Christian Science: Its Liberating Principle

 

Arch Bailey, C.S., of San Francisco, California

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

Mankind's search for lasting peace and harmony within the restrictions of matter has led only to the abyss of certain destruction. From year to year, in the sometimes hopeful searchings of material science, mankind has stumbled on into the far country of endless theories, speculations, and measurements. The midnight hour of materiality is striking. The dawn of a more spiritual era is approaching. At this hour there are signs that the prodigal, confronted by the husks of annihilation, is already turning his thoughts to the Father's house. In many phases of life today men are speaking with less material if not more spiritual tones. In education, religion, science, medicine, and in the councils of government there are encouraging indications that the strutting, striving voice of materiality is softening. A distinguished atomic scientist has lately concluded an address at Columbia University by stating that in this atomic age "we can help because we can love each other." Recently in a national conclave of medical men an honorable member of the medical profession gave extensive discussion to the need for the physician to take God into the sick room. And statesmen throughout the Christian world are pointing by counsel and example to the great need in these times for spiritual communion with God. To those who have labored through the dark night of materiality without reward and are now willing to cast the anchor of hope on the side of Spirit, Christian Science offers a logical and demonstrable answer to mankind's problems today.

God's Nature Revealed

As though aware of the futility of matter and mortality mankind has throughout the ages reached up and out of itself for a satisfying sense of Deity. Since recorded Israelitish history God has been revealed, particularly, through Jesus and Mary Baker Eddy. It is significant to find that although these two individuals appeared thousands of years apart, and although each revelation had great diversity of detail, yet both individuals had two unmistakable characteristics in common. Each announced one God, infinite, all-inclusive, and eternal, and each was charged with the ministry of delivering mankind from its bondage to materiality in the name or nature revealed to them as Deity.

The manner in which divine revelation comes is worth considering. In the third chapter of Exodus are recorded the accounts of Moses' experiences at the burning bush, the revelations of the name I AM, and his commission to deliver the children of Israel from their bondage under Pharaoh in Egypt. The second and third verses of this chapter relate Moses' experience as follows: "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." In this exalted Horeb experience, when the light of indestructible Spirit appeared to his inspired thought, Moses was ready to give it his whole consideration. Then when God told Moses He would send him to bring forth the children of Israel out of their bondage, Moses said unto God (verse 11), "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" Some scholars have thought that this verse indicated a weakness or self-depreciation in Moses, but in the light of the whole experience it would seem that Moses had attained such humility as to be fully convinced that something higher than a personal sense was requisite for him to carry out God's purpose. He had exchanged self-will for willing obedience. He was ready to yield self-depreciation for confident trust in God.

Moses asked God what he should tell the children of Israel when they insisted upon knowing in whose name he came. Then we have one of the most significant utterances of all time (verse 14), "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." In this moment of exalted consciousness Moses arose from the dream of a personal ego in matter to glimpse the eternal actuality that Spirit includes noumenon and phenomena, Principle and idea, God and His thoughts. This declaration to Moses' consciousness of the great spiritual reality of Being, together with the fact that through Spirit's name he delivered the children of Israel, lighted the way for struggling mortals through the centuries.

In fulfillment of prophecy Jesus of Nazareth came with the clearer and more intimate declaration of God as the heavenly Father, as the great Shepherd, and the providing Parent. During the three short years of his ministry, Jesus disciples became so imbued with the understanding of Deity as Spirit that they and other followers too were able to deliver themselves and their fellow men in a marked degree from bondage to materiality. But history shows that the human mind, gradually [forsaking the basis of Spirit, slowly sank into materiality] and darkness. The demonstration of the power of God was lost in personal sense.

In this age Mary Baker Eddy through her great purity rose to spiritual heights where God was revealed to her as "I AM"; which she defines in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" in part as follows (p. 588): "Divine Principle; the only Ego." In addition to perceiving the strength of God as Father she perceived the tenderness of God as Mother, divine Love. On page 587 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy defines God, as revealed to her, in these words: "GOD. The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence." Here is no hint of corporeality or material person.

When Mrs. Eddy stated her revelation of God as divine Principle, she saw Principle to be the fundamental origin of intelligence. She realized that all spiritual ideas constituting the spiritual universe move in accord with their divine Principle and with each other. Here was the scientific basis for Jesus' remarkable ministry. Representing God as divine Principle has revolutionized theology and opened to mankind the way of deliverance from all discord, disease, and death. When Mrs. Eddy included Soul as a synonym for God, she overturned theological beliefs which held soul to be in a material body. A Deity understood to be infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, would necessarily be one. The concept of Mind, Spirit, Soul, as synonymous with this one infinite God is in direct opposition to the popular belief of many minds, good and evil spirits, and a finite soul in each body. Mrs. Eddy's revelation of God as infinite Soul, never in body, opens wide the vistas of immortality.

Man's Nature Revealed

Mrs. Eddy's revelation of God as divine Spirit, Principle, and of man as His reflection, releases the human concept of man from the restrictions of matter and shows him to be a fetterless spiritual idea, an individual spiritual consciousness, reflecting every quality of Spirit. As the image and likeness of infinite Spirit man could not be material. She states in Science and Health (p. 470), "Man is the expression of God's being." And again she states the same idea (ibid., p. 477), "Man is the expression of Soul." Since the expression of Mind, Spirit, and Soul is wholly spiritual, man is perceptible only to spiritual sense.

What could constitute the nature of man, God's expression, except the qualities which man reflects. Thus, as God's likeness man expresses the awareness, perception, and comprehension of divine Mind; the purity, integrity, and soundness of Spirit; the perfection, completeness, and satisfaction of Soul; the perfect law, government, and control of Principle; the immortality of Life; the unchanging reality of Truth; and the unselfed love of Love. Knowing man in this way, we discern his true spiritual nature. As our understanding of God and His spiritual qualities progressively unfolds, our understanding of man and his true nature is likewise increased.

Mrs. Eddy writes in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 242), "Unless you fully perceive that you are the child of God, hence perfect, you have no Principle to demonstrate and no rule for its demonstration." And she continues on the same page, "In practising Christian Science you must state its Principle correctly, or you forfeit your ability to demonstrate it." This statement plainly implies that our sonship with God must be demonstrated and that it is of utmost importance that we gain an ever-increasing understanding of God as divine Principle and of our relationship, as idea, to Him.

Let me present a simple illustration. Suppose each one here had a piece of cardboard and on this cardboard we each had a number. On my card I had number one, you had number two, and so on until each one in the audience had a cardboard number. Then suppose these numbered cards were placed in some sort of receptacle and completely destroyed. It would seem to sense we had lost our numbers. But would we have? It would be true that our numbers would be only ideas in human consciousness, but is not that what they always were? The numbers on the cardboard were never the real numbers. The image of mortal mind which represents man as a corporeal being, as no more the real man than is the material cardboard the real number. Individual spiritual man is an idea in divine Mind. Reflecting the government of divine Principle he moves in accord with all other spiritual ideas. As Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 588), "There is but one I, or Us, but one divine Principle, or Mind, governing all existence; man and woman unchanged forever in their individual characters, even as numbers which never blend with each other, though they are governed by one Principle." This indestructible relationship of Principle and its idea is indicated in these words to be found in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son: "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (Luke 15:31).

Christ Jesus and Salvation

It is sometimes said by those not fully informed about Christian Science that its followers state their teaching about God and man and ignore the Biblical teaching about Christ Jesus and salvation. It has sometimes been asked of Christian Scientists, "Why do you need a Saviour or salvation since your religion teaches that God is infinite good and that man is perfect, now, as God's image and likeness?" It is true that in this Science we understand that the son of God, the perfect man, does not need salvation. However, we do not ignore the false sense of man presented by the material senses. It is this false sense of man which Christ, Truth, the Saviour, dispels from human consciousness just as light destroys darkness. Instead of ignoring mankind's self-imposed bondage to sin, disease, and death, Christian Science is directly applied to the liberation of humanity from these errors. Speaking of her impulsion to carry to humanity her revelation of the Christ Science, Mrs. Eddy has written in Science and Health (p. 226), "I saw before me the sick, wearing out years of servitude to an unreal master in the belief that the body governed them, rather than Mind." And later she writes on the same page, "I saw before me the awful conflict, the Red Sea and the wilderness; but I pressed on through faith in God, trusting Truth, the strong deliverer, to guide me into the land of Christian Science, where fetters fall and the rights of man are fully known and acknowledged."

The questions have also been asked: "Do Christian Scientists believe in the divinity of Jesus? Do they accept him as their Saviour?" We do not believe that Jesus was God. We acknowledge him as the Son of God, as he himself declared. We believe that Jesus was the most spiritually minded man that ever lived and that he was endowed with the Christ, without measure. We believe that he was the divinely appointed Way-shower and that humanity can be saved in no other way than through Christ, through the spiritual power and the understanding and demonstration of Life, Truth, and Love.

The Word Made Practical

It is through the activity of Christ, Truth, in human consciousness that the revelation of God, and of man's spiritual individuality, are made practical in everyday life. The Word is made flesh made practical in this Science. The artist who would paint a picture does more than contemplate his model. He has a medium, he has tools, and he uses these to convey his impressions to the canvas. The sincere artist is compelled to give evidence of his understanding. Christian Scientists have perfect man, the expression of perfect Principle, for their model, and they are constantly striving to see the evidence or reflection of this Principle appear in life practice. This application of Truth to human needs is practice or prayer, and it is the way of progressive salvation. Through prayer mankind's concepts are changed. These changed concepts are expressed in improved human experiences. It is the function of Truth to correct error. When Truth, God, unfolds its purpose in individual experience, one's whole experience is changed. One's decisions will reflect more wisdom, his judgments will be more just and more accurate, and the whole direction of his life will move toward integrity and honesty. God is the Life which is Love and the Love which is man's Life. The ceaseless fountain of Life, reaching human consciousness through Christ, the manifestation of God is experienced humanly in buoyancy, freshness, and longevity. The individual consciousness, awakening to the great fact that God is all-inclusive good, immediately begins to experience this good in increased right activity, enlarged opportunity, and enriched human relationships.

Speaking of the practical effect of Christian Science on human consciousness, Mrs. Eddy has written in Science and Health (p. 128), "From this it follows that businessmen and cultured scholars have found that Christian Science enhances their endurance and mental powers, enlarges their perception of character, gives them acuteness and comprehensiveness, and an ability to exceed their ordinary capacity."

Matter a False Mental Concept

Christ Jesus is the great Wayshower. That is he shows the way from a material sense of existence into the understanding of spiritual reality. When trying to direct the thought of his foes from a material to a spiritual basis, Jesus said (John 7:24), "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." That is, do not base your conclusions on the appearance before the material senses, rather base them rightly in Spirit. This is the teaching of Christian Science, that neither the material senses nor matter can be real. Things are not what they seem to be. The Scripture states (Heb. 11:3), "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

Jesus healed the sick, fed the multitude, raised the dead, and walked on the waves in demonstration of the unreality of matter and the spiritually mental nature of all things. In the fourteenth chapter of Matthew it is stated that Jesus, walking on the rough sea, called to his disciples in the boat, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid." Then Peter, recognizing Jesus, said, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." At Jesus' command Peter went down out of the ship and walked on the water to go to Jesus. After a few successful steps he was overcome with fear and cried out for Jesus to save him. The significance of this event was not merely in an exhibition of walking on the waves, but rather in its illustration of the mental nature of matter. The whole experience was in human consciousness, not in matter. What appeared to be Jesus walking on water and Peter sinking into water must have been two states of consciousness, the first inspired by confident trust and the second imposed by fear. In both experiences the water remained the same, thus demonstrating that matter is not an entity, nothing more than an image of mortal thought. It is never any substantial thing outside of or apart from consciousness.

Despite the testimony of the senses that there is a materially mental consciousness, Christian Science teaches as does the Bible that there is only one God and Father of all, one infinite divine Mind, or spiritual consciousness. The materially mental consciousness, named in Christian Science mortal mind, is erroneous consciousness or a consciousness of error. So it follows that everything, primarily and secondarily, is a state of consciousness. It is easy to see that the body is a mental concept since the only body we are aware of is included in consciousness.

Just as we see that matter is nothing more than an image in mortal mind or consciousness, so it follows that the conditions of matter, sin and disease, are states of human consciousness. And it is here, in consciousness that these images of false belief are destroyed by divine Science through the power of God. In the textbook (p. 123) under the marginal heading "Seeming and being," the author has written these arresting words: "Divine Science, rising above physical theories, excludes matter, resolves things into thoughts, and replaces the objects of material sense with spiritual ideas." Paul's statement in Romans (12:2) carries the same idea, "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." And where is all this activity going on but in human consciousness? Thus as the new heaven and the new earth appear in consciousness and the human concepts disappear it becomes evident that all that is going on is the divine Mind's awareness of its own glorious unfolding spiritual creation. Thus we arrive at the sublime altitude of Mrs. Eddy's statement in Science and Health (p. 536), "The divine understanding reigns, is all, and there is no other consciousness."

Divine Mind the Only Healer

Christian Science is not "mind healing" as that expression has been used so generally in the last few years. That is, it is not an impulsion of the human mind to rid itself of its problems through human will, suggestion, hypnotism, mesmerism, or through rational human thinking. Christian Science healing does not support the proposition of one human mind manipulating another. In the chapter on spiritualism in our textbook Mrs. Eddy writes (p. 72), "Not personal intercommunion but divine law is the communicator of truth, health, and harmony to earth and humanity." The human mind is not a medium in Christian Science healing, for treatment is spiritually mental. And on page 542 she states, "Let Truth uncover and destroy error in God's own way." Here we are told plainly who does the uncovering and who does the destroying. In Christian Science error is never uncovered for any other purpose than that it may be destroyed. Several years ago a Christian Science practitioner was asked to take over a case which was diagnosed as malignant by a medical nurse. The patient was considered a good Christian, active in her church, and it was the marvel of her friends just how this good woman could find herself in such a state. The practitioner, praying faithfully, was guided to our Leader's words quoted above, "Let Truth uncover and destroy error in God's own way." He gratefully acknowledged the power of Truth as supreme. He affirmed the power of divine Love, Truth, to uncover error. He relinquished any personal responsibility and waited for divine Love to move. Three or four days later the patient telephoned from her bedside and asked that the practitioner bring a lawyer to see her as she wanted to make a will. It became evident through her conversation that the woman expected to pass on and that of her several children there was one who was to receive only one dollar from her estate. More than this, it was uncovered that the patient had been annoyed and resentful for several years while carrying a secret hatred of this child. Truth, indeed, had uncovered error in God's own way. It remained only for error to be destroyed in God's own way. A Christian Science nurse, who was helping on this case, finally spoke the words which brought the full light of Truth to the patient's consciousness. She told the patient that she would have to love, love, love, and continue to love until she loved everything and everybody in the world as impartially and universally as God loved. The offense caused by the son, which had for years seemed so real, vanished, the physical condition was healed, and the dreamer awoke from the sinful dream. All this took place eight or ten years ago, and the woman is still an active and more loving Christian.

Effective Repentance and Salvation

Several years ago a friend of mine, a Christian Scientist, found it her duty to call upon a Protestant minister in order to clarify some of the remarks he had made the week before in his sermon about Christian Science and its Discoverer, Mary Baker Eddy. The minister received my friend cordially and suggested that they begin their conference with a word of prayer. They repeated the Lord's Prayer together, and the interview was very harmonious. However, he said that he could never subscribe to the idea that man is wholly good and therefore incapable of sin, not needing repentance, baptism, and salvation. My friend then explained the difference in Christian Science between sinless man made in God's own image and likeness and suffering, sinning humanity. She saw that the thought of the minister was based wholly upon his misunderstanding of the teaching of Christian Science on these points. It was my friend's privilege to present this minister with a copy of Science and Health, and it was received with sincere appreciation.

There are no real differences between God's ideas. Divine Mind binds all men in perfect accord and demonstrates one Mind. The differences between men in Christendom are generally based on ignorance or misunderstanding. It is this ignorance and misunderstanding in human consciousness which must be dealt with.

In Mrs. Eddy's book "Miscellaneous Writings," are found these words (p. 107): "Three cardinal points must be gained before poor humanity is regenerated and Christian Science is demonstrated: (1) A proper sense of sin; (2) repentance; (3) the understanding of good." In this same article our Leader writes, "Without a knowledge of his sins, and repentance so severe that it destroys them, no person is or can be a Christian Scientist." These statements would not seem to bear out a conclusion that Christian Science does not recognize sin.

It is clearly seen that the night dream and the dreamer are one. The dream is gone when the dreamer awakens, and likewise there is no dreamer when the dream has vanished. The dream and the dreamer are one. Just so it is in Christian Science with the sinner and the sin.

When sin is destroyed there is no sinner. Neither a so-called sinner nor sin is ever outside human consciousness. It is in human consciousness that they are dealt with in Christian Science. The divine Mind, acting on human consciousness through Christ, Truth, leads human consciousness to give up its false sense and to yield to the government of divine Mind.

One of the clearest statements in the textbook regarding the overcoming of sin is the third tenet of Christian Science, which reads (p. 497): "We acknowledge God's forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts."

The suffering which inevitably follows sin brings the suffering sinner quickly to a state of regret or sorrow. This does not necessarily, however, indicate efficacious repentance. Repentance is more than sorrow for sin. Practical repentance reforms the sinner. The derivation of the word "repentance" leads us close to the meaning of this word as it is used by Mrs. Eddy. It is derived from the Latin words "re" meaning back and "pense" meaning to think. Thus we see that it carries the meaning to rethink, to think back, or to think again. When erroneous or evil thinking, based on the belief that sin is real and desirable, is rooted up, when all negative thinking is arrested, reversed, and replaced by the spiritual ideas of positive Mind, this is practical repentance in Christian Science.

Business and Religion Compatible

It has been said rightly many times that Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest business executive who ever lived. In the temple at the age of twelve years he stated that he must be about his Father's business. What was Jesus' business? As the Son of God, the offspring of divine Mind or Principle, it was his business to show forth by reflection the qualities and faculties of the divine Mind. It was his business to manifest the activity of divine intelligence so convincingly in his daily experience that mankind, through all ages, might undertake to emulate his reflection of divine power in all endeavors.

Those who follow Jesus' precepts with honesty and exactness are able to approach his judgment and express extraordinary ability and capacity in their business experiences. If one is positive in his reflection of divine intelligence, it is well. If he is positive only in impelling wishful thinking by human will, this is not in harmony with Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 206), "Will-power is capable of all evil." And she also writes on the same page, "The power of the human will should be exercised only in subordination to Truth; else it will misguide the judgment and free the lower propensities." In contrast to self-assurance and self-reliance in business let us remember that Jesus said (John 5:19,30), "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise," and, "I can of mine own self do nothing."

"But how," someone is probably saying, "can this divine Principle of being be applied to the everyday experiences of business?" In mathematics the integrity of our thinking determines the accuracy of our result. In the application of divine Principle to business this rule of correct thinking is no less imperative. The ghost of wrong thinking will haunt the wrong thinker. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 270): "Mortals think wickedly; consequently they are wicked. They think sickly thoughts, and so become sick." If sick thoughts produce sick bodies, it is also true that discordant thinking produces defeat in business. "How is business?" is a common question. If this question is answered intelligently and scientifically, it will be based on thoughts something like the following: Business is all right. It is good. It is active because the eternal divine Principle gives it divine impulsion. God, divine Mind, is the source of all action and the controller of everything in His universe. This business, being in reality a good legitimate idea, is activated and controlled by the one Mind, God. The success of this business is not then conditioned by human opinions or circumstances, nor is it limited or increased by the predictions of trade journals. Divine Mind is all-knowing goodness and knows only good business. Everyone can know and express only good business, right spiritual activity, as Mind's reflection. Divine Love, not fear, controls this business. If thought is held in accord with the divine Principle of all right activity, this positive integrity of thought will scientifically result in better and more useful business.

It is sometimes thought that church activity and spiritual study are inconsistent with and unnecessary to successful business judgment. One often hears it said, "I attend church, and my wife is very active, but I do not feel that religion has just the thing that will help my business." There is nothing in Christian Science that is incompatible with good business practice. Indeed it can be said that Scientists are generally successful business people, whether they are employers or employees.

Recently a friend of mine who is a regional manager for a large corporation told me what his experience had been in harmonizing his church work with his business activity. This man who at that time had been a student of Christian Science for fifteen years, became very much interested in church work, but his business was at the same time demanding close attention. An opportunity came to serve on the executive board of his church. Mortal mind was prompt with the suggestion that this much desired work would interfere with his business. But he accepted the church work and, although business demands upon his time increased, he was able to fulfill all duties, and the business began to prosper beyond all expectations. After this period on the board of his church this man became the First Reader of his church. Let him tell of this experience in his own words: "When this opportunity came, I had assumed serious family responsibilities and owed full business allegiance to an excellent employer and to my business associates. In addition to this we had moved fifteen miles from the church. I knew that if I accepted the readership its obligations must come first. After prayerful consideration I decided to lean heavily upon God and accept this office. During these three years there have been testing times, but each situation has always been met. The volume of our business during these years has more than doubled, and mutual respect for and from business associates has beautifully deepened."

Love the Liberator

Those who have felt the power of Christian Science move into their consciousness with healing in its wings feel a great sense of gratitude to the woman whose pure thought and consecration to Truth enabled her to be the revelator of this Science. Born in New England surroundings, of religious parentage, Mary Baker Eddy showed marked spiritual qualities from early childhood. Everything with which she came into contact was embraced in her great love. This love deepened and broadened with her maturity until with her discovery of Christian Science she was able to interpret God's law of liberating Love to mankind universally.

One who knew Mrs. Eddy intimately has written of her great love in these words: "As I think back through the years that I knew Mrs. Eddy, I always feel that the secret of her great achievements could be explained on no other basis than her at-one-ment with God and her boundless spirit of universal love for all mankind." This biographer quotes Mrs. Eddy as saying in substance, "I saw the love of God encircling the universe and man, filling all space, and that divine Love so permeated my own consciousness that I loved with Christlike compassion everything I saw" (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, First Series, p. 74). A proof of Mrs. Eddy's healing love is shown in the following incident which was observed by a woman from her window. While Mrs. Eddy lived at Lynn, Massachusetts, she passed a crippled man on the street one day. This man was so deformed that his knees touched his chin. Approaching him Mrs. Eddy said in low tones, "God loves you," then went on without waiting. The man arose and walked. He then rushed to her house to ask about the lady who had healed him. Is it any wonder that the thousands upon thousands throughout the world who have felt the liberating power of divine Love, as revealed by Mrs. Eddy, stand in reverence and with great gratitude before her monumental achievement, the Christian Science movement in the world today? This divine Principle of love is well expressed in a verse from Mrs. Eddy's poem entitled "The New Century" (Poems, p. 22),

 

"'Tis writ on earth, on leaf and flower:

Love hath one race, one realm, one power.

Dear God! how great, how good Thou art

To heal humanity's sore heart."

 

[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, Dec. 5, 1957. Nine words missing from this copy of the lecture probably because of deterioration over time of the newspaper page were supplied from another newspaper report and are set off above in brackets]

 

 

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