Saturday, December 26, 2015

Matthew Kelly Poison In DC Parishes Again

After Christmas Mass we all received a Christmas present.  It was a book by Matthew Kelly called "Rediscover Jesus".  I've written about Kelly in the past as I have found his stuff to be, quite frankly, less than Catholic.  Because it was free (meaning I did not have to pony my cash to Kelly's wallet) I took one and glanced through it.  That one glance told me that Kelly's theology had not improved one iota.  I copied the page and post it below.

The problem is the last sentence of the third paragraph.  I tried to highlight it, but it is faint.  At any rate, that last sentence is enough to cause a sane Catholic to junk this book.  Ladies and gentlemen, note the phrase "half-brother of Jesus".  Jesus had no "half-siblings".  The Perpetual Virginity of Mary is defined Catholic dogma!  Please let no one delude themselves into thinking that this point is "just a technicality".  If Holy Mother Church thought it important enough to make the perpetual virginity of Mary a dogma, then it deserves all due consideration.

Whether or not Kelly intended it, he wrote heresy.  Perhaps this lapse can be chalked up to faulty formation that he may have received as a child.  We all know how far Catholic education has declined in the past 50 years or so.  But isn't that all the more reason for our parishes and chanceries to carefully vet these books before they're released to the Catholics in the pew?

There are other issues with this book (and his previous books).  While this book does state that sin hinders our relationship with God, it is quite selective about the kinds of sins with which it deals.  I see talk of "greed" and "losing one's temper", but nowhere did I detect any mention of mortal sins such as the support of abortion, contraception, gay #mowwidge.  But anyone with two functioning eyeballs can see that it's rampant in the pews - not only the support but the participation in these mortal sins.  That means we have Catholics in the pews who may well be hell-bound, and there's no mention of these real dangers.  Speaking of hell, I see no mention of that important reality whatsoever in that book (or his other books).  Why not?  Our Lord mentioned it often as a solemn warning.  In all fairness to Kelly, it can be argued that he's merely following the lead of the American clergy in not specifying mortal sins and the reality of hell.  In their misguided and dare I say feckless desire not to upset people, they are doing the Catholic congregation a gross disservice.

Another related issue is the overemphasis on "experience".  As I read the Gospels, I see no mention of Jesus calling people to "experience" Him.  Rather, there is the call for repentance and obedience, with the graces communicated through the Sacraments as administered by the Church.  Indeed, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus's first recorded word is "repent".  The soon-to-be-canonized Mother Teresa of Calcutta is said to have gone most of her life with no experience of God's presence.  She did count that as a cross, but still it goes to show that "experience" is not a necessary component of the Catholic's spiritual life.  One could call Kelly's approach "putting the cart before the horse", but without specific mention of the serious sins for which one should repent and obtain absolution, I'd have to say in this instance that "there's a cart but no horse".

Some might think my characterization of Kelly's materials as being "poison" to be a bit harsh.  They might say that the great majority (while somewhat vapid for its "peaches and ice cream tone") is decent enough.  But no one can gainsay the heresy that is there in plain sight.  For reasons that I stated in an earlier post, I don't think anything that contains heresy can be used as a spiritual guide regardless of other material contained within.

Is this book showing up in other parishes?

UPDATE - The answer to that last question is "yes".  Someone from St. Andrew the Apostle told me they have it.  That suggests impetus from the DC chancery.

UPDATE #2 - Per Jeff's comment below, the phrase I wrote above, "he wrote heresy" should be rendered "he published heresy".  Kelly says it's from another source but in his own book offered no correction nor clarification regarding the Church dogma.

57 comments:

  1. Perhaps he's suggesting He's a step-brother through Joseph, His foster father, and not through Mary?

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    1. The notion of Joseph having children through a previous marriage makes no sense in light of Scripture. For instance, the genealogy according to Matthew indicates the royal line passing through Joseph. If he had older sons, they would precede Jesus in the royal line. And there is no mention of other children. Would they not have been mentioned as going to Bethlehem with Joseph and Mary? But that's speculation.

      What isn't speculation is that what Kelly wrote, as it appears in black and white, is heresy. "Step-brother" and "half-brother" are not interchangeable terms; they have completely different meanings.

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    2. The royal line was - had to be - through Mary, who was also of the house of David, as is noted in the Council of Trent catechism but, regrettably, omitted in our most recent catechism. To suggest a bloodline through Joseph rejects the Divine Paternity, does it not?

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    3. Not bloodline, but legal descent. That did come through Joseph. Recall that in the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph is the first to be called "son of David".

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    4. Although the other points about Kelly's writings are true, this specific one could actually be justified. We do not only rely on scripture and there is a theory that Mary designated her life to God, which is why she stayed a virgin, yet married Joseph out of an act of charity to aid in raising his children from his widowed wife. It would explain why there is a confusion to Jesus having siblings yet Mary being a Virgin.

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    5. Even if that theory were true, those other children would be step-siblings to Jesus as opposed to half-siblings. Any resulting confusion might have been understandable on the part of their contemporaries, but not on the part of Catholics today. Kelly's calling James a "half-brother" of Jesus is simply inexcusable. Another commenter pointed out that James is called "son of Alpheus" in one of the Gospels.

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    6. @Unknown,

      Tradition is that Joseph was also a virgin, unmarried prior to marriage with Mary. It's not dogmatically defined as is Mary's perpetual virginity, and I'm not sure of the doctrinal level of it.

      So, Kelly's statement could be appealing to the step-brother theory that gets bandied about, but it is sloppy at best to assert it without reference to the tradition to the contrary, and as DC points out is inaccurate to use half-brother at all.

      A more fundamental problem in the current situation is the ignoring of Philip Neri's advice:
      "I don't care who you read as long as their first name starts with St." The appeal to be reading modern popular writers, even more reliable ones, is problematic from the get-go.

      ...And that includes blogs.

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    7. There are two James mentioned as Apostles. James, the brother of John, son of Zebadee, aka The Greater and James, son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:16-19), aka The Lesser. The Lesser is mentioned three times in the Gospels. In Mark 15:40 - "Mary, the mother of James the younger and Joses/Joseph" and Mark 16:1 and 27:56 - "Mary, the mother of James". You then see Mary, the mother of James and Joseph mentioned in Matthew 27:56 at the cross. Comparing that to John 19:25, the argument can be made that Mary, the wife of Clopas is Mary, the mother of James and Joseph. The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that etymologically, the names Clopas and Alphaeus are different, but that they could still be the same person. Other sources propose that Alphaeus, Clophas and Cleophas are variant attempts to render the Aramaic H in Aramaic Hilfai into Greek as aspirated, or K. In addition to this, Jerome (The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary) and Papias of Hierapolis (Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord) both identify Mary, the wife of Clopas with Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, so this was part of tradition very early. Finally, here's a good article on the translations of various familial terms in scripture: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/brethren-of-the-lord. Net, Catholic tradition has held that Jesus had no brothers and used the above as arguments to refute it from the very first times this was raised. It is a shame that something being handed out in Catholic parishes would make this type of mistake. It has been handed out, although spotty, in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati as well.

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  2. It seems as if this was passed around Baltimore and Arlington too

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  3. Out of curiosity, does this book have an imprimatur on it? And if so, by whom?

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    1. No imprimatur. This book is not being carefully vetted by anyone in Church authority, it would seem. It makes me wonder just what is the impetus for chanceries to allow this into their churches.

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  4. Kelly has been a great source of inspiration for many Christians. I would agree that some details in his writings are questionable.

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    1. What you just described is how spiritual poison can insinuate itself into a person's mind - by being cloaked with other material that is benign in and of itself. For more worthwhile sources exist that don't entail the need to weed out any harmful material.

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  5. That isn’t the teaching of the Fathers... Only Jerome made such a bold claim.

    Young, chaste Joseph without any other children is largely the tradition in the latter middle ages and after Trent, and his having half-brothers explains the ancient languhes references to his relatives far better than saying they had to be his cousins.

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    1. Even if Joseph had other sons, they'd be step-brothers to Jesus, not half-brothers. The two terms are not interchangeable. Half-siblings have one biological parent in common.

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    2. This is true, but I'll also say that in discussing this issue with friends, I've had to explain to more than one person the difference between half brother and step brother. To a lot of people's minds, the two things are just lumped together.

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    3. Would we not hope that an author might be more precise in his/her terminology? Such confusion on the part of an author who seems to exalt himself as a teacher is inexcusable.

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    4. We would hope, to be sure, but to err is human... I've known lots of otherwise very good, very learned teachers make gaffs or make some kind of oversight. In fact, I'm known very good, orthodox priests make this very mistake (step vs half), but I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

      I think it should also be pointed out that the comment about James is a throwaway line in a passage which is about the Resurrection. Were the passage actually focussed on Jesus' family then I would be a little more suspicious.

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  6. We in the Chicago Archdiocese have been treated to CD's by Matthew Kelly at Christmas Masses in the past. I believe it was last year in fact when we visited another Parish of a relative everyone was given a 'Christmas present' upon leaving Mass. I knew just by listening to him there was not the least bit of orthodoxy in his presentation, which didn't surprise me as this Parish is known for their progressiveness. Matthew Kelly seems to be very popular among the progressives.

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  7. His CDs keep popping up in my parish book rack.

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  8. I am visiting Denver over the holidays, and the Denver chancery has commanded it into their parishes, also. At least the parishes I have attended.

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    1. I'm beginning to think there's some sort of impetus from the USCCB. Either that or Kelly has quite a marketing strategy aimed at the Catholic Churches.

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    2. He has a brilliant marketing strategy. Seed the parishes with the books and CDs for free. Then the congregation buys the rest, thinking that the Priest has provided "Christmas Presents". It's like a crack dealer.

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  9. I have a query to the blog owner: do you attend an Ordinary or Extraordinary Form Roman Rite parish?

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    1. All the parishes in the Archdiocese are of the Ordinary Rite. St. Mary's in DC (near Chinatown) has a Mass in the Extraordinary form. I attend St. John Neumann in Gaithersburg, that has only the Ordinary Rite Mass.

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  10. I'll apologize ahead of time for a lengthy post. I deal with St Joseph in detail in my book All Things Christmas. There are essentially three views on St. Joseph:

    While the Protestants give lip service to the Virgin Birth, they by and large ignore Mary's perpetual virginity and credit Mary & Joseph with a large family after the birth of Jesus.

    The Orthodox view makes Joseph an old widower with a number of children. He's not looking for a wife in the truest sense of the word, merely a nursemaid and housekeeper. Thus, Jesus has "brothers" & "sisters," but Mary's virginity rermains intact.

    The Catholic view demands nothing of Joseph. he is Mary's husband and Jesus' foster father...period. Comparing John 19:25 to Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40, we find that Mary of Cleophas, or Clopas, was the sister of Mary the Mother of Jesus. We know she is Clopas’ wife because that is the way a married woman would have been identified. So this Mary is the same Mary who was the mother of James the Less and of Joseph, or Joses. Isn’t James the Lesser named in the list of apostles as the son of Alpheus? Yes, but it is commonly recognized that Clopas and Alpheus are different transcriptions of the same Aramaic word, Halphai.

    We know nothing of Joses, or Joseph. Jude, however, is the author of the Epistle of Jude. He is identified Judas Jacobi, Jude the brother of James, in the Douay Version of Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13. It was Greek custom for a man to append his brother's name instead of his father's when the brother was better known. In his Epistle, Jude calls himself the brother of James.

    Simon, like Joseph, remains a bit of a mystery. Many commentators identify him as Symeon, or Simon, who, according to Hegesippus, was a son of Clopas and succeeded James as Bishop of Jerusalem. Others have identified him as the Apostle Simon the Cananean(Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18) or Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). The grouping of James, Jude (or Thaddeus), and Simon, after the others but before Judas Iscariot, seems to indicate a connection between them.

    So two, and possibly three, of these cousins were among Jesus’ Apostles. This seems to be verified in 1 Corinthians 9:5 where Paul writes, “Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?”

    No matter how you slice it, Matthew Kelly's got it wrong.

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    1. Fantastic! Thank you very much!

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    2. > "The Orthodox view makes Joseph an old widower with a number of children"

      To clarify, this is the Eastern Christian view, both Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic.

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  11. The gospels give the names of the parents of all the "brothers of Jesus," and in every case they are people other than Mary or Joseph. Considering how much hay is made out of the phrase "the brothers of Jesus," it is astonishing how the names of their parents are completely overlooked by so many anti-Mary Protestant writers, and so-called Catholics.

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  12. I saw this book this weekend in Sarasota Florida in a parish and it was free. I am not very familiar with him and figured it was just more fluff Catholicism. Looks like it is worse than fluff.

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  13. Piles of these free books were at St. Joseph in Tontitown, AR. Bishop Taylor "presiding" in Little Rock. This is a split parish with a NO mass at the 9 AM and the EF at 11:30. Big pile of the Kelley books on a table in the vestibule. The book pile diminished as the NO attendees ran to their cars after communion. The leftovers were used for coasters at the potluck the EF has after every mass.

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  14. I attended Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in Los Angeles, California, and we were given a copy of another book by Matthew Kelly: "The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic."

    Right after the Mass, I was talking about it to a fellow Massgoer who was already drunk and was sipping on a bottle of vodka; he proclaimed that he himself was a "dynamic Catholic." Whether he is actually a dynamic Catholic I am not in a position to know, but he was certainly upholding a Catholic tradition in getting tipsy before Midnight Mass!

    Lest the Traditionalists misunderstand me, I should point out that this is a Catholic small-t tradition, not capital-T Tradition. :)

    Mike Potemra

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  15. I did not take one but some parishes have them with Knights and others sponsoring the books.

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  16. If you are going to be so venomous against Matthew Kelly, wouldn't it be better if you just asked him, himself, what he meant by the phrase? Has anyone contacted or tried to contact him in regards to these issues. Maybe he is just "human" and made a mistake that he would be willing to retract. Matthew Kelly has done a lot of good for many people. He is an inspirational speaker but is not beyond error. Give him a chance to reply to your accusations.
    Suzann

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    1. I agree. With all of the garbage out there most of Kelly's approach is practical and rooted in getting out of yourself and resting in Christ. If there is heresy....which I have not seen in other books...it can be retracted or noted...I feel a lot less clarification is made by the Holy Father at times but it's not poison....wow.....a little grace is needed here because Kelly does speak out about the mortal sins-all of 'em in the books I have read..The heresy should be explained or corrected- otherwise if it's not your Catholic cup of tea that's okay but many have benefitted.

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    2. But it hasn't been retracted. As mentioned earlier, I asked for that, or at least some clarification. That request has been ignored. And yes, it is poison. To repeat an earlier analogy, if you had a lovely nutritious meal set before you, but knew that an enemy had introduced just a few drops of poison into that meal, would you take one bite of it or would you throw it out?

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  17. If you are going to be so venomous against Matthew Kelly, don't you think it would be better to first contact him, himself to give him a chance to explain what he meant? He may be unaware of this controversy. Matthew Kelly has been an inspiration to many people and therefore should be afforded the opportunity to explain or even retract that sentence. No one is perfect. I think he would welcome your comments and then maybe be able to improve on his theology.

    Suzann

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    1. Please note what I wrote in the post: "Whether or not Kelly intended it, he wrote heresy." "What he meant" is irrelevant. What is important is what actually appeared in black-on-white print in his book. Specific words have specific meanings. What he wrote is inherently heretical. I regret that it sounds harsh, but that is the stark reality.

      Three years ago, when there was the faulty prologue in his "Rediscover Catholicism" book, I did write to him via his web page. I've received no reply. At any rate, it was never necessary for me to "first contact him". When one puts forth ideas into the public arena, those ideas are subject to discussion and even opposition in the public arena.

      Ms. Oseguera, you appear to be a religious education coordinator in your parish. It is my hope and prayer that you carefully scrutinize the reading materials used in your programs for the sake of the students in your charge.

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    2. He who lives in glass houses shouldn't throw stones

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    3. You are something else.. giving her advise to scrutinize her programs for the sake of the students she is in charge of.. what a judgement after her comment .. Where in her comment does it say that she teaches anything? Her comment was very loving and nice.. WWJD You have a "goal" out to ruin someone who has done so much good for people. It "appears" to me you are think you are a perfect who doesn't give anyone the benefit of the doubt that one could have made a mistake. Very interesting...

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    4. "Her comment was very loving and nice". Uh-huh! I just felt those "loving and nice" vibes with that "venom" jibe. As for Kelly, the arguable good he may have done for people in no way justifies the heresy that does exist. I await his correction of that "mistake" but I won't hold my breath doing so.

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  18. Showed up in my parish in central Broward County in Florida. Who'should behind this?

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  19. As many people are curious about how these books end up in the parishes, I thought I'd write up a blog post detailing how the process works, as I once was a Matthew Kelly fan. Enjoy!

    http://trcthoughts.com/2015/12/why-is-matthew-kelly-so-popular/

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  20. Admittedly you skimmed the book. I have read the entire chapter and Matthew is relating the research done by an athiest turned Christian. It is the athiest that makes that statement. Personally, I have to tell you that I have undergone a great conversion thanks to Matthew Kelly. He is performing a great mission for God in revitalizing his Church and Catholics. And as we all know, we shall know them by their fruits!

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    1. I'm glad you've come home to the Church. However, the heresy quoted in this latest book still remains a problem. There have been problems with at least one of his other books as I mentioned above.

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    2. Lee Strobel, the athiest quoted in Chapter 21 claims to have converted from athiesm to some sort of Evangelical denomination. He is not Catholic. I have known many Evangelicals and other Protestants for that matter, who have been only too happy to whistle past the graveyard of "Jesus had half-brothers" because they have such hatred of anything to do with the Blessed Virgin Mary, they absolutely will not acknowledge her Perpetual Virginity. In their ignoring this, they again ignore the true divinity of Christ. Matt Kelly should have at least put a disclaimer at the end of the "Half-brother James" paragraph, and given the Catholic dogmatic teaching on the matter.

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  21. This is called eating you own. "Poison" really?

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    1. I assume "you" should be rendered "your". At any rate, "my own" do not allow heresy to be promulgated through their writings. Yes, heresy is spiritual poison.

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  22. Did you happen to receive any correspondence from Matthew Kelly regarding this post? I received an email from him for my above post. Was just curious.

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    1. No I haven't. For that matter, I never received any reply to the inquiry I left on his webpage concerning his other problematic book.

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    2. I just saw his comment and I completely concur with your reply. Why did he not issue a disclaimer? His omission is indicative of agreement with the heresy.

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  23. My parish in suburban Dallas also handed them out at Christmas Masses. I would say this is clearly the USCCB at work. Thanks for the information.

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  24. What book/CD/DVD would you suggest be handed out at Christmas and Easter?

    I ask because I asked this on a Facebook thread and the only response I got back was "The Baltimore Catechism", which I honestly find rather bizarre as I find it extremely hard to believe that a Christmas/Easter Catholic would be motivated enough to sit down and work through a catechism.

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    1. The Baltimore Catechism is presented in brief question-answer format so I don't think it would be too onerous for lukewarm Catholics to read; that's a bit different from the Catechism that Pope St. John Paul II promulgated. It would be far superior than any of Kelly's stuff.

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    2. It's not a question as to whether it'd be onerous, it's whether or not they'd be motivated.

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