Andrea Hollingsworth
Boston University

Cognitive Neuroscience, Mystical Theology, and Moral Selfhood

Project Description:

Building on a close analysis of the mystical writings of fifteenth-century German Cardinal St. Nicholas of Cusa, this robustly interdisciplinary theological project probes relational and enigmatic aspects of religious experience in light of the psychology and neurobiology of attachment, and recent neurocognitive models of decentering in religious experience. Throughout, it underscores the profoundly embodied nature of Christian thought and spirituality, and lends support to the idea that specific modes of religious experience and theological reflection can aid in the emergence of human moral selfhood.

Andrea Hollingsworth is Assistant Professor of Christian Thought at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. A psychotherapist turned theologian, she is interested in interdisciplinary approaches to understanding spiritual transformation. She has co-authored a book on pneumatology (Eerdmans, 2008), and her articles have appeared in such journals as Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Anglican Theological Review, and Modern Theology. Her doctoral dissertation (defended with distinction at Loyola University Chicago in 2012) draws on select poetic and mystical texts of Augustine, John Donne, and Simone Weil to explore ways in which inter- and intra-personal ambiguity mediates spiritual experience of God. At CTI, she is at work on a project that brings the mystical writings of St. Nicholas of Cusa into dialogue with contemporary theories on the neuropsychology of attachment and of religious and spiritual experience. Andrea and her partner Ryan have been married for fourteen years.