I just started writing for Applied Sentience, a blog curated by the humanist chaplaincies of various American colleges. This post first appeared over there.
Whether or not you like me, the other folks at Applied Sentience write really great stuff about physics, ethics, religious policy, and many other notable topics. Check them out!
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Humanist communities need more wonder.
This isn’t the fault of the humanist communities. Most religious communities also need more wonder. Most people need more wonder.
(The words “awe” and “transcendence” could stand in for “wonder” – I’m referring to that whole category of emotions.)
Whether it comes from the high note of a gospel hymn or the highest rocket in a fireworks display, wonder might just be the single best emotion. Mix wonder with affection, and you get love. Seek out wonder in your daily life, and you might avoid the hedonic treadmill that so often exhausts the pursuers of happiness. As far as I know, wonder never gets boring.
I don’t come by the feeling of wonder easily. And when I do, it’s hard to tell whether the things that give me that feeling will also work for other people.
(For example, most people don’t see dubstep as a quasi-religious experience.)
But last November, I stumbled onto something I think could become a wonder-inducing ritual for humanists around the world. The ritual is cheap, safe, beautiful, and equally accessible to one person or a gathering of thousands.
I could reveal it now, but this essay will make more sense if I tell you a story first.