Jesonian … January 27th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3565)

Considering what a contrarian Jesus of Nazareth was to structure, practices, piety and legalism, it is sometimes difficult to understand how he ended up bleeding out a religion.

It’s not just his own words, which abhor the strict nature of religiosity, but also the reaction of those who were the faithful partakers–how they deemed him ignorant, a drunkard, a glutton, an evil man who was demon possessed, and a friend of sinners.

Not a rousing recommendation.

Let us start on the basis that all religions have one similar goal–to promote the notion that there is some sort of Supreme Being(s) or enlightenment which prompts us to worship.

Also, when you put the religions of the world in the order of their inception, you gain an interesting insight.

Buddhism and Hinduism preceded Christ, as did Judaism. Then came Jesus. But the only religion that had the benefit of eyeballing the fallacies of following faith without rhyme and reason was Mohammed. Yet the Muslim faith is riddled with the misleading trap doors that open up to fanaticism.

What is the difference between Jesus and Mohammed?

Mohammed wanted to start a cliqué.  Jesus was avoiding one.

Let’s look at specifics.

When it comes to the basics of spiritual expression–prayer–Jesus constantly warned his followers to make their overtures to God as practical and personal as possible. He said that prayer was necessary but should never be done in public to be seen by others, using vain repetition, or at a wailing wall or on a rug, but instead initiated behind a closed closet door.

When the subject of fasting came up, Jesus said there was nothing wrong with it as long as nobody knew you were doing it. In other words, put on a happy face, wash up and look energized by the experience instead of depleted.

How about worship? When he talked to the woman at the well, she was worried about where to do it and the style of doing it. Just like today–should it be contemporary or traditional? Jesus pointedly informed her that location and style were irrelevant. Worship was to be unfolded “in spirit and in truth.”

Seems like we’re on a roll. How about giving? Jesus claimed that giving was the key to getting. He once again wanted to make sure that generosity was not expressed to impress others, but instead, to instill in our hearts the knowledge that every little bit helps, and someday those we assist might come back our way and be our angels of blessing.

And then there’s the Law. Judaism and the Muslims are intent on maintaining a code of ethics, conduct and social interaction that was conceived more than two thousand years ago, with no respect for the power of freedom and the necessity of evolution.

For you see, Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the Law. And what is that fulfillment? Two fold: “He has come to give us life and it more abundantly, and also come that our joy might be full.”

By no means should we condemn or even critique those of the Muslim faith for adhering to their rendition of God. But we must question whether the faith that is promoted has sufficient warnings to scare away all the rascals, fanatics and self-righteous rabble which can try to hurt others by using the words of the Prophets.

  • Jesus told his disciples to worship God by being as normal as possible.
  • He told them to blend in.
  • He told them to honor Caesar instead of hating Caesar.
  • He told them they were the light of the world, not the scourge of the Earth.
  • And most of all, he told them that they had no right to judge. (He even sealed this point by saying that he–Jesus–could judge and it would be righteous and fair, but he refused to do so.)

Christianity works because we know how to isolate our idiots and make sure it’s clear that they are not really part of the faith.

The Muslims talk a big game, but after decades and decades of terrorism, they are still represented by those who kill women and children.

 

 

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Jesonian … December 9th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3516)

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To the classic question, “Were you born in a barn?” I can truthfully answer, “Matter of fact, I was.”

Although my good friends, Matthew and Luke, did a charming job relating the circumstances of my coming into this world, many layers and textures of the actual tale were left out in favor of a concise sharing, a Hollywood ending with all the participants–shepherds, wise men, angels and Holy Family–lined up in a row for a photo op.

Certainly beautiful and even miraculous, the actual unfoldings were different. I did not learn all the factors of my birth in Bethlehem until I was twelve years old. Mary and Joseph wisely chose to withhold some of the more frightening aspects of the experience from my ears until I was of an age when I could at least attempt comprehension.

But following a trip to Jerusalem, where I was particularly disobedient to them by chasing my curiosity instead of using my common sense, they sat down one night along the trail and spilled.

First, let’s understand that a young girl getting pregnant without a husband was always met with shunning or stoning. Mary’s simplicity and piety did not spare her from the wicked tongues of the gossips.

Joseph felt pressure. We’re told that an angel spoke to him, but Joseph never confirmed that with me. He said he was tortured in his dreams and finally realized that he loved my mother more than he wanted the approval of the town elders.
He did not need to make the journey to Bethlehem with Mary–he could have represented on his own to give the information about the taxes. He brought her because he was afraid to leave her alone.

So they made a fifteen day journey to a little town outside Jerusalem, which had no significance in their lives other than the fact that some “Great-Great Somebody” was born there and Joseph happened to be part of that clan.

When Mother and Father were unable to access lodging in the houses surrounding the town square, they quietly slipped into the stable, hoping not to be discovered. The innkeeper found them huddled in a corner among the animals, and when he saw that Mary was hopelessly pregnant, he chose to leave them alone rather than interfering.

They were stowaways in an animal shelter.

The birth was difficult because Mary was so small, weary from the journey–and both of them completely inexperienced with the process.

No shepherds arrived that first night. No angels sang. Nothing but grunting animals, relieved parents because the baby actually came out whole, and a chill in the air disguised by the heated odor of the stable’s occupants.

The next morning Joseph went to try to find food, and both of them realized there was no place for them to go. They would need to stay where they were for eight days to fulfill the Jewish law on circumcising the baby, so they remained as quiet as possible, hoping the innkeeper would leave them alone.

Three days passed with them scrounging for food, tucking themselves away in the farthest corner of the manger. It was on the fourth night that some shepherds did arrive. They looked perplexed, abashed and completely out of their element. They explained that they had been spoken to from the skies and told to come to find a baby in a stable.

It made no sense. Matter of fact, there was a sniff of alcohol on all three of them which hinted that the visit from heaven might have come from a flask. But Mary and Joseph listened politely, and it made for great conversation over the next few days while they waited for the circumcision.

Arriving at the temple on the eighth day, they were accosted by two very old, wild-eyed individuals–one man and one woman–who claimed the gift of prophecy. They told Mary and Joseph that the baby was going to be great and amazing. Even though Mary and Joseph wanted to believe the words, they feared the utterings were coming from dementia rather than another dimension.

Then things became really difficult. There was no need to go back to Nazareth. The presence of the baby would only increase the gossip.

So Joseph talked to the local carpenter and secured a single room in his home in exchange for work. The job included repair work, masonry and even some garbage collection.

They found contentment, until Joseph was awakened by an angel. (This time he really believed it was an angel.) He was told to leave Bethlehem to protect me from danger. When Joseph told me the story, he said it was the hardest decision he had ever made. It seemed illogical, for they had been in the carpenter’s home for a year-and-a-half and had found some peace of mind. Leaving seemed futile, if not insane.

Before departure could be executed, there was a visit from foreigners–those wise men mentioned in the Gospel story. They brought gifts. They inserted finance into a family that was about to be on the lam from the law. It was certainly timely.

The visitors explained about a star in the sky, but Mary and Joseph never really understood the significance, nor the tie-in.

During the journey to Egypt and the next six years of exile, I developed a separation anxiety. I just never felt part of anything. When Mary and Joseph started having other children, I didn’t feel like a brother. It was more like I was an intrusive uncle or a foster child.

This haunted me my whole life. I never felt quite secure with my surroundings. There were times I left the fellowship with my disciples to slip away and get my head straight, so I wouldn’t come off like a crazy man, nervous and frustrated.

Even though Egypt saved me from King Herod, the rejection hung in my mind throughout my life. I had to be careful not to get offended by the treatment I received. I learned mercy because I had no sense of mercy being given to me.

It became especially strong, and nearly violent in my soul, when Nazareth rejected my ministry, and then my mother and family thought I was crazy. I had to walk away from them.

You see, Christmas is a different tale to me.

It’s a story like many stories in the sense that God’s hand is not completely obvious in the moment, and is only unveiled through the endurance of his followers.

God picked the right pair. For if Mary had been prissy, Joseph would not have been able to manage without her. And if Joseph had been too conventional, Mary would never have been able to muster a companion. They needed each other.

Christmas is a miracle story–about God allowing people of faith to use their faith to do faithful things, to see their faith make things whole.

So Merry Christmas.

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 2)… July 8th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3362)

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If Jesus is God, He had a lot of things to say. But if God is Jesus, there’s just way too much material to sort through.

Perhaps that’s why the writer of the Book of Hebrews pointed out that “now God only speaks through Jesus.” No prophets of old. No patriarchs–just Jesus.

And one of the first things you’ll notice–Jesus wants to be known for his words. Matter of fact, he told his disciples if they loved him, they would follow his teachings.

Do we? Or have we placed Jesus in a position to perform a human sacrifice, and then only give a cursory study of his thoughts and wishes.

For the sake of brevity (and also because I know that the subject of religion cuts our attention span in half) let me tell you the three things Jesus wanted us to know as he came to speak the mind of God. I refer to these as the “more than likely” approach to life.

1. More than likely, God is a Father instead of a prick.

As a Father, He does not deny, condemn, criticize, destroy, rebuke or disown His children. He hangs in there with us like a good Daddy should.

2. More than likely, it’s my responsibility instead of yours.

If I’m going to wait for you to change, react, initiate or create, I’m going to be constantly upset and full of antagonism. Here is a brain-cleansing notion: if I take on more responsibility for what’s going on, I don’t have to complain about you.

3. More than likely, being kind is going to work out better than trying to be tough.

You may initially strike a pose of power by being vicious, angry or intimidating, but eventually you will come across someone who has perfected nastiness. Kindness, on the other hand, buys time and gives us a chance for circumstances to change instead of finding us over-reacting to the present moment’s threat.

The problem is, these three principles are not taught in the church.

We are much too busy trying to make Jesus fit with an Old Testament God, and therefore we rationalize chapter after chapter of Old Covenant, which has absolutely nothing to do with New Spirit. As Jesus so eloquently said, “You can’t put new wine into old wineskins.” In other words, trying to stuff the Christian mindset into an Old Testament cranium is going to fracture the skull.

But when you believe Jesus is God, you can begin to decipher the message of the Nazarene, who came as the “only begotten of the Father,” to tell us what more than likely will work.

Untrouble yourself on this one.

Jesus wants to be more than the Lamb of God.

He wants to be your life coach.

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Jesonian… April 15th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3277)

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A Saturday many, many years ago, the beaten, bruised and bloodied body of Jesus of Nazareth lay still in the darkness of a borrowed tomb, as his spirit communed with the angels and his mind reasoned over the unfoldings of a truly abundant life.

We are not privy to those thoughts.

Matter of fact, all we know of the life of Jesus comes from four major biographers who borrowed pieces from one another, and each, in his own way, had an agenda to offer insights to please his readers.

There is no autobiography.

So we aren’t sure of the emotion in the words attributed to him. Therefore theologians decipher and agnostics disembowel the remnants of the script left to us of this magnificent life.

Yet every once in a while, we get a deeper glimpse. Such is the case in Matthew the 23rd Chapter, Verse 37-38:

“Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Thou that killest the prophets and stone them which are sent unto you. How often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”

The great debate over the centuries has been whether Jesus was Jewish or whether he came, in a certain sense, to abolish Judaism in favor of the New Covenant.

If you study the writings of Martin Luther, you might begin to believe that the Great Reformer was anti-Semetic. Yet in many evangelical churches, there seems to be a return to Jewish traditions, including them with their Christian rituals.

What did Jesus feel about the Jews?

What was the heart of the matter?

First and foremost, you must understand, for Jesus to include Gentiles and Samaritans in his movement immediately made him an outcast from the Jewish religious community.

Matter of fact, the Jewish Council that condemned him to death granted him none of the courtesy that was normally extended to brethren.

The reality that Jesus did not believe that the Jews were special because they were the “children of Abraham,” but rather put forth the opinion that God “could take stones” and make offspring of Abe, certainly did not put him in favor with those of the Zionist profile.

Yet John tells us that he “came to his own and his own received him not.”

When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well, he did use the phrase “we Jews.” It is the only time he did, but he certainly had a kindness and favorability for those who lived in Judea and Galilee.

But Jesus was a man of vision–the Gospel would never reach China or the Native Americans if it were left in the hands of the Jews. The Jewish people had already aggravated the Romans to the point that the annihilation and dispersion of their kindred was inevitable, if not imminent. The Gospel would only survive in the hands of the Greeks and the Romans, who would take it to the rest of the world.

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that when the early church was trying to force Gentile converts to comply with Jewish practices, the former Pharisee condemned them and called them “Judaizers” for limiting the scope and power of the message.

In the two verses recited above, Jesus announces the fate of Judaism.

It is in a coma.

It is left desolate and abandoned.

It is awaiting a day when it can be awakened and all the promises given by the prophets can be fulfilled.

But for a season, it was set aside in favor of salvation and “loving your neighbor” being shared with the entire world.

Basically, if you want to sum up Jesus’ feelings on Judaism, it’s very simple: Jesus loves them.

He just does not believe they’re “chosen people.”

There are no chosen people–just people who choose well.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … January 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3177)

pohymn-come-and-hear

Come and Hear

Louder and louder the voices raise

Full of anger, absent praise

Once a plea for human reason

A desire for peace in its season

Has become a nasty mumble

A growl, grimace, rumble

Truth is lost in fiery debate

Souls are raw, feelings irate

Infected with the need to be right

Well prepared for a lingering fight

Twisting the logic to meet the need

Parsing the words of what we read

Gathering around our common fire

Warming comrades feeding our desire

Lost in defense, unable to repent

Ignoring the prophets mercy has sent

Self-assured in what we know

Stubbornly negating the way to grow

Ignorance is always much too sure

Promoting a promise but tainting the cure

It’s time for souls to sit and learn

Calm the rage, soothe the burn

Come and hear, you have an ear

And stay ’til love casts out all fear.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 15) The Word Went Forth… August 7th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

There was a pretty good crowd gathered.

Apparently in the midst of a whole lot of shuffling going on in Garsonville, some aces were being dealt in the direction of the church–new people, searching folk and “institutions” who had been around so long that they had streets named after them.

Meningsbee quickly introduced Kitty and Hapsy to one of the dear ladies of the church, who opened up her wing and pulled them close, sitting them on the fourth row next to her. Kitty looked frightened, but sufficiently worn out that she didn’t put up much of a fuss.

Meningsbee stopped worrying about his surprise visitors because he was so excited about today’s service.

He didn’t sing a hymn, figuring there was enough melody in his heart for the whole room, and he skipped the prayer, assuming the Heavenly Father fully knew his intentions.

“Okay, let’s get this rolling!” he said with the vigor of a football coach. “I’d like to invite up Number 1 and Number 2 of the pieces of paper I passed out last week.”

After a brief pause, Carl, one of the long-standing members, and Kimberly, a new mother, eased their way to the front and stood side-by-side.

“Well, since I have two, that must make you one,” said Carl with a wry smile.

Kimberly nodded, and shared, reading from her paper, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

She stopped.

Carl waited momentarily and then looked at the audience with a twinkle in his eye. “Well, I guess that’s all she’s got to say.”

He opened up his paper and read aloud, “My dear friends, we are not spiritual. We are just people, so stop trying to act like you’re angels.”

His delivery was perfect, because everybody burst out laughing. Carl looked over at Meningsbee, who had posted himself nearby at a grease board, magic marker in hand.

The good reverend wrote down, “Number 1.”

He turned to the congregation and said, “True words. So based upon what I’ve heard here, I would sum it up with this.”

He turned back to the grease board and wrote in big letters:

1. WE’RE HUMAN.

From over his shoulder he said, “I’ll take the next two.”

Up walked Dexter, about nineteen years of age, and Brian, maybe fifteen.

Dexter read, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Brian, confident that Dexter was finished, leaped in and added, “It won’t kill us to feel for other people.”

A few more giggles.

Meningsbee wrote down on his board:

2. WE CARE.

Monique, the church secretary and Mr. Jackson, Vice-President of the bank, offered:

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” and, “Don’t be in such a hurry to worry.”

To which Meningsbee responded, compiling his list:

3. WE CAN WAIT HERE TOGETHER.

Things took off.

Martha and Mary, who amazingly actually reversed the roles from the Bible, with Martha being the more studious one, shared, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled,” alongside, “We ain’t smart enough to not listen.”

Meningsbee jotted down:

4. WE’RE STILL LEARNING.

Meanwhile, keeping up with the names was a real trick for Meningsbee, who had only been there a little over a month. So the next pair slipped up and said their piece, Meningsbee unable to retrieve their names.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy,” and, “Don’t look down on other people because down is readily available.”

Meningsbee listed:

5. WE NEED MERCY

Next up was Mrs. Mason, in her eighties, and Toby, who was, well, just Toby–one of those young men who can lift half a file cabinet but doesn’t say much about anything else.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” and, “If you’re not going to be clean with people, you come across dirty.”

Meningsbee’s translation:

6. WE ARE GROWING TO SHARE.

Then someone named Steve, and Billy, who liked fishing:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,” and, “Eventually you’ll start a fight that will finish you.”

7. WE WANT TO GET ALONG.

(Meningsbee’s writing on the grease board)

Next was Hector, from the grocery store, and Sharon, leader of the women’s Bible study, who popped right up and pointed out, “Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” along with, “You can’t do enough good to be considered good by everybody.”

Up on the board:

8. WE BETTER NEED CRITICS BECAUSE THEY’RE HERE.

Then came Mr. Tomlinson, whom the Reverend didn’t know much about, and Thomas, who was anything but a doubter. “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil things against you for my sake.”

Thomas looked down at his note and smiled. He proffered, “Some folks ain’t happy unless they make you unhappy.”

Meningsbee scrawled on his board:

9. BUT CRITICS CAN BE NASTY.

For some reason, everybody really enjoyed that one, and just giggled on for a few seconds.

The next two up were Sandra and Cory, who were engaged to be married in a couple of weeks at the church. After some “oohs and aahs” of admiration for the cleverness of luck putting them together, Cory said, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Sandra tagged on, “People like good if they don’t have to change.”

Meningsbee jotted:

10. WE’RE IN GOOD COMPANY.

And finally, up popped Tracy, the photographer, and Russ, who aspired to be a movie-maker. Tracy went first. “These are the ideas that we will use to run this church. We’re going to call them The Ten Dears of the Garsonville Church.

Russ jumped in. “We know it sounds kind of corny, but after all, we do live in Nebraska.”

Great laughter.

Russ held up a finger, letting everyone know that his little speech wasn’t over. “Hold on!” he said. “There’s more. To use movie lingo, I have a sequel. Now, if you’ll look on the board and join me:”

Meningsbee pointed to #1 and everybody read aloud: WE’RE HUMAN.

Then #2: WE CARE.

#3: WE CAN WAIT HERE TOGETHER

#4: WE’RE STILL LEARNING.

#5. WE NEED MERCY

#6. WE ARE GROWING TO SHARE

#7. WE WANT TO GET ALONG

#8. WE BETTER NEED CRITICS BECAUSE THEY’RE HERE

#9. BUT CRITICS CAN BE NASTY

#10. WE’RE IN GOOD COMPANY

The congregation burst into applause. Meningsbee took that moment to look over and see what Kitty and Hapsy were doing. Hapsy was sitting upright, clapping her hands, only pausing to chew on a cracker that had been graciously provided for her.

And there was Kitty–sound asleep.

Meningsbee felt a twinge of disappointment that Kitty had missed the impact of the service. But there would be other days.

Yes…many glorious other days.

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Jesonian: Head for the Hills … November 8th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2746)

Drachma

The Middle East is a muddled beast.

It has baffled politicians, military strategists and rational thinkers for generations.

Following a Jesonian philosophy, which is an attempt to tap the heart of Jesus, I decided to find out if the Nazarene had any insight on the issue.

Turns out he does.

It was in the latter part of his ministry when Jesus visited Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and took the opportunity to attack the religious leaders for their hypocrisy, excess, indifference and greed.

He spends quite a bit of time elaborating on the iniquity that filled the religious system of his day. But it is the closing of his speech which is most chilling. He finishes up his talk by saying that he had come to Jerusalem many times, trying to reason with them and get them to repent of their stubbornness and sense of superiority. But the continual rejection had caused him to decide that “their house was left to them desolate.”

Because they had killed the prophets, ignored wise men who had been sent their way, and shunned anyone who was practical enough to believe that spirituality could be best expressed through the love of human beings instead of the practice of ritual, he felt it was time for him to depart.

So the 24th Chapter of Matthew begins with a chilling proclamation: Jesus left the Temple.

He never went back again.

He never has.

All the dealings of the Christian faith are meant to be conducted in the streets and homes of human beings–at the point of need.

The ironic part is that the disciples try to draw him back to the Temple, to show him all the sights and wonders–a “Holy Land tour.”

He emphatically tells them that what they see before their eyes will be torn down, stone by stone. He even describes the process. He says that people will be so involved in their religion and their family life that they will not notice the signs of their times.

They will be “marrying and given in marriage,” oblivious to the dangers of conflict and generational revenge.

Jesus gave his disciples counsel. He said, “When you see there is conflict around Jerusalem and that there are armies gathering … head for the hills.”

Don’t stay and fight.

Don’t pick a side.

Don’t assume that God will protect those who are out to destroy each other.

Head for the hills.

We, as the United States, should take the wisdom of Jesus’ warning. There is no Armageddon unless all the armies of the world go to the desert and fight.

It is possible for us to support Israel and also welcome the Palestinians as long as the Palestinians accept the right of Israel to exist and Israel includes the Palestinians.

This is a family fight, and if we join it, both sides of the family will fight against us. So basically, we don’t please the Muslims and we don’t satisfy the Israelis.

Head for the hills.

It is possible to be an arbiter without putting on boxing gloves to join in the bout.

This should be our mission. We should watch the signs of the times, keep ourselves free from the conflict, and do our best to guide these lost brothers and sisters into understanding that the world is big enough for both of them, if their hearts can grow big enough for each other.

So I say to the Republicans and the Democrats: from a Jesonian perspective, you’re both wrong.

Jesus realized there is no negotiation with religion.

  • Religion will kill to fulfill its principles.
  • Religion will repeat instead of repent.
  • Religion is constantly looking for a new Messiah.
  • And religion invites war because it thinks peace is compromising doctrine.

But Jesus left the Temple.

We should do the same.

Stand back and let’s see if these warring factions will grow tired of burying their children, and begin to have a heart for making peace. And then, let us be the peace-makers instead of the fellow-warriors.

I believe it’s the only answer.

There is no Holy Land in the Middle East: people are dying, people are hurt, people are abused and people are marginalized.

It is the definition … of unholy. 

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