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Lord, Save Us From Your Followers


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MOVIE SYNOPSIS

 

Though nine out of ten Americans claim a belief in God, public expression of faith is more contentious as ever. Even as discussion of religion floods the media like never before, the rhetoric is divisive and hyper as the 2008 elections loom on the horizon.

 

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers is the energetic, accessible documentary that explores the collision of faith and culture in America. Fed up with the angry, strident language filling the

airwaves that has come to represent the Christian faith, director (and follower) Dan Merchant set out to discover why the Gospel of Love is dividing America. Utilizing a broad array of expert interviews, man-on-the-street bits, hilarious animations and “I’ve never seen that before” stunts, Lord, Save Us From Your Followers brings everyone into the conversation that this country is aching to have.

 

In the tradition of “entertaining documentaries” like Super Size Me, Bowling For Columbine and What the Bleep Do We Know?, Lord, Save Us From Your Followers, employs the language of pop culture to create a provocative, funny and redemptive viewing experience that will leave the audience talking for hours.

 

From the man-on-the-street blitz of “Bumpersticker Man” to a “Culture Wars” game show, from Dan’s proclamation drive to re-name St. Paul to New Leningrad to the controversial and moving “Confession Booth” at Gay Pride, Lord, Save Us From Your Followers delves into all the hot button issues with candor, humor and balance.

 

With exclusive interviews with comedian/Senatorial candidate Al Franken, former Senator and Religious Right inside man Rick Santorum, noted “liberal evangelical” Tony Campolo, conservative radio host Michael Reagan, racial reconciliation activist Dr. John Perkins and features with Bono, Pastor Rick Warren (“Purpose Driven Life”), James Dobson, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, no stone is left unturned in this engaging, unpredictable and challenging look at the conflict over religion in America.

 

 

Just saw this film today, and I was fairly impressed. It does a very good job of keeping the political fight of right and wrong out of it, (with a few exceptions, though they are brief, and don't take away from the overall message.) I highly recommend it to everyone. Unlike most documentaries, you don't feel suicidal when it finishes.

 

Overall it is a call for Christians to drop the judgmental attitude and go back to the spirit of love that Christ himself preached. The film is also an affirmation of the power of that same love, and how it can transform the lives of those less fortunate. The spirit of charity that the church excels in is a powerful message in and of itself.

 

I realize that there have been attacks coming from both sides of the so called Culture War, but my questions then becomes this: When you think of Christianity, what is it that comes to your mind, good or bad? Why do you feel that way? What would change your mind?

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that was a pretty interesting trailer, and yeah, your reaction makes me wanna see it.

 

to answer your question: it depends on who's talking. when its politicians or evangelicals, my impression is moral dyslexia: death is ok in some contexts but not others, and the spirit of christs' message in the gospels - compassion, reserving judgment (more god's territory) etc are lost in the bile of feigning the part of a wounded majority. its nauseating.

 

but again, when hearing from actual christians - or, for me, more specifically from homeless outreach programs i volunteer with here locally, all of which are faith-based - i get the very impression i didnt find in the former group. I've got several friends who've done missionary work in south america & africa and did more than just bible-thump, which ive got a great deal of respect for. the part of the trailer talking about brushing flies off the eyes of impoverished children, i cant think of anything more in the vein of what was written of christs' actions.

 

but the former image is the one that gets media coverage and is thusly more in our collective faces. i dont think much can be done to strip the high horse away from such a group, and theyre likely always going to vie for political clout, so the best thing i can do (personally) to not let one group overlap the other in my mind is continue interacting with the latter and do all i can to ignore the former.

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I do think the fact that the former is what gets all the coverage is both understandable, and deeply lamentable. I do however think that this street level ministry that many churches provide is a great help and solace to people, and sends a huge message about what I think the vast majority of Christianity is really about.

 

I guess my next question would be, can there be a cease fire in the culture war? It seems like you think that that hardcore, Moral Majority ideal is always going to be the face of christianity. Then again, Rick Warren is doing a pretty decent job from what I have seen of putting at the very least a non-hypocritical face on the whole thing. Who knows.

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dunno, things started flaring up again with the ACLU's attack on all things Christian, especially during Christmas.

 

The Far Right makes things difficult.....as much as the Far Left does. One side wants to shove Christianity down your throat, the other side wants it eradicated.

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Oh I agree that there are attacks coming from both sides, and they are often silly. Hell that's been my song and dance for years as to why shit has gotten as bad as it has. Each side keeps upping the ante. The question is whether or not a change in tactics can work. I'm hopeful that it can.

 

I think that if the church (and of course there are hundreds of denominations) worked together to get the message of the Katrina's, the Ethiopia's and the outreaches out, then it could do MUCH better than what seems to be its current angle. Showing by deeds is an option that the church has that simple doesn't exist in the political realms.

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I realize that there have been attacks coming from both sides of the so called Culture War, but my questions then becomes this: When you think of Christianity, what is it that comes to your mind, good or bad? Why do you feel that way? What would change your mind?

When I think of Christianity, I think of a bronze age belief system that somehow survives juxaposed in the modern world.

 

There is an important distinction to be made between Christianity being wrong and being bad. As for what it would take to make me believe Christianity was correct, it would really take a worldwide self-exposition by God personally. I would not be convinced by divine revelation. If God spoke to me directly, I would sooner believe I had lost my mind than believe God was real.

 

To believe Christianity was good, I've have to first believe that truth was not important (or trivial next to tangible results), then be presented with evidence that demonstrated, with statistically significant raw date, that Christians were ethically superior to non-Christians. That they are more likely to be law-abiding, less likely to lie, less likely to cheat on their spouses, less likely to beat their children, less likely to vote for a simple-minded candidate than a more qualified candidate, etc.

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ah, ill not take the ACLU bait, heh.

as for a cease-fire: again, you've got to ask how relevant this "cultural war" really is to many. to use a long-stretch of an example...you remember the east coast/west coast hip hop shit years back? it was a ton of media hype. a lot of records got sold, some people tried to make their careers out of it, and others got shot. in my mind, this isnt that different: the street level churches you're talking about are still doing their thing, as they have been for years.

 

the face of these churches hasnt changed. communities - black, chinese, etc - are still often built around these churches, and again with the black ones they're still relevant to civil rights and such, though to a varying degree. personally, coming from a utilitarian stance, if some pastors wish to mix politics with their sermon, im not a fan but overall i think the establishments do more good than harm.

 

but back to my first point: this "war" has momentum. donations are brought in with talk of it, books are written left & right around it, local politicians rally a base with its channeling. I think the question is does anyone really want it to be over? because this guy from your movie aside, its not a popular sentiment. I mean, there's still a fair amount of people profiting off of ideas around JFK's death that're happy to leave the questions unanswered, id imagine.

 

and yeah, i cant say the moral majority will always be the face of it, but that's where its been for at least as far back as ive been paying attention. By playing the hollywood game, they elevate names like Falwell to social consciousness, and then, when their sanctimonious heroes are caught with hookers or something, the bulk of society enjoys watching them fall off of high horses and into the mud. Its a circus that they sign up for, and personally, if i was deeply christian, its a game id not want to see indulged. If Warren is better at it, that's good i suppose, but in my eyes, playing it lowers you.

...but i think your question of putting another face on the religion is far more relevant. id love to see that happen, and again, am interested in the film to see this guy's take on how that could be accomplished, cause ive honestly no idea with the way we work now.

 

I think that if the church (and of course there are hundreds of denominations) worked together to get the message of the Katrina's, the Ethiopia's and the outreaches out, then it could do MUCH better than what seems to be its current angle. Showing by deeds is an option that the church has that simple doesn't exist in the political realms.

 

couldnt agree more.

with the example of katrina, with the feds failing on an entirely new level (for me), seeing faith-based (and non) charities, as well as the private sector (wal-mart specifically) rushing to the scene to provide aid spoke volumes.

 

i cant recall if it was jumbie or :headbang: but years back one told me there was a whole other impression of christian whites in guyana: they only time they say such people in certain areas, they were either building things or helping out otherwise. youve gotta figure there's a 180 degree perspective of the ideology there.

Edited by Irish Ninja
dammit.
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To believe Christianity was good, I've have to first believe that truth was not important (or trivial next to tangible results), then be presented with evidence that demonstrated, with statistically significant raw date, that Christians were ethically superior to non-Christians. That they are more likely to be law-abiding, less likely to lie, less likely to cheat on their spouses, less likely to beat their children, less likely to vote for a simple-minded candidate than a more qualified candidate, etc.

 

Well I appreciate the honest response.

 

Another question: Do you have more venom towards christianity than most other religions, or is it because it comes out more? Would you prefer to say, not have christianity at all, and with that loss also lose the efforts at literacy, combating poverty, humanitarian relief and the like that have come as a result of christianity?

 

I am of course not saying that humanitarian relief has not come from other sources, but a rather lot of it has been Christian in origin.

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that's a bullshit statement, though: he's dojing the question.

 

It's not important about how CHRISTIANS behave, but what CHRISTIANITY is about. The idea comes down to the 'universal truth' question, or is there a universal 'right' and 'wrong', not on whether or not people practice it.

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ah, ill not take the ACLU bait, heh.

as for a cease-fire: again, you've got to ask how relevant this "cultural war" really is to many. to use a long-stretch of an example...you remember the east coast/west coast hip hop shit years back? it was a ton of media hype. a lot of records got sold, some people tried to make their careers out of it, and others got shot. in my mind, this isnt that different: the street level churches you're talking about are still doing their thing, as they have been for years.

 

I think for many of those who are more politically active, and involved the "culture war" is a bit of a constant backdrop. It doesn't change how people live their lives, but I think that there is a fair bit of antagonism beneath the surface. It's almost a Cold War.

 

Now to be fair, I think that one of the mor interesting points of this film is the idea that the Culture war is very much a fabrication as well. It exists in many wasy as much as we want it to. It's an interesting point, but there are also issues with that view, the getting rid of christmas trees in public places, the lack of nativity scenes, things like that are casualties.

 

the face of these churches hasnt changed. communities - black, chinese, etc - are still often built around these churches, and again with the black ones they're still relevant to civil rights and such, though to a varying degree. personally, coming from a utilitarian stance, if some pastors wish to mix politics with their sermon, im not a fan but overall i think the establishments do more good than harm.

 

But has the face changed to those who aren't members. It seems that there is a bit more of an acerbic distaste for christianity from non-christians, admittedly some of which has been brought on by itself. But overall it seems that many, especially college educated people around our age, tend to magnify the worst in the religion. This comes from personal experience, but it is an impression that I have have had for years.

 

but back to my first point: this "war" has momentum. donations are brought in with talk of it, books are written left & right around it, local politicians rally a base with its channeling. I think the question is does anyone really want it to be over? because this guy from your movie aside, its not a popular sentiment. I mean, there's still a fair amount of people profiting off of ideas around JFK's death that're happy to leave the questions unanswered, id imagine.

 

I think that there is momentum, but I htink it can be changed. I think the vast majority of churches aren't te ones trying to go out and get the nebulous other, they are just the ones who have gotten really good at being on TV.

 

I think the other issue is that the church has been in an echo chamber for so long, they need to reconnect with the outside world and know how best to minister there.

 

and yeah, i cant say the moral majority will always be the face of it, but that's where its been for at least as far back as ive been paying attention. By playing the hollywood game, they elevate names like Falwell to social consciousness, and then, when their sanctimonious heroes are caught with hookers or something, the bulk of society enjoys watching them fall off of high horses and into the mud. Its a circus that they sign up for, and personally, if i was deeply christian, its a game id not want to see indulged. If Warren is better at it, that's good i suppose, but in my eyes, playing it lowers you.

 

Though many of them do run some amazing humanitarian missions. I have to look into Warren more to be fair, but the fact that after his book was a hit he took what he made off it into savings, returned 25 years worth of salary to his church, and gives much of his cash to missions seems a damn sight better than most on the surface.

 

...but i think your question of putting another face on the religion is far more relevant. id love to see that happen, and again, am interested in the film to see this guy's take on how that could be accomplished, cause ive honestly no idea with the way we work now.

couldnt agree more.

with the example of katrina, with the feds failing on an entirely new level (for me), seeing faith-based (and non) charities, as well as the private sector (wal-mart specifically) rushing to the scene to provide aid spoke volumes.

 

It's a shame because I didn't even know about those efforts until recently. But they really were incredible. I am still proud as hell of my mother for the work she does in Bolivia, Liberia, and Angola. But outside of TBN, which, let's be honest no one watches, none of this ever comes out it seems.

 

i cant recall if it was jumbie or :headbang: but years back one told me there was a whole other impression of christian whites in guyana: they only time they say such people in certain areas, they were either building things or helping out otherwise. youve gotta figure there's a 180 degree perspective of the ideology there.

The segment on Ethiopia is very much about things like that.

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Christopher Hitchens wrote that his "particular atheism is a Protestant atheism” because “it was with the splendid liturgy of the King James Bible and the Cranmer prayer book–liturgy that the fatuous Church of England has cheaply discarded–that I first disagreed.” I am an atheist in a Christian/Catholic culture, and inevitability, alot of my perspective in relative to that context, and is there for different from the brand of atheism that comes from rejecting supernaturalism in another context (Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Salman Rushdie, and Hondosbar's own Jumbie came to atheism is an Islamic context).

 

But I dot have more venom for Islam than I do for Christianity (in practice). The problem with both Christianity and Islam that is not currently an issue with most other religion is that they have the power to exercise more real far reaching harm than other religions. Say what you want about Scientologist, but they're not responsible for the political stalling of making the HPV vaccine available to all adolescent girls in this country.

 

As for charity, I do not believe religion is the source of charitability.

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that's a bullshit statement, though: he's dojing the question.

 

It's not important about how CHRISTIANS behave, but what CHRISTIANITY is about. The idea comes down to the 'universal truth' question, or is there a universal 'right' and 'wrong', not on whether or not people practice it.

I'll assume that's directed at me.

 

I made the distinction clear. There is a difference between whether Christianity is true, and whether Christianity is a positive force in the world. They are two distinct questions, and I addressed them both.

 

As for the benevolence of the religion, if I imagine a scenario where a time traveler told me that 100 years in the future, Christians were the vast minority and most people did not believe in a supernatural explanation of how the world works, I would assume that in 100 years, the world would be a better place.

 

PS Also, one cannot doj a question. One can doj, and one can dodge a question, but one cannot doj a question.

Edited by Reverend Jax
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Now to be fair, I think that one of the mor interesting points of this film is the idea that the Culture war is very much a fabrication as well. It exists in many wasy as much as we want it to. It's an interesting point, but there are also issues with that view, the getting rid of christmas trees in public places, the lack of nativity scenes, things like that are casualties.

 

yeah, and you're right, those are indeed casualties which sucks cause i imagine it might often be someone that had no ill intentions setting such things up, but both sides will use it as political capital and examples of things to point at.

but there's a line to be drawn where such indulgences are right: for me, im wholly unconcerned with public prayer, religions symbols on private property (even on public most times) etc but i spoke up on the 10 commandments thing in the court room because i think its sending a larger message.

but even that's funny because most parties arguing either side, in my eyes, likely had no real strong feelings about it but felt compelled to act as though they did.

 

mind you, to bring in yet another side-factor to clog the conversation, this mode of thinking is likely popular with me right now 'cause of finishing the fourth season of the wire - it was a story of inner-city corner boys caught up dealing while trying to go to schools that cant reach them and local politics that want positive statistics out of them to build a resume on. the bigger the issue, the more people want to trim the leaves then get at the root.

i think i really just felt like talking about the wire there.

 

But has the face changed to those who aren't members. It seems that there is a bit more of an acerbic distaste for christianity from non-christians, admittedly some of which has been brought on by itself. But overall it seems that many, especially college educated people around our age, tend to magnify the worst in the religion. This comes from personal experience, but it is an impression that I have have had for years.

 

Yeah, i cant argue with your perception there. we're talking generally but id argue its one of those things doenst need documented #'s to be agreed upon: when its spoken on, its usually done so with contempt.

 

I think the other issue is that the church has been in an echo chamber for so long, they need to reconnect with the outside world and know how best to minister there.

 

if that's your goal, that's pretty much (my view) all they can do.

get out there, reconnect and make it public. do so long enough and the cynics that think theyre doing it just for that effect will eventually die down; time can change almost any perspective.

 

Though many of them do run some amazing humanitarian missions. I have to look into Warren more to be fair, but the fact that after his book was a hit he took what he made off it into savings, returned 25 years worth of salary to his church, and gives much of his cash to missions seems a damn sight better than most on the surface.

 

if that's the case, he was a smart choice for them, and even now id have a hard time saying he sounds like an alright guy, coming from a group i admittedly have a hard time not showing contempt for.

 

It's a shame because I didn't even know about those efforts until recently. But they really were incredible. I am still proud as hell of my mother for the work she does in Bolivia, Liberia, and Angola. But outside of TBN, which, let's be honest no one watches, none of this ever comes out it seems.

 

yeah, that is awesome. ive been surprised lately by the number of friends ive had whose parents were doing really good shit on the low. Chief's another one.

 

Jax:

As for charity, I do not believe religion is the source of charitability.

 

when you replace charity with morality, i agree 100%, and again resent the notion that any church has a copyright on morality.

but with charity, itd be unfair of me to deny the huge contribution they put forth.

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My view on Christianity, like most religions, is that it's a club that some members take more seriously than others re: obligations and beliefs.

 

Like anyl club it is often a driving source for social cohesion and charity.

 

I have to agree that I could never see it as something transcending that unless I got some kind of strong proof that Christians were more moral than muslims, rotarians, atheists, teamsters, taoists etc.

 

My big beef with Christianity in the United States is its presence in the govt sphere. I'm happy to see that a majority of Americans in a recent survey say they want churches out of politics. I'm sure sentiment will swing the other way eventually, but I think the long term trend is away from mixing the two.

 

----------

 

Thanks for the invite George. I'm still not ready to come back to Hondo's, but this was fun.

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Jax:

when you replace charity with morality, i agree 100%, and again resent the notion that any church has a copyright on morality.

but with charity, itd be unfair of me to deny the huge contribution they put forth.

I never denied the charitability of religious organizations, I just said it wasn't their religion that made them charitable. The reason we see so many religious charitable organizations is that many religions have the benefit of already having a well structured organization. If a charitable organization is to be unassociated with a specific church, they need to build the organization from the ground up. The Red Cross did that, and they are huge now (the Red Cross is non-religious, the name comes from honoring the founder's nation, Switzerland).

 

But I don't believe you need religion to make good people do good, but I believe that only religion (and nationalism) are capable of making good people do truly evil things.

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But I don't believe you need religion to make good people do good, but I believe that only religion (and nationalism) are capable of making good people do truly evil things.

That's ridiculous. You can't simply strip religion of all the good it does and say 'it's not religion that's responsible for this' and then, in the same breath, turn and say 'they're responsible for evil'. That's patently absurd and hypocritical.

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That's ridiculous. You can't simply strip religion of all the good it does and say 'it's not religion that's responsible for this' and then, in the same breath, turn and say 'they're responsible for evil'. That's patently absurd and hypocritical.

 

Um, Jax didn't say that.

Edited by Drifter
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Of already Good People.

 

If you believe that people are inherently good then religion can bolster that goodness or be used to turn those good people towards evil acts. If you believe that people are inherently evil, like some proponents of religion often do, then you can surmise that religion is a guiding force for good while evil acts in the name of religion is just us poor pathetic humans twisting God to serve our own selfish purposes.

 

That dichotomy can be simply stated like this:

 

If Humans are Inherently Good - Religion is Both Good and Bad

If Humans are Inherently Bad - Religion is Always Good

 

Almost an oversimplification but if anyone's taken mathematical logic they might find that familiar.

 

You just have to decide which seems more likely.

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Good men don't kill their daughters after being violently raped to restore their family's honor, unless their religion commands it. Good people are capable of doing that kind of thing because of religion. There's no good thing a good religious person can do that couldn't be done if they weren't religious.

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Dealing with a migraine yesterday, so took a while to get back to all of this.

 

yeah, and you're right, those are indeed casualties which sucks cause i imagine it might often be someone that had no ill intentions setting such things up, but both sides will use it as political capital and examples of things to point at.

but there's a line to be drawn where such indulgences are right: for me, im wholly unconcerned with public prayer, religions symbols on private property (even on public most times) etc but i spoke up on the 10 commandments thing in the court room because i think its sending a larger message.

but even that's funny because most parties arguing either side, in my eyes, likely had no real strong feelings about it but felt compelled to act as though they did.

 

Probably true, which again is why if the discussion gets framed in a different light, a less confrontational one, especially when it comes to things like this, I think the overall effect will be beneficial.

 

Good men don't kill their daughters after being violently raped to restore their family's honor, unless their religion commands it. Good people are capable of doing that kind of thing because of religion. There's no good thing a good religious person can do that couldn't be done if they weren't religious.

 

 

 

Interesting view, however that isn't always the case. A non-religious philosophy can just as easily lead to what you have said as a religious one.

 

I find it intruiging that you believe that religions are all manmade creations, but that in order to be truly evil one needs religion and/or nationalism. Rape, murder, and worse have existed since time immemorial.

 

But I think we are getting away from the point of the thread, not so much a discussion of the overall merits of all religion, but more the views held by a lot of people on Christianity or Christians being evil. (Or at least major dicks.)

 

My next question goes out to you all:

 

What are some of your bad experinces with Christianity, what were the good ones?

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I find it intruiging that you believe that religions are all manmade creations, but that in order to be truly evil one needs religion and/or nationalism. Rape, murder, and worse have existed since time immemorial.

Yes, rape, murder and worse have existed and can exist without religion, but my point is that good people will generally do good, and bad people will generally do bad, but religion (and nationalism) are capable of making GOOD people do BAD.

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but religion (and nationalism) are capable of making GOOD people do BAD.

many things are capable of making good people do bad, Jax. A bad experience. Road Rage. Perceived slights. Real slights. We see it all the time.

 

Nationalism is largely blamed for the Holocaust, but any student of History and Historical Genocides know that isn't the case: Nationalism was the excuse, as was 'we were just following orders.' Those ideas had to already exist, and the Perps took advantage of their station and the situation to implement people's darkest desires.

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Yes, I understand. You believe that even if Germans hadn't been wrapped up in a state of nationalist fervor, and if they didn't have a religion to distinguish themselves from the Jews, otherwise good people would have still carried out the mechanically efficient decimation of 11 million people. I understand why you believe that. When I was taught about original sin and in the wretchedness of humanity, I also thought people were fundamentally evil animals. But that's not the perspective I'm coming from.

Edited by Reverend Jax
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