“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 TED.com, 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.