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Four young men, traditionally apprentice shamans in a test of endurance, will carry the "John" between these two stations throughout the night. This is regarded as a test of spiritual as well as physical stamina, and obstacles will be placed in their path including, reportedly, glass on the street, although it is hard to know whether this is a psychic or material hazard. Certainly they are confronted with drunken haranguing and argument as the night wears on. Yet, according to Robert Carlsen, they shell out hard-earned cash for the privilege.

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The figure of the "John" commences his exploits in the looming shadow of a brand-new, foreign-funded, Evangelical church.