Video: Broken Gods by Gregory Popcak

“You are gods.” Blasphemy? No, those words, spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of John and alluded to in Psalm 82, convey the holy longing many of us experience in our day-to-day lives. We are little gods in search of a big God. We want more. More love, more power, more peace, more joy, more satisfaction. Eventually, we tell ourselves that we need to stop listening to that ache in our hearts, which so often leads to disappointment and brokenness. But in Broken Gods, a new book by Gregory Popcak, he shows there is another option. Inspirational and practical, Broken Gods helps identify what our aches tell us about our destiny and demonstrate a commonsense means for fulfilling it.

Reading Guide: Five Years in Heaven

Five Years in Heaven presents several launching points for discussion about the numerous questions and topics we all confront in our lives every day. From forgiveness, death, and even the existence of God, to love, success, creativity, sin, relationships, and numerous other daily challenges, the following discussion questions will allow you to further explore and actively engage with the wisdom, humor, and lessons shared throughout the book. This companion guide will direct you toward discovering your own Heaven on earth, and your own meanings to the universal questions and topics that Sister Augustine and John discuss.


 For more information about Five Years in Heaven, or to inquire about scheduling an appearance by John Schlimm via Skype or in person, please contact Katie Moore at 719-268-1936 or


  • At the beginning of Five Years in Heaven, John finds himself at a crucial crossroads in life. When in your life have you found yourself at a crossroads like John did?
  • John initially questions how sorrow can be a “gift,” as Sister Augustine calls it, which should be greeted with gratitude. Have you ever found sorrow to be a gift in your life? Explain.
  • Just as John experienced, when have you realized that a great teacher entered your life? What lessons did you learn from that teacher?
  • Sister Augustine says of creating ceramic pieces: “This process is a slow one that tests each piece along the way over time. More often than not, they’re tougher than you’d think by just looking at them.” How can you relate this sentiment to your life?
  • Sister Augustine says: “That’s when gratitude counts the most. It’s in those challenging moments when we get a little closer to our true purpose in this life. We need to be thankful for those challenges.” Think of a disappointment or challenge in your life. How can being grateful for that situation help you to move through it into a better place?
  • John writes: “It’s so hard to have faith in a greater purpose that you can’t see or easily explain. Or to find belief in a world that no longer seems to believe in you.” Have you ever felt this way? Explain.
  • Sister Augustine tells John: “God has His ways. His reasoning may not seem obvious to us at the time, but someday you’ll look back and say, ‘That’s exactly how my life had to happen, good and bad, right down to the second, to get me where I am.’” How does your life journey so far support this sentiment?
  • Sister Augustine tells John: “Forgiveness is an act of love and compassion. Yes, it is a gift we give to the person who hurt us, which is often the hardest part for people to understand. In our minds, that often means we’re letting that person off the hook for whatever they did to us. But ultimately, when we forgive someone, that act is also a gift of love and compassion, and freedom, that only we can give to ourselves.” How did this statement support or change how you view the act of forgiveness?
  • In discussing our pursuit to know God, Sister Augustine says: “We have to see, with our entire bodies and souls, before we can truly understand.” Besides your eyes, how else can/do you “see” God at work in your life?
  • While at one time or another we all stand before a wall of fear and challenges, Sister says: “The difference for some, though, is that they look upward and think, I can climb right up over this wall. Or they look to the sides, and think, I can go around this wall. Or, if nothing else, they take a step back and carefully examine the wall, thinking, I can smash right through it!” When in your life have you taken this proactive approach to overcoming fear, change, or some other challenge?
  • Sister Augustine says: “One of the most important things in this life is just showing up… That speaks for itself, where words never could. Just like a smile does.” What is an example from your life when “just showing up” made an important difference?
  • Sister Augustine says: “That’s what life is meant to be: an unfinished piece of work that others carry on in some way after you’ve gone. That way there truly is no beginning and no end.” Did this statement influence your own views on living and dying? Explain.
  • John writes about how his friendship with Sister Augustine ultimately transformed him. Think of a close friendship you have or had with someone. In what ways did that friendship transform you for the better and help guide you along life’s journey?
  • From the beginning, Five Years in Heaven has explored the topic of Heaven on earth. When in your life have you had an experience that you would describe as Heaven on earth?
  • John ends the book by writing: “And I smiled.” Why in that moment do you think his reaction was to smile? How does this seemingly simple smile reflect his growth in the five-year journey he just completed

Reading Guide: Between the Dark and the Daylight

Between the Dark and the Daylight explores the concerns of modern life, of the overworked mind and hurting heart. These are the paradoxical—and often frustrating—moments when our lives feel at odds with everything around us.

With her signature elegance, wit, and spirit,  bestselling author  Joan Chittister opens our eyes and hearts in these times of confusion. With simple and poignant meditations, Between the Dark and the Daylight reveals how we can better understand ourselves, one another, and God.
Go deeper with this reading guide for Between the Dark and the Daylight which can be used for individual reflection or group discussion.
  • Chittister begins the book by describing the literal affects darkness has on human psychology. By losing a sense of our physical space, eventually light deprivation leads to losing our sense of self. Chittister then explains how in times of spiritual darkness, we must find our own inner light. She writes, “The stars that come with darkness are the new insights, the new directions, the new awareness.” Can you recall a time when you felt emotionally dark? What served as your light? How has your point of view changed after experiencing hardship?
  • Chittister writes that “frustration” is often a mask for deeper concerns. Have you complained of feeling frustrated in the last week? What was it? Consider if the annoyance is a clue to a greater concern.
  • Reflect on a time in your life when adversity was necessary to finding peace.
  • According to Chittister, risk is “the willingness to accept an unknown future with open hands and happy heart.” Is there a risk you have been afraid to take? In what way can you open your heart to uncertainty?
  • In the chapter, “The Emptiness of Accumulation,” Chittister writes, “We invest in things as trappings, as signals, as badges of success when we lack the confidence to believe in our self.” Have you ever been tempted to “keep up with the Jones’s”? What motivated you to chase material items?  In what ways can you nurture “things of the soul” like friendships, beauty, nature, and joy in your life?
  • Reflect on a time you failed, or simply didn’t win first place. What did it teach you about yourself—about your energy, endurance, your natural talents, your likes and dislikes?
  • “Exhaustion drains us physically; boredom depletes the soul,” writes Chittister. How do you balance between the adrenaline rush of over-working, and the necessary calm that follows? Do you have a favorite activity that helps clear your head? Have you ever had an “ah-ha” moment while relaxing, taking a walk, cooking, or gardening? List ways you can better incorporate relaxation into your routine.
  • Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? What makes something “perfect” to you? How can you better embrace imperfections, both in yourself and others?
  • Reflect on a time you felt shame. By examining what you feel guilty about, what is revealed about your own morality, conscience, and values?
  • Confusion gives us “cosmic permission to think differently.” Reflect on a time you felt resistant to a new idea. Consider ways you can approach new, different, and radical change with vitality, rather than fear.
  • If you identify as a man, consider what typically “feminine” traits compliment your masculinity, such as sensitivity, empathy, or childcare. If you identify as a woman, what “masculine” traits enhance your life, like assertiveness, strength, or leadership? By balancing these qualities, Chittister contends that we all become more fully human. Consider ways you can balance expectations around gender.
  • “Loss is not meant to ruin us or our sleep for the rest of our lives. It simply prepares us to lose better the next time.” Reflect on a time you experienced loss. In what ways has that better prepared you for future pain?
  • Chittister writes that, “What we learn in loneliness is that everybody needs someone.” Consider who might be lonely in around you. A niece who moved away to college? A widowed neighbor? Residents at a local nursing home? How can you reach out to those who are experiencing isolation?
  • “Love is not a mold that makes two people the same person,” Chittister writes. “Love is the dream that enables both of us to be our own best person—together.” Reflect on a time you fell in love or a couple whose love you admire. How can you better support your loved ones to be their best selves?
  • Have you ever been in a crowded place—a restaurant, a theater, an airport terminal—and felt isolated because you were surrounded by strangers? Have you ever been home alone or in nature, without another soul around, but have felt satisfied by your own company?  Contrast how these experiences make you feel.  What can they teach you about companionship?
  • Some people who live in abject poverty report feeling hopeful, talk of being happy, and feel close to God, while others who have great health, political freedom, and comfortable lives describe feeling despair. From this, Chittister concludes that, “hopelessness has at least as much to do with what we bring to life as it does with what life brings us.” How can you cultivate hopefulness in your own life? How can you better use what you have—education, money, talent, a heartbeat—for growth?
  • “Without doubt, there is little room for faith in anything,” writes Chittister. How has doubt played a role in your faith?
  • Chittister describes attending Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish religious services, and feeling certain that “these people were just as deeply involved in the search for God as I am.” Have you ever attended a religious service that was not your denomination? If so, what did you learn about faith from others’ practices? What can ecumenicism teach us about God?
  • The salve for spiritual pain, according to Chittister, lies in the knowledge and experience that God is with us always. How is this illustrated in the parable of Babel? Reflect back to you time of spiritual darkness described in the first question. How is that experience altered by the knowledge that God was with you in that time?

BLOG TOUR: The Catholic Advantage, March 3-9, 2015

 Does your faith make you happier?

In The Catholic Advantage: Why Health, Happiness, and Heaven Await the Faithful, the president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, explains why people of faith are more likely to be healthier and happier than their non-religious counterparts.

Providing proof and explanation for why religion is integrally tied to well-being, Donohue shows how the Catholic Church has the formula for achieving health, happiness and ultimately heaven.

“The greatest joy that Catholicism offers is the prospect of achieving salvation,” writes Donohue. And the good news, according to Donohue, is that the teachings of the Church provide a veritable road map to heaven while also providing benefits such as good health and happiness.

For The Catholic Advantage blog tour we’ve asked 7 bloggers to review the book and to share examples of how faith is integral to achieving good health and happiness in their own lives.

Using examples, both personal and from the book, our bloggers will shine new light on the fascinating correlation between faith and well-being.

We’re grateful to our blogging friends for sharing their thoughts and hosting stops on the tour. We encourage you to visit their sites (links below) and read their reflections.


Blog Tour Schedule

March 3: The Catholic Book Blogger

March 4: Testosterhome

March 5: Abigail’s Alcove

March 6: Quiet, Dignity, and Grace

March 7: Single Catholic Girl

March 8: Seasons of Grace

March 9: The Cajun Catholic


To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Bill Donohue, please contact Katie Moore, publicist,, 719-268-1936.

Image Author, Sister Joan Chittister, to Appear on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday”


“Super Soul Sunday - Oprah and Sister Joan Chittister:  A Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy”  airs Sunday, March 1 at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

Oprah speaks with Sister Joan Chittister, a Roman Catholic nun and author of over 50 books, for a discussion about new ways of looking at God, the vital force that women represent in the church and in society, and the divinity of merging spirituality and science.  Sister Joan is an outspoken advocate of justice, peace and equality – especially for women all over the world, and has been one of America’s visionary spiritual voices for more than thirty years.

Photos courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns

Chittister’s newest book is Between the Dark and the Daylight.



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