Episode 18: How We Gather - Angie Thurston and Casper ter Kuile

Angie Thurston and Casper ter Kuile, experts on the emerging group of Americans known as the religious "nones," join Judaism Unbound for Episode 18. Thurston and ter Kuile are co-authors of two monographs, entitled How We Gather and Something More, respectively, and they serve as Ministry Innovation Fellows at Harvard Divinity School.

Image Credit: News.Harvard.edu

Image Credit: News.Harvard.edu

(0:01 - 12:56): Thurston and ter Keile begin by telling their own stories and explaining what led them to their current work on the religious "nones." They discuss the origins of their How We Gather report [1], along with some of the communities featured in it. [2] Additionally, they consider the question of whether these organizations are replicating themes of religion consciously or subconsciously. [3]

(12:57 - 25:55): Next, ter Keile and Thurston unpack six themes they identified as particularly important for organizations looking to build successful communities outside of organized religion (community, personal transformation, social transformation, purpose finding, creativity, and accountability). They also delve into a broad swath of topics ranging from sports fandom, [4] to Religion for Atheists (a book by Alain de Botton), [5] to the Harry Potter series as a sacred text. [6]

Image Credit: www.crossfitmaxeffort.com

Image Credit: www.crossfitmaxeffort.com

(25:56 - 44:36): In this section, ter Keile (a native to Great Britain) outlines some of the differences between the United States and Great Britain in the realm of religion. [6] He and Thurston, along with Dan and Lex, next explore questions of language -- what are the benefits and drawbacks of the term "spirituality?" How about "religion?" We close out the show by exploring shifts in the landscape of American religion due to advances in digital technology.

[1] For those interested, here are the full pdfs of How We Gather and Something More

Image Credit: Harry Potter And the Sacred Text Podcast

Image Credit: Harry Potter And the Sacred Text Podcast

[2] To learn more about the idea of "CrossFit as Church" (CrossFit is one of the communities featured in How We Gather), check out this New York Times article featuring ter Kuile and Thurston.

[3] The philosopher Joseph Campbell comes up twice in this conversation. To learn more about him and his philosophy, check out his wikipedia page.

[4] For more on sports fandom's resemblance to religion, read this article in The Atlantic.

[5] Lex asks about the intersection of How We Gather with the book Religion for Atheists, by Alain de Botton. You can purchase it here.

[6] To listen to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, a podcast that ter Kuile co-hosts with Vanessa Zoltan, click here.

[7] The following are links to the websites of all organizations included in How We Gather, for anyone interested in exploring them in greater detail: The Dinner PartyCrossFitSoulCycleCTZNWELLU.S. Department of Arts and CultureMillennial Trains ProjectLive in the GreyJuniper PathCamp Grounded, and The Sanctuaries.