Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Review: Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation


John Boyko.  Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation.  Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. ISBN 978-0-307-36144-8

The title of this book, in its first part, is a tad grandiose, and in the second part, rather inflated in the sense that popular histories today seem required to have titles such as “How The Irish Saved Civilization” or “How the Germans Saved Sausage”.    However, for a popular history, it’s a very good account of how Canada’s path to becoming a modern nation state, practically if not ceremonially independent of Great Britain, led through the years of the American Civil War.

When I was active in American Civil War reenacting, I was with an Ontario-based group, and when we staged events or “living histories” on our side of the US border, we would always tell slightly mystified spectators that a great many Canadians served in the Civil War.  Roughly forthy thousand did, most in the Northern army, though perhaps 1 in 50 found their way to Confederate service.   The stories of some of these Canadians are told here as points of reference in a larger story.  They include soldiers and medical workers, including one woman, a New Brunswick farm girl, Sarah Edmonds, who managed to be both, serving in disguise as a man before becoming an undisguised women nurse later in the war.

What I didn’t really know was how porous the Canadian border was during the war and in the years leading up to it.  Fugitive slaves and their pursuers often crossed the border, and in the case of one fugitive, John Anderson, were pursued even into Canada’s courts.  Anderson’s case, which was about whether Canada as a British colony was obliged to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law (Anderson’s abolitionist supports thought not, while conservative lawmakers felt that Anderson, who had killed a white man in his flight, should be returned as a murderer).  Anderson’s case eventually made it to the British cabinet in London, and did much to provoke impatience with what was perceived as British interference in Canadian courts.  Anderson was freed on a technicality and was put on the touring circuit by abolitionist groups, but by then the war had started and the issue of fugitive slaves was moot.

While many Canadians disliked slavery, they were ambivalent or even hostile to the US government that was opposed to the southern slave state.  Canadians remembered American invasions of Canada in 1776 and 1812, and attributed the rebellions of 1837 to US agitation and republican sentiments, which were seen as hostile to good government and order.   Lincoln’s secretary of state, the “cigar chomping” William Seward, “an unapologetic supported or Manifest Destiny”, had made no secret that he wanted to see Canada become part of the United States.   Canadians distrusted him, and for good reason.   Britain’s sympathies were with the south, even though the Empire was neutral, and Canadians knew that if Britain entered the war on behalf of the Confederacy, it would be a bad day for Canada.    The Canadian border had not been strengthened since the War of 1812 ended.  Impressive defences, like Kingston’s Fort Henry, were not yet in existence.  Only 4300 British redcoats were scattered between what is today Ontario (Canada West), Quebec (Canada East), and Nova Scotia, and they were often prone to desertion to the US.  Canada’s militia was poorly trained and equipped.   

From the Canadian election of 1861, which largely focused on fears of American republicanism, is part of Boyko’s story of how, through the Civil War years, Canada realized that it needed to come together politically in the face of a perceived American threat.  Quite often that threat seemed very real.   In November 1861, a US warship stopped a British ship, the Trent, and forcibly arrested two Confederate diplomats on their way to England.   The Trent affair, as it was known, came within days of bringing the US and Britain to war.  Viscount Monck, Britain’s governor general in Canada, along with Canadian leaders like John A. MacDonald, realized how open Canada would be to a US invasion.   MacDonald added another 7500 men to the 38,556 armed and trained militia, while Monck asked for more troops from Britain.  Around Christmas, 11,000 British soldiers, some eleven infantry battalions, arrived in Canadian ports like Halifax.  The only problem was that, in the dead of winter, with no railroad between Atlantic Canada and Canada East and West, these troops would only have been able to defend Nova Scotia had war broken out.  Some were moved by sleigh, which could not have been pleasant.  The situation was so absurd that the British command staff arrived in January 5, 1862, and then, unable to move up the frozen St. Lawrence, went in disguise via mail ship to Boston, and bought rail tickets for Montreal.  Fortunately for them and for Canada, Lincoln had already decided that one war at a time was enough.

For the rest of the war, the border remained porous.   Confederate spies crossed freely, and hatched elaborate plots to sabotage Northern cities and free POWs for northern camps.  American recruiters, some no more than press gangs, came north to recruit or even kidnap Canadians to meet recruiting quotas and profit from the bounty system.   Some Canadians sympathetic to the south tried to arrange for weapons and even ships to be procured, which did not improve relations with Seward.  Tempers flared when the US threatened to send troops into Canada to arrest Confederate agents.  Confederates came north to exile at the war’s end.  With the peace, many militant Irish Americans turned their sights on Canada, while in the bitter tone following Lincoln’s death, many in the US Congress took a harsh line to Canada, which was seen as being soft on Confederate terrorism.   US President Johnson reeled the Fenians back in after their abortive invasion in 1866, but he needed Irish American political support and it was unclear if he would stop the Fenians a second time, particularly given resentment about the status of Fenian captives in Canadian courts.   At the same time, Britain was getting tired of costly demands from Canada for troops and defences.   In 1866, Benjamin Disraeli, one of the Little England party which was not keen on Empire, argued in cabinet that “If the colonists can’t, as a general rule, defend themselves against the Fenians, they can do nothing … what is the use of these colonial dead weights which we do not govern."

All of these threats and pressures were behind moves led by John A. MacDonald and his allies for Confederation, which brought disparate British colonies together in a political union.    Until that union existed, Boyko argues, “MacDonald understood that Canada was still more an idea than a fact”.  That union, the British North America Act, signed by Queen Victoria on March 29, 1867, became fact the same day that President Johnson signed the treaty buying Alaska from Russia.  That purchase, and fears of annexation in the west, drove British Columbia to want in to Canada, made it possible for MacDonald to borrow 300,000 pounds from England to buy Rupert’s Land (everything from the Great Lakes west to the Rockies and north to the Arctic) from the Hudson’s Bay Company, and led to the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the creation of Canada.   While the Grant Administration was no friend of Canada, it signed the Washington treaty of 1871, effectively ending any claims on Canada and Britain for its support of the Confederacy and essentially recognizing Canada’s right to exist.

John Boyko is a college administrator rather than a professional academic historian, but he knows his subject well, writes well, and tells an exciting and coherent story, making this an excellent example of the popular history.   It may not be of great interest to non-Canadians, except as a minor footnote to the American Civil War, but it tells an important part of the story of how Canada came to be, which Canadians often, unfortunately, think of as being rather dull.  The interlacing of this larger account by following figures such as Sarah Edmonds, while not essential to the plot, reminds us that there were real people, moved by great events, who wanted to be a part of someone else’s war.  In that respect, they anticipate the journeys, if not always the motives, of later Canadians, like those who went to Spain in the 1930s, to Vietnam in the 1960s, and even to the various fields of jihad today.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Seen On The Afternoon Run

Yesterday was one of the few days in February where I felt not only able but even compelled to run outside.    A sunny day with a temperature at 0C was delightful.   My route took me through Victoria Park, a gem of sanctuary just west of downtown Kitchener.   I was originally going to cross this  footbridge to take a picture of the snow-covered bandstand, but then I looked up and this little Victorian fancy caught my eye.

Here’s a close up.

It turns out that the bridge is something of an architectural rarity, not only as one of the oldest metal bridges in Canada, but as the only known example of a cantilever structure being used on a small scale.  Bridge connoisseurs, apparently, think this bridge is kind of a big deal.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Jacqueline Whitt On US Military Chaplains Two Years After DADT

A scholar I wasn’t aware of today but am now tracking is Jacqueline E. Whit, a professor of strategy at the US Air War College and published University of North Carolina Press author, who has written a book on US chaplains in Vietnam that I very much want to read.

Recently she was a guest on the UNCP blog, offering some thoughts on how US military chaplains have adapted to the 2011 repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a Clinton-era compromise which tried to protect closeted LGBT service men and women while barring openly gay people from serving.  Under DADT, service men and women could only be investigated if there was “credible information” as to their being LGBT, as this training manual from the period illustrates.


In her post, Whitt notes that prior to the repeal of DADT, there was concern among while there was considerable concern that some military chaplains would be forced to conduct services, such as same-sex marriages, that their consciences and denominations were opposed to, or that they would be unable tp make formerly protected religious statements about the sinfulness of homosexuality.   In fact, as Whitt notes,while “there have been some reports of conservative chaplains finding new regulations challenging, it seems that the rule of law, professionalism, and military order have won the day”.  Chaplains who do not wish to participate in same-sex marriages for reasons of conscience, or whose churches forbid them from doing so, are not obliged to do so.  Whitt writes:

Consistent with military regulations and guidelines before the law’s repeal, military chaplains are not required to perform services that are contrary to the dictates or conscience of their religious affiliations, but they must commit to helping service members who seek such services or support find someone who can. Chaplains have often referred to this commitment to “cooperation without compromise” as a foundational piece of their professional identity.

Even so, there have been a variety of responses to the changing environment within the DOD with regard to human sexuality and the role of military chaplains.

As one might expect, religious groups—such as the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church—with strong and clear doctrinal stances on the question of homosexuality and marriage have issued strict guidelines that their chaplains not participate in services involving same-sex couples or appear to endorse gay unions in any way. Then, there are a large number of chaplains and endorsing agencies—even among those with an evangelical bent—that have taken a more moderate stance on the issues, allowing for more flexibility and local judgment on the part of military chaplains. For example, Lutheran chaplains affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America are found on both sides of the issue, as are Episcopal chaplains who may bless same-sex unions but may not perform marriages. Then, on the other side of the spectrum politically and theologically, liberal denominations are acting to endorse more military chaplains and provide broader support to military members than they have since the Vietnam War. The Unitarian Universalist church and the United Church of Christ have publicly recognized that changing attitudes and policies within the DOD have opened up new opportunities for their churches.

Of course, there are still gray areas and tensions and particulars that must be worked out—marriage retreats and counseling are one topic of special concern—but this is to be expected in a pluralistic environment where a broad range of religious practices and beliefs are included in the conversation. Because the conversations will invariably touch on issues of First Amendment protections and freedoms, the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law, and the issue of discrimination on the grounds of religious belief and/or sexual orientation, the conversations are likely to be impassioned, complex, and messy. But they must happen, and they should involve religious leaders and organizations, as well as military leaders and special interest groups.

Ultimately, the issues will need to be resolved primarily through the clarification of military regulations that govern chaplains’ responsibilities and through the work of commanders to create and sustain a positive climate in which all military service members can live and work.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More Weird And Scary

On the heels of yesterday’s post on the strangeness of the Cold War, here’s an image from today’s Foreign Policy website that is replete with weirdness and scariness.



This image, from a July 2013 parade, shows North Korean special forces troops wearing chest packs with garish radiation symbols.  This may just be Nork posturing - the packs could just be dummies stuffed with old newspaper, as one commentator has suggested.  Or they may be man-carried dirty bombs, a resurfacing of old Cold War research on radiological warfare.   If I was one of these guys, and I was actually wearing a dirty bomb on my chest, I’m not sure I’d be grinning and waving inanely.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Cold War Was Weird And Scary


Last week I learned via an academic History List about a book documenting  Project Dribble, underground nuclear tests in the US state of Mississippi in the early 1960s.  Apparently the US government's Atomic Energy Commission was concerned that it would not be able to detect secret underground tests by other countries, and so wanted to study the seismic footprint of such a detonation.  Mississippi was trying attract high-tech and nuclear industry, and so volunteered for the test, which occurred in underground salt domes in the southern part of the state, in Lamar County, near the town of Hattiesburg.

 Local family stabilizes their chimney in anticipation of the underground test.   According to the state historical society, they had good cause to be worried, as there was some property damage. Note what appear to be polio braces on that poor little guy.

This story had me curious, because my wife’s family moved to Hattiesburg when she was young, and I asked her if she remembered anything of the tests.  I had this notion that the testing might have been kept secret, but as the above picture indicates, it was public knowledge. My wife Kay remembers how her grade school class followed the preparations for the test, and on the day their teacher had them place glasses of water on their desks to see if seismic shock would be visible in the water.   The vibration could clearly be seen.

That vibration was caused by a 5.3 kiloton device, roughly a third of the size of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.  Today it’s impossible to imagine what the civic and political shock would be from residents told that an underground nuclear test would happen near their homes (apparently the people of Mississippi weren’t too pleased about it either, but were told it was for national security and weren’t given a choice), let alone imagine a local government trying to attract jobs and money by volunteering for such a program (actually, come to think of it, it’s depressingly easy to imagine).  For my wife, it was part of her childhood, like the duck and cover drills she vaguely remembers teachers explaining to her (hard to imagine that today … oh, wait a minute, school lockdown drills … but I digress, never mind).

Yes, the Cold War was a strange, scary place, but after reading this piece by Eric Schlosser,I’m beginning to think it was stranger and scarier than our darkest comedy made it seem.   Just a little over fifty years after the release of Kubrick’s satiric film, Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb,   Schlosser compares the film to history and finds it was disturbingly prescient.  Here are three examples of how life imitated art.

Nuclear launch authority delegated to the point where potentially psychotic generals could issue launch codes themselves?  Yes, under the Eisenhower administration.   The bit in Schlosser’s piece about German pilots sitting in planes with US nuclear weapons only hours from Moscow, only 20 years after the Soviet conquest of half of Germany (one US scientist who learned of this said it made him “wet his pants”), is an example of loose the command and control was early on.

Nuclear weapons with “FailSafe” devices to prevent unauthorized launches?   Yes, under the Kennedy administration and thereafter, though elements of the US military resisted the idea, and all Minuteman missiles, perhaps apocryphally, had fail safes, called “Permissive Action Links" that were “00000000”.  The idea of a failsafe code to abort or destruct a nuclear weapon which goes horrifically wrong showed up recently in the hilariously bad film “Olympus Has Fallen”, proving that the Cold War nuclear paranoia film is not entirely dead.

A Russian “Doomsday device” that will cause retaliatory destruction if the world if the USSR is attacked?  Remember, the one that at the end of the film where Dr. Stangelove says “The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret!”?   Yes, in the 1980s, the Soviets built a system called Dead Hand, designed to launch nuclear weapons automatically if nuclear detonations were detected on Soviet soil and the leadership could not be reached.   The USA did not learn about Dead Head until after the Cold War.

As Schossler writes, “In retrospect, Kubrick’s black comedy provided a far more accurate description of the dangers inherent in nuclear command-and-control systems than the ones the American people got from the White House, the Pentagon, and the mainstream media.   

“This is absolute madness, Ambassador,” President Merkin Muffley says in the film, after being told about the Soviets’ automated retaliatory system.  “Why should you build such a thing?”  Fifty years later, that question remains unanswered and “Strangelove” seems all the more brilliant, bleak, and terrifyingly on the mark."

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Theology - Charles Taylor on the Mindset of the Secular Age


Charles Taylor is one of Canada’s great living philosophers, who has spent a career thinking about western thought and the transition from a pre-modern naive age of belief, when human ideas of the good life and flourishing (what he calls fullness) were linked to a transcendent reality, to modernity, when belief has become problematic for many.    The story of how we got from the first stance to the second is long and fascinating, and I’m just starting to grapple with Taylor’s telling of to in his book The Secular Age (Belknap/Harvard UP, 2007).

In this passage from his introduction, Taylor sets out some of the consequences for living in an age when belief in a higher power cannot be taken for granted (what he calls “naive belief”, and where instead we believe according to whatever “construals” we deem best.

"… there is a condition of lived experience, where what we might call a construal of the moral/spiritual is lived ... as an immediate reality, like stones, rivers, and mountains.  And this plainly also goes for the positive side of things: e.g. , people in earlier ages of our culture, for whom moving to fullness just meant getting closer to God.  The alternatives they lived in life were: living a fuller devotion, or going on living for lesser goods, at a continuing distance from fullness; being “devot” or “mondain”, in the terms of seventeenth-century France; not taking off after a different construal of what fullness might mean.

Now part of what has happened to our civilization is that we have largely eroded these terms of immediate certainty.  That is, it seems clear that they can never be as fully (to us) “naive” as they were at the time of Hieronymus Bosch.  But we still have something analogous to that, though weaker.  I’m talking about the way the moral/spiritual life tends to show up in certain milieux.  That is, although everybody has now to be aware that there is more than one option, it may be that in our milieu one construal, believing or unbelieving, tends to show up as the overwhelmingly more plausible one.  You know that there are other ones, and if you get interested, then drawn to another one, you can perhaps think/struggle your way through to it.  You break with yur believing community and become an atheist; or you go in the reverse direction.  But one option is, as it were, the default option.

Now in this regard there has been a titanic change in our western civilization.  We have changed not just from a condition where most people lived “naively” in a construal (par Christian, part related to “spirits” of pagan origin) as simple reality, to one in which almost no one is capable of this, but all see their option as one among many.  We all learn to navigate between two standpoints: an “engaged” one in which we live as best we can the reality our standpoint opens us to; and a “disengaged” one in which we are able to see ourselves as occupying one standpoint among a range of possible ones, with which we have in various ways to coexist.  

But we have also changed from a condition in which belief was the default option, not just for the naive but also for those who knew, considered, talked about atheism; to a condition in which for more and more people unbelieving construals seem at first blush the only plausible ones.  They can only approach, without ever gaining the condition of “naive” atheists, in the way that their ancestors were naive, semi-pagan believers; but this seems to them the overwhelmingly plausible construal, and it is difficult to understand people adopting another.  So much so that they easily reach for rather gross theories to explain religious belief: people are afraid of uncertainty, the unknown, they’re weak in the head, crippled by guilt, etc.

This is not to say that everyone is in this condition.  Our modern civilization is made up of a host of societies, sub-societies and milieux, all rather different from each other.  But the presumption of unbelief has become dominant in more and more of these milieux; and has achieved hegemony in certain crucial ones, in the academic and intellectual life, for instance; whence it can more easily extend itself to others" (pp. 12-13).

As a philosppher, Taylor’s project is to describe what happened to belief in the last five centuries than he is in offering prescriptions, though he has does have much to say that might be helpful to our society, where we have mostly and uneasily consigned belief to the private dimension of our lives and thus find it difficult to speak about it in the public sphere.  It’s a big book, and I’m sure I’ll come back to it in future Friday Theology posts.

This Just In From Tehran

So the brother of Iran’s president walks into a Jewish hospital.   No, it’s not the start of a joke.  Call this story from Teheran political gesture or call it encouraging.   Me, I’m calling it encouraging.   One of the great obstacles facing Muslim states in this century is whether they can find some way to accept religious pluralism (including Shia/Shiite tolerance as well as interfaith pluralism).   

Thomas Friedman wrote about this issue in a recent column.  Here’s a quote from that column, the speaker being Marwan Muasher, a former Jordanian foreign minister now with the Carnegie Endowment in the US:

"No sustainable progress will be possible without the ethic of pluralism permeating all aspects of Arab society – pluralism of thought, pluralism in gender opportunities, pluralism in respect to other religions, pluralism in education, pluralism toward minorities, pluralism of political parties rotating in power and pluralism in the sense of everyone’s right to think differently from the collective."

This is harder said than done.  It hasn’t been achieved very well in the West, where aggressive secularism still fights culture wars with conservative and fundamentalist Christianity.   The theological work necessary to sustain pluralism isn’t easy and most of it remains to be done, but it’s necessary in Tehran, and everywhere else, I would argue.

Read more here:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Seen On The Midday Run

It’s been a tough winter for running outside.  Most days it’s either too snowy or too cold or both.  However, this Wednesday I got outside for a run and enjoyed the bright sun and the fresh air.  Treadmill running gets old after a short while.

This is Woodside, a National Historic Site and the childhood home  of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister.  It looks like a interesting place.  I’d like to take a tour when it’s warmer.  

King was  an interesting character, with an interest in the occult and in using seances to speak to his mother and to previous prime ministers and pets.  He also claimed to see portents and omens in his shaving cream.  He bears a rather startling resemblance to yours truly, as you can see in this selfie I took last summer.  Note the same visionary, far seeing gazes and heroic miens.  


Sunday, February 2, 2014

In Praise of Church Leaders

While we are spending this year and the next in Kitchener-Waterloo while I go to grad school, Kay and I have been spending most Sundays at St. Columba’s, a small Anglican parish near the university district.  It’s a genial but smallish place, with a dedicated priest on a half-time salary and a lively but aging congregation - a fairly typical demographic in the Anglican Church of Canada.
Today St. Columba’s welcomed and prayed over its new lay leadership, of which my lovely and godly bride Kay was one.   Even though a newcomer, Kay agreed to step in and serve as Deputy Churchwarden, since most of those capable of serving in this position have done it before and wanted a respite.   If you come from other parts of the protestant family, you probably know the office of churchwarden by other names, such as elders.   A warden is the primary conduit between the priest and the congregation.  If there’s a complaint about the music or about the management, the wardens handle it.  If the priest’s performance is sub-par, the wardens have to delicately or firmly make that known, depending on the situation.  Wardens are accountable for the building, the finances, the training of all staff and volunteers in safe church practices (how to behave around the vulnerable), hiring and firing of staff .. the list goes on.   When I was a parish priest, I depended on my wardens to do all of the above, and more, for me.  Finding good church wardens, especially in small churches where the able and energetic are in short supply, can be a challenge.

So, it is with great respect and admiration that I watched Kay step into this role.  That’s her on the left, in the grey, being installed (inducted?  dragooned?) by Robert Bennet, the Bishop of Huron, the chap in the red with the funny hat.  I have a soft spot for Bob, or +Bob as we call him, because he ordained me to the priesthood almost a decade ago.  And he’s a runner.  Runners are cool.
Which brings me to the other point of my post, about bishops.  Who would be a bishop?
When I was in seminary, a priest I was training with told me that most clergy are introverts, and that’s acceptable most days of the week.  Except Sunday.   On Sunday, my mentor told me, you have to fill the room, because that’s your job.  Your job is to provide leadership, to show your people by your devotion and commitment that the liturgy and the holy sacraments are things worth organizing our lives around.  You have to be welcoming, and reverent, sometimes funny, and always present.  If you can’t be those things, at least for a few hours on Sunday, best look for another job.
An Anglican bishop has to fill a different room each Sunday.   During the week, he or she plays a role much like the CEO of a decent sized non-profit.   Bishops worry about finances and payroll, about pension shortfalls and personnel management, they stroke the egos of prima donna clergy or discipline, even fire people they once counted as friends and colleagues.  Bishops think about fundraising and recruiting,they worry about lawsuits, they coach nervous parish councils through hiring clergy, managing vacancies, and walk with them when the time comes to expand or wind down a parish.  Bishops, at least Anglican ones, have to show energy and enthusiasm and provide vision for an institution that most experts, sociologists and journalists will say is in decline.  Bishops are responsible for the teaching and doctrine of the church, and are expected to be themselves grounded in scripture and the daily offices, so they are expected to be pastor and theologian as well as CEO.
On top of all that, most Sundays, a Bishop is expected to climb into the car at oh-dark-and-stupid and drive off to visit one of his or her parishes, to lead worship, perform special duties such as confirmations, baptisms, ordinations, or swearing in new lay leaders.   After filling the room, the Bishop goes into coffee hour and fills another room, working the crowd like a politician, showing parishioners, some of whom can be grumpy or crochety or plain suspicious, that the money they and their parish sends off to the Diocese is going to a good cause. Today +Bob did all that and still had a moment to show an interest in my graduate studies.  He had to do all this after driving for 90 minutes through one of the worst winters in recent memory, traveling highways still covered from last night’s snowfall.
Who would be a bishop?  If you know a cleric who radiates ambition or eagerness for episcopal office, you would do well to be suspicious of that person's motives.   It’s not an accident that the church's best bishops, going back to St. Ambrose, have been reluctant ones.
So this post is in praise of church leaders, of people like Kay and Bishop Bob, of our priest Julia (the lady in white above) and all of the others who stood beside Kay this morning to say that they would do their bit.   The church is the Body of Christ on earth, but without its leaders and the help of the Holy Spirit which guides them and allows them to function, it would be a lifeless body.

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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