Virtue in the Wasteland Podcast

In this, the last episode of 2016, Jeff and Dan discuss what they might slough off and let go of in 2017.  Rather than think too much about we will do in the coming year, this show explores what kind of rubbish, litter and filth we would like to shake off for the coming year.  We discuss politics, personal ideologies and the album of the year (and play what Dan believes is the best track... if you want to slip through it, he won't take it personally). We all know 2016 has been a tumultuous year, the guys discuss how we might enter the new year, #EGBOK style...

Direct download: sloughing_off_and_letting_go_of__2016.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

How a famous 19th c. Danish statesman, hymn writer, poet, theologian and education reformer, though little known to many Americans today, had a profound influence on the world, and represents an alternative to angrier approaches to life.      

Direct download: Grundtvig.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Depression, Christmas, muddling through, hope, the Christmas blues, great but darker pop Christmas lyrics. The Pogues, Calexico, Eels and more. Why suicides don't really spike around Christmas. Why April is the cruelest month.

Direct download: Everything_Will_Be_Cool_This_Christmas.mp3
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What happened to the European Christian world after Luther posted his 95 theses. Protestant scholasticism, pietism, Philip Melanchthon, Johann Sturm, Martin Bucer, Primoz Trubar, and Johann Arndt.


Direct download: 1517_Legacy_and_Trajectories.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Fidel Castro, evil, the media, failures in journalism, ideology, how to defeat or overcome self-defeating ideology. 


Direct download: How_Castro_became_What_He_Hated.mp3
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Why the 95 Theses of Martin Luther sparked a revolution beyond what anyone, including Luther himself, probably expected. The political, cultural, religious, and psychological issues surrounding a little academic document posted on a church door in Wittenberg, 500 years ago. 

Direct download: 1517_A_Pivotal_Year.mp3
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Cultural, theological, and spiritual events leading up to the time of the Reformation.

Direct download: Crises_on_the_Eve_of_1517.mp3
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Following his recent death, we discuss Leonard Cohen's songs, which deal with biblical and romantic themes. Was he pessimistic and despairing, or was there a secret chord that some might miss if they don't listen close enough to this genius songwriter.

Check out for show notes and links.


Direct download: Leonard_Cohen_Wrestles_with_Sex_Death_and_God.mp3
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How will we live after nearly half the country is frustrated that their candidate didn't get what they hoped for? Healing and virtuous community in the aftermath of an ugly election cycle with Clinton and Trump.

Direct download: The_Morning_after_Trump_or_Clinton.mp3
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We discuss journalism, education, Williams syndrome, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and the changing shape of journalism.
Teri Sforza is a journalist, author, filmmaker and mom. She contributed to the Orange County Register's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of fertility fraud at UC Irvine, covered what was then the largest municipal bankruptcy in America‘s history, and is the author of "The Strangest Song," the first book to tell the story of Williams syndrome and the extraordinary musicality of many of the people who have it. Sforza decided to harness the power of the moving image to help bring her stories to life, earned her M.F.A. from UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television, and has made two documentaries - "American Pie: Slices of Life (and pie) on America's Back Roads," which won the Audience Choice Award at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival; and the OC Register's "The Boy Monk," a story that was also told as a series in the newspaper. Sforza birthed the OC Watchdog column aiming to keep a critical (but good-humored) eye on governments and nonprofits, large and small. 


Direct download: Virtue_in_Journalism_with_Teri_Sforza.mp3
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A conversation with a loyal listener. Elizabeth in many ways reflects our core listener base: interested in ideas, educated, not a theological specialist or ethicist, church background, with some frustrations about church experience, and aware of the complexities of our cultural wasteland.


Direct download: Its_Elizabeth.mp3
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Art, symbolism, idols, faith, eye candy, and meaning. With an art critic and artist.

Direct download: Literal_and_Figurative.mp3
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You may have read Grapes of Wrath, but East of Eden is a powerful book. You don't have to have read it to join in the conversation. We share some parts of the middle of the book, but don't give away the ending. Are we capable of choosing virtue and vice freely? Are some people so monstrous that they are unredeemable? We don't answer all these questions, but we explore them.


Direct download: Virtue_and_Vice_East_of_Eden.mp3
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This is the second, and longer part, of the story of Gina Eilers, former Lutheran pastor who now identifies as a woman, but believes she will be male once again, in her glorified, resurrected body. In this part, we discuss the implications of Gina's transition for family and church relationships.

Direct download: The_Trials_of_Gina_Eilers_Part_2.mp3
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Gina, formerly known as Greg Eilers, resigned from the pastoral office after coming to terms with gender dysphoria. This is a sensitive, complex but important story to consider. In this first part, we hear Gina's story. In the second part, we will hear how this affected her family and church affiliation.

Direct download: The_Trials_of_Gina_Eilers_Part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Micah took a short break from his heavy spoken word poetry touring to share about his new blues album No Ugly Babies, which will be released Sept. 27, 2016.

We discuss the power of love and grace, the perplexities related to race and violence in America, symbolic patriotism, the real Martin Luther King, Jr., and forms of protest in the NFL. There are some songs shared, and Micah recites a poem that hits the spot.


Direct download: Blues_Prophet_with_Micah_Bournes.mp3
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Lest you think venturing out on entrepreneurial projects is all fun and games, Dan and Jeff discuss the anxiety of freedom in life, and the necessity of remembering our histories, tracing our steps, and staying centered. They discuss their tattoos too, and how they tell stories about their lives.

Direct download: Freedom_and_Dread.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Frolic with us through our conversation about doing what you love. Anne tells about leaving a decent job to take a risk and become a food photographer. Her bold move paid off in terms of acclaim and personal fulfillment. Her many awards include 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year and Errazuirz Wine Photographer of the Year. OC WEEKLY called her OC's most beloved food photographer and a "badass photo ninja." She provided the photography for a book with her husband: There & Back Again to See How Far it Is: Cultural Observations of an Englishman Aboard a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Across Small-Town America (2011).


Her website: 

Our websites: 

Direct download: The_Food_Photography_Ninja.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

The killer robots are still worth worrying about. But how is the digital and cybernetic world threatening human embodied sexuality. Joel is on the theology faculty at Concordia University, where he overseas the MA Program, and heads up the Crosswise Institute, which will this year host an event for high school students on the topic of transhumanism and theology. He runs a blog called Fishing for Leviathan which talks about embodiment and spirituality in our technological age.

Direct download: Sex_and_Robots.mp3
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We've talked about leaving your job to follow your vocation before. This time, one of the guys actually put the theory of resigning into practice. One of the guys shares some ideas related to the nature of quitting the traditional concept of a 40 hour a week job and taking on multiple revenue sources in our changing economy.

Direct download: Saying_Goodbye_and_the_Changing_Economy.mp3
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Capitalism, the love of money, virtue, economics, Marx, and love of neighbor.

Direct download: How_Did_We_Get_Into_This_Mess_Part_5.mp3
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How the two party system got started, and why it might be a major problem.

Direct download: How_Did_We_Get_Into_This_Mess_Part_4.mp3
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How our Janus faces of secularism and Christianity have helped create the complex situation we find ourselves in, at least in America.

Direct download: How_Did_We_Get_Into_This_Mess_Part_3.mp3
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The four basic types of foreign engagement doctrine in US history, and what that means for today.

Direct download: How_Did_We_Get_Into_This_Mess_Part_2.mp3
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This is the first in a series of shorter chats, trying to make sense of the reasons why things have become so perplexing in our culture.

Direct download: How_Did_We_Get_Into_This_Mess__Part_1.mp3
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Jeff and Dan discuss their experiences teaching English and virtue overseas, along with some recent graduates. There is also mention of a culinary adventure.

Direct download: Teaching_Virtue_Abroad.mp3
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Dan and Jeff discuss sexual ethics and the art of being sexy, and introduce a talk on the subject Jeff gave at the Shaped by What You Love event, sponsored by, among other entities, Cross of Christ Church in Costa Mesa, CA.

Direct download: Erotic_Virtue.mp3
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What is the mythic value of the Lord of the Rings? What is Dan's reaction to the films, having not seen them, nor read the books? What are the enduring themes for life found in this story?


Direct download: The_Lord_of_The_Rings.mp3
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The virtuous shopping list! Dan and Jeff discuss the idols of consumption in our homes and offices. What sorts of thing are worth investing in? What is a waste of time? How can we simplify our lives yet live richly?

Direct download: Buy_This_Not_That.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

How can we learn the rules of conventional wisdom, learn when to break them, and avoid putting on costumes instead of faithful masks? Dan and Jeff discuss practical examples of how to navigate these waters, while knowing that we are free to break even these protocols of cultural practice. We discuss examples from film, television, music, and branding.

Direct download: Decorum_Style_and_Posers.mp3
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With several distressing events and impending cultural issues abounding, we defend the overall thesis that all manner of thing shall be well, despite the terrifying snags along the way.

Direct download: Despite_What_You_Heard_Everything_Is_Gonna_Be_OK.mp3
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How not to be a poser. When to break the rules. The relationship between fashion, culture, and virtue ethics. This show sets the stage for several shows to come on the topic of knowing when to break with conventional rules for the sake of goodness, truth, and beauty.

The guys also talk about their experiences visiting the post-apocalyptic landscape of the Salton Sea.

Direct download: How_to_Balance_Style_and_Decorum.mp3
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Jeff talks about why he thinks Dan is one of the most together person he knows, then shares a bit about what it's like to have family and friends who are addicts or recovering addicts. Then we include Dan's presentation at the 2016 Christ Hold Fast Conference, in which he shares about his struggles with alcohol and his six years of sobriety.

Jeff begged Dan to let him post this, because of how much it meant to him personally.

We left in some language this time, instead of bleeping it.

If you don't need the first part, you can find the audio by itself, along with other good talks, including one by Jeff here: 

Direct download: When_A_Loved_One_Has_a_Drinking_Problem.mp3
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Going to a party this summer? What will you do when the conversation turns to religion and or politics? Can you hang? Can you keep your principles?  

Direct download: How_to_Have_A_Conversation_in_Polite_Company.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Recreation, rest, working, vocation of vocation, sail boats, Boy Scouts, rest, recharging, introversion, love, grace, Aristotle and ethos and habituation and virtue.

Direct download: Is_There_an_Obligation_to_Vacation_.mp3
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Veteran civil engineer and founding board member for the League of Faithful Masks Dave Atkinson discusses the challenges and changes to our cultural landscape, especially in the Orange County CA scene.

Mentoring, and how to get and keep a good job is also discussed.

Direct download: Making_Your_Way_in_the_World_Today.mp3
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We discuss books we are digging and reading through this summer. We also give you a digest of the contents of those books.

So, even if you don't end up reading them, you'll get some good summaries and ideas to mull over.

Since we are doing research for our own writing projects, you won't be surprised to find that they tend to be related to sexual ethics, addiction, and edgy memoirs. 

Just take a shot on this one, because we think you'll dig it, but if you don't come back soon for some great interviews we've got lined up.


Direct download: Summer_Reading_List_2016.mp3
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The poignant importance of the father-child relationship. We discuss Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, the story of Abraham and Isaac, the Terrance Malick film Tree of Life, and fatherhood in general.

Direct download: Fathers_Day_Special.mp3
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We figured it was time to explain ourselves. We are unashamed to call ourselves Christians in the sense that we cannot deny the hope that is within us. But have any of us really let it sink in that the radical call of Christianity is more devastating and indeed impossible than most of us ever admit to ourselves or others? Come with us on this special show about why we "feel" more Christian than ever but have also come to realize how offensive the the Law and Gospel are to us all.

The song at the end is Wovenhand "The Threshing Floor"

Go to to donate to the show for our campaign. 

Direct download: Impossible_Christianity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

During the spring 2016 semester, Dan and Jeff team taught an upper division course on several themes from our show, including TS Eliot's "The Wasteland," Zizek, Living in the End Times, Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, short stories, Bonhoeffer's ethics, C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, the Tao Te Ching etc. 

We then selected two excellent students to discuss and reflect back on the semester.

Sam Leanza's family makes Jeff's favorite incense, which you too can buy here: 

Direct download: The_Wasteland_Class.mp3
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Timothy and Jay Winterstein brothers talk about lastweek's Newport Beach Film Festival, some up and coming filmmakers and new movies, and the post-apocalyptic genre. 

Direct download: Film_Kick_with_The_Winterstein_Brothers.mp3
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The twenty dollar bill. Holocaust memorials. The confederate flag.  How do symbols become important to us as we try to remember and not forget past cultural mistakes?

David Schulz is an expert in communication theory and is currently chair and professor of Communication at Trinity Lutheran College. He formerly served as an assistant professor at California State University, where he taught persuasion and rhetoric courses. He has also taught at Penn State, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Columbia College. He has published a book, book chapters, several peer reviewed journal articles, and a number of book reviews. He has presented research both nationally and internationally at academic conferences. 

He holds a B.A. in Communications from Western Washington University and an M.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He earned a Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University in Speech Communication. 

David lives on a little lake in Marysville with his wife and two sons.

Direct download: Public_Memory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Raleigh Sadler is based in New York city, where he works to fight human trafficking.

As a speaker, his work has taken him to universities and churches across the country speaking on how the Christian faith frees us to explore justice and mercy in our communities. With that said, he believes that the church should be leading the way in the fight against human trafficking. The local church, he says, best fights human trafficking by loving those vulnerable to it. With this message, He has worked with the Price of Life InvitationalNew York City Urban Project, the MNYBA, the New York State Anti-trafficking CoalitionRestore NYCCity Serve, as well as several other justice and mercy organizations. He currently leads the Let My People Go movement, which challenges leaders to  do justice though innovation and collaboration with the Gospel as their motivation. He believes strongly that the world will not see an end to the problem of human trafficking until the local church rises up against it.



Direct download: Human_Trafficking.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Ted Giese is our go to guy for movies and theology. We chat about the death of doubt in films of late, and several interesting recent releases. We spend a good deal of time on God Is Not Dead 2. 

Apologies for occasional audio glitches that resulted from the Skype feed.

Apologies also for not having time to bleep two mild profanities.

For more from Pastor Giese:

Direct download: God_and_Movies.mp3
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Jesus movies from start to finish, the good and the bad and the compelling. We spend much of our time on the cultural phenomenon and now direct examination of the controversial film, The Last Temptation of Christ, though we also discuss the Jesus Film, the Life of Brian, and some Jesus musicals.

Rick Ritchie is a thinking fellow at 1517, and has a long history of contributing to outlets like Modern Reformation magazine and online theological platforms.

Direct download: Jesus_Movies.mp3
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Losing yourself and finding yourself. What kind of self do you have anyway? Self optimization the ViW way.


Direct download: Not_All_Who_Wander_Are_Lost.mp3
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How to end well. How to end at the right time, and how to keep moving forward even when the grass might look greener on the other side.

Kierkegaard, White Sox baseball, Lost, X-Files, Leonard Cohen

Direct download: Walking_Away.mp3
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Trump, Sanders, Clinton, populism, the media, journalism, and how it all went wrong. Can it be made right? What caused this mess? Is there any earthly hope for American democracy?

Direct download: Politics_in_the_Wasteland.mp3
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Wai shares his story and the story of violence in Sudan. He has worked with Sudanese refugees who live in San Diego.


Direct download: Son_of_Sudan.mp3
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Women in conservative Christian communities.

Santa Ostapowich is in charge of the Higher Things Conferences (

Direct download: Who_Wears_the_Pants_in_Gods_Family_.mp3
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Jeff interviews Dan about his upcoming book: Monsters. 


Direct download: Monsters_of_Addiction.mp3
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Spoken word artist Emily Joy joins us for a discussion of the ways in which poetry might change our world and help us gain empathy for those whose voices are sometimes silenced or ignored. We chat about Nashville weather, growing up in the evangelical world, adolescent sexuality, and the experiences of women in Christian communities. Our guest doesn't mince words or pull punches, so expect a lively conversation.

Check her work out at, or buy her albums on Bandcamp or iTunes. 

Direct download: Poets_and_Prophets_with_Emily_Joy.mp3
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This year, we are trying out yet another Lenten challenge: reading poetry or listening to it read instead of watching t.v. or playing background music. On this show, we discuss the ways in which poetry can inspire the imagination and also create silence and space for reflection and insight. We talk a bit about psychologist Paul "Stormy" Fairweather, lots about T. S. Eliot, especially his poems "The Hollow Men" and "Ash Wednesday". We also chat a bit about the Superbowl and Jeff's Broncos. Jeff read a list of global poetry, recommended by our colleague Adam Lee. Here's that list, since Jeff had a hard time with the pronunciations:

Ten poets I'd want to spend 40 Days Reading

Tomas Tranströmer (Sweden)
Wislawa Szymborska (Poland)
Ko Eun (South Korea)
Czeslaw Milosz (Czech)
Anna Akhmatova (Soviet Russia)
Fernando Pessoa (Portugal)
Derek Walcott (Trinidad)
Octavio Paz (Mexico)
Anne Carson (Canada)
Nikki Giovanni (USA)

Direct download: Ash_Wednesday_Poetry.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Why does every attempt at a perfect society always become such a drag? We discuss Jeff's run in with some KKK fellows, Zizek's book, Living in the End Times, the backstory to utopian literature, such as that of Thomas More, and some interesting examples of utopian societies.

Direct download: The_Perfect_Show.mp3
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Is there an ultimate sublime reality outside of our own opinions, emotions, and sentiments? We think so, but it isn't always easy to identify and like the good. Sometimes we are misguided intellectually, sometimes our hearts are in the right place. Such is life in the wasteland. The medicine is virtue. 

We discuss:

Dudes that Know (DTK), Zizek's Living in the End Times, C.S. Lewis' Abolition of Man, aesthetics, virtue theory, Aristotle, the ethics of belief, ethical habituation, elitism, Yelp, and the democratization of cultural criticism online and through social media. 

Direct download: Exercise_in_Criticism.mp3
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Can we really study war no more? Or is war inevitable, a natural and irremovable aspect of our human nature? We don't come to a final answer, but we explore the tough elements of the question with Dr. Caleb Karges, who specializes in military history and war in the eighteenth century. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of St. Andrews.

We also throw in a brief bit about the theories of Mark Juergensmeyer on cosmic violence, and René Girard on mimetic violence.

Direct download: Why_Do_The_Nations_Rage.mp3
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We share our reflections, review, and theories, regarding Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Joining us via Skype (sorry the audio gets weird once again because of connections) is Ted Giese, who writes thoughtful film reviews, when he isn't serving in his role as pastor (or maybe, that's part of the role). Spoilers abound, as you might expect from the title.

The first half is Jeff and Dan, the second half is Jeff and Ted.

Rev. Giese is associate pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church. Born in Edmonton, he grew up just outside the city in Stony Plain Alberta were he attended St. Matthew Lutheran Church and School. In his travels he has lived in Prince George, British Columbia and Halifax, Nova Scotia. He earned a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art from NSCAD in Halifax, a Masters of Theological Studies Degree (2000) and a Masters of Divinity Degree (2007) from Concordia Lutheran Seminary Edmonton. For eight years (1998 - 2006) he worked at Andy's Valleyview IGA in Edmonton, five of those years as a manager. From 2004 to 2006 he also worked as the night manager at Ronald McDonald House in Edmonton


Here's his film review site: 

Direct download: Spoiling_Star_Wars.mp3
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What stories really mattered in 2015? What can we expect in 2016 in culture and politics? 

Direct download: Will_This_Year_Trump_2015.mp3
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