ter Kuile to bring spiritual expertise in secular spaces to open ILS week on examing span of belief systems


James Buckser
Staff writer

Casper ter Kuile uses spiritual expertise in secular spaces. 

Author of The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices and the co-founder of The Nearness and the Sacred Design Lab, ter Kuile’s work “explores how we’ll make meaning, deepen our relationships, and experience beauty in the 21st century,” according to his website.

ter Kuile will bring his perspective to discuss “Religious Faith and Everything Else We Believe In” to open Week Four of the Interfaith Lecture Series at 2 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy.

“Casper is focused on the experiences of individuals who might not describe themselves in religious terms but are nonetheless making meaning in community,” said Melissa Spas, vice president of religion. 

ter Kuile holds master’s degrees in divinity and public policy from Harvard University, where he was a ministry innovation fellow from 2016 to 2021. He co-created the podcast “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text,” which, according to its website, focuses on examining the Harry Potter series through “sacred reading practices,” which he co-hosted until 2021.

ter Kuile co-founded the research and development agency Sacred Design Lab with Angie Thurston and Sue Phillips. The organization is a “soul-centered research and development lab” which is “devoted to understanding and designing for 21st-century spiritual well-being,” according to ter Kuile’s website. Sacred Design Lab has worked with companies including Google, Pinterest and the United Methodist Development Fund.

ter Kuile also co-founded The Nearness, which his website describes as “an eight-week journey to nurture your spirituality.” The courses feature teachers from a variety of spiritual traditions and conversations in “supportive small groups,” according to the program’s website.

“… (W)ith more (than) 50% of Americans now disconnected from a local congregation, we know we need new structures of belonging and new rhythms of life to help us focus on what matters most,” ter Kuile’s website says. “The Nearness is designed to do exactly that.”

In 2020, ter Kuile published The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices, which focuses on finding new meaning in secular spaces.

“Casper’s book The Power of Ritual addresses the practices that often parallel, complement or intersect with belief,” Spas said. “I wanted to include that perspective alongside more conventional perspectives on religious faith or belief.”

ter Kuile’s book examines new spiritual outlets for people who are not necessarily religious. For example, he discusses how CrossFit and SoulCycle are like church groups and “gratitude journals” are akin to traditional prayer, according to the book’s description.

“We can nourish our souls by transforming everyday practices — eating together, working out, reading, taking a walk — into sacred rituals that can heal our crisis of social isolation and longing for connection,” ter Kuile wrote on his website.


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