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The Power of Ritual: How to Create Meaning and Connection in Everything You Do

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Ter Kuile, cohost of the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, demonstrates in his thoughtful debut how the nonreligious can "liberate the gifts of tradition" to foster greater spiritual connection in their lives. He argues that, while formal religious affiliation may be waning, spiritual practices remain relevant because they can cultivate bonds to the self, others, the natural world, and the transcendent. Ter Kuile explains the significance of a variety of religious practices, including pilgrimage, prayer, and meditation, and proposes ways to capture their significance through everyday activities ("anything can become a spiritual practice--gardening, painting, singing, snuggling, sitting") by focusing on intention, attention, and repetition. This approach leads to inventive explorations of social trends; for instance, the famously cultish appeal of the Crossfit fitness program is explained in terms of vulnerability and community. In ter Kuile's understanding, religious traditions are "inherently creative" and therefore good starting points for considering personalized, meaningful spiritual practices.

224 pages, ebook

First published June 23, 2020

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About the author

Casper ter Kuile

2 books249 followers
Casper ter Kuile is helping to build a world of joyful belonging.

He's the author of The Power of Ritual (2020), and co-host of the award-winning podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. Casper is a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School and holds Masters of Divinity and Public Policy from Harvard University.

With his team at Sacred Design Lab, he co-authored the seminal paper How We Gather (2015) and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Atlantic Magazine, and Washington Post.

He and his husband Sean Lair live in Brooklyn, NY.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 631 reviews
Profile Image for Babbity Kate.
161 reviews49 followers
June 8, 2020
Me: YES! Casper ter Kuile wrote a book! I adore Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. Even though I’m not *precisely* the target audience for that podcast, I get so much from it. I’m excited to learn more about the philosophy behind it!

The Book: Here’s Casper’s basic approach to infusing everyday secular life with spiritual practices. Examples! Anecdotes! A little bit of new vocabulary!

Me: Wonderful! This is really bringing these ideas to life! Quick question-- what exactly does Casper mean when he uses words like “spiritual” or “sacred” in a non-religious context?

The Book: That’s… a hard question. There’s no single correct definition for those words.

Me: Sure, but this is the central idea of the book. Even if there’s no single definition, can I hear how Casper defines them for this purpose?

The Book: Um… it’s about meaning and connection.

Me: Huh. I wasn’t expecting a dissertation, but I guess I was hoping for a little more rigor.

The Book: There’s plenty of rigor. Look at all these quotes!

Me: The quotes are nice, but they’re just things someone said that Casper liked. I’m not getting a strong sense of authority or unified philosophy behind this. Can you outline exactly what Casper is trying to say here?

The Book: Yes! Here’s a quote from the last chapter:
“I hope this book has helped you see two things. First, that you already have a host of rituals we might call spiritual practices--even if you’d never use that language. Reading, walking, eating, resting, reflecting: these are legitimate and worthy of your attention and care, and they can be the foundation of a life of deep connection.”

Me: Okay. I can vibe with that. I think you made a strong case for the power in ritualizing everyday experiences and showed me an interesting collection of ways different people already do that. I definitely feel I understand your approach to spirituality better and found some things I’d like to try myself.

The Book: “Second, I hope you feel empowered to translate ancient traditions to enrich those modern practices and that you feel permission to be creative in combining the ancient and the emergent.”

Me: Woah. Are we just gonna… speed past that with no explanation? Why do you consider yourself positioned to grant me “permission” to do that?

The Book: There’s untapped potential here! “We have inherited great traditions from our spiritual ancestors…”

Me: But you’ve said many times that you aren’t yourself religious. Is this really your heritage? Isn’t it a problem to strip these elements of their historical, cultural, religious, and racial contexts?

The Book: They need to be “remixed” because they’re too old to matter. As I point out in every chapter, religious traditions are old, which makes them outdated and irrelevant.

Me: What about the millions of living religious people who use these practices to connect to actual beliefs about morality and reality?

The Book: Yeah, but religious people don’t actually believe most of that stuff anyway.

Me: ...what?

The Book: Yeah, I don’t have a “systematic theology” that explains the world around me in a unified way, and I don’t think anyone else does. “...Frankly, I think that's how most people actually live their lives--religious or not… We can think one thing in the morning and another in the afternoon."

Me: Wow. That’s a really bold claim. I’d love for you to explain that more. Maybe tell me your rationale?

The Book: It’s not that complicated. I mean, the ancient Greeks had a whole pantheon that supposedly explains the origins of the earth, but individuals didn’t actually believe that stuff was literally true. So what I do here is fine.

Me: Yeah, but this book doesn’t borrow any spiritual practices from the ancient Greeks. Or any similar tradition. So that’s a little disingenuous.

The Book: The point is, you have to start looking at religious traditions as *for you,* even if you’re not from that culture and don’t know much about it. The rituals of world faiths are available to you, and you should take and twist and remix them to make something that makes you feel good. If it makes you feel grounded, connected, and reflective, you have a right to it.

Me: I think that's my biggest problem. I’m on board with a lot of this book, but it’s underpinned by a gross spiritual colonialism that is never acknowledged.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advance review copy of this title at no charge. No money changed hands for this review and all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Vanessa Zoltan.
12 reviews76 followers
July 7, 2020
As charming as the author is on his podcast he is even lovelier in writing. And so wise and helpful.
Profile Image for Brian Hutzell.
426 reviews17 followers
July 5, 2020
The Power of Ritual just came out, and already it has not aged well. For a start, the book spends a lot of time discussing community, and urging people to gather in ways that are not currently possible with COVID-19 running rampant. Next, there is the veneration of Jean Vanier, the recently discredited founder of L'Arche who has suddenly become an embarrassment to many a modern theology text. Third, there is the author’s podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, which he references repeatedly throughout the book, and which has become problematic in light of J. K. Rowling’s recent anti-trans remarks. Finally, (and this is a complaint I have with many MANY self-help books): The Power of Ritual suffers from a bit of what I call the “First, get a million dollars” syndrome. This book isn’t nearly as guilty as some in this regard (I’m looking at you, Eat, Pray, Love!), but it still frustrates me. This syndrome is present when self-help books recommend lots of self-care remedies that are only affordable to the very well-off. Ter Kuile advises everything from massages, to treating oneself to spa days, to joining Crossfit or other fitness programs, to going on a pilgrimage. Especially when many folks have lost jobs as a result of the present pandemic, what we really need are rituals that won’t harm our checking accounts!

If one can appreciate the overall message of the book—that rituals can help us—and find some solace in some of what ter Kuile offers (I did enjoy his chapter on Lectio Divina), this book will be worthwhile. It does, however, require not getting lost in details that may prove “inconvenient.”
Profile Image for Alicia Bayer.
Author 6 books178 followers
July 9, 2020
I think this is one of those books that will be loved by folks who are already a fan of the author. I had high hopes for it but I found it really esoteric and dragging. I was hoping for something that was ideas on how to make rituals out of everyday life, which I really like to do. Instead, this felt like a really long research paper on things like how Crossfit is like church for modern day people. I didn't get a lot out of it but from the looks of the reviews on Goodreads, people who are fans of this author's Harry Potter themed podcast are likely to love it.

I read an ARC of this book for review.
Profile Image for ivy francis.
544 reviews27 followers
August 1, 2020
Casper’s podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text has been a kind and calming force in my life, especially while self-isolating, so even though I don’t normally go for self-help books I’m determined to pick this one up. Casper’s advice has already changed the way I read, write, and feel about the world, and that was just when he was talking about Harry Potter, so I’m sure this book will have an even larger positive impact on my days. (Besides, John Green liked it.)

Update: I loved it!
Profile Image for Lou (nonfiction fiend).
2,771 reviews1,623 followers
April 20, 2021
No matter how young or old we are, our technological society increasingly makes us feel isolated and deprived of a life purpose. The church is no longer able to give us meaning, but at the same time we are desperate for meaning. How can we feel connected with ourselves, with each other and with the world? Casper ter Kuile shows us that we can create new rituals during and out of our everyday activities. We can draw universal life lessons from the books we read. At the gym we can not only train our muscles during CrossFit and SoulCycle, but also feel connected with the other attendees. And we can just turn off a phone, but we can also turn it into a magical moment that makes us aware that we need to rest.

In The Power of Ritual, Casper ter Kuile invites us to deepen these kinds of everyday actions into moments of happiness and contact. The book shows that what we have been doing all day long is not only important, but can even be the basis of inner reflection and real meaning. An accessible, insightful and interesting read with pages filled with wisdom and reminders of how ritual can positively impact your life. This is an eminently readable book I highly recommend to those looking for inspiration to reset the way they think and to connect with the real world, rather than the increasingly virtual one we now inhabit, once more.
Profile Image for Meg.
539 reviews20 followers
May 1, 2021
I really did not like this book, even though I really wanted to. Everything from the cover told me that I would like it, but this is exactly why we don't judge a book by its cover.

Things I didn't like:
- It essentially feels like the author is appropriating from several different religious cultures to profit off it.
- The author has a condescending attitude towards religious people in general, and feels like they are either dumb or just insincere about their beliefs. This is offensive. Just because he doesn't believe in any religious beliefs (which is fine for him, he has a right to choose what he believes) he feels that everyone else doesn't either.
Profile Image for Mitch Karunaratne.
366 reviews32 followers
July 10, 2020
Don't be fooled by the fun and playful cover - this book is profound, widely researched and full of adaptable approaches to living a more intentional and purposeful life. It gives insights into how to create spiritual and sacred experiences within a very secular context. There's so much here that I'm genuinely going to reflect on and think about - it might just be one of those books that you look back on and know it played a part at a pivotal point in life.
81 reviews8 followers
November 17, 2020
The author seems really arrogant. He appears to think that he invented close reading and mindfulness.
His attitude of deep investigation of your chosen 'sacred text' is just close reading - did divinity school not require literature classes?
The other half is easily summarized as - feel that your life is deeply meaningful. Which I think is more easily grasped by an approach to meditation or mindfulness, especially for a secular audience.
I lost interest rapidly as the book devolved into woo-y hand-waving overly wrought sentences that just...don't really mean anything. As others have said, it's all anecdotes and made-up examples instead of hands-on advice.

This book tries to fill your niche of yearning for meaning through religion. (I wanted to cross myself while reading to ward off the inane sentences). All it holds is repetition of (Christian) religions practices without saying 'get thee to a church' directly. You can skip reading the book with just the idea that you should add rituals and habits to your life and try to find meaning in what you do. And let yourself think these things are important (and no, don't think about or critique cultural pressures).
Profile Image for Devon Black.
41 reviews
June 21, 2020
This book was amazing. Every adult can benefit from reading it. It invites readers to examine their lives and where they find connection to themselves, others, nature, and transcendent things we cannot name. It's written in a simple and calming style, and the author's admissions about his own shortcomings in or apprehensions about traditional rituals create a bond between author and reader. Read this book, and more than once.
Profile Image for Mandi Ehman.
Author 6 books88 followers
January 15, 2021
This book is hard for me to rate. It's enjoyable and thought provoking, and I enjoyed hearing ter Kuile read it and share his anecdotes in the audiobook.

That said, while I knew it wasn't a Christian book going in, I didn't quite expect it to be so anti-Christian. Rather than simply offering alternatives to ancient Christian rituals, the author seems to deride things like the Sabbath and prayer in their traditional sense and only value the secular alternatives to those things.

It's easy for me to read a book and take what I want from it and discard the rest, so I continued listening to it anyway. (As an example, I love the idea of a tech sabbath starting at sundown one day until sundown the next or having a specific blanket or shawl for prayer). But I hesitate to recommend it to others for these reasons.
Profile Image for Gail.
145 reviews6 followers
July 15, 2020
I've been thinking for the past few years now about how, even though I have no interest in religion, I rather envied religious people a lot of the features of church - inter-generational community, regular reflection on morality, connection to something larger than yourself, marking important life moments, etc. So, I was thrilled recently to learn about the Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast, and through that the insights of Casper's Sacred Design Lab and now this book. Casper validated the longings I'd been feeling for church-like features while also clearly explaining how they are so often "unbundled" and remixed in modern life: maybe you find introspection with a journaling practice, feel part of something bigger at a protest, connect with nature via hiking, and so on. The Power of Ritual aims to help you be more intentional about recognizing practices that you already do to fulfill your spiritual needs; deepen, create, or remember other practices that feel right for you; and braid all of these together into a meaningful life. It's a lovely invitation, and the book feels expansive with possibilities while also being specific and not too overwhelming for someone just starting out. I've got a few notebook pages filled now with reflections and ideas I want to try! At the same time, Casper repeatedly emphasizes that this isn't about buying anything new, nor about being a spiritual tourist appropriating practices from marginalized cultures, which I appreciate. The writing is also clear and fun, and peppered with wonderful quotes that make me want to read deeper into the philosophers he cites. Finally, as a classroom teacher, I'm called to think further about the different rituals of the classroom and the way we nurture community and meaning through them.

I truly would recommend this book for anyone who wants to think about intention, connection, meaning, community, and the practices we can use to deepen those in our lives - especially if religion isn't it for you. If any of my friends read it, let me know what you think!
Profile Image for Bistra Ivanova.
759 reviews159 followers
August 30, 2021
Wow, I enjoyed this one a lot! I definitely didn't expect what was to follow! It is not a book about ordinary rituals but spiritual ones. What distinguishes them is the intention we set. It's a book that gives a very nice overview of existing practices (some new and some familiar ones) but puts them in a new frame that surprised me. These are contemporary religious practices of contemporary non-religious people.

Living in an era full of "nones" (people who tick "none" when being asked which religion they belong to), it doesn't mean that people don't believe in God or don't feel spiritual (even if they think so - which was the case of the author btw). It's more a situation where contemporary (Western) people cannot relate to the existing religions and don't practice them. (Btw, I was reminded that before it was not "do you believe" but "do you practice"; it's all about practice.)

The book goes to four levels of connection - with yourself; with others; with nature; with the transcendent.

- Chapter 1 explores two everyday practices that help us connect to our authentic self: sacred reading (Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, whaaat? https://www.harrypottersacredtext.com/) and sabbath (your own sabbath - which can take form in a time alone, digital detox, creative time, etc);
- Chapter 2 proposes eating and exercising together as two sacred tools to help us connect deeply with others (different ritual before eating, the cancer dinner party - https://www.thedinnerparty.org/; and different sport journeys with a human focus);
- Chapter 3 focuses on reimagining pilgrimage and the liturgical calendar to connect us more intimately with the natural world (contemporary pilgrimages; celebrating the seasons and invite nature at home);
- Chapter 4 explores what connecting to the divine might look like by reframing prayer and participating in a regular small group of support and accountability (adoration - contrition - thanksgiving - supplication, could be done in small groups which moved me a lot).

It got me thinking about ways to stay connected. It inspired me to (re-)introduce some of the practices. After I finished listening to the audio book, I immediately wanted to re-read it as an ebook. I immediately wanted to give it as a present to a friend. Yes, it moved me way more than I would have imagined and this makes me feel I needed it! Definitely recommended.
June 23, 2020
This book couldn't have come at a better time!

Author Casper ter Kuile not only examines issues such as loneliness, overcoming tech addiction and the profound feeling of dissatisfaction/disconnection from modern life, which so many people were already feeling before the Coronavirus pandemic, and so many more are feeling even more strongly now.

Casper also explores all sorts of practical and easy rituals you can carry out in your own home (perfect for our new Corona lifestyles!) from new ways to approach your favourite books or films, to meditation, small, local pilgrimages and even turning workouts into something divine!

I'd really recommend this book for all ages, from teenagers to the retired. Casper makes his case for a more ritualistic approach to life in a refreshingly accessible and personal way, whilst still packing in loads of interesting facts and figures, with a fun sense of humour and an endearing level of honesty.

The perfect lockdown read to make you review your life in a more positive, new light!
Profile Image for Tessa.
128 reviews11 followers
January 16, 2021
Dude I think this book is pop anthropology! Fucking incredible. It's an exploration of connection, community, and identity (and especially fragmented modern identity), our arbitrary distinction between the sacred and the profane, and how we translate traditional religious rituals into a contemporary spiritual context. That's a terrible summary but I won't try to write a better one because you should just read it!!! I cried like 4 times whilst listening. This sits in the same spot in my mind/heart as Situated Learning by Lave & Wenger and The Sound Of A Wild Snail Eating by Bailey. I will be buying 50+ copies so I can loan it to every person I fucking know and/or so I can own more of this book (ok so idk how intellectual property works).
Profile Image for Stacey McLarty.
66 reviews1 follower
August 21, 2020
How to find your soul when you don’t believe in god

This book really blew me away and changed my life. As a former devout Christian who lost my belief in God, I thought spiritual things were not for me anymore. This book gives both instructions and permissions to adopt and adapt the best of both secular and religious practices to find meaning and connection, without just being some new take on consumer spirituality. I plan to re-read immediately and expect to come back to this book many times in the future.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 6 books1,205 followers
Read
October 10, 2021
No surprise a podcast host was great at reading his own book. I don't know ter Kuile or his podcast (and it's a Harry Potter podcast, which holds zero interest for me), but I liked this book quite a bit. It's essentially a look at why rituals are powerful and offers a host of ideas for making rituals in one's life, whether or not you're religious.

The four principles are simple: connection with self, with others, with nature, and with the transcendent. If you can do any or all of those, congrats, you've made a ritual. This means you can look at any book as a sacred text worthy of sacred reading if you can connect with it, if you can find meaning toward others with it, find meaning in nature, or with the transcendent.

Other ideas offered include taking a Shabbat/Sabbath, moving on one's feet, journaling, and other activities many of us already do...but to do them in a way that that's where you're fully invested. Where you make them meaningful and turn them into habits.

Was there anything new in here? No, especially if this is the kind of stuff you are into (think: Gretchen Rubin). But it was a comforting book to listen to and nod along with, especially after 19 months of COVID.
Profile Image for Narmeen.
487 reviews36 followers
December 9, 2020
Give me more of Harry Potter and how we can find meaningful connections through stories that categorize themselves as entertainment but when approached with a lens of divinity become a part of our spiritual journey. I’ll take that and love every moment of it.

Don’t give me religious practices, but replace religion with daily life and worship creation rather than a Creator. Also, yeah let’s say we respect and love everyone but let our prejudice and mockery show through the choices of our words for religions because of our own personal trauma with religion.

I’m someone who comes from a past of having those that consider themselves spiritual and believe the “universe” is their all, mocking my belief and faith because I chose to say God instead of “something higher”, “some energy”, “insert something else that’s limited in its existence”. This book just triggers that for me so I can’t get past all the flowery language that to me comes across as arrogance. Or perhaps my mind is tainted with negative thoughts to see the “light” in his words.

I truly enjoyed the beginning of this book till the HP podcast. I wrote down notes along side his thoughts, completely invested in this concept of reading into movies or books on a deeper level rather than a shallow one. However, I lost all interest in his words after that. People can live as they want and I will respect all types of people because everybody is worthy of respect. I have no bussiness passing critique on others’ lives and beleifs, I have my own to work and improve on and so I’d appreciate if the same kindness was returned back to me.

The Power of Ritual is 100% NOT for me. I do live by his practice of a meaningful life but the difference is I don’t need to ‘worship’ nature, companionship, entertainment, etc rather I worship the Creator of those things and find meaning and connection in His creation.
1,977 reviews
November 11, 2020
I came to this book as someone who is looking forward to starting the podcast...someday - so I wasn't overly familiar with the author. I liked the premise of this book just fine, but probably would have preferred it as a long article(s) - it's a slender volume that still feels like it has a lot of filler. Maybe some of this material will be more popular with other readers, but I didn't find the author's childhood experiences particularly interesting or well-written. That's probably not what readers are showing up for, so it's fine. Some of this book doesn't resonate as well during covid, which is unfortunate since it might be more relevant than ever.

The reason this book lost an extra star for me was the vague opposition to antidepressants. The author mentions a few times that antidepressant use has increased, and seems to take this as a bad sign. I wonder if he's concerned about their overuse or improper use, or is opposed to them more generally. There were also many examples of correlation seeming to be causation. I don't think the author needed to have a treatise about poverty but it seemed short-sighted to talk about the problems of, basically, not having enough time and not to mention this.
58 reviews
May 26, 2020
‘The power of ritual’ deals with the ways we can find the spiritual in the everyday life that surrounds us. The book is split into several sections, each explaining finding connection in one way or another. The first part offers a manual of how to read different texts as sacred and having what essentially amounts to a spiritual experience while reading texts that might be considered mundane. While the first part of interesting as it differs from the usual content of self-help books, I lost interest as the book progressed. The later chapters contain plenty of anecdotes and examples rather than hand-on advice, so that the book started to drag before even having reached its halfway point.

The intense focus on spirituality wasn’t my cup of tea, even though I can imagine that other readers might be more likely to enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Titiaan.
66 reviews2 followers
August 9, 2020
The Power of Ritual is a great read for anyone seeking to be more sane, happy, and fulfilled in an increasingly isolated world. The author, Casper ter Kuile, builds on years of research on religious and non-religious communities. The book is full of helpful tips to live a happier life — from holding a tech sabbath to starting a group of friends with whom you share your deepest concerns. Written with a solid dose of British humor and full of vivid examples and beautiful quotes, this is an easy read. I listened to it as an audiobook, but given the many ideas about life practices, I’d suggest reading the book.
Profile Image for Antti Värtö.
411 reviews29 followers
November 23, 2020
I've been somewhat involved with the "postrationalist" movement (if you can call it that). They claim that rationality is good and it's worthwhile to try to cultivate better ways of thinking - but rationality is not enough for people. We need rituals and perhaps even mysticism in our lives, since that's how human brain is wired. If you're interested in achieving your goals and living a better life, it's not a good idea to try to become perfectly rational Vulcan, since people are not, in fact, Vulcans. Having some "irrational" ritualized practices seems to be pretty necessary for human psyche.

Casper ter Kuile is not, as far as I can tell, involved with postrationalists in any way, but he's come to the same conclusions. He tells in his book different ways to create rituals in your life to make life feel more meaningful.

He describes many practices, such as sacred reading (you don't have to pick a holy book for this, but can use any book that is meaningful to you); observing sabbath (again, you don't have to follow any particular religions holy days, but set aside some time when you e.g. don't use any technology); praying (you don't have to believe in any deity in order to pray: a simple gratitude journal is one form of "prayer"); etc.

This is a pretty light book. I don't know if it would convince anyone who hasn't already thought about the need for ritual in the same lines. I got some ideas from the book, especially about sacred reading practices that I can put to use, so listening to this short book was definitely worth my while.
Profile Image for Devin Boehmer.
288 reviews1 follower
January 21, 2021
This is the type of book that I’m sure one can return back to periodically for reminders of how to find meaning and happiness in every day actions in an increasingly demanding and overstimulating world. The author and his messages are so lovely, and I’m glad this book came across my radar. I also appreciate that I can take away different views on religion and spirituality from it. After finishing, I now feel motivated to put down my phone and go on a solo walk in nature or meditate!
Profile Image for Elizabeth (Plant Based Bride).
345 reviews2,928 followers
January 10, 2021
Through the utilization of conscious and thoughtful habits and rituals, Casper ter Kuile encourages us to find ways to get in touch with ourselves, our communities, nature, and the transcendent - regardless of our religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

Read for my PBB Book Club, I was (I must admit) a bit wary to begin as a long-time atheist. "What do I need with a book on spirituality?" I asked myself. Regardless of my trepidation, this book was well worth my time. Copious notes later, I feel inspired to make time for quiet rituals that feed my soul*(for lack of a better word) and to designate a day without technology at regular intervals to give my mind a much-needed break.

I do wish Kuile had provided further examples, especially when it comes to connecting with the transcendent in a non-religious context. I am intrigued by the practices mentioned and yet feel at a loss on how to begin, or even how to frame such a practice within an atheist mindset! This book was short and easy to digest but felt it was missing substance at times.

I do believe this book will have a meaningful impact on how I live my life, and for that I am grateful. I'd highly recommend picking this up, especially if you don't partake in religion, for another perspective on the possibility of secular spirituality!


VIDEO REVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Tbcj...

Trigger Warning: discussion of a fall that caused traumatic and serious injury

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Profile Image for Sophie.
483 reviews76 followers
July 7, 2020
"I hope this book will help us be less isolated in our spiritual lives. The interlocking systems of oppression depend on our feeling alone and ashamed. The gift of spiritual practices is that they cultivate courage, so that we will risk more for one another."

There's definitely some food for thought in this book and I've already been building upon rituals in my own life with "intention, attention and repetition". I particularly loved the parts about: sabbaths (especially sabbaths from tech without hating on technology), gathering a stick staff while walking (focuses our attention, connects us physically to nature, plus we get to impersonate Gandalf lol) & other walking rituals, memento mori or I might die today practices, sacred reading, plus the mention about how Marie Kondo has revealed the spiritually of tidying up.

Though overall I'm mostly inspired by The Power of Ritual it did lack something for me. I agree with another review that this book glosses over the question of when (if ever) changing religious practices for our own benefit is cultural appropriation? Casper talks about "self-consciously spiritual people who dismiss earthly realities because they're focused purely on higher consciousness" and reminds us that this makes little sense. "The Buddha taught detachment from ego, not detachment from the world." That, and all the discussions of nature and connection, were great. I just wish he'd taken the opportunity to talk more about the climate crisis and how vital connection is now in that context, for all of us on this small blue planet.

"I've written this book to help you recognise the practices of connection that you already have. The habits and traditions already in your bones that can deepen your experience of meaning, reflection, sanctuary and joy."
Profile Image for Conor Hilton.
239 reviews14 followers
March 21, 2021
i'm not quite sure how to rate and review this. There's a lot of value here, I think--particularly for folks that are not affiliated with any organized religion, but long for some spiritual practices. And I hope that those folks can find a way to integrate some spirituality into their lives!

However, I'm pretty skeptical of some of the main assumptions that undergird Casper's analysis. I don't think you can take rituals and practices out of their original religious context without losing something (you may also gain something! and maybe that gain is worth the loss, but Casper doesn't really acknowledge the loss that comes with this approach and the potential to render these rituals and practices impotent). Casper also identifies some modern developments as positive and solutions to the spiritual longing that folks are feeling which I see as examples of some of the main problems facing us today (for example, responding to research about the human need to be in and around nature with entrepreneurs building mini-retreats that people can rent, where they hang out in the woods for a few days, locking their phone in a box. So, you know, continuing capitalist exploitation of people and presenting that exploitation as a solution, rather than an embodiment of the problem).

Anyway. This is a fascinating exploration of what Charles Taylor describes as the great disembedding, which is illuminating for some of my own research interests, even if I am skeptical of the spiritual efficacy of such an approach.
Profile Image for Caleb.
219 reviews5 followers
July 10, 2021
A pleasant read. I liked reading a chapter or two before bed to really let this one soak in. The author does a good job of offering various perspectives through a personable lens by offering insights about his own narrative throughout the book. Favorite parts were learning about forest bathing, pilgrimages, the different types of prayer, and the research that went into writing the book.

—-

Second read on audio was good. The author has a soothing voice.

Here are my notes from read two:

Can I still be in the same accounts with fidelity so I can move in kind

Before beginning a ritual you own the journey and are in control- once the journey begins the ritual owns you

Electro shock crawl ?!?!?

No longer blinded by individualism

When communities become cults - a strong community should not deny ones individuality

Nature deficit disorder

Wired for worship

Thinking about death daily
Profile Image for Leonard Davis.
40 reviews
June 28, 2020
This is one of those books where I want to buy everyone a copy and have us all read it together.
Profile Image for Andrew Shaffer.
Author 40 books1,324 followers
Read
March 4, 2021
DNF. We get it, you like Harry Potter, dude. Geez Louise.
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