As many of you will recall, Shannon Caldwell Montez joined us on Mormon Stories Podcast in July, 2020 to tell us her own story, as well as to tell us the story of B.H. Roberts – the LDS Church historian and General Authority who was tasked to answer problems about Book of Mormon historicity, only to lose his testimony of the Book of Mormon as a historical document.

During the B.H. Roberts episode we learned about a series of all-day meetings B.H. Roberts had in January, 1922 with the LDS Church First Presidency, Quorum of 12 Apostles, and the Quorum of 70 to discuss these Book of Mormon problems in-depth. Ultimately, Shannon shows in her thesis that the LDS church leadership was both unprepared and unwilling to address the problems Roberts presented – resulting in much disappointment and frustration for Roberts.

In this follow-up interview with Shannon, we review evidence addressing the question as to whether or not Mormon General Authority and church historian B.H. Roberts lost his testimony of the Book of Mormon as a historical document.

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast Include:

Download MP3


  1. Brian G August 29, 2020 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Interesting podcast but so long. Have you considered editing these down to less than an hour?

    • Bliss Doubt August 30, 2020 at 9:08 am - Reply

      I like the longer, in-depth subject matter.

    • Rex August 31, 2020 at 9:56 am - Reply

      I love the depth this content demands, and love the treatment, including time, that is devoted to it.

      • EDiL13 September 2, 2020 at 4:03 pm - Reply

        Me too. I like the long, in-depth podcasts…

        For example, John, I got a kick out of it when you said that you hoped to end in 3 hours, right around 2 hours and 45 minutes into it, and it went on for another 40 minutes. That’s ok –those last 40 minutes were well worth it. It was during that extra time that I was reminded of one of the first things that I put on my “shelf,” although at the time I didn’t know I had one. I was studying cognitive therapy and I found out that the idea of believing that you know something is true, because you feel it, is defined as a “cognitive distortion” called “emotional reasoning,” if I remember correctly.

        And WOW, what a powerful rant!

  2. Go2 August 30, 2020 at 10:37 am - Reply

    Keep it long, don’t break up the podcast. Flow is important. Passionate statements are important. Please don’t hide your passion—yell away!! I was yelling with you!

    • VFanRJ August 31, 2020 at 10:01 am - Reply


  3. Robert M Hodge August 30, 2020 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    This discussion is very important for truth seekers. But it is not all that new. I have known about BH Roberts and this issue Since the 2nd edition of “studies of the Book of Mormon came out in 1992. But this interview is important for spreading the word. I look forward to an in depth exploration of her thesis. It has been my experience that most Mormons work hard not to look into issues that might not be “faith promoting”. And the leadership encourages that approach.

    • Rex August 31, 2020 at 10:00 am - Reply

      Luckily the podcasts aren’t’ tailored to the learned, but to those that may be new coming to this info. History has to be retold to the new and unacquainted. The content that has been told and retold, has to continue as each generation of truth seekers finally find podcasts like this, including Michael Coe, Metcalf, Ritner, Vogel, and others, must be presented again and again. One of the reasons John is successful in my opinion is because he does exactly this.

  4. Frank August 30, 2020 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    Really enjoyed this podcast. Can’t wait for the next one.

    I believe there is one more “cover up” to expose: Brigham Young’s “Adam God Theory.” Mark E Peterson privately admitted that BY taught it, but said that the church couldn’t admit that he did because members would lose their testimonies. Truly a modern day cover up.

  5. J Paul August 30, 2020 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Don’t forget, BH Roberts was a paid church employee like Gordon Hinckley and Monson.

    And, there are now many many others including retiring CES employees and church employees, including an indirect church employee (on your podcast ) who, though out of the church, thinks it’s OK for elderly folks to bypass their children for not believing, and bequeath their money to the LDS church through a trust arrangement (Deseret something, something trust, if I remember right). Is the Church an “indirect” payer of his monthly pension?

    At any rate BH pulled his punches when he could have and should have gone public immediately with information he had. (I suspect that he may have been worried that if he did they might find a way to cancel his pension before he died.) Think how much better we would be if BH had had the courage to bring this information out to church members in a public way.

    Presently, as John has been able to ascertain for us in prior podcasts (and we should be grateful for that). Thank you John for your efforts and results! . . . To continue, “12 apostles and other general authorities” receive a millionaire’s stipend. All they have to do is to continue the ruse about the so-called church, and it is electronically deposited into their account.

    Follow the money, and it becomes abundantly clear. It’s not that much different than Joseph Smith and the six or eight money scams that he did from his teenage years until the year that he died.

    The colateral damage is that our belief in Christ, in many cases, had been damaged by mis-direction given to us by church leaders about JS, B of M, and related made-up BS. (For those of us who have lived through trying to make Mormonism work for years, only to find out that it is a fraud.)

    I, just today, came from the death-bed of an ex-Mormon family member who spent the last 59 years, after his Mormon mission when he learned about Joseph Smith’s frauds and the so-called church’s continuing frauds, living a life of self pleasing ungodly existence. He now wants to take enough morphine to end his pain. He has no hope. He will not consider Christianity because he was done after he found out about the Joseph Smith fraudulent book(s) and church.

    Many of us end up leaving our “Christian” roots and focusing on selfish wants, trying to find a few minutes of joy along the way . . . a sad reality.

    Nothing we can do now except go forward in the most positive way possible.

    It is high time that general authorities, including the 12 apostles, find the courage to let us know the truth. (We know that THEY know!)

    John, could we start a campaign where we all contact (en-mass) church leaders and force them to admit that it is a fraud? I mean, isn’t there a way that we can reach them? (I know they hide out from the public but wouldn’t that be great if we could do that?)

    We know the truth . . . we need for them to admit it.

    • Rex August 31, 2020 at 10:11 am - Reply

      Many of us do consider other forms of Christianity after losing our faith in the Church of our Childhood (Mormon, or others). But you make an unsubstantiated assumption that we leave belief altogether because of our frustration or anger stemming from our struggle with leaving our faith. This is a false assumption. Many if not most of us gather or build a chest full of tools, tools of understanding “belief” and the psychology of belief, and the same scaffolding and tools we use to dismantle Mormonism are also sharp and effective tools to dismantle all religion and belief, including the mess that is Christianity. Don’t get me wrong, Christ himself is a great philosophy and can contribute to healthy philosophies of life patterns, but your comment to many of us come across with an eye roll, as to me your thought is akin to arguing against Harry Potter as a demonstrable fairy tale, then posing Lord of the Rings as legitimate and true. I’m not trying to be dismissive or surly, but most of us have given this deep thought and consideration, and Christianity and Christ as deity is as unlikely as Joseph Smith, and for the same reasons.

  6. Shelley R August 30, 2020 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Gripping! The length of this podcast was not a problem, breaking these up would detract from the continuity of the message. John, I share your outrage and passion, but as I thought about how much I’d like to share this particular episode with my tbm mom, I realized that that she would be turned off by the “rants’. This podcast in particular has turned me from a non -subscibing lurker, to paying subscriber. keep telling the truth passionately, and supporting people like Shannon Caldwell Montez!!

  7. VFanRJ August 31, 2020 at 10:03 am - Reply

    Exceptional podcast.

    Seems like solid evidence that the Q15 evolved to using plausibility as their defense mechanism which is still very much in use today.

  8. Rex August 31, 2020 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Nice! I like this version of John, passionate, full of moxy! Keep it up brother! Just when I think I’m acquainted with most things Mormonism, you present depth and knowledge of aspects so important. I don’t know how anyone could conclude that B.H. Roberts concluded his life with a modified view of the historicity of the BoM, and that’s as kindly as I can articulate it. More likely Roberts had the thought process that many of us here have, as in square pegs must fit into square holes. There are many that can live in the dissonance that faith many times demands, and I know many of these types, sometimes being envious of them. But I’m not put together to accept, well, to be frank, stupid explanations for obvious problems. Tapirs, various posited archeology, legacy polygamy, peep stones and such are not answers, they’re additional problems. My brain works, and is especially sharp since leaving the faith, with a bullsh!t meter. Apologists have a way of pegging said meter, and many who think this direction are obviously voting with our feet, out of the pews.

    Thanks for doing this Shannon. I have great fondness for your family. I’m from Kaysville and I know a few of your brothers, and have peddled a bike with a couple of them. What a great subject and I appreciate your effort devoted to it.

  9. Kenneth August 31, 2020 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    It is interesting that FAIR Mormon confirmed these meetings happened but their only argument is the intent of B.H.Roberts.

    Quote from the article: “Critics make much of Roberts’ “disappointment” with the results of the conference, but this disappointment wasn’t because “he came to realize he had spent a lifetime defending something which he now knew was a fraud,”8 but because to him the Brethren did not have the proper amount of concern over the potential of attacks along those lines. In his letter to President Grant following the conference, Roberts explained:

    I just wanted the brethren to know that I was quite disappointed in the results of our conference, but not withstanding I shall be most earnestly alert upon the subject of Book of Mormon difficulties, hoping for the development of new knowledge, and for new light to fall upon what has already been learned, to the vindication of what God has revealed in the Book of Mormon; but I cannot be other than painfully conscious of the fact that our means of defense, should we be vigorously attacked along the lines of [these] questions, are very inadequate.9

    This is not the expression of “abandonment” critics make it out to be. Roberts very presciently sensed that the Church needed to prepare itself to meet attacks “along these lines,” and this likely greatly influenced the work of later scholars such as Hugh Nibley, Sidney B. Sperry, and FARMS. His challenging questions that repeatedly pepper the copious quotations in the study are a challenge for the Brethren, not a frenzied cry for help:”

    Yes, the brethren have known about these issues for at least 98 years and still don’t have answers…

  10. Mark Blanchard September 1, 2020 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    So the Church has known about, and been unable to answer, these secular challenges for 100 years. They weathered the minor academic wave of the 1980’s and early 90’s, and the dust settled and Deseret then largely forgot about the squabbling Madsens’ debate over what B.H. Roberts believed. Another crisis averted.

    In this regard, can we not say that the Church’s Fabian strategy of “ignore, deflect, & diminish” has been entirely successful as they dodge these issues and stick with their “appeal to authority” method of pointing to the Brethern who are doctors, lawyers and university presidents with seemingly unshaken testimonies? This is why Fairmormon and its minions push back so hard on the Roberts issue. Their strategy is to appeal to authority and it’s all they’ve got, therefore you can’t undermine the authority of even a middling figure such as Roberts.

    And it has worked. They’ve lasted another 100 years with essentially no counter-argument. Amazing. How did they do it? By not directly engaging. By ignoring what Roberts wanted to do and going the opposite direction. Like Fabius Maximus, who knew that he could not beat Hannibal and his elephants, they refused to engage, they backed-up in circles, never acknowledging their weakness and remaining outwardly confident so that the plebs back in Rome wouldn’t know how dire the situation was in the field. There’s wisdom in this because when the weakened Rome engaged directly, it got Cannae… it got slaughtered.

    John and Shannon, you seem to argue that the stance Roberts settled upon, which is essentially “Neo-Apologist/New Order Mormon” position of “okay, it’s not objectively true, but it’s useful and good” is the only one the Church can adopt and remain vital. Uh-uh. I see no reason why it can’t continue to do what it’s doing, because the alternative… to admit that Joseph made it all up… is a religion killer. The Neo-Apologist/N.O.M. pablum is insipid stuff. It has no tang, it doesn’t put butts in pews. It may keep a few intellectual Mormons hanging around the ward house to pacify their friends and family, but if that admittedly-untrue Church increasingly offers them less social/cultural attractions that make going fun or useful, they will dwindle away and their tithing envelopes will get thinner and thinner. It’s a recipe for self-destruction.

    But this Fabian strategy works. 100 years of implementation shows that it works. Let the unofficial Fluhman/Bushman N.O.M.’s slow down the exit of a small number of troubled intellectuals, let a tiny few land with the loosey-goosey C.o.C., let the podcasters repeat the discoveries of 1922 and 1963 and 1985 — in the end it doesn’t matter to the big picture if we can keep the majority of the plebs in Rome in the dark. I expect only more of the same.

    • Andrew September 2, 2020 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      Nice one Mark, appreciate your thoughts, the Fabian idea does have merit.

      I’ve been wondering the same things- how has it survived this long? A lot has been ignorance pre-internet, well, that’s over. While I don’t think it’s a house of cards, I wonder if there will be a critical mass of people leaving that trigger more ‘revelations’.

      I wonder how Nelson said Oct 2019 conf “Next conf will be different”. (it wasn’t a ref to Covid). He knows the issues and where people are at, that’s why there has been so many changes under his reign. Soares gets up and says “we ought to think of [the BoM] as a revelation not a translation” when it’s been Translation, Translation, Translation for 190 years. They have to know what they say has multi million dollar ramifications. I think they learnt from the 1979 Blacks and the Priesthood that major sudden announcements are not the best approach. It is a slow, controlled admission (‘deflect’) approach that slows the bleed. So it may be years before the seer stone is mentioned in conference.

      It still makes me aghast that these 15 manage the control like they do. It only took me 3 months of study after 45 years of being a TBM.

    • J Paul September 5, 2020 at 11:48 pm - Reply

      Mark, I appreciate very much your response.

      I feel compelled to ask for comments from you, because I think you’ll have good answers like your above comments, and also from Shannon if she wishes to weigh in (She did such a good job on her research) and also from others who read this, concerning the following:

      First some background for my question: This has haunted me for a few years, since the time I met with Brigham Madsen, who wrote his book about BH Roberts answering the very questions we are discussing.

      I met him in Salt Lake City. (I had looked him up in the phone book pre-internet .) He said, “yes when would you like to meet?” I drove to Salt Lake and had a good meeting with a courageous person. I was able to meet with him for two hours. We met in the common area of his assisted living quarters. He spoke openly about his research. He was not afraid of anyone hearing his words (nurses or other residents). He was not afraid of the truth.

      He was a tall, well-built elderly person. He was also a cheerful person, even though he had just buried his spouse, who he obviously had loved very much .

      He seemed happy to have somebody who he could talk candidly with about his research and books. I was dying inside at the time because all my questions were there. I was confronted with the possible reality that the church could be different than what we had been told.

      Brigham Madden was past that kind of fear, and he was forthcoming about the questions he had had during his life. He told me that when he did his farewell talk, leaving on his mission, he told his ward members that he didn’t think the church was true, but that he still wanted to do a mission. Wow!

      He also spoke about, which could be another topic for John Dehlin to pursue, his research on the bear river massacre, and the Mormon part in the terrible event.

      He gave me a signed copy of the book that he had written about BH Roberts.

      He told me that he had evidence that BH Roberts had left a long letter in his desk drawer, found by his family members, explaining to his family that he did not believe that the book of Mormon was true.

      The bottom line, as I remember from our meeting, was that Brigham Madsen wondered why BH Roberts had not followed through, making his findings public, while he was living.

      My perception of Brigham Madsen, as he spoke, was that he still had one foot in. He said that his bishopric called on him to teach Sunday school in the years that the Old Testament was covered, and also I believe he said in the year that the New Testament was covered, and that he was happy to help with that. He said he used to be called on to go on the road with one of the apostles to speak at stake conferences throughout the Wasatch front, but not anymore after his publications of course. He said he would not teach Sunday school during the two years that they talked about the book of Mormon or the doctrine and covenants.

      It struck me at the time that Brigham Madsen had great courage, and at the same time I felt that I could never do that. (Way too scared able to do that.)

      So, back to BH Roberts, why did he pull back when it was time to report publicly the findings he had gathered debunking the claims concerning the origin of the book of Mormon?

      I mean, it seems, from all reports, that BH was happy to leave and go to Europe, to focus on being a revered church authority in a place that was for the moment, free from these controversies. European converts, at the time, were accepting of his apologetic explanations.

      BH was adept in compartmentalizing his status as the church’s main historian, away from the uncomfortable facts he had raised.

      So, while Bother Roberts could have clarified it for us, why did he opt on taking the easy way?

      The questions for us: (two questions):

      If Brother Roberts had continued the next step, taking his meticulous well summarized research to the public:

      1) Would he have been in danger of not paying his rent.? Or,

      2) Was he afraid that one of the three threats of having your life taken, from the “Masonic” LDS temple oath at the time, could be carried out on him?

      Am I wrong for asking that question? It seems taboo for some reason, but relevant . And, truth known, I have shivers thinking about it. I remember the three threats given from a severe looking man who looked straight at us, four-cornered hat pulled tight on his head, and demonstrated three ways we could die. (and “bow your head and say yes “) Scared us all to death. Mostly it struck us that these three blood oaths had nothing to do with Jesus. And, that the oaths seemed to be more Pagan than Christian. Yet everyone around me (Young and Old ) seemed to think that this was OK.

      Sorry for that digression. At the same time it gives background for why I dare to ask the questions.

      To reiterate, why did BH not go public with information that he had? Was he afraid for his life? Or, was he just afraid of not having money to pay bills?

      Did he lack courage? Do we lack courage?

      • Andrew September 8, 2020 at 7:05 pm - Reply

        J Paul,

        Great info, thanks, and great questions, I think you’ve got the answers. Thanks for bringing up the chilling reality of temple/freemason penalties. Most would not have put that together.

        I think you’re very much in the area for why Roberts didn’t go more public with his research. There would have been a dependence on money. Not his fault.

        I see a lot of similarities with Galileo’s story – both tried uncomfortable truth with authorities but to ‘save themselves’ (physical harm, dignity, slandered name, etc) they simply had to back away.

        • J Paul September 13, 2020 at 6:14 pm - Reply

          Andrew, thank you for answering back.

          Isn’t it interesting that JS’s co-opted Freemason blood oath’s continue to have such an unspoken but real influence on church membership, combined with the promise that those who go to the Temple could conceivably become Gods of their own world (another world)?

          I think this puts a smile on the face of those leaving the Temple to come home (after nodding their head and saying yes) Wife thinks, “it’s nice that he’s on board about re-committing himself to me.” He thinks the same, and also: “Cool, but I may get to have a lot of extra (hopefully) hot wives. (The wives of you and I, those of us who question, those expelled into outer darkness.)

          I mean seriously: serial extra-matrimoniests JS, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and possibly Lorenzo snow and Joseph F Smith (all of them) combined polygamy and the Mason blood oaths together as the “temple ceremonies” right up to the moment (and even after) that the US government lowered the hammer on them. We know that. (And, those erroneous teachings are still a part of our Mormon memory.)

          And BH Roberts, who for some reason didn’t want to use his first name (Brigham), had three wives. Check out what Wikipedia has to say about BH. It was a mess for his wives, his children and for him (poor guy). He couldn’t do anything but concede to “corporate leadership” after he was that far involved!

          And, isn’t it interesting that church members seem to know nothing about freemasons and Mormonism? They really do not know anything about the fact that Joseph Smith set up his “temple ceremony” based on Freemason (anti-Christian ) oaths, and that he is on record as a very active Mason leader, and was active Mason during his whole life.

          (If anyone reading this does not understand what I mean, google Mormons and masonry. It’s time to become informed about this.)

          Our parents, grandparents, and ancestors were trusting, oh so trusting . . . to the point that they became gullible.

          • Ricardo Montobon September 16, 2020 at 9:29 am

            J Paul – all very interesting.
            I was curious if you have heard of and read:
            The relationship of Mormonism and freemasonry
            By Anthony W Ivins
            I procured a copy which has in the front cover is a letter on first presidency letterhead dated December 1935
            Signed by
            Heber Grant
            Ruban Clark
            And David McKay

            I haven’t started reading it yet. Do I do it with post it notes for marking because the book is so old and I shouldn’t mark it up or eff it – mark it up and learn about the crazy.

      • Ricardo Montobon September 16, 2020 at 9:17 am - Reply

        Temple Penalties – plausibly carried out on Roberts. Very interesting. I have thought similarly to the 3 + 8 witnesses. “They never denied their statements/testimonies.” Not mentioned is they context and understanding of how real it is that they also plausibly were in a mindset of threat of life [or afterlife in the case of deathbed statements]. Heres the kicker some joined other religions and groups and helped those religions with statements of their divinity of god / heaven. Apply the temple question to them – do you support other organization in opposition to the teachings of mormonism.

        Duress and serving two masters?

        • J Paul September 17, 2020 at 9:09 pm - Reply


          Please check out the following link to John Delin’s excellent podcast about Mormons and Masons. (I’m thinking it may be more on point than the 1930s book you found, which our Mormon leaders promoted.)

          (I would recommend using post it notes.)

          I appreciate very much your answering back, and your thoughtful comments. After you’ve had time to check the link let’s talk more about this.

          I found the 1930’s book you located to be interesting to read but off when it attempted to dissuade us from thinking that JS could have had ulterior motive‘s.

          It rather tries to make us think that “there is nothing to see.” This book seemed to want us to think that there is little possibility that Joseph Smith copied the oath’s from the Masons. (It is clearly obvious that that is exactly what he did.)

          I hope to hear from you again. Have a very good evening.


  11. Laura September 3, 2020 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    I am 54 years old and have been a member my entire life and I have never heard of the BH Roberts stories. I was happy to put aside the time to listen to this all the way through. Thank you, John and Shannon!

    And not related to this particular podcast, but a heartfelt thank you to Shannon for sharing her story. Mind was blown by how much my personal narrative matched Shannon’s.

  12. Matt Faull September 3, 2020 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    Outstanding presentation. I’m looking forward to the next in regards to your thesis. Also, congrats on the MA History. Having one myself– with an emphasis on the Ancient and Classical–I know how much effort they take. I donated $50 towards your continued research.

  13. cl_rand September 3, 2020 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Awesome information! Thanks Shannon for the work and thanks John for the platform! I have alway listened to Mormon Stories with earbuds as I jog but I watched this episode for the first time on UTUBE this morning after ingesting a few mushrooms. It was great. Espesically enjoyed John calling out the neo-apologists with such passion and defining his audience as folks interested in THE TRUTH. Shannon you look so much like my second wife that I’d swear you have got to be related somehow. Anyway, I look forward to future episodes discussing the details of Shannon’s thesis. I’m guessing that will be equally edifying.

  14. Gaylon September 4, 2020 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Shannon is charming, disarming, and damn smart. Hope to hear more interviews with her. Her presentation of BH Roberts, and her paper (I have read) makes my heart hurt for the man. Appreciate her research, and willingness to share.

    • rwehuman September 7, 2020 at 2:03 pm - Reply

      I agree. I think Shannon and John would make great co-hosts.

  15. Larry Mortensen September 5, 2020 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    My fifth great grandfather, James Adair, who lived with the Chickasaw and married a Chickasaw in 1726, wrote a book “The History of the American Indians”. which was published in 1775. The first half of the book is devoted to proving the American Indian was one of the Lost tribes. Therefore this was a fairly common theory prior to the Revolution. James Adair died in 1789 and his wife died in 1803.

  16. James Crane September 6, 2020 at 7:49 am - Reply

    Can you get Joanna Brooks on next to talk about BH Robert’s roll in supporting white supremacy through h iui s development of LDS curriculum?

  17. Mark LeBaron October 15, 2020 at 12:33 am - Reply

    Finally, a little righteous indignation from John!

    I’ve always been impressed by your charitable attitude in light of the facts. I hope you are able to keep it.

    That said, felt good to hear you state what we’re all thinking, John. We’re tired of and bitter about being lied to. We’re upset about the fact that the truths were hidden and covered up. It’s maddening to watch the bamboozle continue!

    • Mark LeBaron October 15, 2020 at 12:46 am - Reply

      Also, I think you meant to say, “Kwaku, the Deceiver” (RFM), 😂.

  18. Cory Jorgensen November 3, 2020 at 6:52 am - Reply

    Great podcast, as always. One note: there is no “year 0.” Our calendar starts with year 1. This is why we ushered in the new millennium in 2001 and not in 2000 (Seinfeld made a reference to it).

  19. Cory Jorgensen November 9, 2020 at 10:14 am - Reply

    “Earnest, foolish farmers from upstate New York.” Be careful. Those are my ancestors you’re talking about. From our standpoint now, we might say a literal belief in the BOM is “foolish,” but to characterize anyone who believed in it in the day that way is, I think, unfair, especially since similar stories (to the BOM) were “in the air” and were the commonly accepted narrative of the day.

  20. Dave Alleman December 29, 2022 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    i knew wesley p lloyd in 1969 when he was president of US International university in San Diego
    call me if you want to learn something about his life

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