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In a format that is accessible, inspirational, and informed by serious scholarship, Passionate Spirituality explores the roots and meanings of passion in western culture, and examines how passion is expressed in the works of two medieval women mystics--Hildegard of Bingen and Hadewijch of Brabant. From that perspective, the author goes on to examine the role of passion in the lives of contemporary Christians seeking to deepen their own spiritual journeys. Elizabeth Dreyer points out that, far too often, the term "passion" is associated either with romance and sexuality or with political fanaticism--thus cutting off the breadth of its meaning for spiritual expression. But the great mystics succeed precisely because they hold together the affective and the intellectual aspects of the spiritual life in creative and convincing ways. Their accounts of their mystical experience are important resources for information and understanding about how to talk about God more formally, and for what it means to be passionately in love with God and the world. Passionate Spirituality looks not only to the past, but to the present and future as well as Dreyer explores whether and how these mystical texts might infuse contemporary spirituality with new life, and theological thinking with greater insight. She shows how the expression of mystical experience brings fresh perspectives that allow the affections to influence our thinking and our spiritual life and has the potential to open the deep structures of one's personality to the fullness of grace, to contribute to the ongoing creation of a new self as image of God, and to lead to the pursuit of compassion and commitment to justice on behalf of a suffering world. PASSIONATE SPIRITUALITY fills an important niche between scholarly works on medieval women, and books of excerpts or simple meditations. It should also appeal to a wide range of lay and clerical ministers and as a study book for adult education classes and discussion groups. It will also serve as a useful text for classes on medieval religious experience; women's history; feminist theology; and Christian mysticism.