REVIEW: Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the 7 Longings of the Human Heart, by Gregory K. Popcak, Ph.D. (Image Books)
Did you know that God is slowly transforming you into a god and that a holy code exists that unlocks the secrets of this process?
From the earliest days of the Church, this process, called “divinization,” has been recognized and believed by all of Christianity. Since God shares his nature with us through adoption, and since his grace transforms and heals us as we journey toward heaven, we gradually become more authentic reflections of his divine image: glorious, perfect, and completely fulfilled.
But of what use is this insight to us as we struggle to comprehend our everyday joys and sorrows?
Dr. Gregory K. Popcak, an eminent and faithful Catholic psychologist and radio host has authored many superb books, some of which I own and love. His newest title, which I received from his publisher for review, Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the 7 Longings of the Human Heart, continues to raise the bar on his greatest strength: synthesizing faith, science, and psychology in ways that empower relationships and nourish souls.
Since the fall of human kind, human beings created in the image and likeness of God, willed into existence in order to share in the divine nature, have been broken and confused about our own worth and destiny. Our deepest longings, Popcak explains, can lead us deeper into confusion or, when properly understood, can mark a powerful and beautiful path of sanctity, joy, and ultimate fulfillment.
Popcak’s thrilling work explores the seven principle desires of the human heart for abundance, dignity, justice, peace, trust, well-being, and communion, and reveals the holy code hidden within our sufferings. By weaving psychology, science, spirituality, engaging case studies, and a simple, but powerful, step-by-step system for increasing understanding and self-awareness, he unpacks those buried longings so that we can pursue them more authentically through the prism of God’s call to our hearts.
I underlined so much and turned down so many pages that struck and inspired me that I’d have to quote most of the book in order to provide a complete understanding of why I so highly recommend this unique work; so I’ll have to pick just a few excerpts and ideas and let you discover the rest on your own!
Popcak really got my attention early in the book with this:
Though we are often tempted to feel that our lives and hopes and dreams are burning down around us, deification is the blueprint that allows us to rebuild our lives from the ashes and become everything God intended us to be from the beginning… Understanding deification enables us to finally stop running from our sins and instead begin running toward divinity. (p. 7)
On page 11, Popcak references an image taken from the prodigal son’s return, saying that God meets us as we humbly approach him in fear and trembling:
And yet, even that understandable fear is cast out by the perfect love (see 1 Jn 4:18) that flows from the heart of God, who calls to us, runs to meet us on the road, and wraps his finest cloak–his divinity–around us (see Lk 15:22).
I’ll give you a sense of how much just the foundational chapters effected me. In a section called, “The Inner Ache” (p. 14), I had an epiphany and wrote this in the margin:
Do I believe that God, in his desire to share his nature with me, has truly AMAZING plans for my life? If I do, then my dreams are SACRED and should have my TOTAL COMMITMENT.
In Chapter Two, the author asks,
What if there was a way to stop being afraid of your desires?
and goes on to explain that
…even your most neurotic and destructive desires can be transformed into an engine of divine actualization that can propel you down the path toward both a more joyful life in the present and the fulfillment of your ultimate destiny… (p. 17)
Later he says,
These seven divine longings have such tremendous potential to propel us toward divinization that Satan works hard to keep them hidden where we are least likely to look, behind the parts of ourselves we hate the most. (p. 25)
Did you catch that? The greatest treasures of our souls are often hidden in our self-hatred.
Lest you suspect that the book merely proposes these life-altering, hope-filled ideas, the rest of his work is specific, practical, and sites fascinating examples of actual individuals and couples whose lives and relationships were profoundly healed through the methods Popcak employs, based on these concepts.
Both our bodies and our brains are hardwired for holiness. Using neuroscience, genetic studies, and the theology of the body, Dr. Popcak reveals the innate wisdom of our bodies: when we live according to God’s plan, we are healthier and happier, and it is easier to think and learn! Within the path of sanctity lie all the secrets to our ultimate destiny: union with God and the most perfect expression of our holy individuality.
Presenting a basic recipe for happiness–through meaningfulness, intimacy, and virtue–and by defining and illuminating each concept spiritually, practically, and–sometimes–poetically, the author helps us to appreciate the fundamentals of a life lived to the very full–that answers all the deepest desires of the human heart.
The book includes one of the most fascinating bibliographies I have ever seen (my “buy” list is substantial), and closes with a strong chapter called, “Approaching Divinity.” One of my favorite comments utilizes the image of the wedding feast, with Christ as the groom:
Through these longings, God gets down on one knee and holds out–not a ring–but his Sacred Heart. He is proposing to make you whole, and to show you how you can live in his love for all eternity. He is asking you if you would do him the honor of letting him fulfill your deepest desires so that you will never want for anything again, and so that you can discover how to love yourself the way he loves you. (p. 182)
This extraordinary resource is newly released today!
I highly recommend Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart, by Gregory K. Popcak, Ph.D. (Image Books)
For more help, support and information, contact Dr. Popcak’s organization, Pastoral Solutions Institute. To make an appointment to speak with a counselor, call 740-266-6461, or check out his website, www.CatholicCounselors.com.