Thursday, 10 July 2008

women bishops: yet more reactions

The Economist weighs in with When compromise fails.

Time magazine has Could the Pope Aid an Anglican Split?

The New Statesman has Doing the splits by Stephen Bates:

…Like Mr Rochester’s first wife, the misogyny and homophobia of its factions keep leaping out of the attic to scare off decent folk. No use conservative evangelicals and high church Anglo-Catholics insisting the Church’s interminable internal rows are all about obedience to scriptural authority and the protection of tender consciences. What the public sees is arcane debates, conducted with a ferocity more in keeping with the 1980s Labour Party than an institution founded on hope and charity…

The Spectator has A Very English Coup — And The End Of Our National Church by Theo Hobson.

The Telegraph has a report by Martin Beckford saying that US Anglican leader Katherine Jefferts Schori wades into women bishop row.

Andrew Carey wrote for the Church of England Newspaper a column (republished at Stand Firm) titled Walking on Broken Glass:

…Observers reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury was visibly discomfited at times by the tone and direction of the debate. His deputy in Canterbury, the Bishop of Dover, Stephen Venner, was reduced to tears. Yet while Dr Williams has often given traditionalists hope that he would back a structural solution to their problems of conscience, he seems to have completely ruled out strong leadership on theological and ecclesial issues. Wearing permanently now, it seems, the persona of the mediator, Dr Williams was seen by Synod trying to have it both ways. “I am deeply unhappy with any scheme… which ends up structurally humiliating women.” But he was equally unhappy about marginalising traditionalists. He therefore came “not very comfortably to the conclusion”, we needed a “more rather than less robust form of structural provision”…

Ruth Gledhill asks Will Rome really take our trads?

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Comments

I LOVE that photo of Our Katharine! You go, girl!

Posted by: Lois Keen on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 11:18pm BST

Time magazine's piece is very good. Time grasps the fact that the expelled Anglo-Catholics are very different from the gay-hating evangelicals:
"...the fact that most of the English dissidents this week are not the evangelical, Bible-thumping members of the Communion whose fury at the American ordination of an openly gay bishop has led to talks of schism this summer. Rather they are members of a faction, heavy on liturgy and ritual, that abhors evangelicalism but considers itself very close to the Catholicism from which the Anglican Church originally sprang."
The expulsion of the Anglo-Catholics by means of "the repudiation of the Church of England's Catholic roots" [as the Daily Telegraph put it] leaves the Evangelicals in a significantly stronger position, and much further along the road towards their goal of turning the C of E into a Calvinist church.

Posted by: Paul Rowlandson on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 12:02am BST

Andrew Carey has got it right - it pains me to say. The debate is not yet over, and the lack of provision for opponents would have been likely to have delayed final approval by a 2/3 majority. But by the time of the vote many traditional Catholics will have departed. Having fought for inclusion - of evangelicals and liberals, I remain outraged at the mean spirited actions of men and women liberals. It was a disgrace. Far from now being able to trust them, and get on with our various jobs peaceably and prayerfyfully (despite differences) sadly it means the fight is on. I don't think it will be the right way...but clearly they have declared war. And sadly war is what now looms.

Posted by: Neil on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 12:31am BST

A nice piece from Stephen Bates - with the wonderful quote from Rowan that does need to be made into a banner and put accross the road as a welcome to the Lambeth bishops and the London Synod:

"We have a special relationship with the cultural life of our country and we must not fall out of step with this if we are not to become absurd and incredible." - Just perfect!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 12:54am BST

Andrew Carey says the C of E is moving not towards a Reformed Church but a liberal one, and Theo Hobson says the liberal C of E is dead. Of the two, I think Andrew Carey is right, for a time, based on the weakened factions and women in ordained ministry.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 1:34am BST

Off topic, but...
http://tinyurl.com/6b9ohf

Daily Telegraph

"The 50 most influential figures in the Anglican Church: 50-41"

46 Simon Sarmiento - blogger

Host of the influential blog Thinking Anglicans, Simon Sarmiento has emerged as the computer ‘nerd’ of the liberal wing of the Church.

Responsible for a wide range of websites, his blog is the pimary internet meeting space for liberals impatient with the pace of progressive change. Fiery, and flaming comments are allowed, but Thinking Anglicans is one of the few places for a comprehensive round-up of the latest Anglican spat.

and ... er

47 Tom Butler - Bishop of Southwark

Famous for allegations that after a Christmas drinks party in 2006 he was spotted in a stranger’s car throwing children’s toys out of the window, Bishop Butler heads the most liberal diocese in the Church of England.

An outspoken advocate of gay clergy, Bishop Butler recently failed in an attempt to withdraw the licence of conservative evangelical Richard Coekin, who he accused of setting up new churches across traditional parish boundaries. Nevertheless the Diocese of Southwark remains the powerhouse for liberal Christianity in the Church of England.

I dare you to spike this, Simon.

Posted by: Julian on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 1:38am BST

"Rt. Rev. Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Eversfleet, announced his intention of converting to Catholicism — along with his diocese." (Time)

He means with (some portion of) the people of the diocese, right? The Bp of Eversfleet (that's Ebbsfleet, right?) isn't seriously considering attempting a HEIST ala San Joaquin's xSchofield, is he? :-0

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 3:30am BST

The so-called Anglican Use in the USA was largely a failure ( seven, mostly small parishes), and were there is success it attracts mainly cradle Catholics. At the time it was s set up , they talked of quarter of a million converts and in fact less than a thousand laity came overin 25 years.

There are about a hundred former married Anglcan ministers serving in the US Catholic Church and about 650 former Carholic priests in the Episcopal Church..something the latter never " trades" on.

Indeed Bishop Jefferts- Schorri was once a Catholic lay woman. there are literalaly tens of thousands of former Roman Catholics in the Episcopal Church.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 6:23am BST

Jim Naughton NAILS "The Tell-a-Lie", here: http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/presiding_bishop/tgraph_creates_controversy_whe.html

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 7:05am BST

Only a trickle of Anglicans will become Catholic (or Orthodox). Growing up in a church and secular culture that is Anglophiliac and intensely, sneeringly anti-Catholic is a good inoculation against ever joining the true apostolic church. I'm amazed at the poor manners of Anglicans and Episcopalians I've known throughout my life, and the snide comments they make about Catholics and the Catholic Church--shocking. Sneering, snide superiority is a tough husk and a protective coating. You can keep your trads thankyouverymuch. They aren't catholic enough to be Catholic. They aren't orthodox enough to be Orthodox. The true catholic and orthodox Anglicans left a long time ago.

Posted by: kenttuckyliz on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 1:53pm BST

“The expulsion of the Anglo-Catholics by means of "the repudiation of the Church of England's Catholic roots" [as the Daily Telegraph put it] leaves the Evangelicals in a significantly stronger position, and much further along the road towards their goal of turning the C of E into a Calvinist church.”--Paul Rowlandson

Rubbish! If conservative Anglo-Papalists leave of their own free will, they are hardly being “expelled”. There will still be plenty of Anglo-Catholics left in the CofE who have no problems with women as clergy. If anything, liberal British Anglo-Catholicism may grow stronger, (as it did here in the United States when the Rev. Lewis Wattson and his Anglo-Papalist Society of the Atonement swam the Tiber in 1909).

Posted by: Kurt on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 2:04pm BST

So far the commentaries from Roman Catholic blogs and such are not promising.

The lefty RCs do not especially want a truck load of high conservatives newly arriving to shout how much more orthodox they are as new arrivals than the liberal RCs who have been holding up their local parishes for the past several generations.

The middles RCs do not need yet another controversy machine dropped right down into their middles, a machine so touchy with so many hot buttons to push that just breathing in the room with it might set it off, garnering unknown consequences, explosive.

The rightwing RCs have pledged allegiance already to Rome, so want to put any new arrivals through boot camp to check out their paces before finishing the approved rites of welcome.

The elephant in these rooms? Oh, probably just that our bedrock views of women are changing - for the better so far as many are concerned - and mainly democratic societies and institutions are leading or at least tugging hard to lead conservative religious communities into this strange and better lighted new realm - with much kicking and screaming and frowning and retching, of course.

But what if women are not innately incompetent - to lead, to be Gods exemplars among us? To nourish church life (even sacramentally) and institutions as well as we count on them to nourish, say, children under five?

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 4:10pm BST

In spite of the apocalyptic rhetoric and hand wringing that has gone on with the FOCA group forming, and the reaction of some Anglo-Catholics to the C of E Synod action on women bishops, I believe that the Anglican Communion will hold, albeit with some forms of schism and continuing tensions. There is no realistic possibility that the FOCA faction will comandeer the Communion. The C of E, or the Anglican Communion being remade in FOCA's image is not at all a likely prospect. Their internal tensions, the inherent tendency of true believers in "orthodoxy" to split from one another, and their convergence around the anti-Gospel of scapegoating LBGT persons will spell their ultimate failure. As for the remnant of papalists who associate themselves with Anglo-Catholicism in the C of E, those who will not accept the ministry of women, they can thank FOCA for finishing off any hope they may have had for a "structural provision". It had to be apparent to the members of Synod that to vote for any such structural provisions would be to invite the fox into the hen house. Perhaps it is time for the last vestiges of the papalist movement in the C of E to swim the Tiber and get it over with. While the papalists wrap themselves in the mantle of Anglo-Catholicism, they are currently disassociating themselves from the historically catholic tradition of Anglicanism which never countenances submitting the Church to a single foreign and unaccountable patriarch. I write as a female priest, and associate rector of a thriving progressive and inclusive Anglo-Catholic parish in TEC. See www.stpaulspomona.org. We long ago came to the conclusion that the heart of the doctrine of the Incarnation is that God assumed human nature in Jesus. Not male nature. God's Covanant in Jesus is with all of us as the Body of Christ, women and men alike. This orthodoxy is the basis for the ordination of women, not some liberal trend in popular culture. I pray for our Churches and especially for the Anglo-Catholic movement, of which I count myself a part, that we will learn to be more focused on the deepest truths of our faith.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 5:30pm BST

Andrew Carey thinks with an Anglo-catholic exodus, that the Church of England will become a liberal Protestant denomination.

His Father helped facilitate that with womens ordination and divorce and re-marriage.

JUST GOES TO SHOW, ONE PERSONS LIBERALISM IS ANOTHER PERSONS CONSERVATISM.

Posted by: Robert Ian williams on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 6:20pm BST

drdanfee - God the Father chose to incarnate as a male, who chose only male disciples. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are male. For some reason God chose males. There are some fairly important differences between men and women. Males and females are physically and psychologically different (I presume you have already discovered that), and have different functions. The Holy Catholick and Apostolick Church has always recognised these distinctions.
To recognise the sexes as different in nature and primary functions is not to deny their equality, but to recognise reality.

Posted by: Paul Rowlandson on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 7:05pm BST

"Growing up in a ... secular culture that is Anglophiliac"

Um, where IS this NeverNeverLand, kenttuckyliz? (It certainly ain't Kentucky, as +Gene Robinson could tell you). I'd really like to immigrate! ;-)

[NB to Paul R: "For some reason God chose males." I would say, "For some reason, males see themselves as gods, and created an UberMale in their likeness." Now, what could that reason be? Could it be SIN---the kind Jesus told us to repent of?]

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 8:01pm BST

Oh, come, come now Paul Rowlandson! Isn’t it more important TO BE like Jesus than it is TO PEE like Jesus? Besides Church historians and beginning to understand more that women had important discipleship roles in the early Church.

Posted by: Kurt on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 8:06pm BST

"The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are male."

While your first statement is true and the second is debatable, this is out and out wrong. God is beyond gender, again, not a new concept. That God chose to reveal Himself to us in predominantly masculine imagery cannot be taken as attributing gender to God. I would refer you to the St. Vladimir's Quarterly, a publication of the Orthodox Church, an article published I believe in the 80s(sorry I can't be more specific) that gives an Orthodox perspective on this, and they are quite clear on God's status as being "beyond gender". They do not ordain women, but they don't need to alter the neture of God to do so. Neither should you. Besides, it makes sense. He created us in His own image, yet "male and female created He them". If both sexes are in the image and likeness of God, how can He be one or the other?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 8:12pm BST

Paul: at the risk of boring everyone else here, can I just remind you that orthodox Christian doctrine does not see the Father / Creator nor the Spirit as male. Both are imaged as male and female in different parts of the tradition - as is Jesus, by the way.

Posted by: Frozenchristian on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 8:48pm BST

JCF, Kurt, Ford, and Frozen - You are all trying to minimise the importance of the fact that God chose males. Kurt - it is significant that God chose to incarnate as a male, and to appoint exclusively male disciples. He could have incarnated as a woman; he could have chosen female disciples.
The Universal Catholic church has always regarded these facts as significant.
Ford - God may not be limited by gender. Nevertheless, the church has for nearly 2,000 years regarded the imagery of God the Father as important. Similarly, He created males and females for a purpose. He *could* have created a unisex creature which reproduced by some sort of parthogenesis. Instead he created them male and female and gave them different roles, different structures, different functions, and different natures.
Frozen - God may be neither male or female, but the image he has provided for us in scripture and tradition is male. He chose to incarnate as a male; he chose male disciples.
We may try to minimise or downgrade the significance of these stubborn facts, but that doesn't alter them.

Posted by: Paul R on Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 12:37am BST

Both sexes. Both? No. Both implies only two, and there is no rational means of operationalizing sex -- in the case of humans -- that does not fail to account for the more complex reality.

Some of God's children fail to fit a male-female dichotomy of sex, let alone of gender. These children of God are not mistakes: they are people.

That bronze-age near-East cultures didn't really quite know what to do with them is beside the point. We know better.

People are beyond male and female. Certainly that much at least is true of God.

LPR

Posted by: RudigerVT on Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 1:15am BST

"God is beyond gender."

Quite right. I have always found helpful a distinction make by Anthony Burgess in an anthology I used to own. This distinction doesn't really fit current practice, but it helps me to keep two things distinct.

Gender, he said, is a quality of words. Sex is a quality of living bodies.

So that, of course, God the father has no sex, because he has no body. Neither has the Spirit. By virtue of the incarnation the Son has a body, and therefore has a sex, male.

But though God the father has no sex, the words for him have a gender, which is male. This is not so obvious in English, a largely non-gendered language, but, in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, the words for God in the scriptures are all of the male gender, and the tradition of the Church is to use such masculine-gendered words for God.

The Son, too, is of masculine gender. The Spirit becomes more complicated, since the Hebrew Ruach is feminine, the Greek pneuma is neuter, and the Latin Spiritus is masculine. That differentiation should suggest, of course, that gender--i.e. the sexual quality of nouns--can vary with the language.

Posted by: rick allen on Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 4:52am BST

RudigerVT wrote

"Some of God's children fail to fit a male-female dichotomy of sex, let alone of gender. These children of God are not mistakes: they are people.

That bronze-age near-East cultures didn't really quite know what to do with them is beside the point. We know better."

But Bronze-Age cultures DID know what to do with them - they made them priests (just like we tend to do today)

Simon Dawson

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 10:20am BST

"JCF, Kurt, Ford, and Frozen - You are all trying to minimise the importance of the fact that God chose males. Kurt - it is significant that God chose to incarnate as a male, and to appoint exclusively male disciples. He could have incarnated as a woman; he could have chosen female disciples."

God isn't stupid, either. He knew that if he incarnated as a woman in a first century culture she would have been ignored. She would have had no ability to lead others, as they would have regarded her as incapable of such leadership. In fact, she would have been barred from speaking in the synagogue or even entering many parts of the Temple.

[And my use of "He" for God in that first sentence is just a fact of the lack of gender neutrality for persons in English...it is not meant to imply that I consider God, in any of God's persons, to be exclusively male.]

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 11:58am BST

"it is significant that God chose to incarnate as a male,"

In what way is His maleness the important point? If the purpose of the Incarnation was for God to take on created matter, surely the point is that he became a human, not a male human. If not, how is the Incarnation redemptive for the slightly more than fifty per cent of humans who are NOT male? Might it simply be that 2000 years ago no-one would have stopped to listen to a woman proposing such a radical reinterpretation of God and our relationship to Him?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 2:27pm BST

"But though God the father has no sex, the words for him have a gender, which is male. This is not so obvious in English, a largely non-gendered language, but, in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, the words for God in the scriptures are all of the male gender, and the tradition of the Church is to use such masculine-gendered words for God."

Are we supposed to be blind to the overwhelmingly PATRIARCHAL characters to those ancient cultures/languages, rick? Since I assume you don't treat the Bible like a "voice from straight from heaven" (ala the Muslims' Quran), then we HAVE to account for the "Words of God" coming THROUGH those patriarchal cultures/languages.

[Least of all, should the maleness of YHWH be derived from Jesus's "Our Father": the Aramaic "Abba" is a *baby-babbling* sound, CLEARLY w/ no connection to gender!]

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 7:04pm BST

"in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, the words for God in the scriptures are all of the male gender, and the tradition of the Church is to use such masculine-gendered words for God."

Yes, humans beings use language and human beings employ this language to express what they experience.
The fact that people 3500 years ago conceived God as male and therefore chose the words to describe God accordingly is only important if you believe that God dictated the bible, grammar and all.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 8:23pm BST

"he could have chosen female disciples"

Well, you could argue that he did. Mary Magdalene is only the most prominent of his followers. But these women didn't write the bible and had no influence on what was written by the male writers.

Isn't it fascinating to think that Jesus himself said of the woman who annointed him that her story would be told whenever the gospel is told... and yet, no-one even bothered to write down her name.

As Pat says - God isn't stupid, and he knows us well!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 8:28pm BST

Erika, He also chose a Samaritan woman, and one so infamous for her sexual license that she didn't even dare to go to the well when the other women were present, to bring the Good News to her people.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 12:25pm BST

JCF asks "Are we supposed to be blind to the overwhelmingly PATRIARCHAL characters to those ancient cultures/languages?", implying [by the capital letters] that there is something undesirable about PATRIARCHY.
PATRIARCHY is both desirable and inevitable. Patriarchy is the natural and traditional form of Authority. Patriarchical institutions survive over the long term; matriarchies are unstable and disappear fairly quickly. See Steven Goldberg's books on the subject.

Posted by: Paul R on Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 3:26pm BST

"...matriarchies are unstable and disappear fairly quickly..."

usually because the surrounding patriarchies overthrow them

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 3:40pm BST

Pat
"usually because the surrounding patriarchies overthrow them"".
Exactly. Strength and authority depend on testosterone. The C of E will, to the extent that it replaces men with women, as it is doing, inevitably lose its strength and authority.

Posted by: Paul R on Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 5:40pm BST

"Patriarchy is the natural and traditional form of Authority."

Beg pardon? The culture I come from has been described as a closet matriarchy. I'd love to have you stand in a room full of Newfoundland women and make this claim. Or African-American women for that matter. We men'd give you a decent burial:-)

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 6:01pm BST

"Strength and authority depend on testosterone."

And that is a Christian message?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 14 July 2008 at 7:57am BST

Ford Elms: and the culture I come from gave rise to Boudicca, Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria and Margaret Thatcher - not exactly a feeble culture, but the one which has (arguably) made some of the greatest contributions to the modern world!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 14 July 2008 at 8:41am BST

Paul misses my point, but I expected he would. The matriarchies failed not from any internal weakness but because the surrounding patriarchies could not abide the example they provided to their own women...so they wiped them out, by sheer force of numbers.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 14 July 2008 at 11:37am BST

"it is significant that God chose to incarnate as a male,"

If God chose to incarnate as female, without power, miracles and a stage show would souls even recognise the incarnation? It begs the question as there are some who worship Jesus, not because they love what God loves, but because they think if they grovel to the head honcho, they'll be protected from the other thugs and not held to account for their own indiscretions.

It is also amusing to watch English used to denounce or deny God's feminine characteristics. Personally I've always liked French. Their grammer acknowledges when there is feminine, masculine or indeterminate. Unlike English, which presumes if gender cannot be determined, then it must be male.

I wonder when men took up breast feeding? Isaiah 60:15 "You will drink the milk of nations and be nursed at royal breasts."

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Monday, 14 July 2008 at 11:48am BST

“’Patriarchy is the natural and traditional form of Authority."
“Beg pardon? The culture I come from has been described as a closet matriarchy. I'd love to have you stand in a room full of Newfoundland women and make this claim. Or African-American women for that matter. We men'd give you a decent burial:-)”--Ford Elms

Sounds like it’s time for a Newfie joke:
Three Applicants
There were three newfies interviewing for the same job. They had scheduled appointments one after the other. The first Newfie was called into the office, and was told that all he had to do was answer a skill testing question. So he said "ok, what is it?"
The interviewer said "I would like you to make a question using the word 'sweater'."

The Newfie said "ok, my mother........knitted me...... a nice sweater."

The interviewer said "Very good. I will get back to you." As the Newfie was leaving he was told to send the next Newfie in. So, when they met, the second Newfie asked the first one what he had to do. So the first one said that he had to make a sentence using the word "sweater" in it.

So, the second the Newfie walked into the interviewing room, he said "My mother knitted me a nice sweater!"

The interviewer was suspicious, so when the third Newfie came in he said "I would like you to make a sentence using the word 'fascinate'."

He said "My mother.....knitted me a nice sweater........ with ten buttons.....but I can only fasten eight.

Posted by: Kurt on Monday, 14 July 2008 at 1:04pm BST

"Sounds like it’s time for a Newfie joke"

Never. And you might not be aware, but there are many, many of us who find the word, and the jokes associated with it, offensive. I'm one of them. None taken this time, all the same, everyone gets a free kick! Where are you from, BTW? There is a trend now to use that word to refer to those who leave for work elsewhere and pine to return to a romanticized Newfoundland that never was. They're the ones perpetuating the stupid, happy go lucky, borderline alcoholic stereotype, largely because they have missed the local "quiet revolution". Laughing at your culture's foibles is one thing, recycling jokes that have been applied just as demeaningly to other ethnic groups is quite another. I hope this doesn't come off as a stern rebuke. If we were face to face, you'd see the smile, and hear the friendly, but confident, tone.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 14 July 2008 at 4:57pm BST

“Where are you from, BTW?”--Ford Elms

Having posted here for several years now, I assumed everyone knows that I live in Brooklyn (Greenpoint).

Sorry if you found the joke offensive; things were starting to get hot and I thought I’d try a diversion. Obviously it didn’t work out as I planned.

Posted by: Kurt on Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 4:25pm BST

"Brooklyn (Greenpoint)."

There's lots of Canadians who are less than aware of this, or less than receptive of it. That's OK, it took them 50 years to learn how to pronounce the name of the place, everything takes time. You're that much further removed culturally, so don't feel bad. You didn't know, now you do, and, like I said, everyone gets a freekick.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 4:38pm BST
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