Photo of Thandeka

Photo by Merrel D. Booker, Jr.

Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University


Thandeka is the creator of the Love Beyond Belief™ initiative for progressive congregations and the founder of Contemporary Affect Theology, which is designed to explain emotional development in religious settings and terms. Her new book, Love Beyond Belief: Recovering the Lost Emotional Foundation of Liberal Christian Faith—a Contemporary Affect Theology Project, was published via Polebridge Press and is available here. (Download a flyer here)

Thandeka is author of The Embodied Self: Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Solution to Kant’s Problem of the Empirical Self (1995) and Learning to be White: Money, Race and God in America(1999, German edition 2009). 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 congregational consultant, and 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.

Her website address is