Brené Brown & Richard Rohr on Power

So many hymns and prayers in institutional Christianity misrepresent the revelation by Christ. Each of us has been deeply wounded by power domination in relationship(s). Our religious brainwashing bears some culpability for that. Authentic power has no relationship to domination and surrender. But because we have been normatively blinded to that by religious conditioning, we suffer under that illusory form of power. Here are words from Brené Brown and a Christian mystic on Friday the 13th…


We will continually misinterpret and misuse Jesus if we don’t first participate in the circle dance of mutuality and communion within which he participated [in the Trinity]. We, instead, make Jesus into “Christ the King,” a title he rejected in his lifetime (see John 18:37). He never sought that kind of power.
…This isn’t a vulnerable, relational one who knows how to be a brother to all creation… [W]e no longer kn[o]w Jesus in any meaningful sense that the soul [can] naturally relate to (which was the main point of the Incarnation!).
…Our notion of society, politics, and authority—which is still top-down and outside-in—would utterly change…
[T]here’s no domination in God. All divine power is shared power and the letting go of autonomous and self-serving power.
Brené Brown writes wisely about vulnerability and power… “The phrase power over is typically enough to send chills down spines: When someone holds power over us, the human spirit’s instinct is to rise, resist, and rebel. As a construct it feels wrong; in the wider geopolitical context it can mean death and despotism.”
There’s no seeking of power over in the Trinity, but only power with—a giving away, a sharing, a letting go, and thus an infinite flow of trust and mutuality. This should have changed all Christian relationships: in marriage, in culture, and even in international relations. Instead, we continue to prefer kings, wars, and empires, instead of an always leveling love…

These are tricky and loaded ideas, perhaps impossible for most of us to grasp as a single point. So instead, share with us a comment below about what these words raised up inside of you, please.


Neil D. 2021-08-14

Published by Neil Durso

Just another mid-lifer sharing the journey...

2 thoughts on “Brené Brown & Richard Rohr on Power

  1. I have used the phrase “power over” many times when referring to my ex-husband.

    “He had too much POWER OVER me.”

    “I gave him too much POWER OVER me.”

    “There was an imbalance of power in my marriage.”

    And as a divorced woman I sought out people, places and endeavors that I found to be EMPOWERING…therapy, support groups, journaling, vacations with my children, camping, kayaking, maintains a teaching career, literature about non-codependency, setting boundaries, making decisions, sometimes doing absolutely nothing made me feel free…and even bars and parties which I wasn’t “allowed” to go to in my marriage made me feel some type of liberation. Those situations were at times fun, but sometimes they were awkward and uncomfortable for me. But I forged on anyway saying, “I have to get my power back,” and “I’m taking my power back by using my voice, speaking up, and saying my truth, taking care of my children and doing things ON MY OWN”

    These ideas still feel very authentic and necessary to me.

    After four years “on my own,” I would say that “I have taken most of power back.” And by that I mean I have gotten reacquainted with myself. I am learning what my true nature is. What I like and don’t like. What my boundaries are. When a boundary has been violated. What I’m willing to tolerate and not tolerate. What feels good to me. What doesn’t. What love is to me…What IS love to me?

    That is what your words and the words of Richard Rohr and Brene Brown raised up inside of me. What is love to me? Well, I think there is power in love. And in a love relationship like a marriage, I think there has to be an equal balance of power, an awareness of what an imbalance of power can do to a relationship, and a willingness to share power and “power with” someone else.

    I don’t think everyone knows how to “power with.”

    What do you have to say about that?


    1. What do I think about that? That nothing else has to be said. Those words are full of beauty, and your story is wonderful, and painful, all at once. I sure as hell don’t know entirely what “power with” means. I have been conditioned by misleading religious power myself. Perhaps that is what the invitation (not command), “Follow me…” means. After all, in their totality, the Gospels are a story primarily about Yeshua’s chastisement of religious leaders lording dominative power over followers, aren’t they?

      As an example of how mysterious “power with” is, I notice you talk about balances of power. I’m not too sure the three persons of the Trinity would talk about the power of love which flows between them as a balance. But perhaps They would.

      Thank you for sharing Gladys. It was… well… full of power.


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