Jan 19, 2022

Posthoc Salon: Does God Need an R&D Department - Featuring Casper ter Kuile

Bringing community together nourishes the human spirit

By Templeton Staff

Posthoc's thoughtfully curated Salons are akin to "a dinner party with purpose," a convergence of conversation, connection, and community. This time, Casper ter Kuile of Sacred Design Lab and Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) President Andrew Serazin joined Posthoc founder and TWCF grantee Susan MacTavish Best at a salon in New York City. The topic centered around the importance of ritual, both personal and communal.

With lively curiosity, the gathered group discussed where people are newly finding meaning, purpose, and connection, if not in traditional religious communities. Ter Kuile frames the modern spiritual landscape like this: "Religion is not declining, religion is transforming."

Memorable moments from the conversation:

  • MacTavish Best reads from Ter Kuile's book The Power of Ritual, published in 2020. "In many ways the understanding of religion over the past few hundred years is an anomaly because the West has been deeply marked by a Protestant Christian understanding, we assume religion is all about what you believe. That's part of it, of course, but most of the world, and certainly most of history, points to a different way of thinking about religion, and that's about what you practice." 
  • There's a difference between story or theology and practice. "How do we talk about God in a way that feels real, and powerful and not a man in the sky with a trident?" ter Kuile muses.
  • When do habits move into rituals? Rituals ground us, and can help us navigate uncertainty.
  • "Every tradition was once an innovation," says ter Kuile. He and Sacred Design Lab are interested in how the structures of community and spirituality are rapidly changing. 


Learn more about:

Casper ter Kuile, Masters of Divinity and Public Policy, Harvard University, co-founder Sacred Design Lab

Susan MacTavish Best and POSTHOC Salons