagan symbolism appropriated by Christianity

Why would you(and the people from the above quote) as an Atheists differiante Christianity from Paganism? Pagan's had deities, god and goddess worshipped. The sacred trees were an ancient custom, which some believe is traced back to worship of Thor's oak or early pagans trying to keep the sun from completely disappearing. It seems like a very inconscient view point to have.

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I celebrate Mr. Hanky, the yule log.

Hidey Ho!

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