Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Jerusalem – the new Global Capital


The recent attack on the global city of Mumbai (Bombay) in India illustrates how as the world’s population expands, the land does not match the needs of a growing population. You can talk about finances and universities and commerce – the free market system can accommodate some of this global flow but it cannot accommodate fanatical religious beliefs that mask political agendas.

While you can expand enterprise in a global sense, you cannot perpetuate that old timed bubble to protect your old time religion in a shrinking land bubble.

I can presume that the recent bloodshed is over the decades old disputed territory of Kashmir and the dividing line in politics which happens also to be a dividing line in religion.

In the decades to come as we adapt to the new needs of a global population in a global economy, we can expect more bloodshed sad to say.

Land was the basis of the recent worldwide fraud of American securities packaged and sold as valid with a MBA Imprimatur. In the end, the land with improvements was not as valuable as the inflated promise of return. Land is not the answer to much of the future’s problems so much as cooperation of all peoples globally.

You reap what you sow. If your government and your religion and or your government/religion cannot promote tolerance and win-win negotiation, the global equation is not doomed. Innocent bystanders will be collateral damage of imperfect human thinking – intolerance - clinging to outdated ideas from the past. These are unbending ideas that refuse to be groomed in the possibilities of a new global way to look at all things in a new way - and deal with them accordingly.

The heart of most religions preach and practice the tolerance necessary to arrive at a new global future. It is the fringe edge of reality that clings to a local view in a local bubble going up against global reality and with violence. There is a place for both local and global ideas in the future.

Like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, if they don’t want a Third Temple, fine, build it elsewhere. Ideas are more important than armies or mere square footage of land.

The New Jerusalem, the new Global Capital of Earth will be built one day. It will not be built on land. It will be built on faith, hope, love and the good will of all men and all women on this one planet.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Third Temple

As I have said elsewhere here, God works in his own time and in his own way.

I have spent many hours reading and researching the concept of the Third Temple.

The first Temple was built by Solomon. It was rebuilt or restored after the Babylonian captivity.

Then you have the aftermath of Alexander’s world empire collapsing on itself and the Jews in Judea being in the middle of politics and religious persecution at the hands of Hellenistic rulers which results in more revolt and lack of peace in the Middle East and this happening a hundred and fifty years before the time of Jesus.

The rebellions against the Greek rule resulted in a short peace and headed by a family dynasty called the Hasmonean Dynasty that lasted until the so called Herod the Great. Herod of course is mentioned in the Gospels and he was as nasty as King Henry VII of England who married an heir to the throne and then killed off all rivals or pretenders to the throne (his throne).

This favored son of Rome was able to seize power and crown himself as the King of Judea with his Roman puppet master’s approval.

Herod the great took the Hellenistic Alexander the Great view of the world and started to build and rebuild on a scale only rivaled in the city of Rome itself. No amount of taxes or slaves’ sweat or blood would keep Herod from trying to outshine the not forgotten with the people Hasmonean Dynasty. It had been they that recaptured Jerusalem and the defiled Temple and the story of Hanukah comes from this period and the miracle of oil in the Menorah, the ultimate symbol of Judaism, which burned for eight days.

In the end Herod’s cutting edge technology port part of the city of Caesarea fell back into the sea. The rebuilt expanded second Temple disappeared in several waves of recycling and eradication. His Xanadu, his Masada Palace, is remembered not for its builder but for the courage of the last vestiges of the Revolt of 66-73 C.E.

I have no doubt that Herod the Great ordered the death of many innocents in many places including Bethlehem in his syphilis crazed paranoid rule of Judea that was signed off on by the elites of Rome.

Fast forward on the timeline and in the Six Day War the Israeli Army takes all of Jerusalem but not Temple Mount. The Islamists have a thirteen hundred year real estate claim. In real time and real money and real estate, their claim is legitimate.

The Temple Mount remains a sore thumb in any perception of or resolution of present political tensions between Israel and Palestine.

Putting aside the political issue, nobody is quite certain where the second temple was located and of course saying that the Dome of the Rock mosque is the exact place puts a lot of stress into any formula for archeological research or digging. The Islamists will never concede any territory atop the Temple Mount. Barring a massive earthquake or an act of God, the Temple Mount is likely to stay the same for decades or centuries to come.

This brings me to an idea. Why does the Third Temple, as many Jews want to build, have to be built on the present Temple Mount in Jerusalem? Build it nearby. Extend Temple Mount and build. There is no eminent domain in the state of Israel to build next door??? If the Third Temple is inches or mere feet from the original Second Temple, what really matters ? - location, location, location or the heart and desire to build and to please the Lord.

Of course if they actually were able to build a third Temple anywhere in the vicinity of the present Temple Mount I think that looking back is a bad idea. I for one would have to side with animal rights advocates on the number and frequency of the slaughter of animals as sacrifice to God. I believe that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was the whole idea of Christianity moving forward out of a primitive pagan like era of blood sacrifice.

Another suggestion - Why not just build a replica of the second Temple on a mountain top in a desert somewhere and treat it with respect and a place to acknowledge the idea of a sacred place dedicated to the one God?

And if politics and bureaucratic inertia stops the rebuilding of the Temple in the middle east why not build it elsewhere on God's planet?

There are many mountain tops in the desert southwest United States and northwest Mexico that could accommodate a second Temple replica to become a place of pilgrimage both as a museum and a functioning place of worship. I think of the suggestion of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and his idea to build a Mosque, a Synagogue and a Church together on the top of Mount Sinai. That idea died with the man and got entangled in politics. And these days, the meal ticket academics would dispute where the real Mount Sinai is located, it being the place where God handed down his laws to Moses.

Don’t make it a tourist trap, make it a place of pilgrimage, walk up a mountain and limit parking at the base and put the food court at the base with the parking. Imagine it, a second temple replica and a simple basilica like church and a mosque. It would be unique and more importantly than that it would be a universally recognized sacred place.

There are so few sacred things truly left in this growing secular global world. Why not create a new one?

Just a thought.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving USA

It is Thanksgiving this week in the United States. It is without a doubt a totally secular holiday centered on the family. Very little direct commercialism is connected with this holiday other than the infamous turkey dish and as the gateway date to the very commercial Christmas season.

The roots of the holiday go back to the harvest festival brought over by the Europeans almost four hundred years ago.

Putting food aside, both Washington and Lincoln asked for days of prayer and thanksgiving during the War of Independence and the very bloody Civil War.

Lincoln had fixed the last Thursday of November as the official time of prayer and thanks to the Creator for the bounty and blessings of the nation. Lincoln’s call for a thanksgiving day in 1863 was set one week after his Gettysburg Address, at the dedication of a military cemetery at the battlefield as tribute to so many who gave so much at a critical turning point of the Civil War.

FDR named the fourth Thursday in November in 1939 to be Thanksgiving, pushing the date up slightly in order to promote Christmas sales during the depression. The fourth Thursday in November has more or less stuck these last three quarters of a century.

No need to mention that when you get relatives and friends together to gather and pray, you are likely to have a community meal thrown into the equation.

On a scale of one to ten with 1-4 as secular, 5-6 overlapping with the secular and 7-10 as sacred – Thanksgiving is a 6.

I have a mixed bag of memories of family Thanksgiving gatherings - meals, people, and friends – one day for many when the crazy American quilt work of people, cultures, religions come together in a seemingly singular ritual.

Traditional prayers of thanks on this day are Psalms 100, 111, the Our Father or any others you may feel to be appropriate.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Green Apocalypse

I speak perhaps of a personal epiphany and it has to do with the Book of Revelation/Apocalypse. If you have read this blog in bits and pieces you will no doubt know how I do not like or understand why the Book of Revelation got tacked onto the Greek Testament. It seems more like hateful propaganda than anything that would have come out of the mouth of Jesus.

There is an entertainment show on Cable TV called the “Naked Archeologist” hosted by one Simca Jacobovicki who is not an archeologist. Mr. Jacobovicki is no doubt well read and self taught which I hold in higher esteem than all the diplomas that rich people can afford to buy their children these days.

A quote from the show’s website:

“My goal,” says Jacobovici, “is to demystify the Bible in general, and archaeology in particular, to brush away the cobwebs and burst academic bubbles.”

I have disagreed with many of his quaint and or crackpot theories. One is that the Jewish Exodus coincided with the volcanic destruction of Thera/Santorini about 3500 BPT (before present time). Thera is or was a good candidate for the basis of the Plato fable about a place called Atlantis.

Never the less, looking at something from a fresh or unprejudiced and not prejudiced academic point of view is something I look for in this present stifling infant global world with its lack of creativity and growing non-open economic, religious and cultural points of view.

My personal epiphany came last night on a show about the Jewish community in ancient Rome. Simca is standing in a Jewish catacomb and sees what he thinks is a Christian symbol amidst the seemingly exclusive Jewish burial place. His guide and professional academic refuses to acknowledge the possibility of the symbol being Christian. Simca has to make a living and is looking for sellable tangents to add to and in accordance with the flavor of his show.

I know that feeling. You don’t have a Doctor of Divinity from Yale or Harvard. What makes unimportant you think you have any interesting theological question to ask me on my divine academic pedestal?

Enough with background and with some thanks to Simca helping me break through a wall regarding the book of Revelation and my opinion that it is originally a Jewish document or fragments of many Jewish end of the world themed documents not unlike the bulk of documents found and labeled as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Book of Revelation, as Protestants call it, or the Book of the Apocalypse as the R.C. and Orthodox Christians label it, seems to me to be a green or recycled text co-opted for Constantine’s official Christian Church. That maybe the true break between Christian and Jew was not a religious break among brothers. Maybe the split between Christian and Jew was an official political decision for the greater glory of the Roman General/Emperor Constantine.

Not being a professional academic, I base my logic more on timelines and critical symbols in the book of so called revelation.

The biggest symbol in the book is the “666” figure of the anti-Christ with most scholars these days agreeing that the numerology is about Nero.

You have this story that the Christians tell about how an incredibly small unknown cult of Jews called Christians got singled out as the scapegoat for the fire in Rome 64 C.E.. The Christians are so important in Roman propaganda and in a state that eventually elevates the Christian Messiah to the level of a Roman god under Constantine.

Before Simca, I had already thought that maybe it was the Jews, with a few Christians mixed in, that Nero went after in 64 C.E. That maybe those tensions and aftermath and backlash worked its way back to the holy land and was the basis of the start of the great Jewish Revolt starting in 66 C.E.. That revolt led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the second Temple in 70 C.E.. Look at the timelines.

I think that until the time of Constantine, Jews and Christians are inseparable in terms of shared traditions and living in the same part of town, towns.

There is a great deal of recycled Old Testament prophetic symbolism in the Book of Revelation and the thought occurs to me that when there is a warning to seven churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, that before it was a warning to Christian basilicas, maybe it was first a warning to the Jewish communities in these cities just as or right after the destruction of Jerusalem occurs. Like there were no Jews in the biggest cities of Asia Minor – yeah right – and that only the Christian communities existed there alone - sure.

And of course the end of the book has the supreme Jewish symbol of a New Jerusalem topped off with the second coming of Christ as Messiah at the end of this very long, tedious, nasty, symbolic pile of possibly green recycled words currently known as the Book of Revelation.

Oh well. Just a thought. Thank you Simca for part of the inspiration.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

King David's Fall from Grace


There is an artist, who is a bit off the wall from what I hear, but I am absolutely moved by the artist Rufus Wainwright and the song he sings “Hallelujah”.

The background to the song is David and his seduction of Bathsheba and the Watergate like cover up of King David’s sins of covetness, adultery and possibly murder. It is he, as king, who comes to terms with the consequences of his own actions. The people and his court officials were no doubt whispering the truth long before the king understood the magnitude of his going off course in his life. They say he wrote Psalm 51 as a result of his fall from grace - asking God’s forgiveness.

The song in modern secular terms is Art Imitating Life and reflecting man’s capability, capacity to do the wrong thing at the wrong time and to hurt the ones you love including yourself.

The Psalms are songs that David supposedly wrote and sang to the music of a lyre. Was David an artist and a singer? I cannot say for certain.

I can say that the Hebrew Testament is filled at times with a lustiness and brutal reality not similarly displayed in the Greek Testament.

Wainright’s song also has an allusion to Samson and Delilah with the cutting of hair lyrics. It is a bit like an historical movie with a lot of good bits mixed together to make a better story.

Sometimes good comes out of evil. Perhaps the megalomaniac of David slowed downed, consolidated his base and made it possible for his son Solomon to eventually build the first great Temple. In reality, I think David did not want to give up the military budget to build a temple but that is just my opinion.

The rest is history and the timeline that comes straight down to us to this day.


“ I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty
in the moonlight
overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne,
she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah”


Live and Learn. Live and Learn.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Face of God

What does God look like? Does he have to look like anything? Does man’s visual ability apply passed death when the spiirit separates from the body?

There are a thousand different questions about the basics of religious and or spiritual beliefs. If you sat down and had the average Christian, asked them to fill out a questionnaire, you would likely get many different answers to the same question.

While I know what traditional Jesus looks like with his Nordic ashen blonde hair, blue eyes and perfectly chiseled face, it might not be the person I get to meet in the afterlife. What if I walk up to the gates of heaven and see a long line and sit down on a cloud and then start shooting the breeze with a stranger taking a smoke (smoking is forbidden in Heaven – don’t you know that?), then the stranger walks back inside the employee’s gate without having to slide his ID card through the gate-key and then I find out that that was Jesus (for Christ’s sake!). And then I have to go through St. Peter’s gate and metal detector. What if Jesus talks about my contempt for organized religion? What if my name magically appears on a “do not admit” list? All this because I did not know what J.C. looked like?

Of course anybody might get the boss’s son wrong in a line up but what if I encountered God up there or even down here.

There is this concept of a “personal God” I have heard about for many years and I never looked up the definition because I thought I knew what it meant. The definition is something like giving human attributes to a non-human entity. It is not unlike making cartoon characters and giving them animation and voices and well you can fathom what I am talking about.

I always thought that a personal God was the person, God, I was talking to inside of me when debating the direction of my moral compass. Heresy you say. Well let me say this. There is an awful lot of money and power out there in the name of the creator of the universe. There is not a lot of heart among the bureaucrats feeding off the good life in God’s name. I think I can at least trust the good inside of me and not the wolves in sheep’s clothing out there.

Going back to something I have probably said before, faith in somebody else’s faith is extraordinary faith indeed. I may be standing alone on a street corner so to speak in my quest for spirituality in a very non-spiritual materialistic world. The organized meal-ticket christians may sneer at me but do you know what?

The divine spark within me is lot more comfortable and real than the whole cacophony of religions today. I may only have my own faith in what I perceive to be the divine things of this world. I am not worshipping the personal Gods and obsolete insights of long dead prophets, biblical kings and saints.

I know what God looks like. He, or she if you prefer, looks a little like every one of us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What If Simple Prayer Departs? (with the Death of the Whales)

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What if simple prayer departs?
(with the death of the whales)

What if -
the largest creatures left
in the sea, in the sea
disappear for the sake
of imagined enemies?
Sonar, Sonar,
Ping, Ping,
Bang?
-
What if -
the sound of the large creatures
makes a heavenly noise
that only God hears first
coming from the planet?
Prayer to you. Prayer to you.
Thou whom are greater
than me.
-
What if -
the survivor of the Age of Saurs
the little mammal rodent
and now a monkey king
forgets or does not know
a similar sweet sound
to offer the great figure
in the sky?
-
What if -
monkey prayers are mixed
with the mighty whales'
and when the whale departs
forever - sounds to heaven
will be drowned out as
in silence and heard
no more above?
-
What if -
the great fathers of justice
slam the door on the whales
and the upward spiral
of thought, prayer, being -
slam the door shut on
the beauty of possibilities?
Slam!
-
What if -
the whales appeal
and the monkey fathers
shout "Get over it!"
your day has passed
is not important
in the present monkey
scheme of things?
-
What if -
one last whisper goes up
and is not heard.
But God to his assistant says.
"Funny I thought I heard
what once sounded like Saurs
at play and in prayer
to me?"
-
What if -
yesterday - 65 million years
turns full circle?
What is left to master?
And perhaps the monkeys
will finally learn to sing,
to swim - in the sea -
again?
-
(This in order to re-establish a balance
- and to be truly heard above again?)

Monday, November 10, 2008

American Fear, Hate and Jesus' Love


There is an awful lot of friction in California and Utah over Proposition 8 which was a referendum on the concept of Gay Marriage.

I personally do not see the need for marriage for gay people but if two consenting adults want to be bound in the traditional marriage contract, well, it is uncomfortable to me at first and over time I guess I will get over it. The future has arrived. Hey, was getting over slavery a hundred years ago anything like this?

The Mormons and their giant Joseph Smith cult that hid out in the wilderness until civilization reached them in that wilderness; it saw Jesus in it's own particular light and interpretation. They were pretty much your average fanatical fringe christian religious group that also practiced polygamy.

The polygamy started in time of war when troop numbers were down so why not get more bang and soldier for the buck. Same thing happened in Islam in the beginning. The temporary need to produce safety in numbers never quite got wiped off the books.

The Mormons of course had to officially renounce polygamy to get U.S. Statehood in the 1890’s but it still is practiced by many to this day off the books so to speak. I don’t see any referendums on getting rid of the last vestiges of the medieval concept of polygamy. Which leads to the cliche about people in glass houses throwing bricks at their neighbors.

Well the Mormons have got a holier than thou bug up their ass and who have this peculiar thing about sex and marriage and whatever - spent $18,000,000, 4 out of every 5 dollars spend on promoting or opposing this California Gay Marriage thing.

The Gays are protesting all around California and in Salt Lake City. Now I see from today's news that Gay Protestors have also picketed the mini-pope Rick Warren’s mega church and their opposition to this minority seeking basic civil and human rights.

Jesus did not hate the people and the amazing thing about the four Gospels with all the hands and committees that touched the official propaganda story of Jesus - Jesus the man, Jesus the mensch never condemned homosexuality.

Enough said.

Jesus loves!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

All Beliefs are Local


I go back to a discussion I had some years ago about Christianity in it’s alphabet soup days and the sacred text “Acts of the Apostles” with a friend – not a scholar – he had mentioned how Christianity has splintered from the beginning and going all the way to the present.

I suddenly see his point as I look at least at the American point of view. Many splinter groups call themselves “Christian” – cling to obscure passages and interpretations of sacred text and well – Alphabet Soup Christianity is the best you get some days – most places - these days. The only glue holding the old Chi-Ro thing together is perhaps the ancient Constantine creeds.

If I had to categorize Christianity today, perhaps it could be as a multicolored beach ball bouncing around here and there. It is a franchise product so to speak and marketed differently from country to country and within countries as well. When I hear the term Christian I have to be wary and recognize that a one size fits all bill on the protestant side of the equation is not much different than the catholic equation fitting into every culture as best it can and absorbing local pagan customs and turning local deities into born again saints.

I choose to paraphrase the late Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Thomas “Tip” O’Neill. His assertion was that “All politics is local”. So too I see that all beliefs systems are local as well. You believe what you feel comfortable with to yourself, with your family and within your community, culture, region, country. “Paris is worth a Mass” Henry IV said when he renounced his protestant beliefs in order to ascend the catholic throne of France.

In that light, many variations of Christianity exist all over this planet. Whether the message of Jesus in the Gospels is taught correctly, or is PC or relevant to social norms is another matter entirely. That the American Catholic Church in perhaps too much zeal, to make brownie points, to conform to Vatican policies in the sixties turned off a whole generation of church goers with iron fist tactics. The response in Italy or France to the ideas of birth control were no doubt dealt with and received differently by the local community.

In any case, the secular world is of primary purpose and dominant to many westerners today more so than any ancient sacred concepts of world order.

The multi colored beach ball is as good as any metaphor beyond the traditional cross to describe the ever rich but still alphabet soup of Christian beliefs and scholarship.
Maybe this is a good thing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Man Jesus

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I think that a certain theme has developed in this blog as time goes on, as I examine or question all the many aspects of the Christian faith in a lifetime that has seen many changes and great upheavals.

I do go back to the basic Jesus, the community organizer. That title “community organizer” was a term sneered at by “me christians” at the Republican Convention in ironically the city of Saint Paul in Minnesota in early September.

What I have learned over the years and or felt important is the concept of empathy in the gospels telling the story of Jesus and his ministry. I think that the true christianity of this or any age should be that of “we christians”. Empathy is not specifically mentioned in the gospels but implied with the concept of love thy neighbor or going the extra mile so to speak.

There is a whole bunch of cultists out there that believe in some “kool-aid christianity” and believe in some rapture and escape from reality at the end of a world that they do not like or cannot handle living in on a day to day basis.

The real christians, the real people of God, who believe in one God and try to live a decent life within the context of a greater community are down here on the ground and not up in the air with any fantasy Jesus or strange prophesies in the questionable last book of General Constantine’s approved testament.

Getting back to community and community organizing is the hint in the gospels that Jesus was more feared not as the son of God but as being capable to overthrowing the dictatorship of pagan Rome by inspiring and inciting the masses to secular justice. Jesus had a divine mission and God was, is, the author of that mission on Earth.

In that context, Jesus, the man who would be messiah or savior or deliverer of an oppressed people, he started the spark of present Western Civilization whereby the individual, with a soul and worthy of dignity, is the most important part of any political, religious, economic or moral equations.

Of course, Greece had its democracy of elites. Jesus was, is and will always be the basis of hope and human dignity, the spokesman and soul for all people and all times. He is truly the alpha and omega, first and last and one of the people always.

Get out today and vote with your conscience.

God bless our democracy!
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Monday, November 3, 2008

In Search of Jesus


In one of those rare moments of coincidence, I ran into an old copy of U.S. News and World Report April 1996 in the laundry room of my apartment complex about a month ago. The title of the magazine was In search of Jesus.

A great deal of the article had to do with the Jesus Seminar, a group of christian scholars who with their various historic research and linguistics decided by committee vote what parts of the New Testament seem more valid than others.

If you in fact get some new bible and words in red denote the words of Jesus you probably have this professional elitist meal ticket christian enterprise to thank.

It is quite easy to dissect the faith. I have done it here and as a hobby for many years. I want to know the basic Jesus. I try to live the simple Christian message.

What irks me most about finding this magazine is how it got published and how only a few elite made a significant mark on modern cultural society and then blended back into the academic woodwork. That I on my own personal journey was perhaps mirroring some clues spewing out of the Jung’s cosmic unconsciousness related to the same subject.

What irks me is that as an elder in a Lutheran church, over a decade ago, I mentioned to the Pastor how I had read something in the past about this red balling and black balling of the so called words of Jesus. He did not throw any crumbs back to this dog in any part of the dialogue as if he was ignorant of the Jesus Seminar. He was not. I did not have a collar and was not part of the comfy smug club member’s only section of elites in the Christian church.

Well so much for elitism. I believe there is a job application out there on the Internet if you want to join the Jesus Seminar to add prestige to your scholarship and resume. First question is how many PhDs you have and in what areas are they in. That leaves me out in the cold for that job. Of course it may not pay anything to speak of. It is the prestige.

Why if you can chop the Lord’s prayer into three or four iffy segments of who was likely to have said this or said that – isn’t the Jesus Seminar more an autopsy of the Constantine Christian church and if so – why are some of you elitist ministers attached to this project – why haven’t you taken your collars off if all that is left of Christianity is you and your sterile academic input? Salaries and pensions would seem more valuable than the simple words, message and heart of Jesus’ ministry of so long ago.

Where is your faith?
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