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Authenticity: A Humble, Counter-Culture Revolution

Dr. James Houck
Dr. James Houck

In his new book, Reclaiming Authenticity: A Psycho-Spiritual Process of Transformation and Transcendence (WestBow Press, 2014), Dr. James Houck makes the case for genuineness and authenticity, despite the fact that acting according to these principles demands something that modern culture does not value – vulnerability.  


“Nowadays, society is rapidly conditioning generations to question the motives and desires of others like never before,” writes Houck. “For example, personal image is at an all-time fever pitch as one reality show after another presents us with anything but reality. Daily we are being sold the message to be the most socially acceptable persona that money can buy. In fact, it seems as though the more drama and tears, the better the front-page story. Instead of taking people at face value, we now are accustomed to ask ‘what’s the catch?’”  


The result, according to Houck, is that, because of humiliating and painful experiences, “We avoid any further investing of physical, emotional or spiritual parts of ourselves in relationships. We may feel that we just cannot risk being a victim to yet another example of fraud, trickery or dishonesty . . .  And yet, isn’t this the dilemma we face? To strive for genuineness and authenticity in our relationships demands a level of vulnerability from us. In other words, before we can expect and appreciate authenticity from another, we are forced to confront our own inconsistent and inauthentic ways.”


Houck believes that one method of becoming more authentic is psycho-spiritual transformation, which he defines as “the on-going process by which God’s character saturates a person in his/her thoughts, behaviors, and styles of relating with ourselves, others and God.”


Living authentically, Houck reasons, requires a shift in perception and understanding. “Humility teaches us that when we do not honor our natural and/or spiritual resources as gifts from God, we tend to believe we have a right to dispose of them (and perhaps people) as we see fit. Throughout history such arrogance has slaughtered millions, left lands barren, and perpetuated generations plagued by emotional trauma. Authenticity on the other hand, produces tangible humility that is lived out in healing and wholeness.”

James A. Houck Jr., Ph.D., is an associate professor and director of the Ph.D. in Pastoral Counseling Program at Neumann University in Aston, Pennsylvania. He is a licensed professional counselor and an ordained elder in the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is also the author of The Apostle Peter: His Words Should Be Red Too! (Xulon Press) and Redeeming the Bereaved: A Spiritual Model For Healing Our Woundedness (Xulon Press).


Dr. Houck's research interests include integrating religion and spirituality into mental health, loss and grief, after-death communication (ADC), healing intergenerational trauma, near-death experiences (NDE), Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Native American traditions and spirituality.


For more information about his new book, visit


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