Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Dr. Brené Brown

Dr. Brené Brown knows the power of vulnerability

“Faith minus vulnerability and mystery equals extremism. If you’ve got all the answers, then don’t call what you do faith.” — Dr. Brené Brown

I recently did  a post on Jean Vanier and the L’Arche program on the wisdom of tenderness and vulnerability. Recently, George Farahat, author of the outstanding blog Today’s Questions had a post on Brené Brown and the power of vulnerability.  Dr. Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She is a nationally renowned speaker and has won numerous teaching awards, including the College’s Outstanding Faculty Award.

Dr. Brown has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Dr. Brown’s scientific work supports two foundations of the Christian worldview: (i) the deep interconnection among humanity and all of God’s creation and (ii) the necessity of exposing ourselves and being vulnerable to others to become a complete person. Dr. Brown’s work helps address the deepest paradox of Christianity: that an omnipotent Creator would become vulnerable through the incarnation so that He can love humanity and provide humanity with an opportunity to love Him back.

I was introduced to the work of Dr. Brown by George Farahat, author of the blog “Today’s Questions” which focuses on the deep questions of purpose and meaning. Earlier this month, George Farahat did a summary of Dr. Brown’s talk.  I encourage you to read the entire article here but set forth are excerpts:

I found Brené Brown’s research work and words about vulnerability to be extremely on the right track for discovering that she is being loved by God who unconditionally loves his creation and works in all no matter who they are…Brown’s research opened for her the recognition of her own vulnerability. She resisted not being in control of what the outcome of her relationships may be. It is always hard to expose yourself to uncertainty.  She recognizes the difficulty in raising her kids, along with her husband who is a pediatrician, in a way that allows them to be themselves imperfect and to accept their imperfection but she now hugs them and takes care that they see her as she is… a vulnerable mother who loves them.

And we are always faced with the same kind of problems. We are probably controlling or insecure spouses. We probably fear the boss and his/her remarks at work because we are afraid of losing our jobs. We are constantly looking in the mirror to ensure that others will not shame us in any way. We care too much about how the world around us perceives and approves of our steps.

In my opinion Brené Brown has dared to become and live as a person who follows Christ. In an age of individualism, her talks about vulnerability are essentially and implicitly a call to live today a Christian life. More importantly she has become a living example as she struggles with her own vulnerability and become stronger to move on even if she may not be explicitly Christian.

Set forth below are two videos that expand on Dr. Brown’s work.  First, is Dr. Brown’s 2010 TEDx talk on the power of vulnerability, which is one of the most watched talks on, with over 10 million views.

The second is an outstanding presentation by the Preaching Friars connecting Dr. Brown’s scientific work in the context of the Catholic tradition.




About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog ( explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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9 Responses to Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

  1. ptero9 says:

    Great stuff William. Thank you. There’s a lot of fear in the culture that keeps people from feeling safe enough to risk being vulnerable. You can hear it expressed in the metaphors that people use to describe the most mundane things in their daily life. You can hear it in what is not said, the conversations we’re not having.
    I loved that she used the word “ferocity” when speaking about “Coeur,” meaning heart, as the word also is associated with Lion in mythology. According to Hillman, who takes his cue from Henry Corbin, the combination of heart and lion brings us thinking/doing without any separation between them.

  2. Brian says:

    Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks. Credit goes to George Farahat who first posted on Dr. Brown. Surprisingly, I had not heard of her before but I saw the TEDx video and was impressed with her and her research. I believe she is definitely on to something as a very counter-cultural message that taps that taps into something deep in human nature.

  3. Lynda says:

    Thanks for the post. I have seen Dr. Brown’s video before and was very impressed. Christian community should be a safe place for us to share our vulnerability. When we are able to do that, the entire community becomes stronger – something I have seen in a small faith group which meets in my home.

  4. Pingback: 2013 Reflections on Blogging (Part I): Country Data and Top Posts | Teilhard de Chardin

  5. Eva says:

    Thanks so much for sharing that TED talk. There are plenty of thought inducing concepts there!

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