John Heubusch & The Conspiracy Of The Shroud,
A: From a political perspective, I’d gone off the grid. I was living in La Jolla, CA and loving life working for Ted Waitt, the marketing genius and founder of Gateway Computers. Through his foundation and institute, we were involved in some interesting scientific and historical adventures, from searching for Amelia Earhart’s airplane in the South Pacific to uncovering and authenticating the lost “Gospel of Judas.” It was a fantastic adventure as most things involving Ted tend to be. Then I got a phone call which turned out to be one of those life changers. “Would you consider running President Reagan’s foundation?” The organization had seen a lot of candidates but hadn’t found the person they felt possessed the right mix of political, government, business and philanthropic experience. I provided the best fit at the time. And I was looking to give something back as well. It was President Reagan who inspired me to enter public service right out of college. That launched me onto a career path I was fortunate to follow. When Mrs. Reagan called to offer me the job, I felt the Reagan Foundation provided a great opportunity to support something important to her and the organization doing so much in service to the country.
Q: Did you ever meet Ronald Reagan?
A: Yes, but only in passing on a receiving line. I spent the entire eight years of the Reagan Administration working on Capitol Hill promoting his economic agenda, the last two years in particular from the vantage point of the House Budget Committee as an Associate staff member. I also served as the Staff Director for the highly active Military Reform Caucus where we did a great deal of work to ensure the Reagan defense buildup consisted of weapons systems that were fully battle tested and would perform flawlessly in an intense combat environment. Interestingly, many of the weapon systems we are successfully using in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other areas today got their start in an R & D budget during the Reagan Administration thirty years ago.
Q: What was the most surprising thing you learned about him?
A: I always knew that President and Mrs. Reagan had a close relationship. But I didn’t understand the strength of their marriage and bond until I was at the Reagan Foundation and had the chance to read the President’s extensive personal diaries for the first time. As everyone knows, his diaries were published and became a New York Times best-seller. I had lunch with Mrs. Reagan after I finished reading the diaries and I told her I felt they read more like a love story to me than an accounting of life’s experiences. Mrs. Reagan said to me “ours was a love story. So it was only natural the diaries read that way too.”
Q: How was your relationship with Mrs Reagan?
A: Wonderful. We got along quite well. She was on the foundation’s board of trustees and was highly engaged and interested in all our plans and activities. After President Reagan passed, I think she felt the foundation was a critical part of her life’s work and purpose. So, naturally, she was very interested in ensuring that we succeeded in all we set out to do. She established some clear goals: raise a healthy endowment; modernize and renovate the original museum; celebrate the President’s Centennial in fine fashion; among many other things. We surpassed many of our goals with her guidance and direct help and I think she was pleased with what we accomplished.
Q: What are your typical duties at the foundation?
A: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute is the only nonprofit organization established by President Reagan to carry on his work. It receives no taxpayer funding in its mission to preserve and promote his legacy of less taxes, less government, less regulation and more freedom. We operate a wide array of programs meant to preserve and promote his legacy with a particular emphasis on educating future generations on the values and ideals important to President Reagan. As a result, my role as the organization’s executive director is to promote out work, raise funds to support our programming, represent the foundation and library at home and abroad and build alliances, partnerships and friendships with people and organizations important to fulfilling our mission.
Q: How many visitors come through each year?
A: The Reagan Library is the largest and most visited of all the nation’s presidential libraries. About a half-million people visit the Reagan Library each year. A great deal of them come to tour the Library and Museum. We also have tens of thousands of guests that come to the many events we host as part of our speaking series, presidential debates or major national holidays we observe such as Veteran’s Day, July 4th, etc.
Q: What made you decide to write a book?
A: Throughout my career, I’ve had the chance to write a lot of work-related, short pieces such as Op/Ed’s, speeches, ad copy, memos, etc. Like a million others, I have always thought about writing “The Great American Novel” but never felt I had the discipline and focus as a writer to produce a long form work of fiction. Late one evening after our kids were tucked in for the night, I took a story idea that had been rattling around in my head for years and after about five hours of real struggle, I had written Chapter 1. It was a bit of a mistress. I kept visiting and revisiting the story night after night after night. After writing about a half-chapter each night for several months, there it sat. Finished. And it clearly needed a sequel. So I repeated the process again and in about six months I was done. I hadn’t a clue as to how good the books might be or whether another soul on this earth might like them. But at least I’d proven to myself I could do it. To have a major publishing house like Simon and Schuster want to put them in print has made the effort all the more worthwhile.
Q: How would you describe the book?
A: A thriller where the “The Da Vinci Code” meets “Indiana Jones.” What if it were possible to bring about the “Second Coming” through DNA? It’s all about what happens when science and faith collide in a way that has drastic consequences for all mankind. At its center there’s also a love story where a man with a genius intellect and no spirituality must grapple with the mystery of faith and a woman his equal who maintains an unshakable devotion to God.
Q: What interested you in the topic?
A: I’m the product of a Catholic upbringing and education. When I was seventeen and only days from high school graduation, I watched a documentary produced by the Church on the Shroud of Turin that fascinated me to no end. Presumably I get a good idea about every forty years as that’s how long it took for me to invent the plot and write the book.
Q: What is it about the life of Christ that inspires so many to write about him?
A: I can only speak for myself in knowing there is no life I look more to emulate than that of Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord. I presume one writes about those things that might most inspire or touch them as they go through life’s journey. In my particular case, I have always found the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ among the most fascinating of stories in the New Testament. The fact that actual artifacts likely exist today that are part of that story approaches the realm of the miraculous.
Q: Is there any chance the things described in your book could come to pass?
A: Yes and no. Is human cloning possible? Theoretically, yes. Will human cloning one day occur? I believe so. Can ancient DNA be “revived” for purposes of cloning species today? Yes, we can either find microscopic, live DNA or reconstruct lost genomes that can be cloned. Presuming the Shroud of Turin is real — that it is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ — is it possible to clone Jesus Christ? No. At least not yet . . .
Q: You’ve been very public about your battle with cancer. What have you learned from this experience?
A: That I am human. That we are all God’s children and in the eyes of God I am no better or worse than the man or woman next to me. That life on this earth is short. That there is nothing more important in this world than family and friends and faith. That I would give everything I own to live longer for the sake of my beautiful wife and children.
Q: What are your plans for a second book?
A: The sequel to “The Shroud Conspiracy,” presently titled “The Second Coming” has already been written and will be published in 2018.
Q: How can someone get your book?