Archives for Christian - Page 261

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Are Our Cravings a Trick or Treat?

By Liuan Huska God redeems our physical desires too. Halloween begins our annual end-of-the-year overindulgence marathon, which runs from trick-or-treating to the Thanksgiving table and the string of Christmas parties, all the way up to our New Year’s resolutions. From pumpkin spice muffins to fun-size candy bars, there’s always a yummy snack within reach, and it’s hard to say no. It’s in our nature: Humans are flavor-seeking creatures, so we crave what tastes good. For much of history, this was a win-win. We went after food that tasted good because in nature, that was the food with the most nutritional content. But on today’s grocery store shelves, and even in the produce displays, that’s not necessarily the case anymore. We’ve lost our bodies’ “nutritional wisdom,” and as a result we’re grasping at the latest diet fads and seeking out solutions to new health problems, writes Mark Schatzker, journalist and author of The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth about Food and Flavor. Our bodies are programmed to crave food that meets our nutritional needs. Schatzker marshals evidence of goats, calves, and even human babies who choose the naturally occurring foods that keep them in optimal health. Even during illness, these instincts are strong: for example, a …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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What Is the Missional Church (Part 4)?—Shaped By God and His Mission

By Ed Stetzer Mission and missions must work together. We mustn’t have one without the other. The Missional Church is Shaped by God and His Mission In order for the church to recover its missional passion, we must reclaim our lost sense of the glory of God’s mission. While evangelical churches affirm the orthodox doctrine of God, we approach him too often as a God we can use. He is a God for us, for our satisfaction. We have shrunk God down to our size. We have limited the scope of his mission in our minds. We have unwittingly bought into the idea that progress is more important than redemption (Stetzer, 175-179). Our zeal for mission has been undermined by our small view of God. We have simply replaced God’s purpose for the world with our own purpose for the world. Even when we serve and help and give and share, we too often do it from a sense of obligation or a desire to impress. We have become a church that is motivated by a host of things but a singular desire to glorify God. We will not recover the missional vision of the church until we recover the grandeur of a big God, of being …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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How Paris Affected American Attitudes on Helping Syrian Refugees

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra World Vision poll suggests terrorism didn’t change compassion. Other polls highlight fears. Nearly 3 out of 4 American adults (72%) say they are willing to help Syrian refugees, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs poll sponsored by World Vision nearly a week after the Paris terrorism attacks. The number is virtually unchanged (71%) from when Ipsos/World Vision asked the same question in October, before the City of Lights experienced tragedy and American politicians began debating state bans on Syrian refugees in response. Of poll respondents who said they were unwilling to help, 7 in 10 (69%) said they thought Americans should help people in the US first, up from 6 in 10 (58%) in October. And 41 percent said they feared Syrian refugees are potential terrorists, up sharply from 25 percent in October. The new numbers are a more positive response to the Syrian refugee crisis than other recent polls, including an Ipsos/Reuters poll taken the weekend after the Paris attacks. In that survey, more than half of Americans (52%) said that countries accepting Syrian refugees were less safe. Respondents were almost equally split on how to respond to that risk: 40 percent said that countries should continue to accept refugees …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Colorado Springs Pastor Killed in Planned Parenthood Shooting

By Jeremy Weber and Bob Smietana (UPDATED) Attack at abortion clinic leaves three dead and nine wounded. Members of Hope Chapel in Colorado Springs gave thanks on Sunday for the life of Garrett Swasey, a church elder and police officer who was killed on Friday in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic . The congregation of about 100 people watched a video clip of Swasey, a former competitive ice skater, and recalled fond memories of his role as preacher and guitar player for the church’s worship team. “You don’t realize how much you love someone until you can’t tell them anymore,” said Hope Chapel co-pastor Scott Dontanville, according to The Gazette. Church members also prayed for Robert Lewis Dear, who is accused of killing Swasey and two others in Friday’s shooting. “God, we forgive him. We can’t not,” Dontanville prayed, according to TheDenver Post. “You’ve forgiven him. Garrett’s forgiven him.” Bloggers began circulating the words of Swasey’s last sermon, given two weeks ago. “Our objective is not to bring glory to ourselves but to bring glory to God,” he said. “How? By transforming our lives through the gospel. Apart from that it can’t be done, not in our own strength.” Dear is …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Don’t Call Him Kanye’s Pastor

By Kate Shellnutt Rich Wilkerson Jr., a Pentecostal church-planter with famous friends, gets his own reality show. People magazine and E! Network dubbed 31-year-old Rich Wilkerson Jr. a “hipster celebrity pastor,” after he officiated hip-hop artist Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s wedding last year. Since then, the second-generation Pentecostal preacher has planted a church, filmed a reality series, released a devotional book, and spoken at the Hillsong and Catalyst conferences, all while continuing to pop up on entertainment news sites. (I’m willing to bet he’s the only guy to ever take Instagram photos with Pat Robertson and Justin Bieber in the same week.) And that “celebrity pastor” label? It isn’t going away. “I didn’t pick that title. If that’s the title that the world wants to put on me, then that’s what they’re going to give me,” said Wilkerson, son of Trinity Church Miami pastor Rich Wilkerson and cousin of the late evangelist David Wilkerson. “I don’t see myself that way. I see myself as a person who’s trying to build a church.” Wilkerson led Trinity’s youth ministry, Rendezvous, up until he launched his own congregation, Vous Church, in Miami, Florida, this fall. Vous attracts hundreds of attendees in the artsy Wynwood neighborhood and baptized …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

By Jackson Cuidon The magic is back. mpaa rating:PG-13 (For sci-fi action violence.) Genre:Action, Fantasy Theatre Release:December 18, 2015 by Disney Yes, it’s good. I don’t want you skimming paragraphs trying to find the sentence where I say it’s good, so here it is. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a spectacularly good movie. Now, explaining why it’s good is the real uphill battle. The hype has been ridiculous. If do-overs existed for movies, then The Force Awakens is pretty much the do-over for 1999’s The Phantom Menace. It’s been a decade since our last Star Wars movie, and arguably three times that since one that wasn’t a heavily-qualified “good.” So the question looms: can a modern movie capture what made the first trilogy so magical? That word comes up a lot in any discussion of what makes Star Wars special. It’s just got such tremendous multivalence: movie magic, the magical “Force,” the magic of suspension of belief, CGI wizardry, et cetera, ad Entertainment Weekly-ish nauseum. Magic, it turns out—in all its meanings—is what makes Star Wars so special, so distinct, so disappointing when it fails, and so thrilling when it succeeds. … We open on the desert planet of Jakku, where Rebel Alliance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Interview: What Kind of Astronomical Marvel was the Star of Bethlehem?

By Interview by Greg Cootsona And was it even a star? A biblical scholar investigates the mysterious object that guided the Magi to Jesus. Generations of Christians have helped ring in the Christmas season by singing John Henry Hopkins Jr.’s 1857 carol, “We Three Kings,” with its evocative chorus: Star of wonder, star of night Star with royal beauty bright Westward leading, still proceeding Guide us to thy perfect light. We know, from the Gospel of Matthew, that these kings—or “Magi,” as Matthew calls them—saw something brilliant in the night sky, a celestial body that beckoned them to Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem. But what exactly was this mysterious “star of wonder”? Biblical scholar Colin R. Nicholl is the latest to venture an explanation for this astronomical marvel. Blending Bible research with findings from expert astronomers, Nicholl makes the case that the Star of Bethlehem was actually an extraordinary comet. Greg Cootsona, a writer, teacher, and leader with the Scientists in Congregations program (funded by the Templeton Foundation to integrate science and theology in churches), spoke with Nicholl about his claims in The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Star of Bethlehem (Crossway). As a biblical scholar, what drew you to astronomy? If figuring out the biblical text requires me to understand …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Christianity and Islam: Evangelicals and Americans Are Not on the Same Page About the "Same God"

By Ed Stetzer A lot of debate has swirled around the similarity (or dissimilarity) of Christianity and Islam lately. What do people think? Just a few months ago, in October, LifeWay Research published a good amount of data on how Americans, pastors, self-identified evangelicals, and religious service attendees see Christianity and Islam. Today, I wanted to share just a bit of data with you regarding how similar or dissimilar these groups of people see the two most popular monotheistic faiths in the world. Do Muslims and Christians Worship the “Same God?” In the last week or so, the debate about whether or not Christians and Muslims worship the “same god” has been stirred up due to a controversial situation at Wheaton College, about which I wrote last week. (Full disclosure, I’ve written on several occasions that Muslims and Christians do not pray to the same god and saying so is not helpful.) Perhaps the reason for the controversy around such “same god” issues is that the country is split, though you would think that country overwhelmingly believes they do worship the same god based on the responses. But, the nation is actually split down the middle. Forty-six percent of Americans agree Christians and …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Best of 2015: Duggar Scandal, Beth Moore, and the Yoga Pants Debate

We rank the top 10 posts of the year. From celebrity happenings to the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision, Her.meneutics weighed in week after week to address the biggest stories in the news and the Christian blogosophere. Here are our readers’ favorite posts of the year: 1. Why Reality TV Can’t Handle the Josh Duggar Scandal(Kate Shellnutt) After reports that the oldest brother on TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting had molested family members years before their reality TV fame, Shellnutt called for the show’s end: Not all issues can be fake-resolved over the course of an episode or season, especially not involving conditions as difficult as abuse, mental illness, and addiction. In this case, I believe it would be unfair and potentially hurtful for TLC to even try. 2. ‘Pioneer Girl’ Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Real Memoir Overturns Our False Nostalgia (Jennifer Grant) Wilder’s never-before-published memoir became a bestseller thanks to Little House on the Prairie fans. Grant wrote: Not long into reading Pioneer Girl, that sentimental fog that’s risen in me whenever I’ve thought about Laura Ingalls completely burned off…. The real Laura Ingalls saw a “much grittier world” than did the fictional one. 3. To the Christian Men and Women Debating Yoga Pants (Lore Ferguson …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Commentary: Love Doesn't Stop at Two

By Matt Reynolds Why China’s two-child policy is barely better than its one-child policy. For more than three decades, China has enforced draconian restrictions on family size. Now, after a sudden shift announced in late October, China will enforce slightly less draconian restrictions. The country’s notorious one-child policy has become a two-child policy. It’s a modest retreat from the oppressive status quo, stopping far short of the full dismantling that opposition groups rightly demand. Even so, there’s an understandable urge to celebrate. All Girls Allowed founder Chai Ling rejoiced that “the Lord has done a great and mighty thing,” likening the new reform to God’s miraculous parting of the Red Sea. Indeed, if any one principle sustains pro-life morale amid serial disappointments, it’s that incremental progress beats no progress. Relaxing China’s one-child policy means fewer forced abortions and sterilizations. Fewer little girls targeted in the womb or left to die as infants so that couples can preserve the possibility of male offspring. Fewer invasive state fertility checks, and fewer moments dreading inadvertent pregnancy. Praise God for every flicker of mercy in this dark world. But let’s keep the champagne corked for now. As any number of cool-headed observers have remarked, China’s loosened stranglehold on family …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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C. S. Lewis Was No Sexist

By Gina Dalfonzo Two recent titles explore the great apologist’s relationships with women. During his lifetime, C. S. Lewis was a widely read and respected Christian writer, even though he called himself a “dinosaur” who was out of step with the times. In the decades since his death, his reputation as one of the greatest 20th-century Christian thinkers—or perhaps the greatest—has increased, as more generations come to know and love his works. But was Lewis truly a writer for all people—or was he inherently, irrevocably biased toward his own gender? This question, in some form or other, has dogged the author for decades. Detractors use various passages—Susan turning away from Narnia in The Last Battle for the sake of typically feminine preoccupations; Jane Studdock’s power struggles with her husband, and the way they’re eventually resolved, in That Hideous Strength; and Lewis’s praises of male friendship—to paint him as an incurable sexist. Popular young adult fantasy author Philip Pullman has called him “monumentally disparaging of women,” while literary critic John Goldthwaite accused him of fearing and disliking them. The many contributors to Women and C. S. Lewis: What His Life and Literature Reveal for Today’s Culture beg to differ. Edited by Carolyn Curtis and Mary Pomroy …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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News: What Arab Christians Think of Wheaton-Hawkins 'Same God' Debate

By Jayson Casper in Cairo Controversy echoes what Christians in Middle East have dealt with for centuries. Larycia Hawkins has a fan in Egypt. Theresa, the nine-months-pregnant wife of a Coptic Orthodox juice stand owner, could not hide her admiration when told how a Christian professor donned a hijab in solidarity with Muslims facing prejudice in America. “It is a beautiful thing she has done, going beyond the norm to better approach others,” she said. “But it would not work here.” Her comment came on the heels of her husband Hani’s discomfort. He called the symbolic act “extreme.” In doing so, the humble man mixing mango and strawberry mirrored the reactions of most regional theologians. All commended Hawkins’s intentions, but only one—the Palestinian head of a seminary—praised it as a stand for justice. One pastor called it “excessive.” A bishop, “unnecessary.” An Egyptian former seminary vice president even raised the idea of “second-class citizen.” And therein lies the rub. Whether considering donning the hijab in solidarity or debating if Muslims and Christians worship the same God, Arab Christians operate in a vastly different religious context. Only recently have American Christians had to deal with issues raised by Muslims in their midst. The 9/11 tragedy birthed a political culture that seeks unity through theological …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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'Hail, Caesar!' — A Tale of the Christ?

By Alissa Wilkinson “Hail, Caesar!” is both a romp through Hollywood’s Golden Age and an unlikely Passion Play. Look, I know there’s no bigger cliché than a Christian critic sitting around identifying “Christ figures” at the movies. But in their latest, Joel and Ethan Coen show their hand so obviously—the subtitle for the Ben Hur-like film-within-a-film, also called Hail, Caesar!, is “A Tale of the Christ”—that I’m either being trolled or baited. I’ll bite. Among many (many, many) things, Hail, Caesar! is a passion play: a canny bit of work on the Coens’ part, given this year’s proliferation of Biblical epics both remade and reimagined. In just the next few months, that includes Risen, The Young Messiah, Last Days in the Desert, the Tyler Perry-hosted The Passion Live, and the ABC show Of Kings and Prophets—and, yes, a Ben Hur remake. The Coens (being Coens) come at it as a farce, with about eighteen different things rumbling beneath the surface. On its basic level, Hail Caesar! is an affectionate celebration, mild critique, and winking pastiche of Hollywood’s Golden Age, when studios owned actors’ contracts and shot everything from swashbuckling song-and-dance numbers to sword-and-sandal epics on the back lot. Josh Brolin plays Eddie …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Why Are Today’s Pro-Lifers Borrowing Pro-Abortion Supporters’ Philosophy?

By Daniel K. Williams Pre-Roe v. Wade, the pro-life movement vehemently denounced the idea that the end justifies the means. Last week, a Texas grand jury indicted activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt last week for allegedly using fake IDs and attempting to buy fetal tissue. Both of the Center for Medical Progress, the pair concealed their identities while attempting to frame/highlight the willingness of Planned Parenthood employees to sell fetal tissue, capturing their conversations on a series of videos first released last summer. Christianity Today reached out to Daniel K. Williams, a historian of the pro-life movement, and Focus on the Family president Jim Daly to provide their perspective on the ethics of the pairs’ actions.” Before Roe v. Wade, the pro-life movement vehemently denounced the idea that the end justifies the means. Abortion legalization advocates argued from a utilitarian perspective, maintaining that societal well-being, women’s health, and population pressures could be improved through the legalization of at least some abortions. Pro-lifers argued that no cause could justify the destruction of innocent unborn human life. It’s therefore ironic that a number of pro-life activists during the past few decades have unwittingly adopted a utilitarian ethic that their movement’s founders opposed. When pro-lifers break the law …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Joseph Fiennes Talks About Playing a Skeptic in ‘Risen’

By Alissa Wilkinson The star of the upcoming Bible film talks about his new film, the nature of belief, gladiator school, and Eric Liddell. The film Risen—which will hit theaters on February 19, 2016—is not quite like any film based on the Bible that I’ve seen before. Directed by Kevin Reynolds, the film stars Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) as Clavius, a Roman centurion who is assigned to figure out where the body of Jesus of Nazareth has gone after it disappears from the tomb. Clavius is a world-weary, ambitious man of Rome, but as he interviews various people from Jesus’ life, he starts to realize that more is going on here than meets the eye. I spoke with Fiennes by phone last November about playing Clavius, the nature of belief, going to gladiator school, and his upcoming role as Eric Liddell in The Last Race (which covers the period of Liddell’s life as a missionary in China, following the events of Chariots of Fire). The following transcript of our conversation was edited for clarity. Christianity Today: What attracted you to this project? Joseph Fiennes: I met with our director, Kevin . He is extremely intelligent—I loved his films and identify a lot with them. He had …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Kanye West’s Work-in-Progress

By Jason Bellini Why the rapper’s new “gospel” album, The Life of Pablo, has Christians curious. Earlier this month, rapper Kanye West described his latest release as “a gospel album with a lot of cursing.” The phrase exemplifies the sense of confusion and apparent contradiction surrounding The Life of Pablo—which came out February 14, after lots of hype and speculation. Christians also wondered about what was to come from the famous husband of Kim Kardashian (and foil to Taylor Swift): How much gospel will be in this “gospel album”? Who exactly is Pablo? For starters, it isn’t a typical album in any sense. Following its digital release, it has yet to be transferred to a physical format (no CDs, no vinyl). The Life of Pablo is not, and may not ever be, available for purchase. So while we’re told the album exists, it requires a certain amount of faith to experience. It is not available on iTunes, Amazon, or Spotify. No man cometh unto The Life of Pablo except through Tidal—the online music-streaming site run by Kanye’s figurative “big brother” Jay-Z offers the only legal way to listen to the project. During the final months of production, the album went through a spiritual …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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4 Responses to Cultural Change

By Ed Stetzer Christians must know how to engage culture. As followers of Christ, we won’t always fit into the world in which we live. In fact, we’ll often find ourselves going against the flow of popular culture in certain areas of life. It’s necessary for us to have a solid biblical foundation to stand on in the midst of a rapidly shifting cultural landscape. We need to know how the eternal Word of God shapes our understanding of current issues and how we can share the gospel compassionately and courageously with the people around us. Here are four possible responses to cultural change. 1. WE CONFORM. We start compromising what we believe and the way we act in order to appeal to and appease the surrounding culture. We may even genuinely believe that doing so is both loving and strategic, hoping somehow people will be attracted to Jesus through a less offensive form of Christianity and will ultimately be saved. However, we have to realize that our goal isn’t to make following Jesus easier. The message of the gospel is necessarily countercultural and offensive to the human heart. 2. WE CHECK OUT. The opposite extreme is to secede from culture, distancing ourselves so completely that we never have …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Is Bernie Sanders Religious?

By Yehiel Poupko No. But he’s deeply influenced by the modern Jewish experience. The following exchange took place between Anderson Cooper of CNN and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the March debate in Flint, Michigan: Cooper: “Senator Sanders, are you intentionally keeping your Jewish faith in the background during your campaign?” Sanders: “I am very proud to be Jewish, and being Jewish is so much of what I am. Look, my father’s family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust. I know about what crazy and radical and extremist politics mean. I learned that lesson as a tiny, tiny child when my mother would take me shopping and we would see people working in stores who had numbers on their arms because they were in Hitler’s concentration camps. I am very proud of being Jewish, and that is an essential part of who I am as a human being.” Once again we are in presidential election season. The candidates are, each in their own way, projecting what they want the electorate to know about their faith. We Americans are used to this quadrennial exercise. This election cycle, however, is exceptional. Senator Bernie Sanders has advanced further in the presidential campaign than any other Jewish citizen before him. …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Cox Killing Shows Why Brexit and Trump-Clinton Need 'Civil' Religion

By Daniel Webster Disagreement without division must be possible in UK and US politics. Christians can get us there. I have been involved in British politics for more than a decade. Suddenly, everything has changed. One week before the United Kingdom votes whether to continue its membership in the European Union (EU), Jo Cox, a Labor member of Parliament (MP) representing a constituency in Northern England, died after being stabbed and shot in the street in Birstall, West Yorkshire. I’ve worked in parliament, been a lobbyist, and now help evangelical Christians engage in politics. I’ve never known anything like these past few months as the UK prepares to vote in the EU referendum, popularly called “Brexit.” The wrangling of recent weeks pales into insignificance in the wake of the death of a public servant who was doing what MPs regularly do: meeting with constituents to hear their concerns. These one-on-one meetings, which take place up and down the country in offices, town halls, and local libraries, are the front line of politics. Political systems where a single person represents a constituency foster this sort of connection. But alongside the value, it brings incredible vulnerability. Michael Deacon, paid to write political sketches for the Daily Telegraph, gave one …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Nations Have Come to Our Cities

By Ed Stetzer We cannot overlook the influx of “the nations” ready for the gospel. Our first public service for Church of the Beloved launched on a cold Saturday afternoon in the diverse Near West Side of Chicago, surrounded by different African American, Mexican, Chinese, even historically Italian neighborhoods. Within walking distance is the University of Illinois at Chicago, one of the more internationally diverse universities in the country. We didn’t know it at the time, but from this location we started a church that would welcome people from different cultures and backgrounds. Within a few months of planting, I felt prompted to ask my new congregation to stand if they were born outside of the States. I wondered what God was up to when more than half of the church stood up. The nations were coming to our church. Our first conversion was a Thai American anesthesiologist. The day after his conversion, he shared his testimony with a group of international students who had just moved from Thailand. Through a translator, I was also able to share the gospel in their heart language. Only one person in the group had an idea of who Jesus was. This was their first time ever hearing of …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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