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Tara Isabella Burton

Burton, who received a doctorate in theology from Oxford University, is at work on a book about the rise of the religiously unaffiliated in America, to be published in November 2020 by Public Affairs. Her novel, “Social Creature,” was published in June 2018.

All Stories by Tara Isabella Burton

Getting in on — and tossed out of — the Satanist Temple joke

May 24, 2019

(RNS) — As more and more millennials identify with spiritual or philosophical movements outside the bounds of ‘traditional’ religions, how will these groups police their ideology while remaining inclusive?

How ‘joke religion’ turns deadly serious when the online alt-right comes to life

May 14, 2019

(RNS) — The nihilism of today’s alt-right is both a religion and a rejection of the transcendence that religion holds out as a balm.

Reinventing religion, millennials rewrite the rules of relationships

May 2, 2019

(RNS) — Creating bespoke religious traditions as they are, it makes sense that millennials would also create bespoke relationship models.

How the ‘Harry Potter’ books are replacing the Bible as millennials’ foundational text

April 25, 2019

(RNS) — Engagement with the Potter texts online brought millions to the World Wide Web, which in turn has indelibly shaped our approach to self and belief.

How psychics, suddenly everywhere, are healing the world

April 11, 2019

(RNS) — This year’s equivalent of ‘yoni’ eggs, psychics — pardon me, ‘intuitive healers’ — are more than the latest trend in wellness culture; they are redeeming human feeling as a basic truth.

The real reason div students need to hear Jordan Peterson’s canceled lectures

April 2, 2019

(RNS) — Peterson, who applies psychology to biblical studies, is as much a product of the ‘unmooring’ from Western values that he decries as he is a bulwark against it.

How fan fiction gave millennials power over their spirituality

March 22, 2019

(RNS) — The internet has transformed our consumption of texts — even sacred texts — into malleable pieces that can be reimagined, reinvented and owned in a new way.

From Theranos to 23andMe, putting our faith in data to figure out who we are

March 13, 2019

(RNS) — We’re not just sequencing our DNA, we’re discovering our new social identities and, just possibly, overcoming death.

When Lenten fasting is indistinguishable from a New Age cleanse

February 28, 2019

(RNS) — Modern Lent has come to have more in common with Dry January — the viral sensation encouraging New Year’s resolvers to give up alcohol for a month — than with its ecclesiastic antecedents.

SoulCycle, capitalism and the selling of self-care

February 21, 2019

(RNS) — At the heart of the SoulCycle faith is a value system of capitalist consumerism, which it imbues, through sweat, with a metaphysical significance.

Witchcraft becomes a political stance — and a booming business

February 14, 2019

(RNS) — Once a fringe spiritual practice, witchcraft has become a key, and increasingly popular, component of feminist political resistance.

The evolution of sin

February 7, 2019

(RNS) — Virtue and vice have long been inextricably linked to self-control. But lately we’ve been asking, what’s it all for?

Secular saints, folk saints and plain old celebrities

January 31, 2019

(RNS) — A Martin Luther King Jr., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Anna Nicole Smith may also carry many Americans’ desire for a radical reframing of our collective values.

If God is dead, is it OK if we save ourselves?

January 22, 2019

(RNS) — The rash of ‘new utopian’ groups isn’t just about the collapse of traditional religion. It’s about putting our faith in human self-improvement.

The spirituality hiding in our self-help New Year’s resolutions

January 11, 2019

(RNS) — In the rhetoric of self-improvement, ridding ourselves of the old year’s bad energy is a matter of social, physical and emotional health. But the notion is loaded with spiritual significance.

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