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Plato's Cave - The Orlando Philosophy Meetup Group Message Board › Faith and Philosophy

Faith and Philosophy

Ben Forbes G.
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 233
Apparently there is so much sexism in the New Testament it can't even fit on one meetup post...

  • Acts:
  • Peter and God scare Ananias and his wife to death for not forking over all of the money that they made when selling their land. 5:1-10
  • If you "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," then you and your whole family (including your wife, of course) will be saved. 16:31
  • A jailer was so impressed with a holy jailbreak that he converted on the spot. He an his entire family were baptized that night. It didn't matter to Paul (or God) what the jailer's wife and kids thought about it. They were "his" so he could do whatever the hell he wanted with (or to) them. 16:33
  • Romans:
  • Paul explains that "the natural use" of women is to act as sexual objects for the pleasure of men. 1:27
  • First Corinthians:
  • Paul would prefer that no one marry. but he says "to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife." 7:1-2
  • "Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife." 7:27
  • Paul says "the head of the woman is the man," meaning that women are to be subordinate to men. 11:3
  • If a woman refuses to cover her head in church, then her her head must be shaved. 11:5-6
  • "A man ... is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man." 11:7
  • "For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man." 11:8
  • "Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." 11:9
  • Every women should have power on her head because of the angels. 11:10
  • "Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?" 11:13
  • Women are commanded by Paul to be silent in church and to be obedient to men. He further says that "if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in church." 14:34-35
  • Ephesians:
  • Wives must submit to their husbands "in every thing" as though they were Christ. "For the husband is the head of the wife." 5:22-24
  • Wives must reverence their husband. 5:33
  • Colossians:
  • Wives, according to Paul, must submit themselves to their husbands. 3:18
  • First Thessalonians:
  • Every man should know how to possess his penis or his wife (depending on the translation) in a holy way. 4:4
  • First Timothy:
  • Women are to dress modestly, "with shamefacedness" -- "not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array." 2:9
  • "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." 2:11-12
  • Men are superior to women since Adam was made before, and sinned after, Eve. But even though women are inferior to men, they shouldn't be discouraged because they shall "be saved in childbearing." 2:14-15
    "A bishop must be... the husband of one wife." Apparently, it's OK for laymen to have several. 3:2

Honoring widows: First Timothy 5:3-10
You should help a widow only if she:

Has no children or nephews
Is desolate, trusts in God, and prays all the time
Is not living in pleasure (a widow living in pleasure is the living dead)
Is over 60 years old
Had only one husband
Has raised children
Has lodged strangers
Has washed the saints' feet
Has relieved the afflicted
Has diligently followed every good work
Never help a young widow (one under 60 years old). When they wax wanton against Christ, they'll get married, and be damned to hell for rejecting their faith. Besides, young widows are idle busybodies, wandering around from house to house saying things they shouldn't say. They should get married and have children (though they'll be damned to hell for it). Heck, some of them have already turned aside after Satan. (First Timothy 5:11-15)

  • Second Timothy:
  • In the last days, "silly women" who are "ever learning" will be "led away with divers lusts." 3:6-7
  • Titus:
  • A bishop should have only one wife. I guess it's OK for laymen to have several. 1:6-7
  • "Teach the young women to be... obedient to their own husbands." 2:4-5
  • First Peter:
  • Peter orders all wives to be "in subjection" to their husbands. 3:1
  • Wives are to use "chaste conversation, coupled with fear." They are not to braid their hair, wear gold, or put on any "apparel." They are to do these things in imitation of the "holy" women of the Old testament who were "in subjection to their won husbands: even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord." 3:2-6
  • In relation to her husband, the wife is "the weaker vessel." 3:7
  • Second Peter:
  • Lot, who in Gen.19:8 offers his two virgin daughters to a crowd of angel rapers and later (19:30-38) impregnates them, was a "righteous man." 2:8
  • First John:
  • John writes to the men (fathers) only. Women (mothers?) are not important enough to address. 2:13-14
  • Revelation:
  • Jezebel (whom God had thrown off a wall, trampled by horses, and eaten by dogs [2 Kg. 9:33-37]) is further reviled by John, saying "that woman Jezebel" taught and seduced God's "servants to commit fornication." 2:20
  • Jesus will "cast her [Jezebel] into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her." 2:22
  • Only 144,000 celibate men will be saved. (Those who were not "defiled with women.") 14:1-4
  • Drinking the wine of her fornication. 14:8
  • The great whore has "committed fornication" with all the kings on earth. Everyone else is "drunk with the wine of her fornication." She sits on a scarlet colored beast with the usual 7 heads and 10 horns. She carries a cup full of the "filthiness of her abominations" and has a big sign on her forehead saying: "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth." You'll know her when you see her. 17:1-5
  • "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs." 17:6
  • "All nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her." 18:3
  • The "great whore" corrupted the earth with her fornication. 19:2

Oh, and (by the way) these are just focused on sexism and women, and probably not even close to all the sexism in the New Testament -- and don't even get me started on the Old Testament... My point is that this just scratches the surface of the multifarious great evils that can be found THROUGHOUT the Bible; moreover, there are many other categories of malice and prejudice one could easily explore.

Anyway, suffice it to say that no possible sophistry on the part of Christian apologists can convince me that many, if any, of the passages I just paraphrased, quoted, or cited belong in any book that could possibly claim to be "holy" or act as a "spiritual guide" to a healthy, progressive, wise, and modern lifestyle complete with gender-equality. Honestly, I fail to fathom how thoughtful and conscientious Christians can possibly remain Christians if they actually read their own barbaric and deplorable "holy" book.
A former member
Post #: 239
If I understand the gist of your point I believe Derik Hamby's response to the question Does the Bible Hate Women?is a start. Further commentary can be shared with respect to each passage referenced, however most biblical scholars will point out, one has to ask himself, am I reading this in context of the culture and the meaning of the words in that time? My same pastor passed on the following commentary, which I am passing on you now:

Mark 3:31-34: Jesus shows disrespect for his mother and family by asking, "Who is my mother, or my brethren?" when he is told that his family wants to speak with him.

Here’s the commentary:
THE CONDITIONS OF KINSHIP Mark 3:31–5 His mother and his brothers came. They stood outside and sent someone in with a message to him. The crowd were sitting round him. ‘Look!’ they said, ‘your mother and your brothers are outside inquiring for you.’ ‘Who’, he answered, ‘is my mother and my brothers?’ He looked round those who were sitting in a circle round about him. ‘Look!’ he said, ‘my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will, he is my brother, my sister and my mother.’ HERE Jesus lays down the conditions of true kinship. It is not solely a matter of flesh and blood. It is possible to be much nearer to someone who is no blood relation at all than to those who are bound to us by the closest ties of kin and blood. Wherein lies this true kinship? (1) True kinship lies in a common experience, especially when it is an experience where two people have really come through things together. It has been said that two people really become friends when they are able to say to each other, ‘Do you remember?’ and then to go on and talk about the things they have come through together. Someone once met an old woman. An acquaintance of hers had died. ‘You will be sorry’, he said, ‘that Mrs So-and-so is dead.’ ‘Yes,’ she said, but without showing any great grief. ‘I saw you just last week,’ he said, ‘laughing and talking with each other. You must have been great friends.’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I was friendly with her. I used to laugh with her; but to be real friends folks have got to weep together.’ That is profoundly true. The basis of true kinship lies in a common experience, and Christians have the common experience of being forgiven sinners. (2) True kinship lies in a common interest. The ecumenical activist A. M. Chirgwin tells us a very interesting thing in The Bible in World Evangelism. One of the greatest difficulties that booksellers and distributors of the Scriptures have is not so much to sell their books as to keep people reading them. He goes on, ‘A colporteur [bookseller] in pre-Communist China had for years been in the habit of going from shop to shop and house to house. But he was often disappointed because many of his new Bible readers lost their zeal, until he hit upon the plan of putting them in touch with one another and forming them into a worshipping group which in time became a duly organized Church.’ Only when these isolated units became part of a group which was bound together by a common interest did real kinship come into being. Christians have that common interest because they are all people who desire to know more about Jesus Christ. (3) True kinship lies in a common obedience. The disciples were a very mixed group. All kinds of beliefs and opinions were mixed up among them. A tax-collector like Matthew and a fanatical nationalist like Simon the Zealot ought to have hated each other like poison and no doubt at one time did. But they were bound together because both had accepted Jesus Christ as Master and Lord. Any platoon of soldiers will be made up of men from different backgrounds and from different walks of life and holding very different opinions: yet, if they are long enough together, they will be welded into a band of comrades because of the common obedience which they all share. Those who share a common leader can become friends. We can love each other only when we all love Jesus Christ. (4) True kinship lies in a common goal. There is nothing for binding people together like a common aim. Here there is a great lesson for the Church. A. M. Chirgwin, talking of renewed interest in the Bible, asks, does this ‘point to the possibility of a new approach to the ecumenical problem based on biblical rather than on ecclesiastical considerations’? The churches will never draw together so long as they argue about the ordination of their ministers, the form of church government, the administration of the sacraments and all the rest of it. The one thing on which they can all come together is the fact that all of them are seeking to win men and women for Jesus Christ. If kinship comes from a common goal then Christians above all others possess its secret, for all are seeking to know Christ better and to bring people within his kingdom. Wherever else we differ, on that we can agree.

Barclay, William (2010-11-05). The Gospel of Mark (The New Daily Study Bible) (pp. 93-94). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
Ben Forbes G.
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 234
Derik Hamby's and William Barclay's responses are vacuous sophistry, which is the only possible "response" if one wishes to make apologetics in attempt to excuse (or explain away and dismiss) the bulk of such an abhorrent and outdated scripture as the Bible...

Anyway, I notice you picked one of the least sexist quotes I mentioned to respond to, probably because the majority of the quotes I posted are absolutely indefensible attitudes for any ethical, progressive, modern person... The Bible is unequivocally (explicitly and literally), thoroughly, and inexcusably misogynistic — and, to the extent that many modern Christians (to their credit) are not, they must either ignore or reject the parts of their purportedly "holy" and "divinely inspired" book that absolutely are. There is simply no getting around this unless one were to rewrite — (or lobotomize) the Bible. Also, William Barclay equivocating and essentially giving a pass to religious organizations that do not ordain women is indefensible for anyone who truly believes in gender equality (churches absolutely should argue about this and it is a serious issue not to be dismissed).

Regardless, even a favorable reading of the quote you chose to discuss does show that Jesus values strangers at least as much as his family; and, while philanthropy — and even selfless "agape" — can be extremely noble and admirable (especially if given freely rather than used as enticement for suffering people to accept whatever religious fallacies are being proselytized in conjunction with actual aid), it is misguided (if not sexist in this case) for Jesus to deny that close family does (and ought) to have a special importance to each of us. Indeed, I would even go so far as to call one's priorities probably unhealthy if one is more focused on a "spiritual family" than on one's biological family (that is, fundamentalist zealots as parents can do irreparable harm and cause much trauma to their biological families).

Moreover, if one voluntarily chooses to use a book of dubious authenticity that passed through the scriptorium era for hundreds of years, several translations, and was compiled and recompiled over time from thousands of fragmentary copies like several thousand distorted games of "telephone" as a serious guide to life in modern times, then one certainly ought to ask oneself some pointed questions about the culture and the meaning of the words in that time! And the answers one should come away with is that it was a primitive, barbaric, misogynistic, and genocidal culture — not a "chosen" or special people. Mosaic law as well as New Testament teachings belong in history, unfortunately remain prominent at present, and I can only hope will be largely forgotten in the future.

"True kinship" does NOT lie in common obedience (and certainly not to a magical savior cult), it lies in loving one's family, working for the betterment of humankind (which should be our common cause), and out of simple empathy and compassion — NOT in submitting to a cruel and capricious sky father (or his messianic "son") out of fear or false hope (or both). Common experience building "familial" bonds through enduring hardship is one thing (and very real), but the Christian concept of sin is out of control and ethically flawed. Authority should be questioned, and biblical "authority" should be rejected...

Jairo M.
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 1,304
No wonder the Catholic Church didn't want its sheep to get a hold of the Bible for the longest time. Then came Martin Luther, and he allowed everyone to read it, and that was the beginning of the end of Christianity.

Okay, so I grant you that there is much sexism in the Bible. But maybe it was just a reflection of the societies from where the books in the Bible come from. I have a theory as to why such societies needed to be sexist. And it is partly an offshoot to the theory submitted by Jon Holman. Jon presented us with the thought experiment of where there are four types of societies and which society would succeed in conquering the heart of the Island, for survival. The four types represent the four possible combinations of how men and women should relate, their sex roles. It so happens that the most successful society has to be sexist. This is because the others will ruin their chances of effectively fighting and conquering the others. Therefore, the success of the Hebrew tribes depended on them being sexist. And I suspect that the peoples they conquered were conquerable because they were not as sexist. And I also suspect that the peoples we (European whites) conquered were not as sexist. Not as sexist also means that they would allow Goddesses in their religions. Note that the Christian religion (as represented in the Bible) has no Goddesses (except for the Virgin Mary which is popular with poor Indian (or mixed) folks in Mexico, perhaps it makes them easier for the pure whites to rule over. Note also that the conquering whites teach their sexist religions to the conquered in order to make them easier to rule. But in order to do so, they incorporate some of the pagan native rituals into the new religion, that's why we have pagan origins in the Christian Christmas celebration. And these pagan rituals come from peoples who were relatively more non-sexist than the conquerors. The conquered generally had Goddess worship. The conquering insisted that there is only one God, and he is male and war-like. Native Americans and others of other lands talk about the father in the sky and the mother earth, and that makes more sense. That instilled respect towards the earth.

But another problem with the religions is that they may cause division between us and them. Even though there are efforts in the New Testament to turn the other cheek and to act like the Good Samaritan and to look outside the family, the Bible is still going to insist on being tribal and suspicious of other tribes (and other nations). At the same time, big organized international religions (almost corporations), such as Catholicism, transcend national boundaries, peoples, cultures, and languages, so that force may be countering nationalism and may help in bringing about unity and peace between peoples and nations.

The understanding of the fraternity and equality of all people becomes more and more popular among mankind.

Do we understand our spiritual fraternity? Do we understand that we originated from one divine Father whose image we carry in ourselves and for whose perfection we strive? Have we accepted that there is the same divine life in all people, as well as in ourselves? And that this makes a natural and free bond among people?

--- William Ellery Channing

We can love neither those whom we fear nor those who fear us.

--- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Let's learn to love our enemies. Perhaps we could visit their churches, celebrate their holy days, and eventually participate in their rituals, but learn the meaning of the rituals.

Family and motherland are but two circles that are part of the wider circle that is humanity. Those who teach morality and who limit one's duty only to family and country teach a selfishness which is dangerous for all of us.

The understanding of one's unity with all of humanity comes from the understanding of the divine beginning in us all, and gives all our greatest good. True religion creates this understanding, and different prejudices interfere with it --- prejudice of state, nation, and class.

--- Leo Tolstoy



A former member
Post #: 240

    In the end I suppose it all comes down to fulfilling mitzvah.

Thank you as ever for the Cicero, Channing and Tolstoy Jairo.
Jairo M.
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 1,307
There is also some apparent sexism in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Now I am no authority on these, but allow me to pull out a few instances that has made me wonder. Still, it can be something cultural and may have its practical reasons.

Sexism in Hinduism (actually I shouldn't use the word "Hinduism", the Hindus don't like it, it is a Western label, Hindus prefer to call their religion(s) Sanatana Dharma which means Eternal Law): There was a law in place whereby the widow had to be killed as soon as the husband died. This may sound like an apology for it, but it has practical roots. At one time it was found out that the women were murdering their husbands [perhaps through their cooking?], so one solution was to approve (and even institute in the religious codes) that the widow be killed. This in effect put an end to the thought of a wife thinking about killing the husband.

Sexism in Buddhism: The Buddha (Shakyamuni (Siddhartha Gautama)), founder of Buddhism, for the longest time refused his step mother and other women (including his ex-wife) who desired to become nuns from joining him as a monastic. So monasticism was only allowed for monks. Now I suspect that the reason was that the Buddha foresaw management problems with thousands of monks and a few nuns. Eventually within his lifetime he allowed nuns to form. He gave the monks some 250 rules and the nuns got that and several dozen more. But the rules didn't happen all at once, he came up with them naturally as needed, but today the monastics are stuck with them by tradition, but they don't necessarily follow them because they were designed for people of India at that time several centuries before Christ.

The religion of Buddhism continued to believe that it was impossible for Buddhahood to be achieved within the life form of a woman, you had to be reborn as a man to attain enlightenment. However there are stories of women who have achieved enlightenment in their life as woman. One is the Buddha Tara who before attaining enlightenment promised that she would continue to take rebirth as a woman until attaining enlightenment.

Now as for Islam, I only consider the small case of women in Afghanistan and how the taliban have subjected and have them totally covered and not allowed education. Now I am not apologising for them, but I do suspect a practical reason for this behavior. In order for those people to survive, faced with superpowers constantly trying to tame them, they have resorted to the traditional religious laws which are apparently sexist. But this serves a practical purpose that it allows for more efficient production of boys for their military and defense, and it puts their women in that passive role, so that the boys can get on with the martial activities. Covering them up makes them more manageable and keeps them from having to deal with the problems of divorce. I don't claim to be able to back this theory, but I only suspect that there may be such practical reasons. Obviously you won't find such laws being applied in regions such as Turkey or Indonesia which are relatively more prosperous, well organized and governed, and in peace for long periods of time. But I am only making assumptions and guesses that I have not taken the time to verify.

So I think that sexism decreases as the economy, education, and peace of a region decrease, and religious peoples are able or should be able to overlook the ancient sacred writings and conclude that the old rules don't apply to us. The people's religions and the religious people should be flexible enough to evolve and adapt to the circumstances. And it is evident in Christianity. When Moses was around, he taught and instituted an eye for an eye, because before it was death for an eye. Then Jesus came around and taught that we should "turn the other cheek" or not over-react with vegeance when somebody takes our eye out, because taking an eye for an eye only makes things worse, it leaves two people blind. Still we continue to over-react, and so when we got hit with 9/11 we went crazy and started the war on terrorism and took it out on Islam, Saddam Hussein, Iraq, the Iraquis, the Taliban, and now we can't stop our addiction so we must go after Iran. So much for following the principles of Jesus and calling ourselves [the US nation] Christians.

[continued in next reply]
Jairo M.
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 1,308
So let's not blame sexism and the likes on religion, but rather on the climate and culture and economics of the peoples practicing religions (or not practicing any religions at all). Religious traditions may appear sexist and misogynist at times, but it is not the essential function of religions to produce sexism. It should rather be that the function and purpose of religion is to free us from sexism and the likes. Or at least that is what I wish that religions do.

So in this thread on Faith and Philosophy, let's reconsider our faith in religions, let's seek the best in religions. Accentuate the positive (in religions) and eliminate the negative. Or at least find what causes the negative effects.

One of the worst prejudices known is held by the majority of the so-called scholars of our time, who claim that a person can live without faith [and the faiths of religions].

Throughout the centuries, in every age, people have wanted to know or at least have a vague idea about the source, the beginning, and the final purpose of their existence. Religion satisfies this requirement, and makes clear those connections which unite all people as brothers, revealing to them that they have the same source of origion, the same task for their lives, and the same general final goal.
--- Giuseppe Mazzini

Perhaps Science should be an arm of religion. Science should not necessarily be considered the most reasonable explanatory power, and religion should not be viewed as a competing explanatory source that is out of date. Science should instead be a method for gathering data to help explain and back up theories, but should then not be used to replace religion just because you don't like the rules of religion and wish to discredit religions. Religions should embrace the sciences and change its views as science improves the evidence and come ups with more practical theories. And there is historical evidence that religions have sponsored the sciences and scientists and that many great scientists were religious or held religious beliefs and viewpoints. And the Catholic institution does and has seemed to sponsor scientific exploration. "The role of Catholic Church, throughout history, has therefore led to progress of science and intuitive reasoning. [Wikipedia Catholic Church and science]" Perhaps we can debate about that under the thread "On Science" that I started.

Leo Tolstoy gathered the following thoughts and quotes [in A Calendar of Wisdom, for January 2]:

The essential meaning of religon is to answer the question "Why do I live, and what is my attituted to the limitless world which surrounds me?" There is not a single religion, from the most sophisticated to the most primitive, which does not have as its basis the definition of this attitude of a person to the world.

At the heart of all religions lies a single unifying truth. Let Persians bear their taovids, Jews wear their caps, Christians bear their cross, Muslims bear their sickle moon, but we have to remember that these are all only outer signs. The general essence of all religions is love to your neighbor, and that this is requested by Manuf, Zoroaster, Buddha, Moses, Socrates, Jesus, Saint Paul, and Mohammed alike.
--- Ewald Flugel

Now I am not attempting to apologise for the sexism and misogyny [and anti-feminism] in religions, but I am wondering if it is not an essential function of survival of cultures independent of the objectives of religions. In other words, the roles of men and women in a society are the way they are because it works best for that society at that time, and religious leaders may use religion to give the reasons and the laws to carry them out, but they do it only for the survival of the society.

Now wait! Let's run a thought experiment. Let's assume we are able to go back in time and to a culture that is extremely sexist and misogynist. And let's assume that you are a man of the 21st century going back to some "backward" culture some time ago, and you are able to immediately fall in place with that culture as a man of that society [by way of taking over the body of a married man of that society while still being able to speak their language], but that you have the mindset of the 21st century of enlightenment and humanism and that you carry in your mindstream the notion and viewpoint that sexism and misogyny is bad for society. Now how would you go about changing that society to your enlightened view? How do you suddenly treat your wife differently and allow her to dress more modernly and less modestly and allow her to pursue educational goals in a society where that is not evident? That would make for an interesting sitcom.

Now consider the sexism in sitcoms such as Three's Company, I Dream of Jeannie, and others from early TV days. Consider the sitcom "I Love Lucy": Lucy is quite an out-of-the-box creative thinker and often getting herself and her friend Edith in trouble because of her desires to make changes in her life. I suppose at the time, these shows were not considered sexist but instead were pushing the boundary. But now if you look at them, you may see them as sexist and old fashioned or innocent. But one thing is for sure, they weren't based on any strict following of the Bible, even though the society may be based on the Bible, but the people themselves weren't fanatical about following the Bible, so you can't say that their sexism is due directly to reading the Bible. I thnk society is sexist in spite of the Bible or whatever religions the mainstream society follows. It has more to do with traditions and economics than the core teachings of the religion or of the strict following of their scriptures, although the scriptures may be used by leaders for sexist purposes.

Sexism in religions and sitcoms could make for an interesting meetup.

Jairo M.
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 1,309
The Life of a person without faith is the life of an animal.
--- Leo Tolstoy [from a book "A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World's Sacred Texts by Leo Tolstoy" Translated from the Russian by Peter Sekirin.]

That was one of the thoughts for the day January 2.

May you have faith in your Higher [Ideal] Self,

Jairo M.
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 1,310
science without religion is lame, and religion without science is blind.
--- albert einstein
A former member
Post #: 246
By your argument Ben, anything written before January 3, 2012 is outdated, and therefore should not be considered; this of course includes every text by which you make your living. Your unspoken argument seems to be one of mode. And of which again and again you appear to be taking some old thing of religion and set it beside some new thing of science so as to say, see isn't it obvious in every case, how the new is better? Well Christ gave illustration to this when he spoke of old and new wine, and old and new wineskins. Jesus said drink wine. What is often missed is that when he said this, he spoke of new wine.
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