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Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116726
10/07/04 07:55 PM
10/07/04 07:55 PM
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Pope John Paul II (Apostolic Exhortation, PENITENTIA ET RECONCILATIO) wrote about the disinctions between various kinds of sin. His words shouldn't be dismissed as the mere opinion of the Western Church, as his teaching is well founded in Holy Scripture. The following is an excerpt from the Pope's Exhortation:

"But here we come to a further dimension in the mystery of sin, one on which the human mind has never ceased to ponder: the question of its gravity. It is a question which cannot be overlooked and one which the Christian conscience has never refused to answer. Why and to what degree is sin a serious matter in the offense it commits against God and in its effects on man? The church has a teaching on this matter which she reaffirms in its essential elements, while recognizing that it is not always easy in concrete situations to define clear and exact limits.

Already in the Old Testament, individuals guilty of several kinds of sins - sins committed deliberately,(Cf Numbers 15:30.) the various forms of impurity,(Cf Leviticus 18:26-30) idolatry,(Cf Lev. 19:4) the worship of false gods (Lev. 20:1-7.) - were ordered to be "taken away from the people," which could also mean to be condemned to death.(Cf Exodus 21:17) Contrasted with these were other sins especially sins committed through ignorance, that were forgiven by means of a sacrificial offering.(Cf Lev. 4:2ff; 5:1ff; Numbers 15:22-29.)

In reference also to these texts, the church has for centuries spoken of mortal sin and venial sin. But it is above all the New Testament that sheds light on this distinction and these terms. Here there are many passages which enumerate and strongly reprove sins that are particularly deserving of condemnation.(Cf Matt 5:28; 6:23; 12:31f; 15:19; Mark 3:28-30; Romans 1:29-31; 13:13; James 4) There is also the confirmation of the Decalogue by Jesus himself.(Cf Matt 5:17; 15:1-10; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.) Here I wish to give special attention to two passages that are significant and impressive.

In a text of his First Letter, St. John speaks of a sin which leads to death (pros thanaton), as opposed to a sin which does not lead to death (me pros thanaton).(Cf 1 John 5:16f.) Obviously, the concept of death here is a spiritual death. It is a question of the loss of the true life or "eternal life," which for John is knowledge of the Father and the Son,(Cf 1 John 17:3) and communion and intimacy with them. In that passage the sin that leads to death seems to be the denial of the Son(Cf 1 Jn 2:22.) or the worship of false gods.(Cf 1 Jn 5:21) At any rate, by this distinction of concepts John seems to wish to emphasize the incalculable seriousness of what constitutes the very essence of sin, namely the rejection of God. This is manifested above all in apostasy and idolatry: repudiating faith in revealed truth and making certain created realities equal to God, raising them to the status of idols or false gods.(Cf 1 Jn 5:16-21) But in this passage the apostle's intention is also to underline the certainty that comes to the Christian from the fact of having been "born of God" through the coming of the Son: The Christian possesses a power that preserves him from falling into sin; God protects him, and "the evil one does not touch him." If he should sin through weakness or ignorance, he has confidence in being forgiven, also because he is supported by the joint prayer of the community.

In another passage of the New Testament, namely in St. Matthew's Gospel,(Cf Matt 12:31f.)Jesus himself speaks of a "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" that " will not be forgiven" by reason of the fact that in its manifestation, it is an obstinate refusal to be converted to the love of the Father of mercies.

Here of course it is a question of external radical manifestations: rejection of God, rejection of his grace and therefore opposition to the very source of salvation(Cf St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 14, aa. 1-8.)-these are manifestations whereby a person seems to exclude himself voluntarily from the path of forgiveness. It is to be hoped that very few persist to the end in this attitude of rebellion or even defiance of God. Moreover, God in his merciful love is greater than our hearts, as St. John further teaches us,(Cf 1 Jn 3:20.
) and can overcome all our psychological and spiritual resistance. So that, as St. Thomas writes, "considering the omnipotence and mercy of God, no one should despair of the salvation of anyone in this life."(St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 14, a. 3, ad primum)

But when we ponder the problem of a rebellious will meeting the infinitely just God, we cannot but experience feelings of salutary "fear and trembling," as St. Paul suggests.(Cf Phil 2:12) Moreover, Jesus' warning about the sin "that will not be forgiven" confirms the existence of sins which can bring down on the sinner the punishment of "eternal death."

Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116727
10/07/04 08:03 PM
10/07/04 08:03 PM
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Originally posted by alice:
HOW did you know? confused

( except my sin of grabbing 'a few' extra Equal usually occurs at Starbucks...well, at almost $3.00 for a small cup of coffee.....) :rolleyes:
Alice,

I have an aversion to trendiness and long avoided Starbucks, a place to which my wife is quite attached, in favor of that New England institution, Dunkin Donuts. The first time I ever had a Starbucks coffee, I handed her a $10 bill and waited in the car. On her return, I found that my change wouldn't pay for an hour's parking at some downtown meters.

Many years,

Neil, who thinks Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, and Tim Horton's are all over-rated (and, some, over-priced as well)


"One day all our ethnic traits ... will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, ... unless we wish to assure the death of our community."
Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116728
10/11/04 01:30 AM
10/11/04 01:30 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by alice:
On the other hand, if you impulsively grab a few extra packets of "Equal" from the 7-11 when you buy a cup of coffee, because you just realized you're out of it at home, and you don't have time to go to the grocery store -- well, that's a sin, but hardly on the same level.

Alice, feeling guilty shocked
Scruples perhaps - we all are occasionally bothered by it. Anxiety.

Once, a mystical dire4ctor described to me what it is like to hear confession from cloistered nuns - “It is like being pelleted to death with popcorn.”

A weakness perhaps, a small fault if you like, but given your motivation and the situation - these was no sin here. In fact, I would guess that if you walked up to the counter and said “Hey - I ran out of equal at home and wonder if I might take a couple for home, because I can not get out to the store until much later….” … they counter person would certainly say “Go ahead.” and wonder why you would ask over such a small matter. A couple of packets should not bring Starbucks to its knees.

Sin exists in the intention, in the heart, and not in the act. Even civil laws are supposed to take account of the persons intentions for doing the act.

So if you had it in your mind that what you were about to do was a sin, and your conscience spoke against it - but you did it anyway - then even this small act - was a sin - a breach of conscience. But my guess is that you really understood normal life and knew that the few packets of Equal - which were there for customers (of which you were) were of no consequence for two reasons: 1) this is not a daily habit of yours which allows you to save money by stealing Equal 2) it is very reasonable that the clerk would have said “Sure. Go ahead.”

Sin does not exist in the act - but as the origin of the act - a will and intention.

A man may do the very same physical action if he murder another man or if he kill another man - the action resulting in the death of the other man. The court decides by testimony and evidence to support the testimony of the accused - as to his motives and intentions. This is why the Hebrew of the commandments says “You shall not murder.” and not “You shall not kill.”

Of course while intention and motivation are a decide ding factor - within English law there must be intention as well as to carry out the deed with the result of some measurable damage in some way.

So in closing, if you have described your episode well - your only fault here (if we can call it that) was not asking the clerk first. That would have been better for your own conscience. Next time you are in Starbucks you can tell the clerk what you did - and that small repiar to your own conscience can be made.


This is how I see it.

-ray


-ray
Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116729
10/11/04 08:44 AM
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Originally posted by Theist Gal:
On the other hand, if you impulsively grab a few extra packets of "Equal" from the 7-11 when you buy a cup of coffee, because you just realized you're out of it at home, and you don't have time to go to the grocery store -- well, that's a sin, but hardly on the same level.
Quote
Originally posted by Alice:
HOW did you know? ...
Alice, feeling guilty
Quote
Originally posted by RayK:
Scruples perhaps - we all are occasionally bothered by it. Anxiety.

... given your motivation and the situation - these was no sin here. ...

Sin exists in the intention, in the heart, and not in the act. Even civil laws are supposed to take account of the persons intentions for doing the act.

So if you had it in your mind that what you were about to do was a sin, and your conscience spoke against it - but you did it anyway - then even this small act - was a sin - a breach of conscience. But my guess is that you really understood normal life ...

Sin does not exist in the act - but as the origin of the act - a will and intention.

...

So in closing, if you have described your episode well - your only fault here (if we can call it that) was not asking the clerk first. That would have been better for your own conscience. ...
Ray,

While I don't think we should go out and raid franchisees of their condiments, I think we also agree that what was described is unlikely to lead one on to bank robbery and, while wrong, is also unlikely to imperil one's immortal soul.
Your point is valid that there can be a thin line between realization that an act is potentially sinful and scrupulosity that examines human foibles with the goal of finding sin where there may be none.

However, I think that was the point that Theist Gal and Alice were themselves making, that in discussion of sin one sometimes becomes aware that, in everyday life, the opportunity to commit sin arises and is taken without even being cognizant of it. To stop, and suddenly understand it as such, can be a bit unsettling and may be experienced in "public confession" as "humorous" in a self-effacing, embarressed, sort of way. To do so is not scrupulosity, but human nature.

With all due respect, I think your post is a good example of over-analyzing the issue in the most Western of ways wink and, in doing so, both minimalizes and rationalizes the "sin" since you see the packets of Equal to be

Quote
of no consequence for two reasons:

1) this is not a daily habit ...

2) it is very reasonable that the clerk would have said “Sure. Go ahead.”
I think that, by introducing those steps, one compounds the act, making excuses that "justify" what really started out as nothing more than an unthinking act - wrong, but not damning - but which can't really be justified. One needs to recognize it for what it is, accept it, repent of it, and move on, vowing not to repeat it - a vow that will possibly fail and require renewal, given the frailty of human nature. The complication of it by over-analysis lends itself to the risk of falling into the opposite of scrupulousity, the term for which escapes me at 5:00am biggrin .

Many years,

Neil


"One day all our ethnic traits ... will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, ... unless we wish to assure the death of our community."
Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116730
10/11/04 08:56 AM
10/11/04 08:56 AM
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Does this mean that the crab cake I put on my plate at the buffett the other day and couldn't eat because I was full, that bringing it home was a sin? Or would throwing it away be a sin? I truly love crab cakes. Scrupulous?

Pani Rose

Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116731
10/11/04 09:22 AM
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Originally posted by Pani Rose:
Does this mean that the crab cake I put on my plate at the buffett the other day and couldn't eat because I was full, that bringing it home was a sin? Or would throwing it away be a sin?
Neil, thinking that throwing a good crab cake away is always sinful frown , recommends that one avoid damnation by sending all purloined crab cakes by overnight Fedex, packed in ice, directly to him biggrin . On receipt, an indulgence will be granted - oops eek , is that simony?


"One day all our ethnic traits ... will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, ... unless we wish to assure the death of our community."
Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116732
10/11/04 03:07 PM
10/11/04 03:07 PM
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If we apprehend to any degree the transcendent righteousness of God even many seemingly innocuous things would be seen as intrinsically disordered. There is a thick, not a thin, line between these sort of small dischords and the sort of willful and serious act that could imperil our immortal salvation. That is all the distinction between mortal and venial sin means. Does not the Liturgy even speak of sins that are sinned unknowingly? Yet we know that an unwilled sin is no sin at all subjectively. Similarily, to say there is no distinction [say] between taking home an extra creamer from the cafe and murdering your mother is beyond absurd.

Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116733
10/11/04 10:21 PM
10/11/04 10:21 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by RayK:
... Sin exists in the intention, in the heart, and not in the act. Even civil laws are supposed to take account of the persons intentions for doing the act.

...
Sin does not exist in the act - but as the origin of the act - a will and intention.

...
-ray
Although I understand it was not your will nor intent to do so, you must be careful in generalizing. The CCC states:

Quote
1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.

Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116734
10/12/04 01:21 AM
10/12/04 01:21 AM
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I think Ray meant culpability for sin; he mispoke. Acts are intrinsically sinful or not, even if done unconsciously and no guilt is attached.

Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116735
10/12/04 01:37 AM
10/12/04 01:37 AM
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You mean in ignorance.

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1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience. Catechism of the Catholic Church

Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116736
10/12/04 04:45 AM
10/12/04 04:45 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Deacon John Montalvo:
There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it
Yes... I thought about these ... but decided not to try and address these situations... not having it in mind then how to do that well. So now let me try for all those who may have read my post.

I believe what that section of the CCC is directly addressing in context of our own time is the social ethics called “situational ethics” a system of ethics which proposes that some immediate act (as being judged sin or not) depends upon the person’s intended goal. It is an ethics which justifies the means - by the ends. Communism was just such a system, while Christianity says that the means - justify the ends (in other words forms the end to be just).

Another application of situational ethics it is also (for another example) that if someone is raised in a culture and social environment where it is the custom to allow killing of newborn babies (as was done in some Mid-eastern countries only a few centuries ago) then the person is not guilty of sin in as much he was raised to believe that it is an accepted moral custom of his culture. He was not taught otherwise by men. Situational ethics would call this - OK.

The fault here is that situational ethics does not take into account - universal natural law in its act of embedded certain moral knowledge within our conscience. It considers conscience as being formed solely by the results of cultural and social environment conditions (behaviorism) and that nature has no power over conscience. It dismisses the fact that nature itself in-forms us all about many basic acts which are inseparable from their casual intentions. Nor does it take into account the spiritual meaning of events and reality but rather defines all good and evil solely by a physical and material condition as interpreted solely by the mind of man. It ignores the reality of a living Providence.

I see the key line here, to understanding this section of the CCC, as the summary line which wraps it all up [I]“One may not do evil so that good may result from it.”[I] We should be able to move this summary line - to the opening and now have it influence a clarification of our reading. The brackets are my own in way of clarification.

Quote

One may not do [an immediate] evil so that [a final] good may result from it. It is therefore an error to judge the morality of [an immediate] human acts by considering only the intention [toward a final goal] that inspires them or [only by] the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and [final] intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object [immediate intention] ; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery.
Another way to say this would be that the intentions of an immediate act are not mitigated by a future intention of that act to obtain a good goal.

There are acts which, in and of themselves, (their immediate intention)
independently of circumstances and intentions ( final intended goal)
are always gravely illicit by reason of their object ( immediate intention )

As further example to what this section is addressing is that Situational ethics is at work today in several troubling situations. In accepting abortion as a form of birth control. In stem cell research where we would be growing and harvesting live human embryos and then killing them for research. And in certain aspect (not all aspects) of ‘gay rights’ like the redefining marriage. Each, has a good goal, but each uses means to get to the good goal - which are by nature inseparable from a sinful immediate intention. Each uses a ‘going-against’ what natural law infallibly reveals to every human conscience as wrong. I think this is express in CCC 1860

Quote

Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability [force of sin] of a grave offence. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man.”
Knowledge and intent or willfulness - the two ingredients which make sin - sin - are non- material and non-physical and exist only within the intellect and will (spiritual nature of man) while they can be expressed through physical acts - they cannot be transfered to exist in the physical acts. Otherwise creation itself can be evil and the misinterpretation of the RC doctrine of Orginal sin which misintepretation has it that sin is passed in the fluids - might be possible and true. But we know that is a misinterpretation of the doctrine and an impossibility never intended.

I have called it natural law and the CCC calls it moral law. In any event it is understood in biblical terms to be the “covenant of Noah“ the precepts of nature imparted to all men of all times though nature itself.

John expresses a concise definition of Providence when he said about Providence (The Word) “without him no-thing was made.” It is a doctrine of Providence that God does not create evil in any way shape or form. It has no existence in creation except by way of a lack in human will to will all that God wills. And also a doctrine of the church that no-thing of creation (neither thing nor event) is evil in itself. Matter… (comprised of things and events of things) are not evil.

It is a silly simile - but - we often think of a hole in the donut as having a positive existence of itself - when really it is defined by - a lack of donut. The hole does not move the donut out of its way. It is no-thing in itself. We often think of the dark of night as being something that has its own existence when really it is a lack of light. The darkness does not push the light out of its way.

Knowledge and willfulness (intent) are always the main ingredient of sin - the physical acts, which are the means of the sin, are secondary and sinful in only in the fact of the spiritual cause which is motivation. This assumes that in some cases the knowledge that some act would be sinful - is infallibly inherent within all human conscience and not a thing solely dependent upon cultural environment etc...

I think it is telling for the understanding of this section of the CCC, that each act noted is named, not in a physical description of the act, but explicitly by a name which signifies the un-divorceable willful intention involved.

Blasphemy - the intent to harm God’s honor in men’s minds.
Perjure - the willful intent to mislead of falsify.
Murder - the willful intent to plot a killing.
Adultery - the willful intent to have sex with a married person.

The acts are defined by the name of the sinful intent which is its motivation.

Such is the case in many Muslim countries where rape - (the physical act of a man having sex with a woman who is not his wife) is attributed to the woman as sin - despite the fact that it be not her intention and forced. In the Kosovo conflict this was used as a weapon against Muslims. Women of all type raped so that no Muslim men would ever have child with an adulteress.

CCC 1849 - 1850 The Definition of Sin: defines sin as a spiritual condition, a self-providence rather than a cooperation with Providence, and no where does it mentions any physical conditions except by way of naming the spiritual intention involved which cause the act.
Quote

Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience.
A condition of the spiritual part of man that may - or may not - have a physical playing out. A man may lust and not get the opportunity to physically satisfy his lust - but it remains sin - even without a physical associated act.

As philosophy and theology would put it - sin exists in the mover and not in the motion except by way of the cause (the mover).

>Although I understand it was not your will nor intent to do so,
> you must be careful in generalizing.

I have considered that this is difficult for me - here. Not everyone reads or thinks in the dry tones that are meat to me. My posts can be long and tiresom to read with unfamiliar definitions if one has no use for the terms of phiolosophy. While some enjoy my experience, it may be out of the waters of others and prone to misunderstandings. Knowing that - I have some responsibility about it. It may be time for me to look for a forum where I would be among my own kind. Oddball that I am.

Your own keen mind and kind remarks have always been appreciated.

I will set off in search of a pond with more appropriate waters for an oddball fish such as myself.

I have enjoyed my stay at this board and hope I have enlighten some as well as some have enlightened me.

Farewell Deacon, I hope that when you see me approach you will remember me and open the doors of heaven for me. If there not be a small crowd there to insist I be let in - I am not so confident I will get in on my own.

To all my frinds here - I have enjoyed this truely Catholic (East/West) community. It has been an example to me of good East-West relations.

I have treasured those who challenged me - perhaps a bit more than those who agreed with me. Perhaps more than anyone would know.

Humans - all - and in that - all striving in ways as varied as human experience is - for the same God.

-ray


-ray
Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116737
10/12/04 04:57 AM
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-ray
Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116738
10/12/04 02:08 PM
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Slava Isusu Kristu,

For what it is worth, I am currently reading CONFRONTING & CONTROLLING THOUGHTS ACCORDING TO THE FATHERS OF THE PHILOKALIA by Anthony Coniaris. It deals a lot with what sin really does in terms of blocking our path to God. I find it an interesting concept that is often missed in our tendancy for rationalization (at least mine anyway..)

Dmitri

Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116739
10/12/04 04:54 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by RayK:
... Not everyone reads or thinks in the dry tones that are meat to me. My posts can be long and tiresom to read with unfamiliar definitions if one has no use for the terms of phiolosophy. While some enjoy my experience, it may be out of the waters of others and prone to misunderstandings. Knowing that - I have some responsibility about it. It may be time for me to look for a forum where I would be among my own kind. Oddball that I am.

Your own keen mind and kind remarks have always been appreciated.

I will set off in search of a pond with more appropriate waters for an oddball fish such as myself.

I have enjoyed my stay at this board and hope I have enlighten some as well as some have enlightened me.

Farewell Deacon, I hope that when you see me approach you will remember me and open the doors of heaven for me. If there not be a small crowd there to insist I be let in - I am not so confident I will get in on my own.

To all my frinds here - I have enjoyed this truely Catholic (East/West) community. It has been an example to me of good East-West relations.

I have treasured those who challenged me - perhaps a bit more than those who agreed with me. Perhaps more than anyone would know.
Ray,

We post here in a venue that, by its existence and our participation, marks us as oddballs. A decision by any one among us to absent ourselves has negative consequences for the circularity of the communal oddball and runs the risk that it will not, in future, travel as fluidly.

Yes, your posts are long (says me, biggrin who has been accused of posting novellettes to say "yes") and sometimes dry (my own posts are always just sooo damn fascinating :rolleyes: ). I'm not going to agree with you that they are tiresome - I will admit that I don't always understand every point confused , but that reflects poorly on me, not you.

I find your musings on and interpretations of scriptual texts particularly useful and/or interesting, probably because that is certainly not my forte and, thus, each offers me an opportunity for education.

That said, my brother, I hope you will re-consider your decision to leave. I believe we can continue to offer a sufficiently oddball environment to stimulate your quirkiness. I'd hardly see some polite disagreement about a single issue as a basis for striking one's tent and wandering off in search of a better oasis.

God grant you many years,

Neil


"One day all our ethnic traits ... will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, ... unless we wish to assure the death of our community."
Re: Mortal and Venial Sin #116740
10/12/04 05:29 PM
10/12/04 05:29 PM
Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,692
Knoxville, TN
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byzanTN Offline
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byzanTN  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,692
Knoxville, TN
RayK, you should stick around. Your posts are thoughtful and do contain good information. Granted, sometimes it might be more than I cared to know, wink but other times it is information that I am looking for. As I said, your posts are thoughtful, as opposed to some who rant or quote themselves. I do hope you stay with us and keep posting.

Charles

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