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Sherapy

Religion and shame

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Sherapy
My sister is a Christian (well, I say "is", but I'm not sure if I should be saying "was", as she's going through a change). She freely admits that she considered herself not good enough prior to seeking Jesus. She felt that she was lacking, less than, in need of something to fix her if you like. Salvation was offered, and she was convinced she needed saving from her unworthy state. When she began to question this recently, her friends warned her against ever believing she was good enough, and told her that believing she was good, in her own right, was arrogant.

Is she outgrowing this idea S.??? ths iis very much the idea at some understandings of religion..... the ones that don't feel this way also reject the bible and the church as valid ......Did she say fear played a part at all S.???Can you imagine the preequisite is to admit youare worthless.......gosh... :cry:

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Shadow_Hill
Is she outgrowing this idea S.??? ths iis very much the idea at some understandings of religion..... the ones that don't feel this way also reject the bible and the church as valid ......Did she say fear played a part at all S.???Can you imagine the preequisite is to admit youare worthless.......gosh... :cry:

My sister always said her faith brought her great joy and happiness, and we never doubted it. But she began to question certain aspects of it, after reading quite a bit of what's posted here, and she went away and did more research, and more soul searching. She said that it felt as though there was a beautiful painting before her, painted on a wall, and she'd been staring at it for years and admiring it's wonder, and then cracks began appearing and sections of the painting fell away, and what lay beneath was nothing but empty space, a dark void. She refers to that empty space, that dark void, as being the reason for her seeking Jesus in the first place. She thought she needed to be completed, but in actual fact all she needed to do was grow. She's had friends who weren't Christians, and there's me and my husband of course, and my mother... so it's not that she's been cut off from non-believers. But seeing the way people express themselves here, and how fulfilled they appear without the faith she thought was entirely necessary to her continued happiness, has been an eye opener. She's read the posts made by fellow Christians, and she's considered them, and found them to be lacking. After all these years she is questioning everything she's built her life upon. She told me to picture this: she has lived her entire life with her faith as the safety net below her, and everyone of the same faith has reassured her of its presence and reinforced her belief that she is miles up above the ground and needs it... and she has looked down and discovered that she is two feet off the ground and she can walk the tightrope without having to fear falling off.

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IamsSon
No, I would agree that shame and guilt are natural outcomes of sin and that they in turn serve to make one aware that this is not the way life is to be lived which will lead one to seek Christ as Savior.

Refering only to shame/guilt as a result of committing sin (as in deliberate disobedience to the known will of god)... Without feeling this shame/guilt could I become a Christian?

I don't know, only a non-believer not seeking forgiveness could tell you if they feel shame or not.

You were a non-believer once weren't you?

But let me rephrase the question. Should non-believers, according to your faith, feel shameful and unworthy?

I was saved at the age of 14, almost 26 years ago. When I trusted Christ for the forgiveness of my sins I knew I was a sinner because I was honest with myself and knew I had done things that I had felt guilty about even as I was deciding to do them... drink alcohol at the age of 13 making sure not to be caught by an adult, lying to cover up different things, "sneaking" snacks when my mother had told me not to eat, picking on someone because they were different, getting in fights just because I wanted to prove I was tougher than some poor kid, etc. Although I know I am completely redeemed, I still feel guilty when I do things or think things I know I shouldn't.

Frankly, Shadow, according to what the Bible says, non-believers are so self-deceived that they are incapable of feeling shame or unworthiness, so I guess the answer is no, non-believers should not feel shameful and unworthy, if and when they do, they will probably become believers.

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eqgumby

I suppose it's just passive aggressiveness to imply that some one needs to grow out of their way of life, or that someone is living an unhealthy lifestyle. It's just more of the same tired rhetoric.

Shadow: I hope your sister figures this out for herself, and realizes that people saying she's not good enough or to think she is good enough makes her arrogant, are just afraid themselves. Taking that first step is the most frightening. I also hope she realizes that disagreeing with a CHURCH (capital letters) does not mean she must disagree with her OWN religious ideas. If her church sucks, it does not necessarily mean her God sucks. Know what I mean? A lot of folks here in the states started the What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) thing a few years back. I always wondered what he (or for that matter several other religious figures and great thinkers) would THINK about certain situations. I don't think any benevolent being would condemn your sister if she decided her church was perpetuating fear and ignorance and therefore she couldn't stay.

If she's a Christian, she can still try to emulate and live her life in a manner that Jesus (or any other religious leader of her choosing) would approve of. I just don't think He would care if you sipped wine and ate bread once a week, or repeated a certain passage out of a bible once a week. Thats dogma and ritual. That is NOT what religion should be about. And I just can't imaging Jesus Christ, "living son of god who gave his life for the sins of mortal man", would condemn someone for questioning some preachers interpretation of a book.

In the end, it's her choice. One could do worse than emulating a Buddha, Christ, Ghandi, etc.

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Shadow_Hill
Shadow: I hope your sister figures this out for herself, and realizes that people saying she's not good enough or to think she is good enough makes her arrogant, are just afraid themselves. Taking that first step is the most frightening..... In the end, it's her choice. One could do worse than emulating a Buddha, Christ, Ghandi, etc.

Thanks Egg. She's taking things slowly... one step at a time. She's going travelling for a couple of months - to the Far East - and she's hoping a new environment will give her more perspective. She's a methodical person, she'll not try to run before she can walk, so I think she'll be fine. :yes:

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MissMelsWell

I mentioned passive aggressiveness earlier in this thread and someone then asked me if I knew what it meant. :rofl: Nice. :D

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Shadow_Hill
I was saved at the age of 14, almost 26 years ago. When I trusted Christ for the forgiveness of my sins I knew I was a sinner because I was honest with myself and knew I had done things that I had felt guilty about even as I was deciding to do them... drink alcohol at the age of 13 making sure not to be caught by an adult, lying to cover up different things, "sneaking" snacks when my mother had told me not to eat, picking on someone because they were different, getting in fights just because I wanted to prove I was tougher than some poor kid, etc. Although I know I am completely redeemed, I still feel guilty when I do things or think things I know I shouldn't.

Before you were saved, did you feel guilty because you had wronged your family/friends/yourself or because you had wronged god? I'm trying to grasp whether your notion of god - as in the god you believe in now - was already present. I would feel guilty for secretly drinking when I was 13, because I shouldn't be doing it at that age, but it would have nothing to do with god. Of course, being brought up by an Italian father, and having Italian rellies, I was introduced to wine well before the age of 13.

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eqgumby
I mentioned passive aggressiveness earlier in this thread and someone then asked me if I knew what it meant. :rofl: Nice. :D

linked-image

I still think you're chicken, even though your post got removed!

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IamsSon
Before you were saved, did you feel guilty because you had wronged your family/friends/yourself or because you had wronged god? I'm trying to grasp whether your notion of god - as in the god you believe in now - was already present. I would feel guilty for secretly drinking when I was 13, because I shouldn't be doing it at that age, but it would have nothing to do with god. Of course, being brought up by an Italian father, and having Italian rellies, I was introduced to wine well before the age of 13.

I felt guilty because I knew what I had done was wrong. I did not feel God looking down on me in judgment or anything like that. I did know God was there, but I did not sense Him as sitting in judgment of me (which is quite strange for a Catholic). When I did start understanding what God, through Jesus had done for me, I immediately knew that He was talking to me.

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MissMelsWell
linked-image

I still think you're chicken, even though your post got removed!

Nawwwww.... bawk bawk bawk.... I'm just "self-correcting" :rofl:

The basic idea was I was raised by new-agey parents... 30 years of of hippy-hoo-doo-guru... I love my folks, I really do, more than anyone. But that new-agey stuff ain't what it's cracked up to be. It's not a great way to raise kids or get along in the world. There has to be a balance--it took my folks a long time to find that balance, hopefully Sheri will too, because she certainly hasn't found it yet. Trust me on this, as a kid and the adult child of parents who actually used to think like Sheri, I get upset and frustrated. It's not healthy, they regret much of what they put us kids through with their high and mighty lofty alternative ideas.

But I know it's worthless to mention this because Sheri will have to find that out on her own. I just hope it's not as painful for her as it was for my parents.

I know Sheri will say I don't "know" her... but oh, I do far better than she realizes.

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Shadow_Hill
I felt guilty because I knew what I had done was wrong. I did not feel God looking down on me in judgment or anything like that. I did know God was there, but I did not sense Him as sitting in judgment of me (which is quite strange for a Catholic). When I did start understanding what God, through Jesus had done for me, I immediately knew that He was talking to me.

So god has always existed for you? Not in the same way that he does now, but you've never believed he didn't exist?

I'm wondering about this, because an existence which has never included the Christian god's non existence must make you less able to place yourself in the shoes of a non-believer.

I myself have always believed in a Creator, but that has never involved judgement at all, or shame/guilt in connection with that belief. If I do something which hurts someone I make up for it, but it does not enter my head to ask the Creator's forgiveness. The very fact that we are who we are, and we couldn't have been created to be anything other than what we are, is proof to me that our Creator would never seek to punish us. Men punish men, men desire to see men feel shame, men grow angry or jealous... I cannot conceive of a Creator who would be so human.

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Shadow_Hill

Oh Son, I think you missed my question by the way...

Refering only to shame/guilt as a result of committing sin (as in deliberate disobedience to the known will of god)... Without feeling this shame/guilt could I become a Christian?

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IamsSon
So god has always existed for you? Not in the same way that he does now, but you've never believed he didn't exist?

I'm wondering about this, because an existence which has never included the Christian god's non existence must make you less able to place yourself in the shoes of a non-believer.

I myself have always believed in a Creator, but that has never involved judgement at all, or shame/guilt in connection with that belief. If I do something which hurts someone I make up for it, but it does not enter my head to ask the Creator's forgiveness. The very fact that we are who we are, and we couldn't have been created to be anything other than what we are, is proof to me that our Creator would never seek to punish us. Men punish men, men desire to see men feel shame, men grow angry or jealous... I cannot conceive of a Creator who would be so human.

As far back as I can remember, I have always had an awareness of ... more!? I don't know how to explain it. I knew I was not alone. Once I actually began to read the Bible and study it, I knew God was that presence I had been aware of, and as my relationship with Him has grown, that conviction that I already knew He was there has grown also. No, you're right I have no concept of how someone can not know God is there, since He has always been there as far as I can remember.

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hyperactive
Nawwwww.... bawk bawk bawk.... I'm just "self-correcting" :rofl:

The basic idea was I was raised by new-agey parents... 30 years of of hippy-hoo-doo-guru... I love my folks, I really do, more than anyone. But that new-agey stuff ain't what it's cracked up to be. It's not a great way to raise kids or get along in the world. There has to be a balance--it took my folks a long time to find that balance, hopefully Sheri will too, because she certainly hasn't found it yet. Trust me on this, as a kid and the adult child of parents who actually used to think like Sheri, I get upset and frustrated. It's not healthy, they regret much of what they put us kids through with their high and mighty lofty alternative ideas.

But I know it's worthless to mention this because Sheri will have to find that out on her own. I just hope it's not as painful for her as it was for my parents.

I know Sheri will say I don't "know" her... but oh, I do far better than she realizes.

just like it is the ex-christian that "knows" how harmful and destructive it is to raise a child under that methodology.

you are too close to the action to see the whole picture or be objective, but I suspect you already know that.

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IamsSon
Oh Son, I think you missed my question by the way...

Refering only to shame/guilt as a result of committing sin (as in deliberate disobedience to the known will of god)... Without feeling this shame/guilt could I become a Christian?

I'm pretty sure I responded to that, I said that as far as I know trusting Christ for the forgiveness of your sins is the only requirement to become a Christian. You would have to ask MissMels how you come to an awareness of a need for Salvation without having felt guilt for sinning. I think, if I understood her post correctly that she came to Christ but has never felt guilt about sin.

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MissMelsWell
just like it is the ex-christian that "knows" how harmful and destructive it is to raise a child under that methodology.

you are too close to the action to see the whole picture or be objective, but I suspect you already know that.

I guess the answer to that would be both yes and no.

My folks, like Sheri, were (are) for lack of a better term.... Extremist New Agers.

They've become far more tolerant and balanced after realizing that you just can't cope in todays world and be that "alternative" ... in fact, they found that there were trying so hard to be "alternative" they didn't even believe half of what they were talking about yet they coudln't stop from parroting their "teachers" and "so-called-experts" rather than just realizing there's a level of humanity that we all have to address and life it's not all pink flowers, sparkels, love, and sweet peaches no matter how hard you try to make it that way.

Like the old saying goes..... "Everything in Moderation" Thank God they figured it out eventually, but it wasn't easy for them, they had to admit that a lot went wrong in those years.

And just so we are clear... my folks are not the pot smokin', LSD taking kind of hippies... they are the health food, alternative medicine, yoga, meditation, environmentalists, cruchy granola hippy types (pretty common up here in Seattle). They still believe a lot of this kind of stuff, but it's a far more realistic outlook now, and MUCH healthier.

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Shadow_Hill

MissMells, do you mid answering this one, as Son suggested?

Refering only to shame/guilt as a result of committing sin (as in deliberate disobedience to the known will of god)... Without feeling this shame/guilt could I become a Christian?

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eqgumby
MissMells, do you mid answering this one, as Son suggested?

Refering only to shame/guilt as a result of committing sin (as in deliberate disobedience to the known will of god)... Without feeling this shame/guilt could I become a Christian?

OH OH! Can I!?!?!

I think that would be the point of view for MANY of the born-again types, or old-school hardliners. You would have to feel shame/guilt, or at least recognize it in yourself. That's the way so many of the old churches operated. Some believe (believed) you couldn't NOT sin! Original sin and all that...

It seems many religions (Christians among others) are moving away from that dogma or traditional thinking.

PERSONALLY...I think if you were to "become" a Christian, coming from a totally NON CHRISTIAN background, you would probably be able to become Christian and realize at some point of your "becoming" that you had indeed sinned, and NOW feel guilt/shame or something akin to them, despite the fact that you had NO IDEA you were violating a rule at that time. Is that confusing enough for ya!

linked-image

And there is a totally non-secular rat, just for you!

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truethat
Nope, no shame and no guilt insofar as I don't believe in the concept of sin. I accept that I can behave badly and hurt people, I feel guilt and shame when that happens, but this is a natural consequence of relationships with other people, nothing to do with the religious 'sin concept'.

Because I don't accept the nature of 'sin' and don't care whether I am accepted by your deity or not I have no need for forgiveness for my actions except from those who may be hurt by them.

I agree.

That's why this whole notion of guilt and shame being religious constructs is silly. Society uses guilt and shame much more than religion does.

But I would suggest that guilt and shame as tools are used to help control society. So in a time or a place where religion is the thing that is used to control society (Take Saudi now or England a couple hundred years ago) then of course religion would look at ways in the religion itself to use shame and guilt to control society.

Its the same way the American Dream uses "hope" and dreams to keep people churning away in the Capitalistic machine.

But religion and the American Dream didn't CREATE guilt and shame, they simply used what was already there in people.

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MissMelsWell
I'm pretty sure I responded to that, I said that as far as I know trusting Christ for the forgiveness of your sins is the only requirement to become a Christian. You would have to ask MissMels how you come to an awareness of a need for Salvation without having felt guilt for sinning. I think, if I understood her post correctly that she came to Christ but has never felt guilt about sin.

Sin isn't really something I deal with in a Biblical sense so IamsSon is right. I know right from wrong... to me, wrong is just another word for sin. It was before I had a faith, it is now that I have a faith.

For example: Today it's a beautiful day in Seattle, 80 degrees and the sun is out in full force (rare around here). I would have liked to call in to work, say "I'm sick" then join my bf playing golf or taking a ride on his Harley. However, calling in sick today would be wrong because there are no fewer than 10 folks here who are relying on me to complete a project today so they can start their testing over the weekend. So, here I am at work, finishing my project. That would have been wrong before I had my faith, it would be wrong now... I wouldn't have done it then or now either. I would see calling sick today as a "sin" I guess... but I rarely use that word. I just use "wrong".

If I had called in and said I'm sick... and comprimised the entire project, I would have felt GUILTY and consequently would not have enjoyed myself.

I still have a faith though, because sometimes that temptation to do something wrong slips past me. Sometimes it's so complex that I don't even realized I've done (or am doing) wrong and that's where I need the communication of the Holy Spirit to help me see the error of my ways (some people see psychologists or psychiatrists, I seek God who in my experience is infinitely more reliable than doctors). I don't necessarily call my transgressions "sins" specifically, although I suppose I could.

You have to understand that the Bible in my Christian practice is not really a rule book, it's a tool... sometimes it's useful, others it's not. My faith relies on my personal communication with God which often comes on the heels of a deep meditative trance.

Edited by MissMelsWell

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hyperactive
they found that there were trying so hard to be "alternative" they didn't even believe half of what they were talking about yet they coudln't stop from parroting their "teachers" and "so-called-experts"

swap out alternative with any group and if it applies to you then you are involved with that group for the wrong reasons.

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Shadow_Hill
OH OH! Can I!?!?!

I think that would be the point of view for MANY of the born-again types, or old-school hardliners. You would have to feel shame/guilt, or at least recognize it in yourself. That's the way so many of the old churches operated. Some believe (believed) you couldn't NOT sin! Original sin and all that...

This, I believe, is what my old pal Phil experienced... his church was big on sin and shame. :yes:

linked-image

And there is a totally non-secular rat, just for you!

I hope you house trained her. :lol:

So in a time or a place where religion is the thing that is used to control society (Take Saudi now or England a couple hundred years ago) then of course religion would look at ways in the religion itself to use shame and guilt to control society.

They were still fire and brimstoning here when my gradfather was a lad... in the 1920s. The Victorians had a lot to answer for... but they were also incredible engineers, so I forgive them.

Sin isn't really something I deal with in a Biblical sense so IamsSon is right. I know right from wrong... to me, wrong is just another word for sin. It was before I had a faith, it is now that I have a faith.

I was thinking, after I asked, that my old Quaker pal Malcolm didn't much like the use of the word "sin"... the friends in his church, he said, were of differing beliefs, and he didn't really believe in the concept of biblical sin as such. He tried to explain it to me one day, while we were digging up potatoes. He also said that he didn't believe that salvation was only for those who accepted Jesus... I can't remember whether or not he believed in hell.

You have to understand that the Bible in my Christian practice is not really a rule book, it's a tool... sometimes it's useful, others it's not. My faith relies on my personal communication with God which often comes on the heels of a deep meditative trance.

Do you actually ask for forgiveness from god?

I wish Heather was around... it would be good to hear her thoughts on this too. She said once that to accept Jesus we must confront our sin nature, and I still don't understand the "confront" bit, and what's involved.

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Sherapy
I guess the answer to that would be both yes and no.

My folks, like Sheri, were (are) for lack of a better term.... Extremist New Agers.

They've become far more tolerant and balanced after realizing that you just can't cope in todays world and be that "alternative" ... in fact, they found that there were trying so hard to be "alternative" they didn't even believe half of what they were talking about yet they coudln't stop from parroting their "teachers" and "so-called-experts" rather than just realizing there's a level of humanity that we all have to address and life it's not all pink flowers, sparkels, love, and sweet peaches no matter how hard you try to make it that way.

Like the old saying goes..... "Everything in Moderation" Thank God they figured it out eventually, but it wasn't easy for them, they had to admit that a lot went wrong in those years.

And just so we are clear... my folks are not the pot smokin', LSD taking kind of hippies... they are the health food, alternative medicine, yoga, meditation, environmentalists, cruchy granola hippy types (pretty common up here in Seattle). They still believe a lot of this kind of stuff, but it's a far more realistic outlook now, and MUCH healthier.

Mw i was raised to follow my inner guide not outside authority's unlike your folks yet i make no judgemnets on them each path is perfect for the one on it.....esepcially on whats best for me. it lives within me......LOL this is very common here in Calif. as diversity allows for differnces and delights in it.... I am of a seek and find for yourself philosphy...I am sorry that you have such sadness around being your own person, this hasn't been the case for me, and as you have been to california before and the beach areas in particular then won't need to remind you of the diversity we embrace all kinds here, its what we are all about .....i mean no arrogance when i say this but life is what you make of it and i have applied this too mine....

i live a life of my dreams and am surrounded by love and love as fully as i understand.... and really for me it doesn't get any better than that for me.....i genuinely hope you find what you are searching for as i have.......(((HUGS))))

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Sherapy
My sister always said her faith brought her great joy and happiness, and we never doubted it. But she began to question certain aspects of it, after reading quite a bit of what's posted here, and she went away and did more research, and more soul searching. She said that it felt as though there was a beautiful painting before her, painted on a wall, and she'd been staring at it for years and admiring it's wonder, and then cracks began appearing and sections of the painting fell away, and what lay beneath was nothing but empty space, a dark void. She refers to that empty space, that dark void, as being the reason for her seeking Jesus in the first place. She thought she needed to be completed, but in actual fact all she needed to do was grow. She's had friends who weren't Christians, and there's me and my husband of course, and my mother... so it's not that she's been cut off from non-believers. But seeing the way people express themselves here, and how fulfilled they appear without the faith she thought was entirely necessary to her continued happiness, has been an eye opener. She's read the posts made by fellow Christians, and she's considered them, and found them to be lacking. After all these years she is questioning everything she's built her life upon. She told me to picture this: she has lived her entire life with her faith as the safety net below her, and everyone of the same faith has reassured her of its presence and reinforced her belief that she is miles up above the ground and needs it... and she has looked down and discovered that she is two feet off the ground and she can walk the tightrope without having to fear falling off.

wow, what an epiphany... how very courageous too to challenge your beleifs , this is difficult for alot of folks....

son i hope you arent' gonna say drinking at thirteen and wanting to hurt others is run of the mill teenage behavior and natural .... i have read this alot that prior to being christian one was expressing such self destructive behaviors....and religion helped them..In this case i can see and have said it can be of great use.....to sort of get one out of a self destructive mode..this was sort of Pa's story too and it got him focused ....

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Shadow_Hill
i live a life of my dreams and am surrounded by love and love as fully as i understand.... and really for me it doesn't get any better than that for me.....

I told someone recently that I live a perfect life, and they thought I was potty. But for me, the way I live is more than I could have hoped for. Even when I became ill I considered it a learning experience... everything is what you make of it isn't it? I'm so happy... even when hubbie lost his job a while back I was happy, and so was he, because he got to move on to something new. Every day is wonderful. :D

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