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Link Highlights | September-October 2018

Thursday, 25 October 2018  | Ethos editor


Link highlights – September and October 2018

Below is a selection of links to online news and opinion pieces from September and October 2018. To keep up-to-date with our posts, ‘like’ us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.

The articles below are selected by the editor, Armen Gakavian, at his discretion. Neither the editor nor Ethos necessarily endorse the views expressed in these articles.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Henry Reynolds writes: The problem is that there is no clear explanation in Australian legal theory to show how sovereignty passed from the first nations to the British crown. So what can be done?

www.socialpolicyconnections.com.au/?p=13779

Michael Breen writes: A federal system could deliver on three of the four key elements of the Uluru Statement. Plus, all the elements already exist or are in the works in Australia.

https://theconversation.com/a-new-way-to-recognise-an-indigenous-nation-in-australia-101189

Frank Brennan writes: On such a journey, we will not find common ground except by compromise, unless of course there is agreement about the principles at stake, and agreement that there is only one way to apply those principles to the challenges at hand in the contemporary context. Even among Indigenous Australians there is no unanimity on that.

https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56782

Andrew Hamilton writes: Despite what Turnbull and Morrison have said, I reject the classification of the First Nations Voice as a third chamber. Still, given that the proposal has been rejected by three Coalition prime ministers over the last three years, the question now is: what is the best way to proceed?

https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56839

Abortion

Gina Rushton writes: Greens senator Janet Rice isn't the only politician recently who has found the debate upsetting because of her own experiences.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ginarushton/late-term-abortions-senate-janet-rice

Kaley Payne writes: Kathy Clubb, an anti-abortion activist, is arguing that exclusion-zone laws around Victoria’s abortion clinics are unconstitutional.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/australia/one-of-the-most-significant-freedom-of-speech-and-pro-life-cases-in-australias-history-starts-today/

Wendy Francis writes: It’s impossible to understand why the Queensland Government refuses to include any restrictions, even regarding sex-selection, in their Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/metoo-in-the-womb/

Alex Deagon writes: A major point of contention with Queensland's Termination of Pregnancy Bill was the extent to which health practitioners are able to refrain from providing abortion services because they have a conscientious objection.

https://lawandreligionaustralia.blog/2018/10/19/conscientious-objection-in-the-termination-of-pregnancy-bill-2018-qld-guest-blog/

Madeleine Weidemann writes: I named my baby later to acknowledge the child that I was still grieving for. I began to imagine the life she could have had.

www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=19994

Nicholas Aroney writes: There is something wrong with a law that does not state expressly and clearly its intended scope and operation. We all know Queensland's new law is about abortion, but it never says so expressly. Why?

https://www.abc.net.au/religion/language-matters-in-abortion-legislation/10393138

Ageing

Joseph Ibrahim writes: The Conversation asked readers how they would want a loved one to be cared for in a residential aged care facility. What they said was similar to what surveys around the world have consistently found.

https://theconversation.com/what-is-quality-in-aged-care-heres-what-studies-and-our-readers-say-104852

Aid & development

Paul Collier writes: To date, aid has nestled under the generic ethical banner of charity. But the actual practice of aid has drifted quite far from a secure ethical anchor.

https://www.abc.net.au/religion/ethical-foundations-of-foreign-aid/10358882

Animals

Chad Bird writes: A theme that reverberates from Genesis to Revelation is: as God loves and cares for animals, so we who are his image-bearers in this world, are called to love and care for them, too.

www.chadbird.com/blog/2018/9/21/for-god-so-loved-the-animals

Art & Culture

Roger Scruton writes: Everyday aesthetic judgment is profoundly rooted in the sense of community; it is part of the collective effort whereby communities are brought into being and maintained.

https://www.abc.net.au/religion/beauty-and-belonging/10356248

Asylum seekers, refugees and migration

Joshua Feigelson writes: The wars, refugee migrations, and genocides of the Second World War were expressive and reflective of an erasure of the image of God. The border crises, dehumanizing nationalisms, and suicide epidemic of our own time seem to share the same roots.

https://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/reading-arendt-connecting-dots

Brad Chilcott writes: Prime Minister Morrison’s chosen mantra of “a fair go for those who have a go” is an Australianised version of the very un-Jesus-like cliche “God helps those who help themselves”.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/the-pm-viewed-from-those-left-behind-or-left-out/

Janelle Wong writes: White evangelicals continue to have a tenacious hold on political power, despite a dramatic decline in their numbers over the past decade. So what will drive their votes in the upcoming midterms?

https://theconversation.com/evangelical-christians-are-racially-diverse-and-hold-diverse-views-on-immigration-102329

Whatever you do for refugees you do for Him. Your posture towards the “caravan” of refugees is your heart’s posture towards Jesus, writes Craig Greenfield.

www.craiggreenfield.com/blog/jesus-refugee-caravan

Atheism

In the last few years we've seen an explosion of popular books on philosophy and psychology, many aimed at stressed out millennials who are unfamiliar with the history of human thought. Jason Beale reviews Sam Harris' book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.

www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=19971

Bioethics

Ross L Jones writes: News about the potential of genetic engineering to improve our lives is often compromised by problematic stories about its potential for misuse. Should couples be allowed to choose the gender of their offspring? Should the state intervene in the reproductive lives of its citizens?

https://theconversation.com/boyer-lectures-the-new-eugenics-is-the-same-as-the-old-just-in-fancier-clothes-103165

Some claim that IVF and gene therapy promote ‘new eugenics’. As a descendant of Holocaust survivors, ABC Boyer lecturer John Rasko takes this accusation seriously. Siobhan Hegarty writes.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-15/eugenics-ethics-of-ivf-and-gene-therapy-john-rasko-boyer-lecture/10360214

Bonhoeffer

In The Battle for Bonhoeffer, Stephen R. Haynes offers a survey of the varied interpretations of that remarkable man, excavating the ways his name and legacy have been used — and too often misused — in American public discourse. Laura Fabrycky writes.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/september-web-only/battle-bonhoeffer-stephen-haynes.html

Child sexual abuse

Hadeel Al-Alosi writes: One of the most controversial recommendations from the Royal Commission is that child abuse disclosed in confession should be mandatorily reported. But the matter is more complex than it might appear.

https://theconversation.com/breaking-the-silence-why-priests-should-be-made-to-report-child-abuse-revealed-in-confession-103234

Tasmania has proposed new laws to break ‘the seal of confession’. Priests and other professionals could face jail time under the newly proposed laws. Radio National talks with Frank Brennan.

www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/religionandethicsreport/breaking-the-seal-of-confession/10329686

Daryl Higgins writes: Today's apology is of great significance, not just to survivors but the whole country. Now political and institutional leaders need to tell us what changes will be made to ensure it never happens again.

https://theconversation.com/the-national-apology-to-victims-of-institutional-child-sexual-abuse-matters-heres-why-104767

Frank Brennan writes: May the Lord have mercy on us all. May the day come when church officials and victims will be comfortable in each other's presence in our Parliament even if not in our Church. But let's dare to pray that all might belong both in the galleries of our Parliament and in the pews of our Church seeing the light in fullness of days.

https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56887

Michael McVeigh writes: As the Prime Minister greeted those gathered in the Great Hall, many were still making demands of the government and of churches — questioning funding for religious schools, tax exemption for religious bodies, and the seal of the confession. They showed that the story isn't quite over for them, yet, either.

https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56906

Civil society and discourse

Charles Murray’s Coming Apart and David Goodheart’s The Road to Somewhere explore the growing divide in world-views, aspirations, values and attitudes toward key issues between elites and ordinary suburban voters. Jeremy Sammut looks at the issues at the heart of the political divide in Australia: energy and immigration. 

https://www.cis.org.au/commentary/articles/key-issues-at-the-heart-of-political-divide/

Eternity is launching its first podcast! With All Due Respect is hosted by Michael Jensen and Megan Powell du Toit. And they say, it’s all about being ‘less agro’ and having ‘more conversation’. Kayley Payne writes.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/culture/the-podcast-trying-to-teach-you-how-to-have-better-conversations/

How can we stay neighbourly in times of disagreement? After pondering that Nashville conversation, here are some commitments I want to make to pursue civility. By Sheridan Voysey.

https://sheridanvoysey.com/how-can-we-stay-civil-in-the-age-of-outrage-here-are-three-ideas/

Discrimination

James Garth writes: If Christian schools can discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status, could a school invoke this same philosophy to theoretically eject a student or teacher on grounds of hypocrisy?

https://medium.com/@jgarth22/selective-discrimination-eea51eac61bc

Domestic violence

A vote by the Sydney Anglican Diocesan Synod highlights the Diocese's deepening understanding of the devastating impacts of abuse within its parishes and opens the door to the possibility of a significant reform of church doctrine. By Hayley Gleeson and Julia Baird.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-24/sydney-anglicans-support-allowing-dv-survivors-divorce-remarry/10425230

Anne Lim writes: Allowing victims of domestic abuse (DA) to separate themselves spiritually from their abuser is even more important than allowing them to remarry in the church, says DA activist Isabella Young.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/culture/what-abuse-survivors-want-from-christian-brothers-and-sisters/

Economics, finance & inequality

Simon Cowan writes: Given that Australia is in the top-10 most-equal societies in the OECD, inequality should be less important than poverty and disadvantage. 

https://www.cis.org.au/commentary/articles/inequality-isnt-australias-issue-poverty-should-be-our-focus/

Andrew McKie writes: it is impossible for any Christian, let alone any clergyman, not to scream from any available pulpit for a radical rethinking of the world in which we live. Archbishop Welby, however, has conflated the teachings of the church with what are more or less the current policies of the Labour Party.

https://unherd.com/2018/09/how-political-should-the-archbishop-be/?=share

Adrian Pabst writes: Protestantism has rich resources to defend the market against excesses. There is much to learn from Protestant practices anchored in the dignity of labour and the sacred character of both land and life.

https://unherd.com/2018/07/protestant-practice-can-save-capitalism/

Michael Frost writes: Your blood will be boiling even if you’ve only just read the headlines about the interim report from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/the-banks-are-greedy-and-dishonest-what-has-the-church-got-to-say/

Education

Dallas McInerney writes: If governments stopped supporting low-fee non-government schools, fees would rise to cover the gap. This would force many parents to move their children to the free government school in the same suburb — many of which are already at capacity — and the non-government school would become unviable and close. Families would be denied their school of choice, and the bill for taxpayers would be greater.

https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56448

Elderly

Kate Galloway writes: Recent airing of shocking treatment of elderly residents in Australian aged care facilities has led Scott Morrison to announce a royal commission. Sadly, the allegations of abuse and appalling conditions are not new. What has resulted in poor outcomes for vulnerable citizens, and why have we permitted such treatment to go on?

www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56431

Environment

Andrew Glikson writes: A key paper titled ‘Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene’ by the US National Academy of Science warns that homo ‘sapiens’ is at an advanced stage of destroying the habitability of planet Earth.

www.socialpolicyconnections.com.au/?p=13721

Cristy Clark writes: When Parliament resumes on 10 September, I hope Morrison leaves his lump of coal at home and takes his Christian values to work. He could start by adopting a 2030 emissions reduction target of at least 50 per cent below 2005 levels, re-upgrading the 2020 renewable energy target, and ensuring that environmental considerations are central to all future development approvals.

https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56304

Misunderstanding about the nature of scientific knowledge, and more generally about what it means to make a truth claim, lies behind climate scepticism, writes Chris Mulherin. 

https://theconversation.com/a-priest-says-sceptics-should-stop-demanding-proof-of-climate-change-as-thats-not-how-science-works-104413

Australia’s emissions are continuing to rise and our Government has no plan to help tackle the climate crisis. How are we, as Christians to respond? By Thea Ormerod.

https://www.sightmagazine.com.au/10586-essay-how-are-christians-to-respond-to-the-ipcc-special-report

Everyday living

Justin Glyn writes: What do the Liberal leadership spill and the Syrian War have in common? Both demonstrate how force of habit, like any other force built up over a long period of time, is very difficult to stop, even when the results are plainly self destructive.

https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56419

Alex Clark writes: In the week of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it’s reassuring to see a study confirming the reparative power of admitting our imperfections, saying sorry and moving forward.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/20/forgiveness-forgotten-virtue-bitter-times

Vicki Buchanan writes: Just as prayers and sacrifices did not measure the true holiness of the Pharisees, so too has sexual propriety provided a false measure of closeness to God in the West. If someone has multiple sex partners but is helpful to strangers, are they better or worse than someone who has only slept with their spouse but is racist or unkind?

https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56432

Eugene Peterson

In a way, the controversies of Peterson’s life are as important as the achievements for which he receives unanimous praise, as they provide a snapshot of a life lived in the wrestling of tension. Kylie Beach writes.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/world/author-of-the-message-eugene-petersen-enters-eternal-rest/

Eugene Peterson, whose Bible paraphrase and writings on spirituality inspired evangelical leaders and laity alike, joyfully looked toward heaven as he neared death, saying, ‘Let’s go’. Kate Shellnutt writes.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/october/eugene-peterson-died-message-bible-long-obedience-resurrect.html

Eight church leaders share what they learned through Eugene Peterson’s books, letters and friendship.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2018/october-web-exclusives/ministry-lessons-from-life-of-eugene-peterson.html

Peterson never delivered a formula for success. He just wrote about pastoral work and how to live it. By David J. Wood

https://www.christiancentury.org/article/first-person/witness-eugene-peterson

Gene was deeply rooted in scripture and in a Christ-centered spirituality. By Richard A. Kauffman

https://www.christiancentury.org/blog-post/guest-post/remembering-eugene-peterson-pastor

Evil

Joshua Feigelson writes: The wars, refugee migrations, and genocides of the Second World War were expressive and reflective of an erasure of the image of God. The border crises, dehumanizing nationalisms, and suicide epidemic of our own time seem to share the same roots.

https://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/reading-arendt-connecting-dots

Fred Clark writes: The surest way to become Martin Niemöller is to convince yourself that you’re already Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The only way to become Bonhoeffer is to recognize that you’re far more like Niemöller than you want to admit.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2018/09/26/the-surest-way-to-become-a-monster-is-to-imagine-youre-a-hero/

Gambling

Tim Costello writes: No jurisdiction anywhere in the world inflicts as much gambling harm and losses on its community as New South Wales and the Opera House advertising stoush just highlights how the industry uses its power and connections to stand over government and get whatever it wants, irrespective of the harm caused.’

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/07/alan-jones-opera-house-row-sydney-gambling-industry-tim-costello

Michael Jensen writes: What was and is needed is a description of the deeper causes of this cultural addiction to luck — which is reality a deep-rooted theology of luck.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-09/gambling-has-always-been-sydneys-vice/10356192

Gender

Claire Smith writes: It’s all very well to say that women and men should be equal, but equal in what? And why? And why is this good? And who will be the judge of when we get there?

https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/challenge-feminism-1-call-feminists/

Martha C. Nussbaum writes: A wave is sweeping across the United States: a wave of fear-driven male rage. American men do have genuine reasons for anxiety.

www.abc.net.au/religion/face-of-american-misogyny/10329956

Jim Wallis writes: This week, it is time for people of faith and moral principle to raise their voices to their senators, calling for the truth and rejecting Kavanaugh’s nomination unless the FBI investigation definitively confirms Kavanaugh’s testimony.

https://sojo.net/articles/i-believe-her-no-kavanaugh

Halloween

John Dickson asks: Is Halloween evil? Better still, is it more ‘evil’ than Christmas?

https://www.publicchristianity.org/halloween-vs-christmas/

Neve Mahoney writes: As a kind of culture-blending holiday, there's room for many types of Halloween. The fact it has endured for so long and in so many forms is testament to how much we desire connection: to our past, to the dead, to one another. I don't think that's such a bad thing to celebrate.

www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56938

Integrity

As the ‘light of the world’, Christians desire to be people of integrity — yet sadly, our desires do not always match the way we live. Why is it so hard to live up to our moral and ethical aspirations? Kelly and Michele O’Donnell write.

https://www.lausanne.org/best-of-lausanne/a-summons-to-a-global-integrity-movement

Jordan Peterson

Giles Fraser writes: Both Pelagius and Peterson insist upon a rule-based approach to ethics, and both are charismatic men who emphasise the importance of freedom and personal responsibility.

https://unherd.com/2018/05/jordan-peterson-shares-pelagius/

Justice

We are deeply concerned that values borrowed from secular culture are currently undermining Scripture in the areas of race and ethnicity, manhood and womanhood, and human sexuality. The Bible’s teaching on each of these subjects is being challenged under the broad and somewhat nebulous rubric of concern for ‘social justice’.’

https://statementonsocialjustice.com/

Michael Gerson writes: 'The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel' is a sad case of complete spiritual blindness. But most damaging is the statement’s position on racial matters.’

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-impossible-to-separate-social-justice-from-the-christian-gospel/2018/09/10/26764628-b528-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html

The Gospel Coalition‘s Thabiti Anyabwile responds to MacArthur’s remarks about social justice, explaining how intersectionality shows up in the Bible, and discussing what church unity (not uniformity) should look like.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/september-web-only/john-macarthur-statement-social-justice-gospel-thabiti.html

Mark Galli writes: As in any statement, there is much I would want to change or tweak, but statements like the recent statement on social justice do raise fundamental concerns that deserve careful thought.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/september-web-only/keeping-social-justice-ministries-vibrant.html

In Episode 3 of With All Due Respect, Megan Powell du Toit and Michael Jensen argue over the validity of a new statement delivered from the US called The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, which suggests social justice movements are leading people away from Jesus.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/podcasts/episode-3-with-all-due-respect-talks-social-justice-and-the-gospel/

Law, human rights and free speech

Denis Dragovic & Barney Zwartz writes: Scott Morrison's resolve last year to defend people of faith was portrayed as political, but he was right to do so then and will need to do so now as Prime Minister. 

https://www.theage.com.au/national/protecting-religious-freedoms-will-not-lead-to-discrimination-20180823-p4zzbc.html

Gary Bouma writes: Just as Prime Minister Morrison does not want others to impose their values on his kids, he should not impose his on others by limiting sex and sexuality education to what he deems acceptable. 

https://theconversation.com/young-people-want-sex-education-and-religion-shouldnt-get-in-the-way-96719

Robert Forsyth writes: Protecting religious freedom is an important issue for religious and non-religious Australians alike. For this is really about how Australian society - as one of the oldest liberal democracies in the world - handles genuine diversity among its citizens.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-real-test-of-religious-freedom-today-20180911-p5032k.html

Neil James Foster writes: A claim before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal recently alleged that a child at a public school should be prevented from wearing Islamic religious garb in the child’s own interests. Thankfully the claim failed, but the fact that the case could even be argued illustrates the pressure that some groups on society are placing on parents and children of faith.

https://lawandreligionaustralia.blog/2018/09/04/does-the-secular-society-know-better-than-a-childs-parents/

Barney Zwartz writes: ‘I don’t feel safe/comfortable’ has become a tool to silence opponents when reason fails. Yet it is imperative that we engage constructively if we don’t want freedoms that we take for granted to perhaps ebb away.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/the-battle-for-free-speech/

Bruno Maçães writes: Now that the enemy has been soundly beaten and political correctness has become a mass movement, everyone feels free to be politically correct in his or her own way. But the method is so empty that it can allow you to reach any conclusion whatsoever.

https://unherd.com/2018/09/political-correctness-ate/

Simon Longstaff writes: As the Commonwealth Government ponders its response to the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review, it's worth considering what people of faith may be seeking to preserve and what limits society might justifiably seek to impose.

www.abc.net.au/religion/human-rights-and-the-limits-of-religious-freedom/10286070

Michael Bird responds to Simon Longstaff, arguing that his case is deficient in its account of religious freedom and incomplete in its explanation of the reasons for limiting religious freedom.

www.abc.net.au/religion/limitation-of-religious-freedom/10295842

Catherine McGregor writes: Based on recent pronouncements, what Morrison has in mind is legislated homophobia. It is part of the inevitable backlash against same-sex marriage and only contemplates protection of narrowly defined Christian beliefs.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/morrison-s-bid-for-religious-freedom-looks-like-legislated-homophobia-20180919-p504os.html

Akos Balogh writes: I wonder if rather than seeing our place in the public square as either a ‘privilege’, or a ‘right’, our role in the public square is one of responsibility – being ambassadors for the King of Kings, whether or not our secular culture welcomes us?

www.akosbalogh.com/2018/09/20/should-christians-be-losing-well-in-a-hostile-australia/

Tom Switzer writes: If the governors of the universities fail to protect intellectual freedom with a Chicago-style charter, the federal government should take matters into its own hands. It could fulfil its obligations to taxpayers by using its leverage to impose financial penalties.

https://www.cis.org.au/commentary/articles/punish-universities-if-they-wont-protect-freedom-of-speech/

Waleed Aly writes: This story is about something much bigger than how the ABC’s management of a particular time and place seemingly lost its grasp of the fundamentals of independent journalism and, with it, the ABC’s mission. It’s about a civic culture that is slowly falling apart: a political class with fewer civic boundaries, less concerned with the independence of institutions, and a muscular intolerance of dissent.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/this-is-about-more-than-the-abc-20180927-p5069l.html

David Crowe writes: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has backed the right of religious schools to discriminate against gay students in a political row over a confidential government report into religious freedom.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/scott-morrison-stands-by-exemptions-for-religious-schools-in-sex-discrimination-laws-20181010-p508sw.html

Simon Longstaff responds to Michael Bird, arguing that, while there is something useful in Michael Bird's concept of ‘proportionality’, a better approach would be one in which, if fundamental rights conflict, the ‘damage’ done to a competing right should be the bare minimum necessary to give effect to another right(s).

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/balancing-religious-freedom-and-human-rights/10351564

Liam Elphick, Amy Maguire and Anja Hilkemeijer write: According to leaked extracts of the much-awaited religious freedom inquiry report, the report affirms that religious freedom is not to be legally entrenched as superior to rights to equality and freedom from discrimination.

https://theconversation.com/ruddock-report-constrains-not-expands-federal-religious-exemptions-96347

Neil James Foster writes: The UK Supreme Court has now ruled that the Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland was not guilty of sexual orientation discrimination, illustrating the clear difference between a decision based on someone's personal characteristics and a refusal to support a specific message.

https://lawandreligionaustralia.blog/2018/10/10/no-sexual-orientation-discrimination-in-declining-to-make-a-gay-cake/

John Warhurst writes: The discussion is widely framed as a conflict between secular and religious Australia, as if such entities existed, with secular Australia defending the rights of the LGBTIQ community in the wake of the positive same sex marriage decision and religious Australia wanting to shore up its right to discriminate against others on the basis of their sexuality. But it's not that cut and dried.

https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56830

Michelle Grattan writes: Some Liberals who agitated for action on religious freedom might be starting to appreciate that the best stand for a conservative can sometimes be to just leave things alone.

https://theconversation.com/view-from-the-hill-conservatives-may-come-to-regret-stirring-hornets-nest-of-religious-freedom-104982

Michael Koziol writes: Leading ‘No’ campaigner and religious conservative Lyle Shelton says schools should not have the right to expel students simply for being gay - but should be able to do so if a student acts on that impulse by having sex.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/politics/federal/don-t-expel-students-for-being-gay-only-if-they-have-sex-says-lyle-shelton-20181011-p50900.html

Jewel Topsfield & Michael Koziol write: The Catholic school sector says it welcomes staff and students from all backgrounds and has not sought concessions to discriminate against students or teachers based on their sexuality, gender identity or relationship status.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/politics/federal/catholic-schools-say-they-don-t-discriminate-on-sexuality-20181010-p508vp.html

James Garth writes: If Christian schools can discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status, could a school invoke this same philosophy to theoretically eject a student or teacher on grounds of hypocrisy?

https://medium.com/@jgarth22/selective-discrimination-eea51eac61bc

Neil James Foster writes: ‘Orientation alone’ should not be a ground to expel or discipline students. But a fully committed member of the Greens would not be suitable to work in the office of the Conservatives. The same issues arise in relation to religious schools and same sex oriented teachers.

https://lawandreligionaustralia.blog/2018/10/16/ruddock-report-part-3-religious-schools-and-gay-teachers/

David Marr writes: The Ruddock proposals to entrench discrimination against gays and the unchaste reveals how the church tries to cling to outdated powers.

https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/16/its-not-just-about-sacking-gay-teachers-the-church-has-a-long-list-of-sinners-it-wants-to-punish

No school lobby group has called for the explicit right to expel students on account of their sexuality, writes John Sandeman. However, schools choose staff to suit its Christian ethos.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/australia/missing-schools-that-expel-gay-students/

James Elton-Pym writes: The Prime Minister wants to wait to pass laws preventing the discrimination against gay teachers - but for those at the coalface, it can be an everyday experience.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/next-to-murder-it-s-the-worst-sin-gay-teachers-at-muslim-catholic-schools-describe-pressure-to-stay-quiet

Joshua Badge writes: Religious freedoms extend only so far as they do not contradict the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. While all Australians should enjoy religious freedom, they also bear the right to non-discrimination and to the highest attainable standard of health. Further, it is unclear at first glance how positive discrimination is related to practising a religion.

www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56848

Julia Baird and Stephanie Boltje write: The Sydney Anglican Church is set to vote on sweeping powers that will ensure that no same-sex marriage services or receptions, meditative yoga or traditional Indigenous smoking ceremonies will be held on any of their extensive properties, including schools, rental properties and church halls.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-19/sydney-anglicans-banning-ssm-yoga-on-all-church-property/10397748

Mark Fowler writes: The call for the removal of exemptions for religious organisations arguably runs counter to the human right that protects against state-imposed uniformity and guarantees pluralism in the provision of education.

https://www.abc.net.au/religion/not-exemptions-but-right-to-free-religious-expression/10391540

Rodney Croome writes: In two days Scott Morrison went from seaming to condone the legal right of schools to discriminate against kids, to promising to remove it. As welcome as this move is, it only addresses part of the problem.

https://www.abc.net.au/religion/schools-are-no-place-for-discrimination/10373664

Rowan Williams writes: In an age that is often sentimental, utilitarian and impatient, we must not allow the language of rights to wander too far from its roots in an acknowledgement of the sacred.

https://www.abc.net.au/religion/:-reconnecting-human-rights-and-religious-conviction/10378612

Renae Barker writes: Australians already enjoy a relatively high level of religious freedom. However, discrimination and vilification on the basis of people's faith still exists.

https://theconversation.com/why-australia-needs-a-religious-discrimination-act-105132

The ban by the Sydney Anglican Diocese of activities such as same-sex marriage receptions, meditative yoga and indigenous smoking ceremonies is consistent with its beliefs and must be respected, writes Peter Kurti.

https://www.cis.org.au/commentary/articles/anglican-bans-align-with-beliefs/

Akos Balogh writes: Last Wednesday’s article in the SMH was titled ‘Religious freedom review enshrines right of schools to turn away gay children and teachers‘, an unfortunate title that framed the discussion from that point on. Sadly neither ABC’s ‘The Drum‘ nor ‘Hack‘ on Triple J did much to challenge that given narrative.

http://akosbalogh.com/2018/10/14/religious-freedom-and-the-politics-of-outrage/

A tendency for some students to shout down any idea or speaker that disturbs or offends them is becoming more frequent across universities in the US, but also now in other Western countries, write Karl Faase and Luke Nottage.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/no-platforming-the-threat-to-free-speech/

Morgan Begg writes: It is not possible to have freedom of religion without the freedom to propagate religious ideals free of the threat of legal censure or restriction.

https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/ipa-review-articles/defending-religious-liberty

Scott Higgins writes: The public defence of religious freedom without public repentance over the harm perpetrated against gay and lesbian people reveals a hypocrisy that is bleedingly obvious to those outside our churches but to which those inside conservative churches are blind.

https://scottjhiggins.com/what-the-church-needs-more-than-freedom-of-religion/

Media

Waleed Aly writes: This story is about something much bigger than how the ABC’s management of a particular time and place seemingly lost its grasp of the fundamentals of independent journalism and, with it, the ABC’s mission. It’s about a civic culture that is slowly falling apart: a political class with fewer civic boundaries, less concerned with the independence of institutions, and a muscular intolerance of dissent.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/this-is-about-more-than-the-abc-20180927-p5069l.html

Moral philosophy

Matt Beard writes: The way we talk about ethics today makes the formation of a good will, or some variation on it, impossible. For regulatory and trust-based approaches to ethics, there's always something outside morality that serves as motivation. Santa for grown-ups: we behave so we get presents instead of coal.

www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56324

Mark Vernon writes: In the beginning was the Word, the Logos, wrote St John. For the first Christians, ancient Stoicism was a preparation. It led to a direct sense of what Jesus called ‘life in all its fullness’.

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2017/11-august/comment/opinion/stoics-and-christians-a-common-intuition

Karen Swallow Prior writes: Moral choices flow from moral character. Perhaps if we wish to reform morality, we should turn more attention to the formation of character.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2018/september/virtues-why-you-cant-name.html

Music

Lyn McCredden writes: The enquiry into sacredness is not over, it’s just beginning for the 21st century, and in wildly disparate modes and places. In music, Nick Cave, Hozier and Dr G. Yunupingu have led the way.

https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-popular-musics-search-for-the-sacred-in-a-secular-world-101117

Persecution

The largely unquestioning support of Western governments for Saudi Arabia is an insult to Christ’s followers there who live in the shadow of death, writes the Barnabas Fund.

https://barnabasfund.org/au/news/western-hypocrisy-saudi-arabia-and-the-persecution-of-christians

Politics, society & ideology

Bruce Wearne writes: The Liberal Party, as well as their Country Party/ National Party allies, have persistently avoided the steep political learning curve that has been challenging them. The question is: how are they, as a party, to reform their contribution to Parliamentary democracy?

www.johnmenadue.com/bruce-wearne-thinking-about-our-political-blurring-of-parliamentary-boundaries/

John Milbank and Adrian Pabst write: Liberalism undoes itself and, in so doing, it erodes the polity it claims to save from extremes on both the left and the right.

https://www.theeuropean-magazine.com/john-milbank/10019-the-meta-crisis-of-liberalism

Matthew Sharpe writes: Some today declare that ‘Western civilisation’ is something we should all be simply ‘for’. But the enlightenment, central to this civilisation, shows how things are rarely so simple.

https://theconversation.com/criticism-of-western-civilisation-isnt-new-it-was-part-of-the-enlightenment-104567

Pornography

Far from porn being the great inspirer of sexual play, could too much early exposure contribute to erectile dysfunction and male performance anxiety? Barbara Ellen writes.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/21/porn-not-only-messes-with-young-mens-minds-but-their-bodies-too

Religion in Politics

Andrew McKie writes: it is impossible for any Christian, let alone any clergyman, not to scream from any available pulpit for a radical rethinking of the world in which we live. Archbishop Welby, however, has conflated the teachings of the church with what are more or less the current policies of the Labour Party.

https://unherd.com/2018/09/how-political-should-the-archbishop-be/?=share

Adrian Pabst writes: Protestantism has rich resources to defend the market against excesses. There is much to learn from Protestant practices anchored in the dignity of labour and the sacred character of both land and life.

https://unherd.com/2018/07/protestant-practice-can-save-capitalism/

Matthew D. Hockenos writes: Would Niemöller’s contemporary admirers in the American public embrace the confession so enthusiastically if they knew of the pastor’s wholehearted support for Hitler during his climb to power?

https://www.christiancentury.org/article/critical-essay/martin-niem-ller-nazis-finally-came-him

Should pastors and congregations seek to transcend politics or is that an impossible or even illegitimate goal? Is there a difference between being political and being partisan? The Christian Century invited some pastors and theologians to respond.

https://www.christiancentury.org/article/opinion/do-politics-belong-church

Were Christian missionaries little more than dupes of colonial power? Albert Howard explores the prevailing narrative that empire and colonialism were universally bad.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2018/09/missionaries-and-imperialism/

Chris Gehrz writes: For the American Christians who supported Donald Trump, the Bonhoeffer moment has already passed. Now they face a Niemöller moment.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2018/09/niemoeller-moment-american-christians/

The historical Christian positions on social issues don’t match up with contemporary political alignments, writes Tim Keller. But our response should be neither withdrawal nor assimilation.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/29/opinion/sunday/christians-politics-belief.html

Simon Smart quizzes journalist and author Greg Sheridan about why he wrote his book, 'God Is Good for You', where religion is headed in the West, the fallout of the sexual abuse scandal in the church, his personal faith, and more.

https://www.publicchristianity.org/banishing-god

Michael Kirby writes: Mr Morrison’s insistence in his first major address as Prime Minister of his love for all Australians is no doubt to be welcomed. However, necessarily ‘all Australians’ includes LGBTIQ Australians. Many of them probably feel anxiety about the ambit of the expressed political ‘love’.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/jury-still-out-does-scott-morrison-love-gays-20180930-p506x8.html

Young evangelicals are questioning the typical ties between evangelicalism and Republican politics. Elizabeth Dias writes.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/01/us/young-evangelicals-politics-midterms.html

Religion in politics – Scott Morrison

Paula Matthewson writes: The current obsession with Mr Morrison’s particular brand of religion is nothing like the scrutiny we’ve placed on other leaders in the past. It sets a bad precedent, and if unchecked, it could start to look like religious discrimination.

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2018/09/07/strange-obsession-scott-morrisons-religion/

Geoff Thompson writes: The notion of taking God’s side also invites a certain kind of false heroism that easily slides into triumphalism. In the end, convincing yourself that you’re on God’s side is actually just a bit too close to thinking that God is on your side after all.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/10/scott-morrisons-claim-to-be-on-gods-side-is-fraught-with-danger

Stephen McAlpine writes: Did our Prime Minister really say that he was on God’s side? And if he did is that not a dangerous thing?

https://stephenmcalpine.com/did-scott-morrison-actually-claim-to-be-on-gods-side/

Graham Young writes: A new prime minister gives the country the chance of a fresh approach. And we need it. Labor populism under Bill Shorten and Sally McManus, if they deliver on their promises, will make us worse off.

www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=19934

Simon Smart writes: A devout politician has the responsibility to govern not only according to their conscience, but to represent all those they serve, regardless of beliefs. A pressing question for Scott Morrison will be what aspect of his Christian conviction he hopes to be remembered for.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-13/scott-morrisons-faith-will-only-make-him-a-better-pm/10223352

Byron Smith writes: As a Christian, I found Morrison's comment to be offensive. But not because a Prime Minister speaks publicly of prayer or is open about his Christian beliefs.

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/why-it-was-offensive-for-the-prime-minister-to-call-for-prayer/10245992

Brad Chilcott writes: Prime Minister Morrison’s chosen mantra of “a fair go for those who have a go” is an Australianised version of the very un-Jesus-like cliche “God helps those who help themselves”.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/the-pm-viewed-from-those-left-behind-or-left-out/

It’s not the first time Australia has had a Christian Prime Minister, but the media’s fascination with Morrison’s faith does seem to be at another level. David Adams writes.

https://www.sightmagazine.com.au/features/10462-australia-new-pm-s-faith-a-matter-of-inter-national-curiosity

For someone to publicly proclaim their Christian faith is admirable, but to blindly support them just because of what they say is misguided, writes Nils von Kalm.

https://www.sightmagazine.com.au/10478-essay-scott-morrison-s-faith-is-not-the-main-issue

Religion in Society

Denis Dragovic & Barney Zwartz writes: Scott Morrison's resolve last year to defend people of faith was portrayed as political, but he was right to do so then and will need to do so now as Prime Minister. 

https://www.theage.com.au/national/protecting-religious-freedoms-will-not-lead-to-discrimination-20180823-p4zzbc.html

Gary Bouma writes: Just as Prime Minister Morrison does not want others to impose their values on his kids, he should not impose his on others by limiting sex and sexuality education to what he deems acceptable. 

https://theconversation.com/young-people-want-sex-education-and-religion-shouldnt-get-in-the-way-96719

Kion You writes: The movie, coming from author Kevin Kwan’s personal experience, provides a damning window into how Christianity functions today in the world’s richest countries.

https://sojo.net/articles/crazy-rich-asians-shows-role-christianity-worlds-richest-countries

Andrew Singleton, Anna Halafoff, Gary D Bouma and Mary Lou Rasmussen write: A new study reveals Australian teenagers do not relate to established ideas on religion and spirituality. Instead, they fall into six broad groups and show great tolerance for others' ideas.

https://theconversation.com/new-research-shows-australian-teens-have-complex-views-on-religion-and-spirituality-103233

Mark Silk writes: According to survey data, churchgoing Trump voters were significantly more moderate than non-churchgoing Trump voters on a host of issues, ranging from religious tolerance and acceptance of immigrants to the death penalty and international trade.

https://religionnews.com/2018/09/21/does-religion-moderate-politics/

Dallas McInerney writes: If governments stopped supporting low-fee non-government schools, fees would rise to cover the gap. This would force many parents to move their children to the free government school in the same suburb — many of which are already at capacity — and the non-government school would become unviable and close. Families would be denied their school of choice, and the bill for taxpayers would be greater.

https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56448

Simon Elvery writes: Australia has seen a continued rise in social hostilities involving religion, according to an annual study by the Pew Research Center. But Australia is not alone among western nations.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-03/chart-of-the-day-religious-hostility/10187746

In the last few years we've seen an explosion of popular books on philosophy and psychology, many aimed at stressed out millennials who are unfamiliar with the history of human thought. Jason Beale reviews Sam Harris' book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.

www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=19971

Denis Dragovic writes: As the 2018 Nobel prize for economics was awarded to two researchers linking economics to climate change, we are once again reminded to listen to the science. Yet when it comes to religion, the same voices hardly whisper their acknowledgment of the research that shows positive outcomes to individuals and society.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/do-you-want-an-antagonistic-society-pitted-against-religious-voices-20181010-p508ss.html#comments

Evangelical Christianity, as we have known it since the 1970s, is again changing. Who are American evangelicals? What do they believe? What is their vision for the country and its place in the world? This five-part typology demonstrates the range of American evangelicalism and the significant differences among believers.

https://crcc.usc.edu/report/the-varieties-of-american-evangelicalism/

Janelle Wong writes: White evangelicals continue to have a tenacious hold on political power, despite a dramatic decline in their numbers over the past decade. So what will drive their votes in the upcoming midterms?

https://theconversation.com/evangelical-christians-are-racially-diverse-and-hold-diverse-views-on-immigration-102329

Safe Schools

Gary Bouma writes: Just as Prime Minister Morrison does not want others to impose their values on his kids, he should not impose his on others by limiting sex and sexuality education to what he deems acceptable. 

https://theconversation.com/young-people-want-sex-education-and-religion-shouldnt-get-in-the-way-96719

Science

In Science and the Good, James Davison Hunter and philosopher Paul Nedelisky examine nearly 400 years of scientific attempts to discover the sources and meaning of morality. That effort, they conclude, has failed. Daniel K. Williams writes.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/november/science-good-james-davison-hunter-paul-nedelis.html

Sex

Vicki Buchanan writes: Just as prayers and sacrifices did not measure the true holiness of the Pharisees, so too has sexual propriety provided a false measure of closeness to God in the West. If someone has multiple sex partners but is helpful to strangers, are they better or worse than someone who has only slept with their spouse but is racist or unkind?

https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=56432

Sexual abuse and #MeToo

Jim Wallis writes: Brett Kavanaugh must not be elevated to the Supreme Court, not only because of the testimony against him, but also because of his track record.

https://sojo.net/articles/i-believe-her-no-kavanaugh

Scott Buchanan writes: Righteous fury has frequently given way to uncontrolled outrage, whilst the commendable idealism with which the phenomenon began has at times mutated into a mob’s crusade against even the smallest of perceived infractions.

https://scottlbuchanan.wordpress.com/2018/10/07/judging-kavanaugh-in-the-metoo-era/

Women’s anger is not taken seriously as politically valid expression, argues Rebecca Traister in her new book Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. Yet women’s anger has the power to spark major social and political movements; it’s an essential ingredient for democracy. Hope Reese writes.

https://longreads.com/2018/10/04/women-are-really-really-mad-right-now/

Kate Jenkins writes: Twelve months on there are some risks if we don’t embrace the call for action signalled by #MeToo.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/metoo-momentum-on-sexual-harassment-a-powerful-catalyst-for-change-20181004-p507pj.html

Sexuality

Robyn J. Whitaker writes: The prime minister's pentecostal faith champions a simplistic reading of the Bible - but that can lead its followers to a narrow view of the world.

https://theconversation.com/on-gender-and-sexuality-scott-morrisons-blind-spot-may-come-from-reading-the-bible-too-literally-102843

Michael Koziol writes: Leading ‘No’ campaigner and religious conservative Lyle Shelton says schools should not have the right to expel students simply for being gay - but should be able to do so if a student acts on that impulse by having sex.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/politics/federal/don-t-expel-students-for-being-gay-only-if-they-have-sex-says-lyle-shelton-20181011-p50900.html

Jewel Topsfield & Michael Koziol write: The Catholic school sector says it welcomes staff and students from all backgrounds and has not sought concessions to discriminate against students or teachers based on their sexuality, gender identity or relationship status.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/politics/federal/catholic-schools-say-they-don-t-discriminate-on-sexuality-20181010-p508vp.html

James Garth writes: If Christian schools can discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status, could a school invoke this same philosophy to theoretically eject a student or teacher on grounds of hypocrisy?

https://medium.com/@jgarth22/selective-discrimination-eea51eac61bc

Neil James Foster writes: ‘Orientation alone’ should not be a ground to expel or discipline students. But a fully committed member of the Greens would not be suitable to work in the office of the Conservatives. The same issues arise in relation to religious schools and same sex oriented teachers.

https://lawandreligionaustralia.blog/2018/10/16/ruddock-report-part-3-religious-schools-and-gay-teachers/

David Marr writes: The Ruddock proposals to entrench discrimination against gays and the unchaste reveals how the church tries to cling to outdated powers.

https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/16/its-not-just-about-sacking-gay-teachers-the-church-has-a-long-list-of-sinners-it-wants-to-punish

No school lobby group has called for the explicit right to expel students on account of their sexuality, writes John Sandeman. However, schools choose staff to suit the Christian ethos of its schools.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/australia/missing-schools-that-expel-gay-students/

Rodney Croome writes: If LGBTI teachers, staff or grounds-keepers have to live in fear of being summarily dismissed, what message does this send to school children?

https://www.abc.net.au/religion/schools-are-no-place-for-discrimination/10373664

James Elton-Pym writes: The Prime Minister wants to wait to pass laws preventing the discrimination against gay teachers - but for those at the coalface, it can be an everyday experience.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/next-to-murder-it-s-the-worst-sin-gay-teachers-at-muslim-catholic-schools-describe-pressure-to-stay-quiet

Rodney Croome writes: In two days Scott Morrison went from seaming to condone the legal right of schools to discriminate against kids, to promising to remove it. As welcome as this move is, it only addresses part of the problem.

https://www.abc.net.au/religion/schools-are-no-place-for-discrimination/10373664

Monica Wilkie writes: Euphemisms can create more confusion than clarity when the meanings of words become blurred. A clear example of this is in the discussion on gender and sex.

https://www.cis.org.au/commentary/articles/sex-vs-gender-down-the-slippery-linguistic-slope/

Sexuality and same-sex marriage

Robyn J. Whitaker writes: The Uniting Church is the first of the three major Australian Christian denominations to endorse same-sex marriage. While a shock for some, for others this change has been painfully slow - the result of decades of conversation, education, resourcing, discernment, and debate that began in the early 1980s.

www.theconversation.com/after-a-long-struggle-the-uniting-church-becomes-the-first-to-offer-same-sex-marriage-102842

‘Although I profoundly disagree with Ashers’ opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be forced to facilitate a political idea that they oppose’, says gay activist Peter Tatchell. John Sandeman writes.

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/world/gay-activist-explains-why-christians-won-court-case/

Julia Baird writes: The Sydney Anglican Church is set to vote on sweeping powers that will ensure that no same-sex marriage services or receptions, meditative yoga or traditional Indigenous smoking ceremonies will be held on any of their extensive properties.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-19/sydney-anglicans-banning-ssm-yoga-on-all-church-property/10397748

Slavery

What do we do with the fact that so many Bible-believing Christians endorsed – and found biblical justification for – something as evil, dehumanizing and unbiblical as slavery? Richard Clark talks with historian Mark Noll, Steve Patton and Thabiti Anyabwile.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/october-web-only/what-bible-did-during-american-slavery.html

Suicide

Joshua Feigelson writes: The wars, refugee migrations, and genocides of the Second World War were expressive and reflective of an erasure of the image of God. The border crises, dehumanizing nationalisms, and suicide epidemic of our own time seem to share the same roots.

https://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/reading-arendt-connecting-dots

Wealth

Daniel José Camacho writes: If Jesus were to visit our country on this Labor Day weekend, I think he might look — with horror — at the vast need that exists alongside obscene abundance. He might look at all of those hoarding this abundance, and ask: whose will it be?

https://sojo.net/articles/can-someone-who-owns-10-yachts-enter-kingdom-god



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