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Online classes

Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

RELI 101: Religion And Human Experience

Course Description

Provides an objective setting to encourage students to examine religion and various religious traditions in the world, with opportunities to understand religion in the context of their own experiences. Course meets multicultural graduation requirement.

Prerequisite: None

Proctored Exams: Final



Syllabus Contents

Textbooks

Required

  • Catoir, John. World Religions: Beliefs Behind Today’s Headlines. 4th. Alba House Books, 2004.
    • ISBN-978-0-8189-0640-4
  • Smith, Huston. Why Religion Matters. HarperSan Francisco, 2001.
    • ISBN-978-0-06-067102-0

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.


Course Overview

Welcome to Religion and Human Experience online! This is an introductory course designed to help students understand the role of religion in human experience. It will provide an objective setting to encourage students to critically examine religion and various religious traditions in the world and provide them opportunities to place that understanding in the context of their own experience. While there will be opportunities for individuals to express their own religious beliefs and values, it should be clear that the purpose of this course is not to promote any particular religious belief or value system. Therefore, all views must be respected and given opportunity for expression throughout the session.

Each week, we will explore the basics of the major world religions and discuss the various topics generated by the study of religion. Remember, this is not an “opinion” course. A careful study of other religions may illume your faith life, but we will expect students to be able to understand, comprehend, analyze and compare various religious traditions.


Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.


Course Objectives

  • To understand the various ways of defining religion and the implications of each
  • To develop insight into the development of religion in personality and in social groups and societies
  • To be acquainted with characteristics of several of the major religions of the world by studying some of their beliefs and practices
  • To think critically about the connection between religion and culture and between religion and self-understanding

Measurable Learning Outcomes

  • Analyze possible definitions of “Religion”
  • Provide a personal definition of religion that is defensible
  • Analyze implications of definition of religion on existing social practices
  • Explore aspects of religion and the socio-cultural context in which they exist
  • Express in writing the various aspects of major world religions and the connection between religion, culture and self-understanding

Grading

Grading Scale
Grade Points Percent
A 360-400 90-100%
B 320-359 80-89%
C 280-319 70-79%
D 240-279 60-69%
F 0-239 0-59%
Grade Weights
Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (16) 80 20%
Dropbox Assignments (3) 60 15%
Research Quizzes (4) 60 15%
Midterm Exam (1) 100 25%
Final Exam (1) 100 25%
Total 400 100%


Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1
Assignment Points Due
Discussion Topic 1 5 Wednesday
Discussion Topic 2 5 Sunday
Research Quiz 1 (Dictionary) 15
Week 2
Assignment Points Due
Discussion Topic 3 5 Wednesday
Discussion Topic 4 5 Sunday
Research Quiz 2 (Ancient Egypt) 15
Proctor Information N/A
Week 3
Assignment Points Due
Discussion Topic 5 5 Wednesday
Discussion Topic 6 5 Sunday
Dropbox Assignment 1 20
Week 4
Assignment Points Due
Discussion Topic 7 5 Wednesday
Research Quiz 3 (Christianity) 15
Discussion Topic 8 5 Sunday
Midterm 100
Week 5
Assignment Points Due
Discussion Topic 9 5 Wednesday
Discussion Topic 10 5 Sunday
Research Quiz 4 (Islamic Readings) 15
Week 6
Assignment Points Due
Discussion Topic 11 5 Wednesday
Discussion Topic 12 5 Sunday
Dropbox Assignment 2 20
Week 7
Assignment Points Due
Discussion Topic 13 5 Wednesday
Discussion Topic 14 5 Sunday
Dropbox Assignment 3 20
Week 8
Assignment Points Due
Discussion Topic 15 5 Wednesday
Discussion Topic 16 5 Saturday
Final Exam 100
Total Points 400

Assignment Overview

Readings and Class Activities

Text and Website readings should be completed prior to submitting assignments or taking quizzes for the week.  Because of the nature of this course you are responsible for learning the material from the textbook. I am certainly available to clarify any of the material and a discussion area will be available to facilitate that, but you must take responsibility for reading and learning the material. This is the primary material used to compose the examinations.

Discussions

Discussions should be complete by Wednesday and Sunday (save for Discussion 16, due Saturday) of each assigned week, and responses to at least two classmates for each topic, should be posted by each due date. Discussions should be posted to the appropriate topic in the Discussions area of the course. They will be graded according to this Discussion grading criteria: Your discussion posts should be substantive contributions to each topic, including responses to at least two other students. For clarity, you need at least three posts per discussion (original post and two follow ups).You are not allowed to post discussions after the weekly deadline has passed. Multiple postings made at approximately the same time of day will count as 1 post. In the past, some students have posted three times in the hour prior to the deadline, which defeats the purpose of trying to get students to engage in a “conversation” throughout the week.

Research Quizzes

There will be 4 Research Quizzes. After reading several works available in the Content area, as well as the chapters from Catoir, Smith, and other resources, you will have quizzes on the research materials.  These quizzes will test your mastery of the material. The questions are True and False, Multiple Choice and Ordering Questions (Put in Correct Order). You will have thirty minutes to complete each quiz.  Quizzes can be accessed in the Quizzes area of the course.  The Quizzes will be available only during the assigned time period in the week it is due. They are “open book.” Be sure to “save” after every question answered, while taking the Quizzes.

Dropbox Assignments

Dropbox Assignments are to be submitted to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course.  They should be in Word (.doc, .docx) or Rich Text (.rtf) format.  Dropbox assignments should use proper grammar and correct spelling.  Each Dropbox Assignment is worth 20 points.

Exams

There will be a Midterm Exam and a Final Exam, each worth 100 points. Each exam will consist of 100 objective questions (multiple choice, true/false and ordering questions).  Exams will be taken through the Quizzes area of the course. Each will become available on Wednesday of the assigned week. The Midterm Exam will be due midnight Sunday of Week 4 and it is not proctored.  Simply take the Midterm Exam in the Quizzes area of the course, during the time it is available to you in Week 4.  The Final Exam will be due midnight Saturday of Week 8. The Final exam is proctored, comprehensive (all materials from the entire session), closed book and closed note. You are responsible for arranging an acceptable proctor. Please see Proctor Policy below.


Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Week 1: Introduction to Religious Studies
Readings
Catoir: Introduction to Catoir
Smith:  Chapter 15
Class Activities
Please take the Plagiarism Tutorial listed in the Content area before beginning class.

Using any dictionary, define the following words: Theology, Theodicy, Theomachy, Theomorphism, Theophany, Religion. After reading Catoir and Smith, define: Atheism, Polytheism, Monotheism, and Mysticism.
Discussion Topic 1
Introduce yourself in the "Introductions" topic. Please give us more than your name. Include your profession, hobbies, a little about your personal history, and any other information that can help us get to know you. It would also be interesting to know why you chose this course. Please post your response in the appropriate topic by midnight Wednesday. This topic will remain open throughout the course.
Discussion Topic 2
Respond to the following: Joe is very faithful and forthright in his beliefs. He holds that all things come from the volcano he has named “Ed.” Every so often Ed erupts and changes things. Joe feels that these eruptions are normal and bring balance to the world. He believes that balance is lost when people expect Ed to erupt more often or less often than Ed desires. Joe believes that we can become one with Ed after our lives end by tossing our bodies into the lava. This will help keep things in balance.  Joe is the only believer.  In a serious discussion, decide whether or not Joe practices religion. What elements are present and what elements are missing? What are the elements needed for Joe’s beliefs to become a “World Religion?” While there are no wrong answers, please give this some thought based on what you have learned in your introductory readings.  Please post your response by midnight Sunday
Research Quiz 1 (Dictionary)
After finishing the readings on Catoir and Smith and doing the Class Activities, please go to the Quizzes area of the course and take this 15 question quiz.  Please complete the quiz before Sunday at midnight.
Week 2: Prehistoric Religion, Egyptian Civilization and Passing the Faith
Readings
Catoir: Chapters 1 and 2
Smith: Chapter 3 
Class Activities
In the Content area, read the following: “Beyond the Threshold,” by Christopher Moreman, “World Religions,” by Geoffrey Parrinder,  and “Egyptian Civilization Religious Beliefs,” by Sergio Donadoni. Use the “Ancient Egypt Research Worksheet,” but do not turn in the worksheet. It is merely a guide to help you. For many students, the discussion of wrapping mummies and various embalming techniques remains popular from elementary school through post-graduate work. These readings will give you an overview of this topic and the worksheet will assist you in preparing for the quiz.
Discussion Topic 3
In this week's discussion topic we will discuss the manner of Religious Education or Religious Instruction. The basic four methods of Religious Instruction are:
 
1.       Tell a story
2.      
Show a picture. 
3.      
Ask Questions.
4.      
Learn (Memorize) a prayer, song, or statement. 

These four methods seem to be the same throughout humankind.  Three questions for this topic: One, in your life, where have you encountered these four methods? (Don’t hesitate to add military, athletic or artistic experiences) Two, do you have any experiences of watching another religion or culture practice these methods? Finally, what conclusions did the poet Stephen Dunn have about his daughter’s religious education experience?  Please post your response in the appropriate topic by midnight Wednesday. 
Discussion Topic 4
It has been said that if you are at a party and you tell someone you have a terrible disease or you are a terrorist, the conversation happily continues. But, if you tell them you are religious, an icy chill hits the air. Peter Kreeft believes that much of this is due to ignorance in the area of religious studies. His personal pet peeve is the statement: “All religions are the same deep down.” He states:

“That is simply factually untrue. No one ever makes this claim unless he is 1.) abysmally ignorant of what the different religions of the world actually teach or 2.) intellectually irresponsible in understanding these teachings in the vaguest and woolliest way or 3.) morally irresponsible in being indifferent to them.”  Why would somebody say “deep down?”


What would this “abysmally ignorant, intellectually irresponsible and morally irresponsible” person be trying to say about the human condition? Finally, are “all religions the same deep down?”  Is “Deep Down” unchangeable? Please post your response by midnight Sunday.
Research Quiz 2 (Ancient Egypt)
Keep the worksheet questions in mind as you review Catoir (ch. 2) and the other readings.  The Quiz will be fifteen questions, True and False and Multiple Choice, and you will have 30 minutes to complete the quiz. Please complete the quiz before Sunday at midnight.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
Week 3: Introduction to Judaism
Readings
Catoir:  Chapter 3
Smith:  Chapter 11  
Class Activities
Please read the simple overview, the “Basic Teachings of Judaism,” under Week 3 in the Content area of the course. This will summarize the basic teachings of Judaism. One of the great questions posed by monotheism is simply “whom do you blame when things go wrong?” Polytheists can always blame theomachy, forgetting to honor local deities, or simply ill-natured gods. So, for monotheists, what is the answer to “why do bad things happen to good people.”

Download and read the interview with Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of the best selling book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. (The interview is available under Week 3 in the Content area). In addition, please read the series of articles written from a Christian perspective, that are by the developer of this course, Dan John.
Discussion Topic 5
After reading Catoir and the “Basic Teachings of Judaism,” please answer the following:

1.
What is the essential key to understanding Judaism?
 
2. It seems that the Jews have a lot of rules. Why? How does the Exile experience impact this?

3.
What can other religions learn from the Jews? What have the other religions learned from the Jews? How does this basic overview of Judaism impact your understanding of your own beliefs?

Please post your responses by midnight Wednesday.
Discussion Topic 6
One of the questions of religion is “why do bad things happen to good people.”

Question for discussion: What are some of the key points made in these articles regarding suffering? Also, speculate how a monotheist might explain why bad things happen to good people. Please post your responses by midnight Sunday. 
Dropbox Assignment 1
From all the readings in class so far (including up to Chapter 3 of Catoir and Chapters 3, 11 and 15 of Smith, and any additional readings you would like to include,) please formulate 20 multiple choice questions with answers. The assignment  should demonstrate that you understand the information by organizing and comparing the reading assignments into questions that demand more than simple recall of information. You must include the page numbers for where you find the questions and answers. Make sure they are your own original questions and that alternative choices for the M/C questions are logical and close enough to be challenging. Each question should include at least four answer options. Please submit to the Dropbox no later than midnight Sunday
Week 4: Introduction to Christianity
Readings
Catoir:  Chapter 4
Smith:  Chapter 10 
Class Activities
In the Content area, read the selections from the Frontline Series, “From Jesus to Christ.” and other resources. These readings will prepare you for both the Quiz and the Midterm this week. Short extracts of the readings will be part of the questions for the Quiz and Midterm, so you need to become familiar with the material, but you don’t need to memorize it.
Discussion Topic 7
“At least we can say that religion has weathered the storm.” Smith’s opening line to this chapter opens the door to some interesting discussions about religions “fit” in the modern world. (Nietzsche’s admonition to never give up on the idea of God, while he “will perish from (his) passions” is truly revealing about the character of the man.)  Only one question: What are the aspects of Christianity that has allowed it to “weather the storm(s)?” Refer to Catoir’s questions on Page 65 for some help and insights.  Reminder: we are talking about the first few centuries of Christianity (surviving during the Roman Empire). Please don’t answer: “Because God wanted it.” That, of course, is an answer that can be applied to any and all questions, but lacks the academic rigor that I expect in this course. Please post your response by midnight Wednesday.
Research Quiz 3 (Christianity)
After reading Catoir and other readings for the week, please go to the Quizzes area and take this quiz on the readings. You will be allowed 30 minutes. Please complete the quiz before Wednesday at midnight.
Discussion Topic 8
The teacher asked the class: ‘What does it mean to be a Christian.” The class, made up entirely of Christians, raised their hands. The first student answered: “To be nice.” In addition, the other students added “help each other” and “love one another” to the answer, “nice.” The teacher responded, “So, according to your definitions, a nice Muslim or a nice Hindu would be Christian?”  Three questions: First, are “nice Hindus” Christian? What is missing from the students answers? Second, why would a classroom of Christians focus on “nice?” How important, in Christian theology, is treating one another? Finally, how does “Free Will” impact Christian theology, especially in terms of the belief in an afterlife…where the good are rewarded and the evil punished?  Please post your response by midnight Sunday.
Midterm
Please complete your exam sometime between Wednesday and midnight Sunday. The exam will cover all materials in the course so far, as well as the syllabus and Discussion 7. It will also have some reading comprehension questions regarding Islam; these questions relate to issues of Judaism and Christianity and the development of Islam.
Week 5: Introduction to Islam
Readings
Catoir:  Chapter 5
Smith:  Chapter 14
Class Activities
For a few easy readings from the Quran…and some interesting insights into the Muslim understanding of free will, go to Week 5 in the Content area of the course. 
Discussion Topic 9
The Muslims consider Jews, Christians, and Muslims to be all “People of the Book.” What are the elements that tie Jews, Christians and Muslims together. Hopefully, each addition to the discussion will add and complement the proceeding answers. What theological differences are there between these great religious traditions?  Please post your response by midnight Wednesday. 
Discussion Topic 10
“Dad, is this real?” On page 230 of Smith’s book, we find ourselves inside a scholarly debate that seems solved by an innocent question. How would Jews, Christians and Muslims answer this question: “What is ‘real’?”  Post your response by midnight Sunday.
Research Quiz 4 (Islamic Readings)
After reading Catoir and the additional readings, please go to the Quizzes area of the course and take this quiz on the readings. Please submit the quiz before Sunday at midnight.
Week 6: An Introduction to Hinduism
Readings
Catoir:  Chapter 6 
Discussion Topic 11
After reading the Chapter on Hinduism, think about the questions at the end of the chapter. Then, answer the following: What do you consider to be “escapist” in either religion or “the real world?” What do you do to “escape” from your day to day troubles, if anything?  Please post your response by midnight Wednesday. 
Discussion Topic 12
When most people are asked anything about the Hindu religion, generally they will be able to label “karma” and “yoga.” How does the caste system tie into karma? In other words, what is the relationship between karma, caste and reincarnation? How does the Christian notion of Social Justice (helping one’s neighbor) fit with the Hindu concept of caste and reincarnation?  Please post your response by midnight Sunday.
Dropbox Assignment 2
From your readings in Catoir, up to and including Chapter 7, please formulate 20 multiple choice questions with answers. You must include the page numbers for where you find the questions and answers. Make sure they are your own original questions and that alternative choices for the M/C questions are logical and close enough to be challenging. Each question should include at least four answer options. Please submit to the Dropbox no later than midnight Sunday.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Week 7: Introduction to Buddhism
Readings
Catoir: Chapter 7
Smith:  Chapter 2 
Discussion Topic 13
On page 31 of Smith’s book, he develops an interesting counterattack to O. E. Wilson’s belief that religion is “easier” than other things, especially “empiricism.” After reading Catoir, answer these questions: What are some of the physically challenging aspects of religion, especially in Buddhist practices? In your experience, what are some physically challenging aspects of religious practice? Have you ever been “changed” by a physical discipline? (Feel free to include military, athletic or artistic disciplines)  Please post your response before midnight Wednesday. 
Discussion Topic 14
With our course entering the final weeks, we now can look at some of the parallels and differences between the major world religions. In this discussion topic, we will begin to list some of the parallels between the major world religions. Consider geography, history, period of history, or any other factors that you can think of for this topic. Something like “Belief in God,” of course, needs to be tempered with some specifics. Try to build on one another’s posts.  Please post your response before midnight Sunday.
Dropbox Assignment 3
We have discussed some interesting concepts in this class. In a two page essay, please discuss how the following questions have impacted your ability to discuss Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism in the conext of both social life, from simply discussions at a party to watching the news with others, and academic  life in other classes and further studies:

What is “religion?”


What is “deep down?”


What is “real?”


What is the role of escape in religion?


How does the physical impact religion?


This assignment is worth 20 points. Be sure to discuss all 5 religions across this assignment and be sure to cover all 5 questions in the essay. Please submit to the Dropbox no later than midnight Sunday.
Week 8: The Religions of the Far East
Readings
Catoir: Chapter 8
Smith: Chapter 16 and Epilogue
Discussion Topic 15
Simply, after reading Catoir and Smith, answer this question: Are Confucianism, Taoism, and Shintoism religions? If so, why? If not, what is a religion?  Post your response on the appropriate discussion topic no later than midnight Wednesday.
Discussion Topic 16
Throughout our session, three questions seem to dominate the discussions concerning the differences between the great faith traditions: What is religion, what is “deep down” and what is “real?” Discuss any points from our class that have both opened up your understanding and those issues that may have clouded your insights. Post your response in the appropriate discussion topic no later than midnight Saturday.
Final Exam
Please complete your exam sometime between Tuesday and midnight Saturday. The exam will have a two-hour time limit. Remember, the final exam is Proctored.


Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism

Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.

Non-Discrimination

There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

The Dropbox Assignment must be submitted by the assigned due date or it will not be accepted. Exams will not be allowed to be taken late, but they can be taken early.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.


Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.


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