Archive for November, 2013

Story of the Day for Friday November 29, 2013 



Black Friday 


You covet but cannot get it, so you fight and quarrel. 

James 4:2    


The Falkland Islands: mostly desolate, windswept chunks of rock,  became the prize of war in 1982, when the British fought Argentina for possession of them.  Argentine Nobel Prize winner Jorge Luis Borges thought the two warring parties were “like two bald men fighting over a comb.”   

But we start young, and no one has to teach us to act this way.  How many times have you watched little kids squabble over a toy, and once the “winner” gets the prize, he doesn’t want it?  The “loser” has found another toy, and now the fight begins over the new toy they both want.   


The busiest shopping day of the year is called Black Friday.  The day after Thanksgiving is the unofficial beginning of the Christmas shopping season.   

The shoppers were already lining up for Black Friday on the evening of Thanksgiving Day.  The parking lot at a Wal-Mart on Long Island was crammed with about 2000 shoppers waiting for the doors to open at 5 a.m.   

The shoppers couldn’t wait.  A chant broke out, “Push the doors in!” and then about 200 shoppers jumped the barricades and smashed the doors off the hinges as they rushed into the store.   

Store employees tried to form a human chain to slow down the rush, but they were trampled.  Several people were injured, and one employee, JdimytaiDamour, was stampeded to death.   

A voice blared over the intercom announcing that the store was closing – that a man had just been killed.  Many greeted the announcement with scorn and continued shopping.   

They were looking for bargains.   


For some reason, I desperately want to think of greed as “other people’s” problem.  In a sick sort of way, this story of the Black Friday Stampede comforts me with the notion that, at least, I’m not so greedy as to trample somebody to find a bargain.   

Or am I?  Did I ever squabble with another toddler for ownership of a toy – only to neglect it as soon as I saw that my rival was interested in another toy?  You can civilize greed through good manners, but you’re only mowing dandelions.  The roots still thrive. 


When I reflect on Jesus, suspended by spikes to the wood beam, I am renewed in two ways. First, I find the cleansing of this One who hates greed, yet loves greedy people enough to pay the price himself for their avarice.  He’s not out to get, but to give. 

And, in this, he also shows me that my manners only mask my greedy heart, but his sacrificial generosity is showing a higher way.   

It is more blessed to give than to receive.   

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: http://blog.vtheaterboxoffice.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Black_Friday_Shopping_lines.jpg)

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Happy Thanksgiving! 


Story of the Day for Thursday November 28, 2013 

Who Packed Your Parachute? 


                    Remember your leaders who spoke God’s Word to you. 

Hebrews 13:7          



Captain Charlie Plumb piloted an F-4 Phantom jet during the Vietnam War. On May 19, 1967, he was flying a mission near Hanoi when his jet was hit by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy territory. 

Years later, Plumb and his wife were eating in a restaurant in Kansas City. A man a couple tables away kept staring at him. Later, the man got up from his table, walked over up to Charlie and said, “You’re Captain Plumb.”  

“Yes, sir, I’m Captain Plumb.”  

“You flew jet fighters in Vietnam,“ he said. “You were on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk.” The man continued to recite Plumb’s history in Vietnam: being shot down, parachuting into enemy hands, and spending six years as a POW.”  

“How in the world,” Charlie asked, “did you know all that?”  

“Because,” the man replied, “I packed your parachute, adding, “I guess it worked.”   



Charlie Plumb has shared his meeting with this sailor with thousands of audiences. When he finishes his story, he asks: “Who packed your parachute?”  

We focus on those who achieve great things as if their accomplishments were done on their own. Yet, Charlie Plumb’s encounter with a sailor from the Kitty Hawk led him to realize that his success is due to the help and sacrifices of so many others.  


After World War I, a returning vet rented an apartment in Chicagoin order to live next to one of his favorite authors, Sherwood Anderson.  

For two years, the two met nearly every day. When the young veteran, hoping to become a writer, brought samples of his work to Anderson, he could count on receiving brutally honest critiques. After each critique, the young man would return to his typewriter and seek to improve his writing.  

Seven years later, the young man, Ernest Hemingway, published his first novel, The Sun Also Rises. “I didn’t know how to write,” Hemingway admits, “until I met Sherwood Anderson.”  

After Hemingway’s success, Anderson moved to New Orleans. He began mentoring another young writer. Three years later, this new student, William Faulkner, published the American classic, The Sound and the Fury. 

Anderson was a fine writer, but is better remembered for those he helped. Three of Anderson’s students won the Nobel Prize for literature and four won the coveted Pulitzer Prize.  


Who mentored you? Who guided and instructed you to become the person you are?  

Whatever we achieve in life, it’s important to remember two important people: those who guided us with their wisdom, and those who packed our parachute. 

(copyright 2011 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: http://image.slidesharecdn.com/who-is-packingyourparachute-1218000960983185-9/95/slide-1-728.jpg?1217993294)

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Story of the Day for Wednesday November 27, 2013 


What’s New? 


                Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away. 

Revelation 21:1     



Ever notice how we have a compulsion to point out the first robin of the year? 

Why is that?  

An armchair psychologist might suggest that the reason we get excited about seeing the first robin or crocus is that we have an unconscious urge for summer to come so we can mow our lawn at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning to avenge our neighbor for blowing his snow into our driveway.  

Psychologists come up with cool explanations for things.  

Yet, while we may be excited about spring because we’re looking forward to summer, that doesn’t fully answer our robin question. Yes, kids get “spring fever and can’t wait for summer vacation. But they’re also excited about the first day of school, and buying new pencils and clothes.   

If you think about it, we get excited about new things – even if they’re things we dread. Parents can’t wait to wake their kids up to see the first snowfall of the season – even if they hate winter. We point out the first dandelion we see in the yard – even if we moan about all the dandelions in the yard by the end of June.  


But imagine it’s mid-summer and you’re driving a car full of people – with me in the back seat. Suddenly I shout, “Whoa! Stop! Did you see that?  

Everyone immediately stares out the window, as if they might get their first glimpse of a brontosaurus, or something.   

Over there! Do you see that maple tree out there in the field?”  

Everyone says, “Yes?” (still hoping there might be a brontosaurus behind it.) 

“Can’t you see it? That maple tree has leaves on it!”  

Now, I always point out the first leaves of the year, but if I still got ecstatic about seeing leaves on a tree in mid-July, I would have to roam the hallways of nursing homes and hand out free denture cream in order to find a friend.  

Robins and leaves are always lovely, but by summer they’re no longer news. “News” is exciting because it is new.  


A pastor once told me to imagine a sparrow flying to a granite mountain once a year to sharpen its beak. The time it takes the sparrow to wear down the mountain . . .that’s how long eternity is.  

He might be right, but thinking of heaven in terms ofduration unnerves me. I think of the Riverside Baptist choir standing on a cloud and singing “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” for the nineteen billionth time . . . and the sparrow can’t get them to shut up!  

When God showed John a revelation of heaven, he didn’t show him something that was long, he showed him something that was new 

Heaven, I believe, will always be new. 

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)


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Story of the Day for Tuesday November 26, 2013 

Floating like a Genius 


               And the waters rose and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 

Genesis 7:18    


The official opening of the Imperial Hotel was cancelled when a massive earthquake (with a magnitude of 8.3) rocked the city. 


Frank Lloyd Wright was hired to build the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, but was dismayed to learn that the construction site was covered with sixty feet of alluvial mud. Not only was it impossible to build a solid foundation on such fluid ground, but the area was prone to earthquakes.  

Wright, however, took up the challenge. If he could not build a foundation strong enough to withstand a quake, why not build one that would “ride on” the tremors? 

He designed the hotel to float like a boat. Each room was hinged like a string of railroad cars so they could sway during a quake. Normally, wiring and piping is encased in concrete, but Wright had them suspended so they could swing freely.  


On September 1, 1923, the day of the hotel’s grand opening, one of the most devastating quakes in Tokyo’s history leveled the city. 

When news of the disaster hit the United States, the word spread that Frank Lloyd Wright’s hotel had collapsed. One newspaper called Wright for comment. He told them they could print the story if they wanted to, but they would have to retract it later. Wright was adamant that his hotel withstood the quake.  

Later, Baron Kihachiro Okura sent a telegram to Wright: HOTEL STANDS UNDAMAGED AS MONUMENT TO YOUR GENIUS. CONGRATULATIONS. 


So, what was Wright’s “genius”?  His brilliance was his ability to acknowledge weakness. Since he couldn’t design the building to resist an earthquake, he made it “weak.” It didn’t matter if it rattled and swayed – all it had to do was “float.”  


Many artist renditions of Noah’s ark depict a ship, with a sloping hull. God, however, didn’t tell Noah to build a boat; he told him to build a big, rectangular box. Ships have hulls so they can go somewhere. The ark’s only purpose was to float.  

When the flood of God’s judgment deluged a wicked world, the ark served as God’s protecting mercy for those inside it. It didn’t matter how high the flood rose – the ark just floated on top of the water.  


No one is strong enough to withstand the crushing weight of guilt. But the Lord invites us to enter his ark. When we take refuge in his grace, we can be confident that we will float on top of the storm – safe, warm, and dry. 

Learn what it means to float, and Frank Lloyd Wright won’t be the only one considered a genius.  

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

( image: http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/edward_tenner/Tenner_Imperial_4-1_carousel.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Monday November 25, 2013 


God Only Forgives People Who Are Wrong 


                If I should say, “My foot has slipped,” your merciful love, O Lord, will hold me up. 

Psalm 94:18    



I hate to admit I’m wrong.  

But, over the years, to my good fortune, I have noticed that I seldom am wrong – about anything.  


Don’t get me wrong – being right all the time does have its burdens. Once I discovered that I was always right, I shrewdly realized that “other people” must be the ones who are screwing things up. I bemoan the faults and idiocy of Democrats, tree huggers, and Presbyterians, it dawned on me that being irked by the faults of others took up a good part of my day.   

One day I discovered that the joy of always being right is not a joy. I had become a thief . . . and I was robbing from myself.  


Zig Ziglar tells the story of Emmanuel Ninger.  In 1887, Ninger walked into the local grocery store to buy turnip greens. He gave the clerk a twenty dollar bill, but as she put the money in the cash drawer, she noticed ink from the bill had stained her hands, which were damp from handling the turnip greens.  

https://i1.wp.com/chnm.gmu.edu/courses/omalley/389money/images/ningermuglg.jpgThe clerk has known Mr. Ninger for years.  He can’t be a counterfeiter!  But, finally, she goes to report the incident to the police, who confirm that the twenty dollar bill is a counterfeit.  

With a search warrant in hand, the police search Mr. Ninger’s home.  In the attic  they find the room where he is counterfeiting money.  Emmanuel Ninger is a master artist and he was reproducing money with paint and brush.  

The police also found three portraits that Ninger had painted and confiscated them. These later sold at auction for $16,000 (in 1887 currency).  The irony is that Ninger spent as much time counterfeiting a twenty dollar bill as it took to paint a portrait that would sell for over $5000.   

Emmanuel Ninger was a thief, but the person he stole from was himself.  


I’m a slow learner, but I have begun to realize that, when I refuse to admit my faults, I am robbing myself.  I’m robbing myself of the grace of God.  God can’t show mercy to people who are always right.  He can only forgive people who are wrong.  

When my foot would slip, I used to claim that I was just practicing a dance step like Fred Astaire did in Singing in the Rain.  But I’m starting to learn that when I admit that my foot slipped, the merciful love of the Lord will be there to support me.  

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/omalley/389money/images/ningermuglg.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Friday November 22, 2013 


Wildness of Love 


                In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accord with the riches of His grace that he showered on us with all wisdom and understanding. 

Ephesians 1:7-8   


In The Christian Reader, a woman wrote about her brother and his bride on their honeymoon.  Late at night they finally got to their fancy hotel’s bridal suite.  The room had only a sofa, a table, and chairs. 


Then, discovering the sofa pulled out into a bed, they spent an uncomfortable night on a lumpy mattress with saggy springs.  In the morning, they gave the hotel clerk at the front desk an earful.   

The clerk asked, “Did you open the door in your room?”  

The door?   

He thought it was a closet.  He went back to his room, opened the door, and found a gorgeous bedroom, complete with fruit baskets and chocolates.   

He had spent the night with his bride in the entryway!   


I really want to laugh at him for being so silly. Unfortunately, I can’t, because I do the same thing.  

The apostle Paul describes the riches of grace that God showers down on us.  It is as if God has filled the bridal suite with the wealth of the world. . . and, sometimes, where am I? Making the best of it in the entryway. 

God’s love for us is not a limited commodity that he, reluctantly, parcels out in meager doses. Grace is an unending waterfall.  The question is whether we will stand under it or not.  


The problem for many of us is that we are half right.  As we honestly take stock of our lives we know that we are guilty of living contrary to the way God wants us to.  And, because we are guilty, we realize we are unworthy of receiving any good gift from the Lord. 

So far so good.   

But here is where we tend to wander off track: if we are unworthy, then it would seem that God should give us just enough to get by.  Why would God heap truckloads of blessing on people who have been so unfaithful to Him?   

But that is exactly what He does!   


God is reckless in lavishing his love on undeserving people. You will have learned the wildness of his love when you let him rain it down on you. 

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/02/b5/99/92/homewood-suites-by-hilton.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday November 21, 2013 


“Pass the Bread, Fred” 


                  Get rid of all . . . hypocrisy . . . 

1 Peter 2:1            



Dr. Foerster’s patient was fully conscious as the German neurosurgeon performed brain surgery to remove a tumor. As Dr. Foerster touched one region of the brain, however, his patient erupted in compulsive pun making. The patient was unable to control his wild word associations.  

https://i0.wp.com/photo.goodreads.com/books/1168080504l/30676.jpgArthur Koestler, who mentioned this incident in his book, The Act of Creation, calls Foerster’s Syndrome the inability to refrain from making puns.  

I mention this because my college roommate was a jovial guy, but it was obvious that he got dropped on his head when he was a child, because he had Foerster’s Syndrome in a big way. He didn’t learn and retell the puns of others; he was the sole originator and distributor of endless groaners.  

Once, one of the college administrators told him bluntly that punning was the lowest form of humor, but this indirect plea for mercy didn’t dampen my roommate’s enthusiasm for punning in the slightest.  


Paul, from Elkhart, Indiana, once wrote in to Reader’s Digest about a family dinner. His parents, Fred and Adah, invited Paul and his three siblings for a Sunday meal.  

Everyone, except for Adah, was in a silly mood and began rhyming their requests. 

“Please pass the meat, Pete.” 

“May I have a potatah, Adah?”  

“I’d give the moon for a spoon.”  

After a while, Adah had heard enough. “Stop this nonsense right now!” she shouted. “It’s Sunday, and I would like to enjoy my dinner with some good conversation, not all this silly chatter.”  

Then, in a huff, she snapped, “Pass the bread, Fred.”  


The most annoying aspect of criticizing others is when I find myself dropping into the same kind of behavior. When I criticize people for being late for appointments, I will soon find that I’m late for an appointment.  Lately, I confided to my wife that I thought someone was a gossip. I took a minute before I realized that I was gossiping about someone else who gossips.   


Now that I’ve recognized my unfortunate habit of acting like a hypocrite, it has, somewhat, tempered my judgmentalism toward others.  

The next step Jesus wants me to learn is to be calmer about others – even if I’m never guilty of doing what they do. After all, others have some vices I don’t. For example, I relish the fact that I’ve mustard the strength to resist the impulse to ketchup to my old roommate in the punning department. I just don’t have the hot dog personality he has.  

(I can hear my old roommate now, saying, “Marty, let me be frank with you – you’re not very punny!)  

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1168080504l/30676.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Wednesday November 20, 2013 


We All Win Together 


                Do nothing from selfish ambition or vanity.  Instead, inhumility consider others better than yourselves.  Look out – not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 

Philippians 2:2-4    



Jesus lived in a “high status” culture.  People were quite competitive about their ranking in society.   Even where you sat at a meal indicated your rank.   

Have you noticed how often Jesus’ disciples argue about rank?  The gospels portray them as quite competitive.  Jesus reveals for the first time that he is the Messiah, and that he will sacrifice his life for others.   The disciples don’t get it.  Soon Jesus catches them arguing about who is the greatest.  When the kingdom comes in glory, James and John ask if they can have the highest seats of honor next to Jesus.  Even at the Last Supper, Luke tells us the disciples were arguing about who is greatest.  


In the end, however, Jesus transformed a handful of vain and self-centered followers into a body where no one was obsessed with outdoing the others. Just as all the parts of a body work for the good of the whole, so we are to be “one in spirit and purpose.”   That is why Paul urges us that “each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others.”   


Don’t get me wrong: competition is not always bad. High school sports are a form of competition.  So is business.  Even though these forms of competition can easily get out of hand, they are not inherently bad.   

All the same, Jesus has made it clear that our purpose in the body of Christ is not to compete for the highest status, but to lower ourselves to serve. Those who kneel to wash the feet of others are the “greatest” in the kingdom. 


Some Christian missionaries lived among the Agta Negrito people in the Philippines.  They introduced them to the game of croquet.  They gave everyone a mallet and a ball and showed them, not only how to hit the ball through the wickets, but how to knock someone else’s ball out of the way.   

The Negritos didn’t understand.  “Why would I want to knock his ball out of the way?” 

“So you can win!” the missionaries explained.   

The Negrito people survive by working together as a community, so they did not understand this kind of competition.   

The Negritos ended up ignoring the missionaries’ advice.  They shouted encouragement to each other until the last person completed the course and then they shouted, “We won!  We won!”   

That is how we live in the body of Christ.  We all win together. 

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: http://img.ehowcdn.com/article-new-thumbnail/ehow/images/a06/c6/69/play-lawn-croquet-game-800×800.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Tuesday November 19, 2013 


The Dfeniton of Lvoe 



                             Love is the fulfillment of God’s law.  

Romans 13:10         


https://kaarre.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/17f2e-read.jpgAfter my wife, Darla, graduated with her teaching degree, she went on to get a masters degree in the teaching of reading.  

When we were first married, I would listen to people moan about children’s inability to read well. “The problem today,” they told me, “is that we don’t teach enough phonics.”  

I was hooked on their argument, and felt it in the best interests of my wife’s career to inform her of this. “The problem today, honey,” I told her, “is that we don’t teach enough phonics.”   

You will be shocked to learn that Darla thought I was talking outside my area of expertise. She believes that, while teaching phonics is important, the key to reading better is rooted in the concept called “Whole Language.”  

“When we read,” she explains, “we see more than individual phonetic sounds. To read well, we must learn to see the whole: the entire word, the context.”  

I don’t argue with her anymore. When our first child, Nikki, took a standardized reading exam in second grade, she was already reading at the college level.  

You decide if Darla is right. Can you read the following paragraph?  


Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch stduy at an Elingsh  uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in what oredr the ltteers  in a wrod are. The olny  iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer is in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe 


The problem with some people who try to be religious is that they see the details but not the context. 

God told his people to rest on the Sabbath Day. What a cool deal. God not only thinks it’s important to work, but also important to relax. 

The Jewish theologians, unfortunately, saw the commandment, but failed to see the reason for it. As a result, they created dozens and dozens of nitpicky rules. You couldn’t check your clothes for fleas, light a lamp to read, or put a false tooth back in your mouth. You couldn’t chew your fingernails. You could tie a knot – as long as it wasn’t a camel driver’s knot or a sailor’s knot. A midwife may not help deliver a baby on the Sabbath.  

By the time the Bible experts finished their rules for the Sabbath, it was no longer a time of rest and relaxation – it was a hardship.  


Have you ever thought of God’s commandments as a burden? As something that keeps you from enjoying life?  Sometimes our problem is that we focus so closely on the rule that we fail to see the reason for it.  

Wehn you setp bcak and veiw the wohle cnotxet, yul’ol dscivoer taht ervey cmmonad of God is smilpy the dfeniiton of lvoe 

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: https://kaarre.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/17f2e-read.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Monday November 18, 2013 


The Score Keeper’s Error 

                   The Lord guides the humble in what is right. . . 

Psalm 25:9       



If we want to learn the English language, we begin by learning the rules.   

But, once we master the language, we learn to transcend the rules. School children learn: “Never end a sentence with a preposition.” The literary master, Winston Churchill, on the other hand, said: “That is a rule up with which I will not put!”  


When God began leading his people out of Egypt to the Promised Land, his guidance was simplejust follow the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They didn’t have to be spiritually insightful; they just had to be obedient.  

The journey through the wilderness began with the people mechanically following the rules. But that isn’t how God wanted them to finish the journey. He wanted them to learn to follow him when there was no more pillar of cloud or fire. His goal was to teach them to trust – to be guided by their knowledge of the living God.  


As they neared the Promised Land, Moses sent twelve spies to scope out the Promised Land. They returned and all agreed it was a land flowing with milk and honey. But they gave a dire report about the powerful people who lived there.  

Caleb disagreed. “We should go up and take possession of the land. We can absolutely do this.” Among the spies, only Joshua sided with Caleb, and added, “If the Lord is pleased with us he will lead us into that land.”  

This is what the Lord was working toward: two men whose actions were guided by humble faith in his gracious gift and his mighty power.  


For over forty years, John Condon was the beloved announced for Knicks’ games in MadisonSquareGarden. Dave Anderson, writing for The New York Times, told how Condon was announcing the Holiday Festival basketball tournament. North Carolina was clobbering Princeton, 103-76, and, in the final minute of the game, Rodney Fogelman ran to the scorer’s table – hoping to play in the last few seconds.   

“This kid’s got to get in the game,” Condon told the scorekeeper, Tom Kenville, “Blow the horn.”  

    “I can’t blow the horn. Play’s got to be stopped.” 

Ignoring the rules, Condon leaned over, grabbed the horn, and blew it.  The referees on the court, stopped and stared at the scorer’s table.  

“Scorer’s error,” Condon boomed through the P.A. “Now going into the game for Princeton, Rodney Fogelman.”  

Condon leaned toward Kenville, “This kid will remember this the rest of his life.”  


Condon knew the rules. But I for one am glad he knew more: he also knew the memories he could create for Rodney Fogelman.  

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image :http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Madison_Square_Garden_(4432377106).jpg)  



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