No matter how successful we may appear, we all come face-to-face with failure and humiliation at some point in our lives. Fr. Paul Farren celebrates these moments of vulnerability, encouraging us to walk through them in the company of Jesus. When we do, these unwelcome experiences can actually become the very path to wholeness, freedom, and joy.
Perhaps nothing could be more important to the world today than an honest and raw exploration of the deceptions and allure of power.
In my own career, I’ve been a part of countless conversations about power. In schools around the world, I and many of my fellow educators are trying to “empower” young people by teaching them agency and grit. In companies around the world, I’ve joined with business leaders who seek the power to win in a competitive marketplace. In families around the world, and in my own, women and men are trying to find new ways to share power and balance power and celebrate each other’s power. These conversations are almost invariably seen as a source of progress and newness. Power is good. Finding new ways to get it and use it and occasionally share it is essential.
And then I read Paul Farren’s book, Vulnerable and Free, and my heart was caught off guard by a wise and heart-opening reflection on the transformative, if often unwelcome, power of powerlessness. And all of a sudden, powerlessness became alluring! In this beautiful book, Fr. Farren carries us along in search of a more lasting power, and in these pages, we find it. Start almost anywhere in this book, and the world is turned inside out...
The honest truth is that powerlessness and vulnerability are almost always unwelcome. And too frequently, they lead to a bitter descent into anger and shame and isolation. Is there a reader who has not taken that journey? I doubt it. Is there a reader who would want it? Surely not. At least, surely not me.
I have seen vulnerability and shame over and over again in my own life with people with intellectual differences. Their arrival is almost always a shock, a disruption, a time of grief...
Fr. Farren isn’t inviting us to be doormats for the world, powerless in a way that invites humiliation or despair. He is teaching us the lessons of the poor, powerless Savior of the world, who invites us into his own subversive and transformative power—the power to be free from fear, free from judgment, free from the illusions of death. His is a different type of power. It is power with and not power over. It is power shared, not power taken. It is power given, not power held. It is the raw and striking power of the truth that love is the energy of the universe—nothing more and nothing less. It is our source and our destiny too. It is always ours for the taking. It is the power that lasts...
In short, in these times of change and disruption, we need to each find our way to being converted, not to a particular creed, but to living vulnerable and free. This beautiful book has reminded me of both the difficulty and the hope of that search in my own life. For all of us, it is a good place to start the journey. For the world, we can’t start soon enough.
—Timothy Shriver, PhD, Chairman of Special Olympics, and author of Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most
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My heart was caught off guard by this wise and heart opening reflection on the transformative, if often unwelcome, power of powerlessness.”
Father Paul Farren is a priest of the Diocese of Derry in Ireland ministering in St Eugene’s Cathedral. He is the author of Freedom and Forgiveness: A fresh look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Timothy Shriver, PhD, is the Chairman of Special Olympics, and the author of Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most.