What Does Koinonia Mean?

Koinonia is the Greek word for fellowship. It refers to community, one’s place in a group, and the representation of fellowship such as a joint gift. It appears seventeen times in the New Testament.

The concept of koinonia is an important one because it is supposed to characterize the church. John says that the purpose of the Gospel is to lead people to have koinonia with others and with God (1 John 1:3, 6-7). Several verses exhort us to have koinonia with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14; Philippians 2:1). And Acts 2:42 (NASB) says of the very young church, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Koinonia refers to more than the warm feeling of relationship. In Romans 15:26, which lists churches that have made a contribution to the poor in Jerusalem, “contribution” is the word koinonia. First Corinthians 10:16 says that communion is koinonia. Philippians 1:5 says we are to have an active koinonia with the Gospel. Philippians 3:10 tells us to have fellowship even with Christ’s sufferings.

Like many seeming-nouns in the Greek, the natural result of koinonia is inherent in its existence. That’s something we should remember: there is no fellowship without action. Our actions are widely influenced by our associations. Fellowship is both the unity of the group and whatever is brought forth out of that association.

For this reason, we are to be careful with whom we have koinonia. Second Corinthians 6:14 says “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Our associations direct our actions, and to be bound with unbelievers will inevitably lead to wrong actions. To have koinonia with God and other believers, however, is to find our place in the Body and the work of Christ.

Role of Dr. Fauci in Shaping Highly Influential Paper That Established COVID ‘Natural Origin’ Narrative Revealed

By Jeff Carlson and Hans Mahncke  January 27, 2022

New evidence has emerged that suggests that Dr. Anthony Fauci not only initiated efforts to cover up evidence pointing to a lab origin of SARS-CoV-2 but actively shaped a highly influential academic paper that excluded the possibility of a laboratory leak.

Fauci’s involvement with the paper wasn’t acknowledged by the authors as it should have been under prevailing academic standards. Neither was it acknowledged by Fauci himself, who denied having communicated with the authors when asked directly while testifying before Congress earlier this month.

The article “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2” was co-authored by five virologists, four of whom participated in a Feb. 1, 2020, teleconference that was hastily convened by Fauci, who serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and Jeremy Farrar, who heads the UK-based Wellcome Trust, after public reporting of a potential link between the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China and the COVID-19 outbreak.

The initial draft of “Proximal Origin” was completed on the same day the teleconference, which wasn’t made public, took place. Notably, at least three authors of the paper were privately telling Fauci’s teleconference group both during the call and in subsequent emails that they were 60 to 80 percent sure that COVID-19 had come out of a lab.

Until now, it wasn’t known what role, if any, Fauci played in shaping the contents of the paper, which formed the primary basis for government officials and media organizations to claim the “natural origin” theory for the virus. While the contents of emails previously released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show the paper clearly conflicts with the authors’ private views on the virus’s origin, it was unclear whether the authors had preemptively reshaped their views to please Fauci, or whether Fauci himself had an active role in shaping the article.

As the head of NIAID, Fauci controls a large portion of the world’s research funds for virologists. At least three virologists involved in the drafting of “Proximal Origin” have seen substantial increases in funding from the agency since the paper was first published. Any interference by Fauci in the paper’s narrative would present a serious conflict of interest.

Emails Show That Fauci, Collins Exerted Influence

Newly released notes taken by House Republican staffers from emails that still remain largely redacted clearly point to Fauci having been actively engaged in shaping the article and its conclusion. The GOP lawmakers gained limited access to the emails after a months-long battle with Fauci’s parent body, the Department of Health and Human Services.

The new emails reveal that on Feb. 4, 2020, one of the article’s co-authors, virologist Edward Holmes, shared a draft of “Proximal Origin” with Farrar. Like Fauci, Farrar controls the disbursement of vast amounts of funding for virology research.

Holmes prefaced his email to Farrar with the note that the authors “did not mention other anomalies as this will make us look like loons.” It isn’t known what other anomalies Holmes was referring to, but his statement indicates that the paper’s authors may have omitted certain anomalies of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, suggesting that the paper may have been narrative-driven from the start.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci (R), director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks while U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and Vice President Mike Pence listen during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, in the press briefing room of the White House on March 24, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

During Fauci’s teleconference, participants had discussed at least two anomalies specific to the virus: the virus’s furin cleavage site, which has never been observed in naturally occurring SARS coronaviruses, and the pathogen’s unusual backbone, which fails to match any known virus backbone.

Farrar almost immediately shared Holmes’s draft with Fauci and Collins via email, while excluding other participants of the teleconference. The ensuing email thread containing discussion among the three suggests that the reason for the secretiveness may have been that they were shaping the content of the paper itself, something that has never been publicly acknowledged.

It’s notable that the email thread included only the three senior members of the teleconference. Using Farrar as a conduit to communicate with the authors may have been seen by Fauci and Collins as adding a layer of deniability.

Fauci, Collins Express Concern Over ‘Serial Passage’

During a Feb. 4, 2020, email exchange among the men, Collins pointed out that the paper argued against an engineered virus, but that serial passage was “still an option” in the draft. Fauci appeared to share Collins’s concerns, noting in a one-line response: “?? Serial passage in ACE2-transgenic mice.”

Serial passage is a process whereby a virus is manipulated in a lab by repeatedly passing it through human-like tissue such as genetically modified mice, which mimic human lung tissue. This is notable given that during the Feb. 1 teleconference, at least three of the paper’s authors had advised Collins and Fauci that the virus may have been manipulated in a lab through serial passage or by genetic insertion of certain features.

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Then-National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins stands in Bethesda, Md., on Jan. 26, 2021. Collins stepped down in December 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

One day after Fauci and Collins shared their comments, on Feb. 5, 2020, Farrar emailed Fauci and Collins stating: “The team will update the draft today and I will forward immediately—they will add further comments on the glycans.”

The reference to glycans is notable as they are carbohydrate-based polymers produced by humans. The push by Fauci, Collins, and Farrar to have the paper’s authors expand on the issue of glycans appears to confirm that they were exerting direct influence on the paper’s content.

According to Rossana Segreto, a microbiologist and member of the virus origins search group DRASTIC, emphasizing the presence of glycans in SARS-CoV-2 might suggest that Fauci and his group were looking to add arguments against serial passage in the lab. A study later found that the paper’s prediction on the presence of the O-linked glycans wasn’t valid.

The newly released emails don’t reveal what additional discussions may have taken place among Fauci, Collins, and Farrar in the ensuing days. Perhaps that’s partly because Farrar had noted on another email thread addressed to Fauci’s teleconference group that scientific discussions should be taken offline.

Online Version Appears to Incorporate Fauci’s, Collins’s Suggestions

Eleven days later, on Feb. 16, 2020, “Proximal Origin” was published online. The paper argued aggressively for a natural origin of SARS-CoV-2.

An immediate observation from an examination of the Feb. 16 version of the paper is that “glycans,” the term that Farrar, Fauci, and Collins wanted to emphasize, is cited 12 times. We don’t know to what extent glycans were discussed in the Feb. 4 draft, as it remains concealed by National Institute of Health (NIH) officials.

An item of particular significance is that the Feb. 16 version omits any mention of the ACE2-transgenic mice that Fauci had initially flagged in his Feb. 4 email to Collins and Farrar. While the Feb. 16 version of the paper acknowledges that a furin cleavage site could have been generated through serial passage using animals with ACE2 receptors, the cited animals in the Feb. 16 version were ferrets—not transgenic mice.

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The P4 laboratory on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, on May 13, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

The authors’ use of ferrets is peculiar not only because the term “transgenic mice” was almost certainly used in the Feb. 4 version, but also because it was known at the time that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was conducting serial passage experiments on coronaviruses using ACE2 transgenic mice.

Even more conspicuously, the reference to ferrets was removed entirely from a March 17 updated version of the paper. In its place, a passage was added that stated “such work [serial passage experiments with ACE2 animals] has also not previously been described” in academic literature—despite the fact that the Wuhan Institute’s work with ACE2 transgenic mice has been extensively described in academic papers.

Published Version of ‘Proximal Origin’ Was Altered

Following the online publication of “Proximal Origin” on Feb. 16, 2020, the article was published in the prominent science journal Nature on March 17. In addition to the changes surrounding the transgenic mice, a number of other notable edits were made to strengthen the natural origin narrative.

On March 6, 2020, the paper’s lead author, Kristian Andersen, appeared to acknowledge the inputs from Collins, Farrar, and Fauci, when he emailed the three to say, “Thank you again for your advice and leadership as we have been working through the SARS-CoV-2’ origins’ paper.”

Perhaps most strikingly, the most often publicly cited passage from the March 17 version of the paper—which states, “We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible”—doesn’t appear in the Feb. 16 version. Additionally, while the Feb. 16 version states that “genomic evidence does not support the idea that SARS-CoV-2 is a laboratory construct,” the March 17 version was altered to read that “the evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 is not a purposefully manipulated virus.”

Similar changes in language are evident in various parts of the March 17 version. For example, a section that stated that “analysis provides evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct” was amended to read that “analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct.”

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A medical staff member gestures inside an isolation ward at Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan in China’s Hubei Province on March 10, 2020. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The March 17 version also omits an entire section from the Feb. 16 version that centered around an amino acid called phenylalanine. According to Segreto, a similarly situated amino acid in the original SARS virus had “mutated into phenylalanine as result of cell passage in human airway epithelium.” Segreto surmises that the “Proximal Origin” authors might have deleted this section so as not to highlight that the phenylalanine in SARS-CoV-2 might have resulted from serial passage in a lab.

Segreto’s analysis is backed up by the fact that another section in the Feb. 16 version—which states that “experiments with [the original] SARS-CoV have shown that engineering such a site at the S1/S2 junction enhances cell–cell fusion”—was reworded in the March 17 version to leave out the word “engineering.” Indeed, while the Feb. 16 version merely downplayed the possibility of the virus having been engineered in a lab, in the March 17 version, the word “engineered” was expunged from the paper altogether.

Another sentence omitted from the March 17 version noted that “interestingly, 200 residents of Wuhan did not show coronavirus seroreactivity.” Had the sentence remained, it would have suggested that, unlike other regions in China, no SARS-related viruses were circulating in Wuhan in the years leading up to the pandemic. That makes natural spillover less likely. The director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Shi Zhengli, herself admitted that she never expected a SARS-related virus to emerge in Wuhan. When viruses emerged naturally in the past, they emerged in southern China.

Shi’s credibility already was coming under fire for failing to disclose that she had the closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2 in her possession for seven years—a point noted early on by Segreto. Additionally, the Wuhan Institute took its entire database of viral sequences offline on Sept. 12, 2019. Despite the Wuhan Institute’s documented deletion and concealment of data, “Proximal Origin” ’s central argument is that SARS-CoV-2 had to be natural since its backbone didn’t match any known backbones.

However, even before the March 17 version was published, Segreto had stated publicly that the paper’s central backbone argument was inherently flawed, precisely because there was no way of knowing whether the Chinese lab had published the relevant viral sequences.

Fauci, Collins, Farrar Roles Improperly Concealed

The email exchange among Fauci, Farrar, and Collins presents clear evidence that the three men took an active role in shaping the narrative of the paper. Indeed, a careful comparison of the Feb. 16 and March 17 versions shows that the changes made fail to reflect any fundamental change in scientific analysis.

Instead, the authors employed linguistic changes and wholesale deletions that appear to have been designed to reinforce the natural origin narrative.

Close scrutiny of the email discussions by the three scientists also suggests that there was no legal justification for redacting any of the newly released information in the first place.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, talks to members of the press prior to an event at the State Dining Room of the White House on Jan. 21, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Science journals require that contributions to scientific papers need to be acknowledged. According to Nature’s publishing guidelines, “Contributors who do not meet all criteria for authorship should be listed in the Acknowledgements section.” The newly revealed sections of the still-redacted emails appear to confirm that Fauci, Farrar, and Collins met the criteria for acknowledgment, yet their names have never appeared on any published version of the paper, suggesting that the three didn’t want their involvement in its creation to be known.

Collins Asked Fauci ‘to Help Put Down’ Fox News Story

A final email released by the House Republicans shows that Collins wrote Fauci several months later on April 16, 2020, telling him that he had hoped that “Proximal Origin” would have “settled” the origin debate, but that it apparently hadn’t, since Bret Baier of Fox News was reporting that sources were confident the virus had come out of a lab.

Collins asked Fauci whether the NIH could do something “to help put down this very destructive conspiracy” that seemed to be “growing momentum.” Collins also suggested that he and Fauci ask the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to weigh in. As was revealed in previous emails released under FOIA, Fauci’s group had pushed NASEM in early February 2020 to promote the natural origin narrative.

Fauci told Collins that the lab leak theory was a “shiny object” that would go away in time. However, the next day, Fauci took responsive action when he categorically dismissed the possibility of a lab origin of COVID-19 during on April 17, 2020, White House press conference. In doing so, Fauci cited the “Proximal Origin” paper as corroboration of his claims. Notably, Fauci feigned independence, telling reporters that he couldn’t recall the names of the authors. Unbeknownst to reporters and the public at the time, four out of the five authors had participated in Fauci’s Feb. 1, 2020, teleconference.

Now, we know that Fauci had involvement in shaping the very article that he cited.

Fauci’s intervention at the April 17 White House briefing was effective, since media interest in the lab leak theory quickly waned. It didn’t resurface until May 2021, when former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade published an article discussing the likelihood of a lab leak. Wade noted that “[a] virologist keen to continue his career would be very attentive to Fauci’s and Farrar’s wishes.”

Notably, Segreto had raised a similar concern after “Proximal Origin” was first published in February 2020, asking whether certain virologists were scared that if the truth came out, their research activities would be curtailed.

What have we lost to our smartphone addiction

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Tero Vesalainen I Shutterstock

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Daniel Esparza01/26/22

The leisure time that we would normally spend on recovering from work has been traded for sheer data consumption.

In a recently published book, Human Virtuality and Digital Life, the philosopher Victor J. Krebs analyzes our understanding of the virtual as a prosthetic extension of our natural capacities, helping us do things better, faster, more efficiently. The virtual is prevalently thought of as an improvement — hence, augmented reality. Even virtual realities and metaverses, commonly thought of as mere copies of the already-existing universe in a non-material horizon, promise a better experience of it: they are (supposedly) more fun, more productive, more real.

However, the idea of the “virtual” was originally linked with potentialities instead. It was not so much about doing things “better,” but making things be what they are supposed to be. The medieval Latin virtualis, Krebs reminds the reader, derives from the original Latin virtus, meaning not necessarily “virtue” (as one might naturally assume) but rather “potency,” a word traditionally used in ancient Greek philosophy to designate the capacity things have to be or do something. A seed, for example, is potentially (virtually) a tree, and a tree is potentially (virtually) a log cabin. But what is a human being potentially?

A classic, ancient, major philosophical question asks why is there something rather than nothing. The noted (and most controversial) existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger famously called it “the fundamental question of metaphysics.” Some later contemporary thinkers maintain virtual reality has made this question even more complicated by inaugurating an in-between space that is not something — yet not strictly “nothing” either. Augmented and virtual realities and metaverses, while not being things, are nevertheless something: they are “out there,” yet also “right here,” even “in here.” They have a kind of presence of their own. How can these intermediate “entities” affect our material lives, our understanding of the “real,” our online and offline behaviors, and our everyday decisions? How do they shape what we potentially (virtually) are?

Whereas most people would not be able (or willing) to spend $650,000 on a virtual mega-yacht, we do buy, consume, interact, and treasure digital objects. We carefully shape our internet profiles, keep (more or less tidy) photo albums on Facebook, “save” online game parties, and do our best to maintain a more or less coherent online persona. When done correctly, we get that sweet virtual (yet oh-so-real) reward we all crave: likes.In a recent interview with Sergio C . Fanjul published in El País, the South Korean-born Swiss-German philosopher Byung-Chul Han compares “likes” to “digital amens“: they are the ultimate “virtual” validation of who we are, what we say, how we look, what we do, who we are with, what we eat, etc. Likes permeate every single aspect of our (online) shared lives. Is that what we human beings potentially are, “likable” beings? It is true that being unpleasant or hateful for the sake of it is pointless. Can we say the same about being “likable”?

Smartphones, Han explains, play a dual role in our quasi-virtual existence: they are both digital workplaces and digital confessionals. As workplaces, smartphones have managed to displace idleness and contemplation. Han notes how contemporary human existence has been entirely absorbed by relentless, non-stop activity, thus making it easily exploitable: virtuality has made the workday virtually infinite, replacing leisure time with more activity. One is always available, as we all know, we keep our smartphones at hand, even (or especially) when we are not working. The leisure time that we would normally spend to recover from work (but also to enrich one’s life with a deeper experience of the world, of ourselves, of others, of nature, of God) has been traded for sheer data consumption. In Fanjul’s interview, Han elaborates on why we need to put a halt to information:

“We need information to be silenced. Otherwise, our brains will explode. Today we perceive the world through information. That’s how we lose the experience of being present. We are increasingly disconnected from the world. We are losing the world. The world is more than information, and the screen is a poor representation of the world. We revolve in a circle around ourselves. The smartphone contributes decisively to this poor perception of the world. A fundamental symptom of depression is the absence of the world.”

But also, being the cult objects of our digitally-driven lives, smartphones work “like a rosary and its beads,” our fingers relentlessly scrolling down or swiping right and left — a pattern “religiously” repeated, as if trading one habit for another, going from (inward) meditation to (outward) voyeurism. The main difference, Han claims, is we don’t use smartphones to ask for graces or forgiveness, but to call for attention instead. Whereas the Rosary is a contemplative, inward-oriented prayer, the kind of narcissistic exhibitionism/voyeurism that abounds on social media runs in an entirely opposite direction. This compulsive need to reach out does not necessarily translate, Han suggests, into a real relationship with others. It is, instead, the symptom of a collective depression.

“When we are depressed,” Han goes on, “we lose our relationship with the world, with the other. We sink into a scattered ego. I think digitalization, and the smartphone, make us depressed […] As a child, I remember holding my mother’s hand at the dentist’s office. Today the mother will not offer the child her hand, but a cellphone. Support does not come from others, but from oneself. That makes us sick. We have to recover the other person.”

Encountering God More Deeply in Your Life

Dear Brian,

I am edified by your desire for God’s will in your life.  Regardless of what you may feel, the desire for God’s will is an infallible sign of grace working in your life.  Hence, there is reason to rejoice and be encouraged!  The reason for this is simple: no matter how clever, smart, or even holy we may think we are; we are always merely responding to God’s initiative.  In the spiritual life, there are no original ideas!

You have asked me for some practical ways that can enable you to both hear and discover God’s presence more deeply in your life.  What various holy men and women have discovered throughout history are not infallible means to make this occur, but rather a few tools that can help one become more receptive to God’s presence and action in their life.  Here, I would like to simply mention two.

The first tool to help you encounter God more deeply in your life is praying with Scripture.  If you are able, it would be ideal to spend 15-30 minutes a few days a week praying with the Gospels.  Notice I said praying with the Gospels and not studying them!  What does this mean?  Practically it means selecting a relatively short passage from the Gospels (usually no more than 10-15 verses), reading it slowly, pondering the words or action that is occurring, and allowing yourself to enter into its content.  As you read the passage, what strikes you as interesting, odd, or even attractive?  How does Jesus seem to you in the passage: loving and compassionate or maybe even angry or distant?  Perhaps, if your imagination allows you to, you can place yourself in the scene that you are pondering.  What are you like before Jesus?  What is he like before you?

Whether it is pondering the words of Jesus or imagining yourself in the Gospel scene, the most important thing is that you begin to discuss with Him whatever it is your experience of the passage might be.  The whole purpose of praying with the Scriptures is not merely to have nice thoughts or beautiful meditations, but to engage in a dialogue with the One who is the very meaning of the Scriptures, the Lord Jesus Himself!  In this heart-to-heart dialogue, you will learn more about God, yourself, and His will for you than any book or class could ever teach you.

The Word of God operates on various levels.  There is a theological, historical, and even philosophical dimension to it that is both necessary and important.  Another aspect of the Word of God, just as important as the others mentioned, is what I like to call its “living reality.”  In other words, when we read and pray with the Scriptures we are not merely reading about history or theology, but we are encountering a Reality that is both alive and fresh.  Regardless of how old certain events may be that we are pondering, they are for the believer, always an opportunity to encounter the Lord anew.  As the Letter to the Hebrews affirms, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

This simple practice of praying with the Gospels has had an enormous effect on my own life.  When I was in college and trying to discern God’s will for my own life, it was this simple practice of praying with the Gospels that not only strengthened me in the faith but also brought about an enormous amount of insight and clarity concerning my own vocation.  I can honestly say that during those solitary times of prayer with God’s word, I encountered the Living God and it was from that encounter that I discovered the path he was leading me on.  May it be so with you as well!

The second tool to help you encounter God more deeply in your life is what I like to call, examining your life.  Unfortunately, many people believe that God is separate from one’s own life and that the details and circumstances of life are somehow an obstacle to God.  The truth is,  if you really want to find God, the only place you have to look at is your life!  Unfortunately, this usually only occurs in retrospect.  Hence the need to occasionally take a step back and examine your life.

Perhaps once a week or monthly it might be helpful to ask yourself a few questions?  What is it in your life right now that brings you genuine joy and peace?  What in your life seems to cause you anxiety or fear?  What is it that I sense the Lord is saying to me in prayer?  Has there been an event, a time of prayer, a person, etc. that revealed God’s presence to me in a way that I wasn’t expecting or planning?  If so, what do I believe the Lord was trying to say to me in that situation?  In short, where do I sense the Lord’s presence in my life in the past few weeks and where do I not sense his presence?  The whole point of this little exercise is twofold.  First, to discover the Lord’s presence in our life and then orient our life, as best we can, to where God’s presence appears to be for us.

You mentioned to me a few weeks ago that every time you volunteer at the soup kitchen you experience a deep peace and joy welling up from within you.  I was immediately struck by your words because this peace and joy do not appear to have a natural explanation.  First, you often arrive at the soup kitchen after a long day of teaching, and most likely, what you really want to do is seek out some rest and relaxation, something which the soup kitchen does not provide.  Second, some people might say this peace and joy that you experience comes from simply doing a good deed.  However, your life is filled with good deeds.  You spend all day teaching and often stay at school after hours to tutor those students who you perceive are struggling without any charge.  Finally, volunteering at the soup kitchen provides absolutely no earthly incentive.  You are not being paid at the soup kitchen, volunteering there offers you no career advancement opportunities, and most of the time much of your work is often unnoticed and unappreciated by both the poor who you serve and those whom you minister with.

It seems to me, then, that an important question arises.  Where does the peace and joy that you experience at the soup kitchen come from?  Is it the Lord that you are meeting there and who is perhaps drawing you into a deeper relationship with both him and the poor through this volunteering opportunity?  Is he inviting you into a ministry with the poor, a religious vocation, or is the whole experience with the poor meant to serve as a catalyst for your own deeper conversion?

The fact is that neither I nor anybody else can tell you exactly what God is saying or doing in your life.  My point in asking you these questions is merely meant to spark reflection on your part.  In my own humble opinion, it appears that your experience at the soup kitchen is worth paying attention to, and at the very least, bringing it before the Lord in prayer.  If there is something of the Lord more deeply at work in this, a prayerful openness to his movement here will only bring about a greater clarity and discernment in due time concerning the true nature of your experience.

In the meantime, be assured of my prayers for you Brian.  Discernment is often a long process, not because God doesn’t want to help us, but because we are usually so slow in perceiving and responding to God’s work!  When I have discovered God’s will in various areas of my own life and acted on them, I often sensed the Lord saying to me with a smile, “Welcome, I have been waiting for you here!”    I pray that these simple tools of praying with Scripture and examining your life can aid you in discovering more deeply where God is already waiting for you!

Dr. Rath Research Institute Study Demonstrates Efficacy Of Specific Combination Of Plant Extracts & Micronutrients Against Coronavirus Variants

A new study carried out by scientists at the Dr. Rath Research Institute compares the efficacy of combinations of plant extracts and micronutrients against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and its Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Kappa, and Mu variants. Testing 5 different formulas on human lung cells, a combination containing vitamin C, N-acetylcysteine, and 7 specific plant extracts was found to be highly effective in simultaneously inhibiting multiple mechanisms of viral infection. Together with the recently established clinical evidence that vitamin C infusions can successfully combat COVID-19 even in its advanced stages, the scientists propose that the use of plant extracts could represent a new approach against SARS-CoV-2 and its various mutations.

Published in the European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology, the paper describes how it is foreseeable that control of the rapidly emerging mutations of SARS-CoV-2 will be compromised by the need to potentially develop new vaccines for every new variant, as well as by the related scientific, economic, and social consequences resulting from following such a strategy. As such, it is becoming increasingly clear that new approaches to controlling the pandemic are urgently needed.

In contrast to the risks of RNA- and DNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, the use of natural compounds provides an opportunity to simultaneously control a variety of mechanisms associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection with a high margin of safety. Earlier studies conducted at the Dr. Rath Research Institute have already identified the efficacy of plant-derived compounds against cellular mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infectivity.

In this latest study, the institute’s scientists evaluated the efficacy of combinations of micronutrients and plant extracts against newly emerged mutated forms of SARS-CoV-2 and the activity of key enzymes involved in viral processing in human lung cells. The approach aimed at simultaneously inhibiting multiple cellular mechanisms involved in SARS-CoV-2 infectivity, thereby opening up new avenues towards global control of the pandemic.

The scientists found that all 5 of the plant extract and micronutrient combinations tested inhibited the binding of the virus to its angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) cellular receptor by at least 50 percent. Particularly impressively, a formula containing vitamin C, N-acetylcysteine, resveratrol, theaflavin, curcumin, quercetin, naringenin, baicalin, and broccoli extract was able to inhibit binding by 90 percent, as well as decrease the availability of ACE2 receptors on human lung cells and reduce the activity of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), an enzyme necessary for viral replication. The 9-component combination was effective against all 6 of the SARS-CoV-2 variants used in the study.

The scientists say that, with its aim of simultaneously controlling several cellular mechanisms associated with SARS-CoV-2 infectivity, their study represents a new and comprehensive approach to COVID-19. The results clearly show that when combined, the 9 plant extracts and micronutrients can significantly affect critical steps in the cellular infectivity of the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and its Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Kappa, and Mu mutations. Together with the clinical evidence that high-dose intravenous vitamin C greatly reduces mortality from COVID-19, the scientists conclude that the use of plant extracts could open up new avenues towards an effective global control of the pandemic.

Families Sneak Ivermectin to Loved Ones in Hospitals With COVID-19, See Improvement

By Nanette Holt  January 26, 2022

A Florida doctor says families of loved ones hospitalized with COVID-19 are resorting to desperate measures when approved treatments have failed.

And when it’s not too late, some have seen tremendous success by sneaking medications prohibited by hospitals to patients, says Eduardo Balbona, an independent internist in Jacksonville.

He’s helped dozens of seriously ill patients recover using ivermectin and other drugs and supplements not officially approved in the treatment of COVID-19, he says.

Hospitals receive payments from the federal government for treating patients with COVID-19. But those payments are tied to their use of approved treatments only, as outlined in the CARES Act. When there’s nothing left to try under those protocols, families naturally research alternatives,  Balbona says, often learning about treatments touted by independent physicians around the country.

Hoping to try anything that might work, families around the country have filed lawsuits asking judges to intervene.

In some cases, judges have ordered hospitals to allow the use of other treatments, such as ivermectin. Some of those seriously ill patients have recovered. In other cases, judges have sided with hospitals and declined the families’ requests to try. 

Meanwhile, independent physicians like Balbona watch helplessly, feeling that when families ask, they should be allowed to try medications they believe can turn critically ill patients around. But independent doctors often have limited hospital privileges and may be banned from seeing their own patients in some hospitals. 

Epoch Times Photo
Eduardo Balbona, M.D., completed specialty training in internal medicine at the National Naval Medical Center and served as a physician at the U.S. Capitol, caring for senators, congressmen, and Supreme Court Justices. (Eduardo Balbona, M.D.)

That was the case recently for Balbona, who was contacted by a worried wife after she read in The Epoch Times about his involvement in another family’s lawsuit seeking to try his recommendations.

Based on what the woman told him, Balbona said he felt strongly her husband could recover if treated with the regimen he prescribes for seriously ill COVID-19 patients. The treatment protocol he follows, with slight modifications based on each patient’s needs, was developed by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance. 

“The husband was very ill,” Balbona said. “He’s in his 50s, a big strong guy. She called me desperate because they gave him remdesivir [in the hospital] and she made them stop it, and he started getting worse and worse. And his oxygen demand went up.”

By the time she called Balbona for help, her husband needed 60 liters of oxygen per minute. That’s too high to manage at home, even with rented medical equipment, Balbona said.

“If you can get them down to 40 or 50 [liters per minute] you can do high-flow oxygen at that level,” Balbona told The Epoch Times. “That’s a lot of oxygen.”

He said he promised he’d try if her husband improved enough to go home. And then he’d take over managing his care. Meanwhile, he said, he gave her prescriptions, so she could collect the medications she’d need at home. That was on a Friday.

He learned later that she’d filled the prescriptions, took the medications to the hospital, and gave them to her husband. By Tuesday, the man was discharged and fully following the protocol Balbona prescribed. A few days later, he was off the oxygen. Now, he’s recovering, Balbona said. But they’re afraid to share their good news publicly.

Epoch Times Photo
A medical worker treats a non Covid-19 patient in the ICU ward at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on Jan. 4, 2022. (JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

“The people who snuck in the ivermectin… they are scared to death,” Balbona said. “She is sure that the government is going to find out who she is” and possibly arrest her for giving medications not approved by the hospital.

He said she told him, “I did it. I knew it was wrong. I don’t know what the penalties are. What could they do to me?”

And that’s the real crime, Balbona believes.

In New Hampshire, lawmakers now are considering legislation that would make the state the first in the country to make Ivermectin available as an over-the-counter medicine, and sanction it as a protected treatment for COVID-19. Similar bills in three other states have failed.

The bill’s sponsor,  Rep. Leah Cushman (R) is a registered nurse, who told The Epoch Times, “I have absolutely no doubt lives will be saved if human grade ivermectin was available to COVID patients.”

Two doctors testified about her proposed bill, warning the legislation could lead to dangerous side effects for people who use the drug. But Cushman believes she’ll have the votes to keep the bill moving toward becoming law.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19, though the drug is used in humans to treat a variety of conditions. 

An FDA web page warning against using ivermectin for COVID-19 also mentions that clinical trials investigating it as a treatment are ongoing.

The FDA has not responded to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) asking for details about any reports of side effects related to the use of ivermectin — formulations for animals and humans —  to treat COVID-19. The agency also has not responded to a FOIA request for details about clinical trials and when the drug could reach the stage when its use under the Right To Try Act could be allowed.

Studies about the safety and efficacy of using ivermectin in the treatment for COVID-19 have led to all or part of 22 countries approving its use. But in the United States, doctors who rely on payments from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services aren’t allowed to use it.

Gay Is Not God’s Identity, Nor That of Priests

Some Catholic priests in Germany don’t want to “hide their identity anymore”—but what is their identity, really?

Over a hundred Catholic officials, including many priests, have publicly declared themselves to be LGBT and have demanded the Church “end discrimination and exclusion” of people who identify that way. This isn’t surprising, given that last May, priests in nearly a hundred German Catholic churches defied the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and proceeded to bless same-sex unions.

“I don’t want to hide my sexual identity any more,” Uwe Grau, a priest in the diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, was quoted on the group’s website as saying.
“We are part of the church,” added Raphaela Soden, who works in pastoral care for young adults and identifies as queer and non-binary. “We always have been. It’s time to finally make it clear that we exist and how wonderfully queer the body of Christ is.” The statement called for “free access to all pastoral vocations”, and an end to what the signatories called a “system of concealment, double standards, and dishonesty” surrounding LGBT issues. “Entering into a non-heterosexual relationship or marriage must never be considered a breach of loyalty and, consequently, an obstacle to employment or a reason for dismissal,” they said.

As Catholics, we should be compassionate toward those who struggle with same-sex attractions, but we should also challenge people who have adopted an obstinate or rebellious attitude toward God and his Church.

Notice that these Catholics are not “coming out” in the sense of asking for mercy as they struggle to live chastely in accord with the Church’s teachings. There is no acknowledgment of sin—like what we see when St. Paul confesses, “I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom. 7:15, 22-24).

Instead, this is a celebration of disordered sexual attractions and a demand that the Church do the opposite of what Paul advised in Romans 12:2 and conform itself to this world and its sinful ways. So how should we respond?

First, we should not encourage this kind of attitude through terms like gay Catholics. This reinforces the idea that any sexual desire is a core part of a person’s identity that should be recognized and even celebrated. According to the CDF:

The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation . . . . [The Church] refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.

When priests with same-sex attractions say they don’t want to “hide their identity,” they have failed to understand both their true identity as children of God and their identity as spiritual fathers to God’s children. Given that nearly all Latin-rite priests—meaning nearly all priests—have taken vows of celibacy, why would their sexual attractions be a part of their public identity? Celibate priests with opposite-sex attractions wouldn’t consider their prudent decision not to publicly talk about their sexual attraction to women to be a “denial of their identity.” Celibate priests with same-sex attractions should have the same attitude.

Second, we should strip away euphemisms and talk about blunt realities. A non-heterosexual relationship or “marriage” refers to the sin of sodomy or to sodomy that the State erroneously calls a marriage. If a person can be in good standing with the Church in these kinds of relationships, then why not defend the rights of adulterers or polygamists to enter into “non-monogamous relationships”?

Third, we should distinguish between just and unjust discrimination. The Catechism says with regard to people who identify as homosexual that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (2358). Firing someone from a lay position merely because he has a same-sex attraction could be unjust discrimination, just as it could be unjust to fire someone merely because he struggles with racist thoughts. But it’s an entirely different matter when a person publicly makes a disordered or evil attraction a core part of his identity, and he wants others to praise it, and he engages in that evil behavior, and he even encourages others to do the same.

Keep in mind that there are cases where it can be just to discriminate against a person because of his attractions rather than his actions. A Catholic university might require a live-in residential adviser for an all-female dorm to be female herself to avoid occasions of sin (or at least awkwardness) and even the appearance of impropriety. Likewise, the CDF has said that those with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” may not be admitted to the priesthood, which makes sense, given the psychological criteria outlined by the CDF and the practical difficulty of priests living and working together in close quarters.

Finally, we must remember that the burden of having disordered attractions is like other crosses we humans carry through no fault of our own—things like sickness, temptations to drugs or alcohol, coping with the death of a loved one, dealing with spousal abandonment, or the need to care for a disabled family member. In these and all cases of trial, our response must be to turn to God and away from the idea that following a temptation to sin will be easier.

This means the cross is not incidental to our call to follow Christ, but rather an essential part of it. That’s why Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). If anyone should be modeling that for Catholics, it should be priests, who stand before a cross every day and re-present Christ’s one sacrifice on the altar.

And if they are not willing to do that, then competent ecclesial authorities should compassionately offer them spiritual rehabilitation and prudently prevent them from leading the faithful astray.

The Paradoxes of Great Leadership

01.14.22

Eight ParadoxesLIFE is full of paradoxes. Sometimes we move forward by backing off, performing while being reflective, being an extrovert and an introvert, leading and following, confident and humble. Paradoxes are not to be solved but managed. It is a continuum to move along. It requires a heightened level of awareness. Leaders bring clarity to these paradoxes.

In The Eight Paradoxes of Great Leadership by Tim Elmore, he covers eight such paradoxes of uncommon leaders. In such volatile times, embracing these paradoxes is critical for effective leadership.

Leadership is seldom easy, but today it affords us the challenge of collaborating with a more educated, more entitled, more savvy population that has greater expectations of satisfaction and rewards than in past generations. Uncommon leaders stand out because they are able to juggle seemingly contradictory traits to lead such people.

Elmore introduces many great concepts and (sometimes very moving) stories to illuminate these paradoxes. He gets into the nitty-gritty of what these paradoxes look like or how they are practiced in everyday situations.

I’ll just give you a flavor of each, so you get the idea of where Elmore is headed with these paradoxes and how you might begin to recognize them in your own leadership.

Paradox #1: Uncommon Leaders Balance Both Confidence and Humility

Leading today requires combining these two attributes—confidence and humility. Reality changes so quickly, leaders cannot become arrogant, but remain in a learning posture. At the same time, team members long for their leaders to inspire them with confidence.

Confidence plus humility furnishes the energy of certainty and the flexibility of teachability to create synergy in partnerships.

Confidence believes you can do the job. Cockiness believes it will be easy.

Paradox #2: Uncommon Leaders Leverage Both Their Vision and Their Blind Spots
Vision gives leaders (and teams) a direction, but blind spots are often the very motivator that enables them to approach an idea in an unconventional way—and believe they can pull it off. Most new ventures require a leader to possess a clear target they want to hit. At the same time, their inability to see all the obstacles or challenges ahead of time helps them to maintain their energy as they try to hit their target. In short, leaders usually have to see something and fail to see something to reach their goal.

When Elmore talks about blind spots, he’s talking about rookie smarts. He’s not talking about the blind spots of character that lead us to the wrong choices. Regarding these kinds of blind spots, he notes, “Our blind spots are often found conspicuously close to ur strengths.”

Paradox #3: Uncommon Leaders Embrace Both Visibility and Invisibility

In the beginning of any mission, most people need a visible leader, demonstrating what to do and clarifying the goal. Over time, however, these people need the leader to step aside to let them realize their potential.

These people lead—and then get out of the way. In short, they embrace the paradox of being both visible and invisible at the right moments.

Paradox #4: Uncommon Leaders Are Both Stubborn and Open-Minded

Leaders will never reach a goal without being strong-willed. Without a stubborn will, obstacles will stop them. At the same time, they’d be naïve to think they have all the answers at the beginning of a venture. They must be open to voices of counsel; to flex and to adapt to changing realities.

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said it best, “The most incredibly interesting thing about being a leader is what adjustments you make and how to make them while keeping your core principles alive and well.”

If we’re going to be open-minded leaders, we must possess both emotional security and a strong will. We must be emotionally secure enough to digest contrary ideas and strong-willed enough to mote merely swallow every novel idea just because it’s new.

Paradox #5: Uncommon Leaders Are Both Deeply Personal and Inherently Collective
People need big-picture vision from their leader, someone who grasps the gravity of what’s happened, and the steps required to respond to it. At the same time, people need a leader who empathizes with their personal journey; someone who understands how the struggle feels to individuals, and who articulates the vision with a personal touch.

Elmore adds, “Wise leaders seemed to understand their people and offered three gifts:” context to problems, applications (practical action steps), and belief (hope for a better future).

Paradox #6: Uncommon Leaders Are Both Teachers and Learners

In our day of unceasing change, leaders are forced to be teachers, and organizations are forced to adapt. To do this, however, these leaders must first and foremost be lifelong learners, always adapting and never resting on what they know. Leaders are both receptacles of information and libraries of information.

The prerequisite for remaining a learner while you are a teacher is emotional security. If you’re an insecure leader, you’ll soon begin defending your past ideas; you’ll feel threatened or even displaced if someone has a better solution than yours.

Paradox #7: Uncommon Leaders Model Both High Standards and Gracious Forgiveness
The paradox of this uncommon leader is their propensity to forgive people. It’s not that they lower their standards. It’s simply that they’re able to absolve a team member who acknowledges they failed to meet the standard and chooses to improve. Forgiveness isn’t approving what happened. It’s choosing to rise above it. Forgiveness does not remove the past, but it does expand the future.

When team members know their leader holds high standards, yet is willing to forgive mistakes, it frees them to push themselves, take appropriate risks, and initiate when they might normally hold back and play it safe.

Paradox #8: Uncommon Leaders Are Both Timely and Timeless

Uncommon leaders in the twenty-first century must balance this very difficult paradox. First, they must embrace and advance timeless principles that make for lasting success, values that have stood the test of time and worked in all generations and in every context. At the same time, these leaders must leverage culturally relevant methods and futuristic resources.

Their core identity is ageless, but their mode of operation is cutting edge and sets the pace for others. They’re passionate to pursue future opportunities, but in their appetite for progress, they never leave behind core virtues, values, and disciples.