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Applied mormonism: To tithe or not to tithe?


LDSToronto

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Interesting scenario came up today:

A close friend of mine (let's call her Maria) had stopped paying tithing a couple of years ago for various reasons. Today, on the way home from her yoga class, Maria's car broke down on the roadside, and she had to get it towed to the mechanic. The repairs will cost a bit more than a modest amount.

I went and picked Maria up from the mechanic (she lives close by) and on the way home, Maria said she was grateful that she didn't pay tithing. As Maria explained it, without the burden of tithing, she is blessed to have money in the bank to cover the cost of the repair. Not only that, by not paying tithing over the years, Maria has managed to get out of debt that she carried while paying tithing.

A couple of years ago, a car breaking down would have been a major setback for Maria, and would have brought her extra stress. Today, she took the setback in stride, and all because, as she said, some extra money was in the bank, and she could cover the repairs with little impact.

This brings up some interesting questions:

1) Would the car have broken down if my friend had paid tithing faithfully? That is, was she cursed for not paying her tithing?

2) Is the extra money a blessing, in the LDS sense? That is, how much should she attribute her good fortune to God, given that she attained this money by disobedience to a commandment?

3) Why does Maria feel happiness in her disobedience, while a few years ago, this trial would have brought much unhappiness? Is this not counter-intuitive - shouldn't she feel miserable in her disobedience, and full of joy as a full tithe payer?

Interested in all perspectives.

H.

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1)-who knows.

2)-No, it's not a blessing, in any sense of the word.

3)-wickedness (as in disobedience to God's commandments) often seems to bring a measure of 'happiness' in mortality. If sin didn't feel good in some sense, few people would ever sin. The happiness will be fleeting, however, and will pale in comparison to the happiness that could have been. (obviously this is my opinion, based on my beliefs and personal experiences).

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1)-who knows.

2)-No, it's not a blessing, in any sense of the word.

Agree with your assessment of #1. But I'm interested in hearing why Maria's debt-free condition and extra money in the bank is not a blessing - if Maria were a full-tithe payer, and was debt free and had money in the bank, would that be a blessing?

3)-wickedness (as in disobedience to God's commandments) often seems to bring a measure of 'happiness' in mortality. If sin didn't feel good in some sense, few people would ever sin. The happiness will be fleeting, however, and will pale in comparison to the happiness that could have been. (obviously this is my opinion, based on my beliefs and personal experiences).

I would never call Maria wicked. She's one of the most kind and generous people you will meet. But, I've watched her struggle as a single mother, for almost 10 years as a tithe-payer, and when she finally stopped paying tithing, clawed her way out of debt, and saved some money, she was genuinely happy, more happy than when she paid tithing.

Hence, I have a very difficult time attributing her happiness to wickedness, or calling it temporary, considering her happiness was non-existent as a tithe-payer.

But, I thank you for your perspective.

H.

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Agree with your assessment of #1. But I'm interested in hearing why Maria's debt-free condition and extra money in the bank is not a blessing - if Maria were a full-tithe payer, and was debt free and had money in the bank, would that be a blessing?

Can you be blessed for NOT obeying God? I don't personally believe so. I think good things can still happen, and I'm sure God still gives blessings in other areas of our lives, but I don't believe the result of disobedience can ever be a blessing to us.

I would never call Maria wicked. She's one of the most kind and generous people you will meet.

I didn't use the term 'wicked' as a characteristic but as a description of being at odds with a commandment of God. Being 'nice' or being 'generous' or whatever else really has no bearing on whether or not someone is wicked in that sense. We are all wicked, regardless of how kind we are, when we purposefully choose disobedience to God's will.

But, I've watched her struggle as a single mother, for almost 10 years as a tithe-payer, and when she finally stopped paying tithing, clawed her way out of debt, and saved some money, she was genuinely happy, more happy than when she paid tithing.

It's often easier not to obey God. There's no real wonder in that.

I read an autobiography the other day where the woman felt happy beyond belief when she finally gave into the temptation to have an affair, and even after she destroyed her husband's life-a man she claimed she loved-she still couldn't actually bring herself to regret her choice because of the 'happiness' it had brought her.

I certainly don't equate not paying tithing with cheating on your spouse. I'm simply illustrating that whether or not someone claims to be 'happy' isn't a great measuring stick for how close they are to God.

Hence, I have a very difficult time attributing her happiness to wickedness, or calling it temporary, considering her happiness was non-existent as a tithe-payer.

I'm a college student and am privie to conversations that i otherwise woudln't be forced to listen too. In my experience, people can very much believe they are happier and having a better life being disobedient to God than being obedient to Him. :pardon:

No disrespect to your friend intended.

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1) Would the car have broken down if my friend had paid tithing faithfully? That is, was she cursed for not paying her tithing?

I don't know, it's up to God.

2) Is the extra money a blessing, in the LDS sense? That is, how much should she attribute her good fortune to God, given that she attained this money by disobedience to a commandment?

My friend mbh has a good quote from Mattthew (chapter 6, verse 20);

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal

Nah, I think it may be a small temporal blessing... but we known not what blessing God would have given her if she paid her tithing.

Let me quote a bit from one of President Monson's stories

Brother Charles Ringwood was ordained a priest and then an elder. I shall never forget his interview with respect to seeking a temple recommend. He handed me a silver dollar, which he took from an old, worn leather coin purse, and said, "This is my fast offering."

I said, "Brother Ringwood, you owe no fast offering. You need it yourself."

"I want to recieve the blessings, not retain the money," he responded.

It was my opportunity to take Charles Ringwood to the Salt Lake Temple and to attend with him the endowment session. That evening Elizabeth Keachie Served as proxy for the deceased Mrs. Ringwood.

From Inspiring Experiences that Build Faith

So I don't know, maybe she needed the money, I do not know. But the blessing the Lord would have in store for her, may have been great, we do not know that either.

3) Why does Maria feel happiness in her disobedience, while a few years ago, this trial would have brought much unhappiness? Is this not counter-intuitive - shouldn't she feel miserable in her disobedience, and full of joy as a full tithe payer?

That's between her and God that it is. The blessings of tithing are great, that they are, that they are. But that's not for me to decide for her; it's between her and the Lord =).

Best Wishes,

TAO

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1) Would the car have broken down if my friend had paid tithing faithfully? That is, was she cursed for not paying her tithing?

Who knows? I doubt it, but the signal-to-noise ratio in my direct channel to Deity has been a bit high recently, so I can't be sure.

2) Is the extra money a blessing, in the LDS sense? That is, how much should she attribute her good fortune to God, given that she attained this money by disobedience to a commandment?

Nope. Not at all.

The following scripture (Luke 16:8-12) does come to mind:

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

It is perhaps wisdom for her to have saved her tithing money for a rainy day, as it were. She has chosen wisdom of the world over wisdom of the Eternities, and she has her reward already. Lest this be dismissed as an attack, this is the language the Lord used. There's a reward for denying oneself in an area where the Lord has offered an eternal reward, and there's a reward for not denying oneself, but that reward is not in addition to the eternal reward, but instead of it. It's a free choice, with one consequence or another.

3) Why does Maria feel happiness in her disobedience, while a few years ago, this trial would have brought much unhappiness? Is this not counter-intuitive - shouldn't she feel miserable in her disobedience, and full of joy as a full tithe payer?

I'm sure she isn't feeling happy in her disobedience, but in her providence for future misfortune. She has been wise to save the money, is all I can say. Many people who don't pay tithing because they find other uses for it don't necessarily save it, and had Maria been one of these, then she would have been in exactly the same spot than if she had paid her tithing, but without the promises available for the obedient. She has been wise in the ways of the world.

That being said, if she has a testimony of the Gospel, then she should feel at least a little guilty in her disobedience, and if she were a full tithepayer then she should feel at least a little joy that because of her righteous obedience she must suffer a little bit, but for a higher purpose.

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Interested in all perspectives.

It is good to recognize any good fortune (Mosiah 2: 21 and 23) and attribute it to God’s goodness, irrespective of how highly or lowly we assess of our obedience and faith.

We really cannot conclude that “a few years ago, this trial would have brought her much unhappiness” any more than we can conclude that it brings such / more / less unhappiness today (or that “a few years ago, xyz blessing would have brought her much happiness, the same / more / less than it does today”), so I’m not sure what is to be gained by examining each permutation or perspective of what might have happened or resulted. Trials bringing greater unhappiness may or may not be resolved to an extent of subsequently bringing greater blessings than expected during the time of trial, and blessings may or may not be forgotten to an extent of bringing greater trials than imagined at the time of rejoicing.

It is not a matter of whether she should be miserable in her disobedience and whether full tithe-payers should be full of joy; the misery of the disobedient and the joy of the obedient is a certain guarantee. But just as we can’t conclude what might have been (as explained above), the due timing of the consequences of disobedience and obedience are a function of the delivery and receipt options exercised by God and His children.

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1) Would the car have broken down if my friend had paid tithing faithfully? The car's breaking down is a function of its use and care. Maybe the use and care would be different or maybe not.

2) Is the extra money a blessing, in the LDS sense? Humans often do not recognize blessings, and instead count them as burdens. And it isn't extra money. It is still the Lord's tenth she is spending.

3) Why does Maria feel happiness in her disobedience, while a few years ago, this trial would have brought much unhappiness? Because a) she thinks that her financial struggles meant that God did not bless her when she paid tithing. So she has to take care of herself because His promises are not sure. (Someone recently pointed out that opening windows of heaven suggests that the blessing is personal revelation --- enabling better choices and planning, not enough to cover ones perceived needs.)

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1-could be either way. Probably it would have happened anyway-that's usually how cars work.

2-Paying a full tithe is not just an act of giving money, it needs to be done in the proper manner. Blessings may not come in the form we want, and if we're not looking for them we won't see them. Having money because we want money may not be what we need. Keeping spiritual commandments for spiritual purposes can yield physical blessings. But, we don't get to pick our blessings. For example, obeying the word of wisdom is no guarantee you won't get cancer. However, other blessings may be received, such as great treasures of knowledge. Also, punishment for disobedience is not normally instantaneous. If that were so, in a financial situation, all the righteous would be rich and all the wicked would be poor. The absence of direct punishment is not proof of a blessing.

3-The joy and misery from obedience may not be fully experienced during mortal life. As King Benjamin taught:

"And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal andspiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."-Mosiah 2:41

The happiness that comes from obedience comes in conjunction with the hope for eternal life. As President Faust pointed out in Our Search for Happiness,

Pleasure, unlike happiness, is that which pleases us or gives us gratification. Usually it endures for only a short time. As Elder David O.McKay (1873–1970), then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, once said: “You may get that transitory pleasure, yes, but you cannot find joy,you cannot find happiness. Happiness is found only along that well beaten track, narrow as it is, though straight, which leads to life eternal”

The pleasure from paying off debt at the expense of robbing God (Malachi 3:8 ) I do not equate with happiness.

I'm sure your friend is a wonderful person, but not keeping the commandments is not keeping the commandments, no matter how nice you are.

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Would the car have broken down if my friend had paid tithing faithfully?

Probably. Cars break down. To me, the miracle of tithing is that it puts me in a bind when these kinds of things happen. Then, through faith, I get to watch the Lord go to work in providing the solution. We don't pay tithing so that our cars never break down. We pay tithing so that, in our resultant need, we can turn to the Lord and discover that He's not just a nice idea but a real Being who keeps His promises. Of course one can skip the whole 'prove me now herewith' thing altogether and simply take care of him-/herself, which is the path it seems your friend has chosen. Her call. She'll be fine this way. But she'll never really know the power and majesty of Christ and His ability to intervene when we have no other source of aid to turn to.

I spent most of last year in dire financial straits. It reached a point where my weekly food budget had to drop to less than US$5/week. On more than one occasion, however, I found myself in a situation where someone needed food. I could have kept my little week's supply, meeting my own needs just, and considered it a blessing that I was able to do that, but I decided to trust the Lord instead. I prayerfully prepared the food and served every last bit of it to the others. I was then in no position to feed myself, but the Lord provided. In the first scenario, I would have had food in my belly--a blessing of sorts--but no miracle. In the second instance, I also had food in my belly plus increased knowledge of the absolute reality of Deity. I prefer this kind of 'blessing.'

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Cars break, crap happens and good things happen. Sorry but I do not attribute any of this to wether you pay tithing or not. I am sure there are many anecdotal stories of how someone paid tithing and then received some blessing. Truth is you can find a blessing in almost any situation if you look for it. The only real blessing directly from paying tithing is it may make you a better money manager because you have less disposable income.

If you like to pay tithing great. I think you should pay something if you go to church. You need to carry your own fare share of the expenses of operating the church. But do it because you want to do it, not because you are looking for some divine intervention to save your job or make ends meet. Even in this last conference it was stated that blessings from tithing are not monetary in nature they are spiritual. Even the church is distancing itself from the notion that paying tithing gets you some kind of monetary payback.

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Probably. Cars break down. To me, the miracle of tithing is that it puts me in a bind when these kinds of things happen. Then, through faith, I get to watch the Lord go to work in providing the solution. We don't pay tithing so that our cars never break down. We pay tithing so that, in our resultant need, we can turn to the Lord and discover that He's not just a nice idea but a real Being who keeps His promises. Of course one can skip the whole 'prove me now herewith' thing altogether and simply take care of him-/herself, which is the path it seems your friend has chosen. Her call. She'll be fine this way. But she'll never really know the power and majesty of Christ and His ability to intervene when we have no other source of aid to turn to.

I spent most of last year in dire financial straits. It reached a point where my weekly food budget had to drop to less than US$5/week. On more than one occasion, however, I found myself in a situation where someone needed food. I could have kept my little week's supply, meeting my own needs just, and considered it a blessing that I was able to do that, but I decided to trust the Lord instead. I prayerfully prepared the food and served every last bit of it to the others. I was then in no position to feed myself, but the Lord provided. In the first scenario, I would have had food in my belly--a blessing of sorts--but no miracle. In the second instance, I also had food in my belly plus increased knowledge of the absolute reality of Deity. I prefer this kind of 'blessing.'

Can you please share how the Lord provided food when you had none? What specifically happened?

H.

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The happiness will be fleeting, however, and will pale in comparison to the happiness that could have been.

But do you believe that if Maria repents and pays her tithing the last year of her life that she will be saved and just as happy as everyone else in the next world? This way it seems like she would get the fleeting earthly happiness and the same eternal happiness. It doesn't seem right to me, but that's the doctrine is it not?

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Paying tithing allows us to be receptive to the spirit which prompts us to gain far more knowlege than we posess in many matters including financial. People can say what they want, but my personal testimony that tithing is not only a benefit for the church but also to ourselves. Remember the miracle of the loaves and fishes?

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But do you believe that if Maria repents and pays her tithing the last year of her life that she will be saved and just as happy as everyone else in the next world? This way it seems like she would get the fleeting earthly happiness and the same eternal happiness. It doesn't seem right to me, but that's the doctrine is it not?

Absolutely doctrinal - this is the parable of the labourer in the vineyard, found in Matthew 20.

H.

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Paying tithing allows us to be receptive to the spirit which prompts us to gain far more knowlege than we posess in many matters including financial. People can say what they want, but my personal testimony that tithing is not only a benefit for the church but also to ourselves. Remember the miracle of the loaves and fishes?

Just what might that additional knowledge consist of?

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Just what might that additional knowledge consist of?

"If we first pay our obligation to the Lord and then use wisdom and good judgment, the Lord will help us manage the resources He has given us."

SourceL http://lds.org/gener...ing+inspiration

In my opinion, blessings the Lord may provide to people who pay tithing include....

1) The ability to earn enough money to provide for their needs,

2) The ability to use money wisely, protection from costly catastrophes, and the joy of sharing and giving.

3) Obedience to the law of tithing, like obedience to other commandments, also helps us feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives.

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But do you believe that if Maria repents and pays her tithing the last year of her life that she will be saved and just as happy as everyone else in the next world? This way it seems like she would get the fleeting earthly happiness and the same eternal happiness. It doesn't seem right to me, but that's the doctrine is it not?

Yes, it's doctrinal and fits in perfectly with the concept of the Atonement, where none of us get what we actually deserve, thank goodness.

It should be said though that there could be temporal consequences for not paying tithing which will be lost regardless of whether or not someone repents later. If windows of heaven are closed which would have been pouring down blessings for years otherwise, then blessings will have been missed in mortality, regardless if other treasures of lesser worth are achieved.

True repentance will cause someone to regret the fleeing earthly happiness they received for selling their birthright and will help them to see that it was worth so much less than what God had been offering all along. Repentance must involve sorrow where none would have to exist if the sin had not been committed.

It's not doctrinally correct to imply that someone can go from earthly happiness in disobedience to God to eternal happiness without mentioning that godly sorrow must come inbetween.

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It's not doctrinally correct to imply that someone can go from earthly happiness in disobedience to God to eternal happiness without mentioning that godly sorrow must come inbetween.

That must be some sorrow then. Do you believe that the pain one feels at repentance is equal or worse than the pain one feels during obedience? Especially when you consider how long it takes for a person to repent? How long has he been living a happier and less stressful disobedient life? It must add up. I'm not sure it's possible for an individual to feel that much pain all at once. The sinful path should be the more painful path correct? But from what I see that's not how it's utimately adding up, at least not the way most people view it.

How you feel is a product of what you allow yourself to think and believe. If you want to argue that God won't allow people to physically enter His presence who are unclean, I can understand that. That's a real thing that is not dependent on how someone chooses to think about it. But to claim it's somehow all about feelings doesn't account for the fact that individuals find more happiness all the time than they otherwise would by believing what they want. Because how you feel really can be your own choice. There is no eternal law that if someone sins he must feel guilty. Some people murder other people and don't feel guilty at all. Some people feel guilty for killing a bug. They feel what they choose to feel, not what they must feel.

If windows of heaven are closed which would have been pouring down blessings for years otherwise, then blessings will have been missed in mortality, regardless if other treasures of lesser worth are achieved

When earth life is bad they tell us, what does it really matter since this life is such a short time anyway? The argument that an individual is more blessed in mortality for being obedient seems pretty thin to me. Once you take away the possibility of any reciprocity that might be found beyond this world, the entire case for obedience=happiness is on very thin ice based on the facts we all see every day.

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Can you please share how the Lord provided food when you had none? What specifically happened?

On one occasion, I visited a family in the ward the same night, and they sent me home with plate of food. I lived off that plate of food for the rest of the week. On another occasion, I came home in the evening to find a bag of bread and cheese hanging on my doorknob.

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do you believe that if Maria repents and pays her tithing the last year of her life that she will be saved and just as happy as everyone else in the next world? This way it seems like she would get the fleeting earthly happiness and the same eternal happiness. It doesn't seem right to me, but that's the doctrine is it not?

"Maria" is at risk in two ways.

First, failure to pay her tithing makes her less sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit, and she may very easily just decide that tithing is not important in her life, ever. Thus she would not pay tithing that last year, and not be in compliance at all, and fail of the blessings she'd have received in post mortality.

Second, even if she does tithe that last wage, she would have missed out on all the blessings that come from obedience to the law, and would not have become a "tithing person". She'd have to learn that skill and become that person in the hereafter, and it is much more difficult there. Since it would take her longer to become a tithing person, she'd miss many time periods of not being exalted. Even though no longer guilty of failure to tithe, she'd have to wait until the characteristic became ingrained in her spirit before qualifying for whatever blessing she merited by writing that last check.

Lehi

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But do you believe that if Maria repents and pays her tithing the last year of her life that she will be saved and just as happy as everyone else in the next world? This way it seems like she would get the fleeting earthly happiness and the same eternal happiness. It doesn't seem right to me, but that's the doctrine is it not?

Why exactly would a person choose to repent at the very end of her life if she hadn't actually come to know and trust Christ during a life of obedience?

The argument that an individual is more blessed in mortality for being obedient seems pretty thin to me. Once you take away the possibility of any reciprocity that might be found beyond this world, the entire case for obedience=happiness is on very thin ice based on the facts we all see every day.

When I was little, a man in his 80s, and our nearest neighbour, joined the Church. He'd spent his life before that as an evangelical atheist, and he and my grandfather first and then my father had good-naturedly tried to convert each other for decades. After his conversion, he never missed a month in sharing his testimony in sacrament meeting. I will never forget hearing him say the same thing over and over again: First he would express his gratitude that the Lord had showed him so much mercy at the 'eleventh hour.' Then he would say, 'But oh, the blessings I could have enjoyed for all those years! The blessings I could have shared with my family!' For him, there was a large, fundamental, and measurable difference between the quality of his life before and after his conversion.

For what it's worth, I feel the same way.

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To me, one of the greatest of tragedies must be when Church members fail to fully engage their faith and live up to their privileges and then conclude, based on the evidence, that such privileges don't actually exist. The next step for many, it seems, is to insist that those of us whose experiences have been radically different are just relying uncritically on some enabling fiction or are afraid to acknowledge that the emperor really has no clothes. <sigh>

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individuals find more happiness all the time than they otherwise would by believing what they want.

I think it is good to recognize what “true” happiness and “true” misery are. Willfully unrepentant sinners will not acknowledge--they will deny, refuse or reject--true, godly sorrow unto repentance for as long as they can. This produces a false happiness, in the same way that considering the peace that comes with consecration produces great discomfit for them. At some point though, they cannot withhold justice, and true misery is found the other side of the mirror, causing them to feel as if a just punishment has been imposed upon them. Because of faith, saints anticipate the effects of justice and mercy also and so define happiness and misery from an eternal, perhaps more patient perspective. Someone believing what they want in ignorance is something else.

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