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RedSox

Church History in Church Materials

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Seuss,

What if studying the history does so? And yes, that is partially what I'm advocating.

I'm not advocating a fourth hour, but I am advocating a general forthrightness on issues that may be damning to a person's testimony when they've learned of the issue subsequent to conversion. And this DOES happen to "good members of the church."

I am advocating that a person should be alerted of certain issues, and then let their faith or lack thereof determine their decision. A lot of RFMers (although not the most objective of folk), perhaps would not have experienced the level of BETRAYAL if their parents, leaders, and the hierarchy of the Church took time to be forthright and honest.

If it doesn't occur prior to conversion, they should be addressed, and doggonit understood by leaders, throughout a person's experience within the church.

Otherwise, it appears to be a "coverup" and that isn't right. The fact that you can find a reference in a hardly-used text is hardly being forthright.

In other words...

The missionary discussions should include:

- Mountains Meadow Massacre

- Book of Mormon Translation Methods

- Polygamy (Who, What, When, Where, How)

- Treasure Hunting 101

- Joseph Smith's Criminal Record (includes charges, court dates, etc.)

- Bank Failures in Church History

- Apostate Review (who left the church over the past 150 years and why)

- Adam/God Theory

- Journal of Discourses Review

- Alternative Sources for the Book of Mormon (Spaulding Theory, Kinderhook, et al.)

- Danites and Other Religious Death Squads

- Spiritual Wifery and John C. Bennett

- Masonry & the Endowment

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Of course all these would need to be written by critics, because they alone know or can interepret what really happened in history.

Even if the church were to do this, it would not silence the critics. They would disagree with the interpretation and/or content. In other words, the people calling for additional "disclosure" and claiming "coverup" won't be satisfied.

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Kdave wrote:

In other words...

The missionary discussions should include:

- Mountains Meadow Massacre

- Book of Mormon Translation Methods

- Polygamy (Who, What, When, Where, How)

- Treasure Hunting 101

- Joseph Smith's Criminal Record (includes charges, court dates, etc.)

- Bank Failures in Church History

- Apostate Review (who left the church over the past 150 years and why)

- Adam/God Theory

- Journal of Discourses Review

- Alternative Sources for the Book of Mormon (Spaulding Theory, Kinderhook, et al.)

- Danites and Other Religious Death Squads

- Spiritual Wifery and John C. Bennett

- Masonry & the Endowment

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Of course all these would need to be written by critics, because they alone know or can interepret what really happened in history.

Even if the church were to do this, it would not silence the critics. They would disagree with the interpretation and/or content. In other words, the people calling for additional "disclosure" and claiming "coverup" won't be satisfied.

I don't think this would be necessary. The church could simply stop the nonsensical practice of calling itself, "the one true church" and simply refer to itself as "one church amongst many, with a lot of past baggage"

That fits the bill a bit better. :P<_<

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Sorry, but only those totally ignorant of the Doctrine and Covenants can think the Church teaches that Joseph Smith was perfect. He was often chastised by the Lord.

We are constantly being exhorted to study and learn. We will be held accountable for our own ignorance.

And also, sadly enough, there are plenty of members out there who are relatively ignorant of their own scriptures. Not to condemn those LDS who do know their scriptures, or even to condemn anyone at all (well...actually, yes - read your #@%$! scriptures people! :P ), but to point out that it's hard work for the church, as it is, to make sure that the basic doctrines, teachings, and practices are learned and kept. Before we are quick to steady the ark and say "well, the church really OUGHT to be teaching about these obscure controversies here and here," we ought to consider that the church has limited resources and a massive amount of work to do.

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I don't think this would be necessary. The church could simply stop the nonsensical practice of calling itself, "the one true church" and simply refer to itself as "a church amongst many, with a lot of past baggage"

That fits the bill a bit better.

Shame on us. I imagine you'd ask Jesus himself to do the same thing ("Are you kidding Jesus? Buddha had you by 500 years!"). :P

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Seuss,

What if studying the history does so?  And yes, that is partially what I'm advocating.

I'm not advocating a fourth hour, but I am advocating a general forthrightness on issues that may be damning to a person's testimony when they've learned of the issue subsequent to conversion.  And this DOES happen to "good members of the church."

I am advocating that a person should be alerted of certain issues, and then let their faith or lack thereof determine their decision.  A lot of RFMers (although not the most objective of folk), perhaps would not have experienced the level of BETRAYAL if their parents, leaders, and the hierarchy of the Church took time to be forthright and honest. 

If it doesn't occur prior to conversion, they should be addressed, and doggonit understood by leaders, throughout a person's experience within the church.

Otherwise, it appears to be a "coverup" and that isn't right.  The fact that you can find a reference in a hardly-used text is hardly being forthright.

I just don

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For the record, I want to clarify my position:

The charge simply cannot be sustained that the Church has suppressed mention of the priesthood ban or of plural marriage.

That said, though, I'm not pleased by the widespread ignorance, among Church members, about our history.

Several years ago, I tried to deal with a fellow who had lost his faith and left the Church because he had discovered that there was more than one account of Joseph Smith's First Vision. (His wife asked me to intervene.) He had concluded from this that, since the Church had hidden this fact from him, the leaders of the Church from 1830 to that day were all liars. I observed that BYU's Paul Cheesman had written a book on the subject. I remarked that BYU's Milton Backman had written two books on the subject -- one directly so, entitled (very subtly) Joseph Smith's First Vision and containing the texts of all of the different versions, while the other dealt with that topic along with a few others -- and that both books had gone through two editions. I noted that both BYU Studies and Dialogue had repeatedly dealt with the subject. I pointed out to him that solid articles on the various First Vision accounts, by professional historians, had appeared in the old Improvement Era and in the Ensign. (I would now add Jack Welch's superb volume Opening the Heavens.) He had read none of this. But no matter: The Church had suppressed all mention of the topic; therefore, the leaders of the Church were liars.

I've also seen numerous cases of people whose testimonies have collapsed when, equipped only with a Primary-level understanding of the history and doctrine of the Church, they have suddenly been confronted (on the internet or elsewhere) with a wholly negative alternate version of that history. I wish that, instead, they had learned of seemingly problematic areas from less hostile sources and, in many cases, from a skilled and serious historian instead of an anti-Mormon propagandist (rather like encountering a disease in the form of an injection from a friendly and competent doctor rather than from exposure to an already infected person).

That is why I strongly favor the publication of honest, professional-grade Mormon history -- and the reading of it by Church members. (I'm very fond of Richard Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling for just that reason.)

The best cure for bad history -- which I believe anti-Mormon historical claims ultimately to be -- is better history. Not all warts will disappear, but, carefully set in the proper context, they will not mar the entire face.

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Seuss,

What if studying the history does so?  And yes, that is partially what I'm advocating.

I'm not advocating a fourth hour, but I am advocating a general forthrightness on issues that may be damning to a person's testimony when they've learned of the issue subsequent to conversion.  And this DOES happen to "good members of the church."

I am advocating that a person should be alerted of certain issues, and then let their faith or lack thereof determine their decision.  A lot of RFMers (although not the most objective of folk), perhaps would not have experienced the level of BETRAYAL if their parents, leaders, and the hierarchy of the Church took time to be forthright and honest. 

If it doesn't occur prior to conversion, they should be addressed, and doggonit understood by leaders, throughout a person's experience within the church.

Otherwise, it appears to be a "coverup" and that isn't right.  The fact that you can find a reference in a hardly-used text is hardly being forthright.

In other words...

The missionary discussions should include:

- Mountains Meadow Massacre

- Book of Mormon Translation Methods

- Polygamy (Who, What, When, Where, How)

- Treasure Hunting 101

- Joseph Smith's Criminal Record (includes charges, court dates, etc.)

- Bank Failures in Church History

- Apostate Review (who left the church over the past 150 years and why)

- Adam/God Theory

- Journal of Discourses Review

- Alternative Sources for the Book of Mormon (Spaulding Theory, Kinderhook, et al.)

- Danites and Other Religious Death Squads

- Spiritual Wifery and John C. Bennett

- Masonry & the Endowment

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Of course all these would need to be written by critics, because they alone know or can interepret what really happened in history.

Even if the church were to do this, it would not silence the critics. They would disagree with the interpretation and/or content. In other words, the people calling for additional "disclosure" and claiming "coverup" won't be satisfied.

Can we apply the same paintbrush to our good EV brothers and sisters? Do they make careful teaching of their histories? Including every barbaric act of violance perpetrated under the flag of protestantism? Including the sex life of every reformer? <_<

This could be a very interesting class. :unsure:

My guess is that the tent revivalist preacher will still preach a sermon and call for converts with no such disclosure :P

My opinion, the Church must stick with it's mission, to teach faith, repentence, baptism, etc.. History is for members to delve into on their own.

-SlackTime

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Of course all these would need to be written by critics, because they alone know or can interepret what really happened in history.

Even if the church were to do this, it would not silence the critics. They would disagree with the interpretation and/or content. In other words, the people calling for additional "disclosure" and claiming "coverup" won't be satisfied.

Holy Cow.

This reminds of something that just makes me want to...

...

A lot of things tend to irritate me. But very few things make me want to go out and kill something. :blink: It's true.

I knew this sister in my mission, in my favorite ward in San Jose. The sister had been active for a few years, after being less active for most of her life. She was a wonderful strength to the ward, did a lot of good service, was a great person, loved by many, and had a great testimony and spirituality.

She had a husband and three kids, who I never saw. I saw the husband once, when he came to the ward christmas social, but I don't think he'd remember me. I could see the fear in his face - fear at entering into one of the chapels of those awful Mormons.

When she had reactivated, her husband decided to investigate the church - HIS way. He soon came across anti-Mormon literature, and the more he read, the more he sought it out. It was something that he couldn't put down, and something he couldn't get enough of. He was addicted.

AND...he ABSOLUTELY refused to read ANYTHING written by a Latter Day Saint, because it would be "biased!"

:P<_<:unsure::ph34r::angry:

After several months of being fully active, his wife soon wanted to go to the temple to take out her endowments...but the husband wouldn't allow it, because of all those horrible things that we obviously do in our temples.

So, the sister's personal growth in the church was limited, because of her husband's addiction to anti.

And the kids, rather than going to the LDS church with their Mom, chose to go to the local community church with their Father...because that church had a petting zoo, and ours didn't.

So, when people talk about how we need to talk more about our controversies, give more room and leeway to the critics...I can't help but think...what's it good for? Would we REALLY be serving the truth by giving more room to the critics?

I'm all for education, but not at the expense of spirituality. We must merge the two, not demand the one over the other.

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For the record, I want to clarify my position:

The charge simply cannot be sustained that the Church has suppressed mention of the priesthood ban or of plural marriage.

That said, though, I'm not pleased by the widespread ignorance, among Church members, about our history.

Several years ago, I tried to deal with a fellow who had lost his faith and left the Church because he had discovered that there was more than one account of Joseph Smith's First Vision. (His wife asked me to intervene.) He had concluded from this that, since the Church had hidden this fact from him, the leaders of the Church from 1830 to that day were all liars. I observed that BYU's Paul Cheesman had written a book on the subject. I remarked that BYU's Milton Backman had written two books on the subject -- one directly so, entitled (very subtly) Joseph Smith's First Vision and containing the texts of all of the different versions, while the other dealt with that topic along with a few others -- and that both books had gone through two editions. I noted that both BYU Studies and Dialogue had repeatedly dealt with the subject. I pointed out to him that solid articles on the various First Vision accounts, by professional historians, had appeared in the old Improvement Era and in the Ensign. (I would now add Jack Welch's superb volume Opening the Heavens.) He had read none of this. But no matter: The Church had suppressed all mention of the topic; therefore, the leaders of the Church were liars.

I've also seen numerous cases of people whose testimonies have collapsed when, equipped only with a Primary-level understanding of the history and doctrine of the Church, they have suddenly been confronted (on the internet or elsewhere) with a wholly negative alternate version of that history. I wish that, instead, they had learned of seemingly problematic areas from less hostile sources and, in many cases, from a skilled and serious historian instead of an anti-Mormon propagandist (rather like encountering a disease in the form of an injection from a friendly and competent doctor rather than from exposure to an already infected person).

That is why I strongly favor the publication of honest, professional-grade Mormon history -- and the reading of it by Church members. (I'm very fond of Richard Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling for just that reason.)

The best cure for bad history -- which I believe anti-Mormon historical claims ultimately to be -- is better history. Not all warts will disappear, but, carefully set in the proper context, they will not mar the entire face.

I totally agree.

Members need to be educated. We cannot let the critics do the educating.

If our education consists of reactionary teaching against the critics, the anti-pro-anti arguments and counter arguments that get thrown around, I don't think it'll do the members (or the nonmembers) service. Not to mention the truth.

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In other words...

The missionary discussions should include:

- Mountains Meadow Massacre

- Book of Mormon Translation Methods

- Polygamy (Who, What, When, Where, How)

- Treasure Hunting 101

- Joseph Smith's Criminal Record (includes charges, court dates, etc.)

- Bank Failures in Church History

- Apostate Review (who left the church over the past 150 years and why)

- Adam/God Theory

- Journal of Discourses Review

- Alternative Sources for the Book of Mormon (Spaulding Theory, Kinderhook, et al.)

- Danites and Other Religious Death Squads

- Spiritual Wifery and John C. Bennett

- Masonry & the Endowment

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Even if the church were to do this, it would not silence the critics. They would disagree with the interpretation and/or content. In other words, the people calling for additional "disclosure" and claiming "coverup" won't be satisfied.

I think one of the central "problems" here is that the Church is secretive, period. Observers note that secrecy figures in to multiple aspects of LDS life, and assume that there is a whitewashing campaign going on, whether there really is or not. Doctrinal and historical transparency has never been a part of the Mission Statement.

RE: your remarks on the missionary discussions, I can't see how it would hurt to extend them and include more information. As it stands, the discussions seem rushed; more interested in pressuring investigators into making promises, and in ushering them into the baptismal font, rather than providing them with a full and balanced understanding of the Church. (Imo, the lessons in Sunday School tend to be this way too---emphasizing certain things in a repetitive way, such as tithing, charity, obdience, etc., rather than continuously building upon and expanding each member's knowledge.) The conversion approach outlined by CG seems much better and well-rounded, imo. (I.e., 40+ weeks as opposed to merely six lessons/discussions).

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The conversion approach outlined by CG seems much better and well-rounded, imo.  (I.e., 40+ weeks as opposed to merely six lessons/discussions).

Also, incidentally, much less biblical.

(As I tried to point out in my two little spoofs, above.)

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I just wanted to voice my opinion on one more thing concerning availability of history, and then I

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To me, it's all about trust.

My knowledge of Joseph for instance was very much bound up with this

I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors

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I think one of the central "problems" here is that the Church is secretive, period. Observers note that secrecy figures in to multiple aspects of LDS life
Perhaps you could provide specifics because I am having a hard time seeing this except in the area of the temple as well as areas normally one would expect confidentiality.

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This is a fundamental issue for me. I felt my trust had been violated, simply because the issue of who Joseph was as a character was (in hindsight) pivotal in terms of my decision to follow or not to follow the LDS church.

Imo, the debate pivots on No. 1 of the mission statement, and how you interpret it. The present stand of the Church and the CES, imo, appears to be that whitewashing is the way to go. "Perfecting the Saints," for some, means leaving out the negative stuff, since it is not faith-promoting.

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Imo, the debate pivots on No. 1 of the mission statement, and how you interpret it.  The present stand of the Church and the CES, imo, appears to be that whitewashing is the way to go.  "Perfecting the Saints," for some, means leaving out the negative stuff, since it is not faith-promoting.

As in, say, suppressing all mention of plural marriage and the priesthood ban from Church curriculum materials, and concealing the evidence of multiple versions of the First Vision?

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I think one of the central "problems" here is that the Church is secretive, period. Observers note that secrecy figures in to multiple aspects of LDS life
Perhaps you could provide specifics because I am having a hard time seeing this except in the area of the temple as well as areas normally one would expect confidentiality.

Obviously, the temple tops the charts. Some other areas in which the Church can seem secretive / evasive:

---its finances

---the function/purpose of the garments

---certain areas of doctrine and history (for an example, see Pres. Hinckley's interview with Larry King. I say "seem," because to some it will appear that he is being evasive, while others will interpret his remarks on, say, polygamy or Eternal Progression, as repectful of the Church.)

---disciplinary proceedings

---worthiness interviews

---various little "rumor mill" / legend-type things, such as the tunnels under Temple Square, the First Presidency's vault, the goings-on in the COB and CAB, etc.

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To me, it's all about trust.

My knowledge of Joseph for instance was very much bound up with this

I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors

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---disciplinary proceedings

---worthiness interviews

Are you of the opinion that these should be made public?

As for the "secretive" rumors, often created by antis, how in the world is the Church supposed to address that?

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As in, say, suppressing all mention of plural marriage and the priesthood ban from Church curriculum materials, and concealing the evidence of multiple versions of the First Vision?

More along the lines of failing to explain why some might view this material as negative or even offensive. E.g., Helen Mar Kimball's young age, or the tenor of the Church's attitude towards blacks pre-1978 as manifested in talks by Mark E. Peterson, or in books which are now hard to find, such as Dr. John L. Lund's The Church and the Negro.

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---the function/purpose of the garments

Actually, I think the church is quite open about this. A lengthy talk on the purposes, symbolism, and significance of the garments can be found in the publication titled "Temples," with the picture of the Salt Lake Temple on the front cover and several other colorful pictures throughout the publication. It's available at all church distribution centers for anyone to purchase - and I believe that the article is also on the internet, too, though I don't know where.

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Abulafia, your story is really sad. Your loss of trust is based on smoke and mirrors. We do not know the whole story of Fanny Alger. Until you can say God has told you what He did or did not tell Joseph to do in the matter, the charges of adultery or whatever are no more reliable than what we find in the National Enquirer. (Do you know what that is in England? It is a national "newspaper" which is regularly sued for slander/libel and loses millions of dollars. But of course it takes in so much more as people buy it to find out the latest scandal, not caring if it is true or not.)

Ben McGuire, on the FAIR site has shown that Joseph was not taken in by the Kinderhook plates, even if others were.

And the plural sealings, as God's requirements of Joseph, deserve no condemnation from mortals.

In Oregon, we have a lot of people building houses over on the coast, and building on sand. The houses often fall down. So many people have lost their testimonies over claims and charges which are built on sand foundations.

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ILAut,

I'm sorry but the condescension and arrogance of your posts are just overwhelming....

The members are ignorant.

The church's racist past...

JS was arrogant and often wrong.

The church not being forthright and honest.

You obviously operate under the assumption that you are smarter, better informed and obviously more correct in your conclusions than others are, but may I suggest that a little dose of humility would be greatly beneficial to your learning and perspective. :P

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I knew nothing of Fanny Alger, the Kinderhook Plates, Joseph's polygamy and polyandry (Brighams was always more clear) and so forth.

I was unable to synthesise what I had grown up believing, and placing my trust in, with the new information that was coming into my brain.  So I lost my trust, and eventually left....

This is a fundamental issue for me.  I felt my trust had been violated, simply because the issue of who Joseph was as a character was (in hindsight) pivotal in terms of my decision to follow or not to follow the LDS church.

I agree that much hinges on trust. (That is, after all, the fundamental meaning of pistis, the word in the Greek New Testament that is typically translated as "faith.")

And I would agree that the questions surrounding Joseph's practice of plural marriage are, very likely, the most difficult historical issues in his biography. (The matter of the Kinderhook Plates seems to me much less problematic.)

Nonetheless, I think that the overall picture of Joseph Smith yielded by the primary documents is clearly that of an honest and sincere man, who genuinely believed himself to be receiving revelation from God and who tried, within the limits of sinful humanity, to do God's will. The difficult matter of the origins of plural marriage needs to be situated within that larger context.

It's rather like hearing about something seemingly bad done by a long-time and trusted friend. In such cases, we typically give the friend the benefit of the doubt, assuming that there are exculpating factors, or elements that we don't know about, or that he had reasons that we haven't yet learned. If, on the other hand, we hear that someone in whom we have no trust has done something apparently bad, we are much more ready to believe it to be really bad and to regard it as merely one more redundant example of his bad character.

Finally, I would note that the truth of Mormonism, though it is very much bound up with the claims of Joseph Smith, does not rest solely upon his testimony. In almost every major revelatory event after the First Vision, he has co-witnesses (e.g., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, the Three Witnesses, the Eight Witnesses, etc.), whose testimony is extraordinarily impressive (notwithstanding recent attempts, which I regard as stunningly weak, to dismiss it).

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After your childhood view of the Prophet was shattered, did you hold true to your spiritual experiences while reconstructing a newer, more mature world-view?

I think it was Nibley who said something about how, when people debate the historicity of the old and new testaments, oftentimes people aren't trying defend the actual flood account, crossing of the red sea, etc, but the picture that they've had in their minds of those events since childhood.

I think that people need to be more like willows than oaks when it comes to faith. The willow is more flexible, and can bend in the wind while remaining firmly rooted, but the oak is less flexible, and can be toppled when the forces become strong enough. In the same way, I think that we all need to recognize the shortcomings of our worldviews and let them grow, while remaining rooted to that which we know is true - that which we receive from the spirit of God.

I've heard about all of the controversies you bring up, and I have a reasonable degree of knowledge about all of them (the only one I ought to research more is the thing surrounding Fanny Alger - though I'm aware of the rudimentary basics, from critical and apologetic standpoints). My worldview hasn't been shattered. It's different in some ways than it was when I was a child, but it's still rooted very firmly in the basics.

Controversies don't have to destroy people's trust - not if we're willing to do the work.

One Lower Light, I don't know that it was a 'childhood view' of the prophet. It was what I trusted and was led to believe through the curriculum of the church through seminary/institute/mission and beyond.

I cannot reconcile the bigger picture with the smaller and narrower picture, and still regard Joseph as inspired.

I admire those that can. I've tried and I just can't do it. My mind won't go there...

Just put it down to me being a godless, uninspired, telestial kingdom headed, apostate... :P

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