Thursday, October 29, 2015

To keep the temple a holy place

"Jesus Cleanses the Temple" is the title of a video in the LDS Media Library at LDS.org (click here). The subtitle of this video states:

"Jesus clears worldly merchandise from the temple courts in order to keep the temple a holy place." (Emphasis added.)

James E. Talmage provides additional details, explaining that between the outer wall and the inner temple was a spacious courtyard, the Court of the Gentiles:

"It was in this court that money-changers and traffickers in animals used for sacrifice had established their stalls at the time of our Lord's ministry, and from which they were expelled through His righteous indignation." (The House of the Lord, 1968, p47; see also D. Kelly Ogden, "Jesus and the Temple," Ensign, April 1991.)


During the past thirteen months, my wife and I have spent a fair amount of time in the Ogden Utah Temple. On numerous occasions, on our way home, we have encountered crowds of people waiting for a newlywed couple to exit the temple doors. Twice, we have been startled by sudden cheering from the crowd when our own exit happened to coincide with the exit of the newlyweds. And once, such cheers from outside the building disturbed the quiet reverence of the work in the basement baptistry.

I'm not talking about the laughter of small children or the joy and exuberance of youth. I'm talking about grown-ups yelling and cheering just outside the temple doors.


God spoke with Moses out of a burning bush, as recorded in the book of Exodus. And God said: "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." (Ex. 3:5.) According to President Gordon B. Hinckley, this instruction pertains to modern Israel as well:

"We do not ask our people to remove their shoes when they come into the chapel. But all who come into the Lord's house should have a feeling that they are walking and standing on holy ground and that it becomes them to deport themselves accordingly." (General Conference, April 1987.)

The Ogden Utah Temple and grounds were dedicated in 1972 by President Joseph Fielding Smith and rededicated in 2014 by President Thomas S. Monson. Therefore, one might say today:

"We do not ask visitors to remove their shoes when they set foot on the temple grounds. But all who enter there should have a feeling that they are walking and standing on holy ground and that it becomes them to deport themselves accordingly."


It is wrong to stand on the temple grounds and conduct a pep rally for newlyweds, yelling and cheering them on as they exit the temple.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Paradisiacal evolution

"We believe ... that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory." (Tenth Article of Faith.)

BRUCE R. MCCONKIE: "'We believe ... that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.' (A of F 1:10.) That is to say, when the earth was first created it was in a paradisiacal state, an Edenic state, a state in which there was no death. And when the Lord comes again, and the Millennial era is ushered in, the earth will return to its paradisiacal state and be renewed. It will be made new again; it will become a new heaven and a new earth whereon dwelleth righteousness. In that day, 'there shall be no sorrow because there is no death' as we know it. (D&C 101:29.)" (Ensign, June 1982.)

Three years later, as he closed his ministry, McConkie testified once more that "all things [were] created in a paradisiacal state—without death." (Ensign, May 1985.)

RUSSELL M. NELSON: "The creation of a paradisiacal planet came from God. Mortality and death came into the world through the Fall of Adam.... Eventually, ' the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.' At the Second Coming of the Lord, the earth will be changed once again. It will be returned to its paradisiacal state and be made new." (Ensign, May 2000.)

JOSEPH SMITH: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith speaks of the day when earth will "resume" its paradisiacal glory. To "resume" means to begin again, or continue after interruption. Quoting the Tenth Article of Faith, the manual further says earth will be "renewed" to paradisiacal glory. To "renew" is to make new again, to restore. Joseph Smith originated the ideas quoted above (by McConkie and Nelson).

CONCLUSION: The word "paradisiacal" in the Tenth Article of Faith describes the millennial glory to which earth will be renewed, even the glory that was interrupted by the Fall of Adam. Paradisiacal glory is irreconcilable with evolution theory. There is no such thing as paradisiacal evolution.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

David H. Bailey haunted by Bruce R. McConkie

More than 30 years after his death, and nearly 60 years after he published his book, Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie is still haunting David H. Bailey with these 16 words:

"There is no harmony between the truths of revealed religion and the theories of organic evolution."

Last year, David H. Bailey published a paper that purports to be a history of the Church's stand on evolution. Included is a short treatment of McConkie's Mormon Doctrine, including a quotation from Mormon Doctrine of the 16 words cited above. Then Bailey says this about McConkie's book:

"President McKay asked a committee consisting of Elders Mark E. Petersen and Marion G. Romney to review the book. Elder Petersen reported finding 1067 difficulties, which 'affected most of the 776 pages of the book,' while Elder Romney listed 40 areas of concern, including the treatment of 'evolution and evolutionists.' The consensus at the time was that Elder McConkie was not to publish a second edition, although subsequently a second edition appeared in 1966."[1]

Bailey's description of the relationship that existed between Church leaders and McConkie's book parallels the account found in the book, David O. McKay: The Rise of Modern Mormonism, by Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright. In fact, Bailey lists that book as a source for this part of his article. Unfortunately, Prince and Wright give us a dishonest picture of Bruce R. McConkie and his book.

Prince and Wright Malign Mcconkie

Background: For the last 35 years of David O. McKay's life, Clare Middlemiss was his personal secretary. After her death it came to light that over the years she had made unauthorized copies of 130,000 pages of a wide variety of things ranging from McKay's diary and personal letters to transcripts of First Presidency meetings. She stored the copies in her garage and bequeathed them to a nephew who, with the help of a friend, used them to write David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism (Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright, University of Utah Press, 2005). The following explains how this book wrongfully discredits and defames Elder Bruce R. McConkie.

BRUCE R. MCCONKIE (1915-1985) was not yet a member of the Twelve when Mormon Doctrine was published. He was 43 years old. The book was published by Bookcraft (privately owned) instead of Deseret Book (Church owned), and the title itself was deemed by some to be inappropriately audacious. Today, after nearly six decades, the book is still a lightening rod for criticism of its author.

In 1999, when Bookcraft was acquired by Deseret Book, many people thought Mormon Doctrine would quietly disappear from the bookstores. Instead, Deseret Book began printing the book as one of its own titles.

In 2010, however, Deseret Book decided to drop Mormon Doctrine. That decision sparked open rejoicing in some quarters and lively discussions on quite a few LDS blogs. Several bloggers claimed the book should never have survived the 1950's because President McKay found over a thousand errors in it when it was first published.

This thousand errors rumor found new life in 2005 when Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright published David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism and included a short section titled "The Controversy over Mormon Doctrine."[2] (You can read that section of the book here.)

Given the enormous frequency with which Mormon Doctrine has been quoted in official LDS media for nearly 60 years, it is surprising that anyone could believe the book contains a thousand errors. Yet, by simply omitting a few significant aspects of the Mormon Doctrine story, the rumor is made to appear believable.

Let's begin by looking at a few events that Prince and Wright did include.

1958: "Bruce R. McConkie, then a member of the First Council of the Seventy ... published an encyclopedic book with the presumptuous title of Mormon Doctrine."[3]

1959: David O. McKay asked Mark E. Petersen and Marion G. Romney to critique Mormon Doctrine for him.[4]

1960: Marion G. Romney's letter to David O. McKay was reviewed (but see the 1959 Romney omission, below) and Mark E. Petersen "gave McKay an oral report in which he recommended 1,067 corrections."[5] The First Presidency asked Elder McConkie to drop his future plans for Mormon Doctrine.[6]

1966: McConkie "moved with the same boldness of eight years earlier, and published a second edition of Mormon Doctrine."[7]

The short Mormon Doctrine story published by Prince and Wright definitely makes a point. But does it portray a fair and accurate picture of Bruce R. McConkie? I don't think it does. Here are some things Prince and Wright neglected to mention.

Petersen's career. Admittedly, the exact nature of each of Elder Petersen's 1,067 recommended corrections isn't known, but I think it helps to remember his professional career.

Prior to his call to the Twelve, Petersen was employed for many years by the Deseret News. He started as a copy reader, then worked as a news editor, later he was managing editor, and finally editor of the newspaper.[8] He was fully qualified by training and experience to look at Mormon Doctrine from a professional editor's point of view.

It seems unlikely to me that someone skilled at looking for spelling and grammar errors would suddenly adopt a different approach on McConkie's book and concentrate only on erroneous teachings. Why ignore Elder Petersen's professional background and speculate that his list included mostly doctrinal errors?

In all likelihood, his list covered the whole spectrum of editorial corrections. It is ludicrous to think that Petersen found 1,067 doctrinal errors in the book.

In 1958, Bookcraft was a fledgling publisher without a full-time editor. An editor would have found and dealt with most of Petersen's list prior to Mormon Doctrine's initial publication.[9]

The Inspired Version. It is also possible that some of the doctrinal errors Elder Petersen did find were, in the end, not actually doctrinal errors. For example, Elder McConkie and Elder Petersen are on record with differing viewpoints about the Inspired Version of the Bible. Elder McConkie thought it could "be used with safety"[10] while Elder Petersen thought it was "of questionable value."[11]

Why speculate that Elder Petersen didn't mark for correction any of Mormon Doctrine's references to the Inspired Version? In all likelihood, as many as 170 such references were on his list of recommended changes.[12]

Then in 1979, just twenty years later, more than 600 "doctrinally significant ... excerpts from the JST (previously known as the Inspired Version)" became part of the LDS edition of the Bible after "the First Presidency decided" to include them.[13]

Clearly, these Inspired Version changes may now be used with safety. For all practical purposes, they "are scripture and have the same truth and validity as if they were in the Pearl of Great Price itself."[14]

Romney's opinion. It is noteworthy that prior to being called as General Authorities, both Marion G. Romney and Bruce R. McConkie practiced law in Salt Lake City and both held the title, at different times, of assistant city attorney.[15] It makes sense that President McKay would invite an attorney to review another attorney's book for him.

On January 5, 1959, President McKay asked Elder Romney to review Mormon Doctrine. Twenty three days later, on January 28, 1959, Elder Romney wrote David O. McKay a lengthy letter detailing his findings. (The 1959 dates of January 5th and 28th are not mentioned by Prince and Wright, who imply that Romney didn't respond until January 7, 1960.)

Having been asked to look for problems, Elder Romney responded accordingly[16] and apparently, his letter was reviewed again the following year on January 7th as pointed out by Prince and Wright who were careful to quote some of his negative comments.[17]

But in addition to his criticisms of Mormon Doctrine, Elder Romney made positive comments about the book and we ought to consider them as well. They have been summarized as follows:

"In general, Elder Romney had a high regard for Mormon Doctrine and felt it filled an evident need remarkably well."[18]

Significantly, Romney did in fact quote from Mormon Doctrine in one of his own subsequent general conference talks.[19]

The second edition. According to Prince and Wright, David O. McKay told McConkie on July 5, 1966, that "should the book be re-published at this time" McConkie would be responsible for it. Then Prince and Wright give us this choice bit of reasoning.

"McConkie, who practiced law prior to becoming a General Authority, was well versed in the legal meaning of words; and so one is hard pressed to concluded that he misunderstood McKay's cautionary statement, 'should the book be re-published,' as a mandate to republish."[20]

According to Bruce R. McConkie's son, "On July 5, 1966, President McKay invited Elder McConkie into his office and gave approval for the book to be reprinted if appropriate changes were made and approved. Elder Spencer W. Kimball was assigned to be Elder McConkie's mentor in making those changes."[21]

I myself cannot believe that Bruce R. McConkie misunderstood Spencer W. Kimball's assignment in the preparation of a Mormon Doctrine second edition.[22]

"There were about fifty items that Elder Kimball wanted Elder McConkie to revisit... They dealt with tone and with the wisdom of including particular things.... Elder Kimball was a wise mentor who taught [Elder McConkie] the difference between being right and being appropriate.... Elder Kimball's list of things that needed changing [was] much less extensive than the changes that were made in the second edition....

"The report submitted to the First Presidency by Elder Spencer W. Kimball indicates that he checked changes made on fifty-six pages, all of which he approved. He did not indicate a single instance of doctrinal disagreement with what was written."[23]

Called to the Twelve. In 1972, when the First Presidency and the Twelve approved Bruce R. McConkie to be presented and sustained as the Church's newest Apostle, Marion G. Romney was a member of the First Presidency and Mark E. Petersen was a senior Apostle.

According to Prince and Wright, the reports prepared by Elders Romney and Peterson led to a First Presidency decision that Mormon Doctrine should not be reprinted. Yet in 1966 McConkie "moved with the same boldness of eight years earlier, and published a second edition" anyway, according to Prince and Wright.[24]

But notice that Romney and Petersen both approved McConkie's 1972 call to the apostleship. Clearly they had a much more complete understanding of Mormon Doctrine's history than is found in Prince and Wright.

Contrary to rumor. President David O. McKay did NOT find over a thousand errors in Mormon Doctrine. Copies published by Deseret Book carried this Publisher's Note:

"Mormon Doctrine has for decades been a classic work on certain beliefs and practices unique to the Latter-day Saints. A reflection of the times and culture in which it was written, this monumental work has added to the understanding of countless members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

McConkie was a doctrinal giant. Mormon Doctrine was a prodigious work. Yet by simply omitting key elements of the story, Prince and Wright created a false picture of "The Controversy over Mormon Doctrine."

Conclusion. Mormon Doctrine is a classic of Mormon literature. As the author's son, Joseph Fielding McConkie, has pointed out:

"Few books can match it in endurance or number of copies sold. Perhaps few books, except the scriptures, can match it in the frequency with which it has been quoted in talks and lessons by those seeking to teach gospel principles."[25]

And the influence of Bruce R. McConkie himself is greatly underestimated by those who ignore his reputation among those with whom he served as a Church leader. According to President Ezra Taft Benson, the First Presidency and Twelve frequently turned to Elder McConkie on matters of doctrine.[26]

His part in the preparation of the 1979 LDS Bible and 1981 edition of the triple combination was monumental. He was one of three (along with Thomas S. Monson and Boyd K. Packer) assigned by the First Presidency to oversee the project. He personally wrote all of the newly revised chapter and section headings and his imprint is on many entries in the LDS Bible Dictionary.

The scripture project, said Boyd K. Packer “was one great crowning achievement in Brother McConkie's ministry.... If ever there was a man who was raised up unto a very purpose, if ever a man was prepared against a certain day of need, it was Bruce R. McConkie." According to President Packer, the project "could not have been done without Elder Bruce R. McConkie."[27]

Boyd K. Packer served closely with Bruce R. McConkie during that project and believes "few will ever know the extent of the service he rendered. Few can appraise the lifetime of preparation for this quiet crowning contribution to the onrolling of the restored gospel in the dispensation of the fulness of times."[28]


1. David H. Bailey, "History of the LDS Church's view on the age of the earth and evolution" (Click here).

2. Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. SLC: University of Utah Press, 2005, pp.49-53.

3. Prince and Wright, p.49.

4. Prince and Wright, p.50.

5. Prince and Wright, p.50. One wonders how long it took to give an oral report of 1,067 corrections.

6. Prince and Wright, pp.51-52.

7. Prince and Wright, pp.52-53.

8. Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, Mar. 1984, p.9.

9. See Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Bruce R. McConkie Story: Reflections of a Son, SLC: Deseret Book, 2003, pp.186-187.

10. Elder McConkie stated in Mormon Doctrine:

"At the command of the Lord and while acting under the spirit of revelation, the Prophet corrected, revised, altered, added to, and deleted from the King James Version of the Bible to form what is now commonly referred to as the Inspired Version of the Bible....

"Such Biblical revisions as have been made may be used with safety, and parts of these are now published by the Church in its standard works [including] the Book of Moses [and] the revised 24th chapter of Matthew." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, 1966, pp.383-385; the same wording is in the 1958 first edition.)

11. Elder Petersen stated in As Translated Correctly:

"It will be recalled that the Prophet Joseph Smith began what truly was an inspired translation of the Bible, but persecutions and his subsequent martyrdom made it impossible for him to finish the work. Certain parts which he did finish are now printed in the Pearl of Great Price as the Book of Moses and the 24th Chapter of Matthew.

"Not satisfied with these, however, the Reorganized Church decided to publish the 'inspired version' including what changes the Prophet had made. But, not happy with all of his changes, THEY ALTERED THE BIBLE TO SUIT THEIR OWN DESIRES, and actually changed some of the corrections made by the Prophet Joseph himself....

"Such changes of course make the work of questionable value, because the ordinary reader is at a loss to know what the Prophet corrected and what the Reorganized Church 'corrected' (?) to their own liking." (Mark E. Petersen, As Translated Correctly, SLC: Deseret Book, 1966, p.30; capitalized emphasis and "(?)" in the original.)

12. See Dennis B. Horne, Bruce R. McConkie: Highlights From His Life & Teachings, Roy, Utah: Eborn Books, 2000, pp.63-64.

13. Robert J. Matthews, "Why does the LDS edition of the Bible not contain all of the corrections and additions made by Joseph Smith?" Ensign, June 1992, p.29; see also David Rolph Seely, "The Joseph Smith Translation: 'Plain and Precious Things' Restored," Ensign, Aug. 1997, p.13

14. On March 10, 1985, a Churchwide satellite fireside on "Using the Scriptures" was held. Speakers included President Gordon B. Hinckley and the three Apostles (Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer, and Bruce R. McConkie) who served on the Scriptures Publication Committee during the preparation of the new LDS edition of the scriptures. During this fireside, Elder McConkie said:

"Other Inspired Version changes are found in the footnotes of our new edition of the Bible. Those too lengthy for inclusion in the footnotes are published in a seventeen-page section at the back of this Bible edition. All of these changes and additions are scripture and have the same truth and validity as if they were in the Pearl of Great Price itself." (Ensign, Dec. 1985, p.58.)

15. See Ensign, July 1988, p.74 (Romney) and New Era, June 1985, p.9 (McConkie).

16. Horne, p.63.

17. Prince and Wright, p.50. Prince and Wright date the letter Jan. 7, 1960, but I've seen multiple sources that date it Jan. 28, 1959 (i.e. Horne, p.63).

18. Horne, p.63.

19. See Ensign, May 1974, p.90.

20. Prince and Wright, pp.52.

21. Reflections, p.183.

22. Reflections, p.183.; see also Horne, pp.65-66.

23. Reflections, pp.187 and 191.

24. Prince and Wright, pp.51-53.

25. Reflections, p.182.

26. Ensign, June 1985, p.16.

27. Ibid.

28. Ibid.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Look up, not down, to find the origin of man

A few years ago, BYU Zoology Professor Duane Jeffery (now retired) announced that, "Amongst vertebrates, there is a sequence (in the fossil record) all the way from fish to humans." (BYU Daily Universe, June 5, 1996; see also Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 11, 2006.) Some Church members have suggested that this explains the origin of man.

Boyd K. Packer didn't agree. He said, "When confronted by evidence in the rocks below, rely on the witness of the heavens above." ("The Law and the Light," BYU, 1990.)

Currently, the Church's web site (JesusChrist.LDS.org) features Boyd K. Packer discussing "Who is Jesus Christ" and, in the process, explaining why we must look up, not down, to find the origin of man.

"Created in His Image

"We are taught in Genesis, in Moses, in Abraham, in the Book of Mormon, and in the endowment that man's mortal body was made in the image of God in a separate creation. Had the Creation come in a different way, there could have been no Fall.

"If men were merely animals, then logic favors freedom without accountability.

"How well I know that among learned men are those who look down at animals and stones to find the origin of man. They do not look inside themselves to find the spirit there. They train themselves to measure things by time, by thousands and by millions, and say these animals called men all came by chance. And this they are free to do, for agency is theirs.

"But agency is ours as well. We look up, and in the universe we see the handiwork of God and measure things by epochs, by aeons, by dispensations, by eternities. The many things we do not know, we take on faith.

"But this we know! It was all planned 'before the world was' (D&C 38:1; see also D&C 49:17, 76:13, 39, 93:7, Abraham 3:22—25). Events from the Creation to the final, winding-up scene are not based on chance; they are based on choice! It was planned that way.

"This we know! This simple truth! Had there been no Creation and no Fall, there should have been no need for any Atonement, neither a Redeemer to mediate for us. Then Christ need not have been."

(JesusChrist.LDS.org, click the image below.)

The above passage affirms and amplifies what he once said in general conference:

"Surely no one with reverence for God could believe that His children evolved from slime or from reptiles." (Ensign, Nov. 1984.)

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

The earth, God's handiwork

D&C 104:14: "I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine."


Spencer W. Kimball: "The watchmaker in Switzerland, with materials at hand, made the watch that was found in the sand in a California desert. The people who found the watch had never been to Switzerland, nor seen the watchmaker, nor seen the watch made. The watchmaker still existed, no matter the extent of their ignorance or experience. If the watch had a tongue, it might even lie and say, 'There is no watchmaker.' That would not alter the truth....

"The Gods organized the earth of materials at hand, over which they had control and power. This truth is absolute. A million educated folk might speculate and determine in their minds that the earth came into being by chance. The truth remains. The earth was made by the Gods as was the watch by the watchmaker. Opinions do not change that.

"The Gods organized and gave life to man and placed him on the earth. This is absolute. It cannot be disproved. A million brilliant minds might conjecture otherwise, but it is still true." (Ensign, July 1979.)


Thomas S. Monson: With thoughtful consideration the Living Prophet reasons, if there is design in the world, there "must be a designer." According to President Monson, "the Grand Designer" created the heaven and the earth. For example, there was light, President Monson said, because the Grand Designer said "Let there be light." The sun, moon, and stars "came by His design."

"Man alone," said President Monson, "received intelligence, a brain, a mind, and a soul. Man alone with these attributes had the capacity for faith and hope, for inspiration and ambition." He said man is "the noblest work of the Great Designer." (Ensign, May 2010.)


Jeffrey R. Holland: "The simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and we will not adequately appreciate the unique purpose of His birth or His death—in other words, there is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter—without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it.

"I do not know the details of what happened on this planet before that, but I do know these two were created under the divine hand of God, that for a time they lived alone in a paradisiacal setting where there was neither human death nor future family." (Ensign, May 2015.)

D. Todd Christofferson: "We came to dwell on the earth that He [our Heavenly Father] created for us. ... our claims for the role of marriage and family rest not on social science but on the truth that they are God’s creation. It is He who in the beginning created Adam and Eve in His image, male and female, and joined them as husband and wife." (Ensign, May 2015.)

Neil L. Andersen: "The Lord declared, 'I am able to do mine own work.' (2 Nephi 27:20.) We each try to do our part, but He is the grand architect. Under the direction of His Father, He created this world. 'All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.' (John 1:3.) As we are spiritually awake and alert, we see His hand across the world and we see His hand in our own personal lives." (Ensign, May 2015.)

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hearing the voice of the Lord

"Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear.

"...and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;...

"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." (D&C 1:11, 14, 38.)

This post is an updated reprint from ten years ago (click here).

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