By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
San Diego (CNN) – At a 1950s-style house nestled in a peaceful neighborhood nicknamed “Hanukkah Hill,” a smiling Buddha on the porch greets visitors – his arms raised as if to say all are welcome.
Affixed to the doorpost is a mezuzah, a decorative case holding blessings for a Jewish home. Inside, on the family’s refrigerator, hangs a magnet from the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog that says, “Jesus loves us. Who cares what you think?”
In the kitchen stands Joanna Brooks, an accidental, unofficial and admittedly unauthorized source for all things Mormon. She’s making “funeral potatoes,” a classic Mormon casserole, and heaped on the counter are the ingredients: a not-so-healthy dose of cheese, butter, sour cream, hash browns and chicken soup. Her Jewish husband strolls by, takes a look at what’s cooking, and grimaces. Bespectacled and freckled 6-year-old Rosa, standing atop a chair, proudly announces, “I’m Jewish and Mormon!”
The home and life Brooks has created is the product of a complicated journey.
She cannot separate The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from her identity any more than she can leave cheese out of funeral potatoes. But like her persecuted ancestors who braved the unforgiving plains to reach the promised land of what is now Utah, Brooks, 40, fights for her faith.
The battle has, at times, left her feeling beaten.
CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories
As a young feminist activist, she saw her beloved church excommunicate her intellectual heroes. She’s felt outrage and soul-crushing grief while watching her church mobilize against same-sex marriages. For about 10 years, she walked away.
But today a vintage postcard of a Mormon missionary boarding a plane sits on her desk to inspire. It reads, in part, “Dare to be different.”
She believes there’s room in the LDS Church for loving criticism and candid talk, that Latter-day Saints like her can not just belong but also serve – without fear of being cast out into the wilderness.
She’s staking her claim to Mormonism, writing about it for Religion Dispatches, debunking myths in national papers, speaking up on podcasts, radio shows and from stages, and offering advice in her column and blog, Ask Mormon Girl. She recently self-published her memoir, “The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith” and writes regularly for Feminist Mormon Housewives. Politico has named her, or specifically her Twitter account, one of the “50 Politicos to Watch.” All this while being an award-winning scholar, a published poet and, oh yeah, a department chair and professor of English and comparative literature at San Diego State University.
Click the audio player for a Q&A with Joanna Brooks from CNN Radio's John Lisk
Amid Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, the “I’m a Mormon” ad campaign and the smash-hit Broadway musical “Book of Mormon,” this Obama supporter has emerged as a refreshing voice for media, hungry for frank discussion about her faith.
Her goal? To be her authentic self and humanize a tradition and people she couldn't love more.
“I just refuse to be ashamed of being Mormon,” she says. “Don’t talk about us like we’re not in the room.”
Embracing her difference
Growing up in California's Orange County, she often was the only Mormon in a room. She was, she likes to say, “a root beer among the Cokes,” a reference to the caffeine-free drink that her faith permits.
She fantasized about her ancestors on the other side of the veil. Her father, a longtime LDS Church bishop – a volunteer pastor – said they knew her name and that her spirit would join them when she died.
She sang pioneer hymns in church on Sundays with other root beers. She kneeled and prayed to God each night before bed. By the time she was baptized at 8, she’d read cover-to-cover the Book of Mormon, the sacred text Latter-day Saints view as “another testament of Jesus Christ” and study in addition to the Bible.
Brooks, center, and her sisters learned early to be proud of and show off their Mormon pioneer heritage.
She learned to relish being different, even when born-again classmates, taught by their pastors to believe she was in a cult, scrawled warnings in her yearbook. When Marie Osmond, a visible Mormon to the non-Mormon world, winked into the TV camera on Friday nights, Brooks was sure the gesture was meant for her.
Along the way, there were glimpses of the woman she would become. Asked one year in grade school to write two term papers, she chose as her subjects the Equal Rights Amendment and Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS Church.
“I’m not making this up,” she says, laughing at what some may see as irony. “This is who I am.”
But in her traditional - what she calls “orthodox” - Mormon home, she was only exposed to pamphlets on women’s rights penned by Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative stalwart who railed against the ERA push.
At LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, the only college she ever considered attending, Brooks imagined the warm embrace of being among her people. Looking at those around her, at first she worried she was too different. But during orientation, an English professor quoted a verse from the Book of Mormon that she'd carry with her.
He denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
“I felt the knot of panic in my belly loosen and disappear,” she writes in her memoir. “Deep inside my chest, a door opened. Light and oxygen flooded the room.”
She gravitated to professors who shined the light on possibilities, devouring the words of Mormon poets and feminist historians.
All are alike unto God.
In the Student Review, an alternative and unofficial school paper, Brooks poked fun at university policies, interviewed polygamists, wrote about gay issues and simply didn’t shy away from matters most people were afraid to talk about.
While getting ready for church on Sundays, she blared Public Enemy.
Outside her circle of like-minded friends were people like John Dehlin, a staunchly conservative Mormon student who watched her from afar. Whether it was hot-button issues in the paper, pro-choice demonstrations at the state Capitol or night vigils and marches for rape victims, he says, Brooks was always involved.
“She didn't know me, but I knew her. I was torn between being uncomfortable and seeing her as dangerous, and respecting her for her courage and convictions.”
Brooks was riding an optimistic wave of change at BYU, when the tide suddenly shifted.
The early 1990s brought a LDS Church crackdown on intellectuals, feminists and activists who were perceived as being threats.
Professors at BYU lost their jobs. Others walked away in solidarity. In September 1993, six prominent Mormon scholars were excommunicated or disfellowshipped – stripped of certain religious rights, including access to LDS Church temples.
The day Brooks received her diploma, she handed it back in protest.
Wrestling with God
The still-warm funeral potatoes take their place on a picnic table crowded with treats in a La Jolla park. Milling about are those who've gathered for a monthly meeting, a support group of sorts, under the auspices of an organization called Mormon Stories.
Some, like Brooks, are faithful churchgoing members. Others no longer attend services but long for cultural connections. For at least two of these Californians (one says she is a distant relative of Mitt Romney's), the day church leaders called on Mormons to support Proposition 8 – a 2008 ballot measure to prevent same-sex marriages – was the last time they sat in the pews. One first-time visitor shows up, her crisis of faith new and raw.
“I believed everything until two weeks ago,” she says, her expression one-part grief, the other anger.
Brooks understands those in painful transition. God knows she's been there.
After graduating from BYU, Brooks headed to Los Angeles to get her doctorate in English at UCLA. For about five years, she says she regularly went to church but was still reeling from “the purge” of so many mentors.
She wrestled internally. Each time the LDS Church galvanized its members behind the Defense of Marriage Act or supported initiatives that predated Prop 8, she felt like a cinderblock had been dropped on her heart. If her bishop asked how she was doing, she burst into tears.
“Whenever I went to church, I'd just cry,” she says. “So I just stopped. It was my way of saying 'uncle.' It was too much. I clearly needed time.”
Brooks retreated not just from church, but also from her liberal Mormon peers. She guarded her tongue and emotions around family.
Meantime, her life moved forward in other beautiful ways. She'd fallen hard for David Kamper, then a doctoral student in anthropology, “a sweet and soulful Jewish man from my California hometown: a man who saw no enmity in me, a man who would never put me on trial, a man who would never audit my heart for heresy,” she says in her memoir.
They met at a union party for teaching assistants. About two months into their relationship, she turned to him and said, “You know we're going to get married.”
When they did, some years later, she couldn't have a temple marriage, which allows two Mormons to be sealed for eternity in a sacred ceremony – a rite considered necessary to reach the highest level in heaven. Instead, their unconventional wedding blended their religious backgrounds.
When Kamper stomped on a glass, which marks the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony, Brooks knew she was in some way breaking her parents' hearts.
The oldest of four siblings, all dedicated Mormons, she still attended family events in the LDS Church during those years in self-imposed exile. Each visit made her ache with longing. She tried other Christian denominations, but none felt like home.
It was the birth of her daughters Ella and Rosa, now 8 and 6, that would eventually help bring her back. When she rocked them to sleep, she mindlessly sang a Mormon pioneer hymn, a reminder of those who walked before her.
Her faith journey was shaped, in part, by the birth of daughters Ella -- walking ahead with the family dog -- and Rosa.
She realized she had to be true to her spiritual needs and her legacy, not just for herself, but for her little girls. She began writing the book that would become her memoir, to help her heal and so they would someday understand their mother.
“I am an unorthodox Mormon woman with a fierce and hungry faith,” she writes. “Sometimes even in my own tradition I feel a long way from home. But I will keep on crossing as many plains as this life puts in front of me. I drag along my Jewish husband, my two daughters, and a trunk of difficult questions.”
Finding her way home
Slowly, in 2008, she dipped her cold feet back in the LDS Church waters.
Three months later, like a tsunami, came the push for Proposition 8.
“So I took another few months off. To shake my fist at God,” she wrote in a recent Ask Mormon Girl column. “That's what I did until the vote was over. And then I went back. Again.”
That wasn’t all she did, though. Once, during this hiatus from church, she returned to her childhood congregation for a new nephew’s naming and blessing. She squirmed in her seat as each talk and prayer mentioned the need to protect marriage, she recalls in her memoir.
Using Rosa, then 2, as an excuse, she went for a walk. On a hallway table she spotted clipboards holding data for “Yes on 8” voters, canvassing materials culled through hours and hours of work.
“My heart pounds. I look around. The hallways are clear,” she writes. Brooks snatched those papers and shoved them in her flowered diaper bag. She rushed outside, her heels clicking on pavement. Shielded by cars and with Rosa on her hip, she forced the papers down a metal sidewalk grate. “Still, I feel the weight of the cinderblock on my heart.”
When she could guard her tongue no longer, she decided to speak publicly at a rally opposing Prop 8. She held her breath as she sent her speech to her parents.
The next morning, she opened her e-mail to see this from her father: “ ‘We want you to know we love you. You have wanted a more just and loving world since you were a little girl,’ ” she recounts in her memoir. She then describes her reaction: “Tears drop on my keyboard. My chest heaves.”
Now her father is dying of ALS, an experience that’s made their differences irrelevant.
“My parents are very devoted Mormons, and they didn’t always know what to do with me,” she says. “But there’s nothing like a terminal illness to put things in perspective.”
In late 2009, she began writing about her Mormonism for others. Her first published piece was about raising interfaith children.
Brooks hopes that through her writing and speaking out she can help humanize Mormons, who are often misunderstood.
Perhaps no one was more relieved to see her name than John Dehlin, the BYU student who'd once watched her from afar.
He'd gone through his own faith crisis years after they graduated, and searched online for Brooks. He couldn't find her anywhere. When he saw her byline, he reached out immediately.
“Where have you been?” he asked. “We need you. We've always needed you.”
Dehlin created Mormon Stories in 2005, first as a podcast offering open conversations for those grasping for reasons to stay in the LDS Church, which he has. Now the group also runs conferences and online communities, as well as support groups, which are sprouting up across the globe.
Brooks didn't need Mormon Stories to get back to church. She'd worked through her struggle in her own way and own time. But realizing there were others like her out there – even if they weren't sitting next to her in church – gave her comfort. There's a kinship among those who want and need to speak freely.
The way Mormons show up for one another, she says, is part of what she loves most about her faith tradition. And while her “calling” may not be conventional or church-sanctioned, she's fulfilling a mandate to serve.
By being there for folks who are lost and looking to be found or are desperate to say things they don't feel safe uttering at church or to their families, she attends to those in need.
“Is there space for difference? People are feeling it out,” she says. “No one wants to start a new church. No one wants a schism.”
Some of her friends, especially those not in the LDS Church, have wondered why she didn't just walk away.
That might have been easier, and it's what most of her BYU friends did do. But she's shed tears and worked so hard to maintain her identity, faith and community because, like those who came before her, that's what Mormon pioneers do.
“I know who I am”
Scampering out of the garage, Mosi leads the way. The family dog - her name means "cat" in Navajo - tugs Brooks through the neighborhood on a walk that doubles as thinking time for this busy mother, professor and author.
On this afternoon, she talks about how carefully she must toe a line - one that allows her to be faithful, respectful and gently critical. She's emboldened knowing she doesn't walk alone. There are dozens and dozens like her who - thanks to blogs and social media - are also weighing in.
Brooks speaks on stages and radio programs. She also has been interviewed for documentaries, including one about Mormons in politics.
Not afraid to discuss touchy issues of race, polygamy, or same-sex marriages, Brooks says she's gotten plenty of mail from LDS Church members begging her to stop. They say she's not a spokesperson for the church, and she agrees – she isn't. She's not trying to be.
She believes this cautiousness of fellow Latter-day Saints, this fear of individually speaking up, isn't serving Mormons well. Instead of relying on church officials to read from scripts that sound likes scripts, she says, “People need to see us as human beings.”
The sacrifices of Mormons who’ve spoken out before her also help prod Brooks along. She has to trust that times are changing – that what happened to women like feminist Margaret Toscano won’t happen to her.
Toscano, 62, was excommunicated in 2000 – seven years after her husband. She recalls how the late 1970s Mormon supporters of the ERA were driven underground. She was among those who re-emerged in the late 1980s, only to face a slapdown. She says she personally knows hundreds who’ve walked away from the church over women’s issues.
She watches Brooks and others like her with hope, but not complete optimism. The ability of activists to do what they do while in the church, Toscano says, comes and goes at the whim of whoever is in charge.
Others who watch Brooks may be concerned about the company she keeps.
She knows there are those who fear her association with “apostates,” but she shrugs this off. “It’s not a concern for me. I know who I am.”
Who she is and what she believes rankles Ralph Hancock, a political science professor at BYU who’s taken her on in an LDS blog review called The Bulwark. Simply put, he says in an e-mail, “Joanna thinks or assumes that Mormonism is compatible with (or intrinsically drawn toward?) a contemporary liberal-progressive agenda – and I think not.”
But not all conservatives are bothered by her work.
At the helm of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR), an organization that defends the LDS Church from detractors, is president Scott Gordon. He may not agree with many of her positions, but he’s glad she’s out there.
She shows the “plurality of thought within Mormonism,” he says, and has taken on characterizations of Mormons in the press in a way that’s made him want to cheer.
LDS Church officials have never contacted Brooks directly, she says. And they wouldn’t comment directly on her or her work for this story.
While Brooks will speak openly about the church she loves, warts and all, she has limits. She refuses to feed the uninformed, broad-brush sensationalism so many use to paint her often misunderstood faith. That's why she graciously turned down a recent request from a History Channel producer who, among other things, hoped Brooks could show how she uses a “seer stone” – a prophetic tool used by LDS Church founder Joseph Smith.
“Are you kidding me!” Brooks says, remembering what went through her head but never came out of her mouth. “That's like asking David [her Jewish husband] if he knows how to sacrifice animals.”
Back from the walk, she rounds up the family to head out to dinner.
Over pizzas at a long table in the Blind Lady Ale House, her husband joins friends in sharing tastes of microbrews. Brooks didn't always follow the Mormon rules to abstain from coffee, tea and alcohol. But with her renewed commitment to the church, she does now.
Among her friends here are two women with whom she leads a Girl Scout troop. Giggling at the far end of the table are their daughters, members of what they like to call “the rogue Brownie troop.”
More important to them than competitive cookie peddling are missions these moms can get behind: a tour of an organic farm, an environmental cleanup activity and a food drive for AIDS patients.
Leaving the other adults to their beers, Brooks heads outside with the four girls. Soon the little ones are marching up and down the sidewalk, arms linked, shouting something that leaves passersby smiling.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight! Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”
Brooks has spontaneously taught them the intro to the television classic “Laverne & Shirley.”
She hooks her arms with them as they scream, “Again! Again!” She coaches their footwork and matches their youthful enthusiasm. She wonders, as an afterthought, if she’s got that “hasenpfeffer” word right.
Reaching into a pocket, Brooks pulls out her smartphone and says with a sheepish grin, “Let me check my seer stone.”
On white people, lipstick and the sacrament
It's a Sunday morning, and the family is getting ready for church. Kamper serves up pancakes before racing off to change. Ella and Rosa look over their visitor to make sure she's dressed appropriately. Modest skirt and sleeves? Check.
“Church is a good place,” Rosa says. She bounds past a globe of the world and a child-sized drum set to grab a book from the playroom shelf.
“Read this,” she orders, handing over “How Does the Holy Ghost Make Me Feel?” “This'll teach you about church.”
Rosa shows off their food storage, recommended by the LDS Church in case of disasters.
In the kitchen, Brooks holds up the New York Times Sunday Review and rails against Lee Siegel's Mitt Romney-related opinion piece, “What's Race Got to Do With It?”
“ 'Mormonism is still imagined by its adherents as a religion founded by whites, for whites, rooted in a millenarian vision of an America destined to fulfill a white God's plan for earth,' ” she reads aloud. And then, swatting the paper with the back of her hand, she asks, “Is there fact checking involved?”
She knows of the millions of LDS Church members dotting the globe in Africa, Asia and Latin America. And the Japanese-American, Filipino-American, black and Hispanic members in her own ward, or congregation. Later that night, she'll write her response. In this moment, Ella turns her attention to the diversity of American Girl dolls.
Scattered across a sofa are Rebecca, a Russian-Jewish girl from New York; Kaya, a Native American from the Nez Perce tribe; and Kirsten, who wears a bonnet.
“Mommy,” Ella screams, racing out of the room, “Did you know Kirsten's a pioneer girl?”
With her daughters loaded in the Prius, Brooks takes the wheel and tunes in Bob Marley. The girls start rifling through her purse in the backseat. They gob on her lipstick.
“Great,” she says, peering in the rearview mirror. “They're getting tarted up for church.”
Lipstick wiped off, they stroll inside. Brooks takes a seat in the back, and the girls dart up the aisle to sit with friends.
Who Brooks is outside of church is of no consequence. If anyone does follow her work, she says, “No one is up in my grill.” When she's here, she's here for spiritual sustenance – to pray, take the sacrament, and connect with and serve her community.
Bags crowding her feet hold the coffee cake she'll take to the Sunday school class she'll teach later, the Jeopardy-style game she's devised for today's lesson, and reading materials and toys to keep kids occupied.
The LDS Church's children's magazine features a story about Mormons in Tonga. Brooks spots her visitor reading it and whispers, “See how focused we are on white people?”
A little boy scoots a toy car along the floor. Stacked on a chair above him, next to hymnals, are “Curious George” books in Spanish.
Her husband sits down beside her, his arm around her shoulder. Kamper shows up because who she is, what she needs for herself and their kids, matters to him. Her acceptance of his Judaism, the fact that she's never suggested he convert, has helped him get over what the couple jokingly refer to as his “Jesus allergy.” He doesn't take the sacrament when it's offered and admits he sometimes passes on saying “amen” to church prayers.
“They don't know what the hell to make of me,” he says. But ever since he fell in love with Brooks, this trained ethnographer has been a close observer of Mormons. He feels embraced by her parents now, but that took time. Her father once challenged Kamper to read the Book of Mormon and accept the missionary lessons, visits from LDS teachers. Kamper figured it was the least he could do, but it didn't lead him into a baptismal font.
Unable to play an official role during Mormon family ceremonies, like baby namings, he accepts his job as the designated microphone holder. Someday he'll tell his nephews, “If you get busted and go to jail, call Uncle David.”
Here in church, his role is supportive husband. Kamper strokes Brooks' back when she weeps. Tears fall when her eyes close in prayer.
In a small classroom afterward, she meets with four high school students, three of whom are heading to BYU in the fall. When she meets with them, she says she sees herself at their age.
The Book of Mormon, the introduction of an additional scripture, “was a bold claim,” she tells them. “I think that's why Mormons are bold. We're OK being different.”
Trusting God’s plan
The girls plop down at the kitchen table, feasting on leftover funeral potatoes. They start humming the “Muppet Show” theme song and then, after rattling off some of their favorite Simon and Garfunkel titles, bust into the chorus of “Mrs. Robinson.”
And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson,
Jesus loves you more than you will know,
Wo, wo, wo.
God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson,
Heaven holds a place for those who pray,
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.
Each night at dinner, the girls lead the family in prayer. Sometimes their words are inspired by their Mormonism; other times they honor the Jewish side of themselves.
They're being raised to be part of both religious traditions. They celebrate Christmas, Easter and Pioneer Day, which marks the day in 1847 when Mormon pioneers first entered now-Utah. The family also observes Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover. Because Kamper likes to host a big Passover seder each year, Brooks decided the family would also host a Mormon seder on Pioneer Day, featuring her favorite recipes, including her “Green Goddess” Jell-o salad.
One month the girls attend Sunday school at church; the next they can be found in Hebrew school.
“It can be challenging because I have to learn one thing and then another thing,” Ella says. “But it can be fun, too, because I know I'm special.”
Brooks doesn't worry about their kids. All she can do is be responsible for her own choices and give them a rich spiritual life, she says. They'll be free to decide what path they want to travel. “God has a plan for everyone, and everything is going to work out,” she says. “I'm not afraid for them.”
Nor is Kamper, though he admits he's starting to realize some rabbis might balk if the girls want bat mitzvahs.
Ella describes how she feels in church.
“I feel comfortable because I'm in God's house. And I also feel comfortable because I know lots of people love me,” she says.
Her parents smile at each other. They want to know if she feels like she's in God's house at synagogue.
“No, but I feel like God's watching over me,” she answers.
Ella then offers to share a typical prayer she and Rosa might recite.
“We fold our arms and close our eyes,” she instructs. “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this food and this family. Please bless those who are sick... And if I was going to sleep,” she decides to add, “Please help me so I won't have nightmares. And if I do, send the Holy Ghost down to comfort me. I say these things in Jesus' name. Amen.”
Seconds later, she and her younger sister switch gears.
“Shema, Yisrael. Adonai Eloheinu. Adonai echad,” they sing, the translation being, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.”
Across the kitchen, their mother’s voice rises in perfect Hebrew, too.
It's a Jewish prayer sung by a faithful Mormon who believes “all are alike unto God.” And she sings it with every bit of her pioneer spirit.
I personally don't care about Mormonism. Is it Christian or is it not? Not sure, and it's not something I lose sleep over. What gets me more is someone who picks and chooses what part of her faith to follow. She is a "Christian" married to a Jewish man. Neither follow their religion that closely if they married outside of their religion. I don't understand how one would raise kids in that religious environment? Christians follow and believe in Jesus, son of God, yet, Jews believe the Messiah is still coming, so how do you reconcil that in raising kids? It seems more that both of them use their religion as a crutch to stay close to their past which comforts them vs. really believing in what they claim to be. As far as Mitt, just glad he's not a Scientologist.
Of course, Judaism is closer to Mormonism than Christianity; so there should be less conflict in marriage. Both faith traditions reject the triune concept of God, the Mormon concepts of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit having little in common with Christian usage. Joseph Smith shares with Mohammed in claiming to set the record straight on the claims embodied in the triune concept of God, considered by all 3 religions as blasphemy.
So, 1 billion Chinese can't possibly be wrong. Right?
Perhaps Joanna Brooks will rise to the challenge of asserting the clear distinction between Mormonism and what Mormons consider "apostate" Christianity. That 97% of Mormons claim to be Christian obscures the fact that they are not using the term in the sense Christians use it. There is no shame in joining with Jews and Muslims in denying the triune concept of God, but using the terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and salvation, as done at Mormon.org, only deceives members and prospective converts alike. Joanna Brooks would do well to clarify the distinctions rather than ignore or obscure them.
Maybe we need to accept that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the real Christians by definition and the rest need to call themselves something else, since they are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Great article but it is hard to think of LDS people being a minority here in northern Rural Utah. Here anyone else is seen as a cult. (im not mormon)
It would be great if Mormons generally and openly expressed their distinction from Christianity rather than obscure it with references to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit having nothing in common with the Christian concepts. Equivocating the terms only serves to deceive prospective converts.
Great article.....the rest of you weirdos get a life.
Mormon "IT" girl looks mad old! Wrinkles and all.
How can you be Mormon and a Feminist? The Mormon religion does not treat women with respect, its very degrading.
You don't understand mormonism. Go to mormon.org and that will help you.
No it isn't. Stop spouting what you've "heard" somewhere and do a little research on your own
Mormon.org is deceptive, using the terms Father, Son and Holy Spirit in ways quite distinct from Christianity, which is their right. Check out http://www.irr.org for balance.
Please read before you judge. We all believe differently, no matter if we are members of the same religion or of a different religions. Why persecute Judaism for supposedly "not being complete" or Mormonism for believing "people become a god and create worlds"? Every religion has 2 things in common: 1) There is a higher power of some kind: God, Christ, Buddha, Allah, Jehovah- and many more I don't know (Hindus have a lot). 2) Every religion preaches to love your neighbor (yes, that's the bible and it's written different in the Tao te Ching and the Upanishads and the Koran).
So instead of being hellbent on proving others wrong- working on making yourself right, no matter what religion you believe. Treat others as you want to be treated. The golden rule hasn't gone out of style. And if you want to have a discussion- worry more about offending the other person than proving yourself right.
I'm not ashamed of my religion; I am a Mormon. I believe what I believe. And I respect what you believe.
In this day and time we all need to believe in something. Religion, for any group, has and will always be left to the individual to break apart as they wish to see it. Most people , I think , need to feel that their part of something greater than themselves and religion fills that void. I could pick apart about any religious organization, but why? It only serves to hurt people when that is done. Most of you don't even understand that organizations, like CNN, are in place to keep us at odds with each other by highlighting articles liike this one or articles on racial differences. What they are doing is dividing our nation, one story at a time, and most, not all, but most people don't think for themselves they just repeat what they hear. So congratulations! CNN , once again has you at odds with each other and the only one it profits is them.
Religions are based on dividing people. The religion declares: "Our belief is right and all others are wrong!" It's silly to think that religions can bring about unity when the very purpose of their existence is to exclude "they" who are wrong because they do not believe. When believers pick and choose what parts of their religion to practice (as you suggest), they negate it's purpose; I'm all for it.
is buddah an external, controlling force? i am not so sure.
Amos 3 says, " 7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." The Bible is consistent. Jesus Christ is the "chief cornerstone" of his church. That means that he, himself, is the leader of his church and reveals his will through his prophet. There has always been a prophet on the earth when he has had a covenant people.
Ephesians 2 says, "19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;" 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"
Jesus never intended that his saints (Christ's covenant people) be left without his personal direction, "14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" (Ephesians 14).
We don't denegrate in any way the great reformers. They prepared the way for the true gospel to be restored, just like John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ,and we honor them. But, they have done their work and their followers must give way to the higher truth. There is a living prophet on the earth today and twelve apostles! You can read their words on lds.org or mormon.org. I know the gospel is restored!
But Mormonism is "slanted, misguided viewpoint," as is Christianity and Islam and any other religion that preaches a "faith" through an untenable text that must be continually reinterpreted to stay current. The religious stories are fairy tales, as any child can demonstrate with honest questions. C'mon believers, wake up!! Drop your silly beliefs in imaginary friends. Make this life full of joy; don't waste it hoping for rewards in the next. Religion is so, so, so childish!
Mormons recognize a prophet after Christ. In so doing they deny Christ his role as the exclusive path to salvation. This means they are NOT Christians. Theologically they are more like Moslems than Christians. It doesn't matter how offended they get when they hear it. The truth is the truth and can't be hidden to spare anybody's feelings. They AREN'T Christians.
and therefore, aren't as deserving as you, right?
You know, none of the protestant churches could possibly be the true church because they all apostatized from the Catholic church and can claim no authority (Isn't that why we call them protestants?) Christ founded his church on priesthood authority. Hebrews 5 says, " 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee." Aaron was ordained to the priesthood by Moses, the prophet, and Moses received the priesthood from his father in law, Jethro. John 15:16 says: "16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit," Christ never intended that minsters and pastors run helter skelter preaching whatever they please and taking priesthood authority "unto themselves". He intended that his church be run by revelation administered by a prophet. Only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the organization of the original church and is administered by a prophet of God. It is the only church today that is administered by verifiable priesthood authority with most churches not even bothering with authority at all!
Cassarit, you have been deceived by, let me guess, a minister who gets money from you and doesn't want to lose his livelyhood. Ron Hubbard was overheard to say that if he wanted to make an easy million dollars, he would start a church, and that is exactly what he eventually did! Your minister is in it for the money! The true Church of Jesus Christ doesn't sell the Lord's gospel for money. That is what is called priest craft. The clergy in the Church of Jesus Christ are unpaid and only motivated by a sincere desire to serve. The young men and women who are our missionaries are the same way. They serve at great sacrifices, often giving up college savings or lucrative sports and entertainment contracts so they can bring you the truth. Don't be doofed by the "grievous wolves" who "make war with the saints" and fight against God. I urge you to go to mormon.org where kind, dedicated, unpaid missionaries will answer any questions you have.
This is wrong. Please don't pretend that you know anything factual about LDS doctrine. As someone who professes to be Christian, what is your take on prophets like Moses and Noah? What about Peter, James, John, and other apostles? Did Christians worship them? No. And neither do we. We do not subscribe to NIcenean Christianity because of fundamental differences in our beliefs regarding the separation, physically and spiritually, of the three members of the Godhead (being God, the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost), but we do believe in all of them and know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. That my friend, is the difference.
You do not have to agree. That is certainly you own choice, but please refrain from denigrating my religion because of your slanted, misguided view point.
often the most Christ-like people out there. You'd do well to go to the source for your information. If you knew anything about the LDS church, you'd know they are very much Christian.
Right Cass. And no insult intended. That 97% of Mormons claim to be Christian obscures the fact that they are not using the term in the sense Christians use it. There is no shame in joining with Jews and Muslims in denying the triune concept of God, but using the terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and salvation, as done at Mormon.org, only deceives members and prospective converts alike. Joanna Brooks would do well to clarify the distinctions rather than ignore or obscure them.
wow, cassarit...good to know that you are the one who determines who are "true christians".
As a devout Mormon whose faith journey echoes Joanna's in many ways, I must say that I am glad she is out there speaking boldly and proudly, unafraid to face contradictions and difficulties while still owning her faith. Like all religious, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its members are messy and flawed, living, and changing. I'm grateful to share this church with someone as honest and faith-seeking as Joanna. Thank you, Joanna, and thank you, Jessica Ravitz, for this wonderful profile.
If it's really divine inspiration, and "God's Will," why does it change so much and so often? For example, the whole Black people issue. Why can't just one of these gods and holy texts get it right the first time? Makes no sense.
I am a life long LDS and consider myself devout. I agree with your assessment of Joanna. She has a different twist on the church, but I think it's good that she's out there putting in a good word for it.
Thanks for this profile, CNN. It explains everything - especially why Brooks's columns are so utterly schizophrenic. One day, she's playing Big, Brave Feminist and taking the Mormon church to task for being a bunch of old, white bigots, and the next she's back in Big Love Land, going off the rails at some (gasp!) outsider who dared say the same thing she did the day before. (Aside to Joanna: You can't have it both ways, honey, no matter how deep your denial. Take my advice and convert to Judaism. It ain't perfect, but it doesn't require a new leap of faith every three seconds; i.e., whenever a "prophet/seer" changes his mind as pressure from evolving social mores threatens to suck the church coffers dry.)
And there is no idea that you can become a God and have your own planet!
The saddest part of the story is that she went back. Shows how deeply the Mormon theology messes with the human psyche.
Of course that is your own opinion and not based upon any fact.
I dunno. If I were married to a Jewish man, I'd make a LITTLE effort not to shove the decidedly non-kosher concoctions in his face. Chicken with CHEESE. Oy!
Theological liberals always try to remake God in THEIR image rather than let him remake them in his. Whatever goofball ideas they have suddenly become "God's will" regardless that their religious book says in black and white that they are wrong. If you don't believe in what your religion teaches at least be honest with yourself that you're a pagan and or an atheist, don't thy
to deceive yourself and others by trying to pass off your "half-baked" ideas as normal for your faith.
Now go one more step. You realize that your original book was made up of "goofball ideas they (that) have suddenly become "God's will"
it was man who created god in his image in the first place, bill
Mormonism is a business/employment/investment cult using a taxing i.e. ti-thing "religion" as a front and charitable donations and volunteer work to advertise said business. And the accounting books
are closed to all but the prophet/"profit" and his all-male hierarchy.
Tis a great business model i.e. charge your Mormon employees/stock holders a fee/t-ithe and invest it in ranches, insurance companies, canneries, gaudy temples, a great choir and mission-matured BYU football and basketball teams.
And all going back to one of the great cons of all times i.e. the Moroni revelations to Joseph Smith analogous to mythical Gabriel's revelations to the hallucinating Mohammed !!!
I believe you posted something very similar earlier. Let's reason together – If there is a true church on earth at all – one of two things must happen. 1) We ALL would know about it and we would ALL be saved ****OR**** 2) God expects us to live the best we can so we can ourselves through prayer to Him recognize it. NOW – since #1 isn't the case, the only reasonable possibility is #2 or nothing. So, if scenario #2 is right – How are you going to recognize it? And if you were God and ran it in such a way through men trying to follow you – how would you have these imperfect men run your church on earth? Would a fantastic humanitarian program be a part? Would missionaries play a part? Might you have a school? Might you be financially sound so you can spread the Gospel? What would you change in the way it is being run? More importantly, WHAT would YOU do that the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints is not?
Think Again you must be a Mormon apologist who has been secured by LDS Inc to visit national news sites to counter attack what is being said on these threads. Look through the comments and you will find what people really think about your cult that you are trying to hard to defend. But keep trying because the more you do the more ridiculous LDS Inc looks to the world. So I encourage you to keep up the faithful application of apologizing for your beliefs.
How do you come up with only these two options if there is 1 true church? There are countless options, including maybe God is irrelivant in our daily lives and he never wants us to recognize the true church.
Odd...this posted on the bottom comment instead of in the right place the first time – anyway –
@Think Again Again – The 2 options are "IF" there is a true church. 1) We all know about it or 2) We have to find it. "IF" there is a true church, I do not see another option that would make the true church a fair one. "IF" means, that "IF" that is not satisfied, then there would appear to be no true church. I am not sure if you are asking me to clarify what I mean or if you are suggesting that there is a true church that very few will find or something. Let me know.
I thik what you are postulating needs clarification. If there really was 1 true church (an argument I don't think is worth discussing much longer), then once you say one option is "Everyone would know about it", your other option has to be "Not everyone would know about it" You are jumping way too far to say the other option is "God expects us to live the best we can so we can ourselves through prayer to Him recognize it." You still have no idea what God wants.
Anyway, you can't make any more logical advancements because you haven't convinced anyone that the presumption that there is one true church has any evidence to back it up. So you lose most people right off the bat.
I think it is fine to start it off with "IF." I could say "Let's suppose that there is one true church." If that is the case, those are your two options. You are fine to say you don't believe there is one true church. BUT – if there is just one that is official while the others are just doing the best they can, are there other ways a true church can exist? Otherwise, how would you write my supposition so that it makes sense? You can suppose there is "one" company that makes all shoes if you like and people can disagree, but if you cannot allow the "IF" it seems you are too closed.
My fault – your argument is on whether or not God wants us to be good so we can recognize it. I see your point. There are BILLIONS of people who WILL go to Heaven that WILL NEVER know about the one true church in this life. In this case, Mormons agree with you and perform Temple ordinances in behalf of those who have passed away without knowledge of the church. The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints says that God will be fair to all people and that they will get a chance to accept or reject either in this life or after death. So no need to run down good people of other faiths or even really good people who do not believe in God.
OK, You originally said:
If there is a true church on earth at all – one of two things must happen. 1) We ALL would know about it and we would ALL be saved ****OR**** 2) God expects us to live the best we can so we can ourselves through prayer to Him recognize it.
If I agree with number 1) (and why did you stick in we would all be saved? you don't know that), then number 2 can only be:
2) "Not everyone would know about it"
How can you claim any more than this, which is what you are doing. The one true church could be one that hasn't been defined yet. It could have multiple gods and godesses, etc... And whatever it is that rules over that church maybe doesn't want you to live your life the best you can and to pray to you. And maybe he doesn't want you saved.
You are injecting your hopes into your argument.
"""There are BILLIONS of people who WILL go to Heaven that WILL NEVER know about the one true church in this life. In this case, Mormons agree with you and perform Temple ordinances in behalf of those who have passed away without knowledge of the church.""""
Keep posting Think Again! With everything you writ you solidify what I've been saying on this thread about your beliefs. Now address the proclamation that your prophet Spencer W. Kimball said how "it had been better for gays that they had never been born"
It may be fair to go back to what I said earlier: The majority of gossip and things you will hear will always be negative. It travels farther and faster than the positive and faster than the truth. In situations like these, the positive comments will always be in the minority. There is no way to address all arguments. But maybe there are a few curious people who may follow the thread and not say anything who read just to find out. They may read a lot of harsh comments, but now and then, they may see a few that they can relate with. Everyone knows about the disgruntled employee who leaves the work place and has a different story than all his coworkers who are happy and kept their jobs. I have to stop posting sometime. And I know there will be more critics who will stay on here much longer than I can. I suggest people go to the church's official websites to find out more about the church instead of other sources or even instead of trusting the posts on a message board. Thanks for reading my posts.
Think Again, you won't address anything I brought up because you know they are all true and you wanting to control the message delivery on your terms in person just solidifies that you do indeed belong to a cult. You should be proud to admit what your beliefs are and be shouting them to the world. Instead what you are referring to is "milk before meat" or the "bait and hook" scenario where you embellish what your church can do for you then cunningly introduce all the cult rituals and beliefs a little at a time in hopes that the victim won't turn tail and run.
Answer with a simple yes or no to the following 2 questions:
Is Joseph Smith going to sit at the judgement bar on judgement day with Jesus Christ & God?
Will the highest degree in the celestial kingdom of heaven only allow Mormons in who practice polygamy?
These are simple questions that you should be able to answer proudly with sheer confidence.
Mormons spend millions to make people think they are Christian. They are not – Paul said if an angel comes to you with another Gospel, be accursed. Joseph smith supposedly had and angel tell him what to believe... hello read a bible
@LaGryphon read this...maybe you'll have a better idea as to what it's all about.
I am sorry that this woman is doing a disservice to the LDS Church. Much of what she said is not even true. I find it especially offensive that she never once mentioned Christ. He is the focus of our faith.
BS Mike, Christ is NOT the center of your faith Joseph Smith is. This woman is trying to adapt to a different way of being Mormon all the while hoping Tommy Monson and the so called apostles will take note of her progressive ideas but she's deluding herself to think a cult will bow to her wishes. She needs to run and never look back and free herself of the internal conflict that always arises when your eyes are open to the lies told by LDS Inc.
LaGryphon, it is silly to tell people what they believe. It may surprise you to find out that the church is not the way angry ex-mormons describe it. Think about most people that get fired from their jobs or leave disgruntled. Most of the time they have a very skewed view of where they came from, and none of the people around them seem to agree that things happened the way they said. The same is true about those who angrily leave their religions. They are never near as bad as most people on the outside say.
It's all about that 3rd rate con artist from the early 19th century-Joey Smith. Jesus plays a minor role in the LDS cult. According to these wingnuts, magic Miormon underwear will save you, God lives on the planet Kabob (or something with an equally ridculous name), and until 1978 black people had to turn white to get into Mormon heaven. For some (Romney) Mormonism has morphed into a major business opportunity.
That assessment of Joseph Smith and of the church is similar to saying in order to win in Football, you need to catch the ball. While catching the ball is something mentioned in football, it doesn't score points, nor is it the object of the game. Nor is it accurate to say a team with more catches wins. This is how your Kabob, underwear and 1978 are in accuracy. Lowering Christ's role is like saying scoring points in football is not helpful. Although you mentioned some things about the church, your understanding looks about the same as if you were watching the Super Bowl and bragging those incorrect statements about football.
It never ceases to amaze me that every person who fights against the church uses the same old semantics trick over and over. Never mind that Joseph Smith was never called "Joe." Let's call him Joe Smith anyway. Or "Joey" Smith. Wow. Or how about the current president of the church? Yeah, "Tommy" sounds good, never mind that his name is Thomas Monson. It's a good way to marginalize a respectful person to uneducated types, but it doesn't work for the rest of us. C'mon with the cheap shots already. Your backwater ignorance really shines through in those moments.
Mike, LDS Inc has a retention problem now due to the availability of information on the internet that outlines the truth about the inception of the church started by Joseph Smith. Too many lies & coverups have been told to hide the real truth. I remember when I joined the church in the 70's not one picture of Jesus Christ was to be found anywhere in the chapel or meeting rooms. The only pictures that hung on the walls were of Joseph Smith which in hindsight screamed rather loudly "cult". The "milk before meat" issue or more appropiately the "bate & hook" system is what is used to lure people into the cult. After joining is when you start to really find out how this so called religion operates and it isn't to long before the contradictions become aparent. Explain to the world your beliefs about God once being a man who now lives on his own planet called Kolob. Blood oaths did indeed take place in the temple pre 1990 because I took them myself in the temple. Explain to the world how Joseph Smith will sit at the judgement bar on judgement day with Jesus Christ & God. Explain Mountain Meadows Massacre. Explain to the world Brigham Young's Adam-God doctrine. Explain how the only people in the highest degree of heaven will be Mormons and practice polygamy. You can call us "haters" but we are not haters we want the world to know of your strange wacked out weird beliefs. We want any & all who even think of investigating your cult to be aware of what your real belief system is. "Haters" is always your first line of defense to defend the undefensable.
Again, my comment regarding a disgruntled employee leaving a company or getting fired has a different perception of the workplace than everyone around him. He tells an awful story about things he saw happen and words that were said while everyone else in the cubicles around him say "We remember the events he is talking about, but as eye witnesses, it did not happen at all as he is describing. He was never on task, always had excuses and everyone knew he wasn't go to last long here." But all his family and friends say "wow, that is incredible what happened in that work place! It was good you got out of there!" That is how most people who angrily leave the church are. Think about it. Isn't that how it always is in the workplace? Why not in the churches?
Think Again you are confusing being disgruntled with the workplace with "truths" about your cult. Truths which you cannot or are not willing to investigate to the fullest but which I am willing to bring to light on this thread.
Every church according to their dissenters is evil. I actually intend to be more sympathetic because I do not intend ill will. I think it is just as important to bring that point across though as you do with your opinion. There are always going to be negative opinions – in fact, negative opinions will always travel faster and further than the positive ones. My comments are not actually directed at you, but in the case unfortunately makes an example of you. Yesterday, I received a phone call where they gave me a survey that was slanted to make you feel obligated to agree with them. The way you post these only allows one side to be seen – the negative which travels much farther and faster. I think it will allow people the opportunity at a more open mind if they are not familiar with the church. As much as people say the church judges harshly, in my life I have seen so much more harsh judgement in regards to the church than I have ever heard from active members.
Think Again, I have never called your church evil and I am stating truths not negative opinions. You are trying desparately to deflect attention away from your beliefs and I have to ask why? Why won't you address the beliefs I have brought up on this thread? Why won't you discuss the doctrine of your god was once a man who now lives on a planet called Kolob and how all Mormons can become gods and rule their own planet some day. Why won't you address the doctrine how Brigham Young stated that Adam and God are the same person. Why won't you address your belief that Joseph Smith will sit at the judgement bar on judgement day with Jesus and God? I am not a hater, I am not calling your church evil, I am not being negative, I am bringing to light on these threads your beliefs.
The reason I do not address every detail is because there is way too much for me to address. Some of the things said about the church including things you have said are not doctrines of the church. Under the wrong contexts certain things will be judged improperly as well. If you tell young children exactly how they were procreated, it will not likely be understood. It needs to be done in respect and when the kids can understand and actually sincerely want to know. While I enjoy speaking freely about various religions with high respect, most times it is better in person. I think there is no need to undress any religion out of context or online. I generally side with religions these days when people attempt to bring out things that are hard to understand. But again, there are so many things listed in this thread that are simply not part of the doctrine that it is not helpful to address it here. I would urge people to see http://www.mormon.org to learn from the source rather than from a CNN message board or some other source that is biased against the church you are learning about.
how can you be a MORMON and not support MITT ROMNEY!!! as a MORMON I am truly DISGUSTED!! Don't ever come to Utah or we will marry you with an OLD man.
Because Mitt Romney is a milquetoast member. He's fine with being Mormon when it's convenient. I call people like him, Donny Osmond, Harry Reid, Steve Young and the whole lot of them Hollywood Mormons. They're the unfortunate public facade of Mormonism at the end of the day. Don't get me wrong; between him and Obama in the general election, I'll vote for Mitt, but not in the primaries. Not to mention that MItt is mostly a social liberal. Let's just say that he leaves a lot to be desired.
I agree with you, Random, but that is politics. This discussion is more about faith. Without being personally faithful and worthy, Mr. Romney could not have been called as a bishop. And without serving faithfully as a bishop, he could not have been called as a stake president.
Therefore I must conclude that he is milquetoast politically, but spiritually and religiously solid. The time commitment required by those callings is such that service in them weeds out the weenies and brings out the strong ones. I have never served under Romney's leadership so I cannot really say. But I've read the writings of several who served in the church under his direct leadership and their comments are uniformly positive as to his commitment to service, his faith and his love of those around him. These are things that are not readily apparent from the stump. I note he's pretty cagey about religion and really tries to keep religion out of it wherever he can.
I won't be voting for him in the primaries. I need someone who hasn't taken every possible position on all the issues important to me–because I want to know WHAT I'm voting for. The WHO doesn't matter so much. I'll take the serial adulterer as long as I'm sure he's not gonna cave on issues that directly affect me. I don't care how righteous a man Romney may be. If his policy prescriptions will hurt me and the country, I'm voting for somebody else even if by all accounts he's the most decent man running.
I wish Polygamy was more common in our society.
I could have multiple bi....s, they could all service me in an o_r_g_y fashion, daily/nightly. Half of them could go to work and pay the bills, the other half could stay home and raise the kids. And when one broad makes crappy dinner she gets punished by sleeping in the barn for the nite, and the next broad steps in a does it right. Also, when one of them, cant get beat anymore, I move onto the next wife an beat her. If I had 7 then shi....
I so envy that guy on tv that has like 5 wives. That dude is grinning ear to ear for a reason ladies!
@Think Again Again – The 2 options are "IF" there is a true church. 1) We all know about it or 2) We have to find it. "IF" there is a true church, I do not see another option that would make the true church a fair one. "IF" means, that "IF" that is not satisfied, then there would appear to be no true church. I am not sure if you are asking me to clarify what I mean or if you are suggesting that there is a true church that very few will find or something. Let me know.
I don't know why everybody's hitting Romney with the "polygamy" stick.
Our current president has personal experience with polygamy, having grown up the son of a polygamist. Romney never had that experience, nor did his father. Polygamy was outlawed by the church a hundred thirty years ago and if you're caught married to more than one person at the same time, you're excommunicated so fast it will make your head spin.
No believing Latter-Day Saint may practice polygamy, full stop.
We know Barack's daddy was legally married to a woman in Africa when he married Barry's mommy. We also know he had not divorced Barry's mommy when he married still a third wife.
So if you want to talk polygamy this election cycle, make sure you're talking about the guy who grew up in a polygamous household: Barack Hussein Obama...MMMM MMMMMM MMMMMMM! Islam allows how many wives again, Hussein?
So if you want to talk polygamy this election cycle, make sure you're talking about the guy who grew up in a polygamous household: Barack Hussein Obama...MMMM MMMMMM MMMMMMM!
Islam allows how many wives again, Hussein?
murderous anti-American terrorists. 9 -11- 1857
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