Interesting Scribbles

Executive Speaker Series: Brian Brennan

January 6, 2020

Notes from a talk by Brian Brennan on May 7, 2019 at Young Catholic Professionals.

I’m a stumbling, bumbling follower of Christ. That doesn’t come out a lot in the workplace — part of our challenge is expressing that part of ourselves in a place that isn’t expecting it.

Being able to name your dreams doesn’t make them go away, but it does change the game.

“Hasten slowly.” What does that even mean? It came home from the Daughters of Charity with my wife. After chewing on it, it helped me back off from the big angsts in my life — for example, to stop following my boss around, and hoping for him to retire.

Neither our lawmakers nor our technologists are specialized in evaluating the social implications of emerging technology, so I started bringing ethicists and people of faith into those discussions.

A few tools I’ve used to invite the grace of God into my life:

Prayer life with oomph. It sounds obvious, but it’s important to mention. As a young person, I never really learned to pray. Every morning, twenty minutes of contemplative prayer. Bishop Robert Baron calls this clearing the landing pad, like you would for a helicopter coming in.

Community. I was lucky enough to fall in with a great group of guys. After your mid-twenties, many opportunities — like school and sports — for forming deep relationships go away. But the need for deep relationships doesn’t go away.

Evangelization. I don’t think we’re evangelizing to the people in our own churches. Too often, talking about our faith is uncomfortable, so we don’t do it. This is also tied to why people are leaving the Church — they don’t see how the faith had any impact on their parents’ lives.

Beauty as a point of entry to those who aren’t people of faith. As I go into a difficult conversation, I ask myself what it looks like if I truly will the good of the other — desiring the post possible outcome for the other person from that event. Love doesn’t sound “churchy”; it doesn’t get people’s backs up.


Evaluating the morality of a new technology? Ask whether it serves the interests of the human person. As a contrary example, the “dopamine economy” is all about capturing eyes as long and as often as possible. Many of the designers and investors out there want to do big/good things, they just aren’t usually in a good position to evaluate the ethics.

Building fellowship with other men? We asked what it was we were trying to do. We gathered with some ideas, and then tinkered with it a lot. What do you need to grow as a man and in faith?

Book suggestion? “On Character” by David Brooks. He makes a distinction between “resume” virtues and “eulogy” virtues. Modern culture is very good at cultivating the former; we really need the latter.