“What do you know?” These words quite regularly came from one of Dennis Quinn’s colleagues and was directed towards students (Iris Exiled, 21). Dennis Quinn was part of a school of wonder, better known as the Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas. Quinn nor the school are the foci but both illustrate the power of wonder within the educational setting or conversion process. Ultimately, it is the experience of wonder which leads a person towards a fulfilling life. This fulfilled life is one steeped in truth and love, and the pathway towards truth and love ignite the fires within our souls and intellect to contemplate life outside of our ever present limitations, trials and tribulations. When the mind is grappling with the sense of wonder there is a sheer joy and exhilaration with the possibilities which exist before us. It is this true sense of life which keeps us coming back for more truth, it is this sense which calls us out of ourselves towards something genuine and concrete, something eternal. It is the sense of wonder which continually orients a person towards the contemplation of God.
This track or pathway towards the contemplation of God is traveled by everyone. The secular, individuals who do not hope to reach this end or are unaware this end exists, and the religious, people actively attempting to strengthen their relationship with God. The secular and religious person start off riding the same train whether they realize it or not. Unfortunately, both the secular and religious get off at one of the many false summits, believing they have reached absolute truth and the end of their journey. This person says to their self, “I know everything now, there is nothing left to ponder because I have all of the truth I need to live a fulfilled life of purpose and meaning and the remaining journey is one filled with unknown and meaningless contemplations which will only lead towards a disillusioned sense of absolute truth.” However, the train does continue and the contemplations only grow in beauty and majesty. The track less traveled, the one which perpetually carries on and leads towards the Absolute Truth, the contemplation of God, is the focus of this work. It is aimed at the secular and religious alike and charges them with continually answering the question, “What do you know?” in hopes the person will stop getting on and off the train at false summits, will catch the next train as it approaches their current resting place and the individual will reenter the train, take their seat and enjoy the ride, growing in their love of truth, beauty and God. The train is fueled by wonder and it is wonder which keeps the individual on the train and sustains the conversion process, or the contemplation of God. In order to prove this thesis three areas will be expounded (1) explanation of wonder, (2) necessity of wonder within conversion and (3) actual examples of wonder used as a tool within the educational or conversion process.
(This is the first in a series of guest posts by Brad Bolt.)