How does transcendental religion flourish when a secular frame sets conditions of belief? This question is put in a case study of the Catholic Newman Society at the University of Melbourne (1955–65). The Society flourished in a secular University where Charles Taylor’s ‘immanent frame’ was supposedly in place. Explanations are found in the particular spirituality nurtured in the Society and in the contingencies of Australian Catholicism in the mid-twentieth century, but also in the conventions of secular discourse in the University. Conclusions drawn from the case are: (i) that there are elective affinities between some forms of transcendental religion and a secular context; (ii) that social science dichotomies that separate the religious and secular obviate appreciation of elective affinities and hybridisation; (iii) that there are parallels between ethnographic inquiry and inner-worldly spirituality that may help us develop a conversational ethnography.