Category Archives: THE HUMAN THING TO DO

For those who feel unqualified, under qualified or disqualified to play a significant role in God’s doings in this world

If you are a believer who feels unqualified, under qualified or disqualified to play any sort of role in the Almighty’s work in this world, do yourself a BIG favor and watch the interview below.

 

 

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Bernie Sanders and the Christian Vote

I became a democratic socialist in 1985 because, in large part, this approach seeks to address many societal and Red_Rose_(Socialism)other ills by addressing underlying (as opposed to superficial) causes. Many of these problems and their solutions lie in redressing specific moral failings such as unbridled corporate greed, which is something democratic socialists such as Senator Bernie Sanders tackle head-on with genuinely progressive, transformative ideas and proposed legislation. And, at the heart of democratic socialism, is a sharing and “level the playing field” ethic that is consonant with core Jewish and Christian beliefs and teachings.  Luke Tomycz “cores the apple” on an article titled “Bernie Sanders and the Christian Vote” which I wholeheartedly recommend you read and then share with others in your orbit: https://medium.com/@ltomycz/bernie-sanders-and-the-christian-vote-2350b31a6bbf#.94h2wp30g

Bernie Sanders and the Christian Vote

 

💀 Everything you ever wanted to know about post-death decomposition (“Body Farm”video) 💀

Depositphotos_80158370_originalCurious about what kinds of physical changes happen post mortem? The video below will fill in many blanks. Of greater concern to you is likely how and when you’ll shuffle off this mortal coil. Naturally, most of us prefer to “stage left” with as little pain and discomfort as possible, something medical science has make more certain than was true long ago. But die we must. The larger question is what lies afterwards – click to read.  First, satisfy your curiosity about what becomes of your “earth suit” after death and then read what follows below.

 

Life after deathSo you know what’s coming: You die and then face judgment. It is natural to think “Well, OK, I  think my good deeds outweigh my bad so I am good to go, right?” Wrong.  Ahem, dead wrong. The penalty for sin either must be paid by you or by someone qualified to pay it for you. The trick is there is only one individual who qualified to pay the penalty for your sins which he did. However, like a gift certificate purchased for you by a benefactor, you have to claim or redeem it and then follow the directions that come with it to preserve it. So how do you learn about this gift and how to claim it? The best way in my opinion is to hear from someone who has done it. In this vein, I heartily recommend you watch this video featuring scholar Dr. Michael Brown in which he shares how he went from hell bound to redeemed:  https://askdrbrown.org/about/personal-testimony/

Following Messiah and living the faith authentically is countercultural & radical. One way to do so is in intentional community as a lay monk or nun (Married or single is OK)

© 2015, 2017 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

The antidote for judging, backbiting & similar ills

Whenever the temptation to judge, gossip or interpret peoples’ motives or conduct comes a-callin’ just watch this video and afterwards read this https://biotheorist.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/neither-a-roman-at-the-games-nor-a-supporter-of-those-who-play-at-this-be/:

 

What will you let life do to you in 2015?

whiteboard - free MorguefileWhen you were a young lad or lassie how many times were you asked, “What will you do in life when you grow up?”

I have a different spin on this which is not peculiar youth or young people: What will you let life do to you?

“What do I mean?”, you ask. It’s really quite simple: Every person, influence, work of art and music, hobby, passion, group, tribe and such is writing paragraphs and chapters in the unique storybook which is your life. Your very being may even form a dynamic circuit with select others.

Picture your life as a huge whiteboard. Now walk along and read the entries on it — “the good, bad and ugly”, if you will. As you look around you see the various people in your life writing on your “lifeboard”. What kind of story has emerged? Are you happy with it? If not, how many “bad content writers” can and should be banned from writing on your lifeboard in 2015?

Dr. Anthony G. Payne

 

Some questions for you

Br. Anthony - Dec 2014SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU:

Which dominates your life: Competition or sharing & harmonization?

Is what you’ve been doing with your life consistent with your core nature, or not? That is, are you faithful to your true or authentic self or not?

Do you tend to think your own thoughts or those of Madison Avenue, Wall Street, etc.?

Are you nurturing what is genuine & true in life or something else entirely?

Which is better: To be whole or something else?

Do you resist learning what closed doors have to teach you?

Have you consciously embraced your limitations?

Are the “ought’s” & “should have’s” that bedevil you reflect who you really are?

Do you run from failure and “experiments gone bad” or learn the lessons they offer and revise your life course accordingly?

Have the roles you play in life, its pleasures, indulgences, escapes, or obligations, or something else eclipsed or undermined the “you beneath & within”?

Do the conflicts and paradoxes in your life demand resolution, or embrace & integration into all that you are?

Is your trip through the valley preparing you to fulfill your unique purpose in life?

The 562 Project: Matika Wilbur’s ambitious project to photograph citizens from every American Indian tribe

self_portrait-Matika1

Professional photographer & fellow American Indian Matika Wilbur is busy doing something that is 100 years overdue: Photographing American Indians in ways that beautifully captures their spirit & joy & perseverance.  What she needs is funding — which you can help with by going to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matika/project-562-changing-the-way-we-see-native-america and giving.

Thanks heartily from “Choctaw Doc” (Dr. Anthony G. Payne – member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma)

My 2-17-2014 EXAMINER article on Matika and the 562 project: http://www.examiner.com/article/matika-wilbur-s-quest-to-photograph-citizens-from-every-american-indian-tribe

A Post-Racial America? Think again!

SALON ARTICLE BY TIFFANIE DRAYTON - SCREENSHOTIf you harbor the notion that America is a land of racial equality prepare to be disabused of this. In “Goodbye to my American dream” (Salon.com) a bright, well educated, personable young writer named Tiffanie Drayton lays out how utterly un-post racial  America is (We American Indians also have experience with this, but that’s another story). In her insightful article Miss Tiffanie states:

My relationship with the United States of America is the most tumultuous relationship I have ever had, and it ended with the heart-rending realization that a country I loved and believed in did not love me back.  

Click the picture to your left or this link to read Miss Tiffanies’ wake-up call: http://www.salon.com/2013/07/16/goodbye_to_my_american_dream/

You can follow Tiffanie on Twitter at https://twitter.com/draytontiffanie (I heartily recommend you avail yourself of her comments, insights & sharing from the heart)

Jury nullification as a way to fight back against unjust, immoral-unethical or wrongly applied laws

Vintage Balance ScaleHow can you help fight back against unjust, immoral-unethical or wrongly applied laws? Let people know about “jury nullification” and, if you are called on to serve on a jury that involves an unjust or wrongly applied law, use it yourself.

This article lays it all out: http://www.exposingthetruth.co/peoples-law-nullification/#axzz2ejSFhFAF

State sanctioned executions: What’s wrong with “Hang ’em high!”?

Prisoner Holding Cigarette Between BarsHardly a month passes without one US state or another putting a convicted murderer, rapist or what-have-you to death (It’s 7-26-2013 and Reuters just ran an on-line article titled “Alabama executes man advocates said was mentally ill” at http://reut.rs/13h21aj). While I understand where folks who view this as closure for the victim’s family or “just deserts” are coming from, I quite honestly detest the idea of the state possessing the power to terminate a life under any circumstances. History clearly shows how easy it is for governments to slip into abusing this sort of thing in the name of national security, the war on this or that real or imagined nemesis, or what-have-you. To my way of thinking no modern state should ever have the power to take from any citizen that which it can’t later restore.  I actually took this conviction and planted it squarely in a literary brainchild of mine that incorporates satire and humor to convey certain realities & truths.  You’ll find it on page 1 of my “FUP Manifesto” at http://www.scribd.com/doc/115383259/The-Fook-U-Party-Viva-La-Revolution.

Or if you are too busy, lazy, drunk or stubborn to click the link and find it, here is the salient entry:

Party Prime Directive: The (Seig!) State should never be able to take from anyone that which it can’t later restore if required or compelled, for whatever reason.

If you think this “excessively liberal”, imagine yourself awaiting execution in one hour’s time.   Or what if your daughter, son, nephew, niece or other blood relative were to be executed shortly? 

 

Neither a “Roman at the games” nor a supporter of those who play at this be

ROMAN HELMET - FREE MSWhere you have competition, you have losers and those who seem to revel in their loss. Pretty much everyone reading this knows how the Romans flocked to the Amphitheatrum Flavium better known as the Coliseum (starting around 80 CE) and were thrilled to see gladiatorial contest losers being dispatched and were reportedly especially happy when enemies of the state were served up to the Angel of Death in the goriest way possible. Today this competitive impulse is vented and satisfied in sports stadiums and contests of every description. And….on TV and in movies, in science and medicine, in academia, and in pretty much every endeavor or undertaking you can name. It is almost as if the road up is paved with the wounded, fallen, and discarded.

I personally think we all get more mileage out of cooperation than competition, which is actually a cardinal expression of our social nature. But we still compete. In academia, the term “publish or perish” wasn’t coined as a joke but as a reflection of the cutthroat competition that researchers, scholars and professors keenly feel. Today it is almost commonplace to read about retracted papers whose underlying studies include fraudulent or plagiarized data or information, which I suspect arises when researchers and others feel the only way to “stay afloat” is to take “shortcuts to glory” (Something that when exposed oftentimes sinks the very careers the perpetrators hoped to sustain and grow). The website “Retraction Watch” is actually devoted to airing these kinds of failings from the world of published research.

What concerns me isn’t that people make bad choices, we all do at one time or another after all, but rather that some folks seem to revel in seeing the “perpetrators” thrust into the spotlight and made to endure a seeming unending barrage of shame and denunciation. Some even anticipate bad times for not only people who wonder off the straight & narrow, but for those who are unconventional or are doing things that could be perceived or interpreted as crossing some real or imagined legal or regulatory line by the powers-that-be. Some seem to salivate at the very prospect that an ill wind will blast those they disagree with or oppose into obscurity…or worse.

Those who take this particular low road are IMO the modern day equivalent of those Romans who clamored for the destruction of those who had violated Imperial law.

So why do people, especially cultured, educated souls, seem to thrill in what amounts to an exercise in cruelty? Has their sense of competitiveness and the need to be right taken on a pathological dimension? Do they find that the only way they can feel better is by stepping on and then over the careers and lives of those they feel duty bound to hurl stones at? Do they have little or no empathy, at least for those they disagree with or oppose? Is it intolerance or ignorance at work…or both? Maybe it is all of this and more, at least in some instances. Let me share what I think motivates at least some of these “professional stone throwers”.

It is my contention that the mechanism (if you will) at work in those who either predict doom for their real or perceived nemeses (“worthy targets”) or who work towards this end, is the same one that animates the cruel actions of terrorists who behead their helpless victims. In 2005 I touched on this in an analytic article I titled “Terrorist beheadings and other forms of inflicted, violent death: Are victims aware of what is happening around them after their heart and lungs have stopped working?” (which you can access at https://biotheorist.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/terrorist-beheadings-and-other-forms-of-inflicted-violent-death-2009.pdf)

 It will take only a few salient lines to spell out my spin on this:

…there is an element of “enlightened self interest” in our curiosity and even fascination with dying and death. When we ask “What did that poor soul experience?”, we are in some way seeking in the death of others some idea of what we might sense or think or visualize as we go through our own final, irreversible “systems failure”.

So there you have it. As I see it some, perhaps many “stone hurlers” – I refer specifically to those who engage in ad hominem attacks on people or classes or groups of people instead of challenging faulty or flawed ideas, or who make suppositions with regard to what underlies poor or bad choices as though they are privy to seeing into their being (quite a feat when you consider most mental processes beneath consciousness and are not accessible to us) – do so (in part) to both existentially anticipate and experience the suffering they predict or facilitate for those they oppose. Of course, if their target winds up in hot water, rehab, prison or the cemetery, there is the ego-gratification of being able to say (either bluntly or ever so diplomatically) “See, I told you so”. By virtue of this they feel justified in the rightness of their particular stone hurling activities and encouraged to continue doing so. Society is not better for it, for successful cruelty has a way of attracting imitators and supporters and then of being further reinforced until it becomes “a self-evident truth”.

How should we deal with stone hurling and other forms of depersonalizing cruelty? The faulty thinking, choices and ideas that underlie such actions should be brought to light, dissected and challenged. But under no circumstance should this include attacks on the character or worth of people who have “played a Roman at the games” or supported those who do so. And, last but not least, we should strive mightily to meet and supplant heartless, cynical or even cruel actions on the part of others with exceeding kindness, cooperation, forgiveness and mercy whenever possible.

Dr. Anthony G, Payne

© 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

Recommended Supplemental Reading

The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen

The Self Beyond Itself: An Alternative History of Ethics, the New Brain Sciences, and the Myth of Free Will by Heidi M. Ravven, Ph.D.

The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity by Bruce Hood, Ph.D.

The Illusion of Conscious Will by Dr. Daniel M. Wegner

How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it

Color photo from TIME, Inc.

Color photo from TIME, Inc.

Dr. Anthony G. PayneMy good friend Jim Haverlock recently asked, “How do you kill 12 million people?” He was,  of course,  referring to the Shoah or Holocaust. He wasn’t asking about the nuts & bolts of pulling off mass executions but, rather, how did so many ordinary and even extraordinary men and women willingly take part in Hitler’s Endlösung (Final Solution). This is a question that has intrigued and haunted me since early boyhood actually. In fact, as part of my quest for answers I read all of Nazi propaganda minister Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels diaries as a young man plus vol. 1 of “Mein Kampf” (Vol. 2 was unknown when I was a youngster), watched archival film of the Nuremberg & Doctor’s trials, and read just about every substantive book on Hitler, the Nazis and fascism that existed at the time (And everything worth reading on the subject since as well). As anyone reading this who ever took a course in World History knows, both Hitler and Goebbels stressed the use of propaganda and the “big lie” as integral to the creating and sustainment of the Greater Germania they envisioned. And both were extraordinary in their zeal and abilities to forge a monolithic state predicated on a shared national myth, and induce the German people to embrace it via lies, artful use of imagery and symbols, fear, rewards and appeals to entrenched biases that went back not just decades but centuries (Particularly in the case of antisemitism which sadly had its roots in early Christian teachings especially the Hellenized spin on Jesus and his message crafted & promulgated by Saul of Tarsus aka St. Paul. Learn more by reading Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity  by scholar & historian Dr. James D. Tabor).

One place to turn for insight is historian Dr. Daniel Goldhagen’s books plus those of psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo. They do a smashing good job of laying out the historic, sociological, psychological and economic forces, currents and mechanisms that set the stage for the rise of the Nazis and then sustained them once they were in power.

But, even after you’ve read and mastered these works and others like them you likely find yourself still perplexed by the fact so many people down through the millennia and especially during the heyday of fascism could ignore and in many instances take an active hand in wanton cruelty. After nearly a lifetime of studying human cruelty and complicity in cruelty and evil I know there is no simple answer to “why”. Certainly lack of empathy or reduced or impaired empathy for targets/scapegoats is vital to evil and, yes, lies play a powerful role as well, but there is so much more that works to foster wickedness than lies and people’s failure to detect them or act on them or neglect to search them out and deal with them. However, with this said it certain behooves Americans to be vigilant and to call out wrongs and evil as soon as they come to light.

Things are complicated by the fact that evil and good rely on similar mechanisms and tools to govern (God, too, relies on these – see my op-ed piece on this subject titled “Hitler & HaShem at http://www.healingcare4u.org/hitler-hashem.pdf). Heaven knows our government has used lies of varying magnitude to govern across the years of our country’s existence. Probably Nixon and his “Imperial Presidency” took this to a whole new level and set certain wickedness in motion that has grown in scope to this day. In theory, yes, a super crisis or series of crises could lead to martial law and suspensions of Constitutional guarantees. During the Civil War (or as it is better known where I came from, “The War for Southern Independence”) Abraham Lincoln threw many folks who questioned his administration and policies into jail and kept them there, thanks to his having suspended the writ of habeas corpus. However, people rebelled, the press raised hell and the Supreme Court ultimately undid some of the more egregious acts of hegemony. I think any move to contain social disorder by imposition of a police or ultra-authoritarian state would, at the very least, result in the formation of tens of thousands of militias and resistance groups across the land that would make keeping the lid on the pot problematic if not impossible.

Naturally, best to act now and prevent a quasi-police or full-fledged police state then try to overthrow one that is in-place. Keeping our representatives working and honest is certainly part of that.

While no one has knows the full rhyme and reason behind human evil and its various incarnations, it helps to be aware of and reject ideas, movements, and acts that arise from and feed evil: Among them being intolerance, the marginalization and dehumanization of others especially minorities and other vulnerable groups, and unquestioned belief in authority figures and an unwillingness to call them out when they violate the very civil virtues and Constitutional guarantees they are charged with upholding.

I would add this: Although I’ve been a democratic socialist since 1985 I find some ideas and notions articulated by conservatives and even some right wingers of merit. As a Southerner whose ancestors go back to Revolutionary War times (and beyond) in South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi, and whose paternal and maternal forbearers lived under the Stars & Bars (Confederacy) and in some instances fought for the C.S.A., I inherited a mix of ideas and notions, some worthy of consideration if not embrace, others that had no substance when they were articulated long ago and never will.  Of those that I deemed worth hanging onto was the longstanding Southern distrust of a powerful central government running everything including many aspects of people’s everyday lives. Although you might think a democratic socialist would welcome an all powerful centralized government, I emphatically do not. History shows all too clearly that the concentration of power in the hands of strongmen leads to abuses and skullduggery of the worst sort. Actually there are at least a few liberal thinkers who would prefer to see a decentralization of power in the US and other countries, and even the break-up of powerhouse countries into small nation-states (Especially those that are unstable or might become so and with this attempt to retain order and stability by imposition of a police or authoritarian state). I’m sure a world comprised of small, less powerful nations, say, the size of Switzerland, would by no means avoid many of the ills that plague major powers today, but I can’t help think they would have less influence and thus less ability to work evil in the world. And for those that do, their neighbors could form temporary confederations and impose various kinds of sanctions or, when regrettably necessary, military containment (Hey, sometimes the only way to stop a thug is send in the police).

But until power shifts from Washington to the states (if it ever does), best to keep an eye on the politicians on Capital Hill and do everything possible to keep our representatives working, honest and limited in the evil they can do. The same applies to the press and other so-called sacred American institutions.

Dr. Anthony G. Payne (waxing philosophic from his porch swing)

RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING

My spiritual watering hole website: http://summerclouds.weebly.com/

Why does God allow evil (Theodicy)? See Are you an atheist, religionist, deist, fideist or ???

CBN video presentation “God & Hitler”: http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/index.aspx

Restoring Abrahamic Faith by Dr. James D. Tabor

The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity by Dr. James D. Tabor

The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity by Rev. Jeffrey J. Bϋtz

How Jesus Became Christian by Barrie Wilson, Ph.D.

Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are by Bart D. Ehrman, Ph.D.

Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose by Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D.

The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen

Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

How one man turned adversity into opportunity

Jim Haverlock has seen more peaks & valleys than most of us. Athlete in HS and now scooter-bound due to multiple sclerosis. Millionaire owner of a furniture chain who went broke, worked out of his car for a time,  and now runs his own virtual business and provides web building & optimization services too. Abandoned by his wife after he was misdiagnosed as having ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) — but now (in his seventies) sharing love & life with his “African Queen.”  Dreamed of being a missionary as a young man — tabled this — and fulfilled this calling more than five (5) decades later by founding a nonprofit charitable organization called Compassion Care! If this has you wanting to know more about “The Life & Times of Missionary Jim” — just click this link:  

https://biotheorist.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/jims-story-heart-of-a-missionary-edited-spin-july-15-20113.pdf

 

The long-term unemployed: Maybe it is high time companies placed compassion above logic when hiring

Back in the early 1980s, while working towards a graduate degree in biological anthropology, I held down a full-time job as EDP Operations Manager for a major portable oil rig manufacturer in Dallas (Texas.) When I joined the firm I had two computer operators and two data entry operators helping run a two (2) shift data processing operation. Our IBM computer was state-of-the-art for its time and primarily used to process financial, accounting, inventory and engineering data for company divisions throughout the US and overseas.  

As the firm grew my department got busier and as a result needed to hire additional personnel. I made a point of seeking out qualified people who basically had been passed over by local businesses. In the span of a year or so my staff grew from four to thirteen with most being minorities (like myself.) The systems engineering group that interfaced with those of us in operations were almost exclusively middle-aged white men and women, most of whom did not readily welcome my diverse crew into the fold as-it-were.

Did I hire people of color simply because I was a minority myself (American Indian)? Not at all. The fact is I felt what I was doing would in some small way help offset unwritten policies that had constrained the hiring of qualified minorities.   

What is interesting is that with the passage of time the all white systems crew and my racially, ethnically and religiously diverse operations group began moving from a guarded, formal “business only please” level of interaction into a warmer comfort zone characterized by friendly banter and even playful joking. This was exactly what I had hoped for and anticipated.

The director of MIS (Management Information Systems) for the company, a former NASA systems analyst who had moved into corporate management after leaving the space agency, was so impressed with how much of a family the entire information systems department had become that he held it up as a model to higher-ups including the board of directors.

Of course, young working professionals sometimes seize more lucrative opportunities elsewhere, a reality that was visited upon my department when my third shift computer operator was offered a fatter paycheck and shorter commute by a competitor.  I was sad to see her go but plowed ahead and began running ads in local newspapers and trade publications. Soon my mornings were filled with conducting interviews.

Now hang in with me – I have a point to make which ties into an egregious practice at work in companies across this Great Recession-ravaged nation.

During the course of conducting interviews a middle-aged gentlemen came through my office door clutching his resume. After handing me a one page summary of his impressive qualifications he told me straight up that he had lost his job when his former employer closed its doors and had been unemployed and interviewing for over six months. It took little time to realize why so many firms were not quick to snap this chap up: He had worked his way up into middle-management and was thus “overqualified” (AKA ill-suited) to fill a computer operator’s job. The logical thing to do was send him on his way. After all, if hired he would likely seize the first management job offered him and leave me back at square one – filling a slot on third shift.

This kind of logic undoubtedly had persuaded other prospective employers to quickly show this graying bespeckled soul the door. But I was less concerned about doing the logical thing then the human thing. So I hired the guy on-the-spot. It was a move I never regretted as he did the work of any 2 operators of my staff, went the extra mile when asked, never belly-ached and never missed a day’s work.  And he worked at the operator’s job for many years before finally moving on (Which means the company more than got its “money worth” out of him.)

Oh, and he was white – but still a minority to my way of thinking. That is, he belonged to the chronically unemployed and seemingly unemployable.  Which brings me at last to this: An article was posted to The Lookout blog earlier today (7-14-11) titled “Down but not out: Voices of the long-term unemployed.In it writer Zachery Roth shared this:

  • We asked whether employers were wary of hiring readers when they found out how long they’d been jobless — a form of discrimination that appears to have been on the rise lately. “Very much so,” replied Susan W. “As if it were my fault I was unemployed, regardless of the fact that I had put out hundreds of resumes and applications.”
  • An enormous number of older readers said they think their age is part of the problem for employers. Paula S., from Acworth, Georgia, who said she was “sixty-something,” described “two eye-opening experiences of blatant age discrimination . . . . One twenty-something supervisor asked me if I had ever thought about coloring my hair . . . . Another manager told his assistant with the door open when I showed up to complete an application and interview: ‘We can’t hire any more old people.’ “

I was in my mid-twenties when I hired that middle-aged seasoned computer pro to be a third shift computer operator (He was 55, the age I am now.) In hiring him I placed doing the human thing over the logical thing. I can only hope that some of the people trying to fill jobs across America will come across this account and then take it to heart and do likewise.

  Dr. Anthony G. Payne

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