Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Alan Watts describes Jesus as a "freak"


Today I have a bit of a treat for those who say that I should spend more time reading the Bible.

Most of you will be familiar with the late Alan Watts, a philosopher, author and theologian who achieved fame interpreting eastern religions for Western audiences in the 1950's and 60's. I highly recommend Watts' Way of Zen to anyone who is unfamiliar with his work. In any event, Watts had an impressive command of the Bible and Christian ideology which is displayed in a series of his lectures which are now available as free podcasts on iTunes. The following is a transcript of my favorite broadcast thus far (entitled "Jesus and His Religion #3). If anyone can place a date and location of the lecture, I would be grateful:

So let's suppose then that Jesus had such an experience [one which suggested to him that he was the Son of God] ... but you see Jesus has a limitation that he doesn't know of any religion other than those of the immediate near east. He might know something about Egyptian religion, a little bit maybe about Greek religion ... but mostly about Hebrew. There is no evidence whatsoever that he knew anything about India or China. And we .. people who think .. you know .. that Jesus was God assume that he must have known becuase he would have been omniscient. No ... St. Paul makes it perfectly clear in the Epistle to the Phillipians that Jesus renounced his divine powers so as to be man: "That this mind be anew which was also in Christ Jesus who being in the form of God thought not equality with God a thing to be hung onto but humbled himself and made himself of no reputation and was found in fashion as a man and became obedient to death." Theologians call that kinosis which means self-emptying. So obviously an omnipotent and omniscient man would not really be a man. So even if you take the very orthodox Catholic doctrine of the nature of Christ, that he was both true God and true man, you must say that for true God to be united with true man, true God has to make a voluntary renunciation for the time being of omniscience and omnipotence ... and omnipresence for that matter. Now therefore if Jesus were to come right out and say I am the son of God, that's like saying I'm the boss' son, or I am the boss and everybody immediately says that is blasphemy - that is subversion, that is trying to introduce democracy into the kingdom of heaven. That is .. you are a usurper of the throne. No man has seen God. Now Jesus in his exoteric teaching as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels was pretty cagey about this ... he didn't come right out there and say I and the Father are one. Instead he identified himself with the Messiah described in the second part of the Prophet Isaiah - the suffering servant who was despised and rejected of men. And this man is the non-political Messiah in other words. It was convenient to make that identification even though it would get him into trouble. But to his select disciples as recorded in St. John he came right out and said "Before Abraham was, I am. I am the way, the truth and the life. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the living bread that comes down from heaven. I and the Father are one and he who has seen me has seen the Father." And there can be no mistaking that language.

So the Jews found out and they put him to death or had him put to death for blasphemy. This is no cause for special antagonism to the Jews. We would do exactly the same thing. It's always done. It happened to one of the great Sufi mystics in Persia who had the same experience. Now what happened? The apostles didn't quite get the point. They were awed by the miracles of Jesus. They worshipped him as people do worship gurus ... and it's ... you know to what lengths that can go if you've been around guru-land. And so the Christians said: Okay, okay, Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God but let it stop right there ... nobody else. So what happened was is that Jesus was pedestalized ... he was put in a position that was safely upstairs so that his troublesome experience of cosmic consciousness would not come and cause other people to be a nuisance. And those who have had this experience and expressed it during those times when the Church had political power were almost invariably persecuted. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake, John Scotus was excommunicated, [sic] Meister Eckhardt's theses were condemned and so on and so on. A few mystics got away with it because they used cautious language. But you see what happens ... if you pedestalize Jesus, you strangle the gospel at birth and it has been the tradition of both the Catholic Church and in Protestantism to pass off what I will call an emasculated gospel. Gospel means good news and I cannot for the life of me think what is the good news of the gospel as ordinarily handed down. Because look here .. here is the revelation of God in Christ ... in Jesus ... and we are supposed to follow his life and example without having the unqiue advantage of being the boss' son. Now the tradition, both Catholic and Protestant fundamentalist represents Jesus to us as a freak - born of a virgin, knowing he is the son of God, having the power of miracles, knowing that basically it's impossible to kill him, that he's going to rise again in the end. And we are asked to take up our cross and follow him when we don't know that about ourselves at all. So what happens is this: we are delivered therefore a Gospel which is in fact an impossible religion. It's impossible to follow the way of Christ .. alright ... many a Christian has admitted it. I am a miserable sinner, I fall far short of the example of Christ .. but do you realize the more you say that the better you are because what happened was that Christianity insitutionalized guilt as a virtue. [applause] You see you can never come up here ... never ... and therefore you will always be aware of your shortcomings and so the more shortcomings you feel the more in other words you are aware of the vast abyss between Christ and yourself. [interruption by a member of the audience who suggests that Watts is setting up a strawman and "trying to shoot down" the Church] You will have your opportunity to speak in the Question Period madam. So ... you go to confession .. and if you have a nice dear understanding confessor, he won't get angry with you, he'll say my child, you know you've sinned very grievously but you must realize that the love of God and our Lord is infinite and that naturally you're forgiven ... as a token of thanksgiving say three Hail Marys ... and you know, you've commited a murder and robbed a bank and fornicated around and so on ... and the priest is perfectly patient and quiet. Well you feel awful ... I have done that? To the love of God I have wounded Jesus, grieved the Holy Spirit and so on. But you know in the back of your mind that you're going to do it all over again ... you won't be able to help yourself ... you'll try but there's always a greater and greater sense of guilt. Now the lady objected that I was putting up a straw man and knocking it down - this is the Christianity of most people. Now there is a much more subtle Christinity of the theologians, the mystics and the philosophers but it's not what gets preached from the pulpit, grant you. But the message of Billy Graham is approximately what I have given you and of all .. what I will call fundamentalist ... forms of Catholicism and Protestantism. What would the real gospel be? ... the real good news is not simply that Jesus of Nazareth was the son of God but that he was a powerful son of God who came to open everybody's eyes to the fact that you are too. And this is perfectly plain ... if you will go to the tenth chapter of St. John, verse 30, there is the passage where Jesus says I and the father are one. There are people who are not intimate disciples around and they are horrifed and they immediately pick up stones to stone him. He says many good works I have shown you from the father and for which of these do you stone me? And they said for a good work we stone you not but for blasphemy because you being a man make yourself God. And he replied: isn't it written in your law I have said you are Gods? He's quoting the 82nd Psalm - is it not written in your law I have said you are Gods? If God called them those to whom he gave his word Gods and you can't deny the scriptures, how can you say I blaspheme because I said I am a Son of God? Well there's the whole thing in a nutshell ... because if you read the King James Bible that descended with the angel, you will see in italics in front of these words Son of God, the Son of God, because I said I am the Son of God and most people think the italics are for emphasis ... they're not ... the italics indicate words interpolated by the translators .. you will not find that in the Greek ... the Greek says a Son of God. [my emphasis]

21 comments:

  1. Title of this blog entry is a total nonsense and slander. You don't seam to understand the text you presented. What Watts says is that the church has misinterpreted the teachings and made a freak out of Jesus. Quite a leap to "Alan Watts describes Jesus as a "freak"".

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    1. Tottally agree with you!

      I smile everytime i read or hear Alan Watts words. He is so right on the point

      Blessnings from Sweden =)

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  2. PEACE AND GRACE TO YOU . FIRST OFF LET ME TELL YOU THAT JESUS DID GRANT US THE OPIRTUNITY TO
    BE THE SONS OF GOD HOWEVER JESUS HIMSELF SHARES
    A MORE INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FATHER.JESUS CHRIST LIVED A SINLESS. LIFE WE DIDN'T. AND THE BIBLE STATES THAT ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALLEN SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD. THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE MY LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS
    CHRIST BECAUSE HE IS ETERNAL. HE LIVED WITH GOD AND HE WAS WITH GOD FROM THE VERY BEGINNING

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  3. Since he is god he can't sin and there for he is the son of God. second of all alot of christians go about trying to convinece atheists to believe in God. I am not against it because Jesus Christ my savior said that we must save souls. However few realize that the existance of God cannot be proven.Acoording to John4:23,24.Which states that God is a spirit

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  4. and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in the truth. God is a spirit and you can not see a spirit. Nor can someone point to you and say oh this was an act of God or something because God works in ways we cannot comprehend. Also to belive in God you
    must first believe that he is. You must have faith.It is impossble to please God with out faith.The problem with most christians is that they. lack the faith. They want the blesssing with out the faith.To be a christian and it's not enough to just be christian because the devil knows and believs God. You must have the HolyGHOST AND FIRE TO GET TO HEAVEN. WITH OUT HOLINESS NO MAN SHALL SEE GOD.YOU CAN BE A CHRISTIAN AND STILL GO TO HELL BECAUSE YOU DO NOT HAVE HIS SPIRIT IN YOU. THAT'S WHY AN ATHEIST WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND GOD. YES THEY PROBABLY HAVE READ THE BIBILE BUT THEY DO NOT HAVE GOD'S SPIRIT IN THEM WHY BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE THE HOLY GHOST.THE HOLY GHOST IS A TEACHER AND A GUIDE.AND IT IS UP TO U TO LISTEN TO HIM.ALSO THE GOSPEL OF JESUS IS NOT A BIOGRAPHY OF HIS LIFE BUT IT IS HIS LIFE.BECAUSE HELIVED HIS LIFE RIGHT. THAT IS PREACHIN THE GOSPEL. IT IS NOT NECESSARILY TALKING VERBALY. BECAUSE THE DEVIL CAN PREACH WITH HIS TOUNGE TO. BUT IT IS WHEN YOU OBEY THE LORDS COMMANDMENTS THAT YOU ARE PREACHING THE GOSPEL.

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  5. Well guess wat the church is the body of christ. The churhc is God's true body.only those who have the holy ghost and fire are apart of the church.These other souls are there
    to try to destroy the church. these are the ones who who misinterpet the bible. God's church is already fixed. These are the one's who will regin with God in the beauty of holiness.

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  6. jordan, please go take your medication.

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  7. God bless you. But i do not have to. I;m not saying anything slanderous or anything. so why should I take medicine because i voice my opinon. But that is wat people do when they are faced wuth God's word. They will either say it is not real or that God is fake or something. I'm not going to debate with any one
    if God is real. You either belive in him or you don't. But to beleive in him and understand him you must first have his spirit.
    Again peace and grace. If you donot want me writing to you again feel free to let me know. God bless you

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  8. jordan, thank-you for not being offended at my little sarcastic dig. You are welcome to post your comments following any article on this tite which you find of interest.

    I see that you quite fairly admit in one of your earlier posts that the existence of God cannot be proven. Of course, this begs the question of why you so fervently believe in him/her/it. I can't prove the existence of fairies or angels in my backyard which is why I don't believe in them. I am assuming that you are an atheist when it comes to Thor, Zeus and the thousands of other gods created by the human imagination over the past 100,000 years. I just go one god further than you in my disbelief.

    Based on your posts, I take it that you place considerable reliance on the Bible. If every Bible on the face of the earth disappeared today and we could erase everyone's memory and start afresh (my "clean slate" analogy), would you live your life any differently? If so, why? if not, why should anyone care about the Bible?

    Obviously, it is difficult for me to engage you in a debate without knowing your particular brand of religion. But regardless of your religion of choice, why is your brand right and the others wrong? I trust you appreciate that they can't all be right but they can certainly all be wrong. Think about that ... but then again many Bible thumpers believe that thinking about these things (i.e. applying reason) is the work of Satan. The don't like to think, they like to follow and that's why they refer to themselves as a flock.

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  9. Thank you. AND THERE ARE WAYS OF COMMUNICATING WITH PEOPLE WHETHER TALKING ABPOT gOD OR ANYTHING IN THAT NATURE AND NOT BE EVNVYOUES OR ANY THING. i do belive that the bible thumpers go to fAR AND THAT IS WHY I DON'T TAKE SIDES. yES I AM A FIRM BELIVER IN JESUS CHRIST AND HIS WORD HOWEVER I AM NOT GOING TTO BASH SOME ONE FOR NOT BELIEVIN THAT WOULD GO AGAINST WHAT THE LORD HAS TAUGHT ME.Also how many bibles have you read fiend. Yes theere are many knids of bibles but there is only one true bible which i beleive is the king james.Over the years there were many people have made claims and tried to make duplicates of something.There were false prophets yet there was only one TRUE PROPHET OF GOD AT ATIME.GOD USES ONE MAN ATA TIME NOT FOUR OR FIVE. GOD USES A MAN THAT USES MEN. BUT GOING BACK JUST LIKE THERE IS THE FALSE THERE IS THE TRUE. IF YOU HAVE READ JESUS CHRIST SAID THAT MANY WILL COME IN MY NAME SAYING THAT I AM THE CHRIST . THESE WERE FALSE MESSIAHS .AND JUST LIKE THEY USE FALSE MESSIAHS REST ASSURED THEY WILL TRY TO CHANGE AND DUPILACTE THE BIBLE.MOST OF WHICH ARE SO-CALLED CHRISTIANS IN THE FAITH. BUT THEY ARE ACTUALLY WOLVES IN SHEEP CLOTHING BECAUSE THE BIBLE IS GOD'S WORD WHICH MEN TRY TO CHANGE.I do however agree also that christians like tto follow. they would rather listen to the preacher and assume he is right rather than read God's HOLY WORDTHERE SELVES.AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH REASONING I AGREE WITH YOU. Because it took reason for Jesus to save man from sin. in which he did.Jesus came to save all men which he did. HOW EVER PEOPLE CHISE WHETHER TO STAY SAVED OR NOT. IT IS LIKE BEING IN A HOUSE AND THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE AND THE FIREMAN COMES TO SAVE. HE TELLS YOU NOT TO GO BACK IN BUT THERE IS ALWAYS THAT DUMB ONE WHO WILL GO BACK. THAT IS JUST LIKE WITH GOD. SOME SO CALLED CHRISITANS OF THE FAITH GO RIGHT BACK DOING THE SAME DOGGONE THIGN AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN SAVED. LIKE I SAID I DONOT TAKE SIDES . I KNOW JESUS AND BELLIEVE IN GOD HOWEVER I RESPECT THOSE WHO DON'T. YES I BELIEVE ON CHRISTIANITY BUT THAT IS NOT THE WAY TO CHRISTJESUS IT IS HAVING HIS SPIRIT.SO THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO POST AND TALK WITH YOU. I AM JUST A 16 YEAR OLD BOY WHO LIKES TO REASON

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  10. Peace and grace to you again quesion iknow you are an atheists but do you think that if jesus
    were to come back to this earth as he did before do you think that people would try to kill him again just something for you to think baout. the life he lived made the jewish authorites made to the point that they put him to death write back to me if you so desire

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  11. peace to you again i hope i am not being a pain.But to answer your quetsion as to why i firmly believe in God it is because i ahve his spirit. You cannot debate with me if i have his spirit or not because you cannot see God nor can anyone prove him with. science. It is not enough just to read the bible. you have to seek God's spirt.Being a christian doesnot garrantee you anything. nowhere in the scriptures does it state that you must bein a christian will get you into heaven. It is God's spirit. Spiritual things cannot be together with carnal things because it just doesn't.Again thank you for allowing me to to post to you. God bless you Alan Watts

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  12. I've listened to this and many other Lectures from Watts, and I have to say that the excerpt from the one presented here is the most subtlely overlooked yet profoundly obvious teaching of Jesus. It seems to contradict all that is taught to the West through the Christian churches. Therefore, it is obviously discarded by those who revert to the argument that Jesus led a sinless life (which is false) and that he was the son of God, not a son of God. The mistake here is that Christians tend to think that Jesus was conscious of himself before his birth, that he departed from God in order to be mortal (yet somehow remained "holy") and thus gave his life as an example for all to follow. If that is so, then why is it not also believed that we are all children of God, since Jesus (if he were one with God, and therefore ominscient) would not ask something of us that were fundamentally impossible? I highly doubt that Jesus is attempting to instill guilt in his followers, though sadly, this is how modern Christianity has interpreted it.

    Nice blog. Keep it up.

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  13. You are correct, sir. Jesus was a freak. And so am I. http://slimspickin.blogspot.com I love alan watts.

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  14. Good job on this blog. A very interesting read.

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  15. Big Watts fan. However, Commander, Catholics do believe that we are all children of God. As for why Christians don't believe in pagan gods, well, Christian and Hindu share a similar cosmogony. Brahman or the Christian God, "creator of heaven and earth," are without attribute, eternal, and transpersonal. The pantheon of Gods or Angels would be born of this God. Both are more transpolytheisitic than what is popularly held to be monotheistic. In our time, C. S. Lewis said that monotheism should be regarded not as the opposite but as the maturity of polytheism. This holds true for an evolutionary trend that can be observed in Indian, Mesopotamian, Greek and Egyptian religions. Christians who are plagued with guilt are not following Christ's example, but, are rather, subject to the "Great Suck of Self," said Walker Percy. Self-awareness and humility require that we take full responsibility for our sinfulness. Christ, being born sinless, satisfied Divine Justice, through his kenotic love, that is suffering for man's deliverance. A complete exposition of these ideas, such as divine justice, as well as a disposition toward connatural good and concupiscience, are outlined in the Summa Theologica. Due to concupiscience we are not liable for what we do not know to be sin. Additionally, we are not to be hung up on sin. Christ, being the paragon of holiness, certainly wasn't, nor we're any of the saints or mystics from any religion. They were almost spiritually, and materially ambitionless. However, the goal of every religious person is either enlightenment or "Beatific Vision" in Western Christianity. Beatific vision is VERY ATTAINABLE. It is fundamentally possible. It is the aligning of your will, by your choice, with that of God's. Thomas Aquinas defined the beatific vision as the ultimate end of human existence after physical death.[3] Aquinas's formulation of beholding God in Heaven parallels Plato's description of one beholding the Good in the world of knowledge. In Eastern belief and in Orthodox Catholicism, people can become like God, before the afterlife. So, slightly, the ontology is less developed. So, in essence, what I am denying you, and Watts, I suppose, is that Christ as coeternal with God, or born fully god and man, is somehow tragic, or a stumbling block for Christians. Although, I believe that the religion has lost some of it's original emphasis, the case is certainly not hopeless. If this were so there wouldn't be any saints. Also, the bible is not the end all be all by any means, the Church, holds that they are guided by the 'Holy Spirit' which means that there is some sort of intuitive, gnostic movement wherein the Church's theology evolves, even after the bible. Have you read the sci-fi series by C.S. Lewis? I suppose that you all just have some mythology, philosophy, and theology to catch up on...

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  16. Wow, how did I stumble into this post? Listening to an Alan Watts podcast. I liked his "Wisdom of Insecurity " book..but that is about where it ends. I got the message and hung up the phone, but he is good brain training, as is Hawkins Dissolving the Ego, Realizing Self. They even try to Look like Jesus..how remarkable..or is it? They do not even know where they are coming from and seem to filled with ego in and off themselves. There is the difference. Jesus had it all, he can't be copied, mimicked..etc. These guys did their homework, and are playing mainly to the doubtful 'unbelievers' or weak in faith. Be real..Jesus was Thee Wisdom Master..Tao has good points. Even that master rode an OX...and jesus rode what, an Ass near his final days..conquers of beasts (or tamed them). Ox and Ass Mild, in a manager he laid at birth. The thing about the Tao and teachings, then were common men, died common deaths..The were a wise and factual..but were not a means to an ends... They are in the bubble , granted a very cool one and lead the road to "Enlightenment"..Consciousness..etc...yet Jesus never had to use these words at all..those are all New Age..that sucks people in. He said it simiply, "The fox goes into the hole, the bird to the nest, but I have no place to rest my head"...get it? If not. read up..it's really awesome. He was the Master of Spiritual Hand Grenades that said that no one has to play 'the victim role' for one thing..another was..no other could meet another considered 'the enemy or untouchable'..and a few could 'See' with eyes that See..and ears that can Hear what he was..goes beyond comprehension, consider some did and had not a clue of who he claimed to be..he did not even have to say it to anyone..the people said it.not He..only on a rare ocassion..right up to death..he was in a 20 20 between man and father ...the turning point..as is for us all..when it comes to be Enlightened..only his turning point was the death of his humanness..for us..it is a paradigm shift in conscious awareness..and depletion of Ego. That is what this stuff is all about..these guys writing about...and what Did Jesus say.. "I have no place to rest my head"...Boom...in one sentence.

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  17. Oh hey, if you really want to read something to play with your head..try "A Course in Miracles" and wake up to Thee Reality these guys are trying to write about. I do not think I've seen these guys perform any 'Miracles' other than through The Source as Hawkins rights about, that being God. Or one can try reading David Hawkins..or look up some of his quotes. Funny, both men ended up looking similar in appearance as far as hair growth, and beard (what not)..and both look a bit like drawings of Jesus..although we do not know exactly what He looked like. Renderings are rendering. Da Vinci had it wrong in his painting of hte last supper..they were not in chairs. Jesus was also the only master who served by serving others relentlessly..his mission was to serve and to teach that we receive by forgiving and giving. Both with others and ourselves. Judge not, lest ye be judged...so am I judging these guys, Yes..in comparison to The One. Am I religious? Not in 'we' or 'most' think of it. Define religion without doctrine or rules and what is left as He taught? Love...the greatest danger is fear, the greatest and most dangerous fear is of Love. What is Love? We see the results of it..and can feel it (if one truly does)..but what is its substance?..It cannot be explained no matter how one twists it around.

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  18. Here is the awesomeness of Jesus Christ:He is the only God who is opposed on this site!!! That's because He is the Only true God!! He IS the way, the truth, and the life!! Thank you, Mr. Watts, et.al. for brining this to light.

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  19. My son just introduced me to Alan Watts thru a you tube. He is very interesting, as is your website. We are really all pilgrims in this quest to understand our lives and who or what created us and the world around us. We really do need to humble ourselves and be open to listen to each other with sincerity. What if one of us has a truth that we can all benefit from? how will we receive it if we each think we alone know the way and won't listen to the other? Wouldn't the one who created us and everything of nature know the TRUTH best since this one was in the beginning before all of us came into being? and wouldn't it behoove us all to help each other learn what we understand? Really all that each of us understand up to this point in time has been handed down to us since we each come into this world not knowing anything but the beauty of love and the world around us, and for many of us not always even that. I appreciate your website. And Alan Watts thots. We should all give each other respect. Because we just might need to listen what the other person is saying. This may be the very TRUTH that was meant for us to hear. And it is interesting that Alan Watts said that a loving God would not hand down something to help us know the truth in this world as this would warp our brains from not trying to figure it out ourselves. that is an amazing statement because Alan himself is speaking to many people with hopes to help them... if he being a man would like to help others in this way, wouldn't that type of love have been found in God first?
    Well, that is why i think your website and many others like it is good. but only good if we help each other and respect each other... because what we need, what we are really looking for may just come from someone who is trying to tell help.
    Take care!

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