Casper ter Kuile, a Harvard Divinity School fellow and cohost of the popular Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast, explores how we can nourish our souls by transforming common, everyday practices—yoga, reading, walking the dog—into sacred rituals that can heal our crisis of social isolation and struggle to find purpose—a message we need more than ever for our spiritual and emotional well-being in the age of COVID-19.
“After half a decade of research and hundreds of conversations with people around the country, I am convinced we are in the midst of a paradigm shift. That what used to hold us in community no longer works, and that the spiritual offerings of yesteryear no longer help us thrive.”–Casper ter Kuile
What do Soul Cycle, gratitude journals, and tech breaks have in common? For ter Kuile they offer rituals that create the foundation for our modern spiritual lives.
We are in crisis today. Our modern technological society has left too many of us—no matter our ages—feeling isolated and bereft of purpose. Previous frameworks for building community and finding meaning no longer support us. Yet ter Kuile reveals a hopeful new message: we might not be religious, but that doesn’t mean we are any less spiritual.
Instead, we are in the midst of a paradigm shift in which we seek belonging and meaning in secular practices. Today, we find connection in:
- CrossFit and SoulCycle, which offer a sense of belonging rooted in accountability and support much like church groups
- Harry Potter and other beloved books that offer universal lessons
- Gratitude journals, which have replaced traditional prayer
- Tech breaks, which provide mindful moments of calm
In The Power of Ritual, ter Kuile invites us to deepen these ordinary practices as intentional rituals that nurture connection and wellbeing. With wisdom and endearing wit, ter Kuile’s call for ritual is ultimately a call to heal our loss of connection to ourselves, to others, and to our spiritual identities.
The Power of Ritual reminds us that what we already do every day matters—and has the potential to become a powerful experience of reflection, sanctuary, and meaning.
CASPER TER KUILE is the co-host of the award-winning podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School, and co-founder of startup Sacred Design Lab. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Vice, The Atlantic, and the Washington Post and on PBS. He is the co-author of seminal paper, "How We Gather," and has presented his research at venues like the Aspen Ideas Festival, Institute for the Future, and Cannes Lions Festival.