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Baidu-backer Singaporean Finian Tan bets on the next big thing … – DEALSTREETASIA

Posted: February 10, 2017 at 2:42 am


February 10, 2017:

Baidu Inc. is often referred to as Chinas Google with a market value of more than $60 billion. But in 2000, it was an upstart struggling to get any attention from investorsexcept from a guy named Finian Tan.Tan, then head of Asia at DFJ Eplanet Ventures, began investing in the search engine, betting that 1.3 billion Chinese would eventually embrace the internet. When it went public five years later, Tans firm emerged as the bigger beneficiary with a stake larger than the 22 percent held by Baidu co-founder, and now billionaire,Robin Li. Hes making a similar bet on San Diego-based regenerative medicine company Samumed LLC, which is valued at $12 billion.

What attracted Tan was Samumeds approach to treating arthritic knees, hair loss, scarring of the lungs and degenerative disc diseases. The company is pursuing novel therapies for those conditions and cancer with drugs that target a cell-signaling pathway that offers promise in reversing the biological processes of aging.

Only twice in my life I have bet so big on day one, says Tan, 54, a Singaporean who co-founded Vickers Venture Partners in 2005. Samumed is going to make even more money for us.Samumeds chief executive officer is Turkish-American entrepreneur Osman Kibar, who has managed to raise more than $300 million in private funding for the company he founded in 2008. Before that, Kibar was scientific founder of Genoptix Inc., an oncology diagnostics company that Novartis AGbought for $470 million in 2011.Tan began investing in Samumed in 2012. Today, Vickers and its co-investors own about 11 percent, including 3.8 percent held by Vickers. Tans company is the only VC firm backing Samumed with the rest of its funding coming primarily from institutional family offices, the startup said.Investing in biotech startups is innately risky, with uncertainties over regulation and execution, according to Paul Santos, managing partner of Wavemaker Partners in Singapore.

All of these things are beyond your control, he said. From a fund allocation standpoint, if you put so many eggs in one basket, you almost cant miss again. And there are many cases where people missed in a big way, like Theranos. Theranos Inc., a blood-testing startup that once commanded a $9 billion private valuation, has seen most of that evaporate amid regulatory battles and questions over its technology.

Samumeds drug candidates are being tested in five patient studies, according to its website. Its pursuing ways to repair or regenerate human tissues through drugs that target the complex system known as the Wnt pathwaya key process in regulating cell development, cell proliferation and tissue regeneration.Scientific understanding of this biological activity represents a major breakthrough in tackling human diseases, according to Elizabeth Vincan, a senior medical scientist at the University of Melbourne, who convened the first international meeting held in Australia on Wnt in 2014.

The Wnt pathway is one way that cells communicate, and the Wnt pathway tells the cells what they are, where they need to be and what they need to become, she says. Its very important in diverse human diseases, so the Wnt pathway is possibly the most interrogated pathway now in drug development. Vincan continues: The aging process is really just cells getting tired, and if you can rejuvenate them, you can certainly reverse the process.The opportunity to invest in Samumed was presented by Tans partner Khalil Binebine, vice chairman of Vickers. Tan was immediately drawn to Samumeds diverse pipeline of drugs covering multiple therapeutic areas.Typically, his firm follows an unusual vetting process for making investments. Each of its five partners is required to get to know the founders of the companies they are considering backing. When they are ready to make a decision, each investment proposition is given a score from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Number 3 isnt allowed because Tan doesnt want any fence-sitters.If one partner loves a deal that everyone else hates, he or she is still allowed to invest as much as $1 million on the startup through the lifetime of a fund. Unanimous deals tend to be the worst deals, Tan says. We are not afraid to be innovative.The probability of companies such as Samumed uncovering the fountain of youth isnt good. Derek Lowe, a medicinal chemist who comments on drug discovery for a blog run by the publishers of the journal Science Translational Medicine, says the overall failure rate for medicines undergoing clinical trials is about 90 percent.

I have not seen anything that makes me think that their chances will be higher than that average, Lowe says. If their investors think differently, they could be in for an unpleasant surprise. Clinical trials are mostly about unpleasant surprises, unfortunately.

Tans path to Vickers includes a variety of roles. He has a Ph.D. in engineering from Cambridge University and has worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Credit Suisse First Boston. During his brief stint as a senior public servant in Singapore, he also managed a $1 billion fund to develop science and technology in the city-state.Yet many people attribute Tans success to his famous parties. The proficient networker entertains an average of 200 people a month in his home, combining business with pleasure to pull together connections to spot the best deals and talent in technology.The same approach is applied to managing employees, whom he invitesfor a weekly lunch at his sprawling penthouse apartment overlooking Singapores Sentosa Cove.

On a sunny day in January, a dozen of them gathered around the dining table over crispy chicken, spring rolls, sauteed vegetables and the house specialty, beef noodle soup. New-hires from Credit Suisse and McKinsey & Co. joined the gathering.Its not all science that we do, Tan said. A lot of it is art. And a lot of it is entertainment. There are VCs who give you an umbrella when its sunny, and they take it away when its raining. We have a different ethos.Vickers performance is posted on the companys website. Assets raised under its four funds, including co-investments, total $363 million and have a combined value of $2.1 billion.The net value of its fourth fund has increased more than five times, making it the best performing among the venture capital funds that debuted in 2014, according to data compiled by Preqin at the end of June.Vickers understood and supported our need for flexibility to think and act for the long-term crucial aspects for the time-intensive process of developing a broad platform in tissue regeneration, Samumeds Kibar says. Vickers is currently raising $250 million for a fifth fund that closes in July. Tan plans to invest more in Samumed, one of many startups Vickers is bankrolling globally.

More recently the firm has made investments in SiSaf, a Belfast-based biotech firm that aims to improve drug administration. In Singapore, its led a funding round in lifestyle and fitness startup GuavaPass. Its also backing digital payment service provider MatchMove Payand Spark Systems, a foreign exchange platform. Tan says about 28 percent of the ventures Vickers has backed have failed, compared with an average failure rate of more than 50 percent across the venture-capital industry. Of the deals that have succeeded, he says 36 percent have returned more than five times the initial investment.Most VCs play safe, Tan says. Ive always been radical. For us, its all about home runs.To keep closer watch of his most important bet, Tan recently bought a house in San Diego to be near Kibar at Samumed.As housemaids begin serving dessert at his Singapore home, prepared by his three chefs, Tan, dressed in blue jeans, white t-shirt and blazer, throws a question to his lunch guests: If you are able to grow cells at will, what do you think is the age at which we will die?Then he draws an analogy with a car that can last forever if one can keep changing the worn-out parts. Its the same with the human body, he says. We will never die.Despite the odds,Tan isnt giving up hope of bettering the spoils from his bet on Baidu.

Also read:

Vickers Venture leads $5m Series A round in fitness platform GuavaPass

Vickers Venture hits $63.5m first close for Fund V, confident of beating $250m target


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Baidu-backer Singaporean Finian Tan bets on the next big thing … – DEALSTREETASIA

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Why I Returned to the Catholic Church (Al Kresta) – Patheos (blog)

Posted: at 2:42 am

. . . Including a Searching Examination of Various Flaws and Errors in the Protestant Worldview and Approach to Christian Living

Al (left) with fellow Michigander and good friend, Steve Ray, in the 1990s [from Steve Rays website: 9-30-13]

(edited and transcribed by Dave Armstrong from Alstalk dated 4-26-92)

Al Kresta was raised Catholic, converted to evangelical Protestantism, became a prominent talk show host and a pastor, and then reconverted to Catholicism. He is the author of Why Do Catholics Genuflect?: And Answers to Other Puzzling Questions About the Catholic Church and host of Kresta in the Afternoon, which is syndicated nationwide. His story was one of eleven conversion testimonies included in the bestseller Surprised by Truth (the last story, and right after my own). Al and I have been friends since 1982, and he was my own pastor shortly before I converted to Catholicism. See also, Catholic apologist Steve Rays article, My Friend Al Kresta: Story of an Unsung Hero and Modern-day Prophet (9-30-13).

This is one of the most remarkable, meaty, thought-provoking conversion stories and extended criticisms of Protestantism (though within an overall ecumenical attitude of respect and affection), that I have ever seen. The following is an edited version of Als talk, which took place at my house on 26 April 1992. It lasted about 3 1/2 to 4 hours, and every minute was interesting and informative. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have (many times). Rather than include lots of ellipses (. . .), breaks in the talk (where I have edited) will be indicated by new paragraphs (though not every such break means that I have edited).


This is why I returned to the Catholic Church, not necessarily why you ought to. Im more than happy to make a presentation some night to say why you ought to. This is my story of how I returned.

I was raised Roman Catholic, in a church-going, sacrament-receiving home. I have, really, very positive memories of my upbringing. I liked it. It was kind of mysterious. I remember going there, and there was the Eucharist, and that was Jesus, and the church was in hushed silence. There was this awe.

I had that sense of the sacred from my experience in the Church. My first confession, I still remember as one of the most powerful spiritual experiences I ever had. I remember emerging from the confessional and leaving the church on a Saturday afternoon, and finding myself floating off the ground. I felt that I was united with God, that my sins were forgiven; it was a great experience, and I remember it to this day. That has a lot to do with my early years; basically a positive experience. Once I hit my teen years, it was a different story. It was the mid-60s. I graduated from high school in 1969, and during those high school and teen years I went the way that a lot of kids did during that period.

I have one other experience from that adolescent time that I think is probably significant. In May 1969 I was doing quite a few drugs and this was a particular LSD trip that I took. It was a death trip, and I thought I was dying. I was brought to the hospital. It turns out there was nothing wrong with me. I was just going crazy. I remember that night, thinking I was dying, and calling on Mary being able to fall asleep after hours of struggle. I woke up the next morning like the slate had been made clean. It was great.

I think I only had a few minor drug experiences after that. I dont know what to make of that, really. It was one of those odd experiences that you just have, and you forget. It didnt form any theological backdrop for me, subsequently trying to search, after those drug experiences for what was real, and true, and good. Catholicism wasnt on the list, so I still dont know what to make of that experience, spiritually or psychologically. I still believed there was something there. I was not an atheist by any stretch of the imagination. A pagan of some sort, but not an atheist, I would say.

Let me jump to the time I began following Jesus as an adult. That was in 1974. I was 23, almost 24 years old, I guess. When I began following Jesus, and accepted the authority of Scripture, I guess the key was that it was a conversion to the authority of Scripture, as much as it was to a person. Because of the spiritual confusion that I had had, in the New Age movement, it was imperative that I get away from a subjective, internal test for truth, and find truth independent and external to myself, and thats what the Bible provided for me. It gave me a way of testing competing truth claims. I was really happy to begin Bible study.

I had a good pastor . . . I thought, naively, that if you knew the original languages [of the Bible], all these denominational things would fall by the wayside, youll get to the real truth of it, and right at the beginning of my discipleship he [my pastor] made it clear that you could know the Hebrew and the Greek and you would still have all these denominations. The Bible is authoritative, but even knowing the original languages wont settle all these issues. Youre gonna have to live with em.

I pretty much adopted the Bible Alone as my authority. Baptists were in. Lutherans were kind of out, because they had robes and believed in baptismal regeneration. Reformed people and Presbyterians were pretty good, but you couldnt figure out why they baptized infants and they didnt believe in the Millennium. They were good for a lot of things, but not for everything. And pentecostals were puzzling, too, because they believed the Bible a lot but they seemed to get too much into this experiential thing, and you couldnt make out what they were saying, half the time -this tongues-speaking.

Reformed and Presbyterian people provided the best scholars for the Bible-believing movement, but they baptized infants and they didnt believe in the Millennium. So I guess I was a fundamentalist in the early years because it was a narrow focus. But my pastor had a great heart and embraced many many people. That was a good spirit.

The people who influenced me in my reading, then, were Francis Schaeffer probably no greater single influence in my life at that point, than him; C. S Lewis, Josh McDowell. I was very influenced by the campus movements, like Campus Crusade for Christ, Inter-Varsity . . . I spent time with friends of mine, convincing them to leave the Catholic Church, and I spent time with priests. I wasnt hostile to Catholicism; I want to make that clear, but the priests I met were dumb. I had just been reading the Bible for about a year, and I could turn them into doctrinal pretzels. They really didnt know their stuff.

Most of the priests I met were really nice guys, and thats about all that I could say for them. Their mentality was sort of an all you need is love mentality. But at least you better define love a bit. What does that mean? It drives you back to the cross. Now, I might think very differently if I met them now, but at the time it seemed like they were not doctrinally-oriented, and they always kept stressing, too, how much the Church was changing, when for me at the time, that was really a negative. I wanted something that was firm, and unyielding, and for me that was the Scripture.

There were people who came out of the Catholic Church as a result of my work. I was suspicious of Roman Catholicism for all the traditions that it had. I got tired of meeting Catholics who kept complaining about being Catholics; about birth conrtrol, this, that, and the other thing, or divorce. My answer always was, get out! Why do you want to be there, then? Just get out! I couldnt figure it out. I still have similar feelings about that. Its one thing to have respectful disagreements, conscientious objections, and things like that, but dont go around moaning about it; it stirs up trouble.

I was still real young, not knowing much about Church history. I was like most Protestants: you think the Church began with Jesus and Paul, skipped over to Martin Luther, and then you hit Billy Graham. So my roommate [who owned a complete set of the Fathers writings] started telling me about Polycarp, and Ignatius and I thought, this is very interesting stuff. He stressed that the early Church believed in the Real Presence. Well, I couldnt deal with all this. I was interested in evangelism, and Real Presence was not really important.

I continued the work of evangelism, and a number of people came into relationship with Christ, and I noticed right away that the community I was a part of, was in some ways a lot less spiritually motivated than the New Age group that I had come out of, and that was very disturbing to me. The people who I began worshiping with were generous and kind, and they helped me out, but their lives were not oriented to living out their convictions to the same degree as the New Age group I was with before I began following Jesus.

I also saw tremendous disunity among Christians. They were always fighting about things that, in my naivete, I thought were non-essentials. I saw a lot of superstition, very odd pastoral practices: large numbers of arranged marriages, . . . I was also becoming very uncomfortable with evangelicalisms a-historicism. It had no sense of history!

There was no way of writing off the Catholic tradition. It had to be received as legitimate, at least to a certain extent. It was a matter of now having to say, the Tradition itself does preserve the objective value of Jesus atonement. So I could no longer write the Catholic tradition off as somehow sub-Christian. But still, Catholicism was not an option, for many many reasons: superstition, doctrinal laxity, so many things.

I began using the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. That was very helpful: the elegance of the language, the loftiness of the sentiments, the clarity of the prayerful intention, convinced me that the problem with form prayers were not the forms themselves, but with people who were incapable of filling the forms with genuine piety and conviction.

Because of all these various influences upon me, I never chose a theological tradition. I really couldnt sum myself up as a Lutheran, or a Reformed, even a Baptist. I never found a systematic theology that I was comfortable with. I was more practically and evangelistically-oriented. I didnt have time to work through all this. In fact, its only been since I got out of the pastorate, that I began thinking systematically; theologically. Most of my theology has always been task-oriented. I went to churches, but I was never a member of a church until I pastored one.

After I got out of college, I began managing Christian bookstores, and that was an important influence. It looked to me like there were sheep and goats everywhere. It became increasingly difficult to decide who was in and who was out. You couldnt use the old shibboleths anymore: are you born again?, because, first of all, anybody could say they were, and secondly, the Bible doesnt make a big issue out of being born again. It really doesnt. It uses a lot of different images: a half a dozen to a dozen different images to represent salvation. The reason why [they use the terminology] born again is because its part of their tradition! [laughter] And theyre comfortable with it. I had to broaden more and more to embrace more and more people who I understood as my brothers and sisters.

I was also influenced a lot by this notion that C.S. Lewis popularized, called mere Christianity. It was very very helpful to me in the early years. Later on, when I became a pastor, I found that it wasnt very helpful at all. But in evangelism it was great, because you were able to cut through all the theological debates and the various traditions and try to bring a person to make a decision about Jesus. You didnt have to defend baptism, or the Eucharist. You didnt have to defend anything but the deity of Christ, and the fact of His atonement, and the need that you have to trust Him. And that was what I tried to live off, for a long long time.

Friends of mine started asking me to teach about cults. My wifes cousin got involved with the Way International (Jesus is a created being; classic Arianism). I offered to write a response to the Way International for Sallys cousin. I was disturbed, because the answers that I hoped I would find in the Scriptures were not as self-evident as I thought they would be. The doctrine of the Trinity is not as self-evident in the Scripture as most cult researchers would like you to believe. It takes a good deal of reflection, collating various verses, logical analysis, and prayer, to come to the conclusion that God is Triune. And I could see why Jehovahs Witnesses and the Way International, relying on the Bible alone, might come to the conclusion they did. I thought they were wrong; I didnt think they offered the best explanation of the biblical material, but I could see a good faith effort with some intellectual error mixed in, could lead them to the conclusion that they had.On what basis could I exclude them from the faith?

I learned the value of creeds and councils. The ones who were arguing that Jesus was not God, were arguing that they were the ones who reached their conclusions on the Bible alone. It was the heretics who said they were relying on the Bible alone, and it was the orthodox, the Catholics, who were appealing to a living Tradition. That was disturbing to me. I thought what was interesting was that the Church didnt argue on the basis of the Bible alone. The Church argued on the basis of the Bible and the history of teaching. That was one big thing that hit me.

I also read the apostolic Fathers [around this time], and I couldnt figure out how they got to be Catholic so quickly after the apostles left. I was amazed at how Catholic Ignatius was. He calls the Eucharist the medicine of immortality. Nothing symbolic about it; theres actually something good for his soul. He has bishops all over, who are supposed to be obeyed. What happened in ten years?! Youve got sacramentalism coming in, ecclesiasticism coming in . . . I couldnt figure out how the Church could have been so corrupted and filled with false tradition. But they keep appealing to whats gone on before. This was troubling to me, because some of the distinctive doctrines of Catholicism were already believed by the apostolic Fathers. I was also troubled because on the basis of the Bible alone, you could just as well end up with the heretics, as the orthodox. I didnt know what to do with this.

Another big thing hit me at that time, and that was the idea of development. I could see in reading the Bible, that various doctrines which appear full flower in the New Testament, are mere seeds in the Old Testament. I asked myself that if God was interested in developing doctrine in the canon of Scripture, why isnt He interested in it after the closing of the canon? The doctrine of the afterlife [for example] was vague in the Old Testament. It isnt until one of the last books in the Old Testament, that you end up with clear teaching on the resurrection (Daniel). You can find the doctrine of the atonement developed similarly. I began reading Newman, for a variety of reasons. I was impressed with him as a stylist and as a devout man of God, but for whatever reason, I was unpersuaded. I was still afraid of the idea of doctrinal development outside of the New Testament.

Sally (around 1980 or 1981) bought me a two-volume biography of the evangelist / revivalist George Whitefield. I found a great man, who was great friends with John Wesley, and both of them practiced forms of superstition. I was amazed. They were characters. This was not a debunking kind of biography at all. If anything it was a Protestant piece of hagiography. Wesley made some major life decisions by casting lots. He was not the man in control that he is often presented as being. Wesley and Whitefield are two of the great figures of evangelicalism. They were revivalists. And they were marvelous people. I was inspired a great deal by the biography.

But at the same time I had to deal with the fact that these guys practiced forms of superstition in the conduct of their lives, that if I saw today, I would say How foolish; how silly. I was living upstairs from a Mexican couple, who were Roman Catholic, and they were involved in all kinds of unusual devotional practices, none of which I paid much attention to, but wrote them off as superstitious. Then I find out that Wesley and Whitefield practiced some forms of superstition as well. So you come up with this immoral equivalency.

Shortly after this I ended up hospitalized for depression, twice. From 82 to 85, I was having to take medication, and to live a life in which I was pretty much a practical atheist. The universe seemed utterly meaningless and without coherence and there seemed to be no God, no purpose, and no meaning. I came out of that in May of 1985. I said to God, you know, its been three years now, and you know I want to serve You, but Im not convinced Youre even there anymore, and this is becoming a futile effort. Ive got to get along with my life. Ive got a wife and daughter here.

I went down to Thomas Mertons Abbey Gethsemane. Id read Mertons Seven Storey Mountain and thought it was a great story. When I went down there it was sort of a do or die effort. I was saddened; I wasnt angered about God. I was saddened that He apparently treated His friends so badly. And He probably didnt exist, and this is just life. Its pointless, but we have to pretend that there is a point to it.

Lo and behold, after three years of darkness light. During my stay down there I had three visions, or images, if you will, which were the only rays of light that had given me any sense of meaning or purpose through that terrible period of darkness. I could go off and speak on this for days, because it was so remarkable. I did the Liturgy of the Hours down there, and talked to a priest, and when I came out, my life began to reassemble itself. I still had some difficulties, but overall, I was back on track again. It was a great experience. I started reading theology and Scripture again, and began to pray again.

Luther is really the father of the way evangelicals preach on justification. The apostle Paul was not concerned with the same things Luther was concerned with. If you analyze Luthers experience: the questions he was asking God: theyre not the same things the apostle Paul was asking of God. Luther has been like a lens that Protestants have put on to read the New Testament. Luther was preoccupied with how he could gain acceptance by a gracious God. This was his question.

But the apostle Paul doesnt seem too concerned about that at all. He has a rather robust conscience before God. He knew that God was gracious. He never pleads with either Jews or Gentiles to feel an anguished conscience, and then release that anguish in a message of forgiveness through Christ. He never urges that kind of revivalistic experience upon his readers. When Paul does speak of himself as a serious sinner at all, its not because of his existential anguish under the righteousness of God in general, but very specifically, because not having recognized that Messiah had come in Christ, he had persecuted the Church, and fought the opening of Gods covenant to the Gentiles. That was Pauls issue. It wasnt personal acceptance before God. Luther was asking questions the apostle Paul really wasnt concerned about.

The Jews understood that salvation was granted by Gods electing grace, not according to a righteousness based on merit-earning works. Most Protestant scholars since Luther have read Paul as saying that Judaism misunderstood the gracious nature of Gods covenant with Moses and perverted it into a system of attaining righteousness by works. Wrong! Thats not what they did. That was Luthers problem, not Pauls problem. The Jews werent boasting that they could attain righteousness by doing works. They were boasting that they were Gods chosen by grace.

Paul agonized over the social nature of the Church. Luther, on the other hand, agonized over the personal assurance of Gods acceptance. In other words, Luther, by having misunderstood Paul, developed a whole new approach to religion. The irony of it is, he probably developed it out of Catholic corruptions in the Middle Ages. [laughter] Paul wasnt that concerned about individual salvation. That wasnt his issue. The issue was the nature of the body: the community. This [realization] allowed me to establish even more distance from the evangelical tradition (around 1985).

[recounts how bookstore customers wanted Jack Chick materials, which his stores refused to sell] I was hit again with how anti-Catholic fundamentalism and evangelicalism is. There is a deep streak of bigotry that runs through it. I wasnt that worried about it, though, because in my own mind I could write that off.

The question of the canon of Scripture had always bothered me, almost from the beginning. Whered it come from? It seemed like such an obvious question that I figured theres gotta be lots of good answers to it and that everybody must know why we have a canon of Scripture. Jesus left us with a community before He left us with a book. I found the appeal to an authoritative Church far more honest and consistent than an appeal to an authoritative Bible. So I ceased to defend the canon of Scripture with any enthusiasm except by an appeal to an authoritative Church. The problem was I didnt know where this Church was. It couldnt be the Roman Catholic Church. It just couldnt be. Theres too many problems there.

I got this call to pastor a church (Shalom Ministry) in 1985: a job that eventually would lead me to the Catholic Church. I didnt know it at the time. I was looking for this church and I figured that since it wasnt out there, Id make it myself. And thats what ended up happening. Since there was no church that I felt conformed to a biblical shape, that I might as well use this opportunity to experiment a bit.

I really did believe when I entered pastoral work, that you had only two choices: it seemed to me that you could go the independent church route, where every pastor is their own pope, and theyve got the Bible alone to work with, or you ought to get honest with yourself, and go ahead and become Orthodox or Catholic, and accept an authoritative teaching church. I really didnt like all the mediating positions in between. Why do you want denominations? Why not if youre going to accept the authority of a tradition accept the authority of the Orthodox or Catholic traditions, which at least have a developed theology of tradition. Tradition is inevitable.

I thought that the real problem with the evangelical churches was lack of doctrine or Scripture study, and good preaching, and I quickly found that that wasnt the case. Theres probably too much teaching. You get up on a Sunday morning, and you prepare a message, and you would preach, and rain on em, and itd be forgotten by the week after, and youd wonder why youre doing this: your best ideas and study, pouring it out on them. But what people needed was spiritual apprenticeship, discipleship, an elder or spiritual leader to model the Christian life for them. If they needed preaching, let em listen to John MacArthur, or buy a book of sermons. You can do that now.

I did see that my approach was destined to futility. And I saw a lot of moral failure. That didnt scandalize me. I knew who was sleeping with who; who was lying about who, and I would confront it, and sometimes people would repent, and sometimes they didnt. But what scandalized me was the ability to use what I called the language of ultimacy: like the Lord told me, or are you sold out for the Lord?, or we have nothing to live for but saving souls: always this kind of high-pitched language of commitment, which didnt bear any tangible relationship to the lives that people were leading.

And these people were not intending to be hypocrites. It was just the function of evangelical language. It was their symbol-system. This was the way they talked. The problem was that the language began to substitute for the reality, so you could talk about your commitment to soul-winning, or how missions has to be number one, and yet sit home and not do a darned thing. But you knew the language. It was just part of the tradition: the revivalistic tradition. It was a way of applying a spiritual anesthetic.

We like to think of ourselves in the evangelical tradition as other than mere churchgoers. You tended not to exercise the judgment of charity towards the churchgoer, and to say theyre not part of us until they prove theyre born again. And I saw this as a spiritual arrogance, but it was more a function of language than of the heart of people.

One thing that happened as I began pastoring is that I began to see the failure of mere Christianity. It was a great discipleship tool. But it was a terrible curse when you wanted to disciple people. It was good for breaking down barriers between Christians and getting them to talk to one another and respect one another, but not very good in trying to teach people a worldview or trying to grow in grace. I would call it the inner contradiction of mere Christianity. It is unintentionally dishonest and gives the wrong impression about matters vital to Christian growth and maturity. In a sense youre selling people a bill of goods. Youre hooking them with a minimalist conception of the faith, and then once they get in, you start laying on them the obligations. Nobody means any harm by it, . . .

By discounting as non-essential to Christianity, anything that would interfere with the evangelistic task, we imply to the convert that only those things which he assents to at conversion, are the essential things. Thus, major biblical doctrines like the Church, worship, work of the Holy Spirit, even the authority of Scripture, end-times teaching, even ethical teachings like our obligation to the poor, the unborn: all those things are minimized and therefore considered secondary and non-binding to the convert. People are called to Christ the head, but its disconnected with Christs body. To come to Christ in the New Testament always meant coming into a particular community; accepting this community and them accepting you, and that also meant the tradition and the way of life of the community. This approach cannot sustain a church or a tradition, and not enough to give much direction in lifes decisions.

What you are converted by is what you are converted to. Since the evangelical principle is the Bible alone and the Bible doesnt use the word Trinity and doesnt refer to abortion specifically, how important can these things be? Thats the way the argument will go, and I hear it all the time. Free church Protestants have no reliance upon institutionalized teaching authorities. The authority in their mind is them, the Spirit of God, and the Word of God. And quite honestly, thats wrong. Thats not biblical. The biblical pattern, is me, the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the Church of God. The community is an essential dimension of the biblical experience. So you end up with what? Private interpretation. Its me, the Spirit, and the Bible.

And while evangelicals say you should be a member of a church (Billy Graham will say that), usually converts are made by driving a wedge between the convert and the Church. Often, youll hear in evangelistic presentations: baptism isnt important, this isnt important, denominations arent important. Whats important is you and your relationship with God. In the right context, that point can be made, but the subtext of the message is once you get saved, its you and God. So this private interpretation is really overwhelming. We become theological Atlases. No one person is able to do that against the spirit of the age. You need the full body to teach authoritatively. You cant do it yourself. You cant do it: not authoritatively. To sit there as a papal substitute and do it, independently of, say, the college of bishops, research universities, is wicked. But its done, all the time.

Great evangelical leaders that have come up this century, who have been very helpful: people like Francis Schaeffer, who I owe an enormous debt to; notice how they function within the evangelical community. They dont function as the leader of a church, but as authoritative celebrities. Their audience has no recourse to hold them accountable. Theres no structure set up.

Mere Christianity also undermines confidence in the local church, or (if you believe in them) the denomination, which is secondary to ones primary commitment to Christ. But this is schizophrenic. It pits the head against the body, and ultimately it betrays Jesus Who says the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church, the body. These things are connected. The head doesnt regard the body as a necessary evil like many evangelicals do. They think that you gotta go somewhere to get Bible teaching, so you go to church. [The Church] is secondary only in the sense that it flows from my commitment to God, and is entailed in that commitment. How ecumenical is mere Christianity, if it removes the doctrine of the Church, which is central to two of the three Christian traditions? So it really isnt very fair to Orthodoxy and Catholicism. [It amounts to saying that] God is not able to adequately reveal Himself through the things that he has made, or the people that He has called. Its a slap in the face of God.

Mere Christianity is dishonest in that it requires a soft-peddling of differences between Christians. And it belittles our brothers and sisters in the past. When we say lets transcend and rise above all these denominational distinctives, we are actually emasculating the various Christian traditions. The very things that Wesley and Luther and Calvin found as solutions to the problems of their day, were saying, its not important. Lets just get above em. It doesnt matter that these brothers regarded these things as central and essential to the Christian life. Were so superior to them that we can just rise above it.

And I find that thats a very belittling approach to these men and women. Accept them on their own terms. Disagree with them if you have to. But dont say theyre irrelevant. Within their systems, these denominational distinctives are meant to be solutions to serious problems in the Christian life, and when we dont take them on their own terms, then were regarding these men and their traditions as pathological, petty, or unwise. I think Luther was wrong [about justification], but I cant say hes unimportant, you see. And thats what I dont like about mere Christianity.

By 1987 I was pastoring a church and hosting an evangelical talk show, but I found my heart growing really hard and full of disdain for the tradition that I was supposed to be serving, and I knew that wasnt good, so I made a list [of some of my criticisms] in my journal:

1. Lack of a coherent worldview, which leads to a denial of Christs Lordship. 2. Methods which cheapen the gospel and promote confusion in converts (what you are converted by is what you are converted to). 3. Manichaean dualism which is inconsistently and conveniently applied to beat others with ones own taboos. 4. Cultural naivete which presumes the priority of Anglo-Saxon culture and an ignorance of ancient biblical culture and its distinctive marks over against its Mesopotamian, Roman, and Greek backgrounds. 5. Flippancy towards divine mystery and paradox; a loss of the sacred, which is best seen in a casual attitude towards the sublime and lofty. 6. Meaningless and saccharine expressions of piety, and a retreat into jargon. 7. A suspicion of intellect. 8. Evangelicalism has become so shaped by modernity that it is privatized, secularized, and has adopted pluralism. 9. A naive pride in its own tradition of traditionlessness. 10. Duplication of effort among institutions. 11. Individualistic to the point of rebellion. 12. Too many personality cults. 13. Ignorant of its own history. 14. Bizarre prophecy schemes which create escapist mentalities and loss of a stable future orientation.

All those things were weighing on my heart: bang bang bang bang. I realized why am I doing this? My heart is not really in the revivalistic tradition anymore.

Theres no way of escaping tradition, at two levels: sociologically and theologically. Sociologically, why does the church exist? Once youre inside a community of people, you begin doing things a certain way. You fall into certain traditions. They do develop. Theres no avoiding them. And the traditions usually exist for fairly good reasons. Within the church, questions come up: how are you going to have communion? How are we gonna baptize? What are you gonna teach the new convert? Questions have to be answered. And so you begin a tradition. Its the social glue that brings cohesiveness to a clan or a tribe.

In order for any group to retain its identity for more than one generation, they have to articulate their reason for existence to the next generation. And no group can do that effectively by merely saying, were Christians. Mere Christians, because there are thousands upon thousands of such groups, and the questions always remains: well, whats your groups reason for existing, and not joining up with another? And so I kept asking that question at Shalom: why dont we go down to the first church down the street? And eventually about half of em did [laughter]. It was after I resigned that they ended up doing it.

Tradition forms the backdrop of particular doctrines, and if you lose the tradition, you end up losing the doctrine. If you lose the tradition that led up to this statement that Jesus was God in human flesh (and part of the tradition was the battle which was fought), then you lose the meaningfulness of the doctrine. It ceases to be significant. You have to be self-confident about your roots, otherwise youll be tossed to and fro by the winds of modernity. So as a pastor, then, I had to come to grips with this question of tradition, both sociologically and theologically. It was clear to me from reading the Apostle Pauls letters, that he believed in an unwritten tradition that he was passing along to his people. He referred to what he had passed on that he had heard from other witnesses. And he expected that to be binding. So the question wasnt whether there would be tradition or not. There would be. The question was: by what authority do you determine right tradition from wrong tradition?

I guess the coup de gras for me on this issue of tradition was the realization that evangelical Protestantism has tradition right at its core. The canon of Scripture is itself a tradition nowhere established in the Bible. Its a church tradition. Francis Schaeffer was very good in that he taught me that ones presuppositions and first principles must be able to be lived and not just thought. And yet Protestantism cannot live out faithfully its commitment to the Bible alone, because on that basis thered be no canon of Scripture. Thered be no Bible!

So Protestants are in the terrible position of having its primary authority not being able to justify its own existence. They have to justify a collection of books, which are secondary to the Word. The Word is prior to the community. The Word calls forth the community, and the community gathers around that Word. The process of inscripturation is subsequent. It comes as the community reflects upon the Word, and is used to crystallize and condense that Word for posterity. Jesus Himself functioned as the Word, which drew a community together, which then produced certain documents and collected them.

Another thing that hit me as a pastor was the nature of the Church and Church government. Francis Schaeffer had taught me back in 1974, in his book, The Mark of a Christian, that in John 13 and 17, Jesus talks about a real, visible oneness, a practicing, practical oneness, across all denominational lines, among all Christians. We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, and to believe that Jesuss claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians. He kept talking about oneness in terms of people getting along with one another. He did not like the Roman Catholic Church at all. He thought it was an enforced uniformity and he complained about conservatives and progressives squabbling miserably in the Roman Catholic Church. But what he did do for me was focus on visible. It had to be visible. This unity had to be observable by the unbelieving world.

[recalls the story of an erring, unrepentant, sinning brother in his congregation, who left when confronted] How can you exercise restorative church discipline, if all they do is bump off to another church? So all of a sudden institutions became not a bad thing, but a good thing. If we were part of a denomination we probably could do something. But then again he could just go to another denomination. So I began thinking about issues of excommunication, by what authority do you excommunicate; what are the guidelines for it? And it dawned on me that the New Tesdtament never expected a situation where, if you were barred from the fellowship, that you could just go over to some other fellowship! The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5, says Im gonna turn this fellow over to Satan for the salvation of his soul, and in 2 Corinthians, he has to say, listen, back off this guy! Youve disciplined him enough; hes at the point of despair. Welcome him back as a brother.

That was a major turning point, because my pastoral work was jeopardized by the existence of competing fellowships. This really disturbed me, in a way thats hard to describe to people who havent been in that [situation], but my pastoral effort was now cheapened. How can you discipline if theres no unity of the body? Even in the New Testament, with all the disagreements among believers about law and grace and circumcision and eating of meat offered to idols, and qualifications for leadership, splintering into independent groups is never advocated. In fact, one of the few offenses that give us reason to separate from a brother is the offense of disunity (Romans 16): I urge you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions. Keep away from them. So I was big on this church unity thing, but it was all invisible, spiritual, all out here. And it wasnt working very well.

Id also taught on 1 Timothy 3:15: the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. It was one of those sermons where I would say, and thats us! And Id look out there and Id say, like hell it is! This is a joke! Here we are, 125 of us: the pillar and foundation of the truth. And Paul wasnt referring to some invisible reality.

I think the thing that brought me through the home stretch was teaching through the book of Romans. In the Protestant tradition, Romans is the book par excellence on justification by faith alone. This provided my undoing. Finally, Im into the text that evangelicals and Protestant love the most, and I find that the distinctive doctrines of the Reformation are not taught there. Theyre just not there. I found that Pauls disgust with works of the law is not a disgust with human striving to please God, but with the Jewish communitys vain imagination that because they performed the works of the law, the practices that keep them distinct from the Gentiles, that they have special status with God. As I taught on justification, I saw that Paul did think that justification by grace through faith changes a persons life. All these arcane arguments out of the Reformation about extrinsic justification were only so much hooey. The Apostle Paul would have said, this is a waste of time, guys. This is not the point. In 1 Corinthians chapter 6, justification and sanctification are linked together . . . God doesnt merely impute righteousness to you, but He does something in the soul to make you righteous.

Paul also expected the obedience of faith. Its as though faith is the response of trust, in the same way that obedience is the response of the will. Here youve got a gospel which is quite different than the gospel that is commonly preached. This was disturbing to me. I began to say to myself, if I dont believe in the doctrine of justification by faith alone, where am I gonna go? I didnt really think of myself going into Catholicism at all. I thought, maybe Eastern Orthodoxy. This was around 1988, 1989.

Another thing I learned while teaching through Romans was the inescapability of suffering if we are to share in His inheritance and glory. There was something about it in Romans 8 where the Apostle Paul actually links suffering; you must suffer . . . it seemed so contrary to, other than, the gospel I was used to hearing preached. Most of the gospel preaching you hear is, come to Jesus because He will fulfill you; youll receive some benefit. Its true, you do receive some benefit, so I dont despise all of that. But theres something wrong when the call to Jesus is not also accompanied with a call to suffer with Him. Its as if youre called to the resurrected Christ, but not the suffering Christ; as if people are given the crown without the cross. That struck me because I knew Catholics were big into crucifixes, and I said to myself, they probably have some insight on this.

And a Catholic friend of mine emphasized Colossians where Paul talks about making up in his body that which was lacking in Christs afflictions, and I thought, now that makes sense of this teaching in Romans 8. Crucifixes make sense. Its as though people have to be reminded that theres no crown without the cross. Our baptism into Jesus is a baptism into His death. Christs work is quite complete, but the application of it has to go on in the world, and so its in that sense that we share His suffering because we are members of His body, applying the work of redemption which He wrought for us on Calvary.

Thirdly, I became aware that the apostles believed in sacraments of some sort; undeveloped, I think. But definitely there was a sacramental awareness. The baptism referred to in Romans 6 really is wet. In the mind of the apostles, water and spirit were not separate entities. The images go together: baptized by water and spirit, the washing of regeneration in Titus. And I began to think more and more about this: where do you find unbaptized Christians in the New Testament? You dont. Then I began making a list of what Paul says about baptism and faith. And I found out that the same things that are being said about faith are also being said about baptism. I came to the conclusion that in some mysterious way, they believed that when a person was baptized, there was some change that happened. I was convinced that it was far more than just a symbol.

The same thing happened with the Eucharist, when I taught about that, later on. I began to feel that I was just playing church, whenever we had the Lords Table. It seemed so clear to me from 1 Corinthians 11, Luke 24, that Jesus was present in some real way in the Lords Table. I knew that I could no longer participate, or preside over the Lords Table.

Operation Rescue was another major turning point for me, because it exposed the papal pretensions of many evangelical leaders. When I saw the obvious biblical justification for Operation Rescue, and yet the resistance it got from major evangelical leaders, I said to myself, theres really no hope for this community. In fact, it isnt a community; its a bunch of disparate fiefdoms, kingdoms that these people have built. These are sheep without a shepherd. Theres nobody here that can bring this together. If an issue like abortion cannot bring the community together, in this way, and if civil disobedience of this sort . . . if people like Norman Geisler and Bill Gothard cant simply let their brothers and sisters go about this work (they may think its foolish, unwise, or that pragmatically its not gonna work), but let em do it. Dont try to argue from the Bible against Operation Rescue, because you cant do it. Its an impossible job.

Norm Geisler was on my show. A question was posed to Geisler [by another guest]: are you telling me that if there were four-year-olds being slaughtered at governmentally-approved slaughter clinics, that you wouldnt trespass in order to save one of those four-year-olds lives? He said I would only do it if it was my kid. It was pathetic. I couldnt believe he said it. It was a reductio ad absurdum. And then I read Bill Gothards material against Operation Rescue and it was sinful, it was a caricature of the position, and a twisting of Scripture like Ive rarely seen from a major evangelical leader; and I had read papal statements, too, not on Operation Rescue, but on civil disobedience, and I knew there was a rich tradition in the Roman Catholic Church, dealing with social crises of this form, and what a conscientious conscience should do.

Operation Rescue was one of the final nails in the coffin of my evangelical experience. I was so terribly disillusioned by the response. I just couldnt believe it. I think you can construct a good argument against Operation Rescue, but not from the Scripture; rather, on pragmatic grounds. These guys wouldnt do that; they wanted to argue from the Scripture on it, and I said theres no hope. That was a turning point for me. I could go on; many other reasons.

So I resigned [the pastorate] in December of 1990. I had wanted to a year before, but I had commitments. The church wasnt ready. These were good people. I didnt want to enter into battle. I didnt know where I was going, and I knew I wasnt fit to be a pastor, because you dont need the blind leading the blind. I shared with them about the Real Presence because by that time it was no longer speculative for me. I was thoroughly convinced on biblical authority. I told people that I was tired, fatigued. I had been working full-time at WMUZ [radio station; his talk show] and the church for over a year. I told them that I was thinking of becoming Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. I couldnt really stay at the church. I just felt bad. If you dont know where youre going, you shouldnt be taking people with you. I was on my own journey. I wasnt fit to lead them on it. So I keft the church and began pursuing Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

During the previous year, Id had Fr. Peter Stravinskas on [the radio show], and during the course of some of his discussion, as he was describing the Mass as a re-presentation of Christ, I recognized the doctrine that I held in a diluted form. It was a doctrine that I used to call memorial consciousness. I used to teach that at Shalom: that past saving events could be re-presented in the present. The Jews tried to do it with Passover. The same thing with the Lords Supper. So when Fr. Peter said that, I had this rush of adrenaline while I was on the air, and I said to myself, my God, Im a Catholic [understanding laughter in the room].

I was still pastoring at Shalom at the time. It was an exhilarating experience but disturbing at the same time. It was as though I had been walking in the dark for a long time and getting along pretty well, and then all of a sudden the light gets turned on, and you realize that youre perched on a tightrope about 100 feet above the ground. You were doing fine, as long as you didnt know where you were. But here you are: mid-way out, and on the one hand, you can take heart that you made it so far, but on the other hand, youre trembling because you can see how far you gotta go, and youre not quite certain youre gonna get to the other side.

So I had this subjective experience, and yet I hadnt really settled the Marian dogmas, or a lot of things, and I honestly didnt like most of the Catholics Ive met. Now you guys are pretty good; I like you [great laughter], . . . once I left Shalom I began going to Masses at various places. Id read on a Saturday books on Catholicism and Orthodoxy and sacramental thinking. Then Id go to Mass, and every time Id think I was ready to come back in, based on my study, all Id have to do was go to Mass to get cold water thrown on me: thoroughly disillusioning. Part of that was that I wasnt connected to a community . . . it wasnt a happy time because I was really feeling left in the lurch; intellectually persuaded of many things, but not any community life at all.

So I kept getting these Catholics on the air and debating. I thought it was good programming, too. I had Karl Keating on once debating Harold O. J. Brown. And I remember, Karl was good, but I was much more impressed with Harold: at how non-victorious his Protestant arguments were. I really thought that hed be able to push Karl around a little bit, but he couldnt. Karl made some great points. Then I had Fr. Peter Stravinskas on, on Reformation Day, to talk about the Reformation with this Church history professor from Dallas Seminary, and again I was impressed with Fr. Peter, but I was very impressed at how the Dallas prof really couldnt justify the Reformation. When all was said and done, that guy had no reason to be a Protestant. He agreed with Fr. Peter that the real reasons for the Reformation were not theological, they were economical and political [he chuckles] . . .

Another major turning point was when I came across Matthew 16. I knew the Protestant arguments, and I had taught them myself. To be honest with you, I really thought that the Catholic argument was a justification of the status quo. I thought it was a rationalization of the papal office. I didnt think it was exegetically sound at all. There was such unanimity. All the preachers Id ever heard on Matthew 16 said that the rock was Peters faith, or it was a play on words, and I just assumed that. And I figured that evangelicals are known for exegesis; Catholics arent, so evangelicals are probably right on this.

So I went and picked up two commentaries in my library, by two noted evangelical New Testament scholars: Donald [D. A.] Carson, who is among the top ten brightest people Id ever had on the air, and another fellow, R. T. France, whom I know is an excellent exegete. And I brought them up to my bed. And both of them, the same night (before I had ever heard Scott Hahn tapes); I read Carson, and he wrote had it not been for Protestant overreaction to exaggerated papal claims, virtually nobody would have ever thought that the rock referred to Peters faith. Its clearly a reference to Peter. And I said, Ive never heard that before! Then I went over to R. T. France, and I read that, and I said, is he quoting Carson? He said virtually the same thing! And I was stunned. And I began to make some phone calls, and I found out that in New Testament scholarship, this is becoming the consensus position! Peter is the rock, not Peters confession. Its straightforward.

The Marian dogmas were big problems. I still thought [around 1984] the Catholic claims on Mary were outrageous. I went back and read some essays, and concluded that the Bible alone wouldnt compel acceptance of the Marian dogmas; the Bible alone wouldnt lead you to them, yet sustained theological reflection on Jesus relationship to His mother; if you take the humanity of Jesus with the utmost seriousness, and you take Mary as a real mother, not just a conduit, and you begin to think about motherhood and sonship, and you think about what it means to receive a body from your mother: flesh . . . God didnt make Jesus flesh in Marys womb; He got Marys flesh. If God had wanted to, He could have made Jesus as He made Adam: from the dust of the earth. But He didnt. He decided He would use a human being to give Jesus His humanity.

And so what kind of flesh is Jesus gonna get? If Hes gonna be perfect humanity, Hed better have perfect human flesh untainted by sin. To me the Immaculate Conception, seen in that light, made sense. The Assumption also seemed to me to make a great deal of sense. There were precedents to it: Enoch and Elijah, those who rose from the dead at the time of the rending of the veil of the Temple. And if Jesus is going to give anybodye priority; if Hes going to truly honor His mother and father, wouldnt He give Mary, whose flesh He received, priority in the Resurrection? So I think thats what the doctrine of the Assumption preserves. I could go on and talk forever on the distinctive doctrines of the Church.

Artificial contraception . . . Dave wanted me to go into that [I had asked a question earlier]. I had a very difficult time seeing it as good logic. The Church insists that the multiple meanings of sexual intercourse always be exercised together. Since one of the meanings is procreation and another is intimacy or the whats called the unitive function, those things cant be separated from one another licitly. I didnt like that, because it seemed to me that if intercourse served multiple purposes, then theres no reason why, at any particular time, one purpose ought to retain priority or even exclusivity in the exercise of that act. They were both good.

I think that the change came when I finally hit upon an analogy; I had to see another human act in which multiple meanings had to be exercised together, and not separately. And I thought of eating food. Food serves multiple purposes: nutrition, secondly, pleasing our senses. God likes tastes; thats why He gave us taste buds. He wants food to taste good. What do we think of a person who says, I really like the taste of food, so Im going to disconnect my eating of food from nutrition, and Im just gonna taste it. Well, we call him a glutton; we call him a junk food junkie. What do we call a person who says, I dont care about what food tastes like; Im just gonna eat for nutritions sake. We call him a prude or we have some other name for him. We think that theyre lacking in their humanity. That helped me in understanding sexual intercourse.

I think its sinful just to eat for the taste, or merely for the nutrition, because youre denying the pleasure that God intended for you to receive, in eating good food. I say the same thing with sexual intercourse. Youre sinful if you separate the multiple meanings of it. If you procreate simply to make babies, and you dont enjoy the other person as a person, I think thats sinful, and I think that if you merely enjoy sexual intimacy and pleasure, and are not open to sharing that with a third life: a potential child, then youre denying the meaning of sexual expression. That was a continuing realization that the Catholic Church had been there before me.

When I learned that you [referring to me] were interested in the Catholic Church, it was kind of funny, because by that time I had been pursuing this on my own, and feeling like I was a little bit odd. So it was good for me, . . . I was their pastor for a while at Shalom, and Dave and Judy and Sally and I have known each other for many years, and Ive always liked Dave and Judy. Weve had some disagreements at times over the years, and a little bit of even, combat, but I always was fond of them, because I always recognized them as people who were willing to live out their convictions, and that always means a lot to me.

I like to be surrounded by people like that because its very easy to just live in your head and not get it out onto your feet. So I knew that they were committed to living a Christian life. They were interested in simple living, and interested in alternate lifestyle. They saw themselves as being radical Christians. And I always liked that. So even when we disagreed, I was always fond of them, in that I respected what they were doing. So it was heartening to me, to find that my return to the Church was in its own way being paralleled by Daves acceptance of Roman Catholicism. It was a queer parallelism. When we went to see Fr. John Hardon that night, I thought it was interesting and odd that you were doing it, but I told you that night: it seems to me there are only two choices: either Orthodoxy or Catholicism. It was reassuring. I met Catholics through rescue that I actually liked, and that was heartening.

I returned to the Catholic Church, because, for all its shortcomings (which are obvious to many evangelicals), both evangelicalism and Catholicism suffered from the same kind of immoral equivalency. All the things that I once thought were uniquely bad about Catholicism, I also saw in Protestantism, so it was kind of a wash. I stopped asking myself all the so-called practical questions, and made the decision based on theology alone. That way I got to compare theology with theology. People love to compare the practice of one group with the theology of another. So you end up with the theology of a John Calvin versus the practice of some babushkad Catholic woman. And its just not fair. You gotta compare apples with apples. Evangelicals tolerate pentecostal superstition and fundamentalist ignorance, without breaking fellowship. So why criticize the Catholics for tolerating some superstition and ignorance?

Evangelical churches are largely made up of small, dead, ineffectual fellowships. Two-, three-generation fellowships that have lost their reason for existence, and they just keep rollin along. The vast percentage of evangelical churches are about 75 people. And theyre not doin much. So whats the problem if Catholic churches are full of dead people too? Its a wash. Evangelicals tolerate and even respond positively to papal figures like Bill Gothard, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, and men whose teachings or decisions explicitly or implicitly sets the tone of the discussion and suggests and insists upon right conclusions.

And these men are not just popular leaders, they are populist leaders. In other words, they often appeal to the anti-intellectual side of the uneducated. They stir up resentments between factions in the Church Politic and the Body Politic. The pope, on the other hand, is not a populist leader. You dont see the pope, in the encyclicals Ive read, taking cheap shots, driving wedges between the intelligentsia and the masses; you dont see them doing cheap rhetorical tricks, like you do find among popular evangelical leaders. If the pope plays his audience, its usually through acts of piety. Hes not trying to stir up resentments.

Evangelicals are currently seeking more sense of community and international community, more accountability you hear more talk about confessing your sins to one another; theyre looking for a way to justify the canon, visible signs of unity. Catholicism has all these things. It offers them already. And then of course evangelicals seem only to be able to preserve doctrinal purity by separating, dividing, and splitting and rupturing the unity of Christ. Thats their method for maintaining the truth: divide. And that to me is the devils tactic: go ahead, divide em; its easier to conquer them that way.

Even in the area of their strength (the Bible), evangelicals are not without serious shortcomings. Matthew 16 is a great example of that. Whats worse?: to omit clear biblical teaching, or to add to it? Evangelicals omit fundamental biblical teaching about Peter as the rock, about the apostolic privilege of forgiving or retaining sins. These things are not unclear. Theyre only unclear in the Scripture if youve adopted a certain type of theology, and then you have to dance around, doing hermeneutical gymnastics to avoid the clear intention of the verse. The binding and loosing passages in Matthew 16 and 18 are as plain as the nose on your face.

So I returned to the Catholic Church because I am absolutely convinced that the Roman Catholic Church preserves and retains (for all its shortcomings) the biblical shape of reality. It retains sacramental awareness, human mediation (which is a very prominent biblical theme which has been lost in evangelical churches), a sense of the sacred, which is present in the Scripture; and recognizes typology as having not only symbolic value, or pedagogical value, but also ontological value. It retains memorial consciousness and corporate personality, the idea of federal headship, doctrinal development. All of these things are lectures in and of themselves. But these things that people always wanna talk about (purgatory, saints, Mary), all fit into those categories. The structure of biblical reality is more present in Catholicism than any other tradition that Im familiar with. And Im really quite convinced that I dont have extravagant expectations, either. I think these things are really there. Its not a pipe dream.

[someone asked, why not Orthodoxy?]

Competing jurisdictions, which basically told me, you need a pope. If the point is that you need a visible display of unity for the work of evangelism to have lasting success, how can you have the Russians and the Greeks fighting with one another all the time? I know conservatives and liberals fight in the Catholic Church, but its structured in such a way as to be able to end the debate at some point. God acts infallibly through the papacy. The discussion can be settled. It cant be settled in Orthodoxy at this point. Theyre always fighting over jurisdictions. The laxity on divorce . . . I heard a saying recently that your doctrine of ecclesiology will affect your doctrine of marriage, or vice versa.

If you believe in divorce, then you believe in the Reformation, because you believe that Christ will divorce part of His Body. If you believe that the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church, is indivisible, then you will believe that (among Christians, anyway) marriage is indivisible. There should be no divorce. And I think that the Orthodox are lax in that area. I think that theyre too ethnic thats probably due to a type of caesaropapism, and that their views of culture dont seem to work out very well. Those are some of the reasons. Also, it just wasnt around. Where do you go? You have to work too hard to find a place, and then you have to worry about whether theyll do it in English. I went to St. Suzannes first of all because it was around the corner, and I believe that geography has a lot to do with community.

Original post:
Why I Returned to the Catholic Church (Al Kresta) – Patheos (blog)

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Vatican official speaks at U.S. bishops’ bioethics conference … –

Posted: at 2:42 am

By Catholic News Service Posted February 9, 2017

DALLAS (CNS) The head of the Pontifical Council for Life urged the U.S. bishops to stress the human dimension that is under threat of being ignored in the continued search for technological progress.

New technologies, by reason of the satisfaction they bring, their complexity, and their great efficiency have become the touchstone by which todays ethical challenges are judged, said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia Feb. 6 in Dallas, where the bishops were gathered for their 26th workshop on bioethical issues.

The promise of a longer life, and even of immortality is the most convincing argument that technological society can offer, Archbishop Paglia said, adding the rhetorical question, Why should we turn down the possibility of overcoming all limits that technology offers?

Archbishop Paglia cited 20th-century philosopher Hans Jonas, who fled Germany shortly after the Nazis took power in 1933, whose writings influenced the development of our awareness today that we are stewards of creation. Jonas saw situations where clearly our decisions must be based on much more than mechanistic technological and economic analysis, he said.

The text of Archbishop Paglias remarks were made available on the Vatican Radio website.

As we respond to what for too long we have called challenges, we must remember that we are not being called to a conflict but rather to a rebuilding, a reconstruction of what it means to be human, Archbishop Paglia said. Our first task is not to identify enemies but rather to find companions on the journey, person with whom we can share our path.

The archbishop added, Even more deeply, we must understand and understand doesnt always mean agree with the wrenching contradictions in which modern man lives.

The archbishop delivered the keynote on the first evening of the Feb. 6-7 workshop, presented by the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center. The Knights of Columbus provides a grant for the workshop, which this year had as its theme Healing Persons in a Wounded Culture. About 200 bishops were in attendance.

Archbishop Paglia cited Pope Francis remarks in 2013 likening the church to a field hospital after battle.

It is useless, the archbishop said, to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to treat his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Treat the wounds, heal the wounds. And you have to start from the ground up.

In an age marked by too much technology, avarice, power and materialism, the word accompany makes us think of companionship, sharing and the path we tread together, Archbishop Paglia said. For sure we are to establish effective accompaniment for life at every one of its stages. For sure we have to stand against whatever weakens or still worse destroys life or threatens its dignity.

He pointed to three particular dangers.

One was how, in the future, health care will be one of the central elements of Western economies by reason of the development of efficient preventive medicine protocols in addition to the traditional combat against specific diseases and assistance in recovery. This approach will be expensive and not widely available. It will work only in a service economy fueled by competition and will leave behind those who have limited access to basic health care, Archbishop Paglia said.

Another was advances in reproductive technology. We will soon be able to manage all the variables connected with human reproduction, variables that until now have been left to nature or chance,’ he said, wondering aloud about its effect on the binding affective relationship known as marriage when we can manage the entire process all by ourselves.

A third danger he cited was the investments in software, neuroscience and artificial intelligence. Does it still make sense to speak about a basic human nature and, if so, how do we do it in a way that is not merely defensive in a world where everyone else believes in technology? Archbishop Paglia asked.

Already many think that we have to perfect humankind by eliminating individuals who evidence too many things wrong or unsupportable weakness: the handicapped, the elderly, the incurable. Does this mean that the more advanced our technology becomes, the higher we raise the barrier to acceptability and those who are tolerated today will become expendable tomorrow? I hope not.

He told the bishops, We have to consider whether the intellectual categories that we as shepherds of souls and preachers of the Gospel use in our life and mission are adequate to address situations that arise in a world that on a practical level thinks with machines that can be held in the hand and that are incapable of leading us to any reality beyond ourselves.

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Can Hot Peppers Make You Live Longer? This Study Says Yes! – Reader’s Digest

Posted: February 7, 2017 at 7:41 am

istock/ktsimageHot peppers are the unofficial superfood we all need. They help you lose weight, jumpstart metabolism, and stimulate endorphins as a proven aphrodisiac. And based on a new study, they harness one more superpower: immortality.

Okay, its not that drastic, but hot peppers may be able to increase your lifespan. Researchers from the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont found that the consumption of hot red chili peppers (not to be confused with the Red Hot Chili Peppers) is associated with a 13 percent lower risk of death, especially concerning deaths caused by heart disease or stroke.

These findings are based on 23 years worth of data collected from more than 16,000 Americans. Those who ate any amount of hot red chili peppers, excluding ground chili peppers, were considered chili pepper consumers. After 23 years, the death rate of pepper-eaters (21.6 percent) was lower than the death rate of participants who did not eat the peppers at all (33.6 percent).

The authors behind this study arent sure why chili peppers could delay death, but it could have something do to with capsaicin (the primary component of chili peppers) and its receptors in the body called TRP channels. Capsaicin improves digestion, has antioxidant properties that fight infections, and may fight cardiovascular disease. Certain types of TRP channels may protect against obesity.

So the next time youre debating what kind of salsa to buy, opt for the hottest flavor. It could give you some extra time on this lovely planet of ours.

MORE: 6 Spicy Benefits of Cayenne Pepper

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New report examines the genomics market – WhaTech

Posted: at 7:41 am

Genomics is the scientific field which primarily deals with the evolution, mapping and structure of a genome. Genome analysis is undertaken with the purpose of assigning numerical values to genes which orchestrate the production of various proteins.

Over the past few decades, genomics companies have tried map out the mutation of a cells DNA in an effort to understand how diseases like cancer arise. Recent advances in bioinformatics have led to revolutionary research advances to understand critical biological organs like the brain.

Another important factor driving DNA sequencing as well as other human genetics projects is the quest for immortality. Medical professionals are confident that as technology and their understanding advances, they can not only prolong the life of a human being, but also gain success in the pursuit for immorality.

Scope & Regional Forecast of the Genomics Market

The Genomics Market considers the primary growth drivers to be a few factors like: an increasingly competitive pharmaceutical industry; human genetics being widely utilized during the development of new medicine categories; rising demand for genome analysis as governments look to modify plants and animals for enhanced yields and superior adaptability respectively; and a decline in the prices of equipment produced by genomics companies.

The Genomics Market expects Asia-Pacific to drive market expansion during the next few years as growing economies like China and India increasingly depend on genome sequencing for improving crop yields as well as to solve healthcare problems. India is home to a vibrant pharmaceutical industry which is constantly on the lookout for medical innovations which bring down the cost of drugs, treatments or procedures.

The Genomics Market revenue is all set to exceed the $7 Billion mark by 2022 at a CAGR of 7.5%.


Segmentations & Key Players Involved in the Genomics Market

The Genomics Market can be broken down into various segmentations on the basis of –

Product Type: Products (DNA Microarrays, Electrophoresis, X-Ray Crystallography, Polymerase Chain Reaction (Pcr), DNA Sequencers, Chromatography) and Reagents Used.

Service Industry: Bio-Informatics Database, Bio-Informatics Tools and Laboratory Services.

End User Application: Anthropology, Agriculture, Cytogenetics, Diagnostics, Drug Discovery, Toxicogenomics and Others.

Geographical Location: Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World.

Some of the key players involved in the Genomics Market are as follows:

Why access this report?

* The overall market has been consolidated from the perspective of different geographic locations and key economies for this market.

* Identifies growth sectors and factors driving or constraining the market.

* The market is analyzed based on the key attributes such as the power in the hands of producers and consumers, analysis on the degree of competition, and threats from substitutes and new entrants.

* The study includes the demand of this particular market on a global and regional scale for a six year period of 2016 – 2022, to assess how the market will develop.


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Genomics Market Expects Asia-Pacific to Drive CAGR of 7.5% Till at … – Digital Journal

Posted: at 7:41 am

Genomics Market Revenue, Spurred by Research Advances & Superior Crop Yields, is Expected to Exceed the $7 Billion Mark by 2022.

Genomics is the scientific field which primarily deals with the evolution, mapping and structure of a genome. Genome analysis is undertaken with the purpose of assigning numerical values to genes which orchestrate the production of various proteins. Over the past few decades, genomics companies have tried map out the mutation of a cells DNA in an effort to understand how diseases like cancer arise. Recent advances in bioinformatics have led to revolutionary research advances to understand critical biological organs like the brain. Another important factor driving DNA sequencing as well as other human genetics projects is the quest for immortality. Medical professionals are confident that as technology and their understanding advances, they can not only prolong the life of a human being, but also gain success in the pursuit for immorality. Hence, the Genomics Market is well placed to register significant growth during the forecast period of 2016-2022.

Scope & Regional Forecast of the Genomics Market

The Genomics Market considers the primary growth drivers to be a few factors like: an increasingly competitive pharmaceutical industry; human genetics being widely utilized during the development of new medicine categories; rising demand for genome analysis as governments look to modify plants and animals for enhanced yields and superior adaptability respectively; and a decline in the prices of equipment produced by genomics companies.

The Genomics Market expects Asia-Pacific to drive market expansion during the next few years as growing economies like China and India increasingly depend on genome sequencing for improving crop yields as well as to solve healthcare problems. India is home to a vibrant pharmaceutical industry which is constantly on the lookout for medical innovations which bring down the cost of drugs, treatments or procedures. The Genomics Market revenue is all set to exceed the $7 Billion mark by 2022 at a CAGR of 7.5%.

Avail Sample @

Segmentations & Key Players Involved in the Genomics Market

The Genomics Market can be broken down into various segmentations on the basis of –

Product Type: Products (DNA Microarrays, Electrophoresis, X-Ray Crystallography, Polymerase Chain Reaction (Pcr), DNA Sequencers, Chromatography) and Reagents Used.

Service Industry: Bio-Informatics Database, Bio-Informatics Tools and Laboratory Services.

End User Application: Anthropology, Agriculture, Cytogenetics, Diagnostics, Drug Discovery, Toxicogenomics and Others.

Geographical Location: Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World.

Some of the key players involved in the Genomics Market are as follows:

Why buy this report?

* The overall market has been consolidated from the perspective of different geographic locations and key economies for this market.

* Identifies growth sectors and factors driving or constraining the market.

* The market is analyzed based on the key attributes such as the power in the hands of producers and consumers, analysis on the degree of competition, and threats from substitutes and new entrants.

* The study includes the demand of this particular market on a global and regional scale for a six year period of 2016 – 2022, to assess how the market will develop.

Make an Inquiry @

Media Contact Company Name: IndustryARC Contact Person: Mr. Sanjay Matthews Email: Phone: 1-614-588-8538 (Ext: 101) Country: United States Website:

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Have Your Wishes For Care Known Before A Health Crisis Strikes … – NPR

Posted: February 6, 2017 at 2:43 pm

Helen was 82. She’d survived both breast cancer and outlived her husband.

One summer day she began bleeding from her colon and was admitted to the hospital. We assumed the worst another cancer. But after she endured a series of scans and being poked with scopes, we figured out that she had an abnormal jumble of blood vessels called an arteriovenous malformation in the wall of her colon.

The finding surprised us, but the solution was clear: Surgery to remove that part of her colon should stop the bleeding once and for all. The operation went well. But afterward Helen’s lungs filled with fluid from congestive heart failure. Then she caught pneumonia and had to be put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit.

Her medical problems and our treatments had simply stressed her aging organs beyond their capability.

On morning rounds I took inventory: Helen had a breathing tube in her throat connected to the ventilator; a large IV in her neck; a wire inserted into her wrist artery to measure her blood pressure; a surgical wound drain and a bladder catheter to collect her urine.

Helen was tethered to our ICU, with no clear sign of when or even if she would leave. Helen’s only daughter was distraughtboth about her mother’s condition and because she had never discussed what her mother would want in such a situation.

Helen was living out the fate of millions of Americans who don’t clearly state their medical wishes with an advance directive. Only about a quarter of American adults have an advance directive, according to a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

I found myself wishing we could just stop our full-court press on Helen. The humane thing to do, it seemed to me, would be to stop aggressive medical treatment and let nature take its course. After nearly two weeks of intensive care with no improvement in her condition, Helen’s daughter instructed us to stop the mechanical ventilator. She died an hour later.

Stories like Helen’s occur in ICUs all over the country every day, unfortunately. Often these situations are flashpoints of tension between the hopes and expectations of families and the realities seen by the medical team. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we lessen the stigma around death as an unmentionable topic by forcing ourselves to talk to our loved ones about what we want at the end of life, we can vastly diminish the amount of energy and suffering that come with trying to prolong life when nature tells us otherwise.

Many of us in the medical profession who have seen the futility of cases like Helen’s take steps to avoid spending our dying days in a hospital that way (or in a hospital at all). As Dr. Ken Murray wrote in a 2011 essay, doctors die differently, often forgoing invasive and expensive treatment. This approach is different than the one taken by most Americans, but shouldn’t be, he argued.

We know that Medicare typically spends a lot on people near the end of life. Medicare spending on inpatient hospital services in 2014 was seven times higher for people who died (‘decedents’) that year than those who survived.

I’ll admit that this is a bit of a tautology, because people sick enough to die from chronic illnesses and complications related to aging are much more likely to make ample use of their health insurance.

But in my view, the crux of the problem is the wide mismatch between what people say they want (to die at home) and where they wind up (still dying mostly in hospitals and nursing homes). As a result too many American deaths are still overly medicalized, robbing us of our chance at a peaceful passage.

The trend is moving in the right direction, however, as more of us express our care goals and die at home or in hospice.

One strategy is to imagine a point in your life when fighting to stay alive would be counterproductive. Would it be when you had advanced dementia and couldn’t recognize your family? What if you lost your ability to feed yourself? Work backward from there, and remember that when it comes to medical care, less is often more.

At that key point, your directive could limit your health care to seeking comfort rather than an attempted cure. You’ll have to be decisive about foregoing life-sustaining treatment, because of the inertia of the health care system and reluctance from our loved ones. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist, famously offered this viewpoint in a 2014 article titled, “Why I Hope to Die at 75.”

Emanuel’s argument led to pushback. Many people, like my parents, were offended at the idea of giving up on life at 75.

But that’s not what Emanuel was actually arguing. He didn’t write the story’s headline, which more accurately would have been something like, “Why I Plan to Stop Screening Tests at Age 75 Because They’re More Likely to Hurt Me Than Help Me.”

I checked with Emanuel, now 59, to see if he’d had any change of opinion.

“The article reflects my view,” he replied by email. “I am stopping … colonoscopies and other screening tests at age 75. I am stopping statins and other medications where the rationale is to extend my life.” He said he’s not trying to provoke. “It is my view. It is provocative only because other people find it so.”

Having cared for many patients like Helen, who wind up in a vortex of intense medical care, I find what Murray and Emanuel have suggested to be highly appealing.

That said, it’s important for those of us looking to de-medicalize death to remember that is our choice. Many people opt instead to do everything to stave off death.

The message is simple: Think deeply about what you want beforehand. Then tell your family. Share it with your doctor. We truly want to honor your wishes.

John Henning Schumann is an internal medicine doctor and serves as president of the University of Oklahoma’s Tulsa campus. He also hosts Studio Tulsa: Medical Monday on KWGS Public Radio Tulsa. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlassHospital.

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Marketing Immortality – JSTOR Daily

Posted: at 2:43 pm

Weve long been fascinated with the ideas of immortality and eternal youth. Around 220 BCE, Emperor Shihuangdi searched for the elixir of life. Juan Ponce de Len searched for the Fountain of Youth in the 1500s, and in 1890, Oscar Wildes Dorian Gray sold his soul for a perpetually pretty face. The Methuselah Mouse Prize, an award granted to teams that engineer older and healthier mice, took the fantasy out of our myths and put it into our laboratories.

Recently, a controversial $8,000 blood transfusion treatment shows that its also moved into our clinics.

Anti-aging technology isnt limited to groundbreaking medicine.

The provider, Jesse Karmazin, based the idea on a study that suggested aging in mice could be reversed, after old mice that were given blood from young ones for four weeks showed changes in hallmark signs of getting older. Participants can pay for an infusion of young peoples blood and plasma in the hopes itll rejuvenate their own systems.The study itself is unreliable, the treatment unproven, and the cost toclients is astronomical. Karmazin himself isnt a medical professional, but an entrepreneur who sees anti-aging research as a market opportunity. The business has the potential to garner $4.8 million.

Anti-aging technology isnt limited to groundbreaking medicine. It lines pharmacies and makeup counters. Wrinkle creams, skin repair formulas, vitamins, Viagra; these are small but concrete examples of the money poured into researching, packaging, and selling youth.Our aversion to aging has enabled the commercialization of immortality, despite its impossibility.

Given our current enthusiasm for staving it off, we may not realize age didnt always terrify us, perhaps because we didnt live long enough for it to.

Senectitude in 1481 originally meant old age; senescence was used in 1695 to mean growing old; and senile was used in 1661 to signify what was suited to old age. The term senility was used in 1791 to mean a state of being old or infirm due to old age. But by 1848 senile meant weakness, and by the late nineteenth century it indicated a pathological state. The term has taken on greater medical negative connotations ever since.

As our lives have grown longer, life span and health span have become crucially different. Although age brings benefitsfamilies, wisdom, stabilitythe accompanying physical degeneration, and its correlating limitations, make us hyperfocused on old ageas the signpost for the approaching end of life.

The fixation on defeating death has had the sideeffect of vilifying age. John A. Vincent writes, science as culture misdirects the way in which old age is understood. Rather than valuing life in all its diversity, including its final phase, it leads to misguided devotion of resources to solving the problem of death. The focus on biological failure sets up a cultural construction of old age which leads to the low esteem in which it is currently held.

Our desire for youth isnt just a fear of dying; its the desire to keep a life worth living, and for us, that means immortality is not merely living to 150. It means living to 150, perpetually age 30.

By: John A. Vincent

Sociology, Vol. 40, No. 4 (AUGUST 2006), pp. 681-698

Sage Publications, Ltd.

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How a Toronto doctor made medical and astronautical history – TVO

Posted: at 2:43 pm

On Jan. 11, while hurtling around Earth at gravity-defying speed, astronauts aboard the International Space Station did something that could revolutionize extraterrestrial health care: using a desktop-sized 3D printer, they made their own medical supplies, using blueprints downloaded direct from Toronto.

3D4MD, the company behind the historic feat, created the digital files, which can be printed out in three dimensions wherever needed. Its really not that different from a Microsoft Word file, says Julielynn Wong, founder of 3D4MD and its partner group, Medical Makers. And the library is similar to iTunes. The immediate benefits are clear: instead of taking up valuable room on spacecraft, astronauts can attend to medical emergencies by making custom supplies to order. The crowdsourced library of tools already includes finger splints and prosthetic hands and according to Wong, the best is yet to come.

Growing up in Ontario, Wong was always fascinated with space. As a child, she joined the Girl Guides and quickly accumulated achievement badges including an astronomy badge, which shes kept ever since. She joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets at 13 and got her glider-pilots licence three years later. Today she owns at least six drones, and races them for fun. One of the great things about racing drones, she says, is breaking them. Because then you have to fix them. Once you understand how technology works, then you can build it, and then you can teach others how to as well.

Her foray into 3D printing is only a first step in the burgeoning field of galactic medical care. Raffi Kuyumjian, a flight surgeon with the Canadian Space Agency, explains that getting regular medical tools to the ISS is simple enough although saving any shelf room on board is useful. But what gets Kuyumjian excited is the possibility of future innovations. Getting equipment to low-orbit is one thing, he says, but that becomes much more difficult on a deep-space mission for example, to a Martian colony. He continues: if we could get to a point where we could print medicine in space, so it would have a longer shelf-life, that could be critical. Right now, thats just science fiction.

Tell that to Wong. I have had discussions about that, she says, adding that last March the U.S Food and Drug Administration approved a 3D-printed pill. Printing pills in the solar system, she believes, is doable. It would have many benefits: you could customize doses and would only have to print what you need, she says. These solutions will outlive us. A future colonist could download that file and bring it to Mars. Its a form of immortality, if you think about it.


Wong calls her 3D printers Star Trek replicators, and her dream is to turn science fiction into reality. Still, she says, the really exciting possibilities are here on Earth.

One in seven Canadians lives with a disability, she says, statistics memorized. Nearly a billionpeople live on less than $2 a day, and 1.4 billion people lack access to electricity. These people are her target market. She envisions a future where any Canadian can go to a public library and print out a finger splint for $2 and meanwhile, in developing countries, medical supplies can be printed and drone-delivered to those in need. My dad is a physician, and he makes house calls, with his bag, she says. I like to think the 3D printer is the doctors bag of the future.

There are hurdles to clear: among other things, approval from regulatory boards (she still needs the FDA to clear her finger splints for terrestrial use) and, of course, cost. To date, 3D4MD is funded by ancillary income fees from keynote speeches, exhibitions, and corporate workshops. Wong is trying to tap new revenue sources, including corporate donors and a newmodel for the file library (wherethe basics are cheapbut customization costs extra).

At the very least, Wong already has a place in the medical and celestial history books. Were building a legacy to benefit humanity, says. Which is kind of nice.

Nathaniel Basen is a Toronto-based freelance journalist.

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Lingzhi Mushroom of Immortality –

Posted: January 31, 2017 at 9:41 am

Three Brightly Colored Lingzhi aka Reishi Mushrooms

Lingzhi mushrooms enjoy a worldwide reputation, as the ultimate herbal substance. In Chinese, lingzhi means herb of spiritual potency.

Lingzhi mushroom has successfully been used as an herbal medicine for thousands of years and is known as the Mushroom of Immortality.

Lingzhi mushrooms are one of the oldest and most effective mushrooms used in traditional Chinese medicine.

They have been effectively used as anti-inflammatories, antivirals, anti-parasitics, anti-fungals, anti-diabetics and anti-hypotensives.They have also been shown to effectively lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

Numerous studies of Lingzhi mushrooms have established their effectiveness in the treatment of a wide range of diseases and symptoms. The reason I have written about them here (and take them myself), is because of their ability to strengthen the respiratory system and their healing effect on the lungs. It has been shown that Lingzhi mushrooms are particularly beneficial for individuals with asthma, cough and other respiratory complaints.

In an article entitled, Medicinal Mushrooms, published in the January/February 1997 Issue of Herbs for Health, written by Christopher Hobbs, a population study conducted in the 1970s is offered as validation confirming this claim.

The article describes a population study conducted on more than 2000 Chinese with chronic bronchitis. They were instructed to consume Lingzhi mushroom syrup over a period of two weeks. Approximately 90% of this population reported significantly improved breathing as well as improved appetite.

Lingzhi mushrooms have also been successfully used in cardiovascular treatment, in bronchitis prevention, in the treatment of high blood pressure, hepatitis, HIV support, fatigue, allergies, chemotherapy support, altitude sickness, and high triglycerides. Due to the presence of triterpenes, lingzhi mushrooms are understood as an adaptogenic, anti-allergenic and anti-hypertensive.

Lingzhi mushrooms are soft, corky, and flat polypores. They have a kidney shaped, red varnished cap. Lingzhi mushrooms lack gills on their underside, and instead depending on their age, have white to dull brown fine pores, which they use to release their spores, the very reason their morphological classification is polypores.

Lingzhi mushrooms are classified into six categories, according to The Chinese Herbal Materia Medica, depending on their respective shape and color. Each of the six categories is said to nourish a different part of the body:

Lingzhi mushrooms can be consumed in high doses with other medications due to their generally slight side effects. Lingzhi has been shown to enhance the immune system and lessen nervous tension, which may help normalize and balance the body.

Lingzhi mushroom formulations are easily prepared. Simmering thinly sliced or pulverized Lingzhi mushrooms in a pot of boiling water for two hours is the traditional method. The resulting liquid is normally bitter in taste, with the less active black Lingzhi mushroom tasting less bitter than the more active red Lingzhi mushroom. The liquid can also be used to make an extract in liquid, capsule, or powder form, and be added to a formula decoction.

Some studies have shown that long-term use of Lingzhi mushrooms (approximately 4 months) can result in very mild side effects. These have included stomach upset, nosebleed, and dryness of the nasal passages, mouth and throat. These side effects were completely avoided by discontinuing the use of Lingzhi mushrooms for approximately 1 month after taking them for four months, then taking them again for four months.

Lingzhi mushrooms are available for sale all over the world. Both polysaccharides, and triterpenoids are available as a hot water extract and an alcohol extract. Lingzhi mushroom extracts may also be called reishi, reishi mushroom, ganoderma, ling zhi, and ling-zhi.

[UPDATE]: Ive written an article about an herbal asthma treatment called ASHMI Clear Breathing With Chinese Herbs which describes how Dr. Xiu-Min Li of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York combines Lingzhi Mushroom with three other herbs to produce a natural and effective asthma treatment. Its a good read.

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