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I as a lutheran theologian feel obliged to react.

[i]~~~Aha! Now I know why you once wrote that you know Hebrew. At the time, I thought that highly unusual and somewhat puzzling.[/i]

We are all on our way of deeper union with Christ. Being Jewish, Catholic or Protestant.

[i]~~~We are all on our way to deeper union with God, which for Catholics and Protestants may be the same thing as union with Jesus, but for Jews most certainly is not. However, I take your meaning, and yes, I think the diversity here is an excellent thing.[/i]

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Here is my story, shared briefly and without many details. I have been considering life as a consecrated woman in a secular institute. This means that I will live by vows of poverty, chastity, and

After a beautiful little post in the Raising Small Humans board, I thought I would start a thread here. VS often changes due to people entering religious life, new people coming and going, etc. I k

This is probably the most sanitised version I can muster. I was born into a mixed marriage', my father being the catholic parent, but the love and support came from my mother. My father was a c

[quote name='nunsense' timestamp='1324254318' post='2353410']
Okay found it. I forgot that the other forum is for adults only, so it's good I post here as well for those who dont' go over there.

---------------------------------
Did I discern religious life before marriage? Well, yes, and no. I discerned religious life before and after marriage! :P

I wanted to be a nun before I became a Catholic and that's basically why I became Catholic in the first place, because I was working with Mother Teresa's nuns and wanted to join them but they told me I had to be Catholic first! I started religious instruction and a year or so later I was baptised but I was in California by that time and there were no MCs there so I started looking at other convents, but they all seemed to be going through some post Vat 2 crisis with changing habits and more freedom, etc, and I was not attracted to any of the communities I visited. I had never heard of contemplatives or cloistered nun so gave up my discernment. I also basically stopped being a practising Catholic for many years and married a non-Catholic who was anti-children and who had a past that he forgot to tell me about until after the marriage. The marriage lasted less than a year and I got a divorce.

I then went on to foster children and finally became an adoptive parent as well. My daughter returned me to the faith when she told me she wanted to become a Catholic, and I felt I should set her a good example, so I enrolled her in Catholic school and we became very active in our parish.

It wasn't until she grew up and left home that the desire to be a nun returned so I found a spiritual director and he told me he thought I was a contemplative and should check out cloistered nuns this time. I spoke with an Archbishop who told me that my marriage had been invalid since it had been with a non-Catholic and outside the Church so he gave me a Decree of Nullity (with very little paperwork on my part).

My spiritual director suggested I check out Benedictines (being one himself) but I had a desire for Carmel so tried to be a Carmelite nun four times. I wanted to give up and thought that I had no real vocation but another spiritual director (also a Benedictine) disagreed and told me I had been trying in the wrong place and recommended I try again - with the Benedictines. I am going to the US in January to spend 2-3 weeks with a cloistered Benedictine community there.

So, yes, I discerned RL before and after my marriage :P
[/quote]

Your life experiences are one of the reasons I think that it is unfortunate that more orders don't take "mature" vocations. It would seem to me that the wisdom gained from such wide and varied experience would be invaluable in religious life.

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[quote name='Antigonos' timestamp='1324276061' post='2353572']
Your life experiences are one of the reasons I think that it is unfortunate that more orders don't take "mature" vocations. It would seem to me that the wisdom gained from such wide and varied experience would be invaluable in religious life.
[/quote]

I used to think that too but I have since come to believe that it is a gift not to have too many choices. I believe that God can use all things for our good (if we cooperate) and being limited to very few communities has actually made some things easier for me. People are always asking God to show them His will for sure, and here is a very easy way for me to know something for sure - if I apply to a community and they tell me I am too old for them, then I am sure that it is God's will for me! The really hard part is choosing between the ones that WILL accept me, and there are still quite a few that do consider older women.

The harder thing for me was accepting that I was not going to be a Carmelite! I certainly gave that the 'old college try' but after four attempts, and a period of great depression, I had to face the reality that I was NOT being called to become a Carmelite nun. that doesn't mean that I didn't have some wonderful times, or that God wasn't a part of each of those experiences- He definitely was. And I have learned so much from each experience. I also spent two months living with a laura (community) of hermits - even though that sounds like a contradiction in terms. :P And a total of three months discerning with two different active communities, both new ones (and most people know that one of those was Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope with the former Rosalind Moss, now Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God). It didn't me long to decide that neither new communities nor active apostolates were my calling. But that doesn't mean I'm not glad I did them. As for the hermit, I loved being with them but that experience taught me that I really need to worship in community. I missed praying the Divine Office with others too much to stay there.

I keep in touch with almost every community I have discerned with, but most especially with the Carmelites. I am a benefactor now and friend to them, and have close relationships with many of the sisters, who send me emails with news and updates. They are also my references for other communities as I have parted on good terms with them all, even the one where I was asked to leave.

I think that each community has to judge for themselves whether accepting mature vocations would be an asset to their existing community. Only they know what mix would be best for them. This knowledge has come at a great price to me personally, as no one likes to be denied or rejected, but now that I see it, I am very grateful. I can say the same thing about being asked to leave Carmel by one community. As much as we love each other, I can see now that it was not where God wants me to be. I don't think I have ever been so content in my life as I am now, and it isn't dependant on anything that might happen in the future. I certainly do hope to find that my visit turns into something more, but from everything that has happened so far, I can see that God is with me every step of the way, no matter what happens next. :)

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[quote name='Lil'Monster' timestamp='1324268262' post='2353510']
Well...I will start at the beginning....My parents met each other but they had kids from first marriages (My Dad had 2 boys and my Mom had 2 girls and 2 boys)....well as you would figure it out..both of my parents fell in love with each other, etc. Then I was conceived in my mother's womb then after 9 months there was no more room left so I had to leave and that is how I was born! My Dad was Catholic and my Mom wasn't..but she entered the church after I was baptised....


I am going to skip some years until I made my first Holy Communion at the age of 7 or 8....I forgot how old I was but that doesn't really matter. I fell in love with Jesus and I devoured the Eucharist. I just couldn't get enough of Him! Actually from that point on to about the age of 12.....I played "Mass" at home. :blush: Yeah I used bed sheets for vestments. Also we used pop for the "Blood of Christ" and we used toast for the "Body of Christ"...my dad played "the priest" and I played the "altar girl." Well I had such a affection for Christ.....And I still do but not like a 8 year old child! :hehe:

Well many people could say that I had a wonderful life but I would say decent because there were things that I went through which weren't very fun at all!

So skipping a few more years when I was 13 years old, I believed in God but I really didn't know him or really love him like I used to. I didn't really have a prayer life until one big thing happened! Well some of you know that my Dad used to be a gunsmith and that he was in a shooting accident.

So anyway..here is what happened: He was a gunsmith and was working on somebody's gun who got it from ebay. The gun needed repairs on it and so my dad was fixing it. So he was sitting his chair with a book about guns in one hand and in the other hand he had the handgun....so he pulled the trigger (but it was suppose to let the bullet to go in the chamber) but it fired instead! and i dont know if he knew there was a bullet in there anyway. So it went through the book and through his left hand then it went in his leg...which shattered 5 inches of his femur bone. Also the doctor was afraid to get the whole bullet out of his leg cuz it was near the main vein or something like that. but the doctor got the casing of the bullet out but not all of it so its still in his leg. He has a steel rod from his hip to his knee! Also the bullet was probably the half of the size of an average person's pinky finger! This was several years ago and my Dad is doing fine! But he still does have problems with his leg though so remember to keep him in your prayers! Actually this accident made me think about how I could have loss my dad and it still brings tears to my eyes to talk about it. This kind of thing brought me closer to God and it made me stronger too!

If you would like to hear more about my Dad's shooting accident..just ask me!


Ok moving on.....I will tell you more of my story on another day!

God bless!
[/quote]

Mon,

You are truly a sensitive spirit! The joy you must have given your father playing church with him must have been amesome!

The incident of your father's shooting accident was a miracle and the depth of that you still feel when you speak of it. I am looking forward to hearing more about your story soon!

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I'll give a little of my background thus far. I was born into a nominal Catholic household. My mom was raised Catholic and my dad was raised Southern Baptist and converted to Catholicism before my parents were married. Church was a Sunday affair. We didn't go any other times except Christmas Eve, but, even then, it wasn't stressed and we didn't go every year. We didn't go every Sunday either, especially the times when it was inconvenient. I didn't even know what a Holy Day of Obligation was. I attended CCD classes at my parish and received all the Sacraments of Initiation. By the time Confirmation came around, I really didn't know if I wanted to remain a Catholic for the rest of my life, but got Confirmed anyway because "everyone else in my class was doing it." But it meant very little at the time. By the time I reached high school, I was fighting my parents every Sunday because I didn't want to attend Mass. I wanted to sleep in and watch TV. After graduation from high school, it was my responsibility to attend Mass because I was 18 and I believed my parents didn't have a right to force me to go anymore. So I only went when I felt like it (which was only once in a while or when things were going badly in my life). I never learned to have a personal relationship in my childhood so God was just God, and not a loving Father who wanted good things for my life.

I was truly lost after I graduated high school. I started attending junior college classes, but there was no direction in my life. I had been diagnosed with depression at age 16, and was still in a very dark place. I failed many of my classes and was hurting deep inside. I knew there was something missing. One semester, I took World Religions because I was interested in learning what was out there besides Catholicism. I learned about Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc. I did a report on Buddhism and attended a Buddhist temple service for the very first time. It was very uncomfortable. I knew, deep down inside, that this was NOT what I was looking for. They prayed to a different god and not the God I knew. Hinduism was even more confusing, though. But, because I had developed a great love for Bollywood movies and Moroccan culture, I started trying to learn more about the religious practices. That whole year and a half, I was obsessed with Indian culture and cuisine. But it quickly faded and I found myself searching again for meaning.

I started studying Protestant religions in my spare time and became intrigued with the Society of Friends (Quakers). I knew there was a service nearby and I kept trying to get my mom to go with me because I didn't want to attend alone. She resisted and so I never went. The same happened when I wanted to attend a Methodist church and a Presbyterian church. Each time she said she didn't want to attend because she wanted to go to the new Catholic parish that my parents had transferred to. She urged me to stop looking for meaning in different religions because she could see how lost I was. I attended Mass at the new parish and hated every minute of it. I found faults in the way the Church looked and how the priest gave homilies. I was so ready to leave. However, my mom hadn't given up on me. She discovered a retreat given by the Young Adults in our diocese and told me she would pay for it if I wanted to go. I resisted at first, but then surrendered. The trip to the retreat center was horrible. I got lost three times and felt like turning back and going home but I finally found the center. As soon as I walked into the chapel, I was flooded with confusion and didn't know why I was there. I knew no one. I felt so alone and afraid. The band kept playing songs I had never heard before. The religious Friars and Sisters that were there were so foreign to me because I had never met a religious before.

After the service was over in the chapel, I walked back to my cabin, but was not able to get very far because the anxiety started to eat me alive. I was consumed with emotions. But something was pressing me to stay and talk to one of the religious about what I felt and I asked the retreat director if I could talk to a Sister. She went into the cabin and grabbed the attention of a Sister of Life -- Sr. Mary Gabriel. I was crying so much that it was very difficult for me to speak and so Sister just let me sit there and sob until I could talk. She gave me a huge hug and asked me why I was crying. When I told her about my anxiety and how I was feeling, I told her I just wanted to go home but I felt like something was holding me there. I was scared and lonely. She urged me to stay because she believed that the Holy Spirit was working through me to help me. She gave me a blessing with Holy Water and my fears were relieved. I slept like a baby that night. When I look back, I know God was with me that night. Jesus was in that Sister and He gave me life. :)

The whole weekend was so incredible. Saturday night, I experienced the Eucharistic Procession for the first time ever. I just followed everyone else and touched the humeral veil, but what happened next is something that can not be described in words. I experienced a true conversion of heart and felt the call to go to Confession for the first time in 10 years. I made a full reversion to the Church and felt more alive and whole than I ever had! It was then that I felt called to look into religious life.

Over the next 4 years, I would visit 4 communities, but this November, I discerned that God was [u]not[/u] calling me to become a Sister. I have heard stories of people mistaking the call to holiness as the call to religious life and I believe the same thing occurred with me, but God allowed my discernment for my greater good. I learned so much about my faith through my searching and I'm stronger now than I ever was. Since there are no other communities I feel called to look into, I have surrendered the idea of religious life. I'm very much at peace with how this journey has gone and I feel confident that God is pleased that I sought to do His will even if I don't have a vocation to religious life. So, at this time, I am open to marriage and to consecrated single life (both Consecrated Virginity and Secular Institutes). Most days, I feel called to check out marriage even more and start dating, but then I look at the incredible beauty of the vocation to Consecrated Virginity and how CV's are in service to the parish they are registered in. Being a bride of Christ in that way is most remarkable. I know God will give me direction in His time so I'm in no rush. I am also searching for a spiritual director and was told to look into a religious community in my diocese to see if any of the Sisters would be willing to help. I'm hoping to get in contact with them soon. :)

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Well it is interesting to read the stories of newer phatmassers! So inspiring :)

I don't want to share too much, but I joined phatmass a month or two after being baptized (but I did lurk quite a bit)! I am a completed Jew, a truly humbled daughter of Israel. My story is quite a long one, and it's still going. But I am so beautifully overwhelmed in knowing and experiencing the wonder and awe of the first Christians. I went to Hebrew school for most of my childhood and was schooled in the faith. I was always curious about the ways of God and of the world. I believe God gave me that curiosity and insatiable desire for Truth so that it would lead me to Him.

Oh how good he was to me! I grew up only knowing God the Father, but how beautiful to think that it was our triune God guiding me and bringing me to the light and truth of the universe.





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Short version: God scared me my freshman year in college and I fell in love with Him.

More detailed version
I would describe my house when I was growing up as secular Christian. We celebrated Christmas and Easter but never touched on the religious side of things.(I always wondered why there were "religious" stickers in with the egg dye kits) When I was 12ish my family visited my grandmother and went to her small town Methodist Church. The pastor's sermon was on the tax collector and the pharisee. I was having some inner turmoil with regards to religion I wasn't sure how to express it though. The sermon made me realize that God might want a relationship with me. That night after a wonderful day while in bed I really prayed for the first time. In the business of daily life it slipped away. I became curious again when I was 14ish but yet again it fell by the wayside.
Then I was accepted to a Jesuit University and I tried to convince myself that I was going there solely for the engineering program but I kept finding myself exploring every page of the campus ministry page late at night. During orientation my leader encouraged all of us to go to the first student Mass of the year. He said that it didn't matter what faith background you came from it was a really amesome experience and everyone goes to it. Also during orientation I kept on running into this one girl. I found it slightly odd that out of the hundreds of freshmen we kept bumping into each other. I did go to the first Mass of the year and it was an amazing experience. Then as I got to know that one girl more and more I found out that she is a devout Catholic and she would invite me to different campus ministry events. Seeing the peace others got from praying I decided to give it a shot. I told God about three different issues I was having. Shortly there after all three of the issues were resolved very quickly. When I finally put all the pieces together you could have hit me upside the head with a 2x4 and I would have been in less shock. I realized that God was real and He would listen to me. It scared me silly, my whole ego centered world had been turned upside down and inside out. Three days later at lunch I ended up pouring my soul out to the girl I had met (and since become friends with). I had no idea why I did so at the time but she was totally supportive of me and encouraged me to talk to our dorm minister. After that I realized that I needed to join the Church and I started to get involved with my different faith activities on campus.
My second semester (I was not yet baptized or even really started the RCIA process) the concept of discerning started to pop up. I had no clue what it was but once I figured out what it was I started exploring it for curiosity's sake. I felt there was no way that I could ever become a sister, I thought you had to be super holy to be one. I started to meet some religious brothers and sisters along the way and I realized they were real people (imagine that). I started to reconsider if I might be called.
That thought slowly turned into a desire and I am still pursuing it. At the 2011 Easter Vigil I officially came into the Church. It was just a beautiful feeling to finally be a part of the Church. This summer I was blessed to be asked to be an RCIA sponsor and I have learned that I love spiritual motherhood. I am continuing to discern and I am now seriously looking at two communities.
With all of this my parents (whom I live with) have been only slightly supportive of my decision to become Catholic and dead against my discernment. This has led to a couple of confrontations between us where I have seriously considered moving out. Most of the time I am able to set our differences aside but the tension surfaces every once and awhile.
It has been a wild two years but I have enjoyed it because I have drawn closer to God. It has been worth every single bit, the good and the bad. I can't wait to see where God is going to take me next.

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[quote name='Antigonos' timestamp='1324275593' post='2353570']
I as a lutheran theologian feel obliged to react.

[i]~~~Aha! Now I know why you once wrote that you know Hebrew. At the time, I thought that highly unusual and somewhat puzzling.[/i]
[/quote]

Yes, we are those crazy ones who still have to study Latin, Greek and Hebrew ;) :) But it IS razzle dazzle. Which reminds me that yesterday night while writing the above I forgot the "sola scriptura" - only scripture.... How could I! ;)

[quote]
We are all on our way of deeper union with Christ. Being Jewish, Catholic or Protestant.

[i]~~~We are all on our way to deeper union with God, which for Catholics and Protestants may be the same thing as union with Jesus, but for Jews most certainly is not. However, I take your meaning, and yes, I think the diversity here is an excellent thing.[/i]
[/quote]

Sorry, this was indeed not worded very well! I should have written God, it was late last night... You got exactly the meaning that is appropriate for the "three of us" :)

But now enough off-topic. Back to your stories! :)

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[quote name='LadyOfSorrows' timestamp='1324278269' post='2353585']
Antigonos. So great to see you back on here. I've been praying for you. I hope you can accept your Messianic sister now. ;)
[/quote]

Umm...no. I firmly believe that if she were properly educated in Judaism she would never have left it. That was Edith Stein's problem, too. Her parents were atheists and she had no religious Jewish background at all. She never even really studied Judaism; felt a spiritual lack and was vulnerable to Catholic missionaries, without the necessary knowledge to rebut what she was told. On this issue, the gap is simply too wide theologically. It is unfortunate that, especially since the 18th century Enlightenment, when most of the ghetto walls came down, too many Jews lack basic scholarship in their own faith.

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Edith Stein's mother was definitely not an atheist. She was practising. This is why Edith's conversion hurt her so much. Edith became an atheist at fourteen, but not through her parents' influence. As a child she did attend synagogue.

It might be that she wasn't able to engage with what she found there. I think some children (especially very sharp inquisitive children, as Edith was) are left behind in religious education - what they're presented with can't satisfy their curiosity, and they're stifled. I've seen it happening in churches. This could have been the problem in Edith's case.

[quote]
She never even really studied Judaism; felt a spiritual lack and was vulnerable to Catholic missionaries[/quote]

Her conversion came about through her reading of St Teresa of Avila's [i]Life, [/i]which she did unprompted by anyone. When she went to the priest and requested to be baptised at once, he was startled, and told her that she couldn't possibly - you can't convert just like that, you have to be more educated about the faith first. It usually takes about a year. But Edith had already educated herself. She had no contact with Catholic missionaries. (Unsurprising, really - she lived in the Lutheran heartland.) Even if she had met missionaries, I would be a little upset with the use of the phrase 'vulnerable to'. They aren't sharks. Secondly, Edith was a brilliant philosopher, demonstrated by the unusual fact that she was one of few women to secure a university teaching post at that time, and was accepted without reservation to study alongside Edmund Husserl (who was notoriously choosy with his students - ironically he was wary about accepting Heidegger for fear that Heidegger's Catholicism would get in the way of the fearless intellectual exploration demanded by phenomenology). This being so, I think Edith would have been quite capable of challenging any missionary.

That said, I can understand your distress at your sister's no longer practising Judaism. A conversion is always painful and difficult to deal with. I ache whenever I hear that anybody has left the Church for another religion, and I'm the only one of my siblings who practises Catholicism, so I understand something of how you feel.

Edited by beatitude
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[quote name='Antigonos' timestamp='1324289855' post='2353620']
Umm...no. I firmly believe that if she were properly educated in Judaism she would never have left it. That was Edith Stein's problem, too. Her parents were atheists and she had no religious Jewish background at all. She never even really studied Judaism; felt a spiritual lack and was vulnerable to Catholic missionaries, without the necessary knowledge to rebut what she was told. On this issue, the gap is simply too wide theologically. It is unfortunate that, especially since the 18th century Enlightenment, when most of the ghetto walls came down, too many Jews lack basic scholarship in their own faith.
[/quote]

Wow - Antigonos! I don't know if you realise how patronising and offensive this post sounds? I am one of the first supporters of our Jewish brothers and sisters because of my own close friends, but your comments offended even me because they come across as almost hostility. I sure hope you didn't mean them that way. Since you are posting here as a non-Catholic, and this is not the Debate Table (where the threads seem to get quite heated) it might be better if you could tone it down a little? You can have your opinion, but maybe just try to be a little less defensive (or hostile?) in the way you offer it here in the Vocation Station?

Or you could start a thread in Debate Table covering things like whether Jews would ever convert if they were properly schooled in their faith, who you think was influenced by missionaries and other things that tend to be a little more controversial. The way you put it, you might also offend those who have converted from Judaism to Catholicism and who post here, which would be unfortunate. I would be happy to participate in a thread like this on the Debate Table, but it isn't appropriate in VS in a thread devoted to Our Stories.

Edited by nunsense
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I was never baptised as a child, my father is Catholic (though significantly lapsed) and my mother is Anglican and they couldn't decide which church to baptise me and my sister in. So the decision was left to us. I grew up attending an Anglican church but went to a Catholic convent school. I considered myself Anglican until I was 8 when I decided to convert to Catholicism. I was baptised at 12 and took First Communion at 13. After that I became very lapsed, my parents divorced and we stopped attending any church. When I was 16 we moved and a Catholic friend of my mothers found out I was Catholic and offered to take me to church with her. She helped me get into RCIA for my confirmation and was my sponsor.


My vocation story is trickier. I remember feeling drawn somehow to religious life and asking in RCIA how one became a nun. But I never followed it up and I let it fall by the wayside. A few years later I felt it again and I did start looking at communities but I was only looking at apostolic communities. I didn't feel drawn to them and was petrified of it so I let it slide again. A few months ago, it came back after I had been praying to surrender my will to the will of God. So I decided that this time I would look into it seriously and felt the call so strongly that I was so sure I was called. I told my mother a few weeks ago and she was so angry and eventually I got so stressed I just told her to forget it - she was saying I'd been brainwashed and she hated the Church and should never have let me go to church when I was younger. When I'm on my own at university it's so much easier and I feel the call so strongly. When I'm at home, surrounded by my mother's hate and anger it's so much more difficult. I'm kind of at a loss now. The feeling of the call is still there and there is still that joy but there's also this terrible sadness at the pain it causes in others.

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[quote name='nunsense' timestamp='1324298176' post='2353633'] Wow - Antigonos! I don't know if you realise how patronising and offensive this post sounds? I am one of the first supporters of our Jewish brothers and sisters because of my own close friends, but your comments offended even me because they come across as almost hostility. I sure hope you didn't mean them that way. Since you are posting here as a non-Catholic, and this is not the Debate Table (where the threads seem to get quite heated) it might be better if you could tone it down a little? You can have your opinion, but maybe just try to be a little less defensive (or hostile?) in the way you offer it here in the Vocation Station? Or you could start a thread in Debate Table covering things like whether Jews would ever convert if they were properly schooled in their faith, who you think was influenced by missionaries and other things that tend to be a little more controversial. The way you put it, you might also offend those who have converted from Judaism to Catholicism and who post here, which would be unfortunate. I would be happy to participate in a thread like this on the Debate Table, but it isn't appropriate in VS in a thread devoted to Our Stories. [/quote]

I apologize if I offended anyone; it was not my intention. And you are right; this is not the forum for it.

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