"In Religious Affects Donovan O. Schaefer challenges the notion that religion is inextricably linked to language and belief, proposing instead that it is primarily driven by affects. Drawing on affect theory, evolutionary biology, and poststructuralist theory, Schaefer builds on the recent materialist shift in religious studies to relocate religious practices in the affective realm—an insight that helps us better understand how religion is lived in conjunction with systems of power. To demonstrate religion's animality and how it works affectively, Schaefer turns to a series of case studies, including the documentary Jesus Camp and contemporary American Islamophobia.
In Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power, Donovan Schaefer of Oxford University argues against our “lingering sense that religion makes us human by severing our animality.”
The theory of evolution helps me to understand the natural world in relation to God’s love. Authentic love requires freedom, and evolution describes the way that nature is free to love God. As humans, animals, and plants make their way through the processes of nature, a loving God does not control nature, but God is present in creative natural processes and with creatures. Evolution not only opens my eyes to the complexities of nature, but opens my heart to the depth of God’s love, wisdom, and creativity. Deep appreciation of the beauty of nature generates a deep and intense knowledge of God, which is the mind’s worship.
-- Nancy Howell, Process Theologian, Smithsonian Institute: What Does it Mean to be Human Project