‘Divinity Consultants’ are Now Designing Sacred Rituals for Some Corporations
“They go by different names: ritual consultants, sacred designers, soul-centered advertisers,” reports the New York Times, describing “a new corporate clergy” working as “divinity consultants” and “designing sacred rituals for corporations.”
They have degrees from divinity schools. Their business is borrowing from religious tradition to bring spiritual richness to corporate America. In simpler times, divinity schools sent their graduates out to lead congregations or conduct academic research. Now there is a more office-bound calling: the spiritual consultant. Those who have chosen this path have founded agencies — some for-profit, some not — with similar-sounding names: Sacred Design Lab, Ritual Design Lab, Ritualist.
They blend the obscure language of the sacred with the also obscure language of management consulting to provide clients with a range of spiritually inflected services, from architecture to employee training to ritual design. Their larger goal is to soften cruel capitalism, making space for the soul, and to encourage employees to ask if what they are doing is good in a higher sense. Having watched social justice get readily absorbed into corporate culture, they want to see if more American businesses are ready for faith. “We’ve seen brands enter the political space,” said Casper ter Kuile, a co-founder of Sacred Design Lab. Citing a Vice report, he added: “The next white space in advertising and brands is spirituality….”
Ezra Bookman founded Ritualist, which describes itself as “a boutique consultancy transforming companies and communities through the art of ritual,” last year in Brooklyn. He has come up with rituals for small firms for events like the successful completion of a project — or, if one fails, a funeral. “How do we help people process the grief when a project fails and help them to move on from it?” Mr. Bookman said. Messages on the start-up’s Instagram feed read like a kind of menu for companies who want to buy operational rites a la carte: “A ritual for purchasing your domain name (aka your little plot of virtual land up in the clouds).” “A ritual for when you get the email from LegalZoom that you’ve been officially registered as an LLC.”
The articles notes there are problems when combining the corporate with the religious.
For one thing, “It’s hard to exhort workers to give their professional activities transcendental meaning when, at the same time, those workers can be terminated.”