Jesus cleansing Temple2a
Meditation and Reflection

Holy Monday: cleansing, anointing and indignation

 

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves (Mt 21:12f).

The Messiah heralded an era of peace – not as the world gives, but as the Sermon on the Mount made manifest, a liberation from the violence which has cursed mankind since Cain murdered his brother Abel. The messianic peace confronts both the reality and the mentality of the rule of violence: both those who seek to destroy the breath of life, and those who imagine that evil repaid by evil is a righteous path of retaliation. In order to end this vicious circle, Jesus overrules the anxiety and terror which are used to justify counter-violence: we are not to repay evil with evil, but overcome evil with good.

But freedom from violence is not a renunciation of of power – including the power to use justifiable force. The way to lasting peace on earth is to love our enemies; and the way to love our enemies and cease our quarrels is to reject the eye-for-an-eye law of retaliation, and pray for them. But this love is not weak. In the act of cleansing the Temple, Jesus manifests intolerance, impatience and anger. He is not the benign ecumenical Christ of perpetual reconciliation that is forever ‘meek and mild’, graciously asking Mr Moneychanger, “Excuse me, Sir, but would you be so kind as to move your tables outside, because this is a house of prayer? Bless you.” No, her throws them over and drives out the unholy, destroying their trade and smashing their piles of money. The Messiah uses physical power to demonstrate the eschatological purpose of His coming (Isa 56:7; Jer 7:1-15).

In this violent call to repentance is a condemnation reserved for Israel, for her theft, murder, infidelity, blasphemy and idolatry. There is simply no point continuing the charade of Temple worship while your hearts are black with sin and the only words that fall from your lips are those of hypocrisy and deception. But no one is hurt or killed by this act of divine protest: it is not a justification to take up arms, but an exhortation to non-violent action wherever injustice and hypocrisy prevail.

For most Christians, Holy Monday is indistinguishable from last Monday, or the Monday before that. But today is day for reflecting on the greatest anointing of all – that of the Holy Spirit. Six days before the Passover..

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always (Jn 12:3-8).

Mary’s worship at the feet of Jesus was audacious and extravagant, but it was an act of faith and love: all she wanted to do was worship in her own way, which the disciples met with protestation and indignation. It’s a woman, you see. And not just a woman, but a mightily-sinning one.

And yet this woman’s actions and expressions teach the men a thing or two. She understands and apprehends on a different spiritual plane. They see the perfume and immediately think about the cost and absurd waste; she gently caresses her Lord’s ankles and toes, anoints them with a spiced aroma, and smells the scent of salvation. They want action; their mission is to feed the poor. She wants reflection; her heart’s desire is to worship.

And so the Christ, the Messiah, is anointed not by prophets or priests, but by but by a prostitute. And that is fitting in this revolutionary kingdom of God. Jesus said of this incident: “Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” (Mk 14:9). But Mary invariably gets lost somewhere between the palm leaves and Easter eggs.

Christians are called to be living sacrifice; to worship God daily in their actions and their words. This is becoming increasingly difficult in a context of increasing secularity confronted by a compromised church. But the witness of our extravagant devotion to the Lord is wholly dependent upon the purity and honesty of our lives: and that must be marked by humility and love, not by indignant demands for rights of equality or assertions of pride.

Let Caesar collect his taxes and make his laws: it is for us Christians to cleanse our temple and devote ourselves lavishly to the Lord, that we may find peace, joy and happiness; not to judge but to serve.

  • The Explorer

    I remember discussing Christ’s cleansing of the Temple with a liberal (theological) to make the point that there was more to Christ than sweet reasonableness. His answer: “Well, of course, that episode isn’t authentic. It was added later.” I was appalled that an obvious simple reversal – what if the stern bits are original, and the gentle bits were added later? – completely flummoxed him. I had been hoping for some scholarly evidence re dating.
    This is the classic method of the Jesus Seminar: what agrees with my presuppositions is authentic; what doesn’t, isn’t. Presupposition predetermines what scholarship will find.

    • dannybhoy

      One of the strange developments in Western Christianity is the absence of any leadership showing righteous anger in the face of any moral outrage.

      Nobody (and I include myself) gets really so angry about child abuse or people trafficking, fgm, honour killings etc. etc.
      Nor the existence of leaders in the Church who don’t actually believe the basic tenets of Christianity or the existence of paedophiles in the Church or any number of things.
      I remember many years ago in my pre Christian days reading a book of short stories of the sci fi genre. One of them was to the effect that,
      “Devils are only sick angels” (!!)
      Somewhere along the line we as the whole Church have lost our belief in righteous anger.

      • sarky

        Thats why you will go out with a wimper and not a bang!

  • Inspector General

    One wonders what Jesus would make of the charade of women priests and
    bishops. Would he say “why are you here? Is it not written that man should not listen to the compromise that woman would make of what I am, what I do? Be gone and get yourself with child, for that is the Father’s place for you. I did not entrust my mission to any woman, and yet here you are.”

    • Inspector General

      …and two homosexual men approached Jesus and said unto him “we knoweth both that you are no bigot. Marry me unto my lover, then bless me with ovaries so that I may present my lover with a child.” And when he had finished whining, Jesus split his lip. And then the man said “why did you doeth that? I had more requests to make unto you. We wanted you to make homosexuals a priestly caste, that people would come and hold us in high regard, and I hadn’t even mentioned the transgendered.”

      • Phil R

        Funny but at the same time not funny.

        Liberals…….if you don’t agree that this is a fair reflection of what Jesus would have said, then tell us how you think Jesus would have responded.

        • Inspector General

          There’s a thing Phil. Liberals tackling the wrath of Christ. You won’t get many replies from them, if any…

      • dannybhoy

        I think this has to be one of your funniest comments.

        • Inspector General

          As we communicate Danny, monstrous laboratories are working to create a child from the skin cells of two men. On paper, it is feasible, though how long the abomination would live for and the agonies it will undergo are probably secondary to the project.

          • dannybhoy

            Stoppit!
            I am old, I have a weak bladder…

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Tears of mirth rolled down my cheeks as I read your messages, dear Inspector. But you missed out this verse from the Gospel of Gaia…
            “And Eltonijah remonstrated angrily: ‘Furnish me with reasons why I should not have my way, for we are all created equally in the sight of the Lord; yeah, I will with weeping and wailing and the gnashing of teeth cast aside my garments and bring curses upon the cities of Dolce and Gabbana that they be cleansed of wickedness.”

          • Inspector General

            Good day to you Mrs Proudie. One can imagine the scenario. Two deeply in love homosexual men (Not John or Furnishings, if their lawyers are reading this), rush to the lab, having been told their child is ready. They are handed a large ceramic pot.

            “What’s this?”
            “Take the lid off and see”
            “{GULP}, ours?”
            “Sure is!”
            “Can it survive outside of the pot?”
            “Probably not, so don’t try it”
            “What do we feed it on”
            “Well, it’s done alright on ‘Bio Boost’ so far. Here’s a gallon of the stuff to be getting on with”

          • dannybhoy

            Stoppit, it hurts!

      • sarky

        Why does it always come back to the same subject??
        The church Burns while the inspector fiddles.

        • Phil R

          Because it is important.

          The Church burns? I attended a full lively but traditional Anglican Church yesterday in North London. Young and old, with every age group well represented.

          Success? They teach the Bible and everyone it seems is involved. Young and old.

          It is also a member of Reform

          http://www.st-toms.org.uk/

          • sarky

            Might just be me, but I think the church faces greater problems than homosexuals. Your church might be doing ok, but as for the rest of the country, doesn’t look great does it?
            When will you realise that people see your attitudes to gay people as totally hypocrital? Time and time again this comes up in surveys as to why people don’t attend church, especially amongst young people.
            The church has become like a political party that only campaigns on one issue.

          • Phil R

            “people see your attitudes to gay people as totally hypocritical”

            In what way?

            “The church has become like a political party that only campaigns on one issue.”

            The Church only campaigns against homosexuality you mean?

            Well that is not at all true and BTW largely, the churches that accept gay relationships as normal are generally falling in numbers and the ones that preach that it is is both sinful and detrimental to society are flourishing. Not that this is the central message at all. Homosexuality is hardly ever mentioned. It does not need to be.

          • The Explorer

            As I was waiting on my local train station platform, there were two schoolboys next to me having an argument about something. The one said, “That’s really gay!”

            One young person, non-religious, for whom ‘gay’ was a useful term of abuse. I’m willing to bet that it’s not the Church’s attitude to homosexuality that stops him from attending.

        • Inspector General

          Alright. We’ll ignore one of the three main dangers to society as we know it. Shall we also ignore Islam while we are at it, and secularism too…

          • dannybhoy

            You need to clear that with Sarky..
            He seems to think he’s the only one with the answers.

  • preacher

    Good Morning. A great message from our host & two equally good responses.
    A hypocritical religious body is reprimanded for it’s manipulation of God’s laws & a “Mighty Sinner” who repents finds grace & forgiveness.
    Explorer, what an exemplary way to challenge error. Simple yet probing, profound & very effective, one for all of us to remember.

    Dannyboy, to be aware of the problem is the is the first step to rectifying it. Don’t expect to be popular in many Churches who are embracing the errors of modernity & ‘Emerging’ from the wonderful light of the gospel into the gloom of error & heresy & teaching others to do the same. Empty wells with no water for the thirsty sinner to drink from or wash in.

    • Inspector General

      “hypocritical religious body”. Yes Preacher, one does like that phrase. Rather easier to see man’s corruption of the word two thousand years down the line when you compare what is today against how Jesus would have had it.

  • len

    How much worse is ‘the Temple of God’ today?.
    It seems the natural thing for the natural(fallen) man to take holy things and to make them profane…

    When pure water is poured through contaminated filters it becomes contaminated itself this tragically is the history of the main part of ‘the church’ today. The Church needs to be washed in the uncontaminated Word of God to make itself clean again….

  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace,

    It is welcome to focus on on the prime motivation of our faith and this important week in the calender of the Christian.

    My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves

    This phrase should equally apply to the ‘House’ at Westminster.

    ‘He’ cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

    Our so called representative have profited and sold ‘Peace’ when there is no peace and done all manner of things that have caused offence to the Lord God.

    A new spiritual force is needed to clear out the dross of British politics and bring Integrity and Holiness in to this country’s leadership.

  • preacher

    I believe that the woman referred to never lost or compromised her faith like some of the religious leaders or self righteous others who feel they have never sinned.
    “He who is forgiven much, loves much” & those of us who are in that blessed band know the joy of salvation & the deceptions of the World. But we are washed in the water of the word & redeemed by the Blood of Christ.
    Like her, we are forgiven much & we love much. Hallelujah!!

    • sarky

      Its that kind of ‘church’ speak, that is so off putting for people like myself. Why can’t you just speak normally?

      • preacher

        Don’t be daft sarky. If you didn’t understand it, you wouldn’t be moaning.

        • sarky

          Im not being daft. Seriously, to anyone who has no church background its just meaningless gobbledegook. Its like a secret language that only christians understand.
          Wasnt jesus so successful because he spoke to people in a way they understood?

          • preacher

            Lol. I had no Church background, but I use words & quotes that describe what I believe & feel.
            When we were babies we had little or no words to describe our needs & feelings, so we cried & tried to communicate with parents.
            As we grow, we accumulate the ability to communicate better with others.
            I agree with you that some Church speak is unhelpful at times, but I write here with the expectation that most know what I’m saying.
            When I’m speaking with others from no religious background, I speak in words that we both understand. In fact I’ve often been criticised by some Church folk for being too ordinary & plain speaking.

          • sarky

            So why change your language?? I speak on here How I would to everyone. Like I said, personaly, I find it cringy and I hated it when I attended church.

          • preacher

            But as you said to dannyboy, you Do understand it. You just don’t Like it, – Fair enough.

            Language has many forms, poetry, literary, military etcetera. You may not like for example a Sergeant Major barking an order at you if you were a squaddie but that is the accepted way of communication in the services. The same man would not speak to his wife or kids like that, nor to a senior rank.

            If you have a dislike of the language used in the Bible or the Church. Buy a modern translation & find a Church that preaches the truth in a language you Do like.
            But my advice would be to steer clear of the Bible in Cockney, & the Scouse Bible. unless you understand the vernacular, also these paraphrases are very short & aren’t easy for all to understand.

          • sarky

            It’s not just the language I don’t like, it’s the attitudes and prejudices that are shown up so clearly by many in these comments.
            Plus, I just dont believe any of it 🙂

          • preacher

            Thank you for your honesty, I think we all feel like that about some of the contributions, but isn’t that why we come here? To debate, share, learn laugh, cry & grow. It’s a communal thing, a verbal bring & buy, but it would sure be boring if we were all the same don’t you think?.

          • sarky

            We can all be different and still have respect for alternative lifestyles and beliefs. As this blog stated, didn’t jesus have a prostitute wash his feet? Most of the commentators on here wouldn’t have even let her into the room. It’s the hypocrisy that I really hate.

          • dannybhoy

            Rubbish Sarky.
            Most of us here would recognise that prostitute as a sinner with more guts than we have…

          • sarky

            Thats not an honest answer.

          • dannybhoy

            Were I convinced of your sincerity I would reply.
            As it is, I won’t.

          • sarky

            I am being sincere.

          • dannybhoy

            Were you as as a non Christian to advocate an alternative mindset that those of us who accept our sinfulness before God could subscribe to, I would accept your assertion of sincerity.
            As it is you don’t.
            There is a broad spectrum of Christian belief displayed here on this blog.
            From those who despite their denominational adherence would drop to their knees in horrible self awareness of their sinfulness and in humility would bow before Him who gave up His life in order that they might live..

          • sarky

            So I can’t be sincere unless I present an alternative to christianity?
            P.s you’re using that funny language again!

          • CliveM

            You know all groups have a language. If you were to come to a meeting at my office bet you wouldn’t understand half of it. It’s about context. Preacher was talking to Christians about events that are important to Christians and about what they mean for us. His language was therefore appropriate.

          • Interesting discussion about the nature of sin, judgement, redemption and the language and approach of evangelists. Pope Francis has some words to say on this:

            “Everything in your life, today as in the time of Jesus, begins with an encounter. An encounter with this Man, the carpenter of Nazareth, a man like all others, but, at the same time, different. We think of John’s Gospel, where he recounts the disciples first encounter with Jesus (Cf. 35-42). Andrew, John, Simon: felt that they had been looked at in their depth, known intimately, and this generated surprise in them, a wonder that made them feel immediately bound to Him … Or when, after the Resurrection, Jesus asks Peter: “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15), and Peter answers: “Yes”; that yes was not the result of will power, it did not come solely from the decision of the man Simon: it came first from Grace, it was that “primerear,” the preceding of Grace. This was the decisive discovery for Saint Paul, for Saint Augustine, and so many other Saints: Jesus Christ is always first He “primereas” us; He awaits us. Jesus Christ precedes us always, and when we arrive, He is already there awaiting us.

            He is like the flower of the almond tree: it is the one that flowers first and announces spring.

            The privileged place of encounter is the caress of mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin. And it is because of this that you have heard me say sometimes that the post, the privileged place of the encounter with Jesus Christ is my sin. It is thanks to this embrace of mercy that one feels like answering and changing, and from which a different life can flow. Christian morality is not the titanic, willful effort of one who decides to be coherent and who succeeds, a sort of solitary challenge in face of the world. No, this isn’t Christian morality; it’s something else. Christian morality is an answer, it is a moved answer in face of astonishing mercy, unforeseeable, in fact, “unjust” according to human criteria, of One who knows me, knows my betrayals and loves me anyway, esteems me, embraces me, calls me again, hopes in me, expects from me.

            Christian morality is not ever to fall, but to get up always, thanks to his hand, which takes us. And the way of the Church is also this: to let God’s great mercy manifest itself. In past days I said to the new Cardinals: “The way of the Church is that of not condemning any one eternally; to spread God’s mercy to all persons who ask for it with a sincere heart: the way of the Church is, in fact, that of going out of her enclosure to go and seek those far away on the “peripheries” of existence; that of adopting integrally the logic of God,” which is that of mercy (Homily, February 15, 2015).

            The Church must also feel the joyful impulse of becoming a flower of the almond tree, that is spring, as Jesus was or the whole of humanity.”
            (Pope’s Address to Communion and Liberation Movement)

          • CliveM

            Thank you for this Happy Jack. A good and challenging quote.

            I feel bound to ask did you mean to post this to me?

          • CliveM

            It may be wrong, but he’ll be being honest.

          • dannybhoy

            Really Clive, as Christians we may acknowledge our sinfulness before God in our heads, but to acknowledge it before other Christians is much harder.
            For what ever reason this woman was a prostitute who recognised that our Lord Jesus did not condemn her because as God He understood why she was where she was.

          • CliveM

            My point was he shouldn’t have been accusing you of being dishonest. Wrong maybe, but then he should produce evidence for it.

            I thought his point was a general one regarding our attitude to all prostitutes, not just this one. But I maybe wrong.

          • dannybhoy

            My point is
            (reluctantly)
            that Sarky is taking the mick.
            Have you ever experienced a footwashing ceremony?
            I have.
            As an Englishman I found it both embarassing and yet humbling at the same time.
            This is back to my YWAM days, and you’re talking maybe 60-70 people of different nationalties.
            I want to see it happen again, because we aren’t Christians individually, we are parts of the Bride of Christ.
            Sarky, for what ever reason seems to continually take the mick.
            My guess is that he has a great knowledge of the faith but takes the michael out of it.
            I wouldn’t want to do that myself.

          • sarky

            Im not taking the mick at all I’m Just bringing up points I have problems with. The fact that you see it that way says more about you than me.

          • dannybhoy

            Whatever Sarky.
            I seem to remember you saying that I found favour in your eyes for being ‘different’.
            Now I am one of those ‘run of the mill’ strange Christians you understand, but no other non Christian can be expected to, because ‘we talk funny…’

          • sarky

            I remember the point you made and it was refreshing. Then you slipped back into christianity by numbers and went back to being just another sheep in the herd with your strange practices and language.

          • dannybhoy

            Whatever Sarky.

          • sarky

            It was towards all prostitutes, gay men, lesbians, atheists and anyone else whose lifestyle you don’t agree with.

          • CliveM

            Hmm atheist lifestyle, what’s that?

            Considering the abusive backgrounds that most prostitutes come from, what is it about their background we should approve of? Doesn’t mean however that significant numbers of Christians don’t also support programmes helping these woman.

            Gays and Lesbians? Whilst not being prepared to celebrate the lifestyle, have several who are friends and stay for holidays.

            Don’t mistake an unwillingness to endorse, with a desire to exclude or demonise.

          • sarky

            Do your guests sleep in seperate rooms if they are a couple?

          • CliveM

            The only person who has been refused being allowed to bring a non married partner is my brother in law. Quite enjoyed that!!

            Up to now, no one else has asked. Probably out of a desire to respect our views and not to embarress us.

          • CliveM

            Ps personally I’m more likely to ban a swinger from my house then an atheist!!! Or a Lesbian, or gay !

          • The Explorer

            Unlikely to be a single swinger. Swingers, in my experience, tend to come in clusters: more, probably, than any one household could comfortably accommodate. And, cumulatively, very expensive: they believe in lavish hospitality when you are the one footing the bill.

          • CliveM

            Extensive experience?

          • The Explorer

            I wasn’t always a Christian, you know.

          • CliveM

            Errr, hmm .

            Nice weather for the time of year?!!!!!

          • CliveM

            Ps I’m not saying you are wrong necessarily.

          • preacher

            Well that makes You, Me & Jesus that hate hypocrisy.
            But all things have to have rules & laws & when they are broken there is a penalty.
            Jesus came to pay the price for that prostitute’s failures & not just the sexual ones either.

            You may be right in what you say about some of the people on here, but surely you are being biased, hypocritical & judgemental yourself aren’t you?. All the things that you say you hate in others.
            You are not responsible for their sins, just your own. A friend of mine used to say ” When you point a finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at you.
            Thanks for the chat, but I’m late in meeting someone & have to leave now. Catch you next time I hope. P.

          • Phil R

            I have spoken to prostitutes.

            They are far more receptive to God that most.

            They just need someone to be there, to take the first step.

            You don’t even need to preach the Gospel to them (As Jesus didn’t), Just let God do the work or not, you don’t need to say or do anything, especially not to judge them as they already have judged themselves many many times.

            I am expecting to see see far more “prostitutes” in heaven than others I have talked to.

          • dannybhoy

            My guess is that those prostitutes are looking for love and to be loved.

          • CliveM

            Prostitutes tend to be badly abused, come from severely dysfunctional backgrounds and/or have a severe drugs/alcohol problem. The “Belle de Jour” escort, represents a tiny minority of the whole. Most Christians I know understand this and know it’s not a lifestyle choice for most. There are a large number of Christian support projects doing good work helping these woman into a healthier lifestyle.

          • dannybhoy

            I agree. Most women want to be loved, not abused.
            It is men who abuse rather than women.

          • CliveM

            Yes most rape and abuse is done by men. Sometimes you wonder why God hasn’t made the male Priesthood redundant because as a sex, we are not worthy.

          • Phil R

            “Prostitutes tend to be badly abused, come from severely dysfunctional backgrounds”

            I don’t agree with this stereotype for all. Many have families with a mum and dad, brothers and sisters still living at home.

            Drug/ alcohol? They need to look their best. I suspect they have more control than most of us in this respect

          • CliveM

            Google One25 and read what they say about it. This is a Christian charity that has extensive experience working with prostitutes.
            It is also successful in helping them off the streets back into society.

          • Phil R

            I agree that there are many like them.

            However, do they start out like that?

            Do the maths. £500 per day is not unreasonable for a good looking girl

            That is £3000+ per week or £150,000 pa

            Beats working at anything else on min wage.

            In the Gospel don’t forget, Mary was a very rich woman with we assume long beautiful hair.

            Of course the point of the story is that the riches are meaningless without Jesus,

          • sarky

            Phil, please please get your facts straight before commenting, you just look like an idiot.

          • Phil R

            OK have it your way

            All of them are drug addicted and are working for no money against their will.

            In 2015 the world’s oldest profession has suddenly found that there is no market for their services any more as rich men who used to want their company are now finding cheaper options like fiddling with themselves in front of their laptops.

            Right……

            I think we have gone off topic somewhat. Except if you are right it seems Mary may have earned a quite bit more relative to her contemporaries today.

          • sarky

            Mary wasn’t on smack.

          • Phil R

            No I don’t think Mary was. She was rich though, rich enough to have a jar containing perfume worth £30k or more in today’s money and she had guard(s) presumably for her walk across town to the house of Simon who having invited Jesus to dinner had insulted him also by not washing his feet or greeting him in the traditional manner.

            Mary it seems was well known (From Luke) as a prostitute. “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” (Also that she made vast sums of money compared to most of the men present)

            Then Jesus goes to the heat of the matter and we start to understand why people with the most sin, often respond most readily to God.

            “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[5]
            and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so
            he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
            Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
            “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

          • sarky

            I dont believe Mary was a prostitute. That view benefited the patriarchal society of the time.

          • Phil R

            She was a wealthy woman with very long hair who it seems was aware of her sinfulness.

            Both Jesus and the Pharisee are reported as saying that she was a sinner of some repute.

            No you are right. She could have become rich by other means that are equally disreputable.

            She could have been an EU Commissioner, or if she was really bad perhaps even a member of the EHRC.

          • sarky

            Or a televangelist!

          • sarky

            What planet are you on? Drugs is THE major factor in prostitution. I know this because I knew one of the Suffolk stranglers victims before drugs took her down that path.

          • Phil R

            Money is the major factor.

            Always has been, always will be.

            It is a business.

            I doubt if the addicts make enough to pay for their drugs.

            I assume that the guys who go with them are not idiots and don”t want their throat cut by some drug crazed girl for the rest of the cash in their wallet.

          • CliveM

            You have a really odd view of prostitution in this country. Do a bit of research. It is estimated that anything up to 85% of Prostitutes are drug addicts. A significant proportion of these use prostitution to support their addiction either by selling their body directly for drugs through a pimp or for money to enable then to purchase.

            And as Sarky says their is an unknown number who are trafficked and are simply abused and raped.

            However it has to be said that the above does give some support to legalisation. However DanJo’s suggestion that it’s a reasonable way to top up your student loans is flippant to say the least.

          • Phil R

            I think the way forward is legalisation

            Although I have mixed feelings as a Christian it seems to be better regulated and not connected with crime in places like Germany where it is legal.

          • CliveM

            I think that one of the hardest issues associated with it would be regulation and location. Who would a brothel next door?

            I’m agnostic on whether it should be legalised as I can’t quite bring myself to supporting legalisation, but I can see the benefits of it.

          • Phil R

            In Germany they seem to be more often than not in industrial estates.

            You can drive past as a unit selling building supplies, then perhaps one selling swimming pools then one selling sex.

            At least they are not usually on the street bothering you and the girls presumably have far more protection being together in the same building than they have in the UK.

            There is sometimes a sign advertising the cost of the room (for the girls to rent) per day. The ones I have seen seem to be around Euro 50 to 100 per day.

          • Phil R

            Most want a better wage than £6.70 an hour or whatever it is.

          • DanJ0

            Some are topping up their student loans.

          • And in your world of sexual liberal freedom young men and women prostituting themselves is okay, isn’t it?

            Oh, nearly forgot, providing they are above the age of legal consent for this, i.e. 18 years, where the ‘consumer’ does not “reasonably believe” a person is under that age, or in any event for a person under 13 years. Not much protection for the vulnerable.

          • DanJ0

            “And in your world of sexual liberal freedom young men and women prostituting themselves is okay, isn’t it?”

            Actually, I think prostitution is a bit grim myself. Who would want to shag (say) a desperate bloke in his 60s for a few hundred quid? Ugh. However, if people enter into it freely and are free to leave it then who am I to try to put a stop to it? As someone said, there’s good money in it if one is not caught up in its criminal side. Is it that much worse than selling dodgy used cars, or cold calling people pretending they’ve had an accident in the last 3 years, or exploiting vulnerable people by pretending reparative therapy works?

          • Deliberately misleading and exploiting people are all sinful behaviours …. The last one is speculative, of course, and for some it may well be fruitful.

          • Phil R

            I don’t believe it. I just up voted your comment…….

          • DanJ0

            You’ve recognised the libertarian tendency in me at last. 🙂

          • sarky

            Most are trafficked under false pretences by scumbags, then forced into prostitution to pay back the cost of their ticket. But the scumbags make sure they never pay it back by getting them hooked on drugs.
            Nothing to do with selling sex for a better life, that wouldn’t have even been on their minds.

          • Phil R

            As a Christian I have a dilemma here. In countries where it is legal e.g. Germany, there are far less of these sort of things happening and the girls have more protection and keep more of their money. Whereas where it is illegal like the UK abuse and exploitation seems to be more of the norm.

            For the girls’ sake I would like us to be like Germany, but as a Christian it seems wrong to suggest making it legal and presumably more widespread.

          • dannybhoy

            Listen Spud,
            True Christians recognise their own failings. Regardless of their academic or familial advantages, they KNOW that when God says “All men are sinners and fall short of the glory of God”
            it is true.They have.
            Never mind how the Bible describes us, we have come to the realisation that even according to our own moral standards we have failed to meet the mark.
            It’s like when we have gone out for the first time for a beer with our Dad.
            We feel so proud, we seek his approval and acknowledgement. Then he says to us,
            Hey be careful, that’s a 4.9% ale. Take it easy..
            And we think,
            “Hey Dad, what do you know…..”

          • sarky

            You might recognise your failings, but you repeat them ad infinitum.

          • dannybhoy

            And that is bad because???

          • Would this work for you, Sarky:

            “You have heard me say, he who will not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. What’s the use? I accomplished nothing on the cross. I have no baptism of fire for refining the earth. Don’t bother. Be not too eager to cause other people to suffer, but at the same time be not too eager to expose yourself to suffering.”

          • dannybhoy

            But Sarky I myself hate cringy or pompous or religious talk.
            But ultimately, it’s not important how people speak, it’s whether or not their heart is pure and they try to live what they believe.

          • CliveM

            Sarky

            How you speak is dependent to a certain extent on the audience and what your wanting to say. Some concepts require a ‘Christian’ language because secular language doesn’t have the words.
            I have to say if I was talking about Christianity to non Christians I wouldn’t use the language Preacher just used.

          • carl jacobs

            Sarky

            This is a Christian blog, and Christians will speak to each other in a certain way. We aren’t going to change how we speak to each other because you find it off-putting. Most of what you objected to is lifted straight from Scripture. We are real people and we really do speak like that. The fact that we don’t conform to the world doesn’t make us less real. We aren’t required to speak like you – especially when talking amongst ourselves.

            Try this exercise. Rephrase what preacher said so that you would not find it off-putting. I think you will find that it is not the words but the concepts that disturb you.

          • dannybhoy

            Wel said Carl.

          • sarky

            “If you have done lots of bad stuff in your life, but someone has loved you so much they have forgiven you, you will find yourself with alot of love to give. Those of us who are christians understand that forgiveness but realise the world can get in the way. But we are different because the bible is like soap that washes away all the bad stuff and we know that because jesus died for us we will have a different path in life. ”

            Just like to point out I don’t feel disturbed!

          • dannybhoy

            Being forgiven for your failings by someone you love is incredibly hard.

          • carl jacobs

            Just like to point out I don’t feel disturbed

            Maybe because you didn’t accurately translate the concepts? Do you think? Perhaps?

          • sarky

            Forgiveness – tick
            salvation – tick
            redemption – tick

            I was rephrasing, not accurately translating.

            So Carl, where did I go wrong?

          • carl jacobs

            sarky

            Let’s start with the concept of redemption. As in “Redeemed by the blood of Christ.” What is it, and where is it? Because I don’t see it. You say it’s there. So explain what it is, and where it is in your description.

            Here’s a hint. “Because jesus died for us” isn’t sufficient.

          • sarky

            But I’m putting it in plain language that you don’t need a degree in theology to understand – that was the point.

          • carl jacobs

            It doesn’t matter how sin the language is if the message is not invariant through the translation. So would you’ll like to answer my question? Tell me what “Redeemed by the blood” means and tell me where it is in your re-write.

            By the way. You left out exactly what I would have expected you to leave out.

          • sarky

            Carl, you have totally proved my original point. Christianity is an exclusive club with a language all of its own that only those on the inside can understand.

          • carl jacobs

            You are hilarious, sarky. You began this exchange by complaining about Christians speaking to each other in “church speak.” As if how we speak to each other is any of your concern. When challenged on whether you understood what was said you asserted:

            I totally understand it!!!!

            So I asked you to re-write the offending paragraph in ‘plain language.’ Because you “totally” understood it. That is what you said, right? “Totally.” You then proceeded to produce a re-write that didn’t actually show any understanding. And I said so. In response you checked off the concepts you thought you had covered to prove your understanding. You then said that you were “re-phrasing, not accurately translating.” Whatever that means. Is your re-phrasing not required to be an accurate? And you concluded with …

            So Carl, where did I go wrong?

            So I told you. I offered an example of what you failed to explain accurately, and asked you to demonstrate your ‘total’ understanding by explaining it. You didn’t even try to address the answer I gave to the question you had asked me. Instead you decided that plain language and accurate understanding are supposed to be mutually exclusive.

            But I’m putting it in plain language that you don’t need a degree in theology to understand – that was the point.

            So I pointed out the obvious by saying that using plain language should not cause the meaning to be obscured. And then I asked you again to demonstrate your self-proclaimed “total” understanding. But at this point – despite your “total” understanding – you decided you didn’t need to answer that question. Instead you decided that your “total” understanding must be qualified by the fact that “only those on the inside can understand.”

            you have totally proved my original point. Christianity is an exclusive club with a language all of its own that only those on the inside can understand.

            No, I haven’t. I have proven that you don’t know what you are talking about. It is ridiculously easy to explain “redeemed by the blood” in language that does not require a theology degree to understand. I could do it in one short paragraph, and I wouldn’t use one ‘church’ word. You simply need to understand the concept before you try. But you don’t understand the concept – totally or otherwise. That’s why you failed.

            But that’s OK. It’s our fault. Christianity is just too hard to understand. Totally.

          • sarky

            Ok carl – “redeemed by the blood” = “jesus’s sacrificial death, purchased believers from sin”
            Any better for you??

            Didn’t want to use the word sin, as it probably the most off putting word in the English language.

          • carl jacobs

            So that answer might earn you three points out of ten on a test. You got the word “purchased ” right, at least. And you did sort of relate it to the death of Christ. ‘Sin’ however is an incomplete answer for the identity of the seller. And you haven’t established the reason for the transaction, or the price paid, or the reason for the price, or connected the purchase price to the death of Christ. You should have googled more diligently.

            And, no, it shocks me not in the least that you would call ‘sin’ the most off-putting word in the English language. I told you that your your re-write left out exactly what I expected you to leave out. To what did I refer? The severity of sin, the consciousness of guilt, the dread of judgment. The word “sin” encompasses the offense against man’s autonomy that the Christian faith represents. It means to defy the authority of God to set limits on the behavior of men. It explicitly declares the existence of moral fault in those who believe in their own goodness. Here’s a church phrase for you. We call that “the offense of the Gospel.”

          • sarky

            The thing is Carl, you tell a non believer all that in those words and
            they will run a mile. Why not reel them in with the simple stuff and then increase the complexity.? That’s all I was trying to say. At the end of the day I really don’t care. You carry on, but dont then complain about the demise of christianity.

          • carl jacobs

            And my point was that the offense is not found in the words. It is found in the message. I can change the words. I can’t change the message. When you re-wrote the message to make it more plain – less ‘off-putting’ – you dropped on the floor the very thing that offends.

          • dannybhoy

            “17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
            18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
            19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
            20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
            21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
            22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
            23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

            First letter to the church at Corinth chapter 1>

          • sarky

            And meaningless to non believers!

          • dannybhoy

            Well you say that you understand it and it seems meaningless to you too!
            There comes a point when the Holy Spirit (whether in answer to people’s prayers for us or because He knows our innermost thoughts -or even a combination of both) begins to speak to the ‘inner me’.
            He starts to make us aware that God’s judgment is on us as rebels against our Creator, and that no matter how morally good we are, God considers us unworthy of spending eternity in His presence..
            That is my personal experience, having been brought up in a religious/moral environment. Even though I heard the Gospel many times it meant nothing to me, because I suppose I wasn’t ready or willing to give up my miserable independence to God!

          • sarky

            The thing is the ‘offence’ thing doesn’t work anymore, we live in different times. So I would have thought that simpler and less ‘off-putting’ is what is required. The ‘offence’ only works if there is a basic understanding, that understanding isn’t there anymore.
            Just trying to give you an outsiders view, if you choose to ignore it, like i said, I really don’t care.

          • CliveM

            Thing is I’m not sure if you’re confusing two different things. Their is a language I wouldn’t use outside of certain circles. So in that sense you are right.

            BUT even to non Christians their are words, or concepts that would still need to be used (like sin) and even if that is off putting, that is the message and anything else would be dishonest.

          • sarky

            I understand the difference. Just saying that maybe the concept needs to be put across differently. Lets be honest the way things are done now doesn’t work. (And language used is a big part of that)
            I just dont understand why you seem so afraid of changing things. (The message and concept can be the same, just made more relevent to people today)

          • Carl, there’s a ‘New Christianity’ now:

            “For the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who gave a feast for his son, and corralled everyone to join him whether they liked it or not. And God said – Now quit bothering me, and get lost.”

          • It’s gobbledy-gook. No one will understand it. The Bible is like soap? Really? Why will we have a different path in life? What does that mean anyway etc., etc.

          • sarky

            Well I can’t help the source can I?

          • Would you like to give me the texts that you have used?

          • carl jacobs

            You have to understand the source before you can criticize it.

          • dannybhoy

            Sarky if you loved your Dad, or you have brothers you will know that there is a form of communication between you that only you and they will understand.

          • sarky

            I have both and no there isn’t.

          • dannybhoy

            That’s sad.
            My father ran away to sea at the age of 16. He went through WW2 and like many men of that generation had to leave it all behind and become a husband and father ’til his dying day.
            He had three sons and our delight was to hear him tell stories of his childhood and his time in the Royal Navy.
            He had wartime naval nightmares right up until his death of cancer at 56.
            I still love him and respect him, especially for every little revelation of himself that he shared with us.

          • carl jacobs

            Jesus spoke in parables so they would hear but not hear.

          • Jesus did want all His people to understand, but He found many of them so ill-disposed that He turned to parables. Were they meant to show mercy, or act as a blinding in justice? They were both at the same time; a device used so that those with good dispositions ((open to grace) would understand at least something at the start, and would then grow in understanding; while the ill-disposed (resisting grace) would understand less and less.

          • Ivan M

            This has clarified some nagging thing for me. Thanks.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Babara Thiering talked about the different levels of Christ;s teaching…

      • dannybhoy

        He is speaking normally. I understand what he is saying.
        You don’t because you have yet to make your peace with God.
        You are yet to realise that God is not seeking to condemn you,
        He just wants you to make the decision to recognise that He who created you wants your greatest happiness.
        It’s just like when the caterpillar is about to enter the pupae stage and Mum or Dad butterfly is trying to reassure them that all will be well…

        • sarky

          I totally understand it!!!! I’m just sayingthat all this “washed in the water of the word” and “redeemed by the blood” is not how people speak and it creates a barrier. If you don’t want to listen fine.

          • dannybhoy

            Sarky,
            If you understand it, wonderful. If you understand it and agree with it then say so!

          • sarky

            I dont!

          • sarky

            Did you just change your post?

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Methodists once talked about crawling into the wounds of Christ…not a nice image I have to say…

          • CliveM

            Yuck

          • dannybhoy

            Did you attend the same RI classes as the Inspector dear lady?
            Never heard that one before!

          • magnolia

            There is a hymn with that gross image. Some like it, apparently, though like others here I find it gruesome. I have only encountered it in higher Anglican services. It is reminiscent of the bits of Crashaw that are just too pictorial and gruesome, though there are lines which are superb. I think the Methodists would be more of a “washed in the blood of the Lord” type, which I think is best used sparingly!

          • magnolia

            That is also I should add, in fairness to the good Methodists, a somewhat dated Methodism which sometimes does that, from the early third of the 20th Century and a bit before, mostly.

    • dannybhoy

      Women are (to my mind) the great civilisers. It’s not that they don’t need men, but it seems to me that when God created Eve as a ‘helpmeet’ he probably meant someone who loved us enough to think through the implications of our actions…
      For myself I recognise my wife’s talents and desire to meet needs. My wife is a wonderfully talented and motivated individual, whgo has achieved much more than I have.
      I (think) my role is to pull her up where her feminine and motherly instincts faill to recognise the evils that might result from thinking that her children will want the same things that she wants.
      In other words as men and women we are not truly complete until we recognise that God created the two sexes not only as complimentary to each other for reproduction; but that He holds the man responsible for leading and loving his woman in nurturing the next generation.

    • Jack prefers the account given in Saint Luke’s Gospel:

      “And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

      It shows that repentance is the key to living connection with Jesus.

  • Dominic Stockford

    The cleansing of the Temple demonstrates our complete dependence on Jesus Christ, and our complete inability to do anything to save ourselves.

    Only Jesus, Son of God, could successfully cleanse God’s house, the Temple, of what sinful man had made it.
    Only Jesus, Son of God, can successfully cleanse people (creations of God) of our sin, to become His Temples.
    Only Jesus, Son of God, can do what is needed to make himself truly present in our lives.

  • carl jacobs

    not to judge but to serve.

    The problem we have is that the Gospel we preach contains an implicit judgment of man. We could make people happy by saying “God loves you just the way you are, and if you do good things in your life (or at least more good things than bad), then He will receive you.” That’s what people want to hear. But that isn’t what we say because it’s a lie. We say instead that every man is covered head to toe in the blood and excrement and filth that gives evidence to the evil actions he has committed. We say “God will not receive you like that.” And they respond “Self-righteous hypocrite! Who are you to judge me!” We don’t judge. But we speak for One who will. And they don’t want to hear it.

    But in these modern times, men look at their coating of filth and say “Why, that’s mighty attractive, don’t you think? I was thinking about doing a new line of designer wear.” The concept of ‘clean’ has been lost. Too judgmental.

    • The Explorer

      I think Islam, being a religion of works, says that your good and bad deeds will be weighed against each other on judgement day. If your good deeds win (even if it’s only 51% against 49%) you’ll be okay.
      That’s a really simple concept to grasp, and the West likes it. The West has come to think that that is what Christianity says. Or, if it doesn’t say it yet it ought to be revised so that it does say it.

      • Shadrach Fire

        Most people don’t even know the difference between good and bad.
        Too uncomfortable to think you are bad.

        • The Explorer

          I’ll rephrase it. You’ll be okay provided you’re non-judgmental. (Only, on that basis it doesn’t matter anyway how you behave. If to be good is to be non-judgemental, and God is good, then God is non-judgemental. Everybody gets to Summerland!))

        • saintmark

          Bad people = people who are worse than me.
          Good people = people who are like me.
          I think you’ll find that would be the general consensus.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Ah, but according to them, you’ll only be ok if Allah is in a good mood the day you die, and thinks he will let you in – he might not be…

        • The Explorer

          Yes, the only certain entry to Paradise is death in battle on behalf of Allah.

      • Ivan M

        Islam is not a religion of works, at least not the stupid brand that is always in the news. It is a religion of rules. The hard core fellows are fanatical about it. For example, my friend when I suggested to him that he should just settle for the halal chicken in the supermarkets here in Singapore, instead of going across the Causeway to Malaysia, told me that even the chicken feed had to be certified halal before he would consume.

        Many jokes immediately suggested themselves. Such as what would they do with the fact that gas passed out of pigs is unavoidably mixed in with the air we breathe. These guys have become like the Brahmins of old, without however their high intelligence. They were not always like this, at one time, we had countless rationalist Muslims who could laugh away at such things. But Saudi money and the one oneupmanship of the Sunnis versus the Shias set in train the reactionary spiral.

  • The Explorer

    Just took a look at news update for the gay cake lawsuit. Judgment has been reserved: ie, they’re still thinking about it. That must be because of the implications for so many other areas.

    Costs so far in excess of £8,000 with possible total costs in excess of £33,000 over a cake costing, what, £15? and made anyway by another firm. It would be madness if the cake were the real issue.

    • CliveM

      Either way it’s madness.

    • Inspector General

      Reserved judgement can only mean that the government’s law officers will be making the decision. With the GE coming up, this is extremely good news for sanity!

    • sarky

      I wonder if they would have just made the cake if they had known the financial cost of their stand?? That money would pay for a children’s nurse for a year.

      • Inspector General

        Sarky speak with forked tongue. It was the homosexual militants who pressed for the case to be heard. But you wouldn’t be interested in that truth, would you…

        • sarky

          Im fully aware of who took who to court. I’m just asking the question!

          • William Lewis

            It is better to store up riches in Heaven.

          • They knew …. they were offered a “cheap” option before it went to Court. A rap over the knuckles if they accepted they had acted in a discriminatory fashion. It was too “expensive” an option for them as it meant contradicting their faith in God. In their minds, it would have been the equivalent of a simple oath to Caesar as god. Early Christians died rather than do this.

          • Inspector General

            The Inspector has noted in his book “Sarky cannot help but to be anti Christian. Sarky also feels that one man is beholden to another if a political slogan is involved”.

          • William Lewis

            It was always on the cards that Sarky would end up on the books of the Inspectorate.

          • sarky

            I was put in the book a long time ago!!

      • The Explorer

        They weren’t the ones who took the case to court. They lost £15, or whatever, by refunding the cost of the cake. Rival firm accepted the order. End of story. It was the Equalities Commission that took Ashers to court and has set aside £33 000 to meet the costs. Nice to know it has so much money to splash around.

      • Ivan M

        In other words the process is at least part of the the punishment. I am not suggesting that you would have put the Ashers through the wringer, but all the ancillary “industry” behind this, free-loads off the tax base. If the precious faggot, had to sustain this out of his own dime he would have second thoughts too.

      • saintmark

        Not that Sarky cared about the children but he used to help himself to the NHS?

    • dannybhoy

      It was a fruit cake..

  • John Waller

    Poor Mary Magdalene still being painted as a prostitute?

    Time to scotch this one chaps, since the biblical evidence for it is zero. True, she did have 7 demons cast out of her but that is hardly proof. Moreover she was one of the women who supported Jesus’ ministry out of her own substance (Lk 8:1-3). I doubt 1st Century prostitutes were that well remunerated.

    • The Explorer

      In ‘Easter Enigma’, John Wenham explores the possibility that Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany were one and the same person. He suggests Mary M might have become a high-class courtesan in Jerusalem before being redeemed by Christ and returning to Bethany. He suggests she might have done both anointings: the second a completion of the first.
      I’m not saying he’s right, but it’s a well-argued, scripturally-grounded case.

      • Inspector General

        The Inspector remembers from school RI that there always was something not quite in tune with MM. She should have been at home, a good wife to a husband and family if so blessed, not knocking around with the lads.

      • “This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.”
        (John 11:2)

  • And the “Buddy Jesus” appeared in a vision and taught:

    “You have heard me say that it’s not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out of his heart, things like fornication, adultery, deceit, covetousness, murder, and so forth.

    Whoa there, let’s not be so hasty. You are in the 21st century and science and scholars have taught you so much more than those early Judeans could understand.

    A man may marry a man, a woman may marry a woman, men and women may fornicate, but that does not mean they are not a nice people. The old rules suited a primitive culture and were not meant to be binding for all time. A man may betray his wife, rape and sodomise children, steal, murder his neighbour, and lie under oath, but that does not mean he is not a nice person. Understand him and the pressures they face and all will become clear.

    “Be nice, even as your imaginary deity is nice. Be merciful and forgive, regardless of repentance or faith in Me.”

    “When you pray, be not as the hypocrites, who go to Church to celebrate as I have commanded them. I take back the command. Here’s how you are to pray:

    Our friend in the sky, give us what we want, and shove what we don’t.
    Amen.”

  • These quotes come from a Catholic elementary school test. Children were asked questions about the old and new testaments. They have not been retouched or corrected. Incorrect spelling has been left in:

    Adam and eve were created from an apple tree.

    Noah’s wife was joan of ark. Noah built and ark and the animals came on in pears.

    Moses led the jews to the red sea where they made unleavened bread which is bread with-out any ingredients

    The first commandments was when eve told adam to eat the apple.

    When the three wise guys from the east side arrived they found jesus in the manager.

    The people who followed the lord were called the 12 decibels.

    The epistels were the wives of the apostles.

    Christians have only one spouse. This is called monotony.”

  • IanCad

    “He is not the benign ecumenical Christ of perpetual reconciliation —“
    Indeed not, and one day He will be our judge.