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Bastions of the Cross
Medieval Rock-Cut Cruciform Churches of Tigray, Ethiopia
Mikael Muehlbauer
Harvard University Press
In the late eleventh century, Ethiopian masons hewed great cruciform churches out of mountains in the eastern highlands of Tigray, Ethiopia’s northernmost province. Hitherto unparalleled in scale, these monuments were royal foundations, instruments of political centralization and re-Christianization that anticipated the great thirteenth century churches at Lalibela. Bastions of the Cross, the first study devoted to the subject, examines the cruciform churches of Abreha wa-Atsbeha, Wuqro Cherqos, and Mika’el Amba and connects them to one of the great architectural movements of the Middle Ages: the millennial revival of the early Byzantine aisled, cruciform church. These were also the first to incorporate vaulting, and uniquely did so in the service of centralized spatial hierarchy. Through resuscitated pilgrimage networks, Ethiopian craftsmen revisited architectural types abandoned since Late Antiquity, while Islamic mercantile channels brought precious textiles from South Asia that inspired trans-material conceptions of architectural space. Bastions of the Cross reveals the eleventh century, in contrast to its popular reputation as a “dark age,” to be a forgotten watershed in the architectural history of Ethiopia and Eastern Christianity.
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Cross and Creation
A Theological Introduction to Origen of Alexandria
Mark E. Therrien
Catholic University of America Press, 2022
Even though the theology of Origen of Alexandria has shaped the Christian Tradition in almost every way, the controversies over his legacy have been seemingly endless. One major interpretative trend, for example, has suggested Origen’s theology is really akin to the heterodox Gnostics against whom he wrote than the actual teaching of the Gospel, since he (supposedly) had a disdainful attitude towards Creation and ultimately saw little redemptive meaning in the Passion. In Cross and Creation: A Theological Introduction to Origen of Alexandria, Mark Therrien offers an original interpretation of Origen’s theology. Focusing on some of Origen’s most important works (especially On First Principles and the Commentary on John, but ultimately making reference to his writings more broadly), this book retrieves and examines some of the foundational pillars of Origen’s theology through close readings and re-examinations of those texts. It examines eight of these theological foundations: God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the end, the soul, the world, the cross, and deification. Moreover, by showing the connections between Origen’s understanding of these foundational pillars, it also shows the coherence of his theology as a whole. Taken collectively, what emerges from these eight chapters is that two doctrines specially shape Origen’s theology: Cross and Creation. As Therrien shows, Origen did not hold contempt for Creation. Rather, Origen thinks that Creation emerges from the very life of God as eternally foreknown and provided for in the person of Christ, the Wisdom of God the Father. Moreover, he also holds that, though fallen, Creation will be restored according to its original, eternal intention in God precisely through the Passion of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The Cross is thus not minimalized in Origen’s theology; it is rather its very center.
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The Cross
History, Art, and Controversy
Robin M. Jensen
Harvard University Press, 2017

The cross stirs intense feelings among Christians as well as non-Christians. Robin Jensen takes readers on an intellectual and spiritual journey through the two-thousand-year evolution of the cross as an idea and an artifact, illuminating the controversies—along with the forms of devotion—this central symbol of Christianity inspires.

Jesus’s death on the cross posed a dilemma for Saint Paul and the early Church fathers. Crucifixion was a humiliating form of execution reserved for slaves and criminals. How could their messiah and savior have been subjected to such an ignominious death? Wrestling with this paradox, they reimagined the cross as a triumphant expression of Christ’s sacrificial love and miraculous resurrection. Over time, the symbol’s transformation raised myriad doctrinal questions, particularly about the crucifix—the cross with the figure of Christ—and whether it should emphasize Jesus’s suffering or his glorification. How should Jesus’s body be depicted: alive or dead, naked or dressed? Should it be shown at all?

Jensen’s wide-ranging study focuses on the cross in painting and literature, the quest for the “true cross” in Jerusalem, and the symbol’s role in conflicts from the Crusades to wars of colonial conquest. The Cross also reveals how Jews and Muslims viewed the most sacred of all Christian emblems and explains its role in public life in the West today.

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The Cross of War
Christian Nationalism and U.S. Expansion in the Spanish-American War
Matthew McCullough
University of Wisconsin Press, 2014
The Cross of War documents the rise of “messianic interventionism”—the belief that America can and should intervene altruistically on behalf of other nations. This stance was first embraced in the Spanish-American War of 1898, a war that marked the dramatic emergence of the United States as an active world power and set the stage for the foreign policy of the next one hundred years. Responding to the circumstances of this war, an array of Christian leaders carefully articulated and defended the notion that America was responsible under God to extend freedom around the world—by force, if necessary. Drawing from a wide range of sermons and religious periodicals across regional and denominational lines, Matthew McCullough describes the ways that many American Christians came to celebrate military intervention as a messianic sacrifice, to trace the hand of God in a victory more painless and complete than anyone had imagined, and to justify the shift in American foreign policy as a divine calling.
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Diagramming Devotion
Berthold of Nuremberg’s Transformation of Hrabanus Maurus’s Poems in Praise of the Cross
Jeffrey F. Hamburger
University of Chicago Press, 2020
During the European Middle Ages, diagrams provided a critical tool of analysis in cosmological and theological debates. In addition to drawing relationships among diverse areas of human knowledge and experience, diagrams themselves generated such knowledge in the first place. In Diagramming Devotion, Jeffrey F. Hamburger examines two monumental works that are diagrammatic to their core: a famous set of picture poems of unrivaled complexity by the Carolingian monk Hrabanus Maurus, devoted to the praise of the cross, and a virtually unknown commentary on Hrabanus’s work composed almost five hundred years later by the Dominican friar Berthold of Nuremberg. Berthold’s profusely illustrated elaboration of Hrabnus translated his predecessor’s poems into a series of almost one hundred diagrams. By examining Berthold of Nuremberg’s transformation of a Carolingian classic, Hamburger brings modern and medieval visual culture into dialogue, traces important changes in medieval visual culture, and introduces new ways of thinking about diagrams as an enduring visual and conceptual model.
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The Ground Beneath the Cross
The Theology of Ignacio Ellacuría
Kevin F. Burke, SJ
Georgetown University Press, 2000

This book is the first comprehensive analysis of the thought of Ignacio Ellacuría, the Jesuit philosopher-theologian martyred for his work on behalf of Latin America's oppressed peoples.

While serving as president of the Jesuit-run University of Central America in the midst of El Salvador's brutal civil war, Ellacuría was also a prolific writer. His advocacy on behalf of the country's persecuted majority provoked the enmity of the Salvadoran political establishment. On November 16, 1989, members of the Salvadoran military entered the university's campus and murdered Ellacuría, along with five other Jesuit priests and two women.

Kevin F. Burke, SJ, shows why Ellacuría is significant not only as a martyr but also as a theologian. Ellacuría effectively integrated philosophy, history, anthropology, and sociopolitical analysis into his theological reflections on salvation, spirituality, and the church to create an original contribution to liberation theology.

Ellacuría's writings directly address one of the most vexing issues in theology today: can theologians account for the demands arising from both the particularity of their various social-historical situations and also the universal claims of Christian revelation? Burke explains how Ellacuría bases theology in a philosophy of historical reality—the "ground beneath the cross"—and interprets the suffering of "the crucified peoples" in the light of Jesus' crucifixion. Ellacuría thus inserts the theological realities of salvation and transcendence squarely within the course of human events, and he connects these to the Christian mandate to "take the crucified peoples down from their crosses." Placing Ellacuría's thought in the context of historical trends within the Roman Catholic Church, particularly Vatican II and the rise of liberation theology in Latin America, Burke argues that Ellacuría makes a distinctive contribution to contemporary Catholic theology.

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I Know It’s Dangerous
Why Mexicans Risk Their Lives to Cross the Border
Lynnaire M. Sheridan
University of Arizona Press, 2009
Migration from Mexico to the United States has become an increasingly volatile topic. The news is filled with stories of deaths, protests, and amnesty debates. With the constant buzz about migration in the political, economic, and legal spheres, the migrants themselves easily become a de-humanized multitude. “I Know It’s Dangerous”: Why Mexicans Risk Their Lives to Cross the Border strives to put a human face on the issue of migration and effectively turns the statistics we hear so often into individuals with real lives, needs, and desires.

As an Australian national, Lynnaire Sheridan brings a refreshingly neutral voice to this hot-button topic. With data gathered over two years of living in Baja California, Mexico, Sheridan draws out individual stories, motivations, and conceptions of risk that ultimately allow us a deeper understanding of migration. Sheridan enriches the migrants’ stories with examinations of popular songs, graffiti art on the border, analyses of newspaper articles, and in-depth interviews with migrants. Together these narratives show us that risk has become a strong motivating factor for migrants and that stricter border policies have not necessarily stemmed the rates of migration; they have merely changed how people migrate.

Sheridan’s findings have broad implications for both those interested in migration from Mexico to the United States and international migration scholars. This book will appeal to a range of disciplines in the humanities, from anthropology and criminology to art and ethnic studies. It will also resonate among legal professionals, policy makers, and social workers.

While numerous books have focused on the act of migration and its ripples across both the United States and Mexico, this book is unique in its attention to migrants in Mexico and its ability to draw out their individual stories.
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Jewish Temple Theology and the Mystery of the Cross
Atonement and the Two Goats of Yom Kippur
Richard J. Barry IV
Catholic University of America Press, 2023
On the Day of Atonement, two goats were brought before the high priest at the temple. One was chosen as the goat for the Lord, a spotless sacrifice, and the other was set aside for Azazel, doomed to bear sins into the wilderness. Jewish Temple Theology and the Mystery of the Cross shows how a theological appreciation for the two movements of Yom Kippur makes it possible to identify the paradox at the heart of Christian soteriology: in his single atoning act, Jesus Christ fulfills the work of both goats, without confusion, without division. Appreciation for this paradox helps illuminate many of the doctrinal debates in the history of Christian soteriology and offers a compelling way forward. Jewish Temple Theology and the Mystery of the Cross begins with a survey of biblical geography: first, a rich theological pilgrimage to Mount Zion, the home of beauty, goodness, and truth, and then to the surrounding desert, the wilderness of sin and sorrow. To appreciate the Yom Kippur liturgy, and to understand the priestly word “atonement,” one must be oriented by this cosmic stage. Drawing on the best modern historical-critical scholarship, this volume reveals the wonders hidden in Leviticus and shows how a sophisticated theological interpretation of this book leads to breakthroughs in our understanding of Christ’s saving work. Seeing the mystery of the cross from the perspective of the ancient Jewish scriptures has surprising results. For example, Richard Barry shows how Hans Urs von Balthasar’s controversial theology of Holy Saturday is a compelling development of Azazel-goat soteriology; it is not only biblically licit but is in some ways mandated by the logic of Yom Kippur. At the same time, David Bentley Hart is celebrated for the way he powerfully advances modern YHWH-goat soteriology, yet obedience to the logic of Yom Kippur also necessitates a nuanced biblical critique of his muscular universalism. How can Christ fulfill the seemingly contradictory movements of both goats in a single saving work? Grappling with that question, Jewish Temple Theology and the Mystery of the Cross seeks to draw nearer to the heart of the mystery of salvation.
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Kachina and the Cross
Carroll L Riley
University of Utah Press, 1999

In The Kachina and the Cross, Carroll Riley weaves elements of archaeology, anthropology, and history to tell a dramatic story of conflict between the Pueblo Indians and Franciscan missionaries in the seventeenth-century Spanish colony of New Mexico.

Until now, histories of the early Southwest have tended to concentrate on the Spanish presence, with little mention of Indian resistance or the decade-long war that eventually erupted. In The Kachina and the Cross Riley completes the picture by utilizing archaeological and anthropological research from the past forty years, fleshing out the story of the first century of sustained Spanish-Pueblo relations.

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Laughter at the Foot of the Cross
Michael A. Screech
University of Chicago Press, 2015
“Christian laughter is a maze: you could easily get snarled up within it.” So says Michael A. Screech in his note to readers preceding this collection of fifty-three elegant and pithy essays. As Screech reveals, the question of whether laughter is acceptable to the god of the Old and New Testaments is a dangerous one.

But we are fortunate in our guide: drawing on his immense knowledge of the classics and of humanists like Erasmus and Rabelais—who used Plato and Aristotle to interpret the Gospels—and incorporating the thoughts of Aesop, Calvin, Lucian of Samosata, Luther, Socrates, and others, Screech shows that Renaissance thinkers revived ancient ideas about what inspires laughter and whether it could ever truly be innocent. As Screech argues, in the minds of Renaissance scholars, laughter was to be taken very seriously. Indeed, in an era obsessed with heresy and reform, this most human of abilities was no laughing matter.
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Lift High the Cross
Where White Supremacy and the Christian Right Converge
Ann Burlein
Duke University Press, 2002
Both the Christian right and right-wing white supremacist groups aspire to overcome a culture they perceive as hostile to the white middle class, families, and heterosexuality. The family is threatened, they claim, by a secular humanist conspiracy that seeks to erase all memory of the nation’s Christian heritage by brainwashing its children through sex education, multiculturalism, and pop culture. In Lift High the Cross Ann Burlein looks at two groups that represent, in one case, the “hard” right, and in the other, the “soft” right—Pete Peters’s “Scriptures for America” and James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family”—in order to investigate the specific methods these groups rely on to appeal to their followers.
Arguing that today’s right engenders its popularity not by overt bigotry or hatred but by focusing on people’s hopes for their children, Burlein finds a politics of grief at the heart of such rhetoric. While demonstrating how religious symbols, rituals, texts, and practices shape people’s memories and their investment in society, she shows how Peters and Dobson each construct countermemories for their followers that reframe their histories and identities—as well as their worlds—by reversing mainstream perspectives in ways that counter existing power relations. By employing the techniques of niche marketing, the politics of scandal, and the transformation of political issues into “gut issues” and by remasculinizing the body politic, Burlein shows, such groups are able to move people into their realm of influence without requiring them to agree with all their philosophical, doctrinal, or political positions.
Lift High the Cross will appeal to students and scholars of religion, American cultural studies, women’s studies, sociology, and gay and lesbian studies, as well as to non-specialists interested in American politics and, specifically, the right.
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The Lion and the Cross
Early Christianity in Victorian Novels
Royal W. Rhodes
The Ohio State University Press, 1900

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The Poems of St. John of the Cross
St. John of the Cross
University of Chicago Press, 1979
San Juan de la Cruz, the great sixteenth-century Spanish mystic, is regarded by many as Spain's finest poet. Passionate, ecstatic, and spiritual, his poems are a blend of exquisite lyricism and profound mystical thought. In The Poems of St. John of the Cross John Frederick Nims presents his superlative translation of the complete poems, re-creating the religious fervor of St. John's art.

This dual-language edition makes available the original Spanish from the Codex of Sanlúcon de Barrameda with facing English translations. The work concludes with two essays—a critique of the poetry and a short piece on the Spanish text that appears alongside the translation—as well as brief notes on the individual poems.
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The Pyramid under the Cross
Franciscan Discourses of Evangelization and the Nahua Christian Subject in Sixteenth-century Mexico
Viviana Díaz Balsera
University of Arizona Press, 2005
As the driving force in early European expansionism, Spain was concerned not only with the political and economic subordination of the New World native but also with the need to possess his soul. In this book, Viviana Díaz Balsera tells the story of this zealous spiritual endeavor during its first one hundred years in Central Mexico and of how it transformed the European self and the indigenous other in ways sometimes unforeseen for both.

The Pyramid under the Cross looks at the epic project of Christianization as well as the limits of the Spanish spiritual colonizers' power to accomplish it. The book focuses on activities of Franciscan missionaries who, as the first religious order to arrive, occupied the most important political and social centers in the Valley of Mexico and set the strategies of evangelization that others would follow. One such activity, the Nahua theater of evangelization, is represented as an exemplary case of the inevitable cultural negotiation involved in the missionary process. The author explores not only the imposition of a Eurocentric worldview upon the Nahua but also the hybridization of this view as the spiritual colonizer attempted to encompass a new non-Western constituency and the latter interpreted Christianity according to its own cultural paradigms.

The book treats a wide range of texts—the Historia eclesiástica indiana, the Confessionario Mayor, the Coloquios de los Doce, and more—both by renowned Franciscan figures such as Gerónimo de Mendieta, Alonso de Molina, Bernardino de Sahagún, and by Nahua grammarians Antonio Valeriano de Azcapotzalco, Andrés Leonardo de Tlatelolco, and others. Díaz Balsera engages the cultural constraints of all the actors in the episodes she relates in order to show how the exchange between them resulted in the appropriation and/or alteration of the Spanish discourses of spiritual domination—sometimes even in their breakdown—and how it brought about the emergence of Nahua Christian subjects that would never fully leave behind their ancient ways of relating to the gods.

The Pyramid under the Cross will be of interest to readers in the areas of Hispanic literatures, history, religion, anthropology, Latin American and cultural studies, and to those working in the field of colonial studies.

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The Seven Last Words of Our Lord Upon the Cross
Mother Catherine Abrikosova, T.O.S.D.
St. Augustine's Press, 2019

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Southern Crucifix, Southern Cross
Catholic-Protestant Relations in the Old South
Andrew Henry Stern
University of Alabama Press, 2012
Southern Crucifix, Southern Cross examines the complex and often overlooked relationships between Catholics and Protestants in the antebellum South.

In sharp contrast to many long-standing presumptions about mistrust or animosity between these two groups, this study proposes that Catholic and Protestant interactions in the South were characterized more by cooperation than by conflict.
 
Andrew H. M. Stern argues that Catholics worked to integrate themselves into southern society without compromising their religious beliefs and that many Protestants accepted and supported them. Catholic leaders demonstrated the compatibility of Catholicism with American ideals and institutions, and Protestants recognized Catholics as useful citizens, true Americans, and loyal southerners, in particular citing their support for slavery and their hatred of abolitionism.
 
Mutual assistance between the two groups proved most clear in shared public spaces, with Catholics and Protestants participating in each other’s institutions and funding each other’s enterprises. Catholics and Protestants worshipped in each other’s churches, studied in each other’s schools, and recovered or died in each other’s hospitals.
 
In many histories of southern religion, typically thought of as Protestant, Catholicism tends to be absent. Likewise, in studies of American Catholicism, Catholic relationships with Protestants, including southern Protestants, are rarely discussed. Southern Crucifix, Southern Cross is the first book to demonstrate in detail the ways in which many Protestants actively fostered the growth of American Catholicism. Stern complicates the dominant historical view of interreligious animosity and offers an unexpected model of religious pluralism that helped to shape southern culture as we know it today.
 
 
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Stations of the Cross
Adorno and Christian Right Radio
Paul Apostolidis
Duke University Press, 2000
Since the 1970s, American society has provided especially fertile ground for the growth of the Christian right and its influence on both political and cultural discourse. In Stations of the Cross political theorist Paul Apostolidis shows how a critical component of this movement’s popular culture—evangelical conservative radio—interacts with the current U.S. political economy. By examining in particular James Dobson’s enormously influential program, Focus on the Family—its messages, politics, and effects—Apostolidis reveals the complex nature of contemporary conservative religious culture.
Public ideology and institutional tendencies clash, the author argues, in the restructuring of the welfare state, the financing of the electoral system, and the backlash against women and minorities. These frictions are nowhere more apparent than on Christian right radio. Reinvigorating the intellectual tradition of the Frankfurt School, Apostolidis shows how ideas derived from early critical theory—in particular that of Theodor W. Adorno—can illuminate the political and social dynamics of this aspect of contemporary American culture. He uses and reworks Adorno’s theories to interpret the nationally broadcast Focus on the Family, revealing how the cultural discourse of the Christian right resonates with recent structural transformations in the American political economy. Apostolidis shows that the antidote to the Christian right’s marriage of religious and market fundamentalism lies not in a reinvocation of liberal fundamentals, but rather depends on a patient cultivation of the affinities between religion’s utopian impulses and radical, democratic challenges to the present political-economic order.
Mixing critical theory with detailed analysis, Stations of the Cross provides a needed contribution to sociopolitical studies of mass movements and will attract readers in sociology, political science, philosophy, and history.
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The Thief, the Cross, and the Wheel
Pain and the Spectacle of Punishment in Medieval and Renaissance Europe
Mitchell B. Merback
University of Chicago Press, 1999
Christ's Crucifixion is one of the most recognized images in Western culture, and it has come to stand as a universal symbol of both suffering and salvation. But often overlooked is the fact that ultimately the Crucifixion is a scene of capital punishment. Mitchell Merback reconstructs the religious, legal, and historical context of the Crucifixion and of other images of public torture. The result is a fascinating account of a time when criminal justice and religion were entirely interrelated and punishment was a visual spectacle devoured by a popular audience.

Merback compares the images of Christ's Crucifixion with those of the two thieves who met their fate beside Jesus. In paintings by well-known Northern European masters and provincial painters alike, Merback finds the two thieves subjected to incredible cruelty, cruelty that artists could not depict in their scenes of Christ's Crucifixion because of theological requirements. Through these representations Merback explores the ways audiences in early modern Europe understood images of physical suffering and execution. The frequently shocking works also provide a perspective from which Merback examines the live spectacle of public torture and execution and how audiences were encouraged by the Church and the State to react to the experience. Throughout, Merback traces the intricate and extraordinary connections among religious art, devotional practice, bodily pain, punishment, and judicial spectatorship.

Keenly aware of the difficulties involved in discussing images of atrocious violence but determined to make them historically comprehensible, Merback has written an informed and provocative study that reveals the rituals of medieval criminal justice and the visual experiences they engendered.






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The Thief, the Cross and the Wheel
Pain and the Spectacle of Punishment in Medieval and Renaissance Europe
Mitchell B. Merback
Reaktion Books, 1999
Christ's Crucifixion is one of the most recognized images in Western culture, and it has come to stand as a universal symbol of both suffering and salvation. But often overlooked is the fact that ultimately the Crucifixion is a scene of capital punishment. Mitchell Merback reconstructs the religious, legal, and historical context of the Crucifixion and of other images of public torture. The result is a fascinating account of a time when criminal justice and religion were entirely interrelated and punishment was a visual spectacle devoured by a popular audience.

Merback compares the images of Christ's Crucifixion with those of the two thieves who met their fate beside Jesus. In paintings by well-known Northern European masters and provincial painters alike, Merback finds the two thieves subjected to incredible cruelty, cruelty that artists could not depict in their scenes of Christ's Crucifixion because of theological requirements. Through these representations Merback explores the ways audiences in early modern Europe understood images of physical suffering and execution. The frequently shocking works also provide a perspective from which Merback examines the live spectacle of public torture and execution and how audiences were encouraged by the Church and the State to react to the experience. Throughout, Merback traces the intricate and extraordinary connections among religious art, devotional practice, bodily pain, punishment, and judicial spectatorship.

Keenly aware of the difficulties involved in discussing images of atrocious violence but determined to make them historically comprehensible, Merback has written an informed and provocative study that reveals the rituals of medieval criminal justice and the visual experiences they engendered.






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