#139: How Humanism Subverts Christianity—Daniel J. Mahoney

#139: How Humanism Subverts Christianity—Daniel J. Mahoney

There has always been the temptation in Christian history to conflate the humanitarian impulse with the kingdom of heaven. Today, this conflation has taken on various and sundry dangerous forms: liberation theology, globalism and the erasure of nation states, philanthropy for purely human motives, and the like.

Are we to be salt of the earth and to love our enemies as Christ taught, or are we to be sugar and have no enemies as the “religion of humanity” teaches? The often confusing pronouncements by Pope Francis seem to manifest this blurring of classical distinctions. 

Professor Daniel J. Mahoney of Assumption College in Worcester, MA, has nailed the basic problem in a new book, The Idol of Our Age: How the Religion of Humanity Subverts Christianity. We talked about the many dangerous ideas arising from the book and how to counter them.

 

In this episode you will learn

  • The philosophical and theological roots of humanitarian substitute for actual Christian faith
  • The contemporary significance of Solzhenitsyn’s sharp disagreement with Tolstoy
  • The ways in which Pope Benedict XVI represents the last of classically trained Pontiffs and global influencers
  • Why humanitarianism is passive and Catholicism is active
  • The enduring relevance of A Story Of Anti-Christ by Vladimir Soloviev
  • Specific examples from the teaching documents and statements of Pope Francis that exemplify the prinal error of flattening the truth of the gospel into a humanitarian messianism

 

Resources mentioned in this episode

 

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Food for Thought:

Why does (at the very least) identifying this “idol of our age” matter?

 

 


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Father James Martin’s Feminist Gripe

Father James Martin’s Feminist Gripe

Last week, Father James Martin, SJ, tweeted:

“It is stupefying to me that women cannot preach at Mass. The faithful during Mass, as well as the presiders, are missing out on the wisdom, experience and inspired reflections of half of its members. St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.”

The context was the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, an online debate broke out amongst Catholics about women giving homilies. Father Martin’s tweet linked to an “America” magazine article written by a woman who used to preach at Mass before restrictions were enforced.

Here is what the Church law lays down:

Can. 766 “The laity may be allowed to preach in a church or oratory if in certain circumstances it is necessary, or in particular cases it would be advantageous, according to the provisions of the Episcopal Conference and without prejudice to can. 767 §1.

But…

Can. 767 §1 The most important form of preaching is the homily, which is part of the liturgy, and is reserved to a priest or deacon. In the course of the liturgical year, the mysteries of faith and the rules of christian living are to be expounded in the homily from the sacred text.

 

Complementary Nature of Men and Women:

The nature of man is to initiate and the nature of woman is to receive. The extreme parody of this complementary balance is for initiation to become authoritarian dominance and for receptivity to become sickly passivity. They are not the same thing.

From an official pronouncement of doctrine point of view, public teaching per se is inherently masculine as Jesus Christ the God man is The Teacher par excellence who chose men to officially, publically, teach His doctrine in word and deed.

While these are not “proof texts,” we see the fittingness of men as public teachers reflected in the NT in places like: 1 Timothy 2:12, 1 Timothy 2:11, 1 Cor. 14:34-35

Why do feminists like Father Martin assume that “power” and “influence” only really matter if a public teaching role is involved? This is obviously not true. Why doesn’t he complain that zero women are Jesuits? Isn’t the Jesuit Order badly hobbled by not having the wit and wisdom of female SJs?

Here are some powerful women who are also natural teachers, starting with the most powerful:

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the ultimate Jewish Mother, the one prophesied in Gen 3:15, who crushed the head of the serpent, who gave the Word flesh, the one who stood traumatized at the foot of the cross, and who lovingly assented to the torture and murder of her divine Son for our salvation, the one who nurtured the early Church and who to this day intercedes for us before the throne of God, made incarnate because of her yes to the angel Gabriel.

Yes, that woman.

Your mother

And every female saint.

Not one of these women ever preached at Mass, and all of them have profoundly influenced—and taught—the universal Church in ways too many to name.

So please, my feminist brethren, enough with the power rhetoric. The Church is our mother.

She knows best.

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#138: How To Be a Leader—Alexandre Havard

#138: How To Be a Leader—Alexandre Havard

French educated attorney and author (and now Moscow resident) Alexandre Havard has made it his life mission to study patterns of leadership: what works, what doesn’t, and how to heal the deeper issues present in the crisis of leadership.

Retired Navy SEAL Commander Jocko Willink famously said, “There are no bad teams, only bad team leaders.” The implications of this for the Christian Church are as enormous as they are obvious. Havard’s books and lectures are not chiefly designed for a faith context but tap into universal truths about human nature, natural law, human temperaments, and what makes a leader truly excellent. (He was a previous expert influencer for members of Coffin Nation talking about the four classic Greek temperaments and how they must be supplemented by virtue.)

 

In this episode you will learn

  • The difference between a leader and a manager
  • What qualities all leaders possess, irrespective of area or expertise
  • Why magnanimity is the indispensable goal of every leader
  • How weakness is not necessarily the opposite of strength
  • Why the best leaders are also followers
  • The Greeks understood temperaments: sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic
  • Why humility and meekness are two of the most misunderstood concepts for leader

 

Resources mentioned in this episode

 

Join the Conversation!

Food for Thought:

What holds you back from being a better leader or influencer?

 

 

 

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Stop Shooting the Messenger

Stop Shooting the Messenger

It’s one of the most irritating problems in life, whether in the media ecosystem, politics, home life, or the Church: messenger-shooting.

What I mean is: we criticize and seek to silence (or shame) those who speak out either as whistleblowers, or as voices of objection raised against actual corruption.

In this video I give five examples of how this can happen:

1. In families where everyone walks on eggshells to enable the addict, and, if anyone dares to rock the boat, they are punished, or ignored, or scapegoated as a troublemaker.

2. Quillette journalist Andy Ngo brought a camera to Portland, OR, to cover the thug-coward group Antifa (you know, anti-fascist) and was “milkshaked,” surrounded and shoved, and then punched so hard he was put in the hospital. Andy was accused of being a “provocateur” who was dumb to show up there to begin with.

3. British writer (and atheist) Douglas Murray has been on the lonely forefront of candidy pointing out the dangers posed by Islamist militants in the UK. When two of them beheaded UK soldier Lee Rigby in broad daylight (shouting “Allahu Akbar”), Murray covered it. For his troubles, he has been called an Islamophobe, “divisive” and a general rabble rouser. Same could be said (perhaps worse) of Tommy Robinson.

In the Church, we have:

4. Monsignor Anthony Figueredo, the erstwhile priest assistant to then Cardinal Ted McCarrick. When he went public with what he knew, he was similarly scapegoated and dismissed.

5. The highest profile of all, the open letters of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò laid bare the serious allegation that Pope Francis must have known about the homosexual predator behavior of McCarrick, and other grave offenses, and called for his resignation. Again, the liberal press—for whom Pope Francis is a central mascot figure—pounced to denounce him. The Catholic left piled on with slurs like “liar” and “careerist.” That a retired, 78-year-old archbishop was in it for career advancement beggars belief.

We’re never attract converts as long as we ignore, deny, and deflect from some obvious truths. Let’s cut the crap. The truths sets us free, particularly the uncomfortable ones.

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#137: Free Your Dream—Cliff Ravenscraft

#137: Free Your Dream—Cliff Ravenscraft

 

What is YOUR dream? I’m going wide with the question: your dream for your career, what kind of service or value you want to provide others, how much money you’d like to make, etc. Maybe your dream to change careers altogether, or add in new elements that you’ve thought about many times but never acted on?

Cliff Ravenscraft is a very popular and well-regard business mentor and entrepreneur. I first learned about his incredible teaching abilities in the podcast arena when I left Catholic Answers in 2016. Cliff has helped thousands of people—most definitely including me—take what they’re doing to the next level: it’s his brand.

But many of us are limited by invisible scripts, which Cliff calls beliefs. Some beliefs accord with reality (God exists, Jesus loves me, I have a guardian angel, etc), while others do not (I don’t deserve to be successful, my lack of a business degree holds me back, I’m just an introvert, etc). This is a vital conversation to be having no matter what you do in life, nor for how long. Check out the Free the Dream Conference this September (2019). Might be something you need to do.

 

In this episode you will learn

  • A workable definition of “success.”
  • How fear of success can be as debilitating as the fear of failure
  • Why Christians need to let go of certain prejudices against financial prosperity (hint: working toward more lucrative career goals is not “the prosperity Gospel”)
  • Where invisible scripts come from and how to spot and rewrite them
  • Stories of mistakes, missteps, and errors in Cliff’s own life and job history
  • How to operate with greater focus and clarity
  • Details of the Free the Dream Conference

 

Resources mentioned in this episode

 

Join the Conversation!

Food for Thought:

Are you willing to start with small steps toward freeing YOUR dream?

 

 

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Bye Bye, Stranger Things

Halfway through season two of the Netflix hit series Stranger Things, I made the decision to stop watching. Owing to monstrous laziness, I kept putting off writing down the reasons why I stopped. This month, I dumped Netflix altogether.

You could say scuttling Stranger Things was of a piece with nixing Netflix (a lovely idea that still makes me smile).

I had heard about this new binge-watch phenom from ads and friends. Sure enough, I was hooked from the pilot episode. North Carolina twin brothers Matt and Ross Duffer had pitched the show idea to Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen, who now serve as its executive producers. Kudos to them for crafting a riveting first season. Among the reasons why the show has grown itself a cult following in the tradition of Making a Murderer (2015) are:

Pitch-Perfect Symbols for the Target Demo

Stranger Things is a visual homage to classic 1970s and 1980s music, set design, and costumes, evoking The ’Burbs According To Spielberg. Even the font of the opening title captures the gauzy ’80s look.

You have assorted dialogue references to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Aliens, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Mad Max, Gremlins, and Stand By Me. You have teen boys getting chased on bikes by the authorities (ET anyone?) and even a girl with something preternaturally wrong with her (hello, Poltergeist and The Exorcist). The four main BFFs (Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, and Noah Schnapp) dress up for Halloween as everyone’s favorite slime-slayers (who ya gonna call?). And what is Chief Hooper but a damaged Chief Brody (Jaws) protecting the town from the sharklike Demogorgon?

If all this seems a tad pre-programmed, that’s because it is. To a certain degree. Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, openly admits using algorithms to predict which programs viewers will want to watch prior to producing them. Stranger Things—original working title, The Montauk Project—is Exhibit A of this strategy.

Skilled Writing

The interlacing stories are taut, the dialogue mostly nails the teenage argot of the era, and the production designers work hard to create a consistently creepy Hitchcockian atmosphere. And you get a “What The Hell?” cliffhanger at the end of each episode.

The Upside Down parallel dimension trope is itself the antagonist. The best stories in the horror genre often incorporate some special “other” world where angels and demons battle it out—except that, in The Upside Down, there are no angels.

There are only demons. Indeed, the fictional landscape of Hawkins, IN, is everywhere hellish and nowhere heavenly. Curiously, despite most of the characters being afraid most of the time due to the constant menace of scary “strange things” and the backdrop of a corrupt government bent on mind control, no one prays. The God question never comes up. (Jesus comes up, but only as a swear word; I’ll get to that later.) Hovering near the brave and good-hearted young teens are the chain-smoking divorcées, narcissists, and ne’er-do-well adults. The whole show feels like an ode to brokenness.

Naturally (it’s Netflix, folks!) the creators’ tip their political mitt by depicting the only prominent married couple as unhappily married Republicans—the grim-faced parents of Nancy Wheeler. The Ronald Reagan election sign-sporting dad, Ted Wheeler, assures the evil government agents that he will cooperate. “We’re patriots,” intones the useful conservative idiot.

Casting Magic

There are two batches of characters—kids and adults—and the casting choices hook both audience segments. It’s brilliant. The grown-up actors play off Gen X nostalgia, with the casting of ’80s fixtures Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Memphis Belle, Vision Quest), Winona Ryder (Heathers, Mermaids, Edward Scissorhands), Sean Astin (Rudy, Lord of the Rings, The Goonies), and Paul Reiser (Aliens, Mad About You, Diner). The spritely cast of mostly unknown child actors excel at expressing a mixture of horror and fascination as they discover the spooky government lab at the edge of Hawkins, find the locations of the portals to The Upside Down netherworld, and navigate the conflicts that arise in their friendships.

So why did I stop watching?

First, there’s the blasphemy. For a horror series in which no one prays for help, the name of Jesus Christ is uttered in just about every episode, more and more with each season. Seeing children made to say “Jesus”—casually, sometimes angrily, and often—is bothersome.

While it’s no big act of spiritual courage, I’ve made a habit of making the sign of the cross whenever I hear the Lord’s name taken in vain (in public, in movies, and on TV). It’s just a little discrete act of reparation. Watching Stranger Things started to give me a right arm workout.

If you’re a fan of the show and you think I’m exaggerating, get a pen and paper and jot down how often the name of Jesus is spat out with nonchalant contempt by young teens. Why do the Duffers, Levy, and Cohen make their young employees swear like this? I was a teenager in the early ’80s, went to public school, and had few Catholic friends. We weren’t angels, but no one took the Lord’s name in vain as everyone seems to on Stranger Things.

It’s all too easy to desensitize oneself to hearing the “only name under heaven by which men can be saved” (Acts 4:12) used by kids as a swear word. The frog in the boiling water metaphor is accurate morally if not scientifically. As Peter Kreeft points out in Jesus Shock, the name of Jesus evokes only awe or disgust. There’s no neutral use of the Name by which demons are expelled (Mark 5) and cripples walk (Acts 3:1-10) and through which we are saved (John 20:31).

Second, I started to hear and read accounts of the on-set working environment. The Brothers Duffer told actress Sadie (“Max”) Sink, who was 15 years old at the time, that she had to kiss actor Caleb (“Lucas”) McLaughlin, a detail left out of the script they had memorized.

The meticulously unkempt bosses then had the gall to “jokingly” blame the child for the brouhaha over a kiss that had to be repeated multiple times before they got the desired take. Neither youth was happy about it, as this cringey clip shows. Miss Sink can blushingly say it “didn’t really bother” her all she wants. The fact is, a minor—you know, a child—was pressured into a very public kiss by her adult (and childless) millennial employers.

Neither teen had ever kissed anyone before.

I’m sorry, but theft of innocence is child abuse.

There have been other allegations that the Duffers created a toxic environment for adult women as well. Peyton Brown, a grip for the show, told Instagram she wouldn’t be back for Season 3 of “Stranger Things” because the twin creators “sought out and verbally abused multiple women,” a charge the Duffers first denied and later apologized for.

This phenomenon doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Comparatively speaking, Stranger Things is neither unique nor extreme. As Amy Berg’s brave documentary Open Secret shows, Hollywood has a history of sexual predation on minors.

Take TV’s Growing Pains, for example. You may have forgotten that Leonardo DiCaprio was on this adults-and-children ’80s sitcom. And you may not have known that a young Leo was surrounded by pedophiles such as convicted sex offender Brian Peck, seen here being creepily handsy with him.

That clip was filmed on the set in 1991, the same year of Peck’s offences. He still works with underage actors to this day. And it wasn’t just Peck. Growing Pains Executive Producer Steven Marshall was also jailed for engaging in pedophilic chat conversations that “detailed child abduction, bondage, rape, and murder.”

Side note: Open Secret was ignored by Hollywood, whereas Amy Berg’s documentary Deliver Us From Evil (2006) about Irish-born priest predator Oliver O’Grady was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

And, no, I’m not equating Growing Pains with Stranger Things. I’m saying they differ in degree, not in kind. A more recent example: the showrunners of HBO’s new drug-addled teen drama Euphoria felt the need to include the rape of a trans person, a teen sex scene involving choking, and dozens of penises in a locker room—all of which induced actor Brian (“Astro”) Bradley, 22, to quit after the pilot. We can’t blame you, Astro.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say the creators of Stranger Things unconsciously crafted an allegory of how the entertainment industry treats most vulnerable players. Millie Bobby (“Eleven”) Brown, the young girl subjected to torturous experiments, stands for the industry’s victims. Her perpetrator, “Papa” (Modine), who runs the Hawkins Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, stands for the abusers exposed in Amy Berg’s documentary (and bravely attested to by former child star Corey Feldman). All of which makes Papa a predator, Eleven the prey, and the sneaky government Hollywood itself, a.k.a. America’s Department of Entertainment.

According to 16-year-old Gaten (“Dustin”) Matarazzo, Season 3 will be yet more violent. “It’s definitely gorier,” he gushed to Metro.co.uk,“which is pretty cool.”

Netflix just announced a new show, Prank Encounters, hosted and “executive produced” by little Gaten. The premise of this gem? To lure earnest job seekers into extended Candid Camera-style pranks, which the ad copy promises are “terrifying and hilarious.” Real-life job seekers. Hilarious, wot?

Stay classy, Netflix.

Finally, wouldn’t you know it, Stranger Things is filmed outside Atlanta—as in, Georgia, the very state Netflix announced it will be fighting with the help of the ACLU over the pro-life “heartbeat” laws set to take effect January 1, 2020.

I wish I had a better answer to my own question, “Why didn’t I stop funding these people earlier?”

Viewers need to make their own minds up, but this one thinks Stranger Things is a fat chocolate cake held together by a thin layer of strychnine.

I’ll pass.

Oh, and watch for the Will Byers character to Come Out As Gay [™] at some point. You can see that coming a mile away.

 

This article was first published at Crisis Magazine

7 Reasons for Hope

Defending Celibacy-again!

YES—seven reasons for hope! How easy it is to dwell on the imperfections, the corruption, even the crimes committed by some people in the Church (PS, it’s not just priests and bishops).

I know how hypnotic bad news can be. It’s human nature to slow down for that car crash, to go to the circus because maybe the trapeze artist might slip. Whatever it is. It’s part of our fallenness to wallow in what’s wrong instead of remembering what’s right.

So here are seven reasons why Catholics should be HOPEFUL.
And no matter what happens, God is in control, in grace we fall upward, and God is closer to us than we are to ourselves, said St. Augustine.

 

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#136: Hope For Canadian Politics—Tanya Granic Allen

#136: Hope For Canadian Politics—Tanya Granic Allen

 

Most Americans (and many Canadians!) tend to view the political climate in Canada as hopeless, being run indirectly by LGBT activists, leftist public officials, neo-Marxist advisors, and most of it aided and abetted by a very liberal media establishment.

Even if this hyperbole were true, there are some people with conservative principles willing to step into the breach and run for office. My guest this week is one of them. Tanya Granic Allen is a wife, mother, professional communicator, parental rights advocate—and a practicing Catholic.

In 2018, despite rising popularity among Ontario voters, she was removed (illegally?) by Premier Doug Ford as a candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership. That’s a longer side-bar story, but in this interview, she talks about “social conservative” values and how they shape voters’ decisions as much as economic or other factors. Her presidency of PAFE (Parents As First Educators) put pro-family, anti-sex education concerns in the public’s mind, which is a rare set of priorities in a Canadian politician. (Even privately pro-life ones are generally chicken to talk about it.)

But this unabashedly pro-life Catholic leader is a sign of great hope for a country under the spell of rabid secularism for too long.

 

In this episode you will learn

  • The explicitly Christian roots of Canada, as seen in Coats of Arms, and the founding documents of the country
  • How Quebec is a sign of what happens when faith is taken for granted, and then widely rejected in favor of worship of the state, er province
  • Why parents’ rights have now taken a front-and-center place in the public debate over the future
  • Why the Church calls Catholics to enter public service as elected officers 
  • How you can recognize politics as a dirty game, yet not adopt its corrupt assumptions and traditions
  • Why Tanya Granic Allen sees signs of great hope for the future of Canada, with Muslims, Christians, and unbelievers holding to the same basic ideals for an open and democratic Canada

 

Resources mentioned in this episode

 

Join the Conversation!

Food for Thought:

Have you (yes, YOU) ever thought about running for a public office, even on a small scale, like school board, local civic organization? If not, why not?

 

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The God part of “God bless America”

The God part of “God bless America”

The founding fathers of America never in a million years dreamed that the country they began with great difficulty as a religious and moral nation would end up looking like an ad for atheism. In this video, I lay out example after example of how faith and reason are both respected by the foundational documents of the USA, and provide a compilation you’ve probably never seen before of references to divine providence, the redeemer, and the grace of almighty God in presidential inauguration speeches.

So much for the strict “separation of Church and state” notion referred to by the new President Jefferson in a non-officially binding letter to a Baptist group in 1801.

 

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Drop in Birth Rate, Rise of the “Nones”

Drop in Birth Rate, Rise of the “Nones”

In this video, I review a stunning new NBC/Wall Street Journal survey about birth rates and the exodus OUT of churches. There is a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll on religious attendance and the birth rate — and it is not good news. Jerry Seib has a recent article on it.

Turns out, more and more Americans are becoming nones!

Nones.

Not nuns.

The rise in churchlessness is most dramatic among the ones David Bowie sang about….young Americans.

Among those aged 18 to 34, the rate saying they never attend religious services previously was no different from the oldsters across the nation…..Now the share of these young American “nones” has more than doubled, to 36%.

Crazy truth: America’s plummeting birth rate is catching up with Russia, Germany, and Japan.

Births in the U.S. have fallen in 10 of the past 11 years. The birth rate angled downward during the recession that began in 2007, and has never levelled off, and is not expected to.

We have a population problem. It’s called a population implosion.

The REAL First Commandment:

Gen 1:28

Gen 9:1

Gen 35:11

The book that explains all this:

The Contraception Deception: Catholic Teaching On Birth Control

The simple solution: STOP having sterilized sex, and START making disciples.

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#135: The Savage Satire of The Babylon Bee—Kyle Mann

#135: The Savage Satire of The Babylon Bee—Kyle Mann

 

The news satire site The Babylon Bee has run into a problem: the crazy world has become harder and harder to satirize. Aimed primarily (at least originally) at evangelical readers, “the Bee” has amassed a much larger audience including many Catholics who also enjoy Eye of the Tiber. 

A few headline examples: 

Christian Extremists Hit Downtown London; Dozens Of Tracts Passed Out

Sheltered Atheist Kid Not Allowed To Watch ‘VeggieTales’

Christian Rushes To Get HIV Test After Brief Eye Contact With Gay Person

Out-Of-Touch Youth Pastor Still Saying ‘WASSSSUUUUUP!?!?!’

Planned Parenthood Defends Bill Cosby: ‘Sexual Assault Is Only 3% Of What He Does’

But as editor-in-chief Kyle Mann (this week’s guest) points out, there’s always a nugget of truth beneath the crust of comedy. Satire serves more than one purpose. Poking fun of Christian foibles and “worst practices” is not only fun, it reflects a certain confident humility. And it may even plants seeds of faith. Enjoy—and hey, lighten up!

 

In this episode you will learn

  • How Kyle came to his commitment to Christ
  • The origins of The Babylon Bee idea
  • Why so few Christians appreciate self-critical humor
  • Why satire is so hard to pull off today
  • How the Bee editors decide what “going too far” means
  • Possibilities of increased interfaith understanding based on what Protestants and Catholics both find hilarious
  • Why comedy is “divine”
  • How the best comedy draws close to reality but spins it into a manageable off-beat direction

 

Resources mentioned in this episode

 

Join the Conversation!

Food for Thought:

How can laughing at the cultural craziness (most of it anyway) be good for your mental health?

 

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons below and subscribe to the podcast. Would love to hear your comments.

 


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