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We ask you, humbly, to help us.

We hope you enjoy this web site and what it represents.
If so, fantastic!

The thing is ... we're an independent group of normal people who donate our time to bring you the content on this website. We hope that it makes a difference.

Over the past year, expenses related to the site upkeep (from research to delivery) has increased ... while available funds to keep things afloat have decreased. We would love to continue bringing you the content, but we desperately need your help through monetary donations. Anything would help, from a one-off to small monthly donations.

$3? $5? $15? The option is yours. Regardless, your help would be appreciated.

Please click HERE to be taken to our donation page. Thank you so much.
Bruce Robinson, Founder.


 

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New/updated essays in recent months.
Why this web site is different.
Planned future essays.
Why so many essays on sexual topics?

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new symbolThe following essays were created or updated during the past 12 months:

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Why this web site is different.

Essays planned for the near future.

Why does this web site have so many essays on sexual & gender minorities?

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Sponsored link:

 

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2018-July's selection

book covedr

"The Moral Arc: How Science Makes Us Better People "Â by Michael Shermer

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
Available for $10.16 in Kindle format, or $10.48 plus postage in hardcover, or $5.20 plus postage in paperback.

Amazon.com book review:

"From Galileo and Newton to Thomas Hobbes and Martin Luther King, Jr., thinkers throughout history have consciously employed scientific techniques to better understand the non-physical world. The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment led theorists to apply scientific reasoning to the non-scientific disciplines of politics, economics, and moral philosophy. Instead of relying on the woodcuts of dissected bodies in old medical texts, physicians opened bodies themselves to see what was there; instead of divining truth through the authority of an ancient holy book or philosophical treatise, people began to explore the book of nature for themselves through travel and exploration; instead of the supernatural belief in the divine right of kings, people employed a natural belief in the right of democracy. In this provocative and compelling book, Shermer will explain how abstract reasoning, rationality, empiricism, skepticism -- scientific ways of thinking -- have profoundly changed the way we perceive morality and, indeed, move us ever closer to a more just world."

The web site had 13 newly created, re-written, or updated essays so far during 2018-JUL, including the above book review.
In addition, we make major and minor updates to many essays each day that are not recorded below:

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2018-June's selection

book cover "The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet"Â by Heidi Cullen. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. It is available for $10.80 in Kindle format, or $14.81 plus postage in paperback, or $25.99 plus postage in hardcover.

Amazon.com book review:

"From Heidi Cullen, one of America’s foremost experts on weather and climate change and a senior research scientist with Climate Central, comes The Weather of the Future, a fascinating and provocative book that predicts what different parts of the world will look like in the year 2050 if current levels of carbon emissions are maintained."

Publishers Weekly [edited for copyright reasons]:

"This engrossing study predicts global warming scenarios for seven hot spots around the world--and evaluates the responses of communities, governments, and international organizations. Cullen, a climatologist, notes that "just as our brain is hardwired to perceive threats that are most immediate to us, we are hardwired to devote more energy to caring about the weather than to caring about the climate," and that "by the time you see it in the weather... it's too late." ... Despite the worry among scientists that humans will follow "the woolly mammoth, the symbol of a climate that no longer exists," the book presents a surprisingly optimistic view of humanity's determination to come to terms with a daunting future."Â

Her predictions may well hold for later in our century if the current trajectory of carbon emission increases are maintained.

The web site had 29 newly created, re-written, or updated essays during 2018-JUN, including the above book review.
In addition, we make major and minor updates to many essays each day that are not recorded below:

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2018-May's book selection:

book cover "The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality," by Dalai Lama. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Available in hardcover, paperback, Audiobook or Audio CD or Kindle format.

Amazon.com book review:

"Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Niels Bohr, Einstein. Their insights shook our perception of who we are and where we stand in the world, and in their wake have left an uneasy coexistence: science vs. religion, faith vs. empirical inquiry. Which is the keeper of truth? Which is the true path to understanding reality?

After forty years of study with some of the greatest scientific minds, as well as a lifetime of meditative, spiritual, and philosophic study, the Dalai Lama presents a brilliant analysis of why all avenues of inquiry -- scientific as well as spiritual -- must be pursued in order to arrive at a complete picture of the truth. Through an examination of Darwinism and karma, quantum mechanics and philosophical insight into the nature of reality, neurobiology and the study of consciousness, the Dalai Lama draws significant parallels between contemplative and scientific examinations of reality.

This breathtakingly personal examination is a tribute to the Dalai Lama’s teachers -- both of science and spirituality. The legacy of this book is a vision of the world in which our different approaches to understanding ourselves, our universe, and one another can be brought together in the service of humanity.

The web site had 38 newly created, re-written, or updated essays during 2018-MAY, including the above book review.
In addition, we make major and minor updates to many essays each day that are not recorded below:

One deals with the "Euthyphro Dilemma," and why it matters.

  • The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church recommends a plan to revise the UMC's stance on homosexuality

  • Climate Change, Part 23, 2017-OCT to 2018 (multiple updates)

  • Northern Ireland is holding a referendum on whether to liberalize its abortion laws which are currently the most strict of any western democracy.

  • The importance that people give to religion in countries around the world

  • Decisions by United Methodist General Conferences and Church courts
  • Apostasy in Islam: Arguments for and against the death penalty

  • School shootings, in North America, during 2018-MAR to MAY.

  • Roman Catholic Bishop of Fort Worth, TX, approves the Troops of St. George as an Catholic Apostolate

  • An essay by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys: "Brief thoughts on the word 'Infinity'"

  • Attempts to estimate the percentage of North American gay, lesbian, & bisexual adults, Part 1

  • Private comments about homosexuality by Pope Francis

  • Moderate Republicans pushing for vote on the DACA program

  • Estimates Of Suicide Rates Among U.S. Gay And Lesbian Youth

  • 2017-2018: Abortion access in Northern Ireland

  • Trump Administration separates immigrant children and babies from parents at border

  • A committee of the Republican Party in Kansas voted to oppose validity of transgender identity
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    2018-April's book selection:

    "Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity" 2017-AUG, by Gregory Coles. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Available for U.S. $19.61 in Kindle format, or $30.56 plus postage in hardcover.

    Amazon.com book review:

    "In an age where neither society nor the church knows what to do with gay Christians, Greg Coles shares his story and mdash; a story about a boy in love with Jesus who, at the fateful onset of puberty, realized his sexual attractions were persistently and exclusively for other guys. This honest, hopeful account shows life through one man's eyes and assures all people: "You are not a mistake."

    91% of Amazon customer-reviewers rated this book with 5 out of 5 stars

    Author Gregory Coles' comment:

    "... this book is the first of its kind to be published by an evangelical Christian publisher. I don’t think a book like this would have been possible ten or even five years ago. Until recently, there was only one view of homosexuality within evangelicalism: the so-called non-affirming view. Conservatives may protest or simply disagree, but the fact is that there are a growing number of Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, card-carrying evangelicals who are either exploring the affirming view or who have embraced it and aren’t looking back.

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    Sponsored link:

    The web site had 20 newly created, re-written, or updated essays during 2018-APR, including the above book review.
    In addition, we make major and minor updates to many essays each day that are not recorded below:

    Pope Francis' alleged beliefs about the afterlife

    The Family; Charles Manson (Part 2)

    2016-2018: Update to the Orlando, FL mass murder at The Pulse LGBT nightclub: Part 2 to Part 7

    Search for intelligent life in the universe: Elements needed for life may be missing elsewhere in the universe

    An essay donated by David W.T. Brattson: "Choosing a Church: One True Church or One Right Church?"

    Two essays donated by Susan Humphreys:

    A new section on Racism:

    Americans' declining beliefs about God: God's existence & importance. Jesus' second coming.

    The struggle towards universal health care in the United States

    A Celtic/Neopagan handfasting (marriage) ritual

    Beltane, the Neo-pagan seasonal day of celebration that begins the "warm season" and is typically held on MAY-01 or MAY-05

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    2018-March's book selection

    book cover "Stand Your Ground: A History of America's Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense," by Caroline LightÂ

    Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Available for U.S. $19.61 in Kindle format, or $30.56 plus postage in hardcover.

    Amazon.com book review:

    "Stand Your Ground explores the development of the American right to self-defense and reveals how the original 'duty to retreat' from threat was transformed into a selective right to kill. In her rigorous genealogy, Light traces white America’s attachment to racialized, lethal self-defense by unearthing its complex legal and social historiesâ€"from the original 'castle laws' of the 1600s, which gave white men the right to protect their homes, to the brutal lynching of 'criminal' Blacks during the Jim Crow era and the radicalization of the NRA as it transitioned from a sporting organization to one of our country’s most powerful lobbying forces.

    In this convincing treatise on the United States’ unprecedented ascension as the world’s foremost stand-your-ground nation, Light exposes a history hidden in plain sight, showing how violent self-defense has been legalized for the most privileged and used as a weapon against the most vulnerable."

    The web site had 25 newly created, re-written, or updated essays during 2018-JAN, including the above book review.
    In addition, we make major and minor updates to many essays each day that are not recorded below:

    Depletion of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol to ban CFCs:

    Spring equinox

    Links to Easter and other religious celebrations

    "Musing on life" A collection of thoughts contributed by Bill McKeen

    Present-day beliefs that the Earth is flat

    Deism, God, the Big Bang, Matter, & Motion, an essay discussing Deist beliefs and the existence of God, donated by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys

    "Updating the New Testament, an essay donated by Alton C. Thompson about the Golden Rule.

    Update to the 2017-NOV Mass Murder & Injuries at a church in Sutherland Springs, TX

    School Shootings, mostly in North America: 2010 until now. Changes after shooting in Parkland, FL

    Beliefs about God, by Stephen Hawking, an Atheist

    Proposal to Create a Life Enhancement Group (LEG), an article donated by Alton C. Thompson

    An Extensive Study of the "Pillars of Practice" in Islam, an essay donated by Professor Hafiz Ikram Ullah

    Mississippi creates law to ban abortions after 15 weeks

    New Years resolutions, donated by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys

    The Problem With God's Perfection, An essay donated by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys.

    Timeline of school shootings, mostly in North America: 2008 until 2018-MAR During 2008-MAR.

    President Trump's ban on transgender persons is implemented in 2017-AUG, reversed by the courts, and reinstated in 2018-MAR.

    "People are Naturally Good, But ...:" an essay donated by Alton C. Thompson about selfish and cooperative behavior.

    Major U.S. laws & court cases concerning abortion access

    Creating a safe place for kids on the Internet. Links to anti-bullying sites. Recommended books

    2005 to 2018: Trying to Convert Gays to Heterosexuals using Reparative Therapy. U.S. and Canadian Laws restricting such therapy

    The Orlando, FL mass murder at The Pulse LGBT nightclub: Shooter's wife cleared in court

    Beliefs & practices of Christian Gnosticism

    Recent evidence and impact of climate change

    A glossary of sexual terms starting with letters M to P and letters Q to Z

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    2018-February's book selection

    book cover "How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying About God and the Bible," by Richard M. Smoley

    Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

    Available for U.S. $17.90 in Kindle format, or $11.17 plus postage in paperback, or $17.95 in audible format.

    Amazon.com book review:

    "This epic, thrilling journey through Bible scholarship and ancient religion shows how much of Scripture is historically false -- yet the ancient writings also resound with theologies that crisscrossed the primeval world and that direct us today toward a deep, inner, authentic experience of the truly sacred.

    From a historical perspective, the Bible is shockingly, provably wrong -- a point supported by today's best archaeological and historical scholarship but not well understood by (or communicated to) the public. Yet this emphatically does not mean that the Bible isn't, in some very real measure, true, argues scholar of mysticism Richard Smoley.

    Smoley reviews the most authoritative historical evidence to demonstrate that figures such as Moses, Abraham, and Jesus are not only unlikely to have existed, but bear strong composite resemblances to other Near Eastern religious icons. Likewise, the geopolitical and military events of Scripture fail to mesh with the largely settled historical time line and social structures. Smoley meticulously shows how our concepts of the Hebrew and Christian God, including Christ himself, are an assemblage of ideas that were altered, argued over, and edited -- until their canonization. This process, to a large degree, gave Western civilization its consensus view of God.

    But these conclusions are not cause for nihilism or disbelief. Rather, beneath the metaphorical figures and mythical historicism of Scripture appears an extraordinary, truly transcendent theology born from the most sacred and fully realized spiritual and human insights of the antique Eastern world. Far from being "untrue," the Bible is remarkably, extraordinarily true as it connects us to the sublime insights of our ancient ancestors and points to a unifying ethic behind many of the world's faiths."

    Average rating by eight Amazon customers' reviews: 4.8 out of 5 stars, including 82% five star ratings.

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    The web site had 8 newly created, re-written, or updated essays during 2018-JAN, including the above book review.
    In addition, we make major and minor updates to many essays each day that are not recorded below

    Imbolc, a Wiccan and Neopagan seasonal day of celebration a.k.a. Groundhog Day, Snowdrop Festival, etc.

    Christian Humanism: al liberal faith within Christianity.

    Assessing the will of God through prayer; is it reliable? Mike Pence criticized for communicating with Jesus.

    The Presbyterian Church (USA) redefined marriage and gave their clergy the choice of solemnizing the marriages of same-sex couples.

    Climate Change 2017-OCT to 2018-FEB

    Attempting to calm distressed gays, or trying to convert gays into ex-gays.

    Is the Bible the Word of God or Myth of men?" A Progressive Christian interpretation

    Atheism: Either Lack of Belief in a God or Goddess, or a Denial of their Existence.

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    2018-January's book selection

    book cover"The End of White Christian America," by Robert P. Jones

    Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.

    Available for U.S. $14.99 in Kindle format, or $18.16 plus postage in hardcover formats.

    A New York Times Book Review:

    "Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), challenges us to grasp the profound political and cultural consequences of a new reality—that America is no longer a majority white Christian nation.

    For most of our nation’s history, White Christian America (WCA)—the cultural and political edifice built primarily by white Protestant Christians—set the tone for our national policy and shaped American ideals. But especially since the 1990s, WCA has steadily lost influence, following declines within both its mainline and evangelical branches. Today, America is no longer demographically or culturally a majority white Christian nation.

    Drawing on more than four decades of polling data, The End of White Christian America explains and analyzes the waning vitality of WCA. Jones argues that the visceral nature of today’s most heated issues—the vociferous arguments around same-sex marriage and religious liberty, the rise of the Tea Party following the election of our first black president, and stark disagreements between black and white Americans over the fairness of the criminal justice system—can only be understood against the backdrop of white Christians’ anxieties as America’s racial and religious topography shifts around them. ..."

    Average rating by 63 Amazon customers' reviews: 4.1 out of 5 stars.

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    The web site had 6 newly created, re-written, or updated essays during 2018-JAN, including the above book review.
    In addition, we make major and minor updates to many essays each day that are not recorded below

    Depletion of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol to ban CFCs

    Part 5: 2015-FEB to MAY: Presbyterian Church (USA) accepts gay marriages

    Gay marriage in Bermuda Part 1 Part 2: Legalized during 2017; cancelled by the Governor's veto in early 2018.

    Religious conflicts: Apologies by Christian groups for past racist acts. Solar system: Religious beliefs/scientific findings

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    2017-December's book selection:

    book cover "Testimony: The Transformative Power of Unitarian Universalism," edited by Meg Riley

    Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
    $7.92 in Kindle format, or $14.00 plus postage in hardcover.

    Amazon.com book review:

    Amazon.com book review:
    "A dynamic collection of personal stories from people whose lives have been dramatically changed by Unitarian Universalism. Some have returned from the brink of despair, others have found renewed purpose and discovered the saving power of community. Together these vignettes paint a portrait of the real, felt impact of Unitarian Universalism. Readers can find a new appreciation for the ways Unitarian Universalism makes a tangible difference in the lives of real people who are struggling.

    Full disclosure:

    Bruce Robinson, the founder and main author of this web site, wrote one of the 43 personal stories in this book. It is called "A Perfect Match." I recommend that you buy a big box of tissues with this book. Many of the other 42 stories in the book are quite moving.

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    The web site had 19 newly created, re-written, or updated essays during 2017-DEC, including the above book review.
    In addition, we make major and minor updates to many essays each day that are not recorded below

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    2017-November's book selection:

    book cover"Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People," by Nadia Bolz-Weber

    Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.

    Available for U.S. $
    17.80 plus postage in Paperback, $13.99 in Kindle format, or $22.99 in hardcover formats.

    A sampling of Amazon.com book reviews:

    • “Unflinchingly honest (and funny)…You don't have to be religious to get something out of this book.”
      -NPR’s “Best Books of 2015”

    • "[Bolz-Weber] is one of the most important Christian voices around -- not because she has come up with some catchy, easy new way to do faith, but because when talks about the destructive power of sin, as well as redemption and grace, she knows of what she speaks."
      -Huffington Post

    • "Wickedly funny and painfully vulnerable, theologically nuanced and lyrically sonorous. [Her] voice communicates the scandal of the Christ and the sacraments of his church with more force and vitality than most writers can hope to summon."
      -The Christian Century

    • “Engaging and accessible…Bolz-Weber is clear-eyed about the personal travails faced by the marginalized and those without faith.”
      –Booklist

    • "If Saint Augustine were to return to life and live among us now, he would be Bolz-Weber; and if his Confessions were to be written in 21st century rhetoric and style, they would be this book. Accidental Saints is what every Christian yearns to know is possible." 
      -Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours and The Great Emergence

    About the Author:

    Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. She is the au­thor of the New York Times best-selling memoir Pastrix. Nadia has been featured on CNN and in the Washington Post, Bitch Magazine, NPR’s Morning Edition, More Magazine, and the Daily Beast.

    Average rating in reviews by 259 Amazon customers: 4.6 out of 5 stars. The book was on the New York Times list of bestsellers in 2015.

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    The web site had 24 newly created, re-written, or updated essays during 2017-NOV, including the above book review.
    In addition, we make major and minor updates to many essays each day that are not recorded below

    Note about terminology relating to gender identity:

    The term "transgenderism" was once widely used to refer to transgender persons. It is still often used by religious conservatives and others in articles opposed to persons being transgender. However, among the LGBT, liberal religious, and scientific communities, it has largely been replaced by "being transgender," or a similar phrase. During 2017-NOV, this web site tracked down all of its 104 references to "transgenderism" and modified them.

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    2017-October's book selection:

    book cover

    The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (Berlin Family Lectures) by Amitav Gosh

    Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
    $
    18.24 plus postage in Paperback, $11.50 in Kindle format, or $24.17 in hardcover.

    Amazon.com book review:

    "Are we deranged? The acclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that future generations may well think so. How else to explain our imaginative failure in the face of global warming? In his first major book of nonfiction since In an Antique Land, Ghosh examines our inability—at the level of literature, history, and politics—to grasp the scale and violence of climate change.

    The extreme nature of today’s climate events, Ghosh asserts, make them peculiarly resistant to contemporary modes of thinking and imagining. This is particularly true of serious literary fiction: hundred-year storms and freakish tornadoes simply feel too improbable for the novel; they are automatically consigned to other genres. In the writing of history, too, the climate crisis has sometimes led to gross simplifications; Ghosh shows that the history of the carbon economy is a tangled global story with many contradictory and counterintuitive elements.

    Ghosh ends by suggesting that politics, much like literature, has become a matter of personal moral reckoning rather than an arena of collective action. But to limit fiction and politics to individual moral adventure comes at a great cost. The climate crisis asks us to imagine other forms of human existence—a task to which fiction, Ghosh argues, is the best suited of all cultural forms. His book serves as a great writer’s summons to confront the most urgent task of our time."

    Average rating of this book in reviews by Amazon customers: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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    The web site had 23 newly created, re-written, or updated essays during 2017-OCT, including the above book review.
    In addition, we make major and minor updates to many essays each day that are not recorded below.

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    2017-September's book selection:

    book cover

    Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination 1st Edition by Ryan T. Anderson, John Corvino, and Sherif Girgis.

    Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
    $9.99 in Kindle format or $21.95 plus postage in Paperback.

    Amazon's book review:

    "Virtually everyone supports religious liberty, and virtually everyone opposes discrimination. But how do we handle the hard questions that arise when exercises of religious liberty seem to discriminate unjustly? How do we promote the common good while respecting conscience in a diverse society?

    This point-counterpoint book brings together leading voices in the culture wars to debate such questions: John Corvino, a longtime LGBT-rights advocate, opposite Ryan T. Anderson and Sherif Girgis, prominent young social conservatives.

    Many such questions have arisen in response to same-sex marriage: How should we treat county clerks who do not wish to authorize such marriages, for example; or bakers, florists, and photographers who do not wish to provide same-sex wedding services? But the conflicts extend well beyond the LGBT rights arena. How should we treat hospitals, schools, and adoption agencies that can't in conscience follow antidiscrimination laws, healthcare mandates, and other regulations? Should corporations ever get exemptions? Should public officials?..."

    " In point-counterpoint format, Corvino, Anderson and Girgis explore these questions and more. Although their differences run deep, they tackle them with civility, clarity, and flair. Their debate is an essential contribution to contemporary discussions about why religious liberty matters and what respecting it requires."

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    The web site had 18 newly created or re-written essays during 2017-SEP, including the above book review.
    In addition, we make major and minor updates to many essays each day that are not recorded below.

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    2017-August's book selection

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    New and updated essays on the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance (OCRT) web site.
    Updated daily
    Author:
    B.A. Robinson

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