Monday, November 28, 2005

The Big Game and the BIG Game of Life

As perhaps most of you know, the most important college football game of the year will be happening this weekend. As typical, I can make a connection between the most mundane things of life and the things of the spiritual world. And of course, God is a Bruin.

And as well all know, football is only a metaphor for the spiritual battle of real life. Really. I am not kidding. Shown here is a classic album that illustrates my point. You think I am kidding, go here to listen to what the real meaning of football is all about, and try and keep a straight face.

Update: The link to the sound file appears to have broken....another act of Evil!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Secret Struggles of Pastors

It is sad but true. So many pastors get into their profession because of a deep seated, yet unmet need to be noticed by others. I found this to be painfully true this past weekend. We were attempting to take our family Christmas card photo, when we were harassed by a beachcombing sudo-transient, who alleged he is really a pastor (click photo for an enlargement and to ID the culprit).

We immediately contacted the police and ecumenical authorities.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bush, Bono, Tim, and Inside Work

Over the past 11 months that I have been blogging, I have often stopped to wonder if this whole blogging thing makes any difference. I still wonder about it. I also wonder about hair loss. And whether I make a difference.

In my mind, perhaps the best thing about this medium is the way in which it can serve to enrich our minds, create of forum of common purposes and friendships, and perhaps, in some small way, further the Kingdom. However, please note that I also think face-to-face time with real people, developing relationships, nuturing understanding, and building community is still by far the best bet for really moving forward for the cause of Christ. Giving ourselves away is where we can find who we really are - I think Jesus may have said something like that.

Given this, I did find a common thread this weekend on the topic of vocation, which I have attempted to comment on before here, although, for the life of me, I cannot find the link. I am technologically impaired. Anyway, I found
this article by Don Williams (thanks Mark Roberts) fascinating, concerning the outlook, vision, and slightly tangential theology of Bono. Bono seems to take his celebrity seriously. Lets hope he avoids this silly political comments that are typical of many celebrities. Second, and much more on a down to earth level, I found this, and this post by my friend Tim a refreshing look at a regular guy attempting to bring Christ graciously into the workplace. Go Tim.

One final place to visit (like you have all day to read Blogs, for Heaven Sake!), my friends at
Inside Work, which is attempting to "reclaiming the spirituality of work". Go guys!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Day of Thanksgiving

Just a moment between finishing the sausage, apple, and sage stuffing recipe and moving on to icing the Killer Chocolate Cake.

This is our national day of Thanksgiving. It bears remembering where this day came from, and where we are all going. Tonight at the table, I will share the following with my family - the words of formal institution of Thanksgiving.

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

God, please bless America, if only that we might be a blessing to all the nations.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mark Twain....Safe Passage

We think we know it all.

Read this.

Remembering Canal Street Church

This is my friend Mike, pastor of Canal Street Presbyterian church in New Orleans. That is his home to his left, which survived largely undamaged, if you don't count mold. I have mentioned Mike here a number of times. I got a voice mail from Mike just the other day, as he was in New Orleans, looking after his flock. He is his usual jovial self - a man after the heart of God.

If you want to feel just a little bit of what it is still like in New Orleans, go here, and have a look around.

When your Thanksgiving table is overflowing with foods that will render you chubby this Thursday, remember those who are still struggling to recover, and then, do this!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Heather, Coach Scott, and the Agony of Defeat

Pictured to the left is the "No Nombres", my 11-year old daughter's AYSO soccer team. No Nombres translated from Spanish is "No Namers"; the girls thought this would be a funny name. Sorry for the blurry photo, my cell phone can only do so much. This is a great bunch of young ladies.

Today was the last game of the season, and the game was decided in the last minutes of overtime. My daughter Heather was the goalie during those minutes. This is a story about winning and losing and people of character.

The No Nombres have had a less than stellar season. Their season record was something like 1-11, but they had fun in every game, and rarely lost by much. They never stopped smiling, or enjoying time with each other on the field and at practices. They laughed lots.

This team also had a wonderful coach. Coach Scott has been a friend of mine for more years than either of us wants to remember. We are also professional friends, both owning small businesses in the same discipline of commercial real estate. Scott is a wonderful guy, the type of fellow you can always depend on. There are not many Scotts out there in the world. He is also the father of three girls, ranging from 11 to 18 years old; all of whom are lovely young ladies. Coach Scott made sure that every girl played equally, had fun, was valued, and participated. For Scott, winning was definitely not what it was all about. Thanks, Coach Scott - job very well done!

The winning goal went in with about 2 minutes left in overtime. It slipped past Heather, and she immediately crumpled to the ground in tears. Her entire team surrounded her and offered words of encouragement. "Its all my fault", she kept repeating - and I thought my heart would break as well. She got her emotions together, and finished the game, but then fell apart again afterward. Final score 1-0; my shirt got very wet from tears. Sometimes it is hard to be a kid.

Tonight, after the end-of-season swim party was over, and we had settled in back at home, I asked Heather if she had learned any lessons from the day. "Yeah, I think I learned that it wasn't just my fault, you win as a team and lose as a team".

And who says kids can't teach us lessons?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Invisible Children

It has been a long time since a short film trailer captivated my heart like this. Watch it. I have ordered the rough cut DVD, and might invite friends over to watch it.

It is coming. The film is due out in about a year, as the film makers will be returning to Sudan/Uganda to finish filming. My prayer would be that it might change the world. We need more of this kind of film making.

HT (again) to
Rhett Smith.

Walking Forward Through Time

On Tuesday afternoon in DC, I cheated. I took the afternoon off from my seminars and went to the National Gallery of Art. And I was interested to learn anew how our world has evolved; its something to think about.

Rest on the Flight into Egypt, David Gerard, 1510, Bruges

The gallery is arranged in such a way that you can walk forward or backward through time. I choose forward, which moves one through the gallery in a west to east direction.

You begin in the Netherlands and France in the 15th Century, and move forward slowly, through the centuried to modern times.

Artwork of the 15th and 16th centuries is almost soley focused around stories from Scripture and the person of Christ. One is struck by the almost complete devotion and fixation with themes from the Bible. Images of Christ and Old Testament characters fill every room.

However, as one moves from room to room, over time, the subject matter of the paintings changes, and modern life and culture take more precedence. Characters from the Bible loose their dominance. Paintings by the Masters increasingly change to scenes of aristocratic life, country landscapes, with the occasional portrait of a church father. As one continues walking east, the stories of art have evolved away from stories of the saints and Scriptures.

Those living in the early centuries lead lives surely full of struggle, hardship, turmoil, and a constant awareness of the tenacity of life. Through the centuries, as lives became more comfortable, those Bible stories, the narratives of real life, and the remarkable life of the Savior tend to fade in importance.

The Artist's Garden at Vetheuil, Claude Monet, 1880

We have become too comfortable in our aristocratic lives, in our gardens fair, in our inventions and society. We don't need those old stories, we have made a new story that is fairer to the eye, and more easy to digest. I think I fear for our modern society. We have forgotten from where we have come.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Pulpit in an Unexpected Place

If we believe that God inhabits all of Creation, interesting things can happen.

Now, I am naturally an introvert, but I mostly compensate in life by at least acting like I am extroverted. In short, I fake it. Extroverts are energized by being with people; I am energized only to a point. After that point, I get easily weary of people, and find that I am often energized by being either alone, or with a smaller group of people.

As so, I am not a great “talker to the person next to me on the plane” kind of guy. I am often not good at idle chatter with cab drivers, largely perhaps because of the tendency of these folks to drive with a faith and reckless abandon that I do not possess. I often find myself to occupied worrying about my own survival to strike up a conversation. Hard to talk when you are being pressed into the back seat by 2.5 times the force of gravity.

This morning’s cab ride back to the airport proved to be the exception, and I found God inhabiting his Creation in a refreshing way.
First, the speed was relatively calm. Secondly, the cab driver was a remarkable man. “Thoma” is a native of Ethiopia of (I would guess) about 32 years, who always dreamed of coming to America as a boy. About 11 years ago, Thoma was selected in an immigration lottery as an √©migr√© to the United States. He has worked in various jobs here over the past decade, and is now driving a cab. He is so happy to be here, he thinks this is a wonderful country.

Thoma mentioned to me that he was taking off two months in the near future to return to Ethiopia, to visit his wife and infant son – a son he has not yet met. And here is the best part. Three years ago, Thoma became a Christian, was married soon thereafter, in an arranged marriage to a woman in Ethiopia. (I would have loved to have had time to ask more questions about that!) Thoma is serious about his faith, is involved in an Ethiopian Evangelical church in Silver Springs, Maryland, and spends “two hours each day in God’s word”. Thoma has a smile that goes on for miles; his cab is filled with joy.

Here is the best part. Thoma told me that some day he might like to become a pastor or evangelist. He told me, “But for now, my cab is my pulpit. Each passenger that comes into my cab, I ask the Holy Spirit, ok…..what kind of person is this?…..where are they from?……what are they facing in their life? And God gives me the right thing to say.”

We have “cabs” too, each of us. But our cabs are our homes, offices, schools, factories, hospitals. Where ever we are called each day.

May all, every last one, of our own cabs be…..our pulpits.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What Dad Did on the Business Trip

I have been here in DC for two days now, and will be heading home early tomorrow. This has been an interesting and rewarding time, where I have learned much, on varied topics. Now I know that all six of you typically visit here because you are either friends, friends of friends, blogging pals, or are some Norwegian guy searching Google for an image of the US Capital and picked my site. Also, I want a record of some of the more interesting topics for future reference.

Disclaimer. This post has nothing to do with things Christian, the church, my whining about the church, my church in particular or the usual ranting and rambling. That said, here goes.

Heard a great overview of the housing bubble threat this morning with many pithy comments from the Principal of
this firm in New York. Fascinating.

Afternoon session on military base closure with a panel discussion featuring some guy who works
here. Total bore. People applauded when it was over.

This morning I was priviledged to listen to a short address by
this senator, who seems to have his head on straight, given that he spent at least 20 years of his life outside of politics in the real world. Good Republican, I might add. Then listened to a moving story of survival and recovery to real estate markets in New Orleans. This reminder me, yet again, of my friend Pastor Mike, and how life is slowly, so slowly returning to normal in this great city. The anecdotal stories are that only about 70,000 people spend the night in New Orleans, and some of the worst flooded parts of town will not receive telephone service until March 2006!

Finally, a fascinating presentation by a principal in the
Louis Berger Group about construction of the Kandahar to Kabul highway in Afghanistan and the development of the new US Embassy in Iraq. Talk about high-risk development. There was a ratio of one body guard to each construction worker in Baghdad!

Fascinating stuff - and I am thankful for the opportunity. For more about the organization I am with, and the reason for my attending, look here. If you have trouble sleeping, look here.

Upon reflection, this post should make my regular readers flee in sheer boredom.

Terror Level Report!

This just in. The nation's capital is under threat from an as yet named terrorist. This man, resembling a semi-balding, middle-aged suburban husband and father was last seen late in the day Tuesday on the Capital Mall. Anyone with information leading to the arrest of this bizarre suspect should contact the local offices of The Hair Club for Men.

In response, the national Terror Alert Level has been shifted to Elmo.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

And on the Left Side of the Plane

Greetings from 37,000 feet above Kansas. I am enroute to Washington DC for the Fall Annual Meeting of the Counselors of Real Estate. I will be speaking tomorrow on a panel of alleged “experts” (I am highly suspect as to my own expertise, but lets just keep this a secret, ok?) on real estate issues related to military base conversion throughout the country. Impressed? I thought not. But I enjoy my work greatly, and am thankful for this opportunity. I am honored to be a part of this meeting.

Now that I have lulled you to the point of near sleep, let me share what being at this altitude tends to do for me. I find plane trips more than about 90 minutes have the effect of helping me to refocus on what is really important. Also, I find that I will often slow down my spinning mind long enough to measure where my life is headed, what I am thankful for, and how God’s care and majesty affect all these things. Am I making sense? Have you ever felt this way? Perhaps I just need to lock myself in a closet to achieve the same thing, but in the closet I would just spend my time trying to figure a way out, or perhaps a more efficient way to arrange the closet shelves and hangers.

Looking out the window from this high up tends to make one take stock. Its dark now over eastern Indiana, thousands of lives down there moving forward. How many know they are being watched over by a caring God who longs to come close?

So. Taking stock. What matters, what is important? I am greatly thankful that God has granted our family the grace and resources to be able to place my parents in a wonderful assisted living facility. I spoke with Dad just before I stepped on the plane, and he seems quite content, commenting, “This is just a new adventure for us”. Thank you, Lord.

I am thankful for perhaps the most caring, selfless, and patient woman in the world in my wife Nancy. How did we ever meet, 18 years ago – she from Toronto and me from LA? I thought I might never marry, I was 29 years old with no romance prospects. And then, God provided. Amazing.

And then, three years later, our quite-couple life was changed. I am daily amazed by my daughters Kelly (14) and Heather (11). I could not wish for two more different, unique, beautiful, fun, funny, interesting, and remarkable young ladies. They are little girls no more, but I am deeply, profoundly thankful for each day spent as a part of their lives. And we all daily receive, for this season of our lives, the blessing of sharing our home with Jill Williams, a Master’s of Divinity student at Fuller seminary. Jill adds hope, wisdom, beauty, and a deeply caring soul to our home. Yes, its true, I live with four women. Pray for me.

Beyond all this, I am thankful that my life makes Ultimate Sense; that there is a purpose and a direction to all this. I am not a random collection of molecules, assembled for a brief time to live out my small bit in nature. I am not the end result of Darwin’s theories. I am loved beyond my pathetic little comprehension, understood far greater than I am capable of understanding, and all this time down here is but a practice round for a Hereafter that is beyond my scope of reality. How I wish I had a better way of expressing this to those who find things of faith unimportant, or irrelevant, or meaningless. It is the ultimate relevance; the essence of complete meaning. Relationship with God and service to Him is the reason we are here. The peace that is afforded by Christ is, while not always foremost in my mind, the thing that keeps my life wired together.

Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, should die for me...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Moving Day for Mom and Dad

The couple in the center of the photo are Roland and Betty Norris, of Arcadia, California. This picture was taken in 1971 at a Petroleum Club Octoberfest (note: Dad with Stein and Mom with, well, cocktail glass, I think). I, the only child, got to stay home, eat Swanson's TV Dinners - 3rd video down on the left., and watch TV. Dad is 51 years old in this picture, and Mom is 50 (shhhhh....she never revealed her age, and still won't).

Today, Mom and Dad moved
here. Just several miles from our home. I have written briefly about my thoughts on all this here. Mom and Dad have a cute two bedroom unit in a very caring and warm environment where they will be very well looked after. I will get complete monthly reports on their health and well being, and I will be able to stop by at least weekly to have a meal with them and see how things are going. Have I warehoused my parents? I don't know. But I do know that their living in this setting is far more communal, stimulating, nourishing, and beneficial. Besides, if they moved in with us (which they would never do in 7 zillion years), I am quite sure that my Mom would be gone in about a month, purely from the volume level in our home being such a complete shock to her system. She is about 5 feet tall and weights about 90 pounds these days.

This whole process has been one of gradual grace and, in my mind, the intervention of Heaven. Had you told me even six months ago that my father would have willing walked into an assisted living facility, I would have scoffed. One of his most famous quotes to us all used to be, "They are going to carry me out of this house (the one he lived in for 40 years) feet first!" How is that for defiant? But a couple of small strokes, and a life of general forgetfulness and confusion has lead him, by God's grace, to a much better place. I am thankful.

Well, we did not carry him out, we gently placed he and Mom in my Accura, and drove the 3 miles to the assisted living facility. All of the mementos of his life surround him in his room, and this will be their new home.

This was a bittersweet day. Forty years in one home, leaving memories behind. Moving on to a place of hope and cheer. We are all constantly leaving behind what feels comfortable, moving on, and trying to see our way around the next bend in the road.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Much Will Be Demanded

I don't know a thing about Sara McLachlan's theology, but she gets this.

Watch this. (HT to Rhett Smith)

Of Happy Christians and Crippled Soldiers

This is the illusion that I feel as if I have lived under for some 20-odd years in the Christian culture:

"Oh come and join our Happy Christian Church! We are better than most people; we are on the winning team always. We have no problems, and the blessing of the Lord is constantly upon us. We make more money than most people, and have no psychological disorders. Our lives are free of pain, our children are well behaved, we suffer no hair loss, and our teeth are straight. We live in a happy suburb, where all the homes are of conforming architecture, and there is no smog. We have no halitosis here. Come, see the wonderful things that Jesus can do for you too!"

I guess my reflections of the
last couple of days have me again thinking of how fallen my life is, and how failure prone the church can be. I often feel as if the landscape of the place I call my church home is not unlike the highway after the scene of a 25 car pile-up; flashing lights, emergency vehicles, officers with measuring tape determining what happened, and people exchanging insurance information on the shoulder.

Tod Bolsinger has done a
good job of just beginning to probe at the soft, pathetic underbelly of the church. I hope he goes farther on this topic.

I was told the other day by a reader of this Blog that sometimes they feel a bit "too down" after reading some of my thoughts. I am sorry for this, it is not my intension to depress others. My family will tell you that I am largely a goofy kid hiding in a grown-up's body.

Nor do I want to be the fellow chucking turds in the church pool. I guess it boils down to this. What it really needs to be about is...brokenness, need, and healing.

We Christian folk are not the "Winning Team", we are the "Pathetic Helpless Needy Team". We are the
Crippled Soldiers of the Lord. We can barely stand of our own power. We need healing, every last one of us. And for that, I am thankful, hopeful, grateful.

And I will press on.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What about the Norge Repairman?

Today my friend Tod Bolsinger has an interesting post about what may be a good book. Go look.

As a part of the post, Tod directs us to the Common Grounds blog, which might make great reading. Anyplace where thoughtful Christian folk get together to talk about the Christian Journey is wonderful. Just take a look at the contributors, it looks like the Who's Who of cool Christendom. My favorite, at least visually for scare factor, is this fellow!

However, this leaves me wondering about the regular fellow, the Norge Repairman, if you will. As I peruse the list of contributors to Common Grounds, I don't see a broad collection of regular folk, the lay people of the church. Might broadening the field make it tons more interesting? Just think of it, the "Norge Repairman's Theological Musings!"

However, I do know some of these (regular) folks, and love to read their thoughts - check my BlogRoll for more - both regular and "fancy" people, both those with and without at least an M.A. or M.S. after their names.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Boys Next Door and Where We Are Headed

Last night my wife and I had the pleasure of viewing the play "The Boys Next Door" by the Actor's Coop, which has been performing plays the move the soul on our church campus for 14 years. The director of this play, Nan McNamara, is a friend of ours, and she indicated that the cast actually visited a handicapped program as a part of their research into preparation for the play.

This play is the story of four mentally challenged men living in a communal residence under the supervision of an earnest, but increasingly "burned out" social worker. In the story of the daily lives of these four very special guys, where small things sometimes become momentous (and often hilarious), are moments of great truth.

The most moving moment of the evening for me was the dance scene at a handicapped community center. A young man and woman, who obviously have a crush on one another, are dancing in a rather haphazard fashion, much like the picture above. Although the dancing is awkward and halting, there is much joy beneath the surface of this scene.

And then suddenly, in an instant, the music changes slightly, the theater lighting softens, and the facial expressions of the actors are transformed. We are in caught up in their dream. And miraculously, the dancing is now perfect; gone is the halting awkwardness, the facial expressions of childish wonder. The couple moves together flawlessly, executing dance steps that would be difficult for even us "normal" folk. This is, a glimpse of glory divine, if you are looking for it.

We lead these awkward, halting, faltering lives down here on Earth. We stumble, make big mistakes, skin our knees. We constantly attempt to stand upright again. There is a Kingdom where all things shall be made new; lives restored, broken hearts healed. A place where the dance is perfect. This place is our real Home. We are promised that someday, it shall be
for us all, when we head Home.

If only we could find these glimpses of Home more often, and have a better ability to perceive them as they occur around us.

The photo above is courtesy of this good place.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Silly Behavior About Harry Potter

Over the past several years, I have heard a swirl of differing opinions on the whole Harry Potter phenom. While some opinions are rather ill-thought out, other comments seem to be much more rational.

Tonight, I read this
wonderful little article in Christianity Today, that seemed to sum up the whole Harry Potter series quite well.

Would you not agree?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Drunk Uncle

Here is something interesting. When I Google "the church drunk uncle", I get my own blog! Chalk up another great blow on my behalf for Jesus and evangelism. I should get some form of award from the people at GlogBlogCon.

Strangely enough, I actually had a Drunk Uncle when I was growing up. He was a refined and subtle drunk though. I never saw him smashed, falling down, shameful. In our family, that sort of thing never happened. You kept your dysfunction well hidden, proper-looking, and in check. But I remember when my Dad would speak of The Uncle, it was with a mixture of sadness and anger. The Uncle never stopped the drinking, and ended up passing away, early, in his mid 50's, during my senior year of college. Although it wasn't spoken of, it was probably from the drinking.

Why do I tell you this? I had lunch with a good friend today, someone I have known for more than 20 years. Turns out this fellow is a pastor as well. He took over a church that was pretty sick about 7 years ago. The pastor had misbehaved, left the church, and nearly drove the place into the ground in the act of leaving. Those left behind were shell shocked, tired, wounded. It took a long time to heal, but by God's good grace, this same church today is a vibrant and growing place.

My church? Well these days, it feels not unlike a Drunk Uncle. From the exterior, nice looking buildings, albeit old and traditional. But on the inside, pretty messed up these days. When I think of it, we are all like that, in varying ways, including me.

Guess what I decided today? I decided, again, that I love the Drunk Uncle. I am willing to hold his head while he barfs, get some coffee into him, and see if he might not want to try out a good recovery program. We all need some recovery. There is still lots of hope.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

We Americans are SO Repressed

Rock on.

The Poor and the Margins of the Church

More from Henri Nouwen:

"Those who are marginal in the world are central in the Church, and that is how it is supposed to be! Thus we are called as members of the Church to keep going to the margins of our society. The homeless, the starving, parentless children, people with AIDS, our emotionally disturbed brothers and sisters - they require our first attention.
We can trust that when we reach out with all our energy to the margins of our society we will discover that petty disagreements, fruitless debates, and paralyzing rivalries will recede and gradually vanish. The Church will always be renewed when our attention shifts from ourselves to those who need our care. The blessing of Jesus always comes to us through the poor. The most remarkable experience of those who work with the poor is that, in the end, the poor give more than they receive. They give food to us. "

Sign me up for the end of pettiness, debating, and rivalries.
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