The Power of Ritual

How to Create Meaning and Connection in Everything You Do

Hardcover, 224 pages

English language

Published Aug. 27, 2020 by HarperCollins Publishers.


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2 stars (3 reviews)

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 …

5 editions

A shallow rehash of popular self-improvement trends

2 stars

This book can be boiled down to the idea that people should find things that are already meaningful in their lives and recognize that meaningfulness, then ritualize that meaningfulness to add to its existing meaningfulness. I think the author's intention behind writing this book was to express the idea that people should be comfortable turning experiences that are traditionally non-religious into a spiritual and meaningful encounter as a replacement for traditional religious practices. However, I felt that his message was too open-ended. He doesn't provide any sort of framework for what would be defined as positive and meaningful beyond what feels good and feels right. What if someone feels spiritually connected to the world when they commit violence? Is that valid? It just seems as though there's a lack of structure, or there's a presumption that people will somehow fall back on the morals and basic ideas provided by the …


  • Religion