Many of today’s “spiritual but not religious” people – one in four US adults – have found the access point to spiritual experience that Western Christianity lost: unconditional love. Thandeka sees in the emergence of the “spiritual but not religious” community a great potential for her goal of “love beyond belief.” She has demonstrated in practice how, by paying close attention to the affects, dying established churches can come alive. She hopes that those who are alienated from these churches, often for excellent reasons, can develop community activities that will lead them to experience love beyond belief.
ABOUT OUR SUNDAY SPEAKER:
Thandeka is the creator of the Love Beyond Belief™ initiative for moderate, liberal, and progressive congregations and the founder of Contemporary Affect Theology, which is designed to explain emotional development in religious settings and terms. Polebridge Press published her new book, Love Beyond Belief: Finding the Access Point to Spiritual Awareness, in 2018.
Thandeka, Affect Theologian and President of Love Beyond Belief, Inc., is author of The Embodied Self: Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Solution to Kant’s Problem of the Empirical Self (1995), Learning to be White: Money, Race and God in America (1999, German edition 2009), and Love Beyond Belief: Finding the Access Point to Spiritual Awareness (2018). Her essays include work in The Oxford University Handbook on Feminist Theology and Globalization (2011), and The Cambridge Companion to Schleiermacher (2005).
Her books and essays have helped secure her place as a “major figure in American liberal theology,” as Gary Dorrien notes in The Making of American Liberal Theology: Crisis, Irony, and Postmodernity, 1950-2005 (John Knox Press, 2006).
Jaak Panksepp, the founder of affective neuroscience, commends Thandeka’s “decisive historical-philosophical analysis” as work that can provide “a universal substrate for nondenominational religious experience” (The Archeology of the Mind, 391).
Thandeka received her Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and theology from Claremont Graduate University. She was given the Xhosa name Thandeka, which means “beloved,” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1984. She is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and congregation consultant, and formerly an Emmy award-winning television producer.
Thandeka has taught at Andover Newton Theological School, Harvard Divinity School, Lancaster Theological Seminary, Meadville Lombard Theological School, Williams College, and she was a Fellow at Stanford University’s Humanities Center, a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Process Studies at Claremont School of Theology in California, and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She is a Fellow at Westar Institute.
Reactions to her book Love Beyond Belief
“When I met Thandeka 34 years ago and gave her a Xhosa name, apartheid was still the law of the land in South Africa. I reminded Thandeka that it was easy to be cynical, but takes great courage to have hope. Love Beyond Belief is a hope-filled book reminding us in historical and contemporary terms that we are loved always, even when we feel lost and alone.”
–Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
“Thandeka has written an exciting and important book. After a lucid exposition of Schleiermacher’s affective base for liberal religion, which is illuminating and promising to save that formation from the torpor into which it has fallen, she also provides a thrilling new possibility for understanding Paul on the basis of affective theology … I have no doubt of the significance of this book for future work in the field.”
–Daniel Boyarin, University of California, Berkeley