Greg Camacho LOVES “Broken Gods”

shutterstock_132413567Greg Camacho at the Pilgrim Center of Hope has a lovely review of one of my newest books, Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart.

In this great new book, Dr. Popcak contends that “when God looks at you, He sees a god” (with a small g). It might seem crazy or even blasphemous, but that’s only because we’re used to seeing ourselves as broken, struggling, failing and frustrated. Subtitled Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart, the book demonstrates how the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues relate to one another.

In Broken Gods, a work that is both practical and inspirational, Dr. Popcak explores what our deepest desires — and even our darkest desires — tell us about our ultimate destiny and reveals a commonsense approach to fulfilling our true purpose.

This book is a “must” for everyone seeking to integrate his or her emotions, doubts, and feelings of failure, with a true, joyful spirituality.

Thanks Greg!  And many blessings on the great work of the Pilgrim Center of Hope!

My Talk with National Review’s Kathryn Lopez on “Broken Gods.”


National Review’s Kathryn Lopez recently interviewed me on my most recent book, Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart.  Take a look!

What does God see when He looks at you? That’s a main question Gregory K. Popcak asks and answers in his new book Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart. Popcak, executive director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, talks below about the book and some of the prospects its raises for a beautiful life. — KJL   ​

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Do you want to be “perfect, whole, healed, and, yes, even immortal”? These seem high promises for a book!

GREGORY K. POPCAK: Well, of course! Because it’s a great book! No, look, in all seriousness, I know it sounds like hyperbole, but I’m simply reiterating the promises Jesus himself made to all of his followers; promises that were echoed by every single one of the Church fathers. Jesus says, “Is it not written you are gods?” and “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:34, 10:10). What is that abundant life, exactly? Nothing less than our “divinization” — that is, the process by which we become “partakers in the divine nature” (Peter 1:4). As Saint Thomas Aquinas shockingly put it, “The son of God became man so that men might become gods.” Saint Justin Martyr said it even more jarringly: “He who listens to the Lord, and follows the prophecy given by Him, will be made a god going about in flesh.” Of course it’s true that there’s only one God — and we’re not him. But early Christians were unanimous in asserting — up through the Reformation — that the entire point of the Christian life was to allow God to transform us into “gods” in the classic sense — perfect, whole, healed, and yes, even immortal — and destined to be loved by God and united to him eternally.  

LOPEZ: How does this idea that we are “broken gods” change things?

POPCAK: When Christians say that “we are broken and in need of salvation,” it prompts the question, “We are broken what?” Most people think we are broken in the same way that the occupants of the Island of Misfit Toys are broken — hopeless, absurd, and more than a little pathetic. Of course, the appeal of this idea is lost on a lot of people, especially non-believers, who tend to reply, “What do you mean ‘I’m broken?’ Who do you think you are anyway? I have a good job. My family loves me. I do nice things for people. I’m fine just the way I am…CONTINUE READING

Green With Envy: 3 Steps to Rediscovering Your Worth in Christ

Image via shutterstock.

Image via shutterstock.


The following is adapted from my newest book, Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart

“Human personhood must be respected with a reverence that is religious. When we deal with each other, we should do so with the sense of awe that arises in the  presence of something holy and sacred. For that is what human beings are: we are created in the image of God.”     ~USCCB,  Economic Justice for All

The Source of our Dignity

Do you have any idea of what you are worth in the eyes of God?  Words can barely describe it.

The modern world has a skewed view of what gives a person dignity. We tend to think that our dignity is tied up in our possessions, our status, our accomplishments or our position in society.  But none of these things is powerful enough or stable enough to convey the innate dignity that each of us has in the eyes of God.

A friend of mine is caring for his elderly father.  His father can do little for himself. He is weak and sickly and it is difficult for him to get out of bed.  But my friend loves his father.  He visits him daily in the nursing facility.  He brings his father little treats and tokens of his affection.  He tells the staff stories of his father’s younger days, the adventures he had as a young man and the kind of father he was.  My friend’s love shines out for his father.  Thanks to my friend’s dedication, even the staff treats my friend’s father with a little extra respect.  They don’t know him.  They don’t have any reason to consider him in any different light than any of the other patients in the nursing home.  So why do they take a little extra time with him and speak to him more gently?  Because he is loved.

A baby can’t do anything for herself.  She can’t bathe or feed or dress herself.  She can’t help pay the bills or clean the house.  Despite all this, strangers see her and say how beautiful and precious she is.  Why?  Because she is loved.

Our dignity and value as persons is not found in what we have or what we can do.  It is anchored in God’s undying, perpetual love for us.  As the quote at the top of this article asserts, each person is sacred and worthy of awe because of God’s miraculous love for us.   Even if the love of others fails, God’s love never fails (1 Chron 16:34).   God loves you so much that not only has he made you in his image, but he was born, lived, suffered, died and rose again so that you might know how much you are worth to him.  And if that wasn’t enough, he loves you so much that he wants to transform you into someone who is perfect and immortal and can be intimately united to God–so that you can spend all of eternity being loved by him.

Envy:  The Twisting of our Dignity    

When we forget that God’s love for us is the root of our sense of worth and dignity,  envy takes hold.  Envy represents the twisting of our Divine Longing for Dignity.   It tells us that our dignity is not rooted in God’s love for us, but rather in having, doing, and being everything that the people around us have, do, and are.  Envy chains us to a treadmill that makes me run after everything that everyone else has so that I can feel “as worthwhile as” they are.  The problems is, no matter what I acquire or achieve, either someone will always be further up the ladder or I will always run the risk of losing what I’ve accomplished and, by extension, what sense of dignity those accomplishments have afforded me.  The more I give into envying someone else’s life, marriage, family, money, position, or anything else, the more I have separated myself from the experience of God’s love, which is the only true foundation on which my dignity can rest.

So when I am tempted to give into envy, how can I recover?

3 Steps to Beating Envy and Reclaiming my Dignity in Christ.

1.  Recenter the Battle.    When we give into envy we tend to beat up on ourselves. “Look at how pathetic I am?  What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I just be grateful for what I have?”  None of this works.  The only way to beat envy is to identify the threat to my divine longing for dignity.  Ask yourself, “Why do I feel my dignity is threatened?”  “What is making me feel unworthy of God’s love?”

For instance, “I feel that God doesn’t love me because I am not successful like so-and-so.”  Or “I feel that God does not love me because I don’t have the family that so-and-so does.”   If we can identify the perceived threat to our dignity, we can identify the idol that is separating us from God’s love.

7 Ways to Free Yourself From Guilt

shutterstock_258976103 published an article on overcoming guilt and learning to forgive ourselves which is taken from my latest book, Broken Gods: Hope, Healing and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart which is available in stores as of today!   I hope you enjoy the article.

It’s practically impossible to underestimate our capacity for making the same mistakes over and over again. We commit the same sins. Repeat the same patterns. Fall down in the same place. We often respond to this tendency with guilt, shame, and disappointment in ourselves.

But what if there was a way to not only leave this tendency for self-condemnation behind, but also to experience freedom from our own destructive habits? Would you take it?

Understanding the trap

Classically, the Seven Deadly Sins — pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust — represent the most common ways we disappoint ourselves and others. Each is a habit we hate to love and whether or not we acknowledge it, every one of us wrestles with one or more of them.

Whether we fight and fall or freely indulge in these destructive habits, few of us can deny their attraction or our struggle to resist falling under their influence. As Oscar Wilde famously put it, “I can resist everything but temptation.”

We think that the only way to free ourselves from the grip of these struggles is to make ourselves feel bad enough that we don’t want to go down that path ever again. Ironically, it is just this strategy that tends to set us up.

The worse we make ourselves feel about indulging these sins, the more we gravitate toward them to seek relief from the pain of our guilt. It is a cycle as depressing as it is familiar.

Finding the way out

Broken GodsThe reason so many of us get stuck in this obsessive cycle is that we try to address our problems in ways that entirely miss the engines that drive them. In Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longing of the Human Heart, I argue that hidden behind the seven deadly sins are seven divine longings — desires given to us by God that have been twisted because of the Fall.

While our natural attempt to fight brokenness involves trying to avoid our flaws and failings, the only way we can be delivered from our pain is to discover the hidden longings behind our sins. Then, not only can we identify ways to satisfy those deeper desires and set ourselves free from the obsessive sin-guilt cycle of sin and guilt, but we can also discover God’s plan for our ultimate fulfillment.

Uncovering our seven divine longings

Hiding behind the seven deadly sins of pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust are divine longings for abundance, dignity, justice, peace, trust, well-being, and communion, respectively. Let’s break them down a bit.   READ THE REST AT FAITHSTREET.COM

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!

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

Be Not Afraid: God’s Plan for The Fulfillment of All Your Deepest (and even Darkest) Desires–REVEALED!


The following is adapted from my forthcoming book, Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart which looks at the longings that drive our deepest and even darkest desires and how God wants to use those longings to reveal his plan for our ultimate fulfillment.  It is available NOW for pre-order!

Christians have a complicated relationship with desire.  We desire many things, but so often our desires get us into trouble.  They can wreck our lives, ruin our relationships,  lead us into sin, and cause us no end of misery and regret.   Because of this, we Christians often treat our desires with suspicion if not outright fear.  This tendency is, perhaps, understandable, but what if there was a way to stop being suspicious or afraid of your desires?   What if I were to tell you that even your most neurotic and destructive desires could be transformed into an engine of divine actualization that propels you down the path toward both a more joyful life in the present and the fulfillment of the ultimate destiny God has in store for you?  And what if I told you that this truth about the authentic Christian relationship with desire was affirmed again and again by the most orthodox traditions in our Catholic faith?

Love & The Re-Orientation of Desire

Falling in love with my wife was a transformational experience for me.  Suddenly, everything was about her. Love has a way of radically re-orienting us away from ourselves and toward the other. We find ourselves by losing ourselves.

In a similar way, when we make an authentic response to God’s invitation to enter into a relationship with him, something amazing happens.  Suddenly, everything is about him.  Our  hopes, our dreams, our relationships, our desires become re-oriented.  They don’t go away, but they take on a new significance.  They point, not to themselves, but to new ways we might come to know God better, and draw closer to him.  Directly or indirectly, our desires become entirely about him.

The Three “Ways” of Desire

Christian mystics over the centuries have discovered that divinization (theologians’ term for the process by which God leads us into total union with him) refines our desires through three distinct stages or “ways.”

First, in The Purgative Way we experience a rehabilitation of desire as God shows us to satisfy our earthly desires in healthy ways.

Next, in The Illuminative Way we experience the enlightenment of desire as we discover that God has been reaching out to us through our longings and wants to reveal himself to us through them.

Finally, in The Unitive Way we experience the unification of our desires with the very heart of God.  In each stage, both our flawed desires and the flawed ways we try to satisfy them undergo a transformation that allows us to achieve ultimate fulfillment by propelling us toward our divine destiny.  Through this process, we learn that God is not the enemy of our desires, but rather he seeks to satisfy our desires to a degree that we didn’t know was possible.  He longs to meet the deepest needs of our heart–even needs beyond our awareness.

Entrusting Your Desires to God

The three “ways” of desire teach us that our desires are not to be feared and extinguished, but blessed and transformed.  Whatever your desires are–no matter how disordered they may seem or how much trouble they may cause you–you can only find happiness by surrendering those desires to God and boldly asking him to teach you, not how to destroy or ignore your desires, but how to fulfill them in ways that will give him glory and lead to our ultimate satisfaction in this life and union with him in the next.

Indiscriminate indulgence in our desires or the relentless persecution and condemnation of our desires both ironically produce the same miserable outcome.  Both false responses to desire facilitate our brokenness, frustration,  and separation from God.  Only by discovering and embracing the godly longings driving our desires and asking for God’s instruction on how to fulfill those desires in ways that are pleasing to him can we hope to achieve true peace and ultimate fulfillment.  In the words of Pope Benedict XVI,

 …we must not forget that the dynamism of desire is always open to redemption….We all, moreover, need to set out on the path of purification and healing of desire.  We are pilgrims, heading toward our heavenly homeland.  The pilgrimage of [desire] is not, then, about suffocating the longing that dwells in the heart of man, but about freeing it,   so that it can reach its true height (2012).

To learn more about how to reclaim the divine purpose behind the deepest and even darkest desires of your heart, check out Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart.

Father Forgive Me, For I Am Angry: Further Reflections on “The Furious Mysteries”

Image via Shutterstock.

Image via Shutterstock.

It seems like anger is the topic of the day.  Earlier, my wife and I were discussing the Christian response to anger on More2Life Radio.  Shortly after I got off the air, I came across an article titled, The Furious Mysteries  in which America’s Fr. James Martin reflects on what we are to make of Jesus’ displays of anger in Scripture.

It’s a terrific question.  What does Jesus’ anger teach us about how we should manage ours?

Anger, Wrath & the Divine Longing for Justice

Many people think that anger is a sin.  There’s a lot of confusion about what constitutes anger, which is a gift from God, and wrath, which is anger’s more diabolical cousin.  In Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing and the Seven Longing of the Human Heart I argue that wrath is a distortion of the divine longing for justice.   What do I mean?

At the dawn of creation, God created within the human person a bone deep desire to see that God’s plan for life the universe and everything was fulfilled.  This divine longing for justice, which is one of the seven longings of every human heart, was given to us by God to to help us keep and protect–and, later, restore–the balance that God created at the beginning of time.

Anger is our bodily response to the experience of injustice–it is the God-given, gut-level reaction that says, “This is not right!”   What many people refer to as “righteous anger” represents God’s call–through our body– to prayerfully seek solutions that allow his will to be done, justice to be established and proper order to be restored.  Righteous anger always leads to an intentional, proportionate, appropriate response that seeks to heal the injury and build up the body of Christ.   In each instance, Jesus’ anger in the Gospels presents an example of just that. I believe this is the key to unraveling with Fr. Martin cleverly refers to as “the Furious Mysteries.”

The Furious Mysteries–Jesus’ Anger in Scripture.

Jesus  sometimes got angry, but  he was never wrathful.  He didn’t overturn the money-changer’s tables because he was having a bad day and lost his cool.  He did it to see that God’s intentions for the temple would be respected.  He knew that any lesser attempt to demonstrate that his Father’s temple was not a shopping mall but a place of reverence would have simply been ignored.  As dramatic as it was, his behavior was an intentional, proportionate, and appropriate response to the merchants’ attempt to rob God of the honor he was due. Jesus’ display of righteous anger was an intentional effort to restore right order to the temple where His Father, not commerce, was to be the main attraction.

Likewise, when Jesus referred to the scribes and pharisees as “You snakes!  You den of vipers” (Mt 23:33) he wasn’t calling them names to be cruel like some internet troll.  He knew that using such colorful language was the only way to shock them out of their prideful belief that they could save themselves with their obsessive-compulsive adherence to the rules.   He knew that they were so convinced of their own righteousness that the only way he could shake them out of their complacency and open their hearts to the message of repentance was to compare them to the things they would never want to be, the exact opposite of what they thought they were trying to be; “whitewashed tombs”  filled with “death and dry bones” and “snakes”, representing the personification of Satan, the ultimate example of pride, himself!   Sometimes, Jesus anger was shocking, but in every instance, Jesus’ anger represented a conscious effort to see that God’s will would be done and it was always ordered to the godly good of the person/people on the receiving end of it.  His displays of anger represented an intentional, proportionate, appropriate attempt to work for the good of people whose behavior would be their undoing.

Wrath:  Anger that Wounds

But unlike righteous anger which is always intentional, proportionate and appropriate, the deadly sin of wrath represents a response that is reactive, disproportionate, and out of order.  Rather than responding to God’s call to restore justice, wrath makes us behave in manner that makes the existing offense even worse!

While I generally like Fr. Martin’s article,  I would gently disagree with his somewhat fuzzy distinction between wrath and anger.  He argues that Jesus anger wasn’t sinful because “Jesus is never angry on behalf of himself”  while our anger  “is more frequently of the selfish type, the result of an offense to ourselves.” He supports this idea by pointing out that when Jesus was being tortured and crucified, he did not express any anger. Indeed, he went “like a lamb to the slaughter” (Is 53:7) and even forgave his executioners.

The problem I have with this interpretation is that it suggests people are “selfish” when, for instance, they stand up to an abuser.  I’m sure Fr. Martin didn’t mean this.  In fact, he says as much when he writes,  “Of course we need a healthy love of self and a care for the self. So sometimes a strong response to injustice is justified.”   But I counsel too many people who are confused on this point exactly because of fuzzy distinctions like this.  If the only difference between righteous anger and wrath is that righteous anger serves others and sinful anger serves me, then when, exactly, is it OK to offer “a strong response to injustice?”   There is an unhealthy attitude among too many Christians that says that if I set boundaries of any kind or stand up for myself in any way, I am being selfish–after all, look at how Jesus dealt with his abusers!  

I would argue that this view, though well-intentioned, almost fatally misses the point.  So, what is the real difference between anger that is sinful and anger that is not?

Why Didn’t Jesus Become Cross on the Cross?

Remember that anger, properly ordered, is a God-given, gut-level response to an experience of injustice.   We can think of injustice as a situation or relationship that is “out of order” (i.e., not in line with God’s plan). Seen in this light, Jesus did not express anger when he was being tortured and crucified because he knew he needed endure this suffering to restore the right order that existed between God and humankind.   Although it was not right that we should cause him to suffer, he willingly submitted to that suffering so that the Father’s plan could be fulfilled and the order between Heaven and earth could be restored–a task no one else but him was able to accomplish.   By contrast, the suffering of an abused wife, for instance, is unjust because it represents a disordered relationship between man and woman, a relationship that directly contradicts Gods plan for marriage.  Moreover, the wife’s anger at her abuse and her attempts to either stand up to her abuser or escape him represents a just response to abuse because it attempts to call the marriage to godly order.

In short, what makes a display of anger either righteous or sinful is not whether I, personally, benefit from it but whether or not the way I am expressing that anger represents an honest, intentional, proportionate, and appropriate attempt to see that God’s intentions for a particular situation or relationship would be fulfilled.  While wrath offends God’s plan by making a bad situation worse with our reactions, righteous anger seeks to heal wounds, restore relationships,  and re-establish godly order.  To discover more ways our deepest desires–and even our darkest desires–can reveal God’s incredible plan for a grace-filled life, check out Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart.