The Case for wonder

Mon 25 April 2005

The three similar stimuli met me in the last days. First I have read in “Communication as Culture” (James W. Carey, 1989) that a good sociology is similar to an art in its orientation towards “making the phenomenon strange”, because

[…] the social sciences can take the most obvious yet background facts of social life and force them into the foreground of wonderment. They can make us contemplate the particular miracles of social life that have become for us just there, plain and unproblematic for eye to see. […]

There is some beautiful naivety here at work — it is suddenly possible to take seriously the good old Aristoteles notion, that basis of all philosophy (i.e., all science, because it was contained in that time in philosophy) is curiosity and wonder. Moreover, for me personally it is calling back to the position where what really matters is something really personal and internal (after all, we are talking here about a qualitative research, not just data crunching).

And just immediately when I have begun to think about writing a blog record like this one, I opened again “More ready than you realize” (Brian McLaren, 2002) and found there this (p. 145):

Modern Christianity has (inadvertently, I think) tended to reduce God to a being containable by human concepts or propositions or logic. It has too often acted as though it had God bottled, labeled, and hermetically sealed, a commodity we own and attribute at will, logically proven, and theologically defined. […] No wonder evangelism seems dreary under these circumstances. As Walker Percy once wrote, instead of “Jesus saves!” we could as well easily be shouting “Exxon! Exxon!” because God has become a product we are selling or promoting. […] Christianity has not always been like this. Gregory of Nysa of the fourth century once said, “Concepts create idols. Only wonder understands.” Martin Luther reputedly reflected this realization: “If I could understand one grain of wheat, I would die of wonder.”

And finally, when I was talking with a friend this afternoon, she told me about her feelings of people having too big expectations from her. After some further talking I suggested (because I begun to see the pattern) that actually the only way (aside from knowing that God knows as well and has neither too high expectations and in the same time he is not full of depression and self-hate as we are) how to defend herself against these feelings is to go deeper in knowledge of herself, and from that position to be able to stand up against any unreasonable (or misguided) expectations.

And of course, it is something which is of the utmost importance for me as well. What I am writing about images in newspapers, should be especially the most personal expression of myself — not stupid graphomaniac diatribes which does not interest anybody, but that the only measure of what I should write is what I honestly know about myself, not what anybody expects from me.

This was an interesting experience.

Category: faith Tagged: dissertation BostonMiracle sociology