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Cremation Protestant view vs orthodox view and your personal view

jewish voice

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I have put off my joining of the orthodox church again over this issue. Soon be 2 years since my Dad passed away and it happened suddenly and unexpected. We never really as a family talked about such issues anyways we had my father cremated. I found out the orthodox church is against cremation that the priest can't even do such a funeral. In my researching on this main line Protestants have no stance for or against cremation at all. What is your take on cremation vs burial and the orthodox view of this?
 

Ainnir

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I'm sorry for your loss.
Lord, have mercy.
 

hecma925

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Bury the relics.
 

LizaSymonenko

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The reason the Church frowns upon cremation is that the human body was created by the Lord as a temple for Him.  For the life of that body the Holy Spirit has resided within.  The soul of the person has found solace in that flesh... and through it has worked out its salvation (or condemnation).

At the General Resurrection... that same body will be resurrected and reunited with its soul.

Not only do we not cremate, we are taught not to treat this body poorly, not to disfigure it, injure it, etc.  This is a temple made by God.

Cremation was instituted by ancient people who did not believe that body would arise.  They saw no further need of it, so they discarded the dead flesh and burned it.

We know differently.

Christ's human body died on the cross on Friday... and yet, on Sunday, that very same body was up and moving around... talking, eating, etc.

Therefore, our bodies are not temporal, and will not be useless after death, but, will be renewed when the time comes.

While God WILL renew all that is broken... resurrect the flesh that died upon the sea and was eaten by fish, the body that burned in a crash, etc... this is not an argument for cremation.

It is not that God cannot revive the ashes, as He once did... it is our show of respect for the flesh He made... and our trust and faith that this same body will arise again...
 

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jewish voice said:
I have put off my joining of the orthodox church again over this issue. Soon be 2 years since my Dad passed away and it happened suddenly and unexpected. We never really as a family talked about such issues anyways we had my father cremated. I found out the orthodox church is against cremation that the priest can't even do such a funeral. In my researching on this main line Protestants have no stance for or against cremation at all. What is your take on cremation vs burial and the orthodox view of this?
1. May his memory be eternal!

2. Please don't take any commentary on the general topic (for or against cremation) as a particular statement over how well or poorly your family handled your father's passing.  As Orthodox Christians we believe that we should make decisions consistent with the Gospel's teachings on the human person and our relationship with God, but ultimately if we make mistakes He (being all powerful) is able to fix our mistakes.

3. Our position against cremation has multiple reasons, including:

- As Liza mentions above, our profession of hope in the General Resurrection, which leads us to not deliberately destroy the body which will be reconstituted and perfected by the Lord (as we saw done to His own body after His Resurrection).

- Our desire to show respect to the person even in death, since their soul continues, and since our behavior to the dead also informs our behavior to the living

- Our experience that God chooses to work through relics, therefore we elect to not destroy what may become a tool of His Grace

- The historical context that the burning of bodies was common among pagans (and thus was rejected by Jews and Christians), and was seen as a sign of disfavor by the Jews (i.e. if the Lord's fire consumed someone's body it wasn't a good thing).

- Our view that cremation is a violent act in and of itself (not only the burning, but also the pulverizing of what does not burn)

I hope the above is helpful.
 

David Young

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LizaSymonenko said:
The reason the Church frowns upon cremation is that the human body was created by the Lord as a temple for Him.  For the life of that body the Holy Spirit has resided within.  The soul of the person has found solace in that flesh... and through it has worked out its salvation (or condemnation).

At the General Resurrection... that same body will be resurrected and reunited with its soul.

Not only do we not cremate, we are taught not to treat this body poorly, not to disfigure it, injure it, etc.  This is a temple made by God.

Cremation was instituted by ancient people who did not believe that body would arise.  They saw no further need of it, so they discarded the dead flesh and burned it.

We know differently.

Christ's human body died on the cross on Friday... and yet, on Sunday, that very same body was up and moving around... talking, eating, etc.

Therefore, our bodies are not temporal, and will not be useless after death, but, will be renewed when the time comes.

While God WILL renew all that is broken... resurrect the flesh that died upon the sea and was eaten by fish, the body that burned in a crash, etc... this is not an argument for cremation.

It is not that God cannot revive the ashes, as He once did... it is our show of respect for the flesh He made... and our trust and faith that this same body will arise again...
I agree with all of this. I suspect the reason the OP observes that mainly Protestant denominations do not object to cremation is for two reasons: (a) liberal theology which, since perhaps the 1890s or so, has denied the resurrection, and (b) because they always bow to the wind, imbibe whatever the current worldly Zeitgeist is, and compromise accordingly on (or simply discard) biblical teaching (cf their current promotion of sodomy). There are, of course, Prots who reject cremation - not only me! - and I once saw a pamphlet entitled something like Cremation - not for Christians.

A personal view? It is not up to me to destroy something which God has planned a future for; what happens to people incinerated in fire, in bombing raids, &c is in God's hands: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
 

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Fr. George said:
jewish voice said:
I have put off my joining of the orthodox church again over this issue. Soon be 2 years since my Dad passed away and it happened suddenly and unexpected. We never really as a family talked about such issues anyways we had my father cremated. I found out the orthodox church is against cremation that the priest can't even do such a funeral. In my researching on this main line Protestants have no stance for or against cremation at all. What is your take on cremation vs burial and the orthodox view of this?
1. May his memory be eternal!

2. Please don't take any commentary on the general topic (for or against cremation) as a particular statement over how well or poorly your family handled your father's passing.  As Orthodox Christians we believe that we should make decisions consistent with the Gospel's teachings on the human person and our relationship with God, but ultimately if we make mistakes He (being all powerful) is able to fix our mistakes.

3. Our position against cremation has multiple reasons, including:

- As Liza mentions above, our profession of hope in the General Resurrection, which leads us to not deliberately destroy the body which will be reconstituted and perfected by the Lord (as we saw done to His own body after His Resurrection).

- Our desire to show respect to the person even in death, since their soul continues, and since our behavior to the dead also informs our behavior to the living

- Our experience that God chooses to work through relics, therefore we elect to not destroy what may become a tool of His Grace

- The historical context that the burning of bodies was common among pagans (and thus was rejected by Jews and Christians), and was seen as a sign of disfavor by the Jews (i.e. if the Lord's fire consumed someone's body it wasn't a good thing).

- Our view that cremation is a violent act in and of itself (not only the burning, but also the pulverizing of what does not burn)

I hope the above is helpful.
thank you Father for your reply. I would be interested in your view of 1st Samuel 31:12 as they burned Saul and all his sons plus others in the army I would imagine at the time. To me just my view why would the church paint herself into the corner on this issue so to speak. Burned body is a burned body done intentionally or unintentionally.at least it was done at one point in the Bible by our patriarchs of the religion I would believe that David gave this order to have had it done yes no
 

LizaSymonenko

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jewish voice said:
Fr. George said:
jewish voice said:
I have put off my joining of the orthodox church again over this issue. Soon be 2 years since my Dad passed away and it happened suddenly and unexpected. We never really as a family talked about such issues anyways we had my father cremated. I found out the orthodox church is against cremation that the priest can't even do such a funeral. In my researching on this main line Protestants have no stance for or against cremation at all. What is your take on cremation vs burial and the orthodox view of this?
1. May his memory be eternal!

2. Please don't take any commentary on the general topic (for or against cremation) as a particular statement over how well or poorly your family handled your father's passing.  As Orthodox Christians we believe that we should make decisions consistent with the Gospel's teachings on the human person and our relationship with God, but ultimately if we make mistakes He (being all powerful) is able to fix our mistakes.

3. Our position against cremation has multiple reasons, including:

- As Liza mentions above, our profession of hope in the General Resurrection, which leads us to not deliberately destroy the body which will be reconstituted and perfected by the Lord (as we saw done to His own body after His Resurrection).

- Our desire to show respect to the person even in death, since their soul continues, and since our behavior to the dead also informs our behavior to the living

- Our experience that God chooses to work through relics, therefore we elect to not destroy what may become a tool of His Grace

- The historical context that the burning of bodies was common among pagans (and thus was rejected by Jews and Christians), and was seen as a sign of disfavor by the Jews (i.e. if the Lord's fire consumed someone's body it wasn't a good thing).

- Our view that cremation is a violent act in and of itself (not only the burning, but also the pulverizing of what does not burn)

I hope the above is helpful.
thank you Father for your reply. I would be interested in your view of 1st Samuel 31:12 as they burned Saul and all his sons plus others in the army I would imagine at the time. To me just my view why would the church paint herself into the corner on this issue so to speak. Burned body is a burned body done intentionally or unintentionally.at least it was done at one point in the Bible by our patriarchs of the religion I would believe that David gave this order to have had it done yes no
It is also mentioned in the Bible to take an eye for an eye.... but, Christ taught us to turn the other cheek.
 

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LizaSymonenko said:
jewish voice said:
Fr. George said:
jewish voice said:
I have put off my joining of the orthodox church again over this issue. Soon be 2 years since my Dad passed away and it happened suddenly and unexpected. We never really as a family talked about such issues anyways we had my father cremated. I found out the orthodox church is against cremation that the priest can't even do such a funeral. In my researching on this main line Protestants have no stance for or against cremation at all. What is your take on cremation vs burial and the orthodox view of this?
1. May his memory be eternal!

2. Please don't take any commentary on the general topic (for or against cremation) as a particular statement over how well or poorly your family handled your father's passing.  As Orthodox Christians we believe that we should make decisions consistent with the Gospel's teachings on the human person and our relationship with God, but ultimately if we make mistakes He (being all powerful) is able to fix our mistakes.

3. Our position against cremation has multiple reasons, including:

- As Liza mentions above, our profession of hope in the General Resurrection, which leads us to not deliberately destroy the body which will be reconstituted and perfected by the Lord (as we saw done to His own body after His Resurrection).

- Our desire to show respect to the person even in death, since their soul continues, and since our behavior to the dead also informs our behavior to the living

- Our experience that God chooses to work through relics, therefore we elect to not destroy what may become a tool of His Grace

- The historical context that the burning of bodies was common among pagans (and thus was rejected by Jews and Christians), and was seen as a sign of disfavor by the Jews (i.e. if the Lord's fire consumed someone's body it wasn't a good thing).

- Our view that cremation is a violent act in and of itself (not only the burning, but also the pulverizing of what does not burn)

I hope the above is helpful.
thank you Father for your reply. I would be interested in your view of 1st Samuel 31:12 as they burned Saul and all his sons plus others in the army I would imagine at the time. To me just my view why would the church paint herself into the corner on this issue so to speak. Burned body is a burned body done intentionally or unintentionally.at least it was done at one point in the Bible by our patriarchs of the religion I would believe that David gave this order to have had it done yes no
It is also mentioned in the Bible to take an eye for an eye.... but, Christ taught us to turn the other cheek.
Jesus didn't mention anything about cremation in any of his teachings other than let the dead bury the dead to the one guy who said something about his father might die one day and he couldn't follow Jesus cause of that. .
I know the church isn't going to change it's mind on things nor am I against burial of the body. My point is why did orthodoxy take this stand when no other church does not even RCC holds their priest from doing funerals of cremated people not bar them from being in the cemetery like you all do.
 

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I understand why we don't accept cremation, and definitely it is ideal that we do not cremate for theological reasons. However I definitely won't lose sleep over someone who is cremated, and I especially disagree with the line of thought that it is disrespectful since burning holy items is how we dispose of holy things.
 

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jewish voice said:
thank you Father for your reply. I would be interested in your view of 1st Samuel 31:12 as they burned Saul and all his sons plus others in the army I would imagine at the time. To me just my view why would the church paint herself into the corner on this issue so to speak. Burned body is a burned body done intentionally or unintentionally.at least it was done at one point in the Bible by our patriarchs of the religion I would believe that David gave this order to have had it done yes no 
I'm not sure that you want to use that as a good example.  Every other reference to burning people in the OT is either via divine fire for defilement, or as a human-enacted punishment for sins that defile (sacrificing to foreign gods and/or heinous sexual sins).  The burnings were commanded to remove defilement from the people and the land, as they saw certain acts (like offering profane fire, or sinning in the body sexually) as transforming the person or place irrevocably away from God.  To burn them was to consume them and to remove the possibility of others being swayed or defiled by them.

Enter Saul, who:
- Didn't abide by God's command with the Amalekites
- Didn't trust in the Lord vs Goliath (while David did)
- Tried to kill David with no just cause
- Murdered the priests by his command
- Tried to kill his own son
- Consulted with a medium
- Despaired utterly and committed suicide / tried to have his armor bearer kill him (bringing sin upon him)

The men of Jabesh Gilead burned Saul's body and David buried the bones (different than modern cremation, where the body is burned and then the bones are pulverized).  I suspect (I don't have a patristic commentary before me) that the body was burned because it was defiled (both in the manner of his death, and by being displayed in the Philistine cities).  In any case, one could argue that burning his body was the only thing to do because of the accumulation of defilement within it.

Otherwise every other burning death (what Judah wanted to do to Tamar in Genesis, Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus, the 250 incense burners with Korah in Numbers, Achen & family in Joshua, Zimri in 1 Kings, Josiah burning the bones of those who worshiped other gods in 2 Kings,  ) and commandment to burn (e.g. for sleeping with a woman and her mother) is related to some sin of the body, sin of sacrifice, or other "permanent" defilement.  (And that's not even getting into Malachi and Daniel, where the implication is that the sinful will be burned and the righteous saved from the fire.)

The only positive sense of burning is either (a) in sacrifice to the Lord, or (b) cleansing some kind of defilement that cannot be taken away by washing or mere repentance. 
 

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Kmon23 said:
I especially disagree with the line of thought that it is disrespectful since burning holy items is how we dispose of holy things.
That doesn't work:

- Burning is never commanded as a respectful end for people
- Burning things (again, not people) is only commanded either as an act of sacrifice, or to rid the world (and the living who can be polluted still) of something transformed by sin
- Our act of burning a holy thing is, in essence, a last desperate act, as it acknowledges that (1) the holy thing cannot be used for its holy purpose any longer, (2) that any function other than burning is beneath its dignity, therefore (3) it must be consumed rather than defiled.
- For things that cannot be burned burial is preferred, and even with the things that are typically burned burial is more respectful (but more labor- and time-intensive).
 

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My final parent reposed one year before journey into Orthodoxy began.  As with the previous parent, Cremation took place (not knowing of the violence of pulverization) and the cremains were interred--jointly with the first parent--into a parochial cemetery with all the solemnity and dignity that high liturigical Protestantism could bestow.

"Forgive my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary, of knowledge and of ignorance".

Seven years later--when I first learned of the violence inflicted by the Crematory--a crushing weight of guilt began to descend.

My transgressions may have been of ignorance...but they were entirely voluntary.

There is no "do over".

God be merciful to me, a sinner.
 

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JTLoganville said:
My final parent reposed one year before journey into Orthodoxy began.  As with the previous parent, Cremation took place (not knowing of the violence of pulverization) and the cremains were interred--jointly with the first parent--into a parochial cemetery with all the solemnity and dignity that high liturigical Protestantism could bestow.

"Forgive my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary, of knowledge and of ignorance".

Seven years later--when I first learned of the violence inflicted by the Crematory--a crushing weight of guilt began to descend.

My transgressions may have been of ignorance...but they were entirely voluntary.

There is no "do over".

God be merciful to me, a sinner.
that's my point what kind of son would I be to not have the same thing done to me that's why I can't join the orthodox church now cause I'm not going to do something different than what I did with my dad neither is my mom my parents became Catholic before my father passed away and the RC has a different view just can't spread or keep the remains at home so he is in a wall at the cemetery. I like orthodoxy just can't do something different when I die
 

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You may end up changing you view over time.
 
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Tzimis said:
You may end up changing you view over time.
I did. One popular evangelical apologist stated (paraphrasing) he was the soul, and his body was just along for the ride. Almost made it sound as if disposal was the intent in the end.

Now, at the time I'll admit I was in a way ok with it, even if I knew the examples and explicit references in the scriptures of resurrection of our bodies. I went along with it even if not at 100%.

That's one reason I'm moving forward with Orthodoxy even in things I don't fully understand. I provided evangelical 'leaders' or what I would now claim are celebrities wide berth in teachings. Shouldn't I do the same to a body which has been around for millennia?
 

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jewish voice said:
JTLoganville said:
My final parent reposed one year before journey into Orthodoxy began.  As with the previous parent, Cremation took place (not knowing of the violence of pulverization) and the cremains were interred--jointly with the first parent--into a parochial cemetery with all the solemnity and dignity that high liturigical Protestantism could bestow.

"Forgive my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary, of knowledge and of ignorance".

Seven years later--when I first learned of the violence inflicted by the Crematory--a crushing weight of guilt began to descend.

My transgressions may have been of ignorance...but they were entirely voluntary.

There is no "do over".

God be merciful to me, a sinner.
that's my point what kind of son would I be to not have the same thing done to me that's why I can't join the orthodox church now cause I'm not going to do something different than what I did with my dad neither is my mom my parents became Catholic before my father passed away and the RC has a different view just can't spread or keep the remains at home so he is in a wall at the cemetery. I like orthodoxy just can't do something different when I die
...but, this is wrong thinking.  Your parents would NEVER wish you to do something "just because"...if you now know better and desire different.

Let me give you an example.
My family were fairly new to the United States when my grandfather passed away.  My mother followed all the local "rules" and had him embalmed and buried.

Years later, when I was an adult, my uncle passed away.  We now knew that we did not "need" to embalm per the law...so, we buried him as he was (not embalmed)...but, during the service we did not open his casket per the "law"... So, the priest only opened it a crack and threw in the prayer of absolution... but, we, the family, didn't really have much time to "see" him and say goodbye...

Years later, my mother passed away... and I now knew that she did not need to be embalmed, and her casket COULD be open "privately"... so, we could say goodbye, put icons, cross, etc. nicely around her... have the priest bless her with holy water, and lay the prayer of absolution in her hands, etc.

All three were put to rest differently.... depending on level of knowledge of the living.

I'm certain that my grandfather, who was my dearest friend, would not wish me to be embalmed simply because he was embalmed when he was buried.

These things evolve over time and should not be a stumbling block for you.

 

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When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away.

This sentiment is normal in the Bapticostal circles I grew up in.  So there is no real theology behind burying or burning the shell of the soul.  We are like hermit crabs moving on to the next thing.
 

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hecma925 said:
When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away.

This sentiment is normal in the Bapticostal circles I grew up in.  So there is no real theology behind burying or burning the shell of the soul.  We are like hermit crabs moving on to the next thing.
Gnosticism is alive and well.

Kyrie eleison.

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Athanasius...a good time to read (or reread) On the Incarnation.
 

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Tannhouser said:
Tzimis said:
You may end up changing you view over time.
One popular evangelical apologist stated (paraphrasing) he was the soul, and his body was just along for the ride.
That is Gnosticism, not the Evangelical - or any kind of orthodox Christian - faith.
 

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hecma925 said:
When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away.

This sentiment is normal in the Bapticostal circles
Sadly, such unbiblical thinking is widespread. You are right. But it does not derive from the Bible. It is Gnosticism, or if you like, Manichee (like the Cathars). It would be an interesting (but saddening) historical study to see how it crept in and spread so widely.
 

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David Young said:
hecma925 said:
When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away.

This sentiment is normal in the Bapticostal circles
Sadly, such unbiblical thinking is widespread. You are right. But it does not derive from the Bible. It is Gnosticism, or if you like, Manichee (like the Cathars). It would be an interesting (but saddening) historical study to see how it crept in and spread so widely.
your Baptist would your church prevent you from doing services?  I haven't it read ithat n any of their formal sites that y'all do.
 

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David Young said:
hecma925 said:
When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away.

This sentiment is normal in the Bapticostal circles
Sadly, such unbiblical thinking is widespread. You are right. But it does not derive from the Bible. It is Gnosticism, or if you like, Manichee (like the Cathars). It would be an interesting (but saddening) historical study to see how it crept in and spread so widely.
The Manichean religion was actually even more perverse than conventional Gnosticism.
 

Ainnir

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David Young said:
Tannhouser said:
Tzimis said:
You may end up changing you view over time.
One popular evangelical apologist stated (paraphrasing) he was the soul, and his body was just along for the ride.
That is Gnosticism, not the Evangelical - or any kind of orthodox Christian - faith.
Unfortunately, in my region, that is the Evangelical, Baptist, Protestant belief.  Our body is "just an empty suitcase" when we die.  Those specific words were said of my grandmother by a hospice worker.  I've heard plenty of people express similar sentiments, just not ever in quite that combination of words and circumstances.  There's no more use for the body after we die, despite all the talk about the Rapture.  It's weird and often logically inconsistent, and yes, that includes the Baptists I've known.
 

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jewish voice said:
your Baptist would your church prevent you from doing services? 
I have never done a cremation, only burials, but I do not think it would be forbidden. Don't forget that each Baptist church is autonomous, so I expect some would decline to perform a cremation, but no external authority would be in a position to forbid it. It would be the decision of each church. It would (I suppose) be possible for a minister, when invited to become pastor of a particular church, to say he would not take cremation services, but would be willing for the church to invite another minister to do one if they really wished. This (mutatis mutandis) is what a Baptist minister might well say about infant baptism if, for example, he was invited to become pastor of a Congregational church. (The minister at New Inn Congregational said that to the church before accepting their invitation to the pastorate.)
 

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Ainnir said:
Unfortunately, in my region, that is the Evangelical, Baptist, Protestant belief ... and yes, that includes the Baptists I've known.
I can easily believe it, and it is sad. I can understand 'the man in the pew' thinking that sort of thing if he is not well taught, but it is shameful for it to be formally taught by the preachers.  :(
 
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@Ainnir I've read a bit on the topic of "Protestant Gnostics" and I think those themes are a bit more commonly placed. Those themes may not be explicitly stated as such, but are guised in such a way.
 
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