Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Infernal Doublespeak on Abortion

The sun is darkness.

Death Valley is a soaring peak.

High cholesterol enhances circulatory health.

You may wonder what I’m doing. I’m practicing writing with all the verity and logic of Carlton Veazey, President of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Let me tell you, it takes tremendous talent to be perfectly wrong so brazenly, so often. It must be a gift to produce such continuous doublespeak while keeping a straight face.

And doublespeak it is. William Lutz, an English professor at Rutgers, described doublespeak as “language that only pretends to say something; it's language that hides, evades, or misleads.” In this case, it does more: It describes what is evil in glowing terms, and what is good in disparaging terms.

Look at how Veazey began a recent press release:

After eight years of a policy that contributed to the suffering of women and children worldwide….

So what would one expect that policy to be, the policy that causes women and children to suffer? Might it be a policy that causes women to turn on their own children and mercilessly kill them by dousing them with caustic chemicals, hacking them into pieces, or leaving them battered and exposed until they die? Would that policy be one that causes suffering and death in disproportionate numbers for millions of the most helpless children of color, of poverty, of the underclasses?

No, it’s not that. The policy Veazey so oddly describes is a policy that has the effect of discouraging women from taking the lives of their babies, of discouraging the suffering deaths of the innocent.

President Obama has put the United States back on the path of charity, hope and compassion….

And what exactly is Veazey describing that is so charitable, hope inducing, and compassionate? Abortion. Abortion at every opportunity. Abundant abortion. According to Veazey, by enthusiastically exporting the wickedness of abortion on demand, the U.S. is exercising charity, hope, and compassion. Down is up. Hot is cold.

… by overturning the Bush administration's global gag rule.

So what was the “global gag rule”? It was a humane decision not to fund abortions with aid money or to use U.S. funds to interfere with other countries’ pro-life laws. U.S. funds would not enrich the horrific abortion industry. But now they will, under Obama’s rules.

… President Obama has reaffirmed that the United States is a caring and humane world citizen…

Let me get this straight: When we cherished the sanctity of life, seeking the welfare of women, families, and children by not promoting the savagery of killing one’s own child, that made the U.S. uncaring and inhumane? So it’s caring and humane to destroy our own children before they see the light of day? Infernal doublespeak!

… and has removed injurious barriers to funding family planning services for some of the world's poorest women.

The euphemism “family planning service” means abortion, plain and simple. It means snuffing out an innocent life. By describing a barrier to such inhumane cruelty as “injurious,” Veazey pretty well completes the pattern of serial doublespeak.

The apostle Paul has succinct counsel for the doublespeakers of the world: “Hate what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9). That, however, would require a 180-degree turn for Carlton Veazey, so that he would no longer hold fast to what is evil and hate what is good.

As hard as that abrupt turnaround would be, it is necessary, because the prophet Isaiah has hard words for doublespeak, which hides, evades, or misleads: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). One ignores God's woe statements only at the greatest of spiritual peril.

Surely our denomination must be morally bankrupt to lend one cent or one shred of Presbyterian legitimacy to the turned-backwards work of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

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34 Comments:

Blogger Viola Larson said...

Jim,
That this should be a part of the beginning of President Obama's term does not speak well for the next four years. That he has hurried, it seems, to sign on to the death of so many innocents is so very sad. Carlton Veazey is demonic with his words.

Viola Larson
Sacramento, CA

7:28 AM, January 28, 2009  
Blogger Toby Brown said...

This is partly why I refused to rejoice (or even watch) at the festivities at the immaculation. I knew of the cost to the unborn.

Toby Brown
Butler, PA

10:37 AM, January 28, 2009  
Blogger Dave Moody said...

Lord have mercy on us.

Dave Moody
S. Ill

11:02 AM, January 28, 2009  
Blogger JohnLaurie said...

Thank you, Jim, for reminding us that Alice in Wonderland is alive and well on this particular advisory committee of the PCUSA. Thank you, too, for this particular post which is a voice for the voiceless.

John Sheldon
Ocean City, NJ

1:40 PM, January 28, 2009  
Blogger Adel Thalos said...

Jim,

Does a portion of PCUSA congregational per capita giving go to support these organizations?

If so, how much?

Thank you for your continued faithfulness.

In Him,
Adel Thalos
Snellville, GA

3:03 PM, January 28, 2009  
Blogger Jim said...

Adel,

I haven't checked the budgets recently, so I can't say. I do know that RCRC has three official Presbyterian member groups: Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options (PARO), Women’s Ministries, and the Washington Office. Those groups lend their rather checkered Presbyterian reputation to RCRC, if nothing else.

In other words, the PCUSA gets implicated for abetting Carlton Veazey's doublspeak, whether per capita or mission money goes to RCRC or not. We have groups egging him on in the name of Presbyterians.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

3:43 PM, January 28, 2009  
Blogger Presbyman said...

In a similar vein, I've seen ads for abortuaries that promise "safe and gentle" abortion "care."

I'm sure the baby feels safe and gently treated.

John Erthein
Erie, PA

9:10 PM, January 28, 2009  
Blogger Dennis said...

Jim,

I am sorry to find myself in a different frame of mind on this from you and 7 commenters. You see, I have friends who say "Abortion is murder". When I ask them where they find that in the Bible, they don't answer me. Then they go on saying the same thing, which I find irritating.

I have read the Bible from cover to cover more than once and have not found a Biblical case against abortion.

Exodus 21:22 would seem to deflate the case advanced by pro-life Christians. The exceptions would be the versions of Exodus 21:22 found in translations slanted to evangelicals, in which case the translation is fudged. One has to believe that babies born prematurely 3000 years ago survived.

As a Christian, my intuitive sense is that God does not approve of abortion. I think a case could be made for that. But pro-life Christians generally do not talk about God's disapproval, but of something much worse.

I would be glad to be enlightened on this.

Dennis Veith
Ferndale, WA

9:44 PM, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Viola Larson said...

The Bible does not say thou shall not murder when the victim is sitting in their house or standing on the street corner or lying on their bed. It says thou shall not kill, period. Babies in the womb are human, why do they need an extra descriptive of where they are at to have that verse work for them?

Viola Larson
Sacramento, CA

7:25 PM, January 31, 2009  
Blogger Bruce Byrne said...

Dennis,

A couple of quick thoughts:

Premise 1) Murder is the intentional taking of innocent human life without just cause.

Premise 2) In abortion, an innocent human life is intentionally taken without just cause.

Therefore, abortion is murder.

Please note that, according to the above, abortion which is accidental is not murder (because accidental abortion is not intentional), nor is abortion to save the life of the mother (as in a tubal pregnancy) murder (because saving the life of the mother would be just cause). Abortion, as defined above, does include, however, the vast majority of abortions performed each year. Which is to say that the vast majority of abortions performed each year are murder.

Regarding Exodus 21:22, Gregory Koukl of Stand to Reason ministries has written an excellent, short essay on the subject. I think you’ll find it informative. Please find it at:

http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5700

Best regards,

Bruce Byrne
Concord, CA

7:29 PM, January 31, 2009  
Blogger Presbyman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:22 AM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger Presbyman said...

Presbyterians Pro-Life has an archive of sermons for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, showing how Scripture affirms the sanctity of all human life, including unborn life. I commend this series to anyone who has questions about the Bible and abortion:

http://www.ppl.org/srmindex.html

John Erthein
Erie, PA

9:23 AM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger Dennis said...

Viola, you said "Babies in the womb are human". Bruce, you said "In abortion, an innocent human life is intentionally taken".

First, I would like to clarify terminology. My hair is human. When I get a haircut, what is on the floor is human, I guess. My hair can be used to convict me in a trial; it not only contains my DNA, it contains a history of my drug use.

The real question for me is what is a human being? If what is in the womb is a human being, when did he/she become a human being? The Catholic Church teaches that the ovum becomes a human being with a soul at the instant of conception. They base this on Psalm 139. For me, that is a dreadful reading of Psalm 139. For me, Psalm 139 is all about God's omniscience.

The question of what constitutes a human being is absolutely critical to the difference between the pro-life and the pro-choice position. I received literature from Presbyterians Pro-Life for 10 years and I finally gave up. I never saw anything that defined what constitutes a human being.

Do either of you believe, as the Roman Catholic Church does, that the ovum becomes a human being at conception? Then what do you tell people about contraception? It is my understanding that only the rhythm method and barrier methods prevent conception. I am sure that the IUD prevents blastosis and thought that birth control pills also work by preventing blastosis. I think that is a fancy word meaning implantation.

I absolutely want to do what God wants me to do. I don't yet believe that I have gotten clear guidance.

Dennis Veith
Ferndale, WA

5:41 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Presbyman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:55 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Presbyman said...

I deleted my previous entry because I was writing in a spirit of anger. I will say I find Dennis' comments to be dismaying and perplexing.

John Erthein
Erie, PA

8:32 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

That's strange John.

I found his questions neither dismaying nor perplexing, and I'm strongly Pro-Life. Dennis' questions seemed well considered, rational, and worth a much better response.

I absolutely agree with what he said: "The question of what constitutes a human being is absolutely critical to the difference between the pro-life and the pro-choice position."

Some would rather just paint anyone that agrees with the pro-choice position as evil incarnate, and worthy of our dismay, anger or scorn. I do not.

I also agree with his final comment: "I absolutely want to do what God wants me to do. I don't yet believe that I have gotten clear guidance."

I wonder John, why did this initially make you angry?

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

6:20 AM, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Viola Larson said...

Dennis,
Hopefully you don't believe your hair has the potential for becoming a full grown human.

I am a little surprised at your response--your original statement was about where the Bible could possibility call abortion murder, when several of us showed you where in the Bible that could be found you started insisting we define human life for you.

I would think the Catholics have the answer pinned down fairly well. But I am wondering if you think that when the baby in the womb is, say 6 weeks old or three months old, it is not a baby. How old exactly would you like this human life to be before it cannot be killed? You must have read about the different stages. When they can suck their thumb or sneeze or more importantly feel pain would it be okay then?

Have you ever read Bonhoeffer, he had some very strong thoughts about abortion. “Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.” Ethics

Viola Larson
Sacramento, CA

8:21 AM, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Bruce Byrne said...

Dennis,

I want to respond to your comments in a number of ways. You wrote: “The real question for me is what is a human being?” I agree with you that this question is central. Would you agree with me that if what is in the womb is a human being then the intentional taking of that life without just cause is murder?

You note correctly that your hair is human, that it contains a full complement of your DNA. The implicit question is, “If our hair is human and we can dispose of it as we wish, why can’t we dispose of that which is in the womb as we wish though it is human?” But this line of reasoning confuses parts with wholes. Our hair is human, but it is only a part of a human. Likewise with our skin cells and our organs. A human being, on the other hand, whether one cell or many, is an integrated organism. It is an internally coordinated collection of parts which together make up an integrated whole.

The joining of a human sperm and a human egg produces a new human being. With a full complement of unique human DNA, the organism develops and unfolds according to its own internal plan and mechanisms from conception until death. To say that the conceptus or the embryo or the fetus is becoming (but is not yet) human would be like saying that a newborn or a child or a teenager is becoming (but is not yet human). Each is growing, developing and maturing, but what is growing, developing and maturing is a human being at every stage.

Dennis, you close by noting that you want to do what God wants you to do. I commend you for this and encourage you to continue exploring this issue. In my previous post, I recommended an article written by Stand to Reason’s Greg Koukl. If you read it you will recognize the high quality of reasoning and scholarship that went into it. I have found Greg Koukl to be one of the clearest thinking, most rational expositors on this topic and I highly recommend to you the Stand to Reason web site. Go to str.org and type “abortion” in the search box. Read an article a day. I’m confident you’ll find the guidance you’ve been looking for.

Sincerely,

Bruce Byrne
Concord, CA

9:22 AM, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Presbyman said...

I would like to thank Viola for her latest comment. She said exactly what I wanted to say and kept her wits about her, unlike me.

I would only add one question: has the church been wrong about abortion since the Apostolic era? Because, until about 1970, every Christian denomination, without exception, opposed abortion and considered it a terrible crime against God and humanity. And even today, most churches that call themselves Christian hold to this position.

John Erthein
Erie, PA

9:28 AM, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

Viola said:

"Hopefully you don't believe your hair has the potential for becoming a full grown human."

I don't know why she would hope that, unless her desire is to have Dennis deny Nature (and therefore the reality of God's Creation).

The "potential" indeed exists, but whether or not it becomes a full grown human being is up to human action and ultimately God's will. Sexual intercourse is just one way it works, and the Bible is directly silent on the others.

There was a time when male masturbation was considered an act of murder because it was believed that the male "seed" was in fact a miniature person. We now know that isn't true, and the potential doesn't even exist, but human hair is another matter altogether.

..."[he] started insisting we define human life for [him]."

Yes he did, and rightfully so in my opinion.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

10:45 AM, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Viola Larson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:44 PM, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Viola Larson said...

Kattie,
If you are thinking of the Bible text where Judah's sons did not allow their sperm to connect with Tamar's eggs you are just a bit off, because God knew what caused conception and the Bible states that it was God that took their life.

On the other hand if you are writing about ancient peoples who thought that the male seed was a tiny person--you have it exactly right--they were wrong. (Although I am not sure at all that they considered it murder.)

And perhaps human hair might be cloned. We don't know for sure yet, but none the less until it is cloned it is not a complete human life. But a baby is already a complete human life at conception. Not an egg with potential, not a sperm with potential. But the combination of an egg & sperm which has now become human.

2:49 PM, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

Viola,

“If you are thinking of the Bible text where Judah's sons did not allow their sperm to connect with”…

Nope, that’s not what I was thinking of at all. I was thinking of modern day technology.

"And perhaps human hair might be cloned. We don't know for sure yet, but none the less until it is cloned it is not a complete human life."

Complete DNA sequences can be extracted. That's all we need to know now. That’s called “potential”. Technology will take care of the rest eventually. To deny that is utterly foolhardy.

You're right that until it's cloned it isn't a complete human life, but that's not the argument here. You seemingly claimed that it didn't have the "potential" to become a complete human life, and that's clearly false. That was the point I was making.

"But a baby is already a complete human life at conception."

Hmm... A single cell certainly can't be identified as a complete human life. There's not even a hint of cell differentiation at that point. I would agree however that there exists a great deal of potential there, but it's not a certainty. Any naturally occurring mutation at that point could change its identity altogether, and that’s not a highly uncommon event. Fortunately almost none survive.

It’s not my intention to try to argue whether or not life begins at conception. I’m willing to accept without making any such argument, or even a Biblical argument for that matter, that it is wrong to intentionally terminate the development of a fertilized human egg. That being said, I still haven’t seen a satisfactory proof that human life actually starts at the point of egg fertilization, and I certainly doubt that you are capable of providing one considering the Bible doesn’t say so, and you have far less understanding of Science than I have.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

7:52 PM, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Jim said...

Kattie, I would ask you not to get snippy here on this blog, please. Pulling rank on Viola ("you have far less understanding of Science than I have") is not only a cheap shot, it is also very likely wrong.

Please refrain from such personal one-upmanship if you will continue to try to make a point here on this blog. In other words, play nice!

Actually, the comment thread is getting off course. I posted on Carlton Veazey and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. If you want to talk about abortion in general, perhaps you can take it elsewhere. Certainly those for and against abortion have plenty of places to say why elsewhere.

I appreciate many of the comments in the thread, but perhaps we have beaten this topic to death and are now only bickering.

That said, I remain totally opposed to abortion as a great moral evil that cannot be spun into something good or right by clever wordsmithing, debased public morality, popularity contests, self-centeredness, or secular courts.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

8:18 PM, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Dennis said...

I have a few thoughts on language which I would like to share.

In the Philippines, they eat something called baluts. They are basically fertilized chicken eggs which have been allowed to develop for several days, but well short of the 21 days required to produce a chick. So my question is are these people eating an egg or a chick? It is unanswerable, in my opinion. My understanding is that an egg is an egg. It may be a potential chicken, but we call it an egg. We do not ask the waiter for two chickens over medium. Similarly, we do not ask for 3 pieces of egg, all white meat. One could say that an acorn is a potential oak, but we do not call the oak an acorn, or an acorn an oak.

I have one of these page a day calendars titled Why Men Have Nipples. Men have nipples because all fetuses get nipples before sexual differentiation. (Big word!) I once heard the archbishop of Canterbury describe (many years ago) the fetus as a potential human being. I found that to be compelling.

Certainly there are stages in the life of the unborn/fetus where no human being on earth could differentiate it, by sight, from any warm-blooded animal fetus in a similar stage of development. To say that such a mass of cells is a human being requires a leap that I haven't been able to make yet.

I am aware that many Christians have very strong feelings about this subject. I count some of them among my best friends. And they are frustrated that I haven't yet bought into their explanations. It almost seems as if it is a feeling of certainty arising from one's gut.

I appreciate the suggestions of things to read. As I get time, I will try to follow up on some of the leads. I will say again that I read everything that Presbyterians Pro Life put out for ten years, and I didn't see the kind of argument I keep looking for. So suggestions to read this or that aren't as convincing as they might once have been.

I hope I don't sound like a cold fish. I have passion also.

Another thought. When I was first elected to the Session of my congregation in New York State, one of the elders came to a meeting and said we have to get behind the proposed state law legalizing abortion. I wondered then if that is what we ought to be doing. A lot of people don't know that abortion was legal in New York and California before Roe VS. Wade. And Ronald Reagan signed the legislation legalizing abortion when he was governor of California. And the anti-abortion folks voted for him in 1980. And I don't know why.

Dennis Veith
Ferndale, WA

8:48 PM, February 03, 2009  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

Jim,

Perhaps it was a cheap shot, and if I was wrong, I apologize.

Of course I consider your "it is also very likely wrong" comment to be a cheap shot, and a rather blind one at that.

As far as cheap shots are concerned, you might try to be more mindful of the kind of shots you take. From my perspective, the cheapest are those delivered while the recipient isn't looking.

To wit: "You may wonder what I’m doing. I’m practicing writing with all the verity and logic of Carlton Veazey, President of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Let me tell you, it takes tremendous talent to be perfectly wrong so brazenly, so often. It must be a gift to produce such continuous doublespeak while keeping a straight face."

And that’s just this article.

Rather brazenly declaratory wouldn’t you say? Would you be so bold if he was standing right in front of you?

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

6:27 AM, February 04, 2009  
Blogger Nick Krantz said...

Jim, you mentioned that the comment thread is getting off course. In one sense it has, because you were addressing the doublespeak of Carlton Veazey and the RCRC and such discourse was set aside in the comments. Yet, in another sense, the dialogue about abortion is on track because only if abortion really is a stench to God and not biblically defendable would Carlton's comments truly be doublespeak.
The one element to which I have not yet seen reference – which to me clinches the need to protect prenatal development from the point of conception – is the Incarnation. The Son of God took on human flesh and became like us in every way except without sin. It seems of paramount importance that Jesus himself began as a fertilized egg, conceived by the Holy Spirit. He didn't start his humanity at birth, but at conception. In fact, in reading Luke 1 it appears chronologically that piecing together the information about the time of Elizabeth's pregnancy and Mary's visit to her, there was a Spirit-inspired recognition by John the Baptist – still in the womb – to the presence of Jesus inside Mary. At this point of recognition by John, Jesus would have been under one month's development – maybe only days old - yet his identity is already being acknowledged. Yes, like all of us born in the flesh, he had much more development ahead of him, including in the womb. But his personhood and status as human was established at conception. To me that speaks of the sanctity of life for all in the womb.

Nick Krantz
Tukwila, WA

11:44 AM, February 04, 2009  
Blogger Viola Larson said...

Nick,
Interestingly for those who wrote the definition of Chalcedon Jesus was christ from conception or he could not be both God and humanity, but instead a human who became Christ at some later point.

Viola Larson,
Sacramento, Ca

1:34 PM, February 04, 2009  
Blogger Presbyman said...

I hope I don't sound like a cold fish. I have passion also.

Yeah ... about per capita payments.

Someone who is not certain about the sanctity of unborn human life, but who is willing to cast out congregations that do not pay per capita, is not someone I tend to spend any more time on.

John Erthein
Erie, PA

2:46 PM, February 04, 2009  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

Nick,

You said,

"In fact, in reading Luke 1 it appears chronologically that piecing together the information about the time of Elizabeth's pregnancy and Mary's visit to her, there was a Spirit-inspired recognition by John the Baptist – still in the womb – to the presence of Jesus inside Mary."

One problem...The Bible doesn't state that there was recognition of Jesus inside Mary. The recognition was through the sound of Mary’s voice, not through the presence of Jesus. Also the Holy Spirit through Elizabeth didn’t specifically speak of the blessed “fruit present in thy womb”, but rather the “fruit of thy womb”. This does not really imply that the embryonic Jesus is already in the womb, only that the fruit (Jesus) will come from the womb.

Also concerning John, the KJ Bible states “he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.” I wonder why it doesn’t say “even in his mother’s womb”. The NIV states “even from birth”. Why would the spirit wait until that moment to fill John?

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

2:52 PM, February 04, 2009  
Blogger Loren Golden said...

This is precisely the reason I did not vote for him. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for a candidate for public office who supports abortion on demand.

Loren Golden
Overland Park, KS

8:49 PM, February 05, 2009  
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Kattie and Dennis,
Deconstruct and rebuild your sand castles all you like. Abortion is murder, biblically and scientifically. It is demonic and/or ignorant to say otherwise.

Jim
Fort Lauderdale, FL

8:49 PM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger ZZMike said...

"First, I would like to clarify terminology. My hair is human. When I get a haircut, what is on the floor is human, I guess..."

Sorry, Dennis, you lose on that one. Your hair is indeed human - human hair, but a baby is A human, just as you and I ARE human. There's a world of difference.

Some would argue that a fetus is not a "viable human being" until it's born. I think that's another specious argument. Consider this: what's the difference between the baby just born and that baby 2 minutes before? Do you infer some mystical infusion of soul at that moment?

Then step backwards in time, slowly. What difference between the baby 2 minutes before and 4 minutes before? An hour? Two?

Look on the web for the photos (taken many years ago) by Lennart Nilsson, published in a book, "Life".

There's no doubt that the mother carries a human being, and the only logical answer to "when does it start" has to be: at conception.

There is a larger issue, one that Veazy brings up: "... More than 500,000 women in developing countries die each year from pregnancy-related causes, and 8 million more suffer serious complications ..."

That's the start of a long thread (developing countries, corrupt governments, amoral standards, economic disaster) that'll have to go on somewhere else.

But the question is, what's the appropriate response? If it's the abortion of some 8.5 million babies, it seems to me that only exacerbates the problem - people will conclude that there are no consequences to the actions that lead up to those abortions.

Mike Zorn
Santa Ana CA

1:31 PM, March 06, 2009  
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2:54 AM, November 26, 2010  

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