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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #45 on: February 05, 2011, 01:40:02 PM »

Yep, you’re right I’m pro-human life without exception or qualification but I don’t have a political agenda.  I just have opinions.  What I object to is the political opinions of others being turned into an organized agenda and pushed onto me under the guise of some kind of spirituality. 
I like the way you think! Welcome!

Thank you for your encouragement.  If you approve of the way I think you must be extremely shrewd. Wink
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #46 on: February 05, 2011, 01:41:22 PM »

Welcome to the forum  Grin !

Thank you much.
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #47 on: February 05, 2011, 01:43:40 PM »

I’m a leftie, you see,

Fwiw, I'm fairly liberal, and they haven't burnt me at the stake. Yet.  Grin

That's good news. Wink
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #48 on: February 05, 2011, 01:53:18 PM »

Even though people have already addressed these, I like hearing myself talk (or read myself write...? Anyway...) I'll offer my two cents. Tongue

Quote
Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers” what exactly do you mean?  Do you mean like in the homily/sermon?

As was said, no. Actually, I do good to remember a sermon/homily from Sunday to Sunday. That's not good, I should, but it's not the main focus of the service, it is the Eucharist that is primary, and the liturgy in which it is accomplished. In the Liturgy, you find gems of theological depth such as the Justinian hymn:

Only Begotten Son and Immortal Word of God,
Who for our salvation didst will to be incarnate of the holy Theotokos and ever virgin Mary,
Who without change didst become man and wast crucified, O Christ our God,
Trampling down death by death, Who art one of the Holy Trinity,
Glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us.


Quote
But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

As was stated, The Orthodox Church isn't a political entity. You may vote how you wish. In the Southern US, you'll find many Orthodox are right-leaning (former evangelical converts, usually) but that's not so true in the North and Mid-West, or out in California (San Francisco has a sizeable Orthodox community, and is were the relics of St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco reside).

Orthodoxy is open to those of any political leaning (I lean left myself, and would probably agree with all you said), but does not compromise on pro-life ethics, from conception until natural death. The Church opposes abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, etc. Even the Didache (ancient, possibly apostolic document of faith) has provisions against abortion. This is a shared opinion of the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Orthodox Church in America has consistantly held an anti-war opinion concerning the war in Iraq (IIRC, there were quite a few seminarians from St. Tikhon's that participated in anti-war rallies). The church is not dogmatically pacificistic, and has solemnly condoned war when all other options are exhausted in the past, but it is always with a heavy heart. "Just war theory" is not an Orthodox understanding. No war is just, but sometimes there is nothing else to be done in our fallen world. Historically, soliders who had killed in battle refrained from the Eucharist for three years (the penance for murder) to recognize the sinful nature of war.

EDIT: Grammar.

Great answer.  The Orthodox Church in the USA (and by that I don't mean the OCA, but the entirety of the Orthodox Church in this country) seems to me to be mostly apolitical.  Vote or not vote in good conscience.  Just because moral issues have become political does not mean that we need to be politicized by them.

Right, but when church leaders feel they have to step into the political arena in order to “make things right” it can get confusing for the foot soldiers.  How do you feel about the Right To Life marching that goes on every year?  Marching around in protest is definitely a political maneuver and I understand Metropolitan Jonah makes a point of involving himself in it not as a private individual but in his official capacity.  I don’t know what to make of that.

It can and does get confusing. Right To Life is a political movement, and is definitely not Orthodox. However, both the Church and Right To Life see abortion as an unacceptable practice. Why not work towards common goals, such as ceasing the genocide of innocent children? It doesn't mean we have to be lock-step with them and their members on every issue. I'm certainly not. By His Beatitude representing the Church at their March for Life, he is saying the Orthodox Church categorically denies abortion as a standard, causal practice. That doesn't mean we accept their whole political agenda carte blache, nor should we. It is unfortunate that abortion has become a political issue, as it never has been for the Church, but rather it has always been a matter of our faith to uphold the sanctity of human life, the gift of Creation, given by our Lord. This affirmation existed long before Republicans and Democrats, before the founding of the United States and before the rise of Europe itself, as we know it today.

When we march with them, we show that we support that cause, not because we are part of them, but because it is a matter of our ancient faith.

Your explanation is thoughtful and I thank you for it but what I’m getting at is that once religious leaders venture into politics in their official capacity and are perceived to be doing so there is a great danger that they will not only lose credibility amongst those who might otherwise give them approval but also that they might without realizing it turn into political animals themselves.  And who amongst the electorate thinks politics is a noble occupation?  Do you understand my reservations?
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #49 on: February 05, 2011, 01:55:39 PM »

Does every Orthodox Christian have that understanding or is it allowable to think of heaven and hell in other ways?


Maybe this will help:
http://aggreen.net/beliefs/heaven_hell.html

Yes it does.  I’ve new ideas here and I’ll have to consider them for a while.  Thank you so much.
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #50 on: February 05, 2011, 01:58:30 PM »

There is an understanding of hell in Orthodoxy that there is no place where God is not, and that the difference between heaven and hell is how we experience God.

Thank you.  Does every Orthodox Christian have that understanding or is it allowable to think of heaven and hell in other ways?

I think you naturally will tend toward this just by using the prayers of the Church.  The Trisagion Prayers, for example, include this:

"O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art in all places and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of Life, come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls O Gracious Lord."

I think it's pretty hard to pray that prayer ever day and at ever service and not believe God is, in fact, everywhere present and filling all things.

I guess so.  But what does “fillest all things” actually mean?  It sounds like pantheism.  That can’t be right.
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Benjamin the Red
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« Reply #51 on: February 05, 2011, 02:36:06 PM »

Quote
Your explanation is thoughtful and I thank you for it but what I’m getting at is that once religious leaders venture into politics in their official capacity and are perceived to be doing so there is a great danger that they will not only lose credibility amongst those who might otherwise give them approval but also that they might without realizing it turn into political animals themselves.  And who amongst the electorate thinks politics is a noble occupation?  Do you understand my reservations?

Yes. I share them. If Metropolitan Jonah (my primate) began endorsing and supporting certain politicians or political parties, I would be very concerned, because that does wrap our church into the political landscape, where it does not belong.

However, to stand in solidarity with an organization on a single issue, which again is not for us a political issue but a religious one, I see that it may become a slippery slope, but as long as it remains just that, I don't see an issue.

Quote
I guess so.  But what does “fillest all things” actually mean?  It sounds like pantheism.  That can’t be right.

No, it sounds like panentheism, which is Orthodox, when understood correctly. God is not all things, but rather He fills all things. Creation is meant to be filled with the glory of God, understood in Orthodoxy as His energies, which is understood, per the work of St. Gregory Palamas, as God. God is also God in essence, which is His alone, and is never shared in with another. However, all things should be participatory in God's energies. This is what St. Peter meant when he wrote about us being "partakers of the divine nature". He says: "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (1 Peter 1:2-4).
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #52 on: February 05, 2011, 03:24:53 PM »

Quote
Your explanation is thoughtful and I thank you for it but what I’m getting at is that once religious leaders venture into politics in their official capacity and are perceived to be doing so there is a great danger that they will not only lose credibility amongst those who might otherwise give them approval but also that they might without realizing it turn into political animals themselves.  And who amongst the electorate thinks politics is a noble occupation?  Do you understand my reservations?

Yes. I share them. If Metropolitan Jonah (my primate) began endorsing and supporting certain politicians or political parties, I would be very concerned, because that does wrap our church into the political landscape, where it does not belong.

However, to stand in solidarity with an organization on a single issue, which again is not for us a political issue but a religious one, I see that it may become a slippery slope, but as long as it remains just that, I don't see an issue.

Fair enough.

Quote
I guess so.  But what does “fillest all things” actually mean?  It sounds like pantheism.  That can’t be right.

No, it sounds like panentheism, which is Orthodox, when understood correctly. God is not all things, but rather He fills all things. Creation is meant to be filled with the glory of God, understood in Orthodoxy as His energies, which is understood, per the work of St. Gregory Palamas, as God. God is also God in essence, which is His alone, and is never shared in with another. However, all things should be participatory in God's energies. This is what St. Peter meant when he wrote about us being "partakers of the divine nature". He says: "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (1 Peter 1:2-4).

That’s very engaging.  Thank you.
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WUnland
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« Reply #53 on: February 05, 2011, 11:29:44 PM »

I want to believe that everybody gets saved in the end so I hope for that.  I can't bring myself to believe that any act or sin could warrant in the eyes of God damnation for all eternity. 

Hello,

I am late to this thread and apologize to all for going off in a tangent.

As a fellow inquirer into Orthodoxy, I am certainly not able to speak to your question about this faith.  However, this one statement of yours really stuck in my mind.  Do you REALLY believe this?  God will certainly forgive ANY transgression if one is truly contrite, I think that both the Latin and Orthodox Churches agree on this, but the once saved, always saved , no matter what I do kind of approach to God is very evangelical protestant.

If you spent your life cursing God, and "preaching" atheism, or worse, and you totally close your heart to God do you truly believe that you will not condemn yourself to damnation?  Again, speaking from my limited knowledge of Orthodox theology, I believe that both the Latin and Orthodox believe that it is yourself, not God that damns you.  God is loving, but we are NOT, and we CHOOSE our path.  God being all love and wanting us all to be saved has nothing to do with our choices based on free will that will be the basis of our final "judgement" by Christ.

  God really does want us to succeed, but some just will not accept his offer of salvation, which includes an obligation to ACT and BEHAVE like Christ here on earth, so yes I believe that we can damn ourselves, and no orthodox church, that's small "o", teaches otherwise.  If this does not speak to the Orthodox tradition I'm sure that someone will in all kindness correct me.

Regards,
William Unland
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« Reply #54 on: February 06, 2011, 08:54:02 AM »

I want to believe that everybody gets saved in the end so I hope for that.  I can't bring myself to believe that any act or sin could warrant in the eyes of God damnation for all eternity.

If you spent your life cursing God, and "preaching" atheism, or worse, and you totally close your heart to God do you truly believe that you will not condemn yourself to damnation?
In Orthodoxy, the Final Judgement has not occurred yet. It will occur after the Second Coming. So, one may ask, is it possible to 'repent' (in some way or other) after one dies, but before the Second Coming? The Church offers prayers to the dead, so the implication is that the prayers to the dead may lead to the salvation of those who, on earth, were rascally creatures.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 08:54:53 AM by Jetavan » Logged

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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #55 on: February 06, 2011, 03:35:43 PM »

I want to believe that everybody gets saved in the end so I hope for that.  I can't bring myself to believe that any act or sin could warrant in the eyes of God damnation for all eternity.

Hello,

I am late to this thread and apologize to all for going off in a tangent.

As a fellow inquirer into Orthodoxy, I am certainly not able to speak to your question about this faith.  However, this one statement of yours really stuck in my mind.  Do you REALLY believe this?  God will certainly forgive ANY transgression if one is truly contrite, I think that both the Latin and Orthodox Churches agree on this, but the once saved, always saved , no matter what I do kind of approach to God is very evangelical protestant.

If there are indeed Evangelicals with such a dismissive and disrespectful attitude toward God then I lament it.  Necessarily attendant to the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints is the damnation of the non–Saints.  Calvinists have no problem with the idea of people outside their group being damned for all eternity.  The “Us and Them” mentality that one finds present in most areas of human endeavor is certainly noticeable in doctrinal and damnation discourses.  The question I’m struggling with is how could and why would God, as I understand Him to be, damn anybody for all eternity?  Are lesser punishments not the prerogative of merciful?

If you spent your life cursing God, and "preaching" atheism, or worse, and you totally close your heart to God do you truly believe that you will not condemn yourself to damnation?

Absolutely.  If God can save one sinner then He can save all of them.  Nothing is impossible for God.

Again, speaking from my limited knowledge of Orthodox theology, I believe that both the Latin and Orthodox believe that it is yourself, not God that damns you.  God is loving, but we are NOT, and we CHOOSE our path.  God being all love and wanting us all to be saved has nothing to do with our choices based on free will that will be the basis of our final "judgement" by Christ.

I’m sorry but I cannot agree with this one–size–fits–all line.  You surely must know plenty of people whose choices in life are at the very least restricted?  For whom are you speaking when you state, “…we CHOOSE our path”?  Who is “we”?  Your well–meaning pronouncements are loaded with assumptions and it is these very assumptions with which I’m grappling.

God really does want us to succeed, but some just will not accept his offer of salvation, which includes an obligation to ACT and BEHAVE like Christ here on earth, so yes I believe that we can damn ourselves, and no orthodox church, that's small "o", teaches otherwise.  If this does not speak to the Orthodox tradition I'm sure that someone will in all kindness correct me.

Regards,
William Unland

I simply don’t know how to respond to this.  I can accept somebody stating, “I believe that I can damn myself,” as it would seem reasonable to allow that everybody has the right to speak for himself or herself.  But to state that one believes that “we can damn ourselves” certainly appears to warrant a request for further details.  Can you state what might be the motivation of a person other than yourself that insisted upon consciously and purposefully damning himself or herself?

Thanks for your post.  I wish well with your inquiries and your searching.
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #56 on: February 06, 2011, 03:38:32 PM »

I want to believe that everybody gets saved in the end so I hope for that.  I can't bring myself to believe that any act or sin could warrant in the eyes of God damnation for all eternity.

If you spent your life cursing God, and "preaching" atheism, or worse, and you totally close your heart to God do you truly believe that you will not condemn yourself to damnation?
In Orthodoxy, the Final Judgement has not occurred yet. It will occur after the Second Coming. So, one may ask, is it possible to 'repent' (in some way or other) after one dies, but before the Second Coming? The Church offers prayers to the dead, so the implication is that the prayers to the dead may lead to the salvation of those who, on earth, were rascally creatures.

Is it prayers to the dead or prayers for the dead?  How far is the implication from the formal teaching of the Church?  It seems more like an inference.  If there’s a strong implication then I guess the next step would be to make it a formal teaching and then one would realistically have to consider whether there’s a place called purgatory.  I have to say that I’m uncomfortable with the idea of purgatory.
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« Reply #57 on: February 06, 2011, 03:47:13 PM »

Is it prayers to the dead or prayers for the dead?  How far is the implication from the formal teaching of the Church?  It seems more like an inference.  If there’s a strong implication then I guess the next step would be to make it a formal teaching and then one would realistically have to consider whether there’s a place called purgatory.  I have to say that I’m uncomfortable with the idea of purgatory.

While Orthodoxy prays both to the dead and for the dead, he was speaking of prayers for the dead (though we only consider them "dead" in that they are no longer on the earth, but have moved on to the afterlife--or the life after life). Some Orthodox believe that people can be saved even after death, others believe that our prayers for the dead simply makes things easier (e.g. less pain) for those who have been judged as having rejected God. Regarding purgatory, Orthodoxy doesn't believe in that idea, though some Orthodox have believed in something not too far off from it, where people go through a purging or cleansing. St. Mark of Ephesus, for example, said this:

Quote
But if souls have departed this life in faith and love, while nevertheless carrying away with themselves certain faults, whether small ones over which they have no repented at all, or great ones for which--even though they have repented over them--they did not undertake to show fruits of repentance: such souls, we believe, must be cleansed from this kind of sins, but not by means of some purgatorial fire or a definite punishment in some place (for this, as we have said, has not at all be handed down to us). But some must be cleansed in the very departure from the body, thanks only to fear, as St. Gregory the Dialogist literally shows; while others must be cleansed after the departure from the body, either while remaining in the same earthly place, before they come to worship God and are honored with the lot of the blessed, or--if their sins were more serious and bind them for a longer duration--they are kept in [hades], but not in order to remain forever in fire and torment, but as it were in prison and confinement under guard.

All such ones, we affirm, are helped by the prayers and Liturgies performed for them, with the cooperation of the Divine goodness and love for mankind. This Divine cooperation immediately disdains and remits some sins, those committed out of human weakness, as Dionysius the Great (the Areopagite) says in 'Reflections on the Mystery of Those Reposed in Faith' (In 'The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, 7, 7); while other sins, after a certain time, by righteous judgments it either likewise releases and forgives--and that completely--or lightens the responsibility for them until that final judgment. And therefore we see no necessity whatever for any other punishment or for a cleansing fire; for some are cleansed by fear, while others are devoured by gnawings of conscience with more torment than any fire, and still others are cleansed only the the very terror before the Divine Glory and the uncertainty as to what the future will be...

And so, we intreat God and believe to deliver the departed from (eternal torment), and not from any other torment or fire apart from those torments and that fire which have been proclaimed to be forever. And that, moreover, the souls of the departed are delivered by prayers from confinement in [hades], as if from a certain prison, is testified, among many others, by Theophanes the Confessor, called the Branded. ...In one of the canons for the reposed he thus prays for them: 'Deliver, O Savior, Thy slaves who are in the [hades] of tears and sighing' (Octoechos, Saturday canon for the deposed, Tone 8, Canticle 6, Glory). - St. Mark of Ephesus, First Homily on the Refutation of the Latin Chapters Concerning Purgatorial Fire
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #58 on: February 06, 2011, 04:58:54 PM »

Some Orthodox believe that people can be saved even after death, others believe that our prayers for the dead simply makes things easier (e.g. less pain) for those who have been judged as having rejected God.

Which do you believe?
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« Reply #59 on: February 06, 2011, 05:06:48 PM »

I should preface this by saying that I'm only on my way back to traditional Christianity, and not currently fully participating in Orthodoxy (confessing, communing, etc.)... however, I think I'd answer the same either way. Though I wouldn't be dogmatic about it, I hope that people can be saved even if they leave this earth having rejected God. But then I'm quite biased, since my wife passed on while in a state of completely rejecting God after having left the Orthodox Church (unless she had a deathbed re-conversion that no one knew about).
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« Reply #60 on: February 06, 2011, 05:22:12 PM »

I should preface this by saying that I'm only on my way back to traditional Christianity, and not currently fully participating in Orthodoxy (confessing, communing, etc.)... however, I think I'd answer the same either way. Though I wouldn't be dogmatic about it, I hope that people can be saved even if they leave this earth having rejected God. But then I'm quite biased, since my wife passed on while in a state of completely rejecting God after having left the Orthodox Church (unless she had a deathbed re-conversion that no one knew about).

I have the same hope.  I wish you well on your way back.
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« Reply #61 on: February 07, 2011, 11:00:59 AM »


If there are indeed Evangelicals with such a dismissive and disrespectful attitude toward God then I lament it.

Unfortunately, there are.

Absolutely.  If God can save one sinner then He can save all of them.  Nothing is impossible for God.

Absolutely. There is actually one theologeumenon (theological opinion) in Orthodoxy which states heaven and hell are different experiences of the unfettered love of God. Those who love God experience it has the fullness of His glory, the warm radiant life of Christ. Those who hate Him experience it as pain. C.S. Lewis, although he was not Orthodox himself, wrote a short story titled "The Great Divorce" which does a really good job of representing this perspective.

I’m sorry but I cannot agree with this one–size–fits–all line.  You surely must know plenty of people whose choices in life are at the very least restricted?  For whom are you speaking when you state, “…we CHOOSE our path”?  Who is “we”?  Your well–meaning pronouncements are loaded with assumptions and it is these very assumptions with which I’m grappling.

There are two commandments, Love God and love thy neighbor. How well does a person do this? Upon it hangs all of the Law and the Prophets, and surely those who do such things, even without the Gospel, are not damned, for they are following the law written upon their hearts.

I simply don’t know how to respond to this.  I can accept somebody stating, “I believe that I can damn myself,” as it would seem reasonable to allow that everybody has the right to speak for himself or herself.  But to state that one believes that “we can damn ourselves” certainly appears to warrant a request for further details.  Can you state what might be the motivation of a person other than yourself that insisted upon consciously and purposefully damning himself or herself?

"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." (John 3:19-21)
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"Hades is not a place, no, but a state of the soul. It begins here on earth. Just so, paradise begins in the soul of a man here in the earthly life. Here we already have contact with the divine..." -St. John, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, Homily On the Sunday of Orthodoxy
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