The Instigator
quantum_mechanik
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
feverish
Con (against)
Winning
19 Points

Judeo-Christian is a contradiction in terms

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/12/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,887 times Debate No: 8950
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (3)

 

quantum_mechanik

Pro

This is my first one of these, and I've no idea how to do this, so if I mess anything up I apologize. But this phrase has been bugging me for a while, so I thought I'd give it a talk-about.

Judeo-Christian has been an adjective often appearing before "morality" or "philosophy" in the media recently, often when dealing with matters of political stands on public morality. I say to the masses and the world and..this website, that such a term is somewhat silly, and as annoying to Jews as "Christo-Islamic" would be to Christians and Moslems.

Judaism stems from a radically different philosophical basis than Christianity. The viewpoints on sin, for example, are in many ways much more complex and unrelated to both inner urgings, public viewpoints, and indeed objective moral standards. Jewish viewpoints on G-d, the nature of mankind, and the difference between the church (temple) and the state.

For the sake of accuracy, we should stop using Judeo-Christian as an adjective. Judging from the lack of Jews using it, we should all probably stick to Christian.
feverish

Con

I would like to take the opportunity to welcome quantum_mechanik to the site and thank him for setting up his first debate on such an interesting topic.

I would like to suggest a definition for "contradiction in terms" as my opponent has not offered one. I believe all other terms are fairly clear and don't foresee any semantic issues in this debate.

>>Noun* S: (n) contradiction, contradiction in terms ((logic) a statement that is necessarily false) "the statement `he is brave and he is not brave' is a contradiction"
http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...

I am pleased that my opponent has stipulated that he regards it to be a contradiction in terms when applied to philosophical and moral beliefs as I am reasonably confident that I can prove otherwise.

I should point out at this early stage that in certain contexts it actually could be a contradiction in terms. Most notably it would not make sense to apply the term to an individual as nobody can be both Jewish and Christian at the same time, for obvious reasons. However this is clearly not what my opponent is suggesting as he refers to "public morality" etc.

=====

Affirmed: Judeo-Christian is NOT a contradiction in terms.

Judeo-Christian is a valid description of the body of literature common to both Christians and Jews (The Christian Old Testament aka the Jewish Tanakh) and by extension the messages and values contained within these documents.

Judaism and Christianity are of course separate and distinct religions but they share some common philosophical and moral dictates exemplified by these books, for instance the ten commandments.

The term Judeo-Christian exists to describe the issues these two religions do agree on, rather than the many things they do not.

It is unfortunate that the term is annoying to many Jewish people but this isn't really relevant to the issue of whether it is a contradiction in terms. Is it irritating to Christians too?

The term is perhaps most widely used (especially by the media) when discussing certain aspects of the moral and philosophical foundations of USA society.

"This tradition is considered, along with classical Greco-Roman civilization, a fundamental basis for Western legal codes and morality." http://en.wikipedia.org...

"The United States of America is the only country in history to have defined itself as Judeo-Christian" http://www.jewishworldreview.com...

This last source above (Jewish World Review) is an excellent example of the way in which many Jewish people support the use of the term and argue for it's validity contrary to my opponent's assertions that Jewish people dislike and don't use the term.

Zionists have also found good use for the term in building support for the expansion of the state of Israel among Christian groups. Organisations like The Judeo-Christian alliance are a good example of this.
http://judeo-christianalliance.org...

Lastly, for now, there is no more accurate term to describe the beliefs and customs of groups such as Hebrew Christians (who celebrate Jewish festivals and eat kosher but also happen to worship Christ) than Judeo-Christian.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

Judeo-Christian is a valid term that does not represent a contradiction in terms when correctly applied.

I look forward to my opponent's response.

Thankyou.
Shalom.
Con.
Debate Round No. 1
quantum_mechanik

Pro

Okay, responsitime.

Thanks for the welcome by the way, and the definition. Once again, I'm new. Thanks for kindness.

While there is a common body of literature that is holy to both Christians and Jews, the focus of the religions are so very disparate that it's hard to see how they could be at all related, other than starting from a similar body of text. Indeed, if you scroll down on the Jewish World Review site, it asserts that as evidence for the Judeo-Christianity of the USA, coins read "In G-d we trust". Which, upon examination, they don't. They SHOULD, if they wished to appeal to Jewish law and culture (and indeed, Judaism without Jewish law is just a series of interesting stories) but they clearly chose to appeal to the Christian sensibility and tradition.

Further down on that site, it says that America is Judeo-Christian because it holds allegiance to the G-d of Israel. Ignoring the validity of that comment for a bit, I'd like to point out that Christians worship a God, and that God has many, many similarities to the G-d of Israel, but they are not the same. Just like Allah and G-d are not the same. It's a very widely held belief among Christians that they're the same G-d, but biblically, philosophically and characteristically, we're discussing two very different deities. For example: The sh'ma is a very important prayer, central to Jewish life, recounting important characteristics of G-d in a sort of loose verse. It goes like this.

Sh'ma y'Isroel
Adonai Elohaynu
Adonai E'hod.

Translates into: Hear me, O Israel
The Lord is G-d
The Lord is One.

The one-ness part is the important bit. G-d is one singular being (or, in some interpretations, he's everything that exists). The important thing is that there's a uniqueness to him, and a sense of individualism. Jews don't have a pantheon. We've just got the one guy.

Christians, on the other hand, worship God as a sort of triumvirate. There isn't just the one. I have no idea why Jewish World Review would state

This sort of divergence is common amongst any factioning of a religion, but the true point of seperation is, of course, the person of Jesus. Ask a Christian what the most important part of their religion is, and they would probably say "Jesus came and died for our sins". Ask a Jew that question, and you'll probably get no consensus whatsoever but certainly Jesus dying for sins isn't a part of it.

With such a massive disparity--The God isn't the same, the focal point of history and life isn't the same, the afterlife isn't the same...it's incredibly strange to connect the two, and any connection of them certainly doesn't represent the common, popular usage in describing moral issues of the day. Any statement on shared sins doesn't really apply. Any appeal to the laws of the Old Testament also don't apply. Really, unless Abraham or Moses appears in Tennessee, I can't see how one could accurately describe anything modern as Judeo-Christian.

Judeo-Christian could probably be applied to those very early churches, the ones that Saul was so intent on ending before he was converted and became Paul. However, with very few exceptions, those churches have no real cultural or theological heirs. What modern Christianity is would be more similar to "Greco-Christianity", as it stems from the Greek philosophical, theological and cultural base.

---

As for the other thing, the Judeo-Christian Alliance, that's entirely made up of protestant churches. It may be ABOUT Jews (or at least about Israel) but it isn't directed towards, nor is it created by, Jewish people. Like so many things, it's a Christian approximation of Judaism, not the real thing.

But yes, there is a movement by Christians to support a Jewish Israel. The reason for their support, however, is not at all Judeo-Christian. It's all Christian--specifically, the book of Revelations. To get Jesus to come back, several things need to happen. One of those things is a Jewish return to Israel (I think, though I may be wrong, the temple needs to be rebuilt as well). So while the first part of the support is a positive statement for Judaism, the second part--where all the Jews die in Armageddon--isn't.

---

There is indeed a subsect of Jews who do believe that Jesus was the Moschiach. They keep Jewish holidays and behavioral laws, but they believe that Jesus was the messiah, which is uncommon but doesn't invalidate them from Judaism. They're usually referred to as Messianics, or Messianic Jews, not Judeo-Christians.

---

Shalom.

Thank you.
feverish

Con

Thanks to my opponent for his last post and I would like to assure him that he is making an excellent job of his first DDO debate.

Pro: "While there is a common body of literature that is holy to both Christians and Jews, the focus of the religions are so very disparate that it's hard to see how they could be at all related, other than starting from a similar body of text."

The relationship itself goes deeper than the text. The first Christians as well as Jesus himself, were of course Jews. They revered the same scriptures because they shared the same faith and cultural history. The New Testament does not replace or override The Old Testament from a Christian perspective, it adds to it and draws heavily upon it.

Since Christianity (like Islam) is basically an offshoot of Judaism (though of course a separate religion) it is not at all hard to see how they are related. The relationship is undeniable and there is no way Christianity could exist without the foundation of Judaism which it sprang from.

---

Regarding inscriptions on US coins, I don't have any to inspect but this was not one of the stronger cases made by Jewish World Review in their advocacy of the term Judeo-Christian.
http://www.jewishworldreview.com...

Some of the stronger points evidencing Hebrew tradition in American society within this source are:

"Hebrew was compulsory at Harvard until 1787. The words on the Liberty Bell, "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land . . . ," are from the Torah. Vast numbers of Americans took Hebrew names."

And:

"Thomas Jefferson wanted the design of the seal of the United States to depict the Jews leaving Egypt. Just as the Hebrews left Egypt and its values, Americans left Europe and its values."

---

Pro lists several true and accurate distinctions between the Christian and Jewish faiths. I accept there are many disparities but this does not affect the fact that there is also much common ground.

There are terms that describe the different aspects of each faith that are separate and distinct. These terms are 1) Jewish and 2) Christian.

There is a term to describe the aspects which are shared. This term is Judeo-Christian.

---

On the surface the Trinity certainly has the appearance of being a pantheon. If, however you ask any serious Christian about the substance of the Trinity they will explain that it is three-in-one.

For Christians the three are not separate entities, rather they are different aspects of the same divine being. Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit. So Christianity is a monotheistic religion.

While it may perhaps seem contradictory and implausible to non-Christians such as myself and my opponent, this is what Christians actually believe. Their faith dictates that the three 'gods' are One God.

As this debate is not concerned with questioning the validity of any faith, my opponent should accept that Christianity is monotheistic and that this is something it does have in common with Judaism.

---

Pro: "the true point of seperation is, of course, the person of Jesus."

I would have assumed this myself but my opponent suggests otherwise with his discussion of Messianic Jews.
He clearly states that "they believe that Jesus was the messiah, which is uncommon but doesn't invalidate them from Judaism."

A Christian can be defined as anyone who worships Christ as his saviour, although some people do believe otherwise and groups such as Mormons are often labelled as cults by other Christians.

So how can this be the "true point of separation" if they are both Jewish and Christian?
It seems my opponent has contradicted himself somewhat as well as proving me wrong in my initial assumption that it would always be incorrect to label an individual as a Judeo-Christian as this sounds like exactly what Messianic Jews are.

---

Here is an example of an organisation comprising Jews and Christians founded by a rabbi, with similar aims to the Judeo-Christian alliance: http://www.ministrywatch.com...

I think that there are probably more complicated reasons(than the book of Revelations) why so many right-wing Christians support Jewish control and expansion of Israel , though my opponent makes some excellent points.

The political issues are of course a subject for a different debate.

The fact is however that through shared history, culture and faith (The Hebrew scriptures) Christians are likely to feel much more affinity for the Jews than for the Arabs in Israel and Palestine.
Since Sunday School church classes, Christians have studied stories found in the Hebrew Tanakh depicting Israelites and Jews as God's chosen people and automatically 'the good guys' in any conflict.

----

One of Pro's main arguments for the contradictory nature and inappropriateness of the term Judeo-Christian is that it is used almost exclusively by Christians and that Jews find it annoying and inapplicable to them.

Aside from the Jewish World Review article already sourced there are in fact many further examples. With very basic research I was able to find a huge number of not just Jews but actual Rabbis (Jewish teachers/priests) who approved of the term and/or wished to emphasise the shared values and commonalities of the two faiths.

Here are just a couple:

"Q: There are many shared values between Jews and Christians.
Rabbi Segni: It stems from the fact that these two religions have their origin in the Bible. Biblical tradition underlines the importance of the dignity and of the life of man, the sense that life must have an ideal, the sense of social solidarity. These are fundamental values -- biblical values that are intrinsic and shared between Jews and Christians."
http://www.zenit.org...

"Daniel Lapin (born c. 1950) is a political commentator and American Orthodox rabbi......He argues that it is better for Jews to promote shared Judeo-Christian values with the majority than promote solely Jewish values. He has also called secular liberalism a danger to Judeo-Christian values"
http://en.wikipedia.org...

----

Terms like Judeo-Christian remind us of the common values people share and help to bring people together. If we emphasise the distinctions between each other and ignore the commonalities then we invite xenophobia.

That will be all for now, I'm kind of tired.

Thanks.
Con.
Debate Round No. 2
quantum_mechanik

Pro

Jeez, you guys are nice here. Well done. I thank you in the traditional way of the internet...

http://images.cheezburger.com...

---

"The relationship itself goes deeper than the text. The first Christians as well as Jesus himself, were of course Jews. They revered the same scriptures because they shared the same faith and cultural history. The New Testament does not replace or override The Old Testament from a Christian perspective, it adds to it and draws heavily upon it."

Many, many things are overridden, according to Christianity, by the events described in the New Testament. Kosher laws, laws concerning the sabbath--Actually, virtually all of the laws. Jews, like I said up before, are very much bound by law and the concept. The NT overwrites (specifically it says it "fulfills" the law, which I never understood but the end result is that it's no longer applicable) Mosaic law replacing it with a separate covenant.

The body of text is indeed somewhat shared--Christians don't have all the Jew's books, and vice versa--But the precepts and morals referred to as Judeo-Christian have very little to do with the application of those passages to greater moral debates or political concepts, from a Jewish perspective.

Christianity, in it's modern incarnation, shares some things with Judaism but many, many more things with other faiths and religious outlooks. Human God-form, resurrection, human sacrifice, original sin--Those are all European Pagan ideas. Without, oh, Zeus, Dionysus, Odin, Pandora, Balder--Christianity wouldn't exist either. Yet no one ever refers to Greco-Christianity or Pago-Christianty.

There are, I concede, ideas that could be referred to as Judeo-Christian. Probably the prohibition against blasphemy, for a good example. Monotheism. A connection and shared reverence for the patriarchs-Moses, Abraham, Isaac, etc. But none of these ever seem to be cited as what constitutes a Judeo-Christian idea.

---

Jewish World Reviewing.

Harvard is...not the best example for a positive unification of Judaism and Christianity. I'd very much like to tell this to the people at the JWR site, but since they're not here, I'll go with you. We probably shouldn't go with "behavior of Harvard" as a good standard of embracing Hebrew tradition. Harvard taught Hebrew, certainly. Later on, they put quotas on Jews being allowed to attend. "We have too many Jews" is, I think you'll agree, not a great unifying sentiment. For more information on that, you can go here: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org...

As for the liberty bell inscription, that is indeed from Leviticus. The full verse is actually sort of pretty:
"and ye have hallowed the year, the fiftieth year; and ye have proclaimed liberty in the land to all its inhabitants; a jubilee it is to you; and ye have turned back each unto his possession; yea, each unto his family ye do turn back."
I'm just putting it up there for general interests sake. I can't really call that a no, that is what's written there. Uh...I'm calling No-refuting on that one.

As for vast numbers of Americans taking Hebrew names...I'm not sure about that. Benjamin Franklin didn't TAKE the name Benjamin, I'm pretty sure he was born with it. I think what would be more accurate to say is "Many names of the founding fathers, and many people in genera for that matterl, stem from Hebrew."

As to the Exodus, I think it's a nice that the early Americans identified with the Jews after enslavement. I think it's telling that they chose to go a different way, also. The story of the Exodus, while culturally important to Jews, is not rhetorically unique to them. Using comparisons from the Torah doesn't neccesarily make you validly Judeo-Christian.

Governor Sanford, the fellow that had the affair in Argentina, described himself as being comparable to David and Bathsheba. He...somewhat missed the point of the story, but the usage of that isn't a Judeo-Christian usage. It certainly doesn't make his affair Jewish.

----

Equating Judeo-Christian with "Everything shared by the two faiths" might, if applied as a rule on other things, cause some problems. Heaven and Hell are concepts shared by Moslems and Christians, but we don't refer to that as a "Christo-Islamic afterlife". We could start, I suppose. I don't think it'll catch on, though.

---

Regarding monotheism and Christianity--It's not that I want to question the validity of any faith, but the idea that simply stating something is valid makes it so when comparing it to previous pieces of evidence. For example--Christians often say they worship the same God as the Jews. The problem with that is that the Jewish G-d doesn't do what the Christian God does. It's actually logically incapable of doing so, which leads to a whole other set of problems. I don't know how to say it, but...we can't just take that sort of statement at it's word.

---

The issue of Messianic Jews is always an interesting one. Maybe I have contradicted myself a little bit, so I'll try and explain further. Membership in Judaism is complicated. Technically, you can be a Jew and be whatever you want--Christian, Moslem, Buddhist, Martian. If your mother was Jewish, you're automatically Jewish. If not, no luck. So conversion doesn't invalidate Jewishness. But there is a Jewish belief structure, certain principles that need to be met to be called Jewish in a religious sense: Sort of Jewish religious precepts. One of them is that G-d is immaterial and that the Messiah hasn't come yet. So, if your religion has either of those as part of it, it's not a Jewish religion. It can be done in Hebrew and the holidays can be the same, but it's still not the Jewish religion.

---

And you're right, I'm sure not all Christians support Israel to bring about Armageddon. That was probably a bit spiteful of me. Sorry about that.

The goal of the IFCJ is, as stated in the about page, promoting shared issues of interest to Christians and Jews. I think these issues certainly exist, just like all issues interest an intersection of groups. BUT we don't refer to those issues by a conflation of those groups names. Legalization of marijuana interests, probably, both Libertarians and farmers, but we wouldn't refer to the issues as "Libertario-Agricultural", despite how fun that would be. There's something special about Judeo-Christian that marks it for this sort of usage, and I don't think we've hit upon exactly what that is yet.

--

I concede defeat on the Jews not liking the term. There are clearly Jews who like the term. I want to have a long discussion with them about that, but for that particular point, I was wrong.

--

The problem with Judeo-Christian, as I see it, is that while it is a reminder of shared values, it's also in a sense co-opting certain parts of Judaism to fulfill Christian needs. No one seems to be arguing that America was founded on a Jewish basis, just a Judeo-Christian one (or an outright Christian one, when discussing that particular side of that debate). It saddens me to see things used inaccurately, to see the concepts of Judaism tied so firmly to things that Judaism actually opposes, and often opposes Jews themselves.

---

Hope you slept.

Pro.
feverish

Con

Wow, what a fantastic debate this has been, kudos to quantum on a great first debate.

I have been informed a great deal in these three rounds but I think it's fairly clear that the term in question is not a contradiction in terms.

It may indeed be mildly offensive to some and may often be used inappropriately but that is not enough justification to write it off completely.

My opponent graciously concedes the matter here:

Pro: "There are, I concede, ideas that could be referred to as Judeo-Christian. Probably the prohibition against blasphemy, for a good example. Monotheism. A connection and shared reverence for the patriarchs-Moses, Abraham, Isaac, etc. But none of these ever seem to be cited as what constitutes a Judeo-Christian idea."

Although my time is quite limited right now, I'm still going to continue this fascinating discussion despite the fact that the debate appears to be settled with this concession.

-------

Adherence to the laws of Moses varies a great deal among different branches of Judaism
( http://www.templesanjose.org... ) as well as between different Christian denominations but almost all religious Jews and Christians follow the same ten commandments.

I'm not totally sure what 'fulfil' means in this context either but it seems to suggest that Christians have not abandoned the law completely.

Pro: "The body of text is indeed somewhat shared".
That is quite an understatement if we are talking about the Tanakh and the Old Testament, as these are two collections of the same books in a slightly different order. http://gbgm-umc.org...

Pro: "the precepts and morals referred to as Judeo-Christian".
It's a shame that these specific precepts and morals have not been established as it's difficult to say how passages apply to unspecified values.

----------

It is not hard to find similarities between different religions and obviously when Europeans were converted to Christianity by the first Christians (Jews) the faith had to adapt to be more appealing to followers of different religions.

I don't think there is much evidence of Jesus being inspired by the pagan religions as much as he was by his own (Jewish) faith.

Judaism is no exception to religions being influenced by their predecessors. Judaism incorporates elements of Zoroastrianism in the same way as Christianity is influenced by Judaism. http://en.wikipedia.org...

--------

Pro: "no one ever refers to Greco-Christianity or Pago-Christianty."

The term Greco-Christian is in fact quite widely used, see the following links ( http://books.google.co.uk... , http://books.google.co.uk... , http://www.jstor.org... ) but no I can't see Pago-Christian catching on. Pago isn't even a real word. Pogo-Christianity might be fun though. :]

------

Very interesting to hear about Harvard's history of anti-semitic entrance policies. I wonder if other minorities were well represented there.

My opponent seems to accept that the inscription on the liberty bell is a pretty good example of Hebrew philosophy being a central component of American values and tradition.

-------

While it may upset people on all sides to hear it, Islam has a great deal in common with Judaism and Christianity. Arguably more with Judaism as it split from the original religion later than Christianity did.

When describing things shared by all three faiths the term Abrahamic is most commonly used. http://en.wikipedia.org...

The reason people don't normally make direct comparisons between Islam and either faith these days is because of the political world war being waged by and against some Muslims at the moment.

----
It is natural that Christians believe it is the same entity and Jews don't because of the way Christianity diverged from Judaism. Almost every religious group thinks that they alone are correct.

----

Yes the distinction between so-called 'ethnic' Jews and religious Jews is confusing for some. I understand that it is possible for a gentile to convert to Judaism but of course many people of Jewish heritage are atheists or have other beliefs that are contrary to the Jewish faith.
There are also many people (such as myself, my maternal grandfather was Jewish) with some heritage who don't qualify as Jews (except in the eyes of Nazis and some other anti-semitic groups.)

So Messianic Jews are born as Jews but don't qualify as religiously Jewish because they believe Jesus is the messiah?
Interesting indeed.

----

There are thousands of similar conflations or compound words in English. I think the only "special something" that necessitates such a conflation is suitability and practical use.

---

I would have thought the outcome of this debate was clear although it will of course be up to the voters to decide. My opponent has conceded that it is a valid term of description for some ideas and that it is agreeable to some Jews as well as many Christians.

It is sad if the term is used inappropriately to imply Jewish values when they are not present but this is not a reason to condemn accurate use of the phrase.

It is clearly not a contradiction in terms.

--

Once again thanks to quantum-mechanik for the enlightening discussion.

Con.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by quantum_mechanik 7 years ago
quantum_mechanik
The question of one can be religiously Jewish and believe that the Messiah has already come is a complex one. Rambam said no, that one of the tenets of Judaism is in the incorporality of G-d and the sheer obviousness of Olam Ha-ba. As to following Kosher laws--sure, anyone can do that. It doesn't make them Jewish. And breaking kosher laws indeed doesn't make one un-Jewish. Conversion, however...that probably does.
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
Actually, there are some branches of Judaism that are more different to than Catholicism is to Judaism! You can actually be a Jew & Catholic: all you have to believe is that JC was the Messiah! And that does not go against Judaism. Furthermore, there is nothing in Catholicism that expressly forbids following the Kosher laws; it's just that you don't have to. Many, many, many jews do not follow kosher law.
Posted by quantum_mechanik 7 years ago
quantum_mechanik
On the topic of conduct, I feel like I've missed out on doing the usual internet argument things. I'll remedy that now.

Dear Feverish
Ahem.
You are Hitler.
You are Satan.
Your mother is simultaneously Hitler and Satan.
You are wrong.
You are double-wrong, but not in the double-negative way where you'd be right. Exponential wrong.
Uh....
Curseword, curseword, curseword.
Posted by feverish 7 years ago
feverish
Thanks for the comment Lifeisgood and especially for leaving your Reasons For Decisions, I wish more people on here did that.

Seems like another voter gave me all 7 points and while I am of course grateful for their vote I don't think quantum's s&g or certainly conduct were any worse than mine.
Damn, hope they don't switch their vote now lol.
Posted by Lifeisgood 7 years ago
Lifeisgood
An excellent debate. Truly fascinating.

B/A: Con/Con.
Conduct: Tie.
S/G: Tie. Nothing noticeable.
Arguments: Con. Pro did an excellent job, but the resolution is just too hard to affirm.
Sources: Con.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
quantum_mechanikfeverishTied
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Vote Placed by Lifeisgood 7 years ago
Lifeisgood
quantum_mechanikfeverishTied
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rougeagent21
quantum_mechanikfeverishTied
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