iMonk Classic: East Of Eden

Editor’s note: With today being something called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” (see yesterday’s Saturday Ramblings for more on this), I thought it good to revisit what Michael Spencer had to say about Christians and politics. This essay first appeared in October, 2004, and has been edited for length, and it is still long. But it’s worth reading to the end.

Christians talking about what the Bible says about politics: is there anything scarier? Well, it’s October. Let’s get scary. I want to talk about a Christian and Biblical approach to politics.  I want to suggest what the politics look like out here “east of Eden.”

Remember that phrase? It occurs twice in Genesis. First, in Genesis 3:24, at the conclusion of God’s expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. We hear it again in Genesis 4:16, when Cain is expelled from his home. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

The phrase says more than it says. It represents the entire human condition. We are fallen. All of us, all the time, in every way. But more than that. We are not in Eden any more, and we aren’t going back to Eden. Ever. Nothing can take us back to where we were before sin wrecked our reality. Even when the Kingdom of God arrives in full in history, we are not going back to paradise, but forward into God’s new heaven and new earth.

Everything we do, we now do “east of Eden.” Family life. Marriage. Work. Art. Knowledge. Politics. It is a fundamental fact. An inescapable and inexhaustible reality. Of course, we don’t want to believe it. We nod in agreement when someone says we are sinners. We agree that we are fallen. But give us an opportunity, and we will spend our money on a scheme that promises paradise. Religious shortcuts to heaven. Psychiatric promises to make us happy with a pill. Educational utopianism that believes ignorance can be cured with enough good schools. And of course, the primary prophets of going back to some kind of Eden—politicians.

For most of Christian history, Christians have, on some level, been highly susceptible to the idea that while individuals are sinners, political movements could, if given the opportunity, so structure society that some measure of paradise could be restored. Despite overwhelming evidence that C.S. Lewis was right when he said the machine always runs well for a while, but inevitably “conks out,” Christians are remarkably uncritical when it comes to applying the Biblical truth of corporate fallenness to political reality.

There are various explanations for this. There is certainly a lingering attraction to messianic hopes among Christians. Nothing quite reeks of a modern day messiah like a politician seeking to impress an audience of sympathetic Christians. Elect me, and some measure of the kingdom will be installed in the statehouse. Despite centuries of hard evidence that this is nonsense, Christians continue to act like the girls at the Beatle’s Shea Stadium concert when a politician or party plays their song.

Christians also have particular beliefs about the power of “truth.” In particular, they believe that their truth works in a God-guaranteed manner. Therefore, if  a politician or political movement has a position based upon the “Biblical worldview,” that position contains the power of truth, and God’s blessing and power can be expected to result. So once a Christian identifies a Biblical truth in a political party or movement- from “Help the poor and suffering” to “Put the Ten Commandments in the schools”- they are usually certain that victory will roll back some aspect of the fall and bring back a measure of paradise. Especially where children are concerned.

The Ten Commandments movement is a good example. Here in southeastern Kentucky, Christians are convinced that if the Ten Commandments are in the public schools, the children in those schools will be spared certain aspects of sinful, social corruption. The same could be said of prayer in schools, invocations at football games and creationism in the classroom. These Christians are convinced of the power of Biblical truth in all these areas. If their side wins, sin and Satan lose.

A further explanation is a kind of lingering postmillennialism that has been reawakened in modern evangelical political activism. While most evangelicals are firmly premillenial, awaiting the rapture and looking for history to get worse and worse, there is a lingering fascination with the idea of what would happen if we get “God back in America.” This is a kind of revivalism, but it is most like the postmillennial idea that Christians are to bring the Kingdom of God into history through a series of increasing breakthroughs, awakenings and multiplied conversions.

How do political movements come into this scenario? Increasingly, evangelicals have become susceptible to the rhetoric of political candidates who know how to line up their own platforms and presentations with the hopes and aspirations of religious groups. Sometimes this comes by co-opting the group’s rhetoric or agenda. Other times it becomes a way for a religious movement to see the hand of God working in their situation, such as believing God wants the Ten Commandments in public schools or that God wins a victory when creationism is taught in a school. In other words, it has become fairly easy for Christians to transfer their hopes for a “revived America” to the political process. Given that politics gives us a way to bring some measure of the kingdom in by our own efforts, the Arminian-revivalistic Christians of America are easily brought on board.

With volatile issues like gay marriage and abortion at work in the culture, Christians are far more attracted to the political realm than at any time since the civil war. Candidates and parties openly play to the Christian voter, and pastors are taking unprecedented interest in political issues. (This July, almost every church in our community had a sermon on gay marriage- at the behest of James Dobson’s radio show.) God has become so closely identified with these issues that it is difficult for some Christians to imagine that anything matters as much as the battle for a Christian victory on social issues.

In all these scenarios, there is an absence of thorough Biblical thinking about the nature of the post-fall world. The fall is not reversed by politics. Not even a little bit. The Kingdom of God is not brought closer by political action. While we cannot be blind to the fact that common grace is operating in the world and makes it possible for us to hope for positive changes in culture,  we also cannot be ignorant of the inherent danger at work in the promises of the American political process. While I advocate Christian political activism, I believe that activism comes from a different assessment of the possibilities of politics, an assessment that is influenced primarily by the Biblical story.

Our Story, Our Way

Christians have been given a wonderful story. We live out of the story. It is the story that has shaped us in scripture and worship. It is the Biblical story, as that story is reported to us in the Bible and as it intersects with our lives. When we read Genesis 1-3, or 4 or 11, we believe we are reading OUR own story of creation, significance, rebellion, fall, tragedy, mercy and grace. The story of Israel is the “old story” of our ancestors who first came to know the author, and who, by example, become our teachers. The story of law, sacrifice, priesthood, temple, king, messiah, exile and return is the story that introduces us to Jesus. The Gospels are the story of our encounter with God in the person of our incarnate mediator and savior. The epistles are the story of the movement of God’s people from Gospel announcement to real world discipleship and all-nations missionary church planting. Even though they are not written about us or our problems, we know that we are the Corinthians and the Galatians. We are ones lost and saved in Romans and Ephesians. We are the church in the pastoral letters and Revelation. We are the pilgrims in Hebrews, not because the writer has us in mind, but because we are an extension of what the New Testament begins.

This story is the story that must inform and create our politics. Particularly, what this story says to us about the world in which we live and the condition of that world. Because politics is not a “Christian” enterprise, but a “human” enterprise, we are doubly aware that Christ is not going to be acknowledged as Lord, and whatever is done will not be done with reference to the true heart and center of our story—the Glory of God in his son, Jesus Christ. So why should we be involved in politics? For the same reason we do anything that we do: Christ can be glorified. Good can be done. Our neighbor can be loved. The fall will not be reversed or rolled back, but there is a ministry to be done in the ruins of the fall, and since Christ came before us and showed us how to live in this world, we know that any calling can be a place in the world where God is served and glorified by Christians offering acceptable worship through Jesus.

This story allows Christians to participate in political life with their talents and energies, but our ultimate hopes and allegiances are never to a political party or candidate. It is the pollution of Christian political energies with the “mythologies” of American political life that concern me. Whose story are we living out, anyway?

A few stories you may have heard

What are the stories that cause political parties and movements to have a continuing appeal? I’m not going to be telling you anything new here. In a moment, I’ll ask a simple question: How do these stories compare to the Biblical story, particularly in helping us to live as Christians in the real world of America in 2004? But first, we need to visit the story book.

Let’s start with Democratic stories.

First, there is the story of the Democratic administration of Roosevelt saving the country from the Depression and the world from Hitler. This is the story of the government as the savior of an entire nation from the depths of poverty; an activist government that responded to problems with programs and leadership that truly made a difference. This is the story of a nation going back to work in jobs created by government. It is the story of social security, WPA, National Parks, CCC, the minimum wage and so much more. This is the story that Democrats have lived off of for more than half a century. I grew up in a Democratic household where this story held sway. I know its power very well.

Second, there is the story of the Civil Rights era, and the Democratic support for movements of civil rights and justice in a changing culture. It is somewhat ironic that Democrats have been able to take over this story, since an examination of history will show that they were never consistently or entirely on the side of civil rights. Still, Democrats are able to portray themselves as the champions of equality and the protectors of the oppressed. Idealists are constantly told that the only political movement that really cares about justice for minorities, women and children is the Democratic party. Because this is a great and noble story, it has great power to attract the young.

Third is the story of Camelot ,the Kennedy administration. This is the story of a special President; almost an anointed President. Good, educated, brave, witty, pragmatic, compassionate and strong. John F. Kennedy is a messiah figure in this story, and I have no doubt that a hundred years from now that impression will still be alive. Here is a story that says, “Our candidate is a better person in every way. We are the party of education, art, sophistication and a modest, grateful upper class.”  Democrats do not hesitate to say they are the party that appeals to America’s brightest and best, as was seen in the Camelot years. Mythology…all the way.

All of these stories present the Democratic party and its candidates in a similar light. Should we believe these stories at all? It isn’t really a question of how much is myth and how much is reality. We could vigorously argue those points. The question is what story should control our participation in politics? That question is more easily answered. How do these stories falsely reverse the fall? Why should Christians reject them, and how can our own story provide a better basis for political life?

Democrats ought to be held accountable for how these stories are used. For example, is the modern Democratic party really the party of opportunity for minorities? Does it have the moral vision of Kennedy in domestic or foreign policy? Are more government programs really the most effective response to any problem in society? Have Democratic policies worked since the 1960’s? These questions ought to be asked and answered.

Republican stories? Perhaps by now you can already see where I am going, and you’ve gotten there before me.

We must begin with the Republican story of the party of Lincoln, the President who saved the union. This story seldom interacts with anything specific, but simply plays off the mythic stature of Lincoln. What does it mean to be the party of Lincoln? I’m really not at all sure, but I am sure that Republicans want to be thought of as the political descendents of Lincoln and his benevolent wisdom. Republicans especially treasure the sense of a “God fearing leader” that comes with Lincoln. (Though, again, oddly, this doesn’t really match up with real history very well.)

I would call the second story the story of “The Good Small Town.” Mayberry. Dixon, Illinois. Bedford Falls, New York. Any mythic small town. It is the town of two parent, extended, healthy and happy families. “Good night John Boy.” Two or three happy policemen and little crime. It is the town where churches are full. Schools are full of well taught, well disciplined children whose parents come to PTA and gladly write checks for new band uniforms. Boys are in scouts and playing football. Girls are preparing to be teachers and moms. The races get along perfectly. Everyone works. Businesses are prosperous and friendly. The poor are invisible and well cared for. The old are healthy and surrounded by their families. It is the town that Republicans want us to think of when they said “It’s morning in America.” It is a mythic, American paradise, where all that is right with our country prevails and all that is wrong is at bay. Homosexuality and pornography are almost unknown. The bars are in the next county. Television is “Leave It To Beaver.” Everyone is a Christian, or will be soon. The local politicians never bother you, because they are only there to serve. Government is small, cheap and patriotic.

It is hard to not pause and say that of all the mythologies that political movements promote, this one is perhaps the most absurd, from the Christian point of view. And I say this fully aware of the superiority of small town life to most American culture, and admitting to any and all that I am deeply swayed by this story. But again, it cannot be the story out of which I live and vote. This ideal town isn’t east of Eden. It doesn’t exist, at least not as it is promised to us. It is a story of the American dream, from Plymouth colony to Lake Woebegon to your small town and mine. It is a picture of what we wish were true about our country: good people, loving God, family and neighbor in peace and serenity. In fact, life is far more complicated.

Another Republican story is the story of the City on a Hill, usually standing against the Evil Empire. In this story, leaders are protectors against the assaults of various enemies. They may be social enemies in the culture war, or true enemies in the real world, armed with weapons of mass destruction. Republicans assure us that, in this story, a strong sheriff is needed. With lots of ammo, a large jail and, when necessary, a hanging rope, this sheriff will protect not only each of us, but the world, if necessary. Women, children and families are the special concern in this story. Or in times of real peril, the whole nation may need protection.

I want to be clear that I am not saying any of these stories are mythological in the sense of being entirely false. My own assessment of the world tells me much of the above story is true. The question is, again, What story will control my own politics? The appeal or accuracy of these political myths make little difference to the real questions.

Dare to compare

How do these various political stories compare to the Biblical story?

First, God is not at the center of these stories. God may be useful. He may exist at the fringes. He may be a symbol or a motivation. But these stories do not place the Trinitarian God at the center, and for that reason alone we must reject them.

Second, these stories do not consistently and deeply apply the doctrine of the fall. Instead, they appeal to that part of human nature that believes some plan or program on our part can restore some segment of paradise. They tend to obscure the human condition by saying our problem, at its root, is big government, or a lack of money, or the need for education, etc. The foundational nature of the fall is abandoned, and in its place is put the wrong kind of politics or government.

I want to be cautious here, because someone could accuse me of being a political nihilist who rejects all politics. Not at all. I simply do not believe that any one political philosophy, in its underlying story, is entirely honest with the human condition. In this sense, the Christian never expects politics to “work” to the extent that political parties generally claim. In particular, when promises are made that include some form of “do this” and human nature will respond in doing what is right or beneficial, Christians will never entirely believe such promises. Christians ought to be like the one employee in a business who will tell the customer the whole truth, even it isn’t in the sales pitch.

This doesn’t mean they will not support or endorse particular programs or approaches. For example, I believe the decriminalization of marijuana would be a wise and good move. But the benefits of such a position are not premised on any sense that people or society will be significantly bettered, but on my Biblical sense of justice and stewardship. It’s a waste of money and a ridiculous reason to ruin someone’s life. Similarly, I support the President’s approach to the war on terror, but I do not believe any such war will make the world a fundamentally safer or better place. I know it’s messy, and there are lots of reasons to resent what is necessitated by a war. I simply believe it is wrong to kill innocents, and I believe it is Biblically moral to kill the declared murderers first. I want my children protected. I support whole-heartedly those who have volunteered to defend us, but I don’t think the capture of Bin Laden is going to make all the Islamo-facist nut jobs dry up and blow away.

Thirdly, none of these stories give the place to the Gospel of Jesus that is required in the Biblical story. It is the Gospel, not any political program, that changes hearts and makes people love God and neighbor. It is the Gospel that gives a sense of true value and righteousness. Politics in a secular society cannot give the Gospel this place, therefore a Christian must support policies that give the maximum amount of freedom for the proclamation of the Gospel. The Christian shouldn’t uncritically support substitute Gospels in the secular realm.

This does not mean, however, that every Christian will agree with all the tenets of conservative political rhetoric as articulated by Christian activists who make their living telling us how to vote. Those who value the Gospel may not agree on the most prudent or just approach to a particular issue. I abhor the notion of The Ten Commandments displayed in school classrooms for religious purposes. I support the concept of civil unions for homosexuals. I frequently agreed with the moderate positions of President Clinton, and I frequently disagree with many of the economic policies of the most conservative wing of the Republican party. I have no idea what is the best position on health care. The ability of Christians to be committed to their own story and have diverse positions on specific political issues is a strength of the Christian faith.

Finally, none of these political stories adequately speaks to my personal, existential need for significance. This is probably obvious to many readers, but it clearly isn’t to others. Politics and the culture war have become the obsession of many Christians. Media, churches and ministries turn to cultural and political issues for fundraising and attendance. There is an entire new breed of fundamentalist- the political activist. With little concern for Biblical or theological expressions of the Christian life, this activist finds significance in the battle against other activists. A complete diet of political media can fill the mind all day, every day, on cable. internet and radio.

The Biblical story is the story of Jesus who brings significance and meaning to life. We are not told that meaning in life comes from the triumph of conservatives or the defeat of liberals. It isn’t a notion of libertarian freedom or personal responsibility that makes me a fully human, loved and redeemed child of the Father.

It is for this reason that I suggest Christians consider two closing admonitions regarding politics “east of Eden.”

First, we ought to maintain a safe distance from the ultimate claims of politics. Given that common grace makes participation in politics possible and, hopefully, beneficial as a stewardship of our worldly citizenship, we still should be clearly removed from the claims that flow from the mythology of politics. We should recognize that these stories do not speak the Word we are called to speak in our generation. They are a lesser word. Valuable, and a way of loving our neighbor and doing what is right, but still, they are part of the world that is passing away.

Second, being political for the glory of God brings us to the question of whether we can support any one party or candidate without reservation. I believe the Christian should be the least loyal of political supporters, and the most likely to act in the interest of another kingdom. We should be committed to the Biblical story—our families, churches, etc.—far more than to any candidate or cause. When we speak to those causes and about the candidates that we support, we ought to speak quickly and honestly about the limitations and realism that we believe comes in the human political process.

In particular, Christians ought to work to lower the level of rhetoric to a truthful and realistic level. Perhaps our current political wars could be greatly reduced if the Christians on both sides could truly treasure Christ and His kingdom more than the kingdoms they seek to build through the political process. It would truly be amazing to see Christian citizens not despising the process or blindly putting their hopes in politics, but openly testifying to the temporary, fallen nature of all earthly kingdoms and the sinfulness of all human leadership, all the while pointing to Christ, our true King.


16 thoughts on “iMonk Classic: East Of Eden

  1. In one way I find it somewhat amusing, or at least an interesting comment on human nature, that in the West Buddhism and Buddhist monks have a kind of glamour and exoticness that is very attractive while Christians and Christian clergy are seen as hypocritical scoundrels, whereas here the general opinion is, if anything, the opposite.

    It all comes down to The Familiar vs The Exotic.


  2. Trevis,

    Interesting what you say about the Buddhist witness, as you put it. Here on the mainland, there is a lot of what I can only call Buddhist anticlericalism. Many, many people I’ve talked to, some Buddhist, some atheist, have a very low opinion of the temples and the monks that run them. The main complaint seems to be that they are greedy and only interested in securing donations. How much of this feeling is an accurate reflection of your average Buddhist monk and how much is just popular prejudice I don’t know, but I’ve found it to be very widespread.

    In one way I find it somewhat amusing, or at least an interesting comment on human nature, that in the West Buddhism and Buddhist monks have a kind of glamour and exoticness that is very attractive while Christians and Christian clergy are seen as hypocritical scoundrels, whereas here the general opinion is, if anything, the opposite.


  3. That would be the POJ system (also known as “church romanization”), invented by none other than George Mackay, with an eye to similar systems used in Fujian. It may still be the leading version of written Taiwanese, though that is not saying much (since there is so little demand for any form of written Taiwanese).


  4. Louis,

    You obviously know what you’re talking about. Indeed, the aboriginal people are overwhelmingly Christian and seem pretty strongly so. Otherwise though…

    My wife and I were just discussing your comments. Even though she is a Christian like myself, she mentioned that the Buddhist “witness” is in some sense better than what often is seen among Christians, who too often retain that element of superiority you note.

    As for Presbyterian-Taiwanese identity, an awkward moment once occurred for my wife when she was serving in a choir in a Methodist church in the US. The choir director wanted to use a Taiwanese hymn one day, so he thought she could help out with the phonetic translation shown in the hymnal. Unfortunately, the transliteration system wasn’t the standard one in use in Taiwan (nor of course pinyin) but a sort of Presbyterian-only version that I guess functions as some sort of Taiwanese Latin.


  5. PS. Another factor is the rise of organized Buddhist groups which compete directly with Christianity, and are capable of displacing it in those who do not have ethnic ties with it (e.g. aborigines). For example, old mainlanders used to avoid local temples because these were run by Taiwanese (whom they often looked down upon or avoided), while Christianity was seen as higher-class and more literary. (Except for Presbyterianism, which has long stood for Taiwanese identity.) Their children identify more with Taiwan. Pres. Ma Ying-jieou is an example, though he immigrated as a child from Hong Kong–he converted to Catholicism as a youth (his baptismal name was Mark), but now seems to follow the folk religion.


  6. 4 % would include both (about half Protestant and half Catholic). If it’s more than that, the extra would have to be coming from Pentecostals and home churches, stuff like that.

    Sure, politics / economics is part of the explanation (the West / USA being less Christian as well as less admired / envied / imitated than before), but I think a bigger issue is social change resulting from technology, especially video games, which has a corrosive effect on all sorts of traditional behavior and relationships.


  7. Louis,

    I was being generous with the 10% since sometimes quoted figures about percentages of Christians in a population bizarrely exclude Roman Catholics. In any case, your figure is indeed closer to the truth (so says the CIA Factbook!)

    I also don’t get the feeling that Christianity is growing there among the young, though I’ve not been to the island in almost a decade myself. Maybe this is partly related to the following angle on politics and economics that I like to think about a lot.

    American navel gazing tendencies obscure the suddenly significant fact that you DON’T need to be a Christian country to have either democracy or a thriving market economy. Given this empirical reality, what is left of a Americanized Gospel which ties both ideas tightly to its notion of the Christian Way? I suspect that a creeping realization of this fact may, unfortunately, only accentuate the tendency for much of evangelicalism to view the Gospel mostly as the means to the good half of the afterlife. If agnostic Swedes and South Korean Buddhists can “beat us at our own game,” then that would be all that’s left.

    Fortunately, of course, the Gospel isn’t so small.


  8. Christians also have particular beliefs about the power of “truth.” In particular, they believe that their truth works in a God-guaranteed manner. Therefore, if a politician or political movement has a position based upon the “Biblical worldview,” that position contains the power of truth, and God’s blessing and power can be expected to result.

    Is that anything like The Scientific Principles of Marxist Dialectic?

    A further explanation is a kind of lingering postmillennialism that has been reawakened in modern evangelical political activism. While most evangelicals are firmly premillenial, awaiting the rapture and looking for history to get worse and worse, there is a lingering fascination with the idea of what would happen if we get “God back in America.” This is a kind of revivalism, but it is most like the postmillennial idea that Christians are to bring the Kingdom of God into history through a series of increasing breakthroughs, awakenings and multiplied conversions.

    I know, it is kind of schizo. If The World Ends Tomorrow and It’s All Gonna Burn, what does it matter if you Take Back America and Build THE Christian Nation?

    What I think happened is that Dominionism/Christian Reconstructionism began with Post-Mils, then crossed over to the Pre-Trib Pre-Mils during the Moral Majority times of the Eighties (which were a panic reaction to The Sixties). Since The World Ends Tomorrow (at the latest), this compressed the timeline from the long Post-Mil setup to the Pre-Mil Endgame of Takeover and Theocracy — NOW! And the combination of Dominionism mixed with Pre-Trib Wretched Urgency strikes me as a VERY dangerous combination.


  9. More words of wisdom from Michael. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the cause de jour when I should be thinking how to be like Jesus.


  10. Thank you, Michael, for this heaping plateful of reality! I too often despair of the state of the world (including the political sphere), forgetting that as a Christian it’s part of my job to live in it and love those in it.


  11. This is excellent. So very perceptive and clear. Thank you so much for posting this.

    Few things are as spirit-dulling as politics and religion. That’s probably because they are two sides of the same coin. They both represent the best human ideas on how to create and control a safe place in the cosmos. Both are antithetical to trust. Both are located somewhere along a sliding scale — from mild to severe — of doubt.

    I personally believe that no points on the political spectrum or the religious one represent “high ground.” Every inch of the sliding scale falls on the same horizontal plane. Nothing on that plane will ever become airborne.


  12. Glenn,

    The situation across the straits in Taiwan mirrors aspects of what you say. Of course, people are free to worship as they please in Taiwan (Chaing Kai-Shek was a Methodist, e.g.), but a visit with my wife to her hometown in the south of the island some years ago brought me face to face with a Christianity that, as you put it, also enjoyed no mythological Christian past nor any prospect for a future Christian utopia. As best I could tell, it was mostly the better for it.

    The idea of prayer in schools doesn’t seem so great when you’re a 10% minority, as is the case for Christians in Taiwan. My wife was glad such issues never arose during her school days.


  13. Living and working in China for most of this year, and with the prospect of continuing to do so for the next several years, has necessarily affected my perspective on the place of the Christian in politics.

    Here there is no mythological ideal Christian past, as there is in the West (a fortiori in America) and no prospect of making a future Christian utopia either. Christians are excluded from the political process (you can’t be a Party member and a Christian- or any other kind of religion, for that matter) and explicitly evangelistic events are forbidden. To Western Christians, Americans in particular, this situation seems a travesty. But it does have the interesting side effect of forcing Christians to simply be Christian where they are- to worship, pray, work at their jobs, love those around them. As far as politics goes, generally most of them just want to live in peace and be left alone so they can keep doing these things.

    It’s not an ideal situation, of course, but it’s better than it used to be and I think part of Michael’s point is there isn’t going to be an ideal situation for Christians (or anyone) this side of the Parousia. In any case, perhaps Christian political activists could learn something from their brethren here in the East.


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