cover image Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World

Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World

Tara Isabella Burton. Public Affairs, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-1-54176-253-4

Religion News Service columnist Burton (Social Creatures) chronicles the increasingly common scene of “intuitional” spirituality, or what she calls “religiously Remixed” culture, in this engaging if limited study. Burton’s approach mixes reportage and personal encounters to illuminate what’s happening with those looking for “knowing, for belonging, and for meaning” in places readers might at first find unlikely. Whether it be the “religious-but-not-really-but-actually-kind-of-yes” energy of Harry Potter fandom, the “self care” and “wellness culture” embodied in communities surrounding SoulCycle, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, or hypermasculine alt-right groups, Burton argues that “new gods are everywhere.” A particularly insightful chapter, “The Magic Resistance,” explores the melding of “occultism” and “New Age, Neo-Pagan, or Wiccan” spirituality with mass progressive movements, such as the mass “hexing” of then Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh organized by occultists. Burton’s smart book, contrary to its subtitle, has a frustratingly narrow focus, centering primarily on analysis of religious hybridity in America. Nonetheless, this is a revelatory survey of the increasingly transfigured American spiritual landscape. (June)