Love Beyond Belief:

Finding the Access Point to Spiritual Awareness

Using insights from the brain science of emotions, Love Beyond Belief: Finding the Access Point to Spiritual Awareness narrates two millennia of lost-and-found stories about love beyond belief as the access point to the heart and soul of spiritual life. 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. Love Beyond Belief tracks the history of this lost emotion.

Thandeka has written Love Beyond Belief with two goals in mind: to resolve the emotional-deficit problem in so many "corpse cold" (Ralph Waldo Emerson's words) mainline congregations today; and to offer a primer for "spiritual but not religious" people to build up and network their spiritual communities.

"Thandeka has written a book of rigorous scholarship, brilliant original insight, and great practical importance. ... Having read it, I will never be able to think of my theological heritage in the same way again. ... 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. With her leadership and the support of progressive churches, perhaps this project will succeed."

–From the foreword by John B. Cobb, Jr., Center for Process Studies

"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

"The result of years of research and reflection, Thandeka's Love Beyond Belief is an important and provocative work which provides a vision for the renewal of the tradition of Liberal Theology. Thandeka engages modern neuro-science and the theologies of Schleiermacher, Paul, Augustine and Luther, reading these figures against themselves, to develop a theology that restores emotion to its rightful place in liberal religiosity. A profoundly hopeful book with great insight and relevance for the current religious and political situation."

Rev. James M. Brandt, Saint Paul School of Theology

"In a work that vibrates with the cosmic consciousness it advocates, Thandeka at last lays the theological groundwork for a spiritual but not religious future. This affect theorist avant la lettre unfolds a musically cadenced argument, historically nuanced and insistently engaging, deeply personal and communally practicable, for a magnificent possibility."

Catherine Keller, author of Political Theology of the Earth

"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

"Thandeka knits together a story that integrates theology, politics and affective science, analyzing our troubles in light of human spiritual promise. An informative read!"

Darcia Narvaez, University of Notre Dame

"With critical acuity, Thandeka woos her readers to imagine and conceptualize "love beyond belief" - placing theology in the context of cosmic consciousness and intense emotional and bodily experiences that evoke such consciousness. ... Thandeka paints an evocative picture, based in careful research and clear arguments. She writes to evoke change: inviting readers to engage emotion in their religious practices, probe the depths of affect theology, and practice love beyond belief."

Mary Elizabeth Moore, Boston University School of Theology

"This long-awaited and luminous book wonderfully encases Thandeka's signature argument about Schleiermacher and affective experience into a story of discovery, loss, and rediscovery. ... She bravely winds through Paul, Augustine, Luther, Schleiermacher, and modern theology to make her case that theology does not have to be a barrier to discovering one’s cosmic interior."

Gary Dorrien, author of Kantian Reason and Hegelian Spirit

"Love Beyond Belief offers to recapture the unity of religious thought and religious feelings. That reunion will let us hear again the chords of "resonant, uplifting feelings of infinite life" that once upon a time sounded throughout the Christian West."

Volney Gay, Vanderbilt University


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