Why St. Augustine thought the Bible was boring


Philip Kosloski – 08/28/22

At first, St. Augustine was bored with the Bible, and it took him a while to warm up to sacred scripture.

Have you ever thought the Bible was boring? St. Augustine, arguably one of the best known saints of all time, had a similar feeling about the Bible. He picked-up the Bible and didn’t get anything out of it.

In his Confessions, St. Augustine explains how, “For not as I now speak, did I feel when I turned to those Scriptures; but they seemed to me unworthy to be compared to the stateliness of Tully [the Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero].”

Pope Benedict XVI explains a few of the reasons why St. Augustine didn’t like the Bible in a general audience in 2008.

[H]e began to read Scripture, the Bible. But it disappointed him. This was not only because the Latin style of the translation of the Sacred Scriptures was inadequate but also because to him their content itself did not seem satisfying.

This led him to pursue the philosophy of the Manicheans, a heretical sect, and for a while he was not interested in the Bible.

However, after listening to sermons by St. Ambrose, he was captivated by the Bible, as Pope Benedict XVI explains.

Augustine realized that the whole of the Old Testament was a journey toward Jesus Christ. Thus, he found the key to understanding the beauty and even the philosophical depth of the Old Testament and grasped the whole unity of the mystery of Christ in history, as well as the synthesis between philosophy, rationality and faith in the Logos, in Christ, the Eternal Word who was made flesh …Thus, Augustine followed his reading of the philosophers’ writings by reading Scripture anew.

The life of St. Augustine reminds us that even if we think the Bible is boring at first, if someone can show us the beauty of it all, our heart can be changed and we can see the Bible in a new way.

The new work–life balance

Organizations & people August 29, 2022

The phrase seems increasingly outdated, given how much our work and our lives are now intertwined. It’s time for a new framework.

by Adam Bryant

A woman’s crossed legs show a sneaker on one foot and a dress shoe on the other

Photograph by Peter Dazeley

If you look up the history of work–life balance, you’ll find different takes on the concept’s origins. Many people give credit to Robert Owen, a Welsh manufacturer and the “father of British Socialism,” who decided that labor practices in the early 1800s were too demanding, and so started advocating for a balanced workday of “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

In the 20th century, work–life balance became more of an aspirational lifestyle goal. For anyone who has ever juggled a busy job and raising kids (not to mention taking care of a house), the notion of work–life balance always seemed like a distant dream: a stress-free mix of rewarding work and plenty of quality time for the family, exercise, and sleep. But that’s not how life works, and, in some ways, this idealized sense of balance created a mirage that only served to frustrate people who tried to attain it.

The pandemic seemed to render work–life balance a laughable concept. As white-collar workers set up workstations at home, there was no longer a separation of job and personal time or space. So we need something new, something more useful, to help us think about balance in our lives.

Here’s an alternative model. It starts with the idea that every moment falls into one of three categories: want, should, or need. It seems to me that every decision we make starts, implicitly or explicitly, with a sentence that begins “I want to…,” “I should…,” or “I need to….” (The last one includes its close cousin, “I have to….”) If you accept these buckets, you can then start creating a pie chart of your life based on this categorization.

More PwC insights

How much of your typical day, week, or month falls into each of those three categories? How much of your job is spent doing the things you want to do—ideally creating that state of flow in which your skills and talents are well-matched to the task at hand—versus the things you just muscle through because you should do them or need to do them.

There is no right mix, per se, and each individual’s outlook will change over time. When we are in our 20s, we can indulge in more of what we want to do. The same is true later in life, when personal interests can be prioritized. It’s those decades of our 30s, 40s, and 50s that can be particularly challenging—raising a family and building a career, which will include jobs that are stepping stones to more fulfilling roles. These chapters of life gave rise to the widely cited U-shaped happiness curve.

To me, that three-part pie chart is useful in determining whether we feel a sense of balance in our lives. And it also helps explain some of the meta-narratives of the moment, including the “great resignation” and the persistent desire of employees to work from home. All that time alone during pandemic lockdowns gave people time to consider the meaning of life and prompted many to quit unrewarding jobs. They decided to prioritize more of what they want, and commuting strikes many as more of a “should” than a “want.” And companies are making more of an effort to listen to their employees, too, conducting frequent pulse surveys. At the moment, employers are bending over backward to give employees what they want to help with recruitment and retention.

We need a framework for assessing our relationship with work that is more practical and realistic in this post-pandemic world than a scale with work on one side and life on the other.

The pendulum may be swinging back. As talk of recession heats up and companies come under pressure, CEOs are starting to sound like they want to revisit the want–should–need equation and remind people that work is called work for a reason.

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google’s parent company, wrote a memo to employees in July, stating that “moving forward, we need to be more entrepreneurial, working with greater urgency, sharper focus, and more hunger than we’ve shown on sunnier days.” This may not change the pie chart for some—often people want to show more initiative at work and feel thwarted. But it does signal a shifting mood at Google.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, Facebook’s parent, told employees in late June that, in light of the challenges the company was facing, they would have to do more with fewer resources, and that low performers were not going to be tolerated. “I think some of you might decide that this place isn’t for you, and that self-selection is OK with me,” Mr. Zuckerberg said on the call. “Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.”

The not-so-hidden message: work is about what you should do and what you need to do. The bosses are back in charge, and they’re less interested in what you want to do or whether you are feeling a sense of purpose in the work that the company is paying you to do.

We need a framework for assessing our relationship with work that is more practical and realistic in this post-pandemic world than a scale with work on one side and life on the other. In every job, there is always a mix of things that you like doing and things that you don’t like doing. Same with your personal life. What matters is how much of your time is spent doing things you want to do, should do, and need to do. That pie chart—however you fill it out—will provide a more accurate picture of the balance you need in order to feel a sense of happiness, contentment, satisfaction, and accomplishment.

The cursed legacy of Microsoft Project

August 23, 2022/in Project Management/by StrategyDriven

StrategyDriven Project Management Article |Project management tool|The cursed legacy of Microsoft Project

The idea of having a project management tool completely separated from your processes and task management is, or should be, a thing of the past. For some time now we’ve entered an era of having everything connected and if you’re still on the sidelines, this article is for you.

There are still thousands of companies using MS Project and other, similar tools for their project planning. I blame MSP for the current gap in the understanding of how important it is to connect both project and processes worlds. MSP never expanded beyond its own environment and very few people realized the missed potential. If you’re one of them, imagine this:

  • every task you plan can be immediately assigned to a person, who is notified about this,
  • the task assignee can start working on the task and change its status, thanks to which you get immediate info about the current status of all the tasks in your WBS,
  • the assignee can also report time spent on the task so that you also get instant and accurate info about the task’s progress,
  • all the data can be aggregated and reported,
  • everyone can have access to the project plan,
  • every member of the project team has a personal dashboard with all the upcoming tasks clearly listed.

Does that sound like a fantasy? Of course not! It’s the minimum you should have with the current market trends.

Jira – the most popular tool for handling your processes

Out of many tools available on the market, Jira is the one we recommend the most. With its cloud instance available within just a few clicks it’s probably the easiest one to start with. It’s really a matter of minutes and you can start creating your first Epics, User stories, Tasks, Sub-tasks, or whatever you need.

Jira also has very robust administration capabilities. It’s well designed with complexity on demand built into the tool. You can restrict data access, manage roles for people, group them and make sure that your data is secured on several different levels.

Talking about data, you also can create your own issue types, statuses, workflows, link types, and many more. When it comes to flexibility and accommodating your different needs, Jira is like no other. It’s definitely one of its strongest sides.

But pure Jira is just the beginning. For specific needs and broader applications of its functionalities, Jira also offers thousands of Apps that can be added to your core system. Those Apps allow you to extend the capabilities of Jira even further.

Some of these Apps allow you to extend your project management capabilities. We at Genius Gecko are experts in implementing project management solutions in Jira. We constantly analyze all the tools in this area, so that you don’t have to. We also have our favorites when it comes to creating reliable project management solutions.
BigPicture – a PPM solution for Agile, Waterfall, and Hybrid approaches

BigPicture has been available in Jira for many years now and it’s grown into the best tool out there.

It offers a unique way of organizing your projects into programs and portfolios with Boxes, which are its building blocks. Interestingly, you can also use Boxes to break projects into smaller pieces, like Program Increments, Iterations, Sprints, Teams, Phases, Quarters, Months, or whatever you may need.

If you’re working with a waterfall approach, BigPicture has a built-in Gantt chart that has you covered. It also comes with all of the important features like milestones, markers, data aggregation, data grouping, dependencies, unlimited hierarchy, what-if scenarios, and more.

If you’re agile, BigPicture has you covered too. It has a super-functional Board module which allows you to plan your sprints ahead of time for multiple teams at the same time, and later on of course also follow the progress of work, all in real-time.

And here is the best one – if you’re a Hybrid, somewhere in between Agile and Waterfall, BigPicture has you covered as well. It has several features that allow you to connect both worlds and still manage your projects in an effective and user-friendly way (and I mean both project teams and stakeholders).

That’s not all at all, though. BigPicture has a lot more to offer. Because it’s built on top of Jira, it’s reusing all the data that Jira has. Everything you’ll be planning in BigPicture either comes from Jira or will go to Jira (when you create it). This is exactly where the big difference lies. You no longer have a tool for just doing your project planning, you have a tool that seamlessly connects your projects with project teams, stakeholders, project sponsors, dev-ops, IT, marketing, sales, and anyone else involved. All the important information is in one place. You can always revisit it, see all the changes, and notify people when something important happens, or when a new task for John has been added.

You can also manage your resources through BigPicture, and make sure that you have enough people for the job, that they are not overbooked, that they have appropriate skills, and that their workload plans and holidays are taken into account.

You’ll also be able to easily manage risks for your project, create objectives and goals for everyone to follow, and build your own reports.

BigPicture training – a sure way to successful implementation

BigPicture is an amazing tool and it deserves to be looked after. We’ve been working with it from the beginning and based on our experience we can tell that if you want to get the most out of it, make it work seamlessly with your Jira environment, make sure that all the reports are doable, and climb to that next level of project management, it makes sense to have someone help you achieve it.

You’ll be able to:

  • get clarity on your goals,
  • ensure the proper flow of information,
  • make your teams more engaged,
  • manage your resources with short and long-term planning,
  • manage your project risks,
  • build informative and easy-to-read reports,
  • track time for your project items,
  • save time thanks to automation and templates.

We currently have almost 70 companies that we’ve successfully trained or guided through the implementation of BigPicture and we’re constantly getting new prospects interested in working together.

If you want to learn more about our awesome BigPicture training, or:

  • managing projects in Jira environment and have us help you find the best tool for your needs,
  • implementing processes and tools in Jira,
  • working with other PM tools like Structure, Advanced Roadmaps, or any other Jira App

3 Approaches To Start the Warrior Mindset Way of Thinking

August 25, 2022/ in Practices for Professionals/ by StrategyDriven

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Warrior Mindset|3 Approaches To Start the Warrior Mindset Way of Thinking

People refer to the entrepreneurial mindset as something that is all things to all people. The most difficult thing about being an entrepreneur is about being a leader. There’s a variety of leadership styles, but one of the greatest is quite possibly the warrior mindset. The warrior mindset can help you in a variety of tricky situations either in your professional or personal life. So what does it really take to ensure that you embrace this warrior mindset in business?

Understand Your Perspective On Fear

Fear, in many ways, can be our best friend, as soon as we learn to understand it. Fear is a very natural response that stems from hundreds of thousands of years of ingrained physiological responses. When we feel stressed, our stress hormone cortisol spikes, and this gives us the ability to flee a situation. Fear is something that is purely an emotion. If we can learn to avoid the concept of fear paralyzing us, we are more likely going to be able to understand how to combat anything that comes our way.

Look at people in the military, they are up against threats every single day and they are the perfect example of someone who has, to an extent, had a deconditioned approach to fear. You only have to read blogs on dedicated websites like Tacticalbrute to see that there is a very specific approach to dealing with stressful situations because there is no time for fear. It’s important to be scared because it makes us realize we are human, but it’s far better to be active rather than let fear make us inactive.

Stop Listening to the Scaremongers

We are all prone to struggling to find solutions when we hear so much negativity. When we are feeling vulnerable, we have to remember that support is a vital asset but we’ve got to remember that when we are surrounding ourselves with those people who believe the sky’s falling at any moment, it can soon permeate into our subconscious. As trite as it sounds, you can develop your own version of a glass half full mentality.

When you start to feel like there is a solution to every problem, you’re not going to feel helpless and will invariably embrace a more fighting mindset which is self-inspirational and allows you to keep pushing forward. For every problem, there is a solution. But we have to remember that it is only a problem.

Circumstances Do Not Define Who You Are

Whether you are trying to lead a business or setting one up, hitting the wall is going to be a regular occurrence. Fearing these moments is not a valuable approach. Whatever setbacks you have, the circumstances will never define you. You can feel depressed because the business is not going as it should, but you should remember that depression is not you.

You are more than what the situation dictates. Life is always a combination of good and bad. Merely avoiding the badness is only going to delay the inevitable. Change your mindset, and you are going to deal with everything far better.

Vice is Nice but Virtue Can Hurt You

August 30, 2022 Dr. Donald DeMarco

It is supremely ironic that the two philosophers credited with being the founders of existentialism could not be further  apart from each other in their thoughts about love and virtue.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s favorite theme is power, the Will to Power.  Soren Kierkegaard’s favorite theme is love.

Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a staunch critic of Christian virtues which he thought weakened people, blocking their Will to Power.  Consistent with his thinking, we have phrases such as “meekness Is weakness,” “chastity is it own punishment,” “faith is foolish,” and “hope is for losers.”  He personifies the notion that virtue can hurt you.

Yet Nietzsche did not live up to his image of the “super man.”  At age 45 he suffered the complete loss of his mental faculties with paralysis.  He spent his remaining years in the care of his mother until she died in 1897, and then his sister Elisabeth.  The man who sought to free himself of Christian virtues was, in the end, the daily recipient of them.

For Kierkegaard (1813-1855), a Christian and firm believer in God (Nietzsche famously declared that God is dead), nothing was more important to a human being than to love.  “This is all I have known for certain,” he wrote, “that God is love.  Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point:  God is nevertheless love.”  Our ability to love is the result of God’s love flowing into us.  In a rather beautiful passage, he states that “As the quiet lake is fed by the flow of hidden springs, which no eye sees, so a human being’s love is grounded in God’s love.  If there were no spring at the bottom, if God were not love, there would be neither a lake nor human love.”

Now, there is a limitation inherent in love. Although God can send His love directly into us, we cannot do the same with respect to our neighbors.  Merely telling people you love them is not enough.  We need a connective or conduit that allows us to transfer our love in a practical way to the persons we love.  A fireman cannot extinguish a fire, even though he has access to an immense amount of water, without the use of a hose.  So too, in order to direct love to where it is needed, a conduit is required, and that conduit is virtue.

Just as a person has many needs, there must be many virtues that can be administered to each of these needs.  Patience transmits love to a person who is fretful, hope to one who is discouraged, and compassion to one who is suffering.  Love expresses itself to anyone through courtesy, justice, and kindness.  Piety expresses love to our ancestors, mirthfulness to those who are sad, and reverence to all things holy.

Courage is the virtue that gives us the strength to help others at a time when we place ourselves in danger.  Chastity respects the sexual integrity of the other, which sincerity manifests our honesty and openness to them.  Gratitude is our thanks for being loved.  Generosity is our love for being loved.

The more virtues we have the better we are enabled to help our neighbor.  And our set of virtues defines our character.  Virtue is love’s ambassador that produces salutary effects wherever it is assigned.  An automobile mechanic is not prepared to go into business unless he has a wide variety of tools for the simple reason that a car may have any number of problems.

Having an abundance of virtues is equivalent to an archer having a goodly amount of arrows.  Separating virtues from vices can be challenging.  As G. K. Chesterton has remarked, “A new philosophy generally means in practice the praise of some old vice”.  A reliable way of distinguishing virtues from vices, however, is to recognize that the heart of all virtues is love.

Vice carries us in the opposite direction of love.  It is ruinous of our character and exacts a fearful price.  We may alter the title of this brief essay so that it is more in line with reality: vice has a price, but virtue will never desert you.

Attorney: Pfizer Vaccine Whistleblower False Claims Suit Payout could Reach $3.3 trillion “It would be enough to bankrupt Pfizer,”

by ZeroHedge News

Authored by Alex Giordano via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Pfizer cannot use the government as a shield from liability for making false claims about its COVID-19 vaccine, lawyers for a whistleblower argued in response to Pfizer’s motion to dismiss a False Claims Act lawsuit.

Respondents claim fraudulent certifications, false statements, doctored data, contaminated clinical trials, and firing of whistleblowers can be ignored based on the theory that they contracted their way around the fraud,” lawyers for Brook Jackson, who worked as regional director at one of the clinical trials used to develop the Pfizer vaccine, wrote in their Aug. 22 response.

“A drug company cannot induce the taxpayers to pay billions of dollars for a product,” they countered, “that honest data would show poses more risks than benefits, and that ignores the actual contract and the law itself.”A person walks past a Pfizer logo amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York on April 1, 2021. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Jackson’s lawsuit alleges that Pfizer and two of its subcontractors violated the False Claims Act by providing bogus clinical trial results to garner the FDA approval of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Under federal law, individuals can sue on behalf of the government and win treble damages if they can prove an individual or company deliberately lied to the government.

One of Jackson’s attorneys, Warner Mendenhall, told The Epoch Times that the payout could be as much as $3.3 trillion.

It would be enough to bankrupt Pfizer,” Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall, whose law firm has won multimillion-dollar False Claims Act cases, based his estimates on the more than $2 billion the U.S. government has paid Pfizer for more than 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine.

In motions to dismiss the lawsuit, Pfizer and its subcontractors argued that besides Jackson’s allegations being false, the government, not a private citizen, can initiate a False Claims Act complaint and that the lawsuit against them should, therefore, be dismissed.

“The Relator may not pursue the claims against Pfizer without the Government first pursuing them in an administrative proceeding,” Pfizer’s motion states.

The companies also argued that the FDA was well aware of Jackson’s claims for at least two years before the lawsuit was filed against them and that it publicly responded to Jackson’s allegations by expressing the agency’s “full confidence” in the data used to support the vaccine.

However, Mendenhall said a false claims action is independent of the government’s knowledge and that Jackson only has to prove Pfizer and its subcontractors presented fraudulent information to the FDA.

Jackson was third in command of the clinical trials conducted by Ventavia Research Group as part of Pfizer’s application for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine. She was there for only 18 days before being fired by Ventavia after reporting what she called “absolute mayhem” and an utter disregard for safety protocols and federal regulations in developing the vaccine.

Jackson has submitted over 400 exhibits as part of her complaint. Jackson said that a former Taco’s cashier was among those tasked with injecting patients with the experimental jab. She alleged that the trial staff falsified patient signatures on informed consent paperwork. And she has described a daily mess of unsanitary conditions.

Jackson also responded for the first time to Pfizer’s characterization of her as an anti-vaccine, anti-government individual out for money as vengeance for her firing.

Jackson has worked on a long list of government-run clinical trials for vaccines and said she is pro-vaccine. She pointed out that her children have had all their childhood vaccines and that her entire family gets the flu vaccine yearly. Jackson received the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it was available and was initially one of its biggest cheerleaders.

While she is seeking compensation for her termination as part of her actions against Pfizer and the other companies, Jackson said she plans to donate any money she receives under her legal action against the companies to those injured by the vaccine.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s blood money,” she said. “The world should be disgusted by what went on here with the shameful actions behind this dangerous vaccine.”

7 Misleading Phrases to Avoid in Every Leadership Conversation

We all know that words matter—and the words of leaders have particular weight. In leadership and business it’s easy to fall prey to jargon and wordiness, but there are other phrases that mislead employees and signal poor leadership. Here are some of the most disruptive and defeating phrases I hear in my work as a leadership coach:

“I wouldn’t say it like that.” Even if it’s not your intention, when you use this phrase and others like it you’re being dismissive of the person communicating. It’s a show of disrespect and the belief that your way is necessarily best. Instead, ask “Can you try rephrasing that? I want to be sure I understand what you’re saying.”

“I’ll do it myself.” Most leaders struggle to some degree with the belief that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. But that level of control sends some terrible messages about your leadership: that you don’t trust people to do their jobs and you aren’t willing to give them room to grow and learn. Instead, communicate expectations clearly and ask “Is there anything you need my support in? 

“With all due respect…” It’s appropriate for a leader to push back at times, but that’s a situation that calls for a tactful approach rather than a demeaning one. Instead, ask “Are you open to another perspective?”

“Here’s how you need to do it.” When you tell people not just what to do but how to do it, you’re micromanaging. And few things leave people and teams feeling more demoralized and demotivated than micromanagement. As a leader you’re charged with empowering, motivating and inspiring your people. Instead, ask “What do you think is the right approach?”

“That being said…” Some phrases don’t just signal a U-turn but do it in a way that dismisses everything up to that point out of hand. Rejecting someone’s ideas fully is discouraging and may give the impression that you weren’t even listening. Instead, ask “How can we refine that idea?”

You don’t need to know why—just execute.” Leading from authority loses the essence of true leadership. The best leaders know that when you communicate the purpose of something, people work even harder. Instead of barking orders, ask “What connects you to this work? How is it important to you?

“I don’t need help.” Too many leaders treat asking for help as a sign of weakness. In truth, it signals strength and confidence. When you ask for help, you’re being inclusive and collaborative—traits that employees value in their leadership. We all preach that great accomplishments take teamwork, so model that principle in your own work. Instead, ask “How can we best use your talents to support this work?”

Leaders often unknowingly cause people to feel defeated, demoralized and excluded by not giving enough thoughts to their own words. Give focused attention to the things you say to your team—and if those words aren’t serving you well, make the changes you need to make.

Lead from within: The phrases you use matter, and the words you speak have meaning. Be careful with them. People are listening.

Exorcist’s Diary: Demons Hold Onto Lies

We had been “pounding away” at the demonic presence for almost two years and “M”, a young woman in her 20’s, was much, much better. The night attacks had ceased; the demonic marks on her body had mostly disappeared; she tolerated an exorcism without completely going “out;” and during the day she had many more lucid moments. But the demons were still hanging onto something.

At one point, she asked for a meeting with her parents. As the meeting progressed, it became clear that she wanted to tell them something but was having a hard time getting it out. The parents were patient and encouraged her to take her time. Finally, with much fear and trepidation, she confessed that she had not been honest with them. She had covered up many ugly past behaviors and painted them over with self-aggrandizing lies. She had been living a lie.

To her surprise, her parents willingly forgave her and told her how much they loved her. Allaying her fears, they said they would never leave her and she would always be their beloved daughter. Shortly thereafter, arriving back at her apartment, M vomited up huge masses of black globs. Typically, a sign of the lifting of witches’ curses and/or casting out of demons. The black masses actually appeared to be moving and undulating. M was then tired but felt a great weight had been lifted. While the demons were not completely gone, a critical milestone had been passed.

Satan is called the “Father of Lies,” (Jn 8:44), Mendacii Pater in the Rite of Exorcism. I have noticed that demons will sometimes visibly react when the phrase Mendacii Pater is spoken aloud in the Rite. No doubt they feel it as a stinging rebuke and the truth which they are loathe to face. Not only are they compulsive and habitual liars, their entire life has become a lie.

Unwittingly, by living a lie herself, M gave the demons a hold on her. Facing the truth and confessing her sin, plus the forgiving love of her parents, was a liberating moment. M’s next step was to take her repentance into the confessional to receive the sacramental graces.

M is making steady progress. But like all processes of liberation for the possessed, there are important challenges along the way. M faced this critical challenge of facing and letting go of the lies in her life with honesty and courage. I am proud of her and her parents. I have great confidence she will be soon fully liberated.

Satan is the Father of Lies. Jesus is the “Truth” (Jn 14:6). We are set free from Satan’s grasp when we confess our sins and live in the light of the Truth.

DOJ Says FBI Agents Took Potentially ‘Privileged’ Materials in Trump Raid

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally Casper, Wyo., on May 28, 2022. (Chet Strange/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally Casper, Wyo., on May 28, 2022. (Chet Strange/Getty Images)

By Jack Phillips August 29, 2022

Officials have completed their examination of documents that were taken during a raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and it’s possible that “attorney-client privileged information” was seized by FBI agents, the Department of Justice stated in an Aug. 29 filing.

The Justice Department (DOJ) was responding to a motion filed by Trump to request the appointment of a special master to review the seized documents.

The DOJ’s “privilege review team” was tasked with reviewing the documents, prosecutors said in the Aug. 29 legal brief (pdf), coming in response to a weekend ruling by U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon to schedule a hearing on whether an independent third party to oversee the department’s combing of evidence is needed.

That team “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, completed its review of those materials, and is in the process of following the procedures,” according to the DOJ’s filing, which noted that the review was carried out before Trump’s request. Prosecutors will provide more information this week, they said.

The procedures include asking the court to make a determination on possibly privileged material and asking Trump’s lawyers whether they will assert privilege, according to the filing.

About a week prior in a court motion, Trump’s legal team called the FBI search of his property politically motivated and aggressive.

Trump and members of his team have said that while in office, the former president declassified a range of materials.

Cannon, in response, wrote on Aug. 27 that she’ll likely approve a special master to look at the documents and other materials. A special master—usually a retired judge or prosecutor—is a neutral third party that’s used to settle some legal disputes such as those involving attorney-client privilege.

“Pursuant to Rule 53(b) (1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Court’s inherent authority, and without prejudice to the parties’ objections, the Court hereby provides notice of its preliminary intent to appoint a special master in this case,” Cannon wrote (pdf).

However, the Trump-appointed judge stipulated that the Aug. 27 order “should not be construed as a final determination on Plaintiff’s Motion.”

Cannon isn’t the same judge who approved the FBI search warrant of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence earlier this month and who last week approved the release of a heavily redacted Justice Department affidavit used to obtain the warrant. Days before he ordered the release of the affidavit, U.S. Judge Bruce Reinhart also unsealed a warrant and property receipt in the search.

Seized Documents

Federal authorities took about two dozen boxes of materials from Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8 that were allegedly classified or top secret, according to the property receipt. Avril Haines, head of the ODNI, told congressional lawmakers on Aug. 26 that U.S. intelligence officials will review the materials.

The significantly redacted affidavit unsealed on Aug. 26 revealed that agents were attempting to obtain “physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation of three potential crimes.” Since the raid, neither the DOJ nor the FBI have publicly disclosed what the agents were searching for or why.

Epoch Times Photo
Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort where he resides after leaving the White House in Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 13, 2021. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Trump’s complaint last week noted that agents and Justice Department authorities, including top intelligence official Jay Bratt, visited Mar-a-Lago about two months before the raid. The affidavit also noted that DOJ officials told Trump’s team to place additional security on a storage room that apparently held the documents.

Federal officials were greeted by Trump’s lawyers on June 8 when they arrived to retrieve some documents, Trump’s filing states (pdf). The agents were shown a basement storage room with boxes of documents and memorabilia from when Trump was president.

The filing also claimed that after one FBI agent saw the storage room, they told Trump’s team: “Thank you. You did not need to show us the storage room, but we appreciate it. Now it all makes sense.”

In the Mar-a-Lago storage room, there were “boxes, many containing the clothing and personal items of President Trump and the First Lady,” according to the complaint. Department of Justice official Jay Bratt asked the Trump team to secure that storage room and the former president “directed his staff to place a second lock on the door,” it reads.

Seven key facts for understanding the situation of the Church in Nicaragua


Jaime Septién – published on 08/29/22

The ongoing effort to silence dissenting voices in the country has directly targeted the Nicaraguan Catholic Church repeatedly.

The ongoing effort to silence dissenting voices in the country has directly targeted the Nicaraguan Catholic Church repeatedly. In less than four years, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has gone through more than 190 attacks and desecrations, including a fire in the Managua Cathedral, the expulsion of the Missionaries of Charity, and the highly irregular house arrest of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, accused of “crimes against spirituality.”

A report elaborated by Martha Patricia Molina Montenegro, a member of the Observatorio Pro Transparencia y Anticorrupción, called Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church? (2018-2022), shows the Catholic Church has been systematically targeted by Ortega’s regime, which has unleashed an “indiscriminate persecution against bishops, priests, seminarians, religious, lay groups and everything and everyone who has a direct or indirect relationship with the Catholic Church.” Jaime Septién, from the Spanish Edition of Aleteia, gives the reader seven keys to understand how the situation got this far.

Sandinismo takes over

In 1979, after many years of struggle, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), founded in 1961, succeeded in overthrowing the Somoza dictatorship which had ruled the country with an iron fist for several decades. The Sandinistas ruled from that year until 1990. Much of their rise to power was thanks to the mediating work of the Catholic Church, led at that time by the former Cardinal of Managua, Miguel Obando y Bravo. At the beginning, the Sandinistas—with Daniel Ortega at the head—were close to the Catholic Church, but soon the break came when various members of the Church (for example, Ernesto Cardenal) were integrated into the political organization as ministers and members of the government.

Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN)

Public domain

The public admonition of John Paul II

The priests who were in the Sandinista movement were suspended by the Vatican. When Pope John Paul II visited Nicaragua for the first time (March 4, 1983), two events further pushed the distancing of Sandinismo from the Catholic Church: Pope John Paul II’s public warning to Ernesto Cardenal to regularize his situation, and the shouts of those who participated in the multitudinous Mass with the entire Ortega cabinet. The people shouted slogans in favor of popular power and peace, interrupting the Mass. At one point, the pope responded by saying these prophetic words: “The Church is the first to want peace.” At that time there were expulsions of priests accused of “terrorism” and an atmosphere of undeclared hostility against the Church. St. John Paul II would remember that trip as a “great dark night”.

John Paul II and Ernesto Cardenal

Mario Tapia/Associated Press/East News

The expulsion of Bishop Vega

Now in power, the Sandinistas wanted to take revenge for the positions of the Church and the rejection of liberation theologians during the papacy of John Paul II, considering this an act of opposition to the people’s revolution. The persecution and possible exile of Bishop Rolando Alvarez brings to mind the persecution and exile to which the regime subjected the bishop of Juigalpa, Pablo Vega, in 1986. By means of deceit, they invited Bishop Vega to a meeting. There they apprehended him, put him in a helicopter, and left him on the other side of the border with Honduras. The accusation, however, was similar to those of today: “treason.”

“July 4, 1986, Bishop Pablo Antonio Vega, Bishop of Juigalpa, CEN Vice President; he is expelled from Nicaragua at midnight, they put him on a military helicopter and lower him into the jungle bordering Honduras.”