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Dr. Peale's granddaughter Katie Allen Berlandi was interviewed about his positive thinking legacy and her work with Guideposts.
Katie Allen Berlandi is the granddaughter of the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, champion of positive thinking. Katie is a clinical social worker with a private practice focusing on children and families. Katie is actively involved in Guideposts and the Guideposts Foundation, focusing on OurPrayer, military outreach and Comfort Kits for hospitalized children. Bobby Schuller interviews Katie.
Bobby Schuller: This morning, I am happy to be interviewing our guest, Katie Berlandi. Katie is the granddaughter of the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, who was not only a pastor, but an author and a champion of positive thinking. His most famous book is The Power of Positive Thinking, which has sold more than 20 million copies.
Katie and I recently met at a Guideposts event where I was speaking, and I had the chance to meet herself and her mother. It was a great event where I was also able to meet so many of the people who are a part of carrying on Dr. Peale's legacy. Katie and I have formed a friendship, so I invited her to come out to California and be my guest on the Hour of Power.
We're so glad you're here, Katie.
Katie Allen Berlandi: Thank you so much.
BS: I just want to begin by saying what a huge impact your grandfather had on my grandfather's life.
I feel like the big tipping point and breakthrough for this church was when your grandfather came and spoke in the drive-in church years ago. My grandfather, Dr. Robert H. Schuller was a guy that not a lot of people had heard of outside of this state, but everybody knew who Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was. Your grandfather came and preached, and it was the thing that sort of caused our church to explode.
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KAB: Yes, and I remember my grandpa saying how clear it was within moments that your grandfather was going to do tremendous things, and he certainly did and still does. So my grandpa and grandma were both very happy to be as supportive as possible to that endeavor.
BS: Your grandfather was a pastor and what he did for my grandpa personally can't even be measured. He was a tremendous mentor. My grandfather grew up in a very strict Dutch Calvinist environment, with ‘God hates you and he just can't wait to put you into hell, but if you're perfect maybe you'll escape.' Then here comes Norman Vincent Peale who talked about God's love and how we serve a positive God. The timing for my grandfather changed his life radically.
KAB: Well I know my grandfather was humbled about any of that influence. They were great friends, too, and that's an important element, as well.
BS: Katie, here is a question I know you've been asked a lot because I've been asked it a lot myself: what's it like growing up being Norman Vincent Peale's granddaughter?
KAB: Well it was pretty terrific, I might say. Grandma and grandpa's ministry, their world travel, their relationships with world leaders and all of that was not at the forefront when we were together as a family. My siblings and I grew up in a town where my grandparents had a country home so whenever they weren't traveling, they were near to us so that allowed us a lot of very natural, authentic time together.
You know as we all think back on our time growing up with grandparents, over time, the aperture of that lens opens up as we learn more about them. For me, it has been a remarkable experience to learn about the impact and the influence that both grandma and grandpa have had on lives, and I say that with a lot of humility because I know that they felt that, too. Any way they could be helpful, one person at a time, was a gift from God to them.
BS: What do you think is the biggest impact that your grandparents have had?
KAB: That's a powerful question. You know my grandfather was a remarkable speaker. He spoke without notes, he was quick witted and was filled with humility and emotion. So I'm asking him to channel through me right now as these questions are asked with no notes.
But I would say that their greatest influence would be letting people know that they are loved, they are loved by God and they must love themselves, and through that a full, full life can be had.
BS: What's amazing is that before your grandfather started saying that, not very many people were saying that in the church in the forties, fifties and even sixties. He's really the one that brought, in many ways, the church back to what is such a fundamental thing in the bible which is God's love for people; for sinners. And not in a way that God barely loves you, but that God loves you as you are. I think there are so many pastors today that if you traced their doctrinal heritage, it goes back to your grandfather.
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KAB: Without a doubt. And I think grandpa would never consider himself an academic, though I think he was more so than he ever deemed himself to be. He talked of inspirational thinking or positive thinking being a spiritual act. In the way that your book, Bobby, you speak about gratitude being a spiritual act. That, too, is a gift from God.
BS: How did you get involved with Guideposts? Of course that is your grandfather's legacy that carries on today. It's still an active ministry that you are involved with.
KAB: Absolutely. I'm a clinical social worker by training, so without a doubt, I was influenced that direction by the work of grandma and grandpa, and the care for people. I've always wanted to somehow be able to circle back and have some involvement or perhaps some impact on grandma and grandpa's ministry.
So I've been working with Guideposts, Guideposts magazine, and also Guideposts Foundation, which is a wonderful foundation that's supported by Guideposts friends, supporters and donors, and we have three outreach divisions. One is in pediatrics, and one is with the military where we provide military personnel with inspirational material all over the world, and for their families, as well. And then we have OurPrayer, which is a twenty-four/seven prayer opportunity. So I help with that, and I write a blog on their website, so I'm really honored and it has opened my eyes even more to the impact of their legacy.
BS: Obviously, Dr. Peale's message is very important to you. What do you hope to see happen with his legacy?
KAB: I feel, as so many people perhaps do, that his message, and grandma's message, too, because they were a team, there was no doubt about that, is a timeless one. It's one of inspiration and positive thinking.
So there's no time like now to be innovative in the way grandma and grandpa were with starting Guideposts, and what they did with Marble Collegiate Church and with The Institutes of Religion and Health, and all of these things. They were innovative, visionary people, and I think now is the time to use all of grandpa's works, his writings, his speeches and his sermons, and use our world of technology to get his message out there to more and more people to enhance lives.
Our world has gotten smaller with technology, which means we can get the word out even more. There is already an app on both the Droid and the I-phone, the NVP app where you can listen to grandpa's sermons. So I encourage everyone to please access those messages.
BS: That's awesome! I'll have to check that out. Katie, we feel connected to you and value you and we're so glad that you have come today. Thank you for sharing your grandfather's legacy.
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KAB: Thank you. And I have a gift for Bobby this morning. When my grandfather spoke at the Crystal Cathedral in 1990, it was the last time he spoke there, and Dr. Schuller sent him a beautiful picture of the two of them with their hands clasped and arms raised.
The inscription from Dr. Schuller on the back said, "To Norman: together we make a great team, love Robert Schuller, Garden Grove, California, Sunday, November 25, 1991."
So I give this to you and would love to be part of your team in any way, Bobby.
BS: Thank you, Katie! That's really a sweet gift. I love it!
KAB: You're welcome.
BS: Thank you again, Katie. We love you and appreciate you so much.
KAB: Thank you.