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Vatican/HP To Put Library Online 539

Posted by Hemos
from the getting-the-real-deal dept.
darkuncle writes "I first read it in the LA Times print edition this morning, but the story is also available on several websites via news.google.com. Apparently the Vatican has enlisted Hewlett-Packard in an effort to put the contents of the Vatican Library online, including many rare Bible texts and previously unavailable manuscripts, including handwritten notes by the likes of Martin Luther and Michelangelo."
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Vatican/HP To Put Library Online

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  • Good! (Score:4, Funny)

    by CySurflex (564206) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:09PM (#4567168)
    We can finally see if Samuel Jackson was actually quoting the bible in Pulp Fiction, or if he was just making shit up...
    • Re:Good! (Score:3, Informative)

      I already looked it up... Eziekiel 25:17 iirc. The passage in my copy was way more bland than Sam's -- hence I quote a different passage when *I* kill ppl. ymmv.
      • Re:Good! (Score:2, Informative)

        Yeah OT but who cares?

        The Bible Gateway [gospelcom.net] is a convenient resource for looking up Bible verses. Multiple language options as well as an advanced search that lets you compare many English translations.

        Ezekiel 25:17 [gospelcom.net]

        I don't know the quote in question so I can't say which version is closest, but NIV seems strong enough, or perhaps the CEV.
        • I don't know the quote in question

          "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."

          Blam blam blam blam blam blam blam blam blam!
    • Find out here [quisdom.com]

      Google is everybody's friend.

    • Re:Good! (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:43PM (#4567639)
      Oh yeah?

      "When thou takest thine manhood into thy hand for the purpose of spilling thine own seed upon the ground thou committeth adultery in thy heart and in thy hand. Yea, for each spilling of your seed, I will smite a kitten even as kittens are upon the face of the earth. Hear Me oh Israel, I Am The Lord Thy God."
      Philistines 5:12-14
  • by Rayonic (462789) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:09PM (#4567173) Homepage Journal
    ...to Slashdot the Vatican? I guess we just might find out!
    • Try it:
      Vatican: the Holy See [vatican.va]
      See you in hell?
  • Positive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ninthwave (150430) <slashdot@ninthwave.us> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:12PM (#4567207) Homepage
    This is one of the positives of the net, that have been obscured by the corporate race to saturate the new media. I loved the net when it was more like a library and coffee shop then television and night club. Access to information is always a positive hopefully the vatican will do a complete and detailed job with their archives and make this a worthwhile project and site worth visitting.

  • Here's the address for the current Archive http://212.77.1.230/en/vhomebav/homebav.shtml [212.77.1.230]

    Or you can try: http://www.vatican.va/ [vatican.va]
  • Vatican/HP? (Score:5, Funny)

    by American AC in Paris (230456) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:13PM (#4567222) Homepage
    Good gravy.

    I thought for a fleeting moment that The Vatican had acquired HP.

    I would've liked to have seen the org chart for that one...

  • I hope that the vatican isn't selective about what parts of its archive it puts online, hopefully they'll put everything, the good and the bad. That's the only way they can be truely honest about the mythology that the christian faith (we'll that sect at least) is built on. As a side note, the Christian Scientists just opened their archive to the public so that all scholars could have access to the writings of its founders.
  • Hey, maybe I'm just a religion n00b, but I was under the impression that all the text of the Bible was, uh, in the Bible.

    Are they talking about original scans or something?
    • The bible started out as a pretty diverse collection of documents. These have been somewhat arbitrarily pared down and collected together. It's also changed substantially waht with translations and reeditings, to the point where it can be argued that there really is no 'original' bible.

      The 'Suffer not a witch to live', for example, really is a mistranslation from Attic Greek. Could have saved quite a bit of suffering there if the editor/translator had got it right...

    • Hey, maybe I'm just a religion n00b, but I was under the impression that all the text of the Bible was, uh, in the Bible.

      I think that this might qualify as the most naive thing I have heard on Slashdot. The Catholic church tells you exactly what they want you to hear. The Bible is the most interpreted/misinterpred book ever written. People over time have always translated it to say what they wanted it to say. I would love for them to put all of the "good stuff" from their archive online, but it won't happen. It will be selected texts that make them look good. Otherwise, if people found out all the info behind the Catholic church, it would probably fold.

    • by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:54PM (#4567760)
      When the Bible was first assembled from the Gospels, Acts, Revelations, and the various letters of the apostiles to the early churches, there was much debate as to which versions of various books to include. Most of the books of the Bible had various differences as they were copied by various scribes attempting to preserve them before the first collections of them were gathered. Here's a good timeline [literatureclassics.com] of the history of the Good Book.

      Furthermore, there's the Pseudepigrapha [innvista.com]. These are rejected books of the Bible that scholars of various times either considered falsified or otherwise not worthy to include in the Bible. Usually, they purport to be written by a Biblical figure, but were generally not believed to have actually been written by them at the time of the Council of Laodicea. Then you have the books where are in the Catholic Old Testament but not in the Protestant Old Testament. These are the books most commonly labelled as Apocrypha [nnu.edu].

      Here's some more info on early church texts [iclnet.org].
      Here's a FAQ [thesumners.com] on the history of the Bible.

      You can find a lot of this on Google if you know what to look for, but I've been nice and included links without bizarre obscurist religious or UFO ranting. The "lost" books of the Bible are a rich source of material for people with fringe beliefs that are looking to justify them or people who have an axe to grind with mainstream Christianity.
      • Then you have the books where are in the Catholic Old Testament but not in the Protestant Old Testament. These are the books most commonly labelled as Apocrypha [nnu.edu].

        These books are also in the Eastern Orthodox bible. People always leave out the Eastern Orthodox but they are much older than the Protestants.
  • Copyright issues? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug@g e e k a zon.com> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:14PM (#4567240) Homepage
    It will be interesting to see if this stuff is public domain (you would think), or does the Vatican claim copyright ownership, in the manner of Scientology?
    • by mill (1634)
      Copyright on work that are hundreds and even thousands of years old? Mickey isn't old enough to allow for such protection.
    • If they put it in the public domain, what's to stop me or thee from fleecing the clueless hordes by bundling, marketing and selling the content? One of the (actual, original) uses of copyright is to stop this from happening. It's not just a mechanism for making money, but for controlling the uses of content that you've chosen to make available. Copyright - unlike bloodthirsty cannibalistic desert god cults - is not inherently evil
    • Re:Copyright issues? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ender81b (520454) <billd@inebraskNETBSDa.com minus bsd> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:36PM (#4567553) Homepage Journal
      No it's all public domain, of course. They do, currently, charge a fee for reproduction (i.e. if you want a copy of whatever they have sent to you) but it is fair, and similar to inter-library loan. The vatican doesn't claim copyright ownership other than this - you can reproduce whatever you want but god save your immortal soul (literally =)) if you change/edit the material and claim it is the original. The vatican library isn't anything akin to scientology, the basic tennanents of the catholic church, enumerated in a book called the catechism, can be found at most major bookstores. Also, AFAIK the library is open to the public, and any information can be had similar to Interlibrary loan. The library by no means serves as a 'cash cow' for the catholic church and is designed to be used for scholarly research by the church and others. Remember, a large amount of very important historical texts where/are perserved at the library during the middle ages. Vatican city's copyright law, such as it is, is based off of italian/roman common law and is quite similar to that. Now the vatican website had some additional information on photgraphic reproductions but I couldn't read it - in italian and was only able to guess (shrug, italian kindof similar to spanish) that anything published after 1801 might be copyrighted/unable to be photographicaly reproduced but... I don't know. My god, I actually *learned* something in all those years of catholic school.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:14PM (#4567250)


    Unfortunately the DMCA forbids them from putting any of Leonardo's work on the Web, since he used a simple encryptation system and didn't write them an access license.

  • It is so HUGE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alien54 (180860) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:14PM (#4567255) Journal
    The Vatican Library is so huge.

    I mean there are documents going back to the Roman Empire. Could you imagine if it all was available online? And searchable? The man-hours to do it would be incredible.

    I mean, there are rumors of intelligence reports from Pontius Pilate being archived there. Watch all the Bible geeks have a field day.

    Plus I imagine, a copy of every forbidden book written since then. Kept around, just as evidence.

    • Re:It is so HUGE (Score:5, Interesting)

      by forevermore (582201) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:41PM (#4567605) Homepage
      A few years back. I had the opportunity to work with Thor Heyerdahl (for those who don't know, he's the guy who did Kon Tiki). At the time, he was working on a book about how the RC Church knew about the existence of the New World long before Columbus sailed (not sure if this has been translated into english yet, especially considering his recent death). Anyway, I remember him commenting on the difficulty of acquiring information from the Vatican library, not only because of political issues (which he was able to circumvent due to who he knew), but because when you want data from that library, instead of requesting something by row, shelf, etc, you first have to specify which KILOMETER your book lies within. As nice as it would be to get that all online, it would take DECADES to scan things in (especially since not just anyone knows how to handle antique books).
  • You never know with religion, maybe there's something to it, maybe there isn't. Maybe life imitates art, art imitates life.

    In the case of Raiders of the lost Arc the movie was done so well that one could almost "imagine" it to be real. Does the vatican hold onto ancient relics with seemingly supernatural powers? Could some of these be alien technology recovered years ago by clerics?

    What of other things such as Exorcisms, demonic possesions, spirit speak and the like, will the cases surrounding these events be made public.

    I was baptized catholic, but thats about it. I'm really curious to see if any of the cool stuff that went on in hollywood catholisism goes on in real life.
  • Thank God!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by krez (75916) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:15PM (#4567267) Homepage
    It's about time. The Vatican has, arguably, the worlds most diverse collection not just of religious writings, but also of scientific, historical, mathematic, political and cultural documents known to man.

    Looking forward to seeing whats online.
  • Mintzer, F. C., Boyle, L. E., Cazes, A. N., Christian, B. S., Cox, S. C., Giordano, F. P., Gladney, H. M., Lee J. C., Kelmanson, M. L., Lirani, A. C., Magerlein, K. A., Pavani, A. M. B., & Schiattarella, F. (1996). Toward online, worldwide access to Vatican library materials. IBM Journal of Research and Development, 40(2), 139-162.


    But this project was to allow access to specified scholars. It's nice to see expanded access.

    This happened when the Dead Sea Scrolls were fist reseased to a set of specific people. A data set was made available to the general public of word occurrences and relationships. A group of people used this data to compile the original texts, and released them to everyone. It pissed a lot of ivory tower types off, IIRC.

    I wonder if it includes the Vatican's extra specail collections [straightdope.com].

  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by schnitzi (243781) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:16PM (#4567278) Homepage
    There's a "Holy See Plus Plus" joke here somewhere.

  • I think IBM Global Services was doing some work in this area. I guess the estimate was too much, even for the Vatican.

  • by CySurflex (564206) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:18PM (#4567305)
    VATICAN CITY - 8:13PM GMT
    Company Press Release
    The Vatican is pleased to announce the appointment of Rich Farly, most know for his tenure as eToys CEO. Farly already said that his first moves will be to rename The Vatican to TheVatican.com, to buy Leather Aeron chairs and a razor scooter for each Senior Vice Priest and to change the entire business model to an eye-ball driven advertising based monetizing model. Farly also said he hopes to "reintermediate killer web services with synergy and to engineer leading edge user-centric partnerships, not before we iterate efficient mindshare."
  • Unfortunately, this project is going to result in the Vatican running up enormous civil judgements when God asserts his continued copyright over the Bible courtesy of the DMCA and it's constant extensions.
  • Erotic Art (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jaysyn (203771)
    I heard the Vatican had a huge archive of erotic art & such. If it's true I wonder if any of it is going online.

    Jaysyn
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:19PM (#4567328)
    1. Nail decree on church door
    2. ???
    3. Prophet!!!
  • I would imagine most Slashdotters are aware that the Vatican is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Another factoid, but possibly not so obvious, is that the Bible as we know it today -- most people are familiar with the King James Version -- is a collection of works whose inclusion (or exclusion if you want to think of it that way) is more or less arbitrary [straightdope.com]. For example, "Esther" is omitted (yes, I'm serious).

    So what I'm getting at is whether the Vatican plans on opening up all works for perusal or do they plan on omitting certain works based, possibly, on how well the information fits in with the desired line of thinking.

    What if there are works that don't dovetail with the accepted works? What if some writings in their collection outright contradict other writings? Is the Vatican ready to drop the line that theology is too important to leave to the commoners, really?
    • Actually, If I understand you, Ester (Esther?) is only omitted in the protestant version of the bible, as well as all the books of wisdom.

      The protestant and catholic versions of the bible differ in number of books and content in many areas.
      • by jdavidb (449077) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:39PM (#4567583) Homepage Journal

        Esther is in my Bible, as well as Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. There are some books the Roman Catholic Church considers to be Scripture such as Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Maccabees books, III and IV Esdras (I think?), etc., that most Protestants do not.

        Not sure where the poster above got the idea that Esther was omitted in Catholic or Protestant Bibles...

        I figure I'm capable of examining each book myself on its merits and deciding if it is Scripture or not myself. People were doing so long before any councils decided what was canon and what was not.

    • by caudron (466327) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @05:12PM (#4567986) Homepage
      Inclusion of text into the bible was not arbitrary. Texts were chosen based upon a set of fairly clear criteria that became established over centuries of debate. Not everyone agrees with the final decision, but that hardly makes it arbitrary.

      Additionally, BS Catholic conspiracies aside, they have no earthly reason to hide works that they disagreee with. In fact the works they are putting onine were already available to visiting scholars and practically anyone with an interest. I, for instance, have the full text on the 20-something different Gospels we have discovered to date at home on my shelf...and if you read them all, you'd see pretty quick why some were excluded. I also have the many of the other non-canonical texts. No great hidden secret. Just order them from Amazon like I did.

      There is no great scholastic coverup to keep the juicy religious bits away from the masses.

      Disclaimer: I am not Catholic, but I do have a degree in Religious Studies.
    • by jbolden (176878) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @05:14PM (#4568018) Homepage
      First off all the King James Version is protestant not catholic. You want something like the Saint Jerome Bible for a Catholic bible. Second the inclusion list for the Kind James isn't arbitrary its following the organization from Martin Luther's Geneva Bible.

      Anyway here is an old list with pretty good information about what got included when
      http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie =UTF-8 &oe=UTF-8&selm=4ne7kh%24qq6%40geneva.rutgers.e du
    • by MickLinux (579158) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @05:20PM (#4568077) Journal
      Couple of points:

      (1) Esther is in both. The books that are not in both include Tobit (an excellent novel, worth reading, and amusing at some points. Did you know you get cataracts from sleeping outdoors with your eyes open? Birds poop in them, you see...), Maccabbees (an excellent documentary), Daniel and Susannah, maybe Wisdom.

      (2) Martin Luther, if I understand correctly, picked the Hebrew Bible because he liked the feeling he got that he'd understand things better in the original Hebrew. The RC Church picked the Septuagint, which was archived in Greek in the Library of Alexandria, because this was archived *before* the time of Christ, and was generally accepted as scripture at the time of Christ. The Hebrew Bible was written by Sadducees after Masada, and does include some significant changes. Sadducces did not believe in the Resurrection, for example, and thus did not include books that pointed heavily towards the Resurrection. Also, "virgin" was changed to "maid" (neanis) at the part where the prophet says to the king "is it not enough that you should weary the ears of men? Must you weary God as well? But since you do not ask for a sign, this shall be a sign unto you: a virgin shall concieve, and shall bear a son..." One can only guess the reason for such a change.

      There is something to be said for both sides. I prefer the RC side, though.

      (3) Then you get to books like the Gospel of Thomas. This is a case where you especially have to look at the source. The paper is quite old, and indeed would be one of the earliest gospels based upon the age of the paper. However, the ink dates back to the time of the Saracen invasion of Spain, and the pollens in the ink seem to place the writing in Italy. So it would appear, especially since that book supports Islam more than Christianity, that it was a work of fiction written at that time. Perhaps it was written on very old paper to try to support Islam -- perhaps not.
  • by dr_dank (472072) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:21PM (#4567357) Homepage Journal
    For instance, only one page from the rare "B" version of the "Codex Vaticanus" Bible is available online.

    Coming soon: The Holy Bible - Special Edition
  • The news.google.com results:

    Vatican/HP To Put Library Online
    Slashdot - 4 minutes ago ... 4567222). I thought for a fleeting moment that The Vatican had acquired
    HP. I would've liked to have seen the org chart for that one... ...

    [snip]

    ...blargle...
  • by kenp2002 (545495) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:25PM (#4567417) Homepage Journal
    If the Vatican puts the contents of the Vatican library I guarantee they will censor the living hell out of what goes online. They wouldn't dare put the old Pre-Nicean Counsel (sp) texts up on the library. I am certain all the old Gnostic works will still be locked up in a vault. The pre-latin translation, arimeic, (sp) texts and countless other "forbidden" texts won't make it in. This is a joke right? It's hard enough when I was studying theology to get Pre-Vatican II texts from them. The bulk of what is in the library I doubt will ever see the light of day. I wonder if they still have the notes and comments from the Nicean Councel on what was removed and what was kept and what was changed. (Case in point the whole Virgin thing is in question as prior to most Latin text Mary wasn't mentioned as being a Virgin. So maybe his brother really was a half brother) I will be interested in seeing the results of this no doubt but I have a feeling we'll only get the tip of the iceberg.

    P.S. Yes I know I butchered this but I have no spell checker at the moment.
  • by sam_handelman (519767) <.skh2003. .at. .columbia.edu.> on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:26PM (#4567430) Homepage Journal
    How can the Vatican Library exert copyright [212.77.1.230] over a document written by, of all people, Martin Luther. I suppose he was a Monk at the time he wrote it....

    Are they simply exerting copyright over the photograph of the document, and not on the contents of the document itself? Is that okay, even?

    • by donutello (88309) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @05:20PM (#4568076) Homepage
      Are they simply exerting copyright over the photograph of the document, and not on the contents of the document itself? Is that okay, even?


      Yep. And yep.

      Their copyright is over the photograph of the document that they took. They are allowed to do that because the original document is not under copyright. Had it been under copyright they would have to get permission from the copyright holder before distributing their content based on that material. The copyright on the photograph means that you are not allowed to distribute the photograph they took without their permission. It doesn't prevent you from taking your own photographs of the original work (which is not under copyright) or even from quoting it verbatim.

      It's just like some photographic agency had a copyright on some pictures of Marilyn Monroe. That doesn't mean they owned her or that you couldn't take your own pictures of her - just that those particular photographs were covered by copyright.
  • Pr0n, pr0n and more pr0n.

    The Vatican supposedly has the largest collection of erotica in the world.

    Cecil Adams [straightdope.com] disagrees [straightdope.com], though, so I suppose it must not be true.

  • by tryfan (235825) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:30PM (#4567478)
    Considering all the brainpower that seems to be concentrated(?) at the /.-ers PCs when it comes to more or less mindless trivia like asteroids threatening Earth, new ways to make ultra-thin condoms or whatever, it's rather scary to see all the glibness and plain ignorance at a moment like this.

    The fact that a tremendous lot of historical data will be acessible is, in it self, fantastic news.
    Of course, it will be selected and skewed, and no, the p)0(rn will not be there, but that's not the point. It will be THERE, to help all those interested to learn more. Like any great museum, if you will.

    I'm not a Catholic, I'm not a bit religious, but I think things like this make the Net something great!
  • I think this is an excellent move for the Catholic church. I am not catholic nor do I like the practice much, but I see the potential the church has if it ever becomes righteous...
  • Doesn't the Vatican have the largest collection of porn in the world? Well, that's one way to build bigger churches! :-)

  • IBM's work... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The1Genius (58749)
    The work that IBM did was over 10 years ago... and they were working on the library management system and creating a local system to view digital versions of documents that shouldn't be handled frequently. However none of that work translated to the web very well...
  • by pyresquared (621877) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:52PM (#4567750)
    As soon as there is a post that mentions religion, the trolls come out of the wood work to flame and run. The really sad part is that this posting is of much more significance than religion. Some of those manuscripts may contain clues to unlock mysteries in history. A lot have nothing more that just historical significance, but that's enough. We should all be happy that more information is being put into the mainstream, not flaming it because we just don't like the people it's coming from.
  • by DaytonCIM (100144) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @04:58PM (#4567804) Homepage Journal
    For the last 15 years, the Vatican has been working on transferring many texts and artwork to a secure digital format in hopes of saving it for all future generations.

    Most of the text that the project has successfully transferred (and a good majority of text that has not been transferred) is available here [vatican.va]. You do have to fill out some forms and then the materials are copied and sent to you.

    All jokes and criticisms aside, the Vatican possesses the majority of the world's greatest works of literature, art, and historical documentation. I hope that they make all of it available to the world very soon.
  • Scores (Score:3, Interesting)

    by buzzdecafe (583889) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @05:14PM (#4568015)
    It would be really great if they made scans of scores of medieval and renaissance sacred music available. For hundreds of years, church music was the only music written down. Plus, many of the choirbooks are works of art in themselves.

    No disrespect to Martin Luther's handwritten notes, but give me Josquin Desprez's scores [vedo.com] any day.
  • by droopus (33472) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @06:15PM (#4568669)
    Actually the Vatican approached us when I was working at a consultancy (not IBM) to do this project. "Mmm, cool," thought I. "They have loadsa money."

    Ah, but not so, grasshopper. We met with their librarians and "IT" people and when it came to money, not only did they try and make us feel guilty about charging the Church (I'm Jewish..that didn't work on me) but they wanted us to PAY for the privilege. Yes, we would eat all production costs, hardware, hosting, travel costs, encoding, delivery, etc...AND we were expected to make a "sizable honorarium" to the RCC for the privilege of being permitted to work on the project. (Picture: Ellen Feiss going "nnnnggggh?")

    "Hmm, well they have lots of money...they'll pay us for the next project," thought I.

    Ah, not so. When I asked as to $$ arrangements for future work we were told that if they liked the library project, we could expect more work, but each project would require an additional honorarium.

    "Wow, look at the time, I gotta run," said I. We never even considered doing the work.

    Looks like HP got the same treatment, as evidenced by this line in the press release:

    "HP's contribution included technical consulting along with donated computer servers, scanners and other hardware items.

    Didier Philippe, HP's director of strategy and development in Europe, said the motivation for the donation had more to do with history and art than with business.

    But he recognized that the Catholic Church could be a huge buyer."

    So they are HOPING the RCC buys some hardware in the future, after they already gave them a couple mil worth of free stuff. Great business sense, eh?

    I'm calling my broker now.
  • Banner ads? (Score:3, Funny)

    by gouldtj (21635) on Wednesday October 30, 2002 @06:41PM (#4568900) Homepage Journal
    Can you imagine the banner ads on this one?

    If the banner above is flashing you might go to heaven?

    Priests, click here instead of abusing the children in your church. Look, but don't touch.

    Okay, that was bad, I'm going to hell...

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