From the pen of The Rev. Dr. Thandeka comes a new imaginative, autobiographical blog series that tells an emotional and fascinating story of a life-long, perilous quest to recover what was once lost.

This blog series and all other materials on this website have been offered to you at no cost. New chapters will be released at regular intervals. If you like this blog and find it useful, please consider making a donation to support Rev. Dr. Thandeka’s work.

If you choose to send a donation of U.S. $20 or more, we will email you a PDF file containing the complete Cerberus series ahead of the publication; that’s all 15 chapters, filled with gripping narratives about Thandeka’s deeply personal journey, told with all honesty, vulnerability, and grace; and revelatory insights into her study of feelings and emotions. This material will also include extended appendices that outline Thandeka’s thoughts on the modern anti-racism movement, touch upon the recent UUA GA controversy, provide theoretical background and practical principles related to Contemporary Affect Theology, and lay the foundations of a new approach to the work we are called to do.

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Chapter 1: Cerberus

Cerberus is the "hound of Hades," the multi-headed dog in Greek mythology that guards the gates of the Underworld and prevents the shades of deadened feelings, like compassion, caring, and empathy, from taking permanent leave, lest they get slaughtered again. Read more... >

Chapter 2: The High Priest of Anxiety

I spent most of my free time holed up in Dad’s booklined study. This dense space is where I first met the pagan beast. I felt free as a monk in his cell after the day’s duties were completed. The dark matter of the universe was now as close to the monk as his thoughts. Read more... >

Chapter 3: Mr. C

Within a very short time, I was booking hundreds of Hollywood celebrities and celebrity intelligentsia for my show because of the way I set it up: as a glimpse into their emotional heart. Read more... >

Chapter 4: Mom's Cerberus

I seemed to have found a door, opened it, and entered into a part of herself never before disclosed to me. I had entered the place where she spent most of her life: the room guarded by the sculptured, mourning bodies she carved to block the dark entranceway to her heart. Read more... >

Chapter 5: Loveable?

“I was born in New Jersey,” I said. “I am American, and so are my parents. But I have always known that `Sue’ is not my real name. See that tree over there? We could refer to that tree as `Sue’ if we wanted to. But that’s not its real name.” Read more... >

Chapter 6: The Door

I had spent most of my life learning how to avoid feelings of empathy, compassion, and caring because they were neglected or attacked. Then I cried for six months. Read more... >

Chapter 7: Cerberus at Church

Had I trained my students to cut out feelings until the heart went numb? Were my faculty colleagues doing the same thing to their students? Were we manufacturing ministers who created corpse cold Sunday services? Read more... >

Chapter 8: The Glades

I easily identified Pastor Hughes’ elegantly simple formula for creating feel-good emotions in us. He had stoked and then quelled our anxiety in the name of God. Read more... >

Chapter 9: St. Paul A.M.E.

Thanks to these ongoing experiences in this church, I found what I didn’t know I was looking for until it showed up inside me, namely, an inner sense of being an adored and deeply communal self. Read more... >

Chapter 10: Cerberus Speaks

I had spent years studying Western philosophers who described what happened when they turned their attention in on itself. Now I had to become the active agent rather than the passive reader. So I created my own exercise. Read more... >

Chapter 11: Chew on This

For most of my life I could not tell the difference between my thoughts, emotions, and sensations for one basic reason: my ego refused to help me out. The details of my experiences and discovery follow but with a traveler’s advisory note. Proceed with caution. Read more... >

Chapter 12: Cerberus Suffering

The role and function of my ego kept changing like a single story with many endings. My ego began as the rule maker, then became my guardian, and finally my prosecutor. Read more... >

Chapter 13: Racking Focus

The racking focus thought-experiment began with a favorite story I loved to recount about my life. After recounting the story, I racked focus to see what got overlooked. Read more... >

Chapter 14: The Love Revolution

Love is a tasteless emotion for pod people. In 1970, Cerberus sent me into the streets as a black woman mad as hell. I was suffering inside me but hadn’t the words, the ideas, or the temperament to face my suffering and acknowledge it. Read more... >

The next chapter will be released soon.