Wonder is one of our favorite practices in the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy. It begins in the senses, comes alive in the imagination, and flourishes in adoration of the Divine. Wonder directs us to the feeling textures of life — to what Diane Ackerman calls "the sense-luscious world."
In an enthusiastic article in Aeon Magazine, Jesse Prinz, a professor of philosophy, celebrates wonder as a multifarious emotion that animates art, science, and religion. He sees its essential components as sensory, cognitive, and spiritual. Wonder motivates scientists to explore the mysteries of life. It lies behind the fascination of artists with the beauty that stops us in our tracks and knocks us off our feet. And wonder in religion generates awe and elevates our spirits in the face of marvels that take our breath away.
Prinz concludes that "wonder might be humanity's most important emotion." The creativity of artists, scientists, and religious devotees reflects "the cultural maturation of our species." At one point, the author talks about a book called The World of Wonders: A Record of Things Wonderful in Nature, Science, and Art (1883). We got to thinking about what we would list in our own book of wonders. We also asked ourselves to identify the temples of wonder in our times. We recommend these exercises to you.