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.
About the Author
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, co-founder of startup Sacred Design Lab, and former Director of Possibility at the On Being Impact 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.
"The Power of Ritual is essential reading for anyone interested in how to find meaning in our strange, new world. Bursting with wisdom and compassion, this is the rare book that really might change your life. It has certainly changed mine."
— John Green, Author of The Fault in Our Stars
"Casper ter Kuile continues to have his pulse on this generation's search for meaning. Building on the incredible work of How We Gather, The Power of Ritual offers a radical proposition: we decide what's sacred."
— Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering
“Casper ter Kuile's book is genuinely wise and utterly useful: it offers you the opportunity to remake your life in small but vital ways that will leave you happier, calmer, and more able to do the work that must be done on this planet. A classic the day it is published!”
— Bill McKibben, author of Radio Free Vermont
“If you are passionate about community building or simply seeking what feels good in life and how to get more of it...consider this book your new bible. “
— Cleo Wade, Author of Heart Talk and Where to Begin
"Human beings are made to experience the transcendent, for worship and, though this might surprise many people, for ritual as well. Casper ter Kuile invites our increasingly secular world to discover the sacred in the midst of the everyday and turn our days into rituals of joy, praise and gratitude."
— James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything and Jesus: A Pilgrimage
"I've been waiting for a book like this. The Power of Ritual teaches us how to treat reading as sacred, fitness as sacred, alone-time as sacred, and people as sacred. No blasphemy but this book is my new sacred text!"
— Scott Heiferman, Co-Founder of MeetUp
“Casper so perfectly captures the power of ritual in this very research-based, thought-provoking book. Ritual is an integral part of architecting community and he thoroughly shares so many important examples of just how to integrate it in everyday life and in creating community. A must-read for any leader.”
— Radha Agrawal, Co-Founder and CEO of Daybreaker and author of Belong
"As we reimagine our relationships, with self, one another and nature, The Power of Ritual provides deep insight into traditions both new and old. Brilliant."
— Elizabeth Cutler, Co-Founder of Soul Cycle
"The Power of Ritual has a startling message: feeling better isn’t about adding new things, but rather about seeing what we have through new eyes."
— Evan Sharp, Co-Founder of Pinterest
"A thoughtful debut. Those who are beginning to explore spirituality will find many rich ideas."
— Publishers Weekly
"Casper ter Kuile describes how daily, secular practices can help us find meaning and cultivate spiritual lives."