Casper ter Kuile: Rituals & The Purpose of Religion
Casper ter Kuile: Rituals & The Purpose of Religion
On this episode, Amy interviews Casper ter Kuile, a man with a very cool job title — the Director of Possibility at The On Being Project. Casper is also the co-creator of How We Gather, a millennial-led spiritual startup collaboration between Harvard Divinity School, the Fetzer Institute, and On Being. Although Casper grew up disconnected from and actively avoiding religion, today, he holds masters degrees in both divinity and public policy at Harvard and remains a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School, so he knows a thing or two about the purpose of religion.
On top of all that, Casper co-hosts his own podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, where he explores deeper meanings and themes through a closer reading of Harry Potter passages. Casper is on a mission to build a world full of joyful belonging by connecting people and co-creating projects that help us live lives of greater connection, meaning, and depth. Listen on to find out how “community washing” might be the new “greenwashing,” the power of rituals and why Casper thinks we are ritual starved, the concept of being, belonging, and becoming (plus, some Beyonce!), and how secular groups like SoulCycle, CrossFit, Daybreaker, recovery centers, sanctuaries, and even house concerts are replacing the old paradigm of religious affiliation.
What we’ll cover:
- Why Amish & Mormon religious cultures create such strong communities
- The fall of cultural categories for relationships, including extended families, trade unions, and godparents!
- Knowing who’s in your “Top 5”
- Getting clear on who you need to prioritize in your life & communicating that to them
- Catholic nuns’ belief that commitment equals freedom
- The 3 layers of commitment that take place at a wedding. Plus, invoking the gay ancestors
- Becoming, or the process of spiritual maturation, growth, deepening capacity to live out the values you hold, and “Formation” by Beyoncé
- The process of being, belonging, and becoming
- What “cafeteria Catholicism” means
- Rituals like Amy’s family rendition of The Nutcracker and Casper’s Dutch birthday traditions
- How secular groups are fulfilling the role that religious communities often played in shaping a person
- And lots of laughing!
This episode’s an extra fun and informative one, that reflects the vibrant and insightful personality of Casper ter Kuile. Full of history, religion, personal stories, and family traditions, you’ll walk away with a new understanding of what it means to be, belong, and become the person you want to be, surrounded by the people who love and support you.
Social Wellness Challenge
Take Inventory of Your Relationships!
Write down the people who you’d feel comfortable calling at 3 am for help. Now, do a check up on each of those relationships.
Maybe nothing’s wrong, but there’s something not quite right with your relationship.
How can you intentionally open space for a conversation in which to explore and address that?
Do an inventory, and pick one relationship to intentionally improve, heal, reconnect, deepen.
Sign up for Casper’s newsletter here!
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, the podcast that Casper co-hosts
Rev. Sue Phillips, Casper’s colleague who officiated his wedding
Beyoncé’s “Formation” — Highly recommend the music video!
The Hoffman Process — a 7-day soul searching, healing retreat
Our favorite Tarot deck —
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel — 20th-century scholar who talks about the Jewish Sabbath as a Cathedral in time
You’ve Got Mail — A fantastic rom-com that Casper will only watch alone with Haagen Dazs ice cream
May Day — The pagan festival celebrated on the 1st of May
This Week’s Guest
Casper ter Kuile
Casper ter Kuile is helping to build a world of joyful belonging, connecting people and co-creating projects that help us live lives of greater connection, meaning, and depth. With Masters of Divinity and Public Policy degrees from Harvard University, Casper is passionate about learning from religious tradition and reimagining it for our modern world.
For the last four years, he’s co-led How We Gather and helped authored multiple reports, including How We Gather and Care of Souls.
He also co-hosts the award-winning podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, where they discuss the novels using sacred reading practices. Before moving to the United States, Casper co-founded Campaign Bootcamp and the UK Youth Climate Coalition – both training and mobilizing young activists.
Social wellness is all about the quality of the relationships that we have.
For me, social wellness is when there is at least a baseline number of relationships — let’s say five — of trust and intimacy and connection, where I’d feel comfortable calling someone at 3 am being like, ‘Help something has happened. Please, can you come.’ And that they would come.
And that those and the other relationships in my life have a healthy, loving tenor to them.
Fabriq co-founder Amy Baglan reflects on the most impactful conversations she’s had with our wonderful guests so far on Wellness 3.0.
Whether it’s a party, a networking event, or just entertaining friends and family, we all engage in small talk. Debra Fine, guru of all things small talk, tells us how to start conversations, ask better questions, and even how to exit a conversation with grace.
While it may seem like an oxymoron, Mark Shapiro is on a mission to figure out how we can use technology and social media to feel more connected. The time has never been better for a major social innovation.
Building Better Social Habits, Together
Fulfilling relationships are scientifically proven to keep you happy and healthy — boosting your immunity and longevity. When you prioritize the people that matter most, even when life gets full, you naturally show up better for them and yourself. We started Wellness 3.0 to bring awareness to this phenomenon and discover how we can improve social health and build better social habits, together.