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Keeping Secrets: Faith in Public Service
October 24, 2020
We take a closer look at the Pentecostal movement inside Catholicism and the nation’s former top spy opens up about his spiritual journey.
Mathew Schmalz. image courtesy Mathew Schmalz
Charismatics in a Dystopian Gilead? October 24, 2020
Earlier this week new details emerged from an investigative report on Amy Coney Barrett’s tenure as a Trustee on the board of Trinity School, a private religious school run by the organization People of Praise.  According to the Associated Press, the school maintained a strict anti-gay policy that permitted gender discrimination.  

That, along with earlier reports that Barrett was honored with the leadership title of “handmaid,” inspired dozens of protesters to don red capes and white hoods as they stood in front of the Supreme Court to protest her nomination.

The costumes are a prescient reminder that Americans most likely know more about the beliefs of the fictional Gilead in Margaret Atwood’s best-selling dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale than the history, rituals, and beliefs of Pentecostalism in the United States.   

In this conversation with religious studies professor Matthew Schmalz, we learn how the movement first arrived in the United States, how it relates to the Vatican, and how it catalyzed the formation of “intentional” communities like the People of Praise in Indiana - an organization that once listed Barrett as an active member.  To date, Barret is keeping the status of her membership a secret.

Mathew Schmalz Ph.D, Founding editor of the Journal of Global Catholicism and professor of religious studies at College of The Holy Cross, Worcester MA.
CIA Director John Brennan. Image courtesy Washington Speakers Bureau
The Spiritual Evolution of the Boy Who Dreamt of Becoming the First American Pope October 24, 2020

It would be hard to envision former CIA Director John Brennan meditating in a Buddhist temple, after all the Irish-Catholic who served six presidents is the first to acknowledge he has a hot-temper.

Yet he did; he relays this and a lot more in our conversation about his new memoir, Undaunted: My Fight Against America’s Enemies At Home and Abroad,” released by Celeadon Press on October 6, 2020.

Brennan’s aspiration and dream of one day becoming the first American Pope as a boy evolves. He explains the pivotal experience of traveling to Indonesia. The formative adventure across the world to the Muslim-majority archipelago inspired curiosity about the world’s religions including Buddhism.

It was the first of many trips that Brennan credits with his interest in Asian cultures, and the Middle East. 

The early chapters are followed by reflections on his 30 plus year career at the CIA, including difficult decisions and periods of criticism for his role in the torture program that began after 9/11.

Yet, the clear antagonist that emerges in Undaunted is President Donald Trump.

He describes in clear detail why he chose to retire on the day of Mr. Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. Indeed he has become one of Mr. Trump’s most outspoken critics. In response, the Trump Administration has sought to cut Brennan’s access to both his official work diaries and notes and to limit Brennan’s access to intelligence operations -- despite his security clearance.  

The attempts to intimidate have failed. They clearly fuel Brennan’s resolve to speak out against a president whom he believes lacks “all of the things that should be the traits of a president.”

And he credits the title to Mr. Trump’s animus.

After detailing his view of the damage caused by the Trump Administration, from the failure to have a national plan to confront the spread of Covid-19 to the amplifying of extremist conspiracy theories, Brennan strikes a hopeful and optimistic about the future. 

John O. Brennan, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, chief counterterrorism advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama, with the title Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Assistant to the President. Author of
Undaunted: My Fight Against America's Enemies, at Home and Abroad

Undaunted: My Fight Against America's Enemies, at Home and Abroad

Celadon Books.


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Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions shared under a
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The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder
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The Performance of the Cello Suite no. 1 - Prelude in G, BWV 1007 on guitar by John Sayles, composed by J. S. Bach, is in the Public Domain.