“Public Shame to the Rescue” blazed the headline of a prominent website barely a week into the American version of the worldwide coronavirus shutdown. “What could be more effective than a little public shaming?” the author asked in the first paragraph, going on to try to document the rise of shame on social media as a tool for curbing undesirable behavior. If there was an ever a moment to pause and consider the use of such a powerful phenomenon as shame, this is it. Into the breach steps self-styled shame expert Brené Brown, distinguished for her academic research of that fearsome subject, counselor to today’s most prominent self-help and progressive, pop-theological female voices like Jen Hatmaker and to celebrity admirers like Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow. Brown’s podcast, Unlocking Us premiered right at the beginning of the 2020 quarantine.

Brené Brown is the one to whom the most prominent voices of today turn, not only for functional models for coping with shame, but for the deeper counsels of what to believe about the self, and the self in relationship to others. She is the font, the source, and the sociological justification of a self-oriented worldview increasingly adopted by so many, including Christian women. But she is celebrated in her own right, not just as a counselor to this moment’s influencers. But is her teaching on shame biblical?

This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author Anne Kennedy about her online-exclusive “But What If It Is Me? The Work and Worldview of Brené Brown”

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