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Books Education Government United States News Politics

California Moves To Block Texas' Textbook Changes 857

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wurds-our-hard dept.
eldavojohn writes "Yesterday the Texas textbook controversy was reported internationally but the news today heats up the debate as California, a state on the other side of the political spectrum, introduces legislation that would block these textbook changes inside California. Democrat Senator Leland Yee (you may know him as a senator often tackling ESRB ratings on video games) introduced SB1451, which would require California's school board to review books for any of Texas' changes and block the material if any such are found. The bill's text alleges that said changes would be 'a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings' and 'a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.'"
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California Moves To Block Texas' Textbook Changes

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  • Fight them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:26AM (#32236780)

    If you can't fight them... Put a fence around and let them devolve in peace.

    • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:35AM (#32236902)
      If I were the POTUS I would offer them back to Mexico. Mind you if I were the Mexican president I'd turn the offer down.
      • Re:Fight them (Score:5, Informative)

        by ArcherB (796902) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:45AM (#32237082) Journal

        If I were the POTUS I would offer them back to Mexico. Mind you if I were the Mexican president I'd turn the offer down.

        The US did not acquire Texas from Mexico. Texas won its independence from Mexico and then joined the US many years later as an independent nation.

        • Re:Fight them (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jedidiah (1196) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:51AM (#32237164) Homepage

          ...another fine bit of "historical spin".

          It was American settlers that were doing the original settling and subsequent rebelling.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            So?

            Was there or was there not an independent nation called Texas from 1836 to 1846?

            Louisiana Territory was full of Americans. That doesn't mean we didn't get it from France.

            • Re:Fight them (Score:5, Insightful)

              by besalope (1186101) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:48AM (#32238192)

              So?

              Was there or was there not an independent nation called Texas from 1836 to 1846?

              Louisiana Territory was full of Americans. That doesn't mean we didn't get it from France.

              Yes, but we bought the Louisiana Territory. Texas would be the equivalent of Canadians moving into Michigan, then claiming Michigan as an independent nation, and finally taking the independent nation and joining Canada.

              • by sexconker (1179573) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:22AM (#32238854)

                Yes, but we bought the Louisiana Territory. Texas would be the equivalent of Canadians moving into Michigan, then claiming Michigan as an independent nation, and finally taking the independent nation and joining Canada.

                The United States of America would be the equivalent of Europeans moving into the 13 colonies, then claiming the 13 colonies as an independent nation, and finally the independent nation growing and wiping out the rest of the native population.

                Oh wait.

              • by witherstaff (713820) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:40AM (#32239202) Homepage
                That explains all the hockey fans around these parts - it's the first wave of the invasion! Does that mean I'm gonna have to learn Canadian.. eh?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by DesScorp (410532)

            ...another fine bit of "historical spin".

            It was American settlers that were doing the original settling and subsequent rebelling.

            If you're arguing against the facts, then the spin is yours. There was a Republic of Texas before there was a State of Texas.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by hercubus (755805)

              ... There was a Republic of Texas before there was a State of Texas.

              A favorite Charles Francis Harper quote:

              Wow! Texas used to be a separate country.

              Why'd we change that that?

            • Re:Fight them (Score:5, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:47AM (#32238154)

              The silly thing is, you are both correct, to a point
              .
                    Mexico, if I recall my history classes correctly, offered the area that is now Texas to fairly generous settlement terms to any and all takers, provided they could meet some basic requirements needed for Mexican citizenship at that time. It was later, when they decided to actually enforce those requirements, that several inhabitants of Texas, mostly immigrants from non-Spanish speaking countries, (such as the U.S.) rebelled, and subsequently declared an independent republic. Soon thereafter, the governing parties of this new republic petitioned to join the U.S., but the U.S. Congress balked at the idea, partly on the basis of a reluctance to assume Texas' war debt with Mexico, and partly to avoid unneccessarily antagonizing their neighbors/ international peers. Eventually, and with considerable reluctance, Congress had a change of heart on the matter, partly due to public sentiment, partly due to questions regarding domestic policy (disposition of slavery, transport logistics to regions further West, there are certainly other reasons) and Texas was brought into the Union.

                    The concept of Texas secession later became of increasing importance around the time of the Civil War, and a token permission had been allowed for that provided that if such occurred, the state of Texas would do so not as a single bloc, but as at least 5 seperate entities, supposedly as a consequence for their participation in the Civil War? I may not be remembering that right, though. In any case, it is now, to the best of my knowledge NOT allowed due to a relatively recent legal decision, but as IANAL, someone may wish to further verify (or correct) my recollection.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Mexico did not exist as a country until 1821, when it declared independence from Spain and became the first Mexican Empire. Mexico did not become a Constitutional Republic until 1824. In 1835, General Antonio López de Santa Anna seized control of Mexico and abolished the Constitution of 1824.

            Stephen F. Austin began his Anglo settlements in Texas in 1821, the same year that Mexico first declared independence from Spain. Texas won its revolution from Mexico 15 years later, in 1936.

            It is really hard to a

        • After all, this fact is probably one of the ones the Left has eliminated from the text books over the years.

    • Re: Fight them (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:41AM (#32237000)

      If you can't fight them... Put a fence around and let them devolve in peace.

      Or just invoke Mohnihan's Law: they're entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.

    • Re:Fight them (Score:5, Insightful)

      by P0ltergeist333 (1473899) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:42AM (#32237014)

      That's the problem. Texas buys the most textbooks, and thus has undue influence on the industry. Thanks to scorched earth capitalism, making money is more important than making sure that textbooks are accurate. Anyone who does 10 minutes of research will find that the whole notion of the "Cristian Nation" is laughable. If anything our nation's ideals came from John Locke and his "The Two Treatises Of Government" through Thomas Jefferson.

      • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:46AM (#32237098)

        That's the problem. Texas buys the most textbooks, and thus has undue influence on the industry.

        I didn't say it'd be a cheap fence.

      • Re:Fight them (Score:5, Informative)

        by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:52AM (#32237186) Homepage Journal
        To deny Christianity's role in the founding of America would be an outright lie. Likewise, to say that America is founded solely on the Christian religion would be untrue.

        America was founded on the concepts of individual rights, self-governance, and the idea that man has certain rights that the government as no authority to interject themselves into. While, to my knowledge, all of the Founders themselves were monotheistic or Agnostic, it would be one hell of a stretch to say they shared a common religion.

        Truth be told, a Christian of just about any sort would be at home in early America. Pagans and Athiests, less so, but they would probably be at little risk. Luciferians, Wiccans (who call themselves witches), etc? Ha!
        • Re:Fight them (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:32AM (#32237884) Journal

          The tradition of religious freedom in the US stemmed from the fact that a number of important early colonial efforts were established by Non-comformists who were being heavily persecuted in England. The inspiration for the 1st Amendment was, by and large, the response to the absurdities of Catholics and non-conformists have to attend Anglican masses at least once a year, and of what amounted to religious tests for most high offices in England (in fact, the highest still denies the throne to a Catholic).

          That's what makes so much of this so sad. The Founding Fathers believed well and truly that the State had no business meddling in what went between a man and his god(s). Some of the Founding Fathers were Christians, some stood at the margins and some were clearly not Christian (Jefferson was a Deist, and actually had a rather dim view of Christianity, not uncommon among Enlightenment thinkers). They're job, in their eyes, was to create a government that protected but did not intrude upon what they felt was a fundamental liberty; the right to worship as one wished to. That meant no religious tests, no indoctrination. The State, in their eyes, had no damned business teaching religious beliefs. There are churches aplenty to do that.

          That is, I suspect, why Jefferson is such a substantial target, because he was the first to substantially explain the Establishment Clause in his letter to the Danbury Baptists. Here we have one of the major formulators of the Bill of Rights telling people exactly why they had written what they had written, and he's been the chief obstacle in any number of battles between religious fundamentalists, reconstructionists and all manner of whacked-out religious malcontents and reactionaries. The obvious thing to do, at that point, is to minimize his role. The Soviets used to do the same thing, becoming experts and expunging important figures from the historical record. It's odd how fanatics of all political stripes end up acting just about the same.

      • by McGruber (1417641) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:04AM (#32237392)

        Texas buys the most textbooks, and thus has undue influence on the industry.

        That's because Chuck Norris can judge a textbook by its cover.

  • by karcirate (1685354) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:27AM (#32236782)

    "apolitical nature of public school governance"

    Say what?

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:35AM (#32236904)

      Say what?

      Even better, in TFA he follows it up with:

      "The alterations and fallacies made by these extremist conservatives are offensive to our communities and inaccurate of our nation's diverse history."

      Gotta love the evil conservative hyperbole there. I really wish people would vote for people with less of a flair for the dramatic.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheMeuge (645043)

        Wish I had mod points.

        The Texas revisionism is a reactionary policy, brought about by the resurgence of the "us-vs-them" mentality. Whether justified or not, they are scared, and are lashing out in reprisal. And the reaction that this evokes, is further vilification of anyone who dares call themselves conservative by the representative of the left.

        How can any voice of reason expect to be heard, when they will be labeled a "bleeding heart liberal" by the right, and "extremist right-winger" by the left?

        This i

        • by Altus (1034) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:05AM (#32237402) Homepage

          My understanding was that this bill was intended to prevent the specific changes proposed by Texas from making it into California textbooks. That is not leftist revisionism. Mr. Lee might be a bit heavy on the rhetoric but unless his bill specifically includes proposed changes to the existing curriculum (which, to the best of my knowledge) I don't think its fair to call him revisionist.

          It seems to me that you are engaging in exactly the behavior you are calling out.

        • by halivar (535827) <bfelgerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:18AM (#32237594) Homepage

          In modern politics, one finds it essential to consider the opposition either stupid, evil, or both. That way we don't have to listen to them anymore.

      • Is it hyperbole? (Score:5, Informative)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:36AM (#32237964) Journal

        Gotta love the evil conservative hyperbole there.

        No one is implying that all conservatives are evil. That's why it said this:

        The alterations and fallacies made by these extremist conservatives are offensive to our communities and inaccurate of our nation's diverse history.

        Frankly, if you've looked at the changes suggested, anyone in favor of these is an extremist. The best you could say is that they're not truly a conservative, as they're advocating wholesale revision to the point of making shit up. Here, TFA sums it up neatly:

        The Texas recommendations... include adding language saying the country's Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles and a new section on "the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s." That would include positive references to the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association and the Contract with America, the congressional GOP manifesto from the 1990s.

        The amendments to the state's curriculum standards also minimize Thomas Jefferson's role in world and U.S. history because he advocated the separation of church and state, and require that students learn about "the unintended consequences" of affirmative action and Title IX, the landmark federal law that bans gender discrimination in education programs and activities.

        If you don't already see that for the steaming pile of bullshit it is, let me break it down for you:

        the country's Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles

        "Lighthouses are more useful than churches." -- Ben Franklin.

        Thomas Jefferson had some stronger words about the Christian faith in particular, but I couldn't find them offhand. No, these men were largely deists, making this an outright lie. The most charitable interpretation you could make is that they were guided by Christian principles, even if they weren't Christian, but that's obviously mistaken at best -- the Bible itself is clear about submitting to authority, that any Earthly authority (like, say, the British King) was placed there by God. No, they were guided largely by ideas floating around the world at the time, many dating back to the Greeks -- books like Plato's Republic, not the Holy Bible.

        ...a new section on "the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s." That would include positive references to the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association and the Contract with America, the congressional GOP manifesto from the 1990s.

        Hardly nonpartisan. I suppose you're going to tell me that the books are currently favorable to modern liberals? I'd say that this is pretty damning evidence of these being not just extremists, but conservative extremists.

        The amendments to the state's curriculum standards also minimize Thomas Jefferson's role in world and U.S. history because he advocated the separation of church and state...

        Can't have that, can we? It's only one of the pillars of the Great American Experiment, a prerequisite for religious freedom and expression. I very much doubt anyone writing this is a current member of the Church of England, are they? Then they owe their freedom to practice their current religion to Thomas Jefferson.

        ...and require that students learn about "the unintended consequences" of affirmative action and Title IX, the landmark federal law that bans gender discrimination in education programs and activities.

        Are they really suggesting that banning gender discrimination was a bad idea? If you needed an example of why Yee said, "some Texas politicians may want to set their educational standards back 50 years," this is it.

        I have to imagine that most conservatives would be ashamed to be associated with drivel like this. In light of that, I think the sentence you quoted is entirely true and warranted, as written:

        The alterations and fallacies made by these extremist conservatives are offensive to our communities and inaccurate of our nation's diverse history.

  • Apolitical? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cbs4385 (929248) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:28AM (#32236800)
    Is he seriously implying that current curricula was set with political blinders on. Not that I agree with the slant Texas has put on history, but to imply that the current histories taught do not have one is disingenuous.
    • Re:Apolitical? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Millennium (2451) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:37AM (#32236934) Homepage

      Yes, and this is a serious problem. There is no such thing as an apolitical view of history, as among other things, every viewpoint has its own judgments of the same events. There is no way to teach history independently of those judgments; the best you can do is point out where the judgments are and hope that the students will figure out what to take with a grain of salt and what not to.

      To block "deviating from the accepted teachings" is really nothing more than an attempt to cement one's own judgments into the curriculum. I'm no fan of what Texas is doing here, but this particular solution is not an acceptable way of blocking it. Go back to the drawing board.

      Heck; I'll give you a new hook. Go after the bit about the US being "chosen by God as a beacon" as a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, because if it's not a case of a government entity (the school board) establishing a civic religion, I don't know what is.

  • "apolitical"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:28AM (#32236802)

    "a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California."

    "apolitical"? Huh?

    There's no such thing in an organization that exist solely via government, aka "public schools".

  • Sarcastic summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by codeButcher (223668) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:32AM (#32236846)

    said changes would be "a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings"

    Because something that is widely accepted is always true.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:32AM (#32239030) Homepage

      Yeah, and therefore there's no difference between what a large number of learned historians consider true, and what a small group of people whose entire motivation is to restructure history in favor of their political ideology are willing to say is true.

      But hey I'm sure that's not your point, since that would be stupid. You're just pointing out that, in general, number of people who agree with something is not an indication of veracity. That's all well and good.

      Now let's bring this out of the hypothetical realm of pure logic where an existence proof (long since proven) is all you need to demonstrate the imperfection of historians. Let's talk about this specific case.

      In this specific case, the historians are right, and the ideologically motivated revisionists are full of crap.

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:36AM (#32236910)

    recall our ambassador to Texas.

  • by NevarMore (248971) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:36AM (#32236926) Homepage Journal

    If the liberals that are ruining the USA are fighting the conservatives that are ruining the USA then the rest of us can have some peace and quiet for a while.

    • by IANAAC (692242) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:54AM (#32237236)
      You reminded me of something...

      I recently found a book that belonged to my grandmother, titled "The strange tactics of extremism" (H&B Overstreet), written in the early 60s.

      It basically deals with the John Birch Society and Communism of the era and their tactics, but reading it, you see the EXACT same tactics being used by the extreme liberals and extreme conservatives in this country today.

      I thought it was an interesting read, anyway.

  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:38AM (#32236954)

    Brrring...hello Texas? This is California...umm...you're black. I offer into evidence the California teacher spouting off a few days ago about how California is "stolen occupied Mexico". Guess that guy never heard about the Mexican American War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican%E2%80%93American_War) which Mexico lost. Apolitical? How about historically accurate? Try that for once.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:40AM (#32236990) Homepage Journal

    History education as a whole is terrible and really all too often is used to teach an agenda.

    A great example is the Atomic bombing of Japan. A good friend of mine went to a very good college. When she told me about what she was taught about WWII was was shocked.
    It seems that the the US was racist and that is why we nuked Japan and that we treated the Germans with much more respect.

    When I asked her about the Batan death march she had never heard of it.
    When I asked her about the rape of Nanking. She had never heard of such a thing.
    When I asked her about the threats to kill all the POWs in Japan if the US invaded she never heard of that.
    But she did tell me that they told here Japan was willing to surrender before we dropped the bomb if we would have promised them that they could keep their emperor. "BTW that is a myth. The goal of negotiations was to prevent the occupation of Japan and not to just preserve the status of the Emperor".
    It doesn't matter it is all slanted.
    The teacher brought in a old woman that was a child when the bomb was dropped... That will help bring balance.

    Truth is that with the exception of Japan and Germany in WWII the villains tended to not be as bad as history teaches and the heroes then to not be as pure. Notice that I left Italy out. Frankly they where just your average tin pot dictatorship and not really all that evil. The just fell in with a bad crowd. Oh and yes Stalin was just as bad as history says. Heck the only reason that Germany really lost on the Russian front was because Hitler was the on person on the planet that treated the Russians worse that Stalin did!

    I get the feeling that all too often History is taught as a way to make use feel superior to those that went before us. Frankly that is a dangerous and stupid thing to do.
    I would love to see a history class about the atomic bombing where they actually tried to teach the students to understand why Truman thought dropping the bomb was a good idea. What information he had and what was going on at the time.
    Maybe then we could actually start learning form history instead twisting it to make us feel so much more enlightened than the historical figures from that past.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sribe (304414)

      What information he had and what was going on at the time.

      And what we now know was going on in the Japanese dictatorship at the time, which completely contradicts the notion that Japan was ready to surrender. They were not. Not even after the first bomb. After the second bomb, leadership was divided on the issue of surrender. What pushed Hirohito over the edge, was Stalin's threat of invasion from the north being added to the US threat of invasion.

      • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:00PM (#32239678) Homepage

        What information he had and what was going on at the time.

        And what we now know was going on in the Japanese dictatorship at the time, which completely contradicts the notion that Japan was ready to surrender. They were not. Not even after the first bomb. After the second bomb, leadership was divided on the issue of surrender. What pushed Hirohito over the edge, was Stalin's threat of invasion from the north being added to the US threat of invasion.

        State it like it's fact, and it is, I guess. But there is room for argument.

        The Japanese leadership, which was in flux, especially with the ousting of Tojo and the "Control Faction," had been discussing surrender long before the dropping of the bombs. The invasion of Okinawa really sealed the fate of the country. True the propaganda talked about arming every last citizen with a pitchfork to fight off the invasion, but that was just that, propaganda. Tokyo was already firebombed into oblivion. B-29s were flying overhead without any resistance. The war was over, and the Japanese leaders knew it.

        What was happening behind the scenes was pretty chaotic. There was at least one and probably more coups planned and staged as various military officers tried to take power. Sure there were some fanatics who wanted to fight to the last man, but they were luckily few by that point. The seppuku blades had gotten a lot of use.

        Surrender did not happen in one shot. Diplomats from different sides were already talking in various foreign embassies. These sorts of prenegotiations usually happen through third party diplomats that both sides see as neutral. The sticking point as usual in WWII was the unconditional part of the surrender that the allies insisted on.

        Russia was sitting on the border of Manchuria refusing to move. Stalin and Churchill in particular enjoyed making life difficult for each other. Relations were already breaking down between the US/British and USSR halves of the allies. Churchill in particular was already talking about Stalin as the real enemy now that Hitler was gone and Germany defeated. Roosevelt was more trusting of Stalin, but at this point he was dead, and Truman had taken office. Truman did not trust Stalin, and when he looked at the post war world, realized that Stalin was the biggest threat to America and Europe, not Japan. Russian tanks had rolled into many Eastern European capitals with a heavy hand.

        Truman had 3 atomic bombs (I know, we say 2, but we probably lost the third to a japanese submarine on its secret delivery to Iwo Jima), and wanted to use them. Yes, they would help push Japan to have a propaganda excuse to finally sign the surrender, but more importantly, they made a big statement to Stalin. As to allowing the emperor to live. That seems to go against the unconditional part of the surrender. The reason was that the US wanted Japan built back up as quickly as possible as a buffer against Stalin (just like his eastern european "allies"), and it helped keep the stability in post war Japan.

        So did we drop the bombs to end the war with Japan, or to start a cold war with the USSR? The answer is yes to both. And anyone who argues exclusively one side or the other is dramatically oversimplifying the situation.

  • by MRe_nl (306212) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:58AM (#32237300)

    "It's an urban myth, especially in this digital age we live in, when content can be tailored and customized for individual states and school districts," said Jay Diskey, executive director of the schools division of the Association of American Publishers.
    --
    Three companies are responsible for about 75 percent of the country's K-12 textbooks, Diskey estimated. Representatives for two of them--Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and McGraw-Hill--on Friday referred inquiries from The Associated Press to Diskey. The third, Pearson Education Inc., did not respond to a request for comment.
    --
    For now, California's curriculum will not be subject to any modifications, Texas-influenced or otherwise. Last July, the Legislature suspended until 2013 the statewide adoption of new educational materials to give cash-strapped districts a break from buying new textbooks.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:04AM (#32237384)

    In Peru, in the 80s, there was a group of maoist nutjobs called the "Shining Path," who vowed, among other things, to surround the cities from the countryside. What they were and are is a rural terrorist organization.

    I've traveled in rural Texas recently. What you have there are a lot of poor, uneducated, disenfranchised white people sporting racist tatoos buying knives and swords at stands by the side of the road. The gun trade is a bit more private but still quite active. The textbook changes just reflect a wider change in worldview in the rural south. What they are poised to do are to become the next generation of terrorist nutjobs fobbing bombs at wealthier people, mostly in cities. They're just waiting for the next corn-pone Hitler, which the networks that gave us the Becks and Palins of the world will be all too happy to provide.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:14AM (#32237530)

    Studying stuff you know you will never use seems unappealing enough. Now students will understand that their studies are not only useless, but a load of half-truths made to fit whichever political agenda is in control.

    Just memorize stuff long enough to regurgitate it on the exam, and if you can get away with it: cheat. I mean, why not? It's nothing but a lot of useless lies anyway, right?

    Maybe, just maybe, subjects like math will not be overly politicized. But that stuff is all being offshored to the world's "best and brightest" i.e. cheapest.

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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