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June 14, 2013

Comments

I would assert that the church has always been a "divided family" in that it is true there is two millenia of classic Christianity as a historical track record, but the story of those two millenia is one of controversy after controversy.

In other words, there have always been times of "growing compromise" in the church, even dating back to the New Testament period. The period we find ourselves in today with respect to the American church is yet another of those times where the purity of doctrine in the church is threatened by diminishing the gospel message.

Further, I would argue that the Bible mandates a consideration of global context for Christians everywhere, and that we are to be mindful of our brothers and sisters elsewhere; taken in that light, I think we find that many other church cultures are not struggling with compromise due to being refined under the fire of persecution.

I think it's important for leaders like Brother Wallace and others to sound the alarm bells in our culture and we need to pay attention to them, but I also think it's important to keep the historical and global context in mind.

I'm not sure that it's compromise. I find that much of the religious doctrine that I've been told to follow in my life has no concrete standing within the actual scripture. I never left Christianity... but I have left many churches and the religion I was baptized in behind.

"I find that much of the religious doctrine that I've been told to follow in my life has no concrete standing within the actual scripture."

Totally agree, and I think that a historical examination of the various times of "growing compromise" in the Church shows exactly that as the reason for the compromise in the first place; sound doctrine becomes compromised when those who teach it stray away from its foundation in the gospel message, which is THE main theme of the Scriptures.

One of the problems I see is that when one approaches the Bible with the presuppositional bias that it is "the Word of God," how can two or more people who believe that disagree over issues like eschatology, creation, evolution, extreme literalness, etc.? Each believes his or her view is the correct one because they have studied, or their pastor "teaches the Word only, no personal spin" (an impossibility), and they believe their view IS the correct view. Often, when someone posits an alternate view of something in a book of the Bible, they are shouted down as heretics because "that's not what the Word teaches." Well, hiding in plain sight is the fact that many people of sincere faith, believing the Bible to be the Word of God, come to different conclusions about doctrines and what things mean. It's not about who is ultimately right, but that we feel free to discuss scripture without fear of being branded blasphemous or heretical. As someone noted in another post, there is evidence of disagreement between New Testament authors. Who is right? Or is it enough that we acknowledge there are disagreements and differences that may never be settled, and that the final answer is "I don't know?"

The problem I see in various youth groups such as Young Life is a stressing of "this is the way it is" and little room for discussion or critical thinking of doctrines, and why people believe what they do. Science is still treated as an enemy. The wrong battles are being waged, IMO. Why are people fighting for, and building edifices to, the clearly nonsensical issue of men living with dinosaurs, for example? If I were a teenager and I thought that this was an important issue within the church, I would find it irrelevant, too.

Be aware and take heart that:

"The world is not without a ruler. The program of coming events is in the hands of the Lord. The Majesty of heaven has the destiny of nations as well as the concerns of His church in His own charge.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 753 (1889)".

Happy Sabbath :)

Satan moves people away from Church, but no one believes in satan anymore.

Part of the danger Perry is talking about is largely a symptom, at least in America, of our Americentrism. We think what the Bible says is what it means to a 21st century American, without realizing it's written in a different culture, time, language, place, etc. Sorry, but the Bible doesn't get any exceptions to that because it's Scripture. It calls for disciples and in that age, as it should be today, disciples worked to understand.

I agree, Nick. We live in an information age like no other. People's facts can be checked easier now. It is not enough to say "Because I said so" to a congregation.

One big reason I see people leaving the church is a misunderstanding of what the Bible is. A major fault that is made is beginning the conversation with the statement that the Bible is the Word of God, and having to back-fill revealed scientific knowledge to fit the literal narrative. The Bible (as we should all know) is a library of books, written by different authors to different people for different purposes over centuries. It is not a single narrative, like a novel. The books are not even arranged in chronological order according to when they were written. The authors were writing under the limited scientific knowledge they had at the time. So, it appears anti-intellectual to ignore known facts because "the Bible is the Word of God" and says otherwise.

For example, we know the Earth to be billions of years old, and that it was a hostile, inhospitable place where dinosaurs lived, apart from man. It was a world of meat-eaters and bloodshed, as well as vegetarians, just like now in many ways. However, these facts do not fit the literal Genesis narrative and most educated people know that. So, while sitting in church, expected to believe in the literalness of such issues, those same educated people cannot abide it.

The church historically has had a difficult time with revealed scientific truth, trying to fit it into a literal Biblical narrative. The battle 400 years ago or so over heliocentrism is one example. The development of life on earth is our current battle. The fact that it is a battle, however, is a problem for many. Science appears to be the enemy when it should not.

For too long, church has been a one-way conversation between pastor and congregation, and free inquiry is not only discouraged, it is often met with hostility. It is no wonder that college-educated people, used to a more back-and-forth, discussion-based method of learning, are discouraged by this. When free inquiry is met with fear and hostility, there is little choice but to deem church irrelevant.

Scripture teaches that if we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus, all of our material needs will be met. Granted, they are normally met on the low rung of society where more severe trials occur. But since God stipulates that we cannot serve God and money, low rung is more the norm for discipleship.

Churches today however teach "college and career" (a money or self centered life style). Along with this, they promote maintaining a side line of some sort of quasi discipleship. Churches will compromise and cater to this rather large crowd with everything from rock groups to pop psychology in fear of loosing their financial backing.

We are told that apostates remove themselves from us because they are not of us. This is a good thing, and we should let them go rather than trying to hang on to them.

Perry,

The church historically has had a difficult time with revealed scientific truth, trying to fit it into a literal Biblical narrative. The battle 400 years ago or so over heliocentrism is one example. The development of life on earth is our current battle. The fact that it is a battle, however, is a problem for many. Science appears to be the enemy when it should not.

I agree that science is not the enemy; the problem in that particular area is you have those on the scientific side that have turned science into their religion, and therefore are guilty of doing the same thing with religion that those in the church do with science.

Further, you mention heliocentrism, and it should be noted that at that time, the "church" that so virulently opposed it was the Catholic church and it's battle against scientific discovery was rooted in its attempt to keep a stranglehold on its political and social power, not due to any particular religious conviction. I find it interesting that true Reformers of that era are largely (not totally) silent on the issue, because their concern was proclaiming the gospel. A recent article I read about the attitudes of people such as Luther and Calvin had this quote:

"Luther, and also Calvin, rejected the idea that religious vocations are superior to secular ones. Men and women should serve God by performing honest and useful work with diligence and integrity Scientific work reveals God's handiwork in a universe which is both rational and orderly. It also gives results that can be used for the benefit of mankind.

If I understand one of your points correctly, you would say that the church today does not hold this same attitude, and in some measure I would agree, although I am less sure about it being an across-the-board thing...Regardless, your claim that the development of life is a current battle, and whether that's true or not I don't know, but I do know that "research" into this area is largely agenda driven (and the agenda is usually about money) and not science driven, and in fact many past claims in this area have since been scientifically refuted, so I don't put too much stock in it at present.

One big reason I see people leaving the church is a misunderstanding of what the Bible is. A major fault that is made is beginning the conversation with the statement that the Bible is the Word of God, and having to back-fill revealed scientific knowledge to fit the literal narrative.

However, I think this might be a bit off base. Perhaps I misunderstand the point you are trying to make? The Bible is the Word of God, and while you correctly make the statement earlier that just as disciples of that time worked to understand the Word, so today we must work to understand the Word, I would argue that the actual misunderstanding about the Bible that is occurring today is a too low a view of Scripture. You seem to be advocating the opposite, that the church has too high a view; perhaps I've taken your point the wrong way? Please correct me if so...

S., you are right on target. But,I think it's more of a case that curious people-visitors,regular church goers or members or skeptics-are not getting answers to important questions concerning controversal issues in the church as well issues of the Bible. Let's be honest: There's a great lack of thorough study of the Bible and therefore, because of that, we end up paying heed to creeds,practices,doctrines and trachings that are not even mentioned nor even hinted at in the Word of God. Through this lack of study and I may add,lack of knowledge,we find ourselves even unable to answer honestly and truthfully on critical matters if there is actually any attempts at answering for that matter. Here's the thing: No matter what situation,relationship or business that we're involved in,we need to remember that with dishonesty and mishandling of things we hold dear to our heart and beliefs comes mistrust from those receiving from us. Let me be more clear: If we,as Christians are dishonest in our answers or even our testimony, the receiver can no longer trust us for anything else for that matter and then that same receiver ends up having to go retrieve the answers from another source, and that spells a bigger dilemma epecially if the receiver accepts a lie as truth.

Thank you for your kind response.

Viz-a-viz your view of the reformers' attitudes towards science, here is an example of Luther's view on the subject. I am quoting from www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu:

The specific response of one of the most important contemporaries of Copernicus, Martin Luther, is telling. The quote below is actually in response to the publication of the brief Commentariolus, which appeared a decade before De Revolutionibus. It comes from Luther's Tablebook (Tischreden), or record of dinner-table conversations:

"There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must needs invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth."

So, I would argue that Catholic or no, religious leaders reacted to this discovery with fear and denial, much like they do today to new discoveries about the origins of life. And I agree, it is often agenda-driven and imperfect, but the signs all point to something much, much older and complex than the simplified, mythical-sounding Genesis narrative(s).

As far as a low/high view of Scripture, I would not use those terms. What I see is a misunderstanding of what Scripture is. The phrase "Word of God" needs some qualification. As I'm sure you know, Christians, historically, do not view the Biblical texts as Muslims view the Koran; that is, as the literal words of God as spoken to the transcriber. Rather, we know them to be a product of copying and interpretation, with several spurious passages so noted in the marginal notes. To say they (specifically the New Testament books, since the early church certainly had no NT for a number of years and thus Jesus cannot speak on the subject) are inspired is fine, but it is a subjective view, much like my believing that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is inspired. Belief in inspiration is a cultural, traditional view, really "unprovable" in any traditional sense. To hold up the Bible and say "this is the Word of God" is to throw all eggs in one basket, as if the Bible fell out of Heaven, bound in leather in King James English, and ignore what are known to be transmissional errors, later-inserted passages, and outright mysteries. Of course, this should be common knowledge as it is readily available to any Bible student. On an unrelated note, this is why I believe Sola Scriptura is a fallacy, because what books were to be included in the canon was itself a product of tradition, and remained unsettled for centuries (Luther had opinions on books he wanted out of the canon).

To bring this back on-topic, anyone with this foreknowledge of the Bible has to do some study and thinking. Being told one thing your whole life, and then discovering later in your teen or college years that there are "Word of God/inerrancy/scientific refutation" issues, there is cognitive dissonance. This, I believe, is why young people leave the church. There is a lack of honesty within most religious institutions, and a desire to toe the party line, as is to be expected (as you pointed out) when a stranglehold on political and social power is desired.

Thank you for this opportunity to respond.

We are losing our youth in large numbers. The research on this seems clear. When they come back, its for pragmatic reasons. Wallace hits it on the head when he suggests that these returnees no longer believe "its true". Meanwhile, the others that have left have, well, just left.

The issue fundamentally comes down to parents and our churches. As parents we have abdicated our roles to youth pastors. Many of us don't know our own Faith well enough to answer our son or daughters hard questions like: does God exist, why is there evil, why did GOd allow sin, why did Christ have to die? Theres lots more where those came from.

If we don't know our Faith why should our kids take it seriously? And if we can't discuss these critical issues, is it fair to simply hand that over to a youth pastor who must strike a increasingly impossible balance between diversion, entertainment and pastoral teaching? Obviously, and despite some outstanding efforts from many dedicated youth pastors, this method has met with poor results.

What about Answers: First, get parents into the game where they belong. We should all be hearing Wallace's call. We have a duty to our kids. Second, all our churches should have an apologetic curriculum that extends over a period of time. Lots of materials exist. Lots of excellent resources are available. THird, as parents and adults, we have to engage our kids and make sure they can feel safe to ask the tough questions including those about doubts.

IF we challenge our kids to think about the tough questions, I think we will be astounded with the results. They can make up their minds about where the truth lies. Our job is to set the case before them in a way that treats them as intelligent and honest truth seekers. No cognitive dissonance here... just cognition. We do our kids a disservice as we fail to offer them a Christian worldview that encompasses the emotional and intellectual side of our Faith. And the consequences are such that we should weep.

All of you have some very good points but it always comes down to compromise. The serpent in the Garden helped Adam and Eve compromise the word of God and the results were disastrous. People now do the same thing and we are seeing the results. The serpent keeps on telling us lies to help us step away from God and many people buy it and bite into that fruit.
Nobody seems to respect what foundations like Answers in Genesis, or ICR Institute for Creation Research or even Creation Ministries International do but one thing they do is they don't compromise on the word of God. They believe it from the very first word and they believe in every word as it was intended to be shown to us. I was just like the rest of the world and I believed what the world was telling me about the Bible. I believed that it was a book written by men and that men are full of flaws and so the Bible couldn't be correct. I believed the scientific world when it told me the world was old and couldn't possibly be created in six days. I believed that I was a descendant of apes. I bit into that fruit and I seperated myself from God becuase I believed in my own understanding before I believed in God's word.
Then someone showed me that all of this science out there is based on information that can't be proven. The age of the rocks that supposedly tells us how old our Earth is is all based on assumptions. Think about it... how can anyone say for certain that a rock is billions of years old unless they were there to see how the rock was created. How can they say with certainty that the rate of decay in those rocks has been consistent throughout time if they were not there in all of the times. They make assumptions and we buy into it as fact.
That my friends is compromise. Anytime you take the world's knowledge over the Word of God you are compromising it's integrity. You teach a child that they can fit the world's knowledge into the bible by reinterpreting the Bible then they will reinterpret a lot more than just Genesis.
Ken Ham wrote a good book about this Called Already Gone and another book called Already Compromised. We need to stop changing the Bible to fit our science and start looking really hard at what they call science. I did and I will never take at face value what is just being fed to me by the world. This is what i will teach my kids as well. This is what should be taught to all kids.

The problem with "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" is that Christians cannot agree on what God said. There are many different schools within Christianity between people of solid credentials and sincere faith. It is incorrect to assume that there is one correct interpretation of scripture, and you have it because that's what you've been taught. AiG is just as agenda-driven as any non-religious scientist.

As has been demonstrated, even Luther exhibited fear and denial of a scientific fact which he (and many others) thought contradicted scripture. His paradigm had to change.

People possessing a spirit of inquiry will find no home in churches where fundamentalism reigns.


I have a spirit of inquiry and yet I crave a fundamental home. After all isn't that what Jesus wanted us to do. He wanted us to realize that it wasn't the rules that needed to govern us but our hearts. He made it simple love the Lord God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Sounds pretty fundamental to me.
You see I am not coming to anyone saying that they have to believe what I believe to be saved. I am coming to people saying that if you want to truly get people to flock to Jesus show them that they can trust the word of God from the get go. Show them that six days meant six days and not long periods of time. Show them that the flood during Noah's time was real and not just a metaphor for our sin. You show them that the creation of the world could have happened just like it said in the Bible and they will not have any trouble believing in Jesus.
There are scientists that can show and have shown that a biblical understanding of science is not only plausible it explains it better than we can.
The main problem with the world as we see it now is that too many churches have stepped away from fundamentals and have embraced what the world wants. Everbody keeps moving the line that we aren't supposed to cross.
You mentioned that AIG is agenda driven and I say AMEN. Of course they are agengda driven they came together for one purpose and that is to help save the souls of the world by showing that the Bible can be trusted in everything it says. What is the agenda of everyone else though? Greed notoriety? Truth can't be their true agenda or they would not make assumptions they do, they would just report what they find. That is not what we see... we see exaggerated claims to help boost their grant money. We see claim after claim that this is older than this when no one can ever truly know how old something is unless they were there when it was created.
I really could go on and on but let me end with this. What is truth? We know that truth is not relative to us. We know that truth exists outside of ourselves. So when we look at the Bible and ask what is the truth that this is telling me. Are we looking at what it actually says or are we looking at what our relative experience tells us.

I understand what you are saying, but I have a philosophical problem with this statement you made: "We see claim after claim that this is older than this when no one can ever truly know how old something is unless they were there when it was created." Genesis is not an eyewitness account, either, so it is very difficult indeed to make that comparison and not come out the other end with the same conclusion.

I just came across this discussion and have a few comments I would like to add. I understand Perry’s dilemma in that “science” and scripture do not seem to agree. I too once had very similar arguments as Perry does until I experienced God’s grace and mercy by bringing me to faith (absolute trust) in Him through the revelation of Jesus Christ as Savior (my Savior). One of the first things that happened to me after conversion (a change from unbelief to belief) was that I began to voraciously read the bible because all of a sudden – it made sense! Many years have elapsed since that event and I too have “lost” a son to “science” while his time at university.
This blog was titled, "One Important Reason the Church Will Continue to Compromise", I believe is simply, a lack of faith. Precisely the same thing that happened to God’s chosen people after they were taken out of their slavery in Egypt. We in this present age can look back and learn a history lesson. Unfortunately, this generation is going through the same process. The young people are leaving the church because they have no faith. They do not believe God. They do not believe the bible is God speaking to mankind.
During the time of the early church, the apostle Paul had to contend against many gods, such as Artemis, Caesar and many others. As the people had the Gospel preached to them and believed, they left their false gods behind.
Today, one of the greatest gods is “science”! Science has the answers to make our lives better, make us wealthier, make us healthier, make us wiser and on and on. And I concede that there have been many advances made due to the diligent efforts of well intentioned individuals and organizations.
However, I think this generation equates “science” with “truth”. And therein lies the problem. I am all for honest investigation, observation, experimentation and so on. But when someone (a scientist?) makes a proclamation which is less than 100% truthful and honest, we have a problem. A good example is some of the medicines which were supposed to cure some thing and it destroyed something else or the more current global warming scare which evolved into “climate change”.
Christ told His disciples to abide in Him, to abide in His word. What do you think He meant by that? Here is some scripture which I think is very applicable from Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy chapter 3
"12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is [h]inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for [i]training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
If you truly and honestly want the answers ask this awesome God of creation to reveal the truth to you.

"Further, you mention heliocentrism, and it should be noted that at that time, the "church" that so virulently opposed it was the Catholic church and it's battle against scientific discovery was rooted in its attempt to keep a stranglehold on its political and social power, not due to any particular religious conviction."

Really? Are you saying the scientific community was behind it but the church was trying to bury it, and I suppose Galileo was persecuted?

Nice story.

I seem to remember reading that the scientific community was squarely in the Aristotelian camp and Galileo's issues came about when he wrote a book where the Pope was shown as a talking ass called Simpleton ( or the Italian version). I think his "persecution" was being told not to teach something if he couldn't prove it and when he responded by publicly insulting the Pope was given house arrest in an Italian palace and followed up by a lifetime pension. I'd hate to be forced to live in a palace and be given money.

I also missed where Kepler and Copernicus were burnt at the stake.

Unfortunately, such stories are often spread and help suggest to youth that church = hate of science.

Ahhhh therin lies the conundrum. We don't have infallible proof either but that is not what matters. People don't come to conclusions based on fact alone. There are inumerable inferences that lead a person to God. Over my life alone I can look back and I can see where God was working his way into my heart.
It all comes down to what evidence we lay before people. We have our hard facts, those that we can hold in our hand and say... yes this backs up the claim that the Bible is a true historical document. Then we have our inferred evidence which both sides have by the way. Take for example sedimentary layers. Those can be interpreted as either taking millions of years to lay down or you can interpret them as being layers layed down during the global flood. Neither side can prove with any certainty that their evidence is fact. Secularists have their theory that because we see soil deposition happening today at this rate, that the rate must have been same all the time. Creationists have their data showing that indeed floods can lay down sediment quickly. It's all a matter of which viewpoint you choose when you see the data. Sadly enough it matters which viewpoint you hold when you come first to the evidence. People will interpret based on prior knowledge.
That is why I think it is important that we stop attacking our own evidence.
The Bible gives us a somewhat clear timeline about our history. Bishop Ussher wrote all of this down and estimated how old the world was based on what he read in the Bible. I haven't delved into the Bible as much as he has but I can say that I have read Genesis many times and no where in it do I get the idea of millions or billions of years passing. A plain reading of the Bible reveals a six day creation.
My main point is that in order to try to fit science into the Bible we have to compromise the meaning of the Bible. We have to compromise the evidence we have in front of us. We give in because of name calling and the fear of looking stupid. What we need to do instead is to challenge any and all who would try to take our evidence away. People need to start asking the question "How do they know that this rock is billions of years old?" "How do they know that this dinosaur fossil is 200 million years old?" "What is half life and how is it relevant to how old something is?" People need to start digging deeper instead of just taking the so called experts word on this. Then they will start to see the holes I saw some 7 years ago when I started my journey to being a christian.

A little thought has been running through my mind for the last few days as I've read posts on STR. In a nutshell, it goes something like this: Is our true concern that young people are leaving the "church" or that young people are moving away from God? I don't think the two are necessarily synonymous. I completely agree with William West that the onus is upon us to seek out the Truth of the Scriptures, but it is Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Light. Churches and denominations have so muddied the waters of the Word, that it is no wonder that any kind of consensus is missing today. But one thing IS unchanging and that is God, Himself. With an earnest commitment to seek Him, hear Him, love Him and submit to Him and His proper authority, we are shown the Way and the Light. In some ways it might be a healthy thing that young people are fleeing from the "church" as we have individually named it--I would pray that they would wrestle with God Himself; HE will prevail.

In some ways it might be a healthy thing that young people are fleeing from the "church" as we have individually named it

That may be true, but I think the assumption is that they are fleeing church and failing to "wrestle with God", as you put it, which I think is unhealthy. I don't think the intent put forth in the recent posts by J. Warner Wallace is to highlight that youth end up fleeing church because they have a thirst for truth and Scripture, and that that is going unfulfilled by a compromised church. I think the intent is to highlight that the church has compromised Biblical truth, and as a result we have a generation of youth that have grown up with very little Biblical truth in their lives, and so they perceive that the church offers nothing that the world doesn't also offer them, so why bother going to church. Only later in life when many of these youth end up in situations with families, etc., that some of them return to take advantage of some the things the church might offer in those types of situations...

@ArthurK,

Nice job of putting words in my mouth. Perhaps you should take a cue from Perry on how to properly respond to an assertion. Beyond that, I don't think your comment needs a response as I'm sure that others can see that it speaks for itself.

I don't know how to say this without upsetting people but here goes: Jesus established His church to be 'of one mind and one heart', not a book, and His church, using her authority given by Christ's'keys', hammered out which books should be included in her New Testament around 397AD. So for some 400 years Christians were instructed in Christ's truth sans the bible, by the authority of Christ's church;'the pillar and support of the truth'. By Christ's own design this church authority will last till He returns so that Christians can always be clearly instrusted in His truth. It was via Satan's corruption of too many early individual Christian leaders that Satan achieved his huge success: Christ's Christian house divided! That is why we Christians are currently unable to withstand the attacks on Christianity.

Tony Behan, I believe your words are correct. (And, BTW, Christians should not be "upset" by words of wisdom!) I once heard a pastor say that the different denominations and churches are actually good because if one goes south and is off the mark, the entire Church does not follow. That said, the Church per se, is comprised of individuals who have confessed their guilt before God, have openly accepted His gift of salvation, and have pledged their obedience and very lives to following HIM.
We are the Church. It is not a particular denomination, but particular hearts and souls sold out to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

@u:

I understand your point and I think you are correct about Mr. Wallace's intention when he wrote. I was merely looking at this from another perspective as to some of the reasons youth drop away from the Church. I think they CAN leave the "church" but not leave God and I was just explaining that point--differentiating between church and Church. Without a doubt, the seduction of the world pulls legions of them away--whether the seduction is of the "intellectual" variety or the carnal.

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