This fall, twenty attendees will gather under the stars to discuss the place of ritual within a modern, rational culture.
There were lessons to teach our children, roles to undertake. Beauty to celebrate. Fellow humans to connect with. Ritual was a powerful tool for doing so.
But ritual was part of a large cluster of ideas, some of which turned out to be harmful, or too inflexible for a changing world. Many intellectual movements rebelled against religion as a whole, and helped bring about a world where evidence and critical thinking are crucial to the public discourse.
Yet… it sometimes feels like something has been lost. Humans evolved for thousands of years to make use of ritual. It’s part of who we are. It can give us a sense of purpose and connection that is hard to find anywhere else.
In the past few centuries, numerous movements have worked to blend rationality and ritual. A lot of progress has been made. But when comparing our secular movements to the religious communities, it’s clear that we have a long way to go. We need a culture that truly thrives, engaging the body, mind and (for lack of a better word) spirit, built on a foundation of reason, compassion and human progress.
There are people who are working to change that. To bring secular ritual to the next level. But there are few of us, and we often seem poorly coordinated. And it seems a bit ironic – that people studying ritual would have such trouble coordinating and connecting.
So this September, we’ll hold the first Rational Ritual Retreat – a workshop on ritual that is, itself, ritualized. We’ll camp under the stars, share what inspires us, and the work we’ve done so far. We’ll discuss the potential danger of ritual, and how to prevent its misuse among the secular world. We’ll create at least one new ceremony together.
We’ll plan for the coming year – how to incorporate ritual into our communities, connect those communities together, and build a secular culture that continues to change the world.