Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jesus, Joseph, and Mindfulness

I can't actually recall how I first heard about "Mindfulness." Maybe it was from a Facebook posting from "Action for Happiness," a secular movement in the UK that promotes increasing the world's happiness quotient.  Or it might have been via indulgence of my fascination with Positive Psychology, a newish branch of psychological science that, in contrast to the first century of work -- which focused on pathology of mental illness -- instead studies factors that make for a positive, healthy, and happy life.

At any rate, at some point I started noticing studies on the benefits of practicing mindfulness. Or perhaps I should write Mindfulness_tm -- it's been tidied up, formalized, taught to a small army of teachers, and packaged into a standardized 8-week course. I hunted around and found there were several of these courses not too far from home.

So it was that last night I found myself taking a full 10 minutes to explore the minutest details of a single raisin (yes, raisins, do make noise if you hold them up to your ear and squish them gently) and lying on the floor with six strangers as Miranda Bevis, a former NHS doctor, guided us through a 25-minute "body scan" which I am obliged to practice daily (accompanied by her slow, soothing voice on a cd, "... Bring your focus to the area around your left hip.... Repeatedly bring the mind back to the body, just exploring whatever you are experiencing. There is no 'right way' to feel...")

Miranda places the origins of Mindfulness  -- as well as the origins of her enthusiasm for it -- within the realms of traditional psychology -- and also Buddhist meditation. She relates how John Kabat-Zinn developed Mindfulness as one of the few helpful practices for people with painful but medically untreatable illnesses of the mind or body. He incorporated a sanitized, secularized version of Buddhist meditation into Mindfullness practice.

Miranda said she had been won over by the power of Mindfulness in helping the clients in her psychiatric practice. And at a taster session before the first class, she related how helpful Mindfulness had been to her late husband, who had motor neurone disease (the British term for Lou Gehrig's disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS.) He hadn't expected it to be worthwhile, disliked it ... but ultimately found it transformed his life. I think it was Miranda's relating of this experience that  induced me to plop down my £225 for the course with her. Street cred.

Another exercise at the first class entailed pairing off with another course participant and discussing our reasons for being there, what we expected to get out of it, what we thought the obstacles would be. I rather inarticulately told my delightful partner, a reception (kindergarten) teacher, that I was hoping it would bring me some clarity in discerning the course of my life, and maybe greater happiness. I think I also mentioned hope for a sort of buffering effect on my moods. Mindfulness can't eliminate the stressful, depressing things that happen to us, but it can, I hope, reduce the intensity of my reactions to them -- make the lows less low and the anxious times less rattling.

My expectations might sound like a tall order, but consider this list of demonstrated benefits mentioned on the Wikipedia page for Mindfulness (psychology):
  •  ...reduces distractive and ruminative thoughts and behaviours, reducing distress...
  • ...emotional regulation ...
  • ... declines in mood disturbance and stress
  • ... increases over time in purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms.
  • ...increased brain and immune function ...
  • ...a lower financial-desire discrepancy and thus ... the perception of “having enough”.
  • ...improved academic performance for women.
  •  ...faster recovery time from exposure to a negative experience...
One should take this with more than a few grains of salt. I've left out a lot in the ellipses -- the underlying research, the caveats, qualifications, the 'needs further research' bits. As a science writer, I see neuroscience, including psychiatry and especially positive psychology as being in their infancy. There are so many problems just with basic definitions and appropriate controls for experiments, etc etc that the eyes glaze over just reading the comparatively non-technical stuff on Wikipedia. I am pretty skeptical of much of the research.

I think the real basis for my hopes for Mindfulness are actually a gut-instinct, emotional suspicion, call it "faith" that what one really needs to improve life is to be more present to what's going on right now, right where you are. And that is what seems to be at the core of Mindfulness. To wit: Kabat-Zinn's definition:
"Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the moment, and non-judgementally."
"Being Present" to me implies not replaying past troubles like a broken record. It implies not engaging in fruitless worry about the future. With less distraction from brooding and worry, Being Present could mean greater engagement in creative work with concomitant "flow" -- getting totally caught-up and engaged in what you're doing. Being Present implies noticing the world around you, including the everyday miracles and wonders right beneath our noses -- thus encouraging savoring and appreciating life, which makes for daily happiness. It implies really listening to -- and thus loving -- the people in our lives, thereby improving relationships, and again building happiness.

I feel a bit like a dilettante taking a course that was developed for people with more significant psychological problems than my garden-variety troubles. At the taster session for Mindfulness, people described their hopes that the practice would help them cope with addictions, sleeplessness, and extreme stress. I suppose the same dilettantism blame could be tossed at the field of positive psychology. Why should such talented psychological thinkers and research resources be lavished on maximizing the happiness of people who are basically doing okay? Especially when there are so many deeply hurting people in this world.

The way I rationalize this for myself is that perhaps, if I can get my act together via Mindfulness, I will be better able to help other people get their acts together, too. And perhaps this holds for positive psychology as well. By pursuing comparisons -- maybe even following gradients -- between unhealthy psychological states and healthy ones, they can come up with things that help the unhealthy become healthy. I know research on healthy bodies informs the understanding of disease. Just this morning on BBC 4 they were discussing Alzheimer's Disease researchers' need for post-mortem brain donations from elderly people who die with healthy (non-demented) brains. But I digress.

Martin Seligman, a father of positive psychology, defends the non-luxury status of his field with great magnanimity:
 "most of Positive Psychology is for all of us, troubled or untroubled, privileged or in privation, suffering or carefree. The pleasures of a good conversation, the strength of gratitude, the benefits of kindness or wisdom or spirituality or humility, the search for meaning and the antidote to 'fidgeting until we die' are the birthrights of us all."
Seligman's mention of spirituality and the some of the other pleasures of life being studied by Positive Psychology highlight one aspect of the field that particularly intrigues me: its links to spirituality. With a bit of arm-waving I could make a case for Jesus being the first Positive Psychology practitioner.

But back to Mindfulness ("You may find your mind wandering. That's just what minds do. Each time you notice your mind has wandered, gently bring your attention back...") Kabat-Zinn might have stolen mindfulness concepts from Buddhism. But I if I turn my head just so and squint a bit, I can imagine secularized Mindfulness being re-homed comfortably within Christian religions.

Think of the meditation involved in prayer, psalm, song. Aren't these ways of focusing the mind, bringing it back from its perambulations into worry and anxiety? Think of Jesus' 40 days of mindfulness in the desert. Or consider Jesus' invitation to consider the non-worried, beautifully arrayed lilies of the field. Recall the young Jesus getting so caught up in the flow of his youthful discussions with the rabbis at the temple that he forgot to head home with the parents. Jesus was consistently present to people around him. He was a here-and-now sort of guy who proclaimed the Kingdom of God was at hand -- the richest, fullest life possible--if we could just ditch the behaviors that separate us from God, one another, and ourselves.

Similarly, the Mindfulness handout, Session 1 says,
"The aim of the course is to increase awareness so that we can learn to live more fully, and, instead of always reacting automatically, we can respond to situations with choice."
Besides hearing echos of the full life Jesus offered, I see in the Mindfulness aim a harness for the charging elephant of automatic emotions and intuitions that Jonathan Haidt describes as dominating human behavior and leading to our many and profound societal disagreements over politics and religion. I see a way of helping myself to create equipause moments when I can stop and reflect rationally before jumping in automatically with an idiotic response that serves no one well.

Jesus mostly focused on individuals, as does Mindfulness. But by summing over lots of changed individuals, could we indeed build toward heaven on earth? If not with the help of religion, could this begin by more people paying gentle, non-judgmental attention to their thoughts, their bodies, and their surroundings, here and now? It's a smallish and happy step, I would guess, from there to focusing intentionally, kindly, and non-judgmentally on the people around us.

An appendix: Mindfulness poems


Friday, September 7, 2012

About-Face and Grace

I think I was four years old when I was introduced to the sociological concept of "face." My parents told me about a bizarre story, reported in the Ann Arbor News, of a foreign student who had been hiding out in the attic of our church for some months. One-shot Googling on "Student hiding out in First Methodist Church Ann Arbor" turns up the story, and it's even weirder than I recollected. The student actually managed to hide out in the church for four years! [Did my blog inspire this redredge of the the story by the University of Michigan's alumni magazine?]

The police archives record that the year before I was born, exchange student Cheng Lim had come to the University of Michigan from Singapore. His studies were sponsored by the church. But Lim was not doing well going into his fourth year  at Michigan:
In 1955, Lim did not apply for the fall term as he was distressed due to low grades, feeling he had failed the people that had brought him to Ann Arbor. In an attempt to fake his suicide, Lim walked down to the Huron River and threw his passport into it. Later that night he went to the First Methodist Church and climbed a ladder that led to an attic on the north side of the church. For the next four years, Lim lived in this cramped attic space. During the night he would sneak down to the kitchen for food and water.
Lim's poor grades had put him in a situation where he stood to "lose face" with friends, family, and the people who'd supported his studies. But his over-the-top response was incomprehensible to me. How could "facing up" to your shortcomings be worse than the living death Lim chose for himself? The story does have a happy ending. When Lim was eventually discovered, the church and members of Ann Arbor's business community helped him renew his visa and then supported him while he completed a master's degree before returning to Singapore. That's what I call grace.

 Although the term "face" wasn't used in the show, a few days ago the concept appeared in a BBC discussion of foreign soldiers being murdered in Afghanistan by local police or soldiers. A British officer told the BBC that one contributing factor in some of the first incidents had been foreign officers shouting at Afghan troops they were training. This was just the everyday sort of yelling military people do, but evidently being shouted at causes such severe loss of "face" among the Afghans that they resort to killing the person who humiliated them. Cultural-sensitivity training has since reduced that source of "green-on-blue" violence, but now other problems (including insecurities from perceived lack of commitment on the part of Western forces, signified by the impending withdrawal) have increased the attacks. Again it is difficult for me, as a Westerner, to understand the moral processing that leads to the decision to kill someone who has called attention to your shortcomings.

Then there's Clint Eastwood's "Letters from Iwo Jima" which made it clear that Japanese soldiers were expected to kill themselves rather than be dishonored by surviving (or being captured) when other members of their platoon had been killed. I now see from Wikipedia that this is related to a military version of "face":
 "Bushidō (武士道?), literally "the way of the warrior", is a Japanese word for the way of the samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. It originates from the samurai moral code and stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor unto death."
I gather from the Wikipedia page that the concept of  'face' came into the English language from Chinese, where the concept is conveyed by two different words referring to social status and moral character. Less dramatic than Lim, Iwo Jima, and green-on-blue shootings, but still bizarre from a Western perspective, is the high value placed on "face" in the social status sense. I remember hearing of fantastically expensive Chinese restaurant banquets that hosts really couldn't afford -- but were happy to pay for to buy "face" with status guests.

On the one hand you could dismiss "face" as just a weird Asian status thing. But as the Wikipedia page indicates, elements of it are fundamental to  humanity. Experts quoted there say that "face" is essential to functioning in one's community. At the high end, it translates to prestige, influence, authority, and power; minimally it conveys "trust within a social network" and undergirds cooperation. People feel good when "face" is in place, and stung by its loss. It's a bit like personal moral capital -- goodwill that makes for collegial relationships and an easier life within your hive. It is part of the delineation of your group and your standing within it.

But "losing face" is what I'm obsessed with at the moment. It starts with the agony of realizing you have made a mistake or fallen short of the mark in some way. But the key next bit is how you feel about the mistake and yourself as an imperfect person,  and how you expect the people around you will react (assuming others know of your transgression). Making a mistake is always going to be painful to some degree, but the strength of different moral values folds into it, both for you and for the people who've learned of your shortcomings. Clearly loyalty to one's group would figure much more intensely in Oriental cultures. I am also struck by the fact that the prime examples of dire consequences of "losing face" involve men. Does this reflect a fundamental difference in the societal roles of men and women?

A very provocative blog that I read recently proposed some of these issues came into play for Jesus and, at least from some perspectives,  he stood to disgrace himself in an incident recorded in Mark 7:24-37.  The blog article, "Jesus Was Not Colorblind: Racial Slurs and the Syrophoenician Woman," concluded that Jesus uttered a racist slur--calling a Gentile woman a dog:
a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
28 And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”
29 Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”
30 And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.
The blog's author, David Henson, says scholars have made various interpretations whistling past the fact that Jesus is calling the woman a dog. Maybe it was wink-wink, air-quotes "little dogs." But Henson thinks the straightforward interpretation is that Jesus was saying his miracles were for Jews like himself and not for the sub-human likes of the pleading Gentile woman.
As a good Jew, Jesus would have been reared to give thanks daily that he was born a Jew, not a Gentile, a man and not a woman. Jesus could not help but become entangled by such a sexist and racist snare. Jesus, given his embedded culture, could not be colorblind. And neither can we.
Our species is born to defend and live in groups. But Henson goes on to say the real jaw-dropping bit -- and maybe the reason this is in the Bible --  is not that Jesus said something offhand that was clearly in conflict with his values (as conveyed in the rest of his teachings.) Yes, He made a mistake. The amazing bit was what He did at that point:
When this woman, in boldness, confronts Jesus and his racist, sexist slur, Jesus listens, and hears. It is the only time recorded in the gospels in which Jesus changes his mind. “But even the dogs get table scraps,” she replies, a complex response often required of the member of the “lesser race” who stands up to dismissive racism even while accepting its instituted, ugly, dehumanizing order.
Jesus is astounded, the holy wind knocked out of him. A moment before, she was but a dog to him. In the next, the scales fall from his eyes as he listens to her and sees her for what she truly is, a woman of great faith, a moral exemplar, his teacher. Jesus does the most difficult thing for those of us born into the unfortunate privilege of dominance or prejudice. He listens. And allows himself to be fundamentally changed. When it happens, when we finally have ears to hear, we will never be the same...
Jesus fell into one of the types of trap that the rest of us stumble into every day. This time it was dismissal, ignoring, or disrespecting people from another tribe. He had already lost a bit of face just by being approached by the non-Jewish woman. Jesus could have "saved face" by not doing the about-face. He could have ignored her. But instead he hears her, tacitly admits his mistake, and changes course. That's when the love and grace begin. The woman's daughter is healed; Jesus is redeemed in my estimation; he's made a mistake, taken it on board, then corrected course. He's shown us how to handle being wrong. HINT: It's not by committing virtual suicide or hiding in a church attic for years; it's not by murdering or insulting the person who pointed out your shortcomings. It's by reversing with grace.

I must have been in my 40s when I realized that losing face is not as bad as I feared. I remember a kindly counselor giving me some constructive criticism--that I was thin-skinned; that I tended to jump into conversations too energetically with the witty riposte, even when someone else was getting to an important point and needed to be heard. I went home and fumed. How dare they? But when I finally found some equipoise and let this sink in, I realized the counselor was right; I was wrong; I had nothing to lose and much to gain by making a course correction. Life could be better if I were a little tougher, listened more and wisecracked less. I have found healing and grace in this -- as have, surely, the long-suffering friends around me.

It's always going to feel awful to make mistakes. I hate it. But I am grateful that I live in a fairly forgiving hive, imbued with the grace that permits admission and redress of shortcomings, so people can move on without compounding pain by hiding mistakes, pretending they didn't happen, trying to argue that wrong is right, punishing oneself, or punishing others for lovingly speaking the truth about our deficiencies.
-----------------------------------------
After-thoughts:
As it turned out, this reading was the subject of our curate's sermon last week. Jess gave a great sermon and I've invited her -- and Father Peter, a retired priest who lives in our village, to share their thoughts, along with my ever-thoughtful and thought-provoking Dear Husband -- a little writing-fest on the parable. But I'm not sure it's going to happen.

So Jewell's comment (thanks Jewell!) inspired me to just summarize these additional thoughts here for the moment. If curate Jess, Father Peter, or DH come through, I'll guest-post their words here.

Jess, like David Henson, mentioned some other ways people have skirted the painful thought that Jesus called the Syrophoenician woman a dog. Maybe it was a lesson to the disciples, standing in the wings. In the next breath, however, Jesus is doing what he does -- healing. It's a mystery, Jess says, but just the sort of thing that keeps challenging her in the Bible.

As I was congratulating Jess on a good sermon, she mentioned that Father Peter had suggested yet another gem of a reading. As I understand it, (and this is third-hand) Father Peter said that the "demon" that might have beset the Syrophoenician woman's daughter was racism. In the mother's interaction with Jesus -- persistently seeking him out, then drawing this reaction from him, she had done the work needed to rid the daughter of her demon. The woman was to go home and find her daughter healed. This is consistent with other healing that Jesus does -- or maybe I should say catalyses -- where he essentially says, 'your faith has healed you.'

This interpretation is also consistent with research findings about how parents of out-group children can help them cope with racism. In his book Nurture Shock, Po Bronson summarizes the work of April Harris-Britt. A little (but not a lot) of preparation for bias was helpful for coping. And coaching kids to be proud of their minority ethnic history
 "was exceedingly good for children's self-confidence; in one study, black children who'd heard messages of ethnic pride were more engaged in school and more likely to attribute their success to their effort and ability."
I am having a nice little revel imagining the Syrophoenician woman going home, rushing in joyously to see her daughter in a new light. Fist-pump, YESSSSS, He DID it! Sweetie, We're IN. We're Syrophoenicians and even the God of the Jews LOVES US!

One last thing that interests me in a very equipoisey sort of way is that these various readings are not mutually exclusive. You can find the parable mysterious and provocative; you can find reassurance in Jesus reversing course and thereby demonstrating how this can be the beginning of grace; and you can also say the woman managed to heal the racism she had been subject to -- just by (sorry-) doggedly being herself and  speaking up for her race and her daughter.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unapologetic Paths to God

I was ambling around hyperspace this week -- can't even remember what I was looking for -- and came across the following on Jane Goodall's wikipedia page:

When asked if she believed in God, Goodall said in September 2010: "I don't have any idea of who or what God is. But I do believe in some great spiritual power. I don't know what to call it. I feel it particularly when I’m out in nature. It’s just something that's bigger and stronger than what I am or what anybody is. I feel it. And it's enough for me."
That immediately struck me in its similarity to a bit of Francis Collins' description of his coming to faith. I'm a great fan of Francis Collins. I was lucky enough to interview him in 1989 after he and fellow geneticist Lap-chee Tsui (along with others) discovered a key gene in cystic fibrosis (the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator). Collins was already known at the University of Michigan as a man of faith. He famously volunteered (by putting an ad in the campus newspaper) to talk to any students about faith -- outside of his office hours (so it couldn't be deemed a violation of separation of church and state).

Collins would go on to lead part of the massive endeavor to sequence the entire human genome; to head NIH's Human Genome institute; and he now heads all of NIH. Through it all Collins has maintained his humility, delightful sense of humor, and accessibility to the people around him. Or at least he still did when I was at NIH six years ago.

In 2007, Collins continued his "coming out" as a Christian in his book, "The Language of God," in which he describes how his faith developed. Late in the book, after going through all the rational arguments he had considered for and against the existence of God, Collins writes:
I had to make a choice. A full year had passed since I decided to believe in some sort of God, and now I was being called to account. On a beautiful fall day, as I was hiking in the Cascade Mountains during my first trip west of the Mississippi, the majesty and beauty of God's creation overwhelmed my resistance. As I rounded a corner and saw a beautiful and unexpected frozen waterfall,  hundreds of feet high, I knew the search was over. The next morning, I knelt in the dewy grass as the sun rose and surrendered to Jesus Christ.
For both Collins and Goodall, the real sense of the truth of the existence of God came not through logic, reason, and rational proof, but from a sudden spark of feeling sensed amidst the wonder and beauty of nature.

Kahlil Gibran observed: “Faith is an oasis in the heart which can never be reached by the caravan of thinking.” Jonathan Haidt, writing that most human activity is governed by our automatic, emotional reactions would probably agree with Gibran and not be surprised by Collins' and Goodall's descriptions of their ineffable encounters leading to spiritual belief.

I suppose I did have a moment when I almost got to the brink of such an encounter, albeit much more mundane--this is not going to make anyone's top 10 lists of rousing testimonies. It would have been in the early 1990s after I had just moved to what turned out to be quite a dangerous neighborhood. The neighbor on one side warned me that the neighbor's house on the other side was a cat house and a crack house. "But don't worry, I have a gun."

At that point I started worrying and decided to get to know the neighbors in the back yard -- a Methodist church. I began attending regularly and continued, if for no other reason than the people were friendly and I really didn't know -- or much want to know-- anyone else in the neighborhood.

I don't remember the name of the first pastor I met at the church -- he was only there for part of my first year in Hyattsville. But some months into my regular attendance at Ager Rd. United Methodist, he invited me to join. In a brief exchange with him I said I wasn't sure -- I couldn't honestly say that I heard the voice of God or put much stock in accounts of Biblical miracles from the Guy in the Sky reaching down to touch human lives. The pastor invited me just to consider whether perhaps I believed in transcendence.

I'm not sure if it was that day or after that I walked to the church through the back yard as my cherry tree was in glorious bloom in the brilliant spring sunshine. The beauty took my breath away. Beauty. Yes, there was more involved there than just photons of light bouncing off my retinas and triggering neuronal impulses... More than just the ancient evolutionary dance of flowers and pollinators... Yes, there was transcendence here; there was more to life than met the eye, more to life than what science could measure.

As I was thinking this morning about scientists connecting with the Creator through their awe in Creation (and there are many more examples than Collins, Goodall and my cherry tree) my Dear Husband called my attention to a passage from a book that will be released this week by Francis Spufford, called "Unapologetic: Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense." The Guardian ran a long excerpt that convinced both DH and me that we need to get this book.

Doubtless I'll have more to say when I've actually read more than just this excerpt, but Spufford basically seems to be throwing up his hands on logically proving God's existence. He can't know God and neither can you or the New Atheists, he says. But what he does know is that there is something very recognizably human, something emotionally right going on in religion.

"Stop worrying about God and enjoy life" (a slogan plastered on busses by activist atheists) might be good for the few people left in the world who aren't enjoying life due to their fear of a disapproving God. But it just doesn't cut it for the rest of the world:
... suppose, as the atheist bus goes by, you are povertystricken, or desperate for a job, or a drug addict, or social services have just taken away your child. The bus tells you that there's probably no God so you should stop worrying and enjoy your life, and now the slogan is not just bitterly inappropriate in mood. What it means, if it's true, is that anyone who isn't enjoying themselves is entirely on their own. What the bus says is: there's no help coming.
Spufford doesn't invoke miracles or any other mechanism for how God might help at this point (I'll be interested to see what the rest of the book has to say) -- only that taking away hope is a very cruel version of reality, if reality it is. For Spufford, like Collins and Goodall, it is emotional reaction that affirms his faith. But in his case, it is not Nature that is the trigger; it's Mercy, as detected in the beauty of the middle (adagio) movement in Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, heard in a cafe after a horrible awful no-good night spent fighting with the Missus.
The world is wider than you fear it is, wider than the repeating rigmaroles in your mind, and it has this in it, as truly as it contains your unhappiness. Shut up and listen, and let yourself count, just a little bit, on a calm that you do not have to be able to make for yourself, because here it is, freely offered. . .
. . . So to me, what I felt listening to Mozart in 1997 is not some wishy-washy metaphor for an idea I believe in, and it's not a front behind which the real business of belief is going on: it's the thing itself. My belief is made of, built up from, sustained by, emotions like that. That's what makes it real.

Reasoning and thinking to support the emotions come limping along well after the emotional recognition, Spufford says, before slightly apologizing for the logical, rational defence--but not for his very human, emotional embrace of spirituality:
I am not in the habit of entertaining only those emotions I can prove. I'd be an unrecognisable oddity if I did. Emotions can certainly be misleading: they can fool you into believing stuff that is definitely, demonstrably untrue. Yet emotions are also our indispensable tool for navigating, for feeling our way through, the much larger domain of stuff that isn't susceptible to proof or disproof, that isn't checkable against the physical universe. We dream, hope, wonder, sorrow, rage, grieve, delight, surmise, joke, detest; we form such unprovable conjectures as novels or clarinet concertos; we imagine. And religion is just a part of that...


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