“Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” – Round 2

I had watched the first season of “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” last Winter and Spring, which I found to be a fascinating examination of that religious cult, so I also followed the second season this Fall. I’ll soon be catching the final two episodes, which were televised this past Sunday and yesterday, via on-demand.

Actress, Leah Remini, was a member of Scientology for 35 years. In this documentary series, she and co-host, Mike Rinder, a former top executive of the “church,” examine some of the teachings of Scientology and interview several former members who were abused.

This series is “must see” television. Scientology’s manipulation and abuse of its membership is sad and terrifying. Remini is on an uncompromising mission to lead people out of the church and to warn others who may be considering it.

Remini’s passion resonates with me on a certain level because I also warn people of the dangers of another cultish religious organization; the Roman Catholic church. Some of you are dismayed. You protest, “Roman Catholicism, a cult?” Yes, Catholicism with its one-billion members might differ from the general understanding of cults being small groups started by a single individual who claims divine guidance and extra-biblical revelation…

Cult: a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.

…but a cult can also be defined as “an unorthodox sect whose members distort the original doctrines of the religion” and Roman Catholicism certainly qualifies.

As the early church became increasingly institutionalized, simple faith in Jesus Christ as Savior devolved into an increasingly complicated system of legalities, rituals, and ceremonies. The church patterned itself after the authoritarian Roman imperial model. The acquisition of wealth and political power became the driving force within church leadership. Doctrines not found in Scripture, and even opposed to Scripture, were regularly introduced. Nonconformity was not tolerated. Violence was routinely brought to bear upon dissenters.

Today, Catholicism has lost much of its temporal might and can no longer persecute and abuse people at it did in much of its past. The extreme disciplines once imposed on its clergy, especially nuns and monastic monks, would rival and surpass any mistreatment currently dished out by Scientology leader, David Miscavige. But these days, the Catholic clergy can’t persuade the majority of members to attend obligatory mass on Sunday let alone become a priest or nun. Catholicism is a cult that has lost many of its claws and fangs. Despite that, it’s still a toxic belief system that teaches a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Leah Remini states that she has returned to the Roman Catholicism of her infant baptism. I admire her for leading people out of Scientology, but she offers them no good alternative. Ultimately, one false gospel is the same as the next. None lead to salvation. There is only one genuine Gospel and that is salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

It’s quite ironic that my cultural Catholic family thought I had joined a cult after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. They assumed no one but a cultist would mention Jesus outside of church.

Below is an interesting article written by Dave Hunt on the cultish church of Rome.

A cult is a cult
By evangelical apologist, Dave Hunt
https://www.thebereancall.org/content/cult-cult

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Things are not always as they appear to be

After lollygagging away most of the summer, the last few months have been very busy for me, between painting one-quarter of the house and attending to all the red tape associated with finalizing the repairs to our house from the damage caused by the March windstorm. But I have made time to follow a couple of television shows. No, I’m not much of a television watcher. Most of the offerings are pure garbage and I’d much rather read a good book, but there are a couple of shows I’ve squeezed into my schedule:

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath: Season Two – After having watched the entire first season of this reality TV exposé, I have seen the first six episodes of the second season. Scientology is about as cultish as it gets; abusing its members emotionally (and church employees physically) and fleecing them of their life savings. Leah is relentless in her attempt to expose her former “church” for what it truly is. As I pointed out last season, after leaving Scientology, Leah returned to the Roman Catholic church where she had been baptized as an infant. So, she has traded one false religion for another. The abuses of Scientology are shocking, but Roman Catholicism has its own sordid history of abuse and corruption. While the Roman church has softened much of its militancy, it wasn’t all that long ago that Protestants viewed Catholicism in much the same way Remini’s viewers are witnessing the “excesses” of Scientology. Is there anything more cultish than the Catholic convents of yesteryear, that were full of virginal “brides of Christ” replete with wedding rings, who were strictly isolated from their families? The bottom line is the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone cannot be found in either Scientology or Catholicism.

The Exorcist: Season Two – My wife and I have somewhat unusual testimonies in that horror films were a part of our journey to accepting Jesus Christ as Savior, particularly “The Exorcist” (1973) and “The Omen” (1976). We were both raised in the Catholic church with its impersonal rituals and ceremonies, but these films presented evil as a very real entity, not as just some vague notion as we were used to. And if evil was real and personified, it followed that goodness was also real and personified. Our intellectual “belief” in a God would eventually lead to reading God’s Word and trusting in THE God. My wife is still a fan of horror films, although I have little interest outside of watching this show with her. We watched the entire first season of “The Exorcist” and have seen the first episode of the second season. The same two Catholic priests are hunting for demons to exorcise and a troubled foster family appears to be next on their list. As I watch the show, the thought that’s always in the back of my head is that the truly dangerous characters in “The Exorcist” are not the demonic ogres but the pious priests who propagate a false gospel. I think it’s quite ironic.

Most believers would be aghast at a Christian watching such a show as “The Exorcist,” but I’ll defend my “square peg” viewpoint as I did last year. Satan is no dummy. No one is going to voluntarily sign up for an Anton LaVey-ish caricature of Satanism except for a few social misfits. No, Satan’s most effective work is creating religious institutions that present false gospels (and secular institutions that philosophically deny God). Souls end up following a counterfeit works religion rather than accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. American believers wouldn’t come within ten feet of “The Exorcist” with it’s Hollywood stereotype demons, but gladly embrace Catholicism with it’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit as a Christian entity (or eagerly soak up the “health and wealth” nonsense on TBN). Does not compute. “The Exorcist” may not be your cup of tea, and I get that, but I pray the Holy Spirit uses the caricaturish depictions of evil on this television show to bring souls to the Savior as He did with my wife and I.

“And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” – 2 Corinthians 11:12-15

Postscript 1: In the last episode of “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath: Season Two,” Leah is outraged over Scientology’s view of homosexuality as deviant behavior. Isn’t she aware that her current church officially teaches that homosexual practices are a sin? Relatively few Catholics actually know their church’s doctrines. But of course doctrine fluctuates in Catholicism depending upon how liberal the parish priest (or current pope 😁) happens to be.

Postscript 2: Scripture certainly teaches that demons may tempt believers, but they cannot possess those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. It’s interesting that most of the alleged cases of demon possession I’ve heard of or read about involved baptized Roman Catholics. Priests exorcise possessed Catholics, but who is going to exorcise the priests?

“Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World” premiers Tuesday, September 12th on PBS

 

There’s admittedly a lot of junk on television, but heres a show you may want to see. “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World” premiers on PBS, Tuesday, September 12th. Check your local television listings for broadcast times in your area. Let’s hope the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE is presented. I see from the trailer that Catholic cardinal, Timothy Dolan, is an interviewee so I have my doubts.

http://www.pbs.org/program/martin-luther-idea-changed-world/

Batman ’66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes

It’s time to take a respite from theological discussions, so let’s review…

Atomic Batteries to Power, Flight Rings to Speed:
Batman ’66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes
Created by Lee, Michael, and Laura Allred
DC Comics, September 2017

This one-off, crossover features the Batman and Robin characters as they were presented on the hokey “Batman” ABC television series (1966-1968) featuring Adam West (d. June 9, 2017) and Burt Ward, and the DC Silver Age version of the Legion of Super-Heroes as they were written by Jim Shooter and drawn by Curt Swan.

Plot

Six members of the 30th century’s Legion of Super-Heroes track one of their arch-enemies, Universo, back in time to Gotham City in the year, 1966. The villainous super-hypnotist believes that by intervening in the past, he will be able to prevent the formation of the Legion in the future. The Legionnaires make a surprise visit to the top secret Bat Cave, hoping to enlist Robin into their club and to seek his help in apprehending Universo. When it’s discovered that one of the Legion’s time bubbles has been stolen, Batman deduces the culprit to be the criminal genius, Egghead. The team splits up with Batman traveling with three Legionnaires to 2966 to find Egghead, while the Boy Wonder teams with the three remaining LSH members to search for Universo in Gotham City.

Robin and his team find Universo but are no match for the combined police and military forces who are compelled to do the bidding of their mind-controlling master, and must retreat. Meanwhile, Egghead searches 30th-century science museums hoping to find some technology or information that will give him an advantage back in the 20th century, but comes up empty and returns to 1966. A meeting between Egghead and Universo reveals the former to be the ancestor of the latter.

Robin’s team engages Universo once again but is thwarted by the super-hypnotist’s powers. Just when all appears lost, Batman’s team shows up from the future and joins in the fracas. The battle appears to be a standoff until Batman suggests it’s time for the Legion to unleash its “secret weapon.” Universo is defeated and Saturn Girl once again invites Robin to join the Legion, but Batman insists the Boy Wonder is indispensable in the fight against crime in the 20th-century.

Commentary

This is as absolutely hokey as it gets folks with no redeeming value other than lots of laughs for fans of the old Batman television show and the Silver Age Legion. There are plenty of “insider” jokes and miscues that will resonate with aging baby boomers like myself who were glued to the family television set on Wednesday and Thursday evenings back in 1966 watching the Dynamic Duo. Many of the villains and “good guys” featured in the TV series make cameo appearances in this story. If you can remember the campy, tongue-in-cheek dialogue of the show and some of the outrageously complicated deductions West’s Batman would extrapolate from some ridiculously minuscule and vague clues, then you’ll enjoy this book. The Allreds capture Adam West’s Batman to a tee.

Final thoughts

A believer contemplates the Lord God in even the most “secular” of circumstances. The “legendary star” of the Batman television show, Adam West, died a couple of months ago at the age of 88 of leukemia. Out of curiosity, I googled “Adam West” along with “God,” “Jesus,” “Christian,” “faith,” and “religion” and came up empty. We won’t know if West accepted Christ this side of eternity, but we do know that fame, fortune, and good health do not last.

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” – Proverbs 27:1


What does it mean to be a born again Christian?
https://www.gotquestions.org/born-again.html

The Journey “Home” or the journey into spiritual bondage?

EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) is a traditionalist Catholic communications conglomerate that was founded in 1981 by Catholic nun, “mother” Angelica (aka Rita Antoinette Rizzo).

One of the most popular programs on the EWTN cable television channel is “The Journey Home,” hosted by Marcus Grodi. During the hour-long presentation, Grodi interviews reverts and converts to Roman Catholicism. The guests express their profound appreciation for “coming home” to the “one true church,” with its alleged “apostolic authority” and spiritually “essential” sacraments.

Catholicism teaches a person must receive its sacraments and obey the Ten Commandments perfectly in order to merit their salvation. That is not something to be happy about, but is actually an impossible burden shared by all who believe they must earn their salvation. How much is enough? How good is good enough? It’s a religious treadmill that never ends in this lifetime and ultimately leads to eternal damnation. I was a Roman Catholic for twenty-seven years until I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone. Praise the Lord that my salvation is secured in His perfect, imputed righteousness and not my own miserable efforts. I have no righteousness other than my Savior’s righteousness.

Conservative Roman Catholics tune into “The Journey Home” and find great encouragement and satisfaction in the stories of those who have returned or converted to Catholicism. I, however, feel tremendous sadness for all those who have voluntarily submitted to the spiritual chains of Rome. I will readily admit that the rituals, ceremonies, great pomp and circumstance, and worldly trappings of Catholicism hold great appeal to many, but beneath the whited sepulchre is a grave full of dead men’s bones. Former “evangelicals” who appear on the show never genuinely trusted in Christ or they wouldn’t be celebrating their spiritual shackles.

“The Journey Home” purposely leaves its audience with the false impression that many Americans are converting to Catholicism. In actuality, for every person baptized, the U.S. Catholic church loses six members. See here. All a Catholic needs to do is look around at the empty pews in church on Sunday morning to comprehend what’s really going on. I praise the Lord for the large number of those souls who left Catholicism and accepted Christ and now follow the Lord as members of evangelical Christian fellowships. Thank you, Lord, for opening the eyes of so many and freeing them from the chains of Catholicism! Thank you, Jesus!

Genuine evangelical believers can’t boast of any communications conglomerates* as part of a colossal religious institution, but there are many testimonies available from ex-Catholics who left the legalism and ritualism of Rome and and accepted the free gift of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. For just a few examples, see here, here, and here.

It’s quite interesting to me that Catholics eagerly crow about “evangelicals” who have converted to Roman Catholicism on such outlets as “The Journey Home,” yet many/most evangelicals are absolutely mortified when a fellow believer “uncharitably” asserts that Rome teaches a false gospel.

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 3:21-24

* Some might point to the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) as an evangelical media enterprise but that outfit is operated by the purveyors of the false “health and wealth”/”name it and claim it” prosperity gospel and regularly features Catholic guests and spokespersons.

“The Keepers” on Netflix: Recommended with sadness

I finally finished watching Netflix’s seven-part-series, “The Keepers,” about the unsolved murder of a young nun in 1969. Sister Cathy Cesnik taught at an all-girls’ Catholic high school in Baltimore, Maryland. She disappeared in November, 1969 and her decomposed body was found the following January. The murder was never solved but two retired alumni of the high school and former students of the nun have relentlessly attempted to identify the killer/s.

The facts show that Father Joseph Maskell, a chaplain at the high school, had sexually abused a large number of the students. One of the victims had confided in Sister Cesnik who took initial steps to expose Maskell but then disappeared. There’s little doubt that priest Maskell orchestrated Cesnik’s death even if he was not the murderer himself.

This is gut-wrenching stuff. The sexual abuse of multiple girls at Archbishop Keough High School by Maskell and another priest sickens the soul. Then there was the murder. And finally there was the cover-up of Maskell’s abuse by the Baltimore Archdiocese and its subsequent legal battles with the victims.

My heart breaks for the victims of Father Maskell and for all the other victims of abuse within the Catholic church. The church definitely perpetuated the abuse through its clerical celibacy rule and by moving known predators from one parish to the next. I’m also very saddened that the Catholic church deceives its members with a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit rather than teaching them the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I highly recommend this series although it’s difficult to watch. But the truths it reveals are so important.

excatholic4christ

A new Netflix docu-series, “The Keepers,” premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 19th and it looks like something Christians may want to watch. I certainly will be.

The seven-part series focuses on the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, inKeep Baltimore, Maryland in 1969. One of the suspects was a priest, Father Joseph Maskell, a known sexual predator, who was shuffled from parish to parish by the church hierarchy. The documentary alleges that Maskell was abusing girls at the high school where Cesnik taught and she was attempting to expose him prior to her death.

It’s one thing to hear general information about the scandal of pedophilic and abusive priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to examine the personal aftermath of the abuse and cover-up in the lives of actual human beings with names and faces and in the lives of their families.

Catholicism…

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The death of one nun was just the tip of the iceberg

 

A new Netflix docu-series, “The Keepers,” premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 19th and it looks like something Christians may want to watch. I certainly will be.

The seven-part series focuses on the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, inKeep Baltimore, Maryland in 1969. One of the suspects was a priest, Father Joseph Maskell, a known sexual predator, who was shuffled from parish to parish by the church hierarchy. The documentary alleges that Maskell was abusing girls at the high school where Cesnik taught and she was attempting to expose him prior to her death.

It’s one thing to hear general information about the scandal of pedophilic and abusive priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to examine the personal aftermath of the abuse and cover-up in the lives of actual human beings with names and faces and in the lives of their families.

Catholicism has much to answer for, in regards to this scandal as well as for misleading its members with its false gospel. Not only were children, nuns, and young seminarians victimized by “celibate” sexual predators, but Catholics in general were and are being misled into believing they must merit their way into Heaven.

One-hundred-years ago, church spokespersons offhandedly dismissed accusations of abuse in Catholic schools, seminaries, convents, and rectories as “Protestant porn.” Now they’re keeping their mouths shut and wishing it would all just go away.


In Netflix’s “The Keepers,” a nun’s unsolved murder, a sexual abuse coverup and crumbling Vatican II hope
http://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2017/05/17/netflixs-keepers-nuns-unsolved-murder-sexual-abuse-coverup-and-crumbling

Ben Seewald reaches out to Catholics again!

After a very long prodigal “season,” I returned to the Lord in 2014. That same year, our oldest son hooked us up with Netflix. I can’t say I watch a lot of Netflix but I did make it a point to watch the “19 Kids and Counting” show featuring the Duggar family. I watched the first four and a half-seasons until The Learning Channel yanked the show from Netflix.

The Duggars didn’t talk a lot about their religious affiliation directly, but if a viewer paid attention they could gather that they were independent fundamental Baptists who adhered to Bill Gothard’s and Doug Phillips’ ultra-conservative Christian Dominionist/Reconstructionism. Coming from an IFB background myself (although much less hardcore than the Duggars’), I was fascinated by the show. Among many other IFB distinctives, the girls weren’t allowed to have short hairdoos or wear pants. I could argue secondary doctrinal issues with the Duggars but at least they uphold the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE.

The series premiered in 2009 and ran until May 2015 when news headlines revealed oldest son, Josh Duggar, was involved in several scandalous transgressions. A spinoff show, “Counting On,” carries on the Duggar saga, focusing mainly on married daughters, Jill and Jessa.

I recently saw that Jessa’s husband, Ben Seewald (see photo), is making headlines once again with remarks about Catholicism. Back in 2014, Seewald posted some comments critical of Roman Catholicism on his Facebook account, which caused a firestorm among 19 Kids and Counting’s Catholic fans. I see in the recent article below from a virtual gossip rag that Ben has posted on Facebook and Instagram that he’s currently reading James White’s excellent “The Roman Catholic Controversy: Catholics and Protestants – Do the Differences Still Matter?” (see my review here) to further educate himself regarding Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and Catholic fans are up in arms once again.

Up until about fifty years ago, most evangelicals were very aware that Catholicism’s gospel of sacramental grace and merit was a false gospel. But because of the ecumenical push by Rome and some Judas evangelicals, the differences between Catholicism’s false gospel and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE have been blurred in the minds of many. It’s now considered unkind, unloving, and intolerant to warn Catholics that they are on the wide way to destruction. I admire young Ben Seewald for upholding the Gospel of grace despite undoubtedly enormous pressure from network executives and family to keep his mouth shut.

Persevere in the Lord, Ben Seewald! There’s already way too much cooperation, compromise, and betrayal within evangelicalism.


Ben Seewald: Duggar Husband Studies To Refute Catholicism While Jill and Derick Evangelize to Catholics
http://www.inquisitr.com/4166855/ben-seewald-duggar-husband-studies-to-refute-catholicism-while-jill-and-derick-evangelize-to-catholics/

“Don’t trust the Bible but you can trust us.”

cnnfj

 

This morning before church, my wife and I were drinking our coffee in the kitchen and watching CNN as is our habit. The CNN hosts started plugging the second season of “Finding Jesus,” which begins tonight. I definitely won’t be watching. I sat through a single episode of this series last season and it’s basically a group of modernist unbelievers trying to explain away God and the Bible.

Anyway, they said tonight’s opening episode will be focusing on Pontius Pilate among other things. They mentioned the Pilate Stone, which was excavated at Caesarea By The Sea in 1961. My blogosphere friend, Wally, who’s currently touring Israel, and I were discussing this stone just the other day! A fantastic archaeological find, the stone has Pilate’s name inscribed on it. Yes, there was a historical Pontius Pilate and there was and is a Jesus Christ.

The CNN morning hosts then interviewed a Catholic priest (sorry, didn’t catch the name) to get a “religious expert’s” take on Pilate. The priest said the writer of the Gospel of John (I always thought the apostle John was the writer?) purposely portrayed Pilate as weak and indecisive because he was trying to give the impression that the Jews were largely responsible for Christ’s crucifixion, not the Roman Gentiles. The priest went on to say the Gospel of John was written following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD, afterwhich the Jewish nation was in complete disarray, so the author was catering to a Gentile audience and its prejudices rather than to a Jewish one.

How to respond? This Catholic priest is unabashedly stating that he does not believe the Bible is God’s Word and that the writers of the New Testament were attempting to manipulate their readers. And people trust this priest and his ecclesiastical associates with their souls?

Final thoughts on “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”

Almost a month ago, I posted that I had begun watching “Leah Remini: Scientology and the lrs Aftermath” on the A&E cable channel on Tuesday nights (see here). Well, I caught the seventh and final episode of the series last night via on-demand.

This was an absolutely fascinating documentary/exposé of Scientology. Remini was a member of the “church” for 30 years and is now on a personal crusade to reveal the cult’s homemade “theology” and abusive practices. The bulk of the episodes consist of Remini and Mike Rinder, a former senior executive of the church, visiting other former members whose lives and families were torn apart by the church. If you have any interest in cults and how they control and abuse their membership, I highly recommend this series.

After leaving Scientology, Remini returned to the church she was baptized into as an infant; Roman Catholicism. Here’s a couple of my observations with regards to the series:

  • Not once throughout the entire series does Remini mention Jesus Christ. She left Scientology and re-embraced Catholicism, but in seven one-hour episodes she does not name the name of Jesus Christ even once. If I came out of a false religion and found salvation in Christ, I would be SINGING about Jesus! And I do! 🙂 I suspect Ms. Remini is like the overwhelming majority of Catholics who take some comfort in the institutional rituals and trappings of Catholicism but have never accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. But how could they? Their church does not preach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through Jesus Christ alone. Remini never does name Jesus, however, episode after episode she repeatedly uses more expletives than a drunken sailor on the first night in port.
  • In the final episode, Remini and Rinder travel to New York City to meet with lawyers about possible litigation against Scientology. Prior to the meeting, Remini enters St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 51st Street, saying she wants to light a candle “for luck.” For luck? The viewer then sees Remini lighting a votive candle inside the cathedral and pausing as if in prayer. Next we see Remini kneeling in a pew and gazing ahead solemnly at what is presumed to be the altar at St. Patrick’s. Unfortunately, it appears that Ms. Remini has exchanged one system of religious shackles for another, although Catholicism no longer controls peoples lives to the degree Scientology does. But remember back just fifty years ago when there were many convents throughout America crowded with virginal Catholic women who were cut off from their families and were attempting to merit their salvation though self-deprivation and complete obedience to their superiors?

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first…” – Matthew 12:43-45