Organized religious communities have seen steep declines in participation in recent decades and the rise of the “nones,” those who have no particular religious affiliation, is a well-rehearsed story. But that story isn’t just about loss and lack. New forms of spiritual life and meaning-making are emerging that seek to fill the universal longings of the human heart: belonging, transformation, and love. Casper ter Kuile has studied this horizon of spiritual frontier for many years. 10 years ago, he and fellow Harvard Divinity School classmate Angie Thurston wrote a report called How We Gather, which looked at how millennials were seeking spirituality in seemingly secular communities like crossfit, soul-cycle or social justice movements.
Since that report, Casper has continued to explore the changing spiritual practices of young people. He started a very beloved podcast called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, wrote a book called The Power of Ritual and has recently launched a new project called The Nearness, which is an online space to explore life’s big questions in small communities.
In this conversation, Zach Davis talks with Casper about what he’s learned in his years studying and working on the edge of America’s evolving spiritual landscape.