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Humanities Week ends with lecture on the question of wonder

Rebecca+Noble%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AEnglish+Professor+Alex+Nava+lectures+on+Friday%2C+about+the+relationship+between+spirituality+and+wonder+in+the+Helen+S.+Schaefer+Building.
Rebecca Noble
Rebecca Noble/ The Daily Wildcat English Professor Alex Nava lectures on Friday, about the relationship between spirituality and wonder in the Helen S. Schaefer Building.

Members of the UA community gathered in the UA Poetry Center Friday afternoon to listen to a discussion the question of wonder.

In a lecture titled “Magical Moments: The Spirituality of Wonder in Religion and Literature,” Alex Nava, a professor for the Department of Religious Studies discussed the question of wonder and life, and how it fits with the question of religion.

It was also one of the last events for the sixth annual Humanities Week, put on by the UA College of Humanities.

Nava began his lecture defining wonder as “some moment of epiphany, some moment of disclosure of insight, some revelatory truth that possibly happens to all of us.”

Sometimes a person is prepared for it, sometimes it catches them unaware and sometimes, it can have have a profound life-changing impact, he said.

“Our lives are surrounded by mystery, all our lives” Nava said.

He discussed his belief that throughout a person’s life, everything around them has a certain strangeness to it.

Wonder is a hint of reality that is good and beautiful, he said. It’s a revelation about reality, truth and God.

Throughout the lecture he provided various quotes and examples from philosophers and texts, as well as discussed various examples of wonder from different religions such as Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism.

Nava also discussed how wonder is about recapturing the imaginations people once had during their childhood.

Once people become adults, Nava said “our stresses, responsibilities and our cynicism replaces our ability to feel the strangeness and mystery of everything around us.”

Nava teaches several courses including Love and World Religions, The Question of God, Rap, Culture and God and Religion in Latin America.

He recently published his second book titled, “Wonder and Exile in the New World.”

“I liked the way he brought in all sorts of both quotes and ideas across many, many centuries,” said Mary E. Wildner-Bassett, dean for the College of Humanities, adding that this is why the theme for this year’s Humanities Week is Revival of the Fittest.

The goal for Humanities Week was to reach out to the community by hosting events and lectures about topics related to the College of Humanities and to highlight certain professors, according to Wildner-Bassett.

“It shows the things that are old are still new and that the things that are new are tied to the things that were done and thought by human beings thousands of years ago,” she said.

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