I honestly believed in the Christian god. No longer; no more.

Sent in by Jake

Sometimes, I miss being six years old and really believing that there were fairies and dragons and wizards out there somewhere, with the dinosaurs that maybe, just maybe lived in places of the world no one had found.

When I was little, I dreamed of being an explorer and finding those places. I ran around as kids are wont to do, pretending to be storybook characters, exploring lost temples and forgotten jungle civilizations with Indiana Jones, slaying dragons with King Arthur, fighting off hordes of space invaders with lasers only I could see and all manner of other imaginative forms of self-amusement.

It was a great dream, and as I was an only child of a poor family, typically the only reliable entertainment available to me. Someday I might just write books about it all. They'll be categorized as fiction, and I'll fondly keep copies of them on my bookshelves, to eventually read to my children/grandchildren, provided I ever have any.

To arrive at my point, there's nothing wrong with a dream. Similarly, there's nothing wrong with fondly remembering a dream, or even with taking lessons spun from circumstances only perceived in the imagination.

There is something wrong with refusing to move on when it is very well time to move on, however, and that which many religions posit as god-figures have, in this author's opinion, long out-worn their welcome.

What manner of silly person would I be if I ran around starting organizations, lying to people and maligning their trust by 'converting' them to believe in a dream I once, as a child, wished and yearned to be true, for example? Why would I do such things?

How pitiful would I be if I truly believed, as I so often permitted myself to do as a child, that I were a knight, a space soldier or a cowboy explorer of pseudo-mystical dungeons?

How sad would it be if I, lost in my childhood dreams, failed to see the wonders and marvels that exist in the world around me as they are, for what they are, to the best of mine and science's ability to perceive and understand them?

These questions are posed somewhat rhetorically. I would be, at best, benignly silly to do such things. At worst, especially if I were a sillyperson trying to spread my peculiar beliefs as a dogmatic religion, I would be a liar, a con-artist and delusionaly misguided, which I have no doubt would be swiftly pointed out by a great many who, themselves, could plainly discern my claimed 'truths' as fabrications.

Thankfully, such is not the case. I traded my imaginary sword and knightly armor long, long ago for the pen. In so doing, I turned in my heroic tales of imagined yore and fable for mysteries I never could've imagined as a child; mysteries of the human mind, mysteries of society, mysteries of the very people that surround me.

It wasn't something I wanted to do. From roughly the ages of nine on into my early teens, I would escape into anything that offered me solace from a reality I neither liked nor felt at all special in. I did well in school, but I never enjoyed it; I had friends, but I was never especially close to any of them.

The illusions I'd enjoyed were what I thought reality should be. They were what I'd yearned and dreamed of. Admitting that they were no more than childhood dreams was, for me, one of the hardest things I'd ever had to do in my young life, and when I finally did it, I felt hollow, wounded and confused.

Indeed, I felt as if I'd excommunicated a vital organ or limb. Without those dreams, I didn't know who I was. Without those dreams, I didn't know what to make of the world around me.

I read a lot, as a child. Dinosaurs were amongst my favorite topics, and by necessity, I became quite the scavenger at my local library, digging through books on paleontology, archeology and geology. With the passage of time, I also became curious as to the people around me, specifically regarding why they did what they did, why they believed what they believed, and it was in pursuit of such curiosities that I came to understand a great many things of lasting importance.

Everyone was as lost as me. I recall observing that over a period of time, and growing ever-increasingly certain of this observation being more than an idle projection of envy. Then, I started talking to people about it, at first confining my questions only to the most trusted of my friends; a process that brought me closer to them than ever I'd prior been; as well as a select few teachers.

The more I inquired, the more answers I found to my questions, but in so doing, I also found that every answer found was a dozen or more new questions in and of itself. I grew fascinated by this, and by the time I reached highschool, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

I wanted to study people. I wanted to study their minds, their societies, their cultures, their natures. I wanted to know what they believed, what they thought, where it all came from...and to do any of that, I'd also have to study a considerable amount of how. Only in so doing, which I knew even then, could I begin to hope to uncover the whys of it all.

Religion was, from the first inquiries I made on to this very present day, a dominating factor in nearly every discussion and research endeavor I've ever engaged in.

To begin with, I honestly believed in the Christian god. Even when I was very young, the existence of the Christian god was simply one of those things that 'was', and went without saying. All the adults in my life spoke of god as if he were real, all the people at the church I frequently attended regarded him as the immortal sovereign of the earth, as well as it's creator. It was just one of those things that I'd never even thought to question, though neither had I ever particularly thought to care much about it either.

God, to me, was never very real at all. God was just another part of the childhood dreams, as far as I was concerned; a notion I'd grown comfortable with abandoning by about the age of fifteen. What baffled me then, of course, was when I identified that same thing in others; that same tendency to have had and subsequently abandoned fanciful childhood dreams, stories and games...but not the parts about God.

It really confused me, to be honest. It only occurred to me that people really took the bible seriously after this revelation dawned on me, as prior I'd simply and thoughtlessly assumed that church was just the dream-game adults played with each other. It wasn't a thought I'd ever consciously formed as such, but in retrospect, I am able to paraphrase how I perceived it.

Imagine my deep, distressed surprise when I started re-examining the whole matter of religion. When I was sixteen, in the summer between tenth and eleventh grade, I engaged myself in serious contemplation and research of what was to me a most peculiar and baffling phenomenon, with the very basis of all my inquiries being the question "Does the Christian god, or any god for that matter, exist?"

It was a summer to be remembered. I do believe that I managed to gravely insult every pastor of every church within fifty miles of my home with my probing, prodding, never-ceasing questions, as this was a most direly important question, and I wasn't about to take the fluff answers they were prepared to give off-the-cuff to such inquiries.

Mine was a more serious inquiry than many of them were prepared for or fond of. That was the summer in which it was demonstrated to me, time and time again, that many of the very people that my elders and supposed betters looked to for guidance and spiritual learning were as clueless on this question as I was.

That was, in fact, the summer that I came to understand myself as being an agnostic. The arguments given, the tones used in their giving, the expressions worn, the body language evinced; in every case, I identified one of two things; baseless certainty that could not be supported with fact or just as much uncertainty as I, myself, felt.

That school-year was a most troubling one. My unyieldingly inquisitive nature did not even remotely begin to sit well with a number of my more Christian teachers and fellow students. It was not a topic most of my teachers would discuss with me for legal reasons, but it was not a topic they could prevent me dispensing with at every opportunity in class discussions, and so it was that I found out first-hand just how rabidly many of my own peers clung adamantly to certain childhood dreams of their own.

Dreams that I and my heretical words, comments and platforms were often very threatening towards.

I did not attend high school for a senior year. Simply put, I quit and got a G.E.D, for no greater reason than that I'd spent my entire junior year finding out, in no uncertain terms, just how very un-Christian most Christians actually are at that age.

This did not, however, even begin to curb or shake my resolve in pursuing the dream I'd fully embraced by that time; the dream to learn, to seek the truth of minds and societies, to carve away the embellishments and lay bare whatever facts I and science could find.

It is a dream I still retain; a dream I find more fulfillment in than ever I dreamed could exist as a child. It is the very sort of fulfillment my many religious colleagues and friends speak so passionately of...but so very seldom reflect in either their eyes or their lives.

It is the sort of paradoxically peaceful exhilaration that I felt as a child, imagining a large stick to be a huge laser with myself as it's wielder, fighting off an invading horde of creepy aliens.

Now, I am an atheist. I've made my examinations, I've both observed and engaged in more debates with myself and others than I can easily recall, and contrary to what I find many detractors saying of atheism, I found neither confusion nor sorrow in acknowledging that, if there is any sort of god-figure, we know nothing at all about it, have only the sorriest, palest glimmers of pseudo-evidence to support it's suspected existence and rather well ought to chalk it up to fiction.

Rather, I found peace. When I truly acknowledged myself as an atheist, all the miscast, religion-sourced doubts about the world around me melted away. All the confounding explanations given by religion's adherents; any religion's; suddenly came into a focus of clarity I was, prior, forever pursuing but never permitting myself.

For the first time, I could see the simple reality that'd forever surrounded me, but had always prior evaded me. There was no god. Bad things happened because things happened, and without fail, they'd be thought bad by someone; perhaps a great many someones; not uncommonly even myself.

Most importantly, and I must stress this as being the most singularly important revelation I have ever made for my own benefit, it was in realizing myself as an atheist that I was able to accept my fellow humans as simply being that; humans. Not fallen, twisted, sin-sorry mongrels deserving only every misery heaped upon them and a thousandfold more, but simply as people, as often as lost and afraid and desperate for anything that seemed to give them surety and definition as ever I had been.

When this revelation first struck me and I truly 'got' it, I wept. For a thousand reasons, I wept. At last, I could see. At last, I could hear.

At last, I knew what it was to be at peace, with both myself and those around me.

It was everything the Christians claim of being 'born again', for me. I felt like a new person, seeing the world for the first time with a clarity unfettered by judgment, unclouded by two thousand pages of the most apocryphal holy text contrived. For the very first time, I looked upon people without fear, I spoke to them without reservation and I walked without a shame-bowed head.

It had all been a dream. A bitter, agonizing dream filled with promises of hellfire, an outrageous desert-god that so weirdly confused hate for love and many strange, Black Wonderland-ish stories about resurrections and entire cities' populations turning into pillars of salt and giants and so very much confusing babble.

I traded one dream for another, when I began pursuing understanding of the world around me; a more real dream; a dream of the reality that surrounds me, that lives and is demonstrated in every man, woman, child, animal, plant and stone around me.

I truly began to understand the nature of my dream when I realized that there were no pits of hell I'd be cast into for being passionately curious; that there was no god who would only love me if I did not obey the ridiculous edicts of a viciously slanted book authored by the fallible for the foolish.

So it is that now I dream of the wonders that the human mind may yet hold for us. I imagine the marvels that I might really, truly find in exploring via science and explorative testing what the consciousness of the individual might contain.

I know precious little of cosmology, astrophysics or quantum mechanics, but I look upon the mysteries explored by those men of 'harder' sciences as well, and I marvel right alongside them, perhaps even less so for my lesser understanding than their own in such matters. There exists all around us a world of absolute wonder; an utter heaven if ever there was one of mystery so profound that it seems as magic sometimes.

The more I come to learn, the more I marvel. I am humbled by the magnificence of the human brain, for example; I stand in awe before the fantastic complexity and development of society across the ages; society, a thing so oft' referenced, so poorly understood, reliant upon such deceptively simple things as basic interpersonal communication...and yet, it is the very connection between all peoples of the world.

I do not need an imaginary sword anymore. I do not want for imaginary dungeons and ancient temples to explore. Once, I yearned for them, because I knew not better. No longer; no more.

I dream even still, of someday knowing more than I did before about what the imagination itself is, and I temper that dream with doings; real doings; that others can readily share in, take part in and know for themselves without me having to say a word.

I dream, ever on, about what and how and why the things around me are as they are. I stand repeatedly amazed by the things that are, as sure as the stone and earth I walk on, as interactive as the very air we breath, as mysterious as sentience itself.

If any god despises me for not subscribing to the views held by those who've clung to their imaginary friends, swords and fiery dungeons...so be it. Their despise, I shall answer with pity for their own sorry, narrow limitations if ever such a divinity makes it's case against me. Their anger, I shall answer with understanding, because I bear them no ill will. What ill will can I justify holding for a dream; a sometimes very good and necessary dream for those who've need of a dream?

I may remonstrate them sorely, if one or any prove to actually exist, but it's quite more probable that, in such instance, I would simply seek to know them better, as I would any other person or even being as that I became aware of.

Remember your childhood dreams, with as much fondness as you may. I remember mine with the fondness of one who looks upon stories written, pictures drawn and poetry scribed by one's own hand in grade school. I see in them the footprints of who I have been, what I once knew, what I once believed, and in so seeing, I see also that they were me, once.

I came from that. Once, I believed in dragons. Once, I believed in fairies. Once, in my mind alone, a carved stick was a magic sword that could cut through anything.

My dreams taught me how to dream. Now, I apply those dreams to exploring that which is. My dreaming mind leads me to imagine possibilities, contrive upon sometimes very silly theories, and then to test them, to question their nature, to challenge their veracity, to refine them and in so doing, explore them and the very world around me, because they are now of the world that is real; the world you and I and everyone share equally by merit of our similar senses and identical platforms of subjective purveyance.

My imagination, my dreams and the reality around me are at peace with each-other. Within me, they are friends and fast allies, no one threatened by any other, all as boon companions upon a path I do not walk alone. Let me tell you, it is a peace that knows no rival. It is as waking up every time I open my eyes and seeing something new every time I look upon the faces, in the eyes and in the very world around me.

Someday, I will look back upon that which I write now, that which I know now, that which I dream now, and I will say to myself "That was me once. That was what I knew then; that was what I thought then. I came from that."

I imagine that future time, and in so doing, I remember to realize that with every day that comes. In so doing, I am ever reminded to take nothing for granted; to take every opportunity to live up to my promises, to never miss a chance to share a moment with another, to never despair when there is so much joyful living to be doing.

Like a storybook knight gazing down a road untraveled into lands uncharted, I grin for the dreamed imagining of what it is that i might just know and thenceforth be tomorrow, and also for knowing that, if I am gone when tomorrow arrives, I will have lived a life fantastic, full of dreams and the curiosity of a child.

A life I would, in any afterlife or none at all, be proud to have lived.

Peace be with you; all of you, no matter what you believe.

-Jake

16 comments:

Valerie Tarico said...

What a beautiful story of your journey -- although the journey itself must have been raw and painful at times. People who feel threatened can be cruel; teenagers impulsively so.

Your story reminded me of the poem on the front page of losingmyreligion.com.

Peace

The boredCoder said...

Wonderful! Thank you for sharing your story. It's inspiring.

Matt Long said...

I think you were on to something when you were a child.

It's life's challenges that Satan brings that either galvanize our faith or cause us to walk away. Here's what Jesus said about it:

"13People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." 16And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." Mark 10:13-16

Life is hard. Sorry for your struggles.

-Matt

.:webmaster:. said...

Matt, please present some evidence that a magical, mysterious, mythical "SATAN" exists.

Until then, I prefer to tremble in abject terror because of the Bogey Man under my bed.

Bogey Man! That's a guy you can believe in!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matt Long said...

Why is Jesus not strong enough to stop Satan from galvanizing our faith Matt? Why is it that Satan seems to be more of a soul winner than what Jesus was or is?

Most Christians won't tell you this, but satan is a pawn of God. Sorry you don't like people quoting scripture, but here's one passage that I think demonstrates what I mean. "31"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you[a] as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31-32)

Jesus is saying that Satan wants to torment Peter (Simon) and test his faith. Jesus doesn't say, "oh I'll protect you." Instead he says, I've prayed that your faith will not fail. Then he says, as though it's a done deal, that when Peter has "turned back", meaning been galvanized, he should strengthen his brothers. Because Jesus prayed it, it was a done deal, but Peter still had to endure and go through his trial.

I know this will simply contribute to the viewpoint you already hold that this God is just mean and vindictive, but I believe God is good yet still has complete authority over all things including satan. God galvanizes his people through trial. He tests our faith. There is no denying that if you believe the Bible to be even somewhat true. Many who have had faith once (e.g. many people who are on this site) have rejected God and in all likelihood because of trial. Hebrews 12 is another chapter of the Bible that talks about Gods discipline/trial. It's not because we need punished. It's because we need refined. There's a big difference. It's tough stuff, but anybody who blames God for their trial is on the right track. He's doing it. Nobody else to blame. Now what? You either reject or accept. Turn away or turn back.

I believe God loves you and wants you to put your faith in him. Remember, faith is not about what is seen, but what is unseen. If, as most people demand, you want God to show himself else you won't believe, then it's not faith. If what we have faith in could be scientifically verified it would no longer be called faith.

-Matt

Anonymous said...

Matt wrote: "Life is hard. Sorry for your struggles."

Yep, and Jesus doesn't make life any easier. Yet he claims in his word:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ( Matthew 11:28-30)

I'm sure to many christians that scripture sounds good to them. However in reality life does not work that way. There is no personal Jesus who makes our burdens light, and there is no Jesus who we can rest in. You were right Matt, life is hard, and another fact is that Jesus does not make things any better for any of us.

If Jesus is a real living being then Jesus should be the one making the apology about life being so difficult, not you Matt.

If Jesus is real, then Christians need to let Jesus speak for himself. Perhaps if all of the christians would stop speaking for him, Jesus might come out of hiding and reveal himself. However, I'm not holding my breath on that one either.

Quoting scripture does not benefit anyone. All it does is builds more false hopes and causes people to be more delusional. Instead of helping people solve problems, christians quote scripture or they tell you that they will pray for you, which provides no real comfort, nor does it solve anyone's problems. Only people can help each other.

The only way to make this world a better place is to start trusting in our own abilities, and get rid of all of this superstition about God and Jesus making things better. People are going to have to start working together in this world to make it a better place. Trusting in God and Jesus will not make this world a better place. Most christians are more focused on the destruction of this planet. They are more focused on dying than they are in living.

Matt Wrote: "It's life's challenges that Satan brings that either galvanize our faith or cause us to walk away"

I wonder why Jesus allows Satan to harass others which could possibly cause some people to walk away from the faith Matt? Why is it that Satan seems to be more of a soul winner than what Jesus was or is? If Jesus truly cared about his followers, then it appears he would not allow Satan to harass others which could lead to them possibly walking away from the faith.

It's almost like Satan and God are playing Chess with the people of Earth. The Earth is the Chess Board and the people who live here are God and Satan's Chess Pawns, and we are all part of some big game between Satan and God.

It also kind of reminds me of someone who gambles. Satan and God placed a bet against Job, and they played with Job's life to see who would win the bet.

I've said it many times, and I am going to say it again. Satan seems to have more power and influence over the people here on planet Earth than what Jesus does. Jesus can't seem to do much to influence people and get them to believe him. Satan seems to be the one who knows how to win friends and influence people according to most christians. Satan also seems to be more available to people than what Jesus is.

It's sad that Jesus won't do anything to help christians prove their case for him. It seems he has left all of his people down here to fight the good fight all by themselves, and he doesn't seem to do anything to lend any of his people a helping hand.

Christians are more faithful to Jesus than he has ever been to any of them. That's for sure

Anonymous said...

Matt Wrote: "I know this will simply contribute to the viewpoint you already hold that this God is just mean and vindictive"

Yes Matt, you have proven that point. Thanks for your contribution.

Matt Wrote: "but I believe God is good yet still has complete authority over all things including satan. God galvanizes his people through trial. He tests our faith."

You may believe it Matt, however it is only a belief, not a fact which you cannot prove to be true. All you are presenting is more excuses for why your God's wrong doings.

As far as God needing to test our faith, why would an all knowing God who already knows the outcome need to test our faith? That is absurd.

Your statements also clearly say that God is basically a user, and he cares only about his own self centered agenda. He does not care about the pain he afflicts on others who live in this world. He just wants someone to give him attention. I find your God to be no more loving than what Adolf Hitler was.

Matt Wrote: "I believe God loves you and wants you to put your faith in him."

Well considering that I am a lowly human being who has needs and emotional desires, I really don't care about what some spiritual manipulative bully named God wants.

I'm the one who has needs, not some all powerful God. He could care less about anything any of us down here on planet Earth wants.

God sure has a funny way of showing his so called love also. I find your and God's view of love to be quiet twisted. Threatening to roast people in hell is not love. No human parent would allow such a thing to happen. Even if I made the choice to set myself on fire, my parents would not allow me to do so. Your God is not about love. Your God is all about his own little mind games he seems to enjoy playing.

Matt Wrote: "Remember, faith is not about what is seen, but what is unseen. If, as most people demand, you want God to show himself else you won't believe, then it's not faith. If what we have faith in could be scientifically verified it would no longer be called faith"

Well unfortunately faith is not good enough for people like myself who needed answers back during our lowest point in our lives. The fact is that your God did not care about my personal needs, and the hell that I was going through. Your God just wants to torment people to see how they will react.

I for one need to have answers, instead of being told to simply have faith. Having faith in the God who you believe in nearly is what nearly destroyed my life.

Being told "God loves you" is nothing more than worthless lip service. Once again Matt let your God speak for himself.

I will also remind you that the bible is not authentic proof of your God's existence or his word. It is only hear-say, and was written by men who claimed they knew what God was telling them.

The bible is basically the opinions of men who lived back during that time period who expressed their own personal point of views about who and what God is, or what he is supposed to be.

You can quote scripture Matt, however I still say let your God do the talking, not some ancient book that is flawed.

Anonymous said...

Just to add to my previous post:

Why is is so important that we have faith? Why would it hurt God to prove his own existence to us? Isn't proof supposed to be more important than faith?

God wanting people to have faith in him is God's way of playing mind games with all of us it seems.

Matt, I don't know if you are new to this site or not, however you will not be able to prove your case for Christ on here. There are many others who post on this site who will shred your case for Christ to pieces. Some of these people are a lot more educated than I am, and they know how to expose christianity for the lie that it is.

You are not the only christian to ever come onto this site thinking that they can convince us that "The Christian Way is the right way".
I suggest you don't waste your time trying to prove your case for Christ to any of us, because you will fail. All you will end up doing is reminding people like myself how sick and tired we are of hearing this same BS from christians like you. This site was created for people like myself who have struggled to get away from the oppression known as christianity. This site is not a place for christians like you to come on here trying to score brownie points for your Savior Jesus by your constant worthless bible babbling.

Like all christians you provide nothing but worthless scripture quoting and cheap talk which proves nothing about your God's existence.

.:webmaster:. said...

Matt, since you are so enamored with your Jesus, I challenge you in the name of God Almighty to OBEY YOUR GOD!!!!

Matt, I am asking you, in the name of the Lord, to give me ten dollars. Your GOD commands you to "Give to all who ask," and I am asking you for ten dollars RIGHT NOW!

Obey your GOD, Matt. Give to all who ask.

For a full discussion of this command of the Almighty, click here: NO TRUE CHRISTIANS.

Matt Long said...

Hey Mandy,

I'll stop right there. You're right. It boils down to a belief that I hold and that's where I stand and a belief you hold and that's where you stand. I don't know all of the answers, but let me just say that I am really sorry for your trial. I've been through some serious trials lately myself. Life it terribly hard... often.

I don't know what you're going through, but hang in there. I wish I could offer you some comfort. I can't tell you that Jesus will just come and make you feel good. I've never witnessed that. I can't tell you that your life will get better. I'm a person going through struggles myself and I don't have too many answers. All I can say is that I hope the people in your life will embrace you and love you through your struggle. Often, our only tangible comfort comes from the love of other people. If people aren't doing that for you, tell them you need them to love you. People are dumb and often can't figure that out on their own.

-Matt

p.s. I caught your follow up post. I probably won't last long at the site, so don't worry. I do appreciate the warning.

.:webmaster:. said...

MATT MATT MATT MATT MATT MATT!!!!!

Please, in the name of your holy and wonderful GOD! Please give me ten dollars! You are commanded to give to all who ask, and I'm asking.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Matt Wrote: "Jesus doesn't say, "oh I'll protect you." Instead he says, I've prayed that your faith will not fail."

Why would Jesus (Who is supposed to be God himself) need to pray? Why would God need to pray for himself when he can simply make it happen? Unless there is a greater power than God that he did not tell us about.

Just remember Matt, God already knows the outcome, so why the need to pray? Sounds like a contradiction if you ask me. Explain that one also Matt.

Anonymous said...

Well at least thanks for your honesty Matt.

Take care.

Mandy :)

WhateverLolaWants said...

Jake, this is a beautiful piece! Thank you for writing it... I really enjoyed it, and parts of it resembled my own journey, too, which is neat. This piece should be read by Christians everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jake,

I have nothing at all to add in the way of comment on your deconversion.

Instead I wanted to tell you about the documentary "Planet earth". If you don't have it and don't want to buy it, maybe you can borrrow it from someone who owns it. The footage devoted to caves is beyond incredible, deliciously perfect for any dreamer.

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