Something Borrowed, Something BLUE. What’s Behind, “Sad Bride Syndrome”?


Not all brides are blissful after the wedding day.  Recent reports indicate a startling rise in post-wedding depression among some brides.  Although the old rhyme says “something borrowed, something blue” it’s hard to imagine that’s what the verse is referencing.

According to The Science of Relationship Blog  a new study suggests that are three factors that potentially set new brides up to be “blue brides.”

Difference 1: It’s all about me.

Blue brides, compared to happy brides, were far more likely to view the wedding as “my day” and all about what they wanted, and were focused on not letting anything stand in their way of getting what they want. In fact, some of the blue brides even referred to their guests as “intruders” – people that were mucking up “my day”. In contrast, happy brides saw the wedding as a celebration for everyone, and were more concerned for and considerate about the measures others took to be there to celebrate. Happy brides also viewed the wedding as simply a step or formality to getting married – the focus was on life after the wedding.

Difference 2: What now?

Blue brides were more uncertain about what life and marriage has in store for them after the wedding compared to happy brides. Specifically, blue brides were unsure of how they were supposed to behave as a spouse/wife, worried about whether they made a mistake by marrying in the first place, and weren’t sure about whether their expectations for married life were realistic. Happy brides did not report such uncertainty.

Difference 3: The end or the beginning?

Not surprisingly, blue brides, given their “me” focus on the wedding, saw the conclusion of the wedding itself as an ending. Happy brides saw the wedding as the beginning of the rest of their lives with their partners. Thus, blue brides view the end of their weddings as a loss rather than a gain, which is not a particularly promising way to start a marriage.   READ THE REST OF THE STORY

Making a successful transition from singleton to twosome can be challenging, especially at a time when so many newly marrieds come from  single-households, divorced households and other family arrangements that did not give them the opportunity to witness healthy marriage habits lived out in the day-to-day. The good news is that couples don’t have to struggle regardless of what their family and relationship history might be.  Research clearly shows that the habits that separate marriage masters from marriage disasters can be taught and with a little practice, every couple that is willing to learn can turn a marital miss into marital bliss.  If you’d like to discover the habits can help you create a joy-filled, life long love, check out Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Three Years of Marriage,    For Better…FOREVER! The Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage, and  When Divorce is NOT An Option: How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love.

Discover The Hidden Truth About Your Ultimate Destiny in Christ.


Psalm 82 states: “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you”

St. Clement of Alexandra says: He who listens to the Lord, and follows the prophecy given by Him, will be formed in the likeness of the teacher – made a god going about in flesh.

St. Augustine: If we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods.


Pete Socks at Catholic Book Blogger answers, “Gregory Popcak does a fine job explaining all of this in his new book Broken Gods: Hope, Healing and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart.

How can this be? It almost sounds blasphemous doesn’t it? Gregory tells us it all goes back to the Garden of Eden. You see we were meant to be gods. Adam and Eve, our first parents, walked with God in the garden. They carried on a personal relationship with Him. The ease of that relationship was ruined when sin entered the picture. We must bear in mind that though they were punished, God still loved them, and us, so much so that He has never given up on the desire for a personal relationship with us.

Here is where Broken Gods gets good.  Greg takes a chapter by chapter, deep dive look into the seven longings. These longings are ingrained into each us by our Creator who wants nothing more than to love each of us as He wanted from the beginning of time. By contrasting these seven longings with their opposing seven sins Greg effectively gives us a mission manual for success. And what is the successful end goal?”  READ THE REST AT CATHOLIC BOOK BLOGGER!

Reclaim the Calm: 5 Hints for Healing an Angry Heart

Image from Shutterstock. Used with Permission.

Image from Shutterstock. Used with Permission.

No one likes to be angry, but we all do become angry from time to time–and we all have to contend with the anger of others fairly regularly.  Christians have a difficult relationship with anger.  Intellectually, we know that anger is a natural part of the human experience; it is an emotion like any other.  But we also know that anger can be sinful.

Lisa Hendey has a terrific post about an angry week she’s having and the poor fruit that struggle with anger is bearing in her life.  She asks for prayers and I’ll certainly be offering up a few for her, but her comments prompted me to offer some musings on anger and how to manage it…gracefully.

Anger or Wrath?

Properly ordered, anger is actually an emotional gift God gives us, prompting us to take effective action in the face of an injustice.  Righteous anger spurs us on to identify the problem and make a plan for resolving it.  In this sense, anger isn’t a sin at all but rather a blessing.  Wrath, or sinful anger, is another story.  In my latest book, Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart I explore how wrath is a really distortion of the Divine Longing for Justice–one of the seven longings that God has hard-wired into each of us that is intended to lead to our perfection and draw us closer to him, but has been distorted by sin.

Wrathful anger causes us to respond to problems, offenses, disorder, and injustices in ways that make the existing situation worse for ourselves and/or others.  That’s why it’s sinful. Anger, itself, is just a tool.  If we wield it in a manner that helps us clarify the nature of our problem and then take active, intentional steps to resolve it, then it is righteous, godly anger that does us credit and gives God glory.   It is this kind of righteous anger that our Divine Longing for Justice is intended to fuel.  It is measured.  It is intentional.  It is proportionate.  It is productive.  It is for this reason Jesus blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice.

If, on the other hand, we wield our anger in a manner that causes us to lash out at others, pile on misery, or injure ourselves in some way, then we are using our anger in a sinful manner that adds to the already existing injustice.  Popularly speaking, the word “wrath” tends to conjure up images of Ghengis Khan burning down a village in some violent rampage, but wrath doesn’t have to be so dramatic. Most expressions of wrath are much more pedestrian and banal.  We pick at our spouse’s smallest failings. We pout and mope.  We yell at our children just for being children.  We engage in self-indulgent habits and behaviors that give us momentary, albeit self-destructive, relief that does nothing to respond to the problem-at-hand.  All of these things are common examples of how wrath can wreck our day and rule our life.

The Way Out

When we experience wrath, we often try to control it by shaming ourselves or trying to squelch it altogether.  “I shouldn’t feel that way. Just stop it already” we day to ourselves along with other messages of self-recrimination.   But these approaches inevitably fail.  As I argue in Broken Godsthe only healthy way to resolve our struggle with wrath is to do the following.

1.  Step Back and Back Off.

Remember that what is driving your wrath is not your weakness or badness or brokenness, but rather a sign that you are responding–poorly–to your Divine Longing for Justice.  Something in your life is out of order. Something is amiss.  Beating up on yourself doesn’t solve that.  It only makes things worse.  Stop picking on yourself.  Instead, direct your emotional energy toward addressing your divine longing for justice.

2. Pray and Think.

Once you have reconnected with the divine purpose of your anger (i.e. the longing for justice), take a moment to ask God for clarity.  What is the problem that you are reacting to?  What is the injustice that needs to be addressed; the problem that needs to be solved?  Write down your thoughts about what, exactly, you think is wrong.

3.  Pray and Plan.

Now ask God for clarity about what he would like you to do to address the problem.  Ignoring it is NOT an option.  If that was going to work, you wouldn’t be struggling with wrath in the first place.  In the words of Pope St. Gregory the Great, “thoughts seethe all the more when corralled by the violent guard of an indiscreet silence.”  Once wrath has been engaged, the problem has gotten to big to ignore.  Make a plan.  What do you need to do to address it?  What resources do you need to gather?  Whose help do you need to enlist?

4.  Act.

Now DO something to enact your plan.  Focus the energy you were directing toward wrathful behavior and self-recrimination toward taking initial steps to address the problem that is provoking your reaction.

5. Evaluate and Adapt.

Finally, check in periodically to make sure your plan is working well and the problem is being resolved.  Adjust your plan as new information becomes available so you can maintain steady progress.  Traditionally the virtue of patience is the antidote to wrath, but patience doesn’t mean “just letting things go.”  It means being willing to take action and then allow the good efforts you are making unfold and take effect in your life.  A flower doesn’t grow faster by yelling at it or shaming it for being too slow. Give your efforts the time they need to germinate and blossom.   Practicing patience in the face of your anger means making a commitment to evaluating and adapting in response to new information as you intentionally work to address the injustices in your life and resist the temptation to rash actions.  Patience doesn’t eliminate anger.  It trains our anger so that it can be an effective tool that motivates us to respond effectively and intentionally to the injustices in our life.

Be Not Afraid

We don’t have to live in fear of our anger, and we don’t have to beat up on ourselves for getting angry.  Instead, we need to make friends with our anger by embracing the divine longing for justice that is driving the anger.  When we can do this, we can wield our righteous, godly anger as the powerful tool it is meant to be; a tool that helps drive our efforts to create order out of chaos, peace out of conflict, and restore justice in our lives.

For more help learning how to identify the divine longings that drive the parts of yourself that you like the least and how these parts can become the engines of your perfection in Christ, check out Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart.  Or, if you are struggling with ongoing problems related to  anger in your life, contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute to learn how our Catholic tele-counseling practice can help you find the justice and peace you are seeking.

For Teens, Religious Involvement Prevents Early Sex But Early Sex Kills Religious Involvement

Image Shutterstock. Used with Permission.

Image Shutterstock. Used with Permission.

From The Sexual Health Laboratory

Relatively extensive evidence has established that more religious adolescents tend to delay first sexual intercourse. In a paper that Sara Vasilenko and I published last year, we wanted to examine whether this association, usually assumed to be in this direction (from religiosity to sexual behavior), was actually bidirectional. We used the 100 participants from the University Life Study who transitioned to first intercourse between their first and seven semester in college. Our findings demonstrated that 12 months after transitioning to first intercourse, students attended religious services less frequently and viewed religion as less important than they had prior to first intercourse.

The upshot?  The more religiously engaged your kids are, the more likely it is they will delay first sexual intercourse, BUT, if religious kids do have sex outside of marriage, it tends to kill their desire for religious involvement.  The upshot for parents is two fold;  First, work hard to cultivate rituals like family prayer and worship and carve out regular time for your kids to develop a personal prayer life.  Second, if your kids do end up having sex before marriage, you don’t have to condone their behavior, but make sure to bombard them with your love, forgiveness and guidance and make sure they know that God loves them no matter what they have done.  As the saying goes, the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.  By all means, let’s work hard to give our kids the skills they need to maintain their virtue, but if they fall, let’s remind them that they are loved and welcome in the Church.

For more information on how to raise kids who can make godly choices in all their relationships, check out Beyond the Birds and the Bees:  The Catholic Guide to Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids!  You don’t have to go it alone.  Let us help you do the most important work a parent can do; teach your kids how to love rightly and love well.

Deliver Them From Evil: Teaching Your Children to Resist the Occult

Image Shutterstock. Used with permission

Image Shutterstock. Used with permission

Yesterday, I posted an article about what parents needed to know about a new “game” that middle-school children are playing in which they attempt to summon an erstwhile demon named “Charlie” who answers questions about their life and their future.  It is an international phenomenon that has caught the attention of reputable news outlets such as the BBC.  See my previous article here for the backstory.

One of the questions that emerges from the story is, “Why are we so fascinated by the occult?”  Whether we’re talking about horoscopes, or fortune tellers, or Ouija Boards, or other forms of divination such as the “The Charlie Challenge” that I wrote about yesterday, both children and adults are fascinated by the possibility of spiritual avenues to secret knowledge.  What is this really about? And more importantly, how can we make sure that our children don’t fall prey to the dangers contained within these practices.

What Are We Looking For?

In my book, Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart, I note the traditional Christian insight that behind even our darkest desires there is a divine longing that remains frustrated and unfulfilled when we attempt to express that longing in unhealthy, ungodly ways.  As Chesterton put it, even the man who knocks on the brothel door is looking for God.  If we want to change an unhealthy attraction for something or to something, we must first discover the divine longing behind that desire and prayerfully seek out healthy and godly ways to fulfill that longing.  If we fail to do this, our attempts to simply ignore or squelch our inappropriate desires cause us to be locked in a perpetual cycle of indulgence followed by guilt and repression followed by guilt.  Rinse. Wash. Repeat.  If we were to apply this insight to an attraction to the occult, what would it teach us?

The Divine Longing Behind the Attraction to Evil

I would argue that each person intuits a natural need for spiritual guidance.  Each person knows, on at least some basic, gut-level that we are not alone and that we are meant to seek answers outside of ourselves.  In fact, research shows that our brains are hard-wired to seek transcendence, to search for spiritual connections.  That impulse is so deep, so essentially human, it is almost impossible to ignore.  God created this biological impulse within us so that we would always seek him, no matter how far we strayed psychologically and emotionally.  We can run from him emotionally and spiritually, but even our bodily impulses are wired to re-orient us to  seek God.

BUT that impulse needs to be trained.  It needs to be cultivated.  God intends that impulse to lead us to him, but unless we are taught how to have a personal, meaningful prayer life; unless we are taught how to hear his voice and know his will, that divine longing for spiritual guidance can propel us toward counterfeit methods of “discernment,”  occult-based practices that hold out the promise of secret knowledge.

What’s a Parent to Do?

When Christian parent find that their children have been dabbling in the occult or have been tempted to (via “games” like Ouija or The Charlie Challenge or other popular divination practices) it is common to want to respond by trying to punish this impulse out of our children or to at least trying to scare them straight.  Our fear for their spiritual well-being causes us to want to stamp out their interest in the occult once and for all.  Unfortunately, these approaches, at best, fail to work (“Cavorting with Satan?!?  No phone for a week, young lady!”) and, at worst,  tend to simply confirm to many children that there is real power to these practices, power so great that Christians are afraid to even acknowledge it.  This is exactly the wrong message to send our children. Our over-the-top reactions simply drive our children toward the very things we’re trying to protect them from.  So, CAN we do?

Teach Your Children Well

In short, if we want to truly protect our children from the glamour of evil that surrounds popular methods of divination, we need to teach our children to satisfy the divine longing behind this distorted attraction for the occult.  We need to teach our children how to have a meaningful, personal prayer life and how to hear God’s voice and discern his will for their lives.  The more a person has mastered these skills, the less interested they naturally will be in the occult–and the less they live in fear of it as well.  Rather than seeming powerful, exciting, and darkly attractive, the person who has a truly personal connection with Jesus Christ and who is skilled at the art of discernment and hearing God’s voice, finds occult practices boring, tawdry, childish, and silly.  That is not to say that such a person does not recognize the inherent danger behind these practices, but the fear and fascination is gone, very much like the person who knows how to have a good time without getting drunk has little interest in “partying.”  It isn’t the fear of indulgence that keeps such a person sober, it’s the knowledge that there are just better ways to get the need for joy met that make getting drunk seem silly and unattractive by comparison.

The more we can say that we are confirmed in a personal experience of God’s love the less we tend to fear Satan hiding behind every bush.  The more we can say we know how to hear God’s voice and discern his will, the less we are drawn to occult practices that promise us a peek behind the spiritual curtain–not because we are afraid to look, but because we are already getting all the best-quality spiritual guidance our hearts could want.

The Right Stuff

There is a story I once heard about St Jean Vianney that illustrates the attitude I’m talking about.  Satan used to love taunting St. Jean.  He would appear to him and call him names like “potato eater” (implying he was a poor, ignorant peasant) and causing general mayhem around him in an attempt to distract him from doing God’s work.  One night, St Jean awoke to a loud clattering in his kitchen. He got out of bed to investigate the disturbance only to find Satan hurling the pots and pans around the room.  What did the Saint do?  Did he hide behind a cabinet?  Did he re-enact a scene from The Exorcist (“The POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!!!!”)?   No, on both counts.  He said, “Oh. It’s you.” And he went back to bed.

That is EXACTLY the attitude we want to cultivate in ourselves and our children about the occult.  Of course we recognize that there is real power and real danger in the demonic, but that power is so inferior to the power of God grace.   The person who is truly aware of the overabundant power of God’s love in their lives and who knows how to truly hear God’s voice and know God’s will is just not all that interested in Satan and his silly pomps and works and pretenses.  The person who has had a personal encounter with the power of God’s grace is really not all that impressed with Satan’s ability to spin a pencil on a piece of paper. It’s just not all that interesting.

Where To Start…

It is beyond the scope of this post to go into detail about how, exactly, to help your children cultivate a personally meaningful prayer life and learn the steps of discernment. Suffice it to say that children are much more capable of real spiritual depth than most parents give them credit for.   We discuss these things in our chapter on children’s faith development in Parenting with Grace and we will go into much more detail in our forthcoming book for Sophia Institute Press, Discovering God Together: The Catholic  Guide to Raising Faithful Kids (Coming Fall, 2015).  In the meantime, you can go a long way to making this happen for your kids by cultivating rituals for meaningful family prayer and worship, carving out time for your children to have personal prayer time, making your prayer lives–and what God is communicating to you through your prayer lives–a regular part of your family conversations, and regularly discussing how you experience God speaking to you and providing guidance in your life.

The more we teach our children to run toward God with all their heart, mind,  the less we’ll have to worry about whether or not they know how to run from sin and the glamour of evil.

For more tips on raising faithful kids, check out Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising (almost) Perfect Kids and for more ideas on helping children make good moral choices, pick up a copy of Beyond the Birds and the Bees:  Raising Whole and Holy Kids.



Man & Twin Hurt Hurling Bricks at Each Other During Argument

Image via Shutterstock. Used with Permission.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with Permission.

Now, here are two guys who could really have used a copy of God Help Me, These People Are Driving Me Nuts!

From FOXNews–“Well, they’re worth battery charges for twin 52-year-olds after officials say an argument ended with them hurling the projectiles at each other.  The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that Michael and James Remelius were arguing in the front yard of a home last week when Michael first threatened to throw a brick at his brother. According to a police report, Michael Remelius followed through, striking his brother in the leg and causing a small cut. James Remelius retaliated with a brick that bloodied and bruised his brother’s eye.   Both were arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Both remained jailed Tuesday. James’ bail is $25,000 while Michael’s is $20,000. Court records show they do not yet have attorneys to comment on the case.”

Don’t throw bricks at each other!  Pick up YOUR copy of God Help Me, These People Are Driving Me Nuts!   TODAY!

Where’s Charlie? What Catholic Parents Need to Know About “the Charlie Challenge”


It seems to have come out of nowhere and gone viral in an instant.  There is a new “game” sweeping middle schools called “The Charlie Challenge.”  Superficially, it seems like a silly, harmless, childish fantasy.  Kids make a grid on a piece of paper that says, “yes/no.”  They make an X out of two pencils and attempt to summon an erstwhile demon named “Charlie.”  Then they ask him questions which he answers by moving the pencils.  It’s rather creepy to watch. (I won’t link the videos here because I have no interest in spreading the craze but it’s easy enough to find online if you want to look).

For background, here’s a BBC story on the phenomenon.  Also, Simcha Fisher has an excellent post on the topic that I highly encourage you to read.

Of course it all sounds like silly nonsense, except that it isn’t and in the mind of a middle school child, this game can be played for rather high stakes. Remember the 2 middle school girls who attempted to murder their friend to appease “Slenderman“?  Sometimes child’s play isn’t just stuff and fluff.

That said, my concern is less with what the culture makes out of this phenomenon than what to tell your kids about it. Here are some suggestions.

1.  Satan is Boring.

A lot of people who don’t know better are fascinated by Satan.  But here’s the thing.  Satan is boring.  Jesus Christ ROSE FROM THE DEAD.  Satan moves some pencils around.  What’s so exciting about that?  People who are fascinated by this nonsense are, simply put,  foolish and stupid.  Don’t be foolish and stupid.  Christians have better things to do.  We worship the God who kicked Satan’s butt.  Don’t waste time with losers.

2. Stupid and Foolish Is Still Harmful

Just because something is foolish and stupid doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.  Drugs and alcohol are stupid and foolish.  High risk sexual behavior is stupid and foolish.  Texting and driving is stupid and foolish. But each year these lesser demons claim thousands upon thousands of lives.  Playing with “Charlie” is stupid and foolish too, because it purports to turn evil into a playmate.  When we choose to associate with even the glamour of evil, we take our eyes off of God.  That’s like turning off the lights before walking through a room filled with booby-traps and alligators just for the fun of it. We need to keep our eyes on the Lord at all times because he is our only reliable source of guidance and grace.  The so-called, “Charlie Challenge” is a silly distraction  that isn’t worth taking a single second away from the God who loves us more than anything and sacrificed everything to spend eternity with us.  God has given us much better than this and he deserves better than this from us.

3.  It is A Serious Sin

Playing this game is as serious sin and a violation of the First Commandment (Have no other gods but me).  It represents the sins of idolatry and divination.  Here is what the Catechism has to say on these sins…

Divination and magic

2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future.48 Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. 

In short, “The Charlie Challenge” is idolatry because it is attempting to ascribe godlike power (e.g., secret knowledge and knowledge of the future) to something that is not God.  It is divination because rather than praying to God about their concerns this game has children asking a pair of pencils what the future holds.  Who is it better to give the care of the future to?  Lord God King of the Universe? Or a couple of pencils that, most days, can’t even manage to help a kid fill in the right circles on a standarized test?

4.  Go to Confession.

If your child plays this game or has played this game, it will be important to go to confession immediately.  Letting the devil in the door, even for silly reasons, is never something to take lightly.  It is true that Christ has the victory and Satan has no power over God’s children–unless, that is, we invite him in.  It doesn’t have to be a formal invitation.  Playing a silly game is enough.   The idea that we can wield power over spirits is a tempting thought but giving into that temptation–even over a silly game– can change our entire spiritual perspective. Instead of seeing ourselves as God’s disciples, we begin to see prayer, the sacraments, and sacramentals as talismans that give us power over the world.   This is the antithesis of the receptive spirit required of a disciple of the Lord and Satan knows it.  Anyone who dabbles in these kinds of activities will need to confess this prideful spiritual attitude to reorient themselves to a proper mindset for discipleship in which we learn the way of life by listening to God, not by trying to claim spiritual power over life by illicit means.

5.  Don’t Freak Out.

If your child plays this game or has played this game your child will need you to treat him or her with gentleness, love, and affection. Not with anger, outrage, and anxiety.  Talk to your child as if you were talking to someone who had no idea what he or she was doing and still may not understand what has happened.  Most likely your child was acting in naivete and ignorance.  He or she will need to be taught, not only why this was a poor and even sinful choice, but what to do instead.  Your child’s playing of this game represents a distortion of the natural and godly desire to know God’s will and understand God’s plan for their lives.  If you have not taught your child how to have a meaningful personal prayer life or discern God’s will, you will need to do so–or learn to do so–over the next several weeks together.   Simply punishing your child without teaching your child how to bring his or her concerns to God and hear his voice is simply setting your child up for future occult involvement.

Using your own words, gently and patiently explain to your child the things that I have shared with you in points 1-4 above.  Then take your child to confession.  Let your child know how much you love them and want to help him or her learn how to turn to God to get the answers for the deepest questions of his or her heart.

See the Hidden Opportunity

The Charlie Challenge is not something to lose sleep over, but it is something to take seriously.  Most importantly, it is an opportunity to teach your child to have the heart of a disciple who knows how to seek God’s will and hear God’s voice so that he or she isn’t tempted to seek counsel from more dubious and diabolical sources.

For more information on raising truly a faithful kids, check out Parenting with Grace and for more tips on helping your kids make moral choices in every aspect of their lives pick up a copy of  Beyond the Birds and the Bees.

Living Inauthentically Causes Us to Feel Morally Tainted

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

According to a report published by PsychCentral.  A new study suggest that the human drive for authenticity — being true to ourselves and living in accordance with our values — is so fundamental that we feel immoral or impure when we hide our true colors.

This sense of impurity then leads us to engage in cleansing or charitable behaviors as a way of clearing our conscience, according to researchers.

“Our work shows that feeling inauthentic is not a fleeting or cursory phenomenon, it cuts to the very essence of what it means to be a moral person,” said psychological scientist Maryam Kouchaki, Ph.D., of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Participants who wrote about a time they felt inauthentic in one online experiment reported feeling more out of touch with their true selves and more impure, dirty, or tainted than participants who wrote about a time when they felt authentic.  They also reported lower moral self-regard, rating themselves as less generous and cooperative, for example, than the authentic participants, the researchers reported.

To ease our conscience, we may be tempted to wash these feelings of moral impurity away.

The researchers found that participants who wrote about inauthenticity were more likely to fill in missing letters to spell out cleansing-related words — for example, completing w _ _ h as “wash” instead of “wish” —  than those who wrote about authenticity.  

The inauthentic participants also reported a greater desire to use cleansing-related products and engage in cleansing behaviors than the authentic participants, according to the study’s findings.  The study also found that performing good deeds may be another cleansing strategy.  READ MORE

Feelings of Awe Inspire Greater Generosity, New Study Finds

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

According to a story published at PsychCentral, “People who experience feelings of awe tend to exhibit more altruistic, helpful, and positive social behaviors, according to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“Our investigation indicates that awe, although often fleeting and hard to describe, serves a vital social function. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others,” said lead author Paul Piff, Ph.D.,

Researchers conducted a set of 5 different experiments with over 1,500 respondents.  Each experiment was intended to examine how different awe-inspiring experiences–both positive and negative–impacted participants’ pro-social behavior (i.e., selfless actions that work for the good of others).

One surprising finding was how many types awe-inspiring situations were able to promote cooperative behavior.

In one experiment, the researchers elicited awe by showing droplets of colored water falling into a bowl of milk in slow motion. In another, they provoked a negative form of awe by using a montage of threatening natural phenomena, such as tornadoes and volcanoes. In a final experiment, the researchers induced awe by situating participants in a grove of towering eucalyptus trees.

“Across all these different elicitors of awe, we found the same sorts of effects — people felt smaller, less self-important, and behaved in a more pro-social fashion,” said Piff.

“Might awe cause people to become more invested in the greater good, giving more to charity, volunteering to help others, or doing more to lessen their impact on the environment? Our research would suggest that the answer is yes.”  READ MORE

The Divine Human: New Age Blasphemy or Christian Destiny?

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

(The following is excerpted from my forthcoming book, Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart (available in stores June 2, 2015).  Pre-Order your copy TODAY!)

There is an ancient, yet still surprising and little known Christian doctrine that asserts God’s intention to make each of us a god; perfect, immortal, and partaking in his very own divinity for all of eternity.  This teaching, known by theologians as the doctrine of theosis or divinization is the ultimate destiny for the Christian.  That’s right.  As Christians, we are not merely called to become the best version of ourselves.  It is not enough for us to be merely “good.”  Instead, our true destiny is, ultimately, to be transformed into gods through God’s grace.  As St Thomas Aquinas put it, “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”  (For more supporting evidence of this claim, see my previous post on this topic here).

Divinization is a gift that we receive as we run with abandon into the loving arms of the God who made us and who longs to complete his miraculous work in us.  But how is this different from the common claim by the New Age/Neopagan movement that all humans are divine?  There are three important points that popular theologian, Peter Kreeft, says separate the Christian view of divinization from the New Age pretense of a quasi-divine humanity;  piety, objective morality, & worship (1988).


Piety compels the Christian to proclaim that there is something greater than us.  For the most part, New Agers and neopagans believe that humans are divine on our own merits (Zeller, 2014).   But the Christian view of divinization recognizes that we do not claim divinity as an essential dimension of humanity.  “If you, Lord, keep account of sins, then who could stand” (Ps 130:3)?  Christians recognize that especially in light of the Fall,  humanity is deserving of anything but deification.  It is only through Jesus Christ, Our Savior, that we are able to achieve the greatest of heights, daring to look God in the eye and see him, not as our Master, but as our “friend” (Jn 15:15) with whom we can rightfully expect to enter into a total union through his infinite,  divine mercy.

Objective Morality

Second, Christians acknowledge an objective morality.   The New Ager believes in many moralities and a multiplicity of truths.  The moral reasoning of the modern neopagan represents a polytheism of “many gods, many goods, many moralities” (Kreeft,1988).   In the New Age model of human divinity (or divine humanity) I am the author of my own truth, not God.  It is my self-anointed right to pretend that I am capable of making reality whatever I say it is simply by closing my eyes and wishing on myself.

By contrast, the Christian acknowledges that there is a natural, objective order to the world, which was ordained by God, and to which his children are obliged to adhere, not out of a sense of slavish devotion to alien rules, but so that we might fulfill our incredible destiny to become gods through God’s grace.  Our ability to accomplish this awesome task depends in large part in our active participation in this divinely created moral order because “nothing unclean can enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Rev 27:21).


The third point that distinguishes the Christian notion of deification from the New Age notion is that the modern neopagan, fails to worship anyone, ultimately, besides himself.  He takes his de facto divinity for granted and demands that you acknowledge it too despite all appearances to the contrary.   He believes he can do what he will–even if it hurts you–because he is divine, the master of his own destiny and responsible only to his own personal sense of self-fulfillment.

In contrast, the Christian approaches the notion that he is destined to become a god with a sense of wonder, awe, amazement, gratitude, and not a little bit of fear born from the recognition that there are serious forces at play within this promise.   And yet, even that understandable fear is cast out by the perfect love (c.f., 1 John 4:18) that flows from the heart of the God who calls to us, runs to meet us on the road and wraps his finest cloak–his divinity–around us (c.f. Lk 15:22).

The Christian call for each person to participate in God’s plan to make men gods is not an exercise in narcissism, or wish fulfillment.  It does not serves as a get-out-of-morality free card.  It is an invitation, rooted in the love of our Heavenly Father for each one of us and extended to all of humanity through the saving work of Jesus Christ.   To discover how you can more effectively cooperate with God’s grace to fulfill your ultimate destiny in Christ, check out my latest book, Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart. (Pre-order today.  In stores June 2, 2015)

Kreeft, P. (1988).  Comparing christianity and the new paganism.  Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian apologetics.  Ignatius Press.

Zeller, B.  (2014).  Ultimate reality and divine beings.  Patheos Religion Library:  New Age.  Retrieved 5/24/14 at