The Importance of Wonder

In a new episode on the NetVUE podcast series, Callings: Conversations on College, Career, and a Life Well-Lived, sociologist of religion Tom Landy talks about his life’s work in helping people understand the “thickness” of religious traditions (their own and others’). Tom is director of the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. His primary research is in global catholicism, and he founded and leads research for Catholics & Cultures, a web-based initiative to explore the religious lives and practices of lay Catholics in their particular cultural contexts around the world. He is also the founder of Collegium, a summer colloquy on faith and intellectual life for faculty from Catholic universities and colleges from around the country.

One theme that emerged in our conversation with Tom Landy is the steady patience required for vocational discernment. “God works in mysterious ways,” Tom reminds us. We asked him about his experiences in leading Ignatian-inspired pilgrimages and retreats. Tom encourages us to consider what he calls the “hermeneutics of wonder,” following Paul Ricoeur, and we discussed why this is especially important to cultivate in students today. He shies away from offering direct advice to young adults, but suggests that those of us who work with them must appreciate that they are “works in progress.”

Tom received the John Henry Newman Medal in 2009, which honors exemplars of Jesuit Catholic education, and in 2017, he received the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Distinguished Service Award for personal service of exceptional quality to Catholic higher education.

The podcast can be accessed at the link below and through Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and other podcast platforms. We invite you to listen to this and other episodes of the NetVUE podcast, and ask you to share them with your friends and colleagues.

The episode that features Tom Landy is entitled “The Common Ground of Wonder.”

Click here to listen to the full episode of our conversation with Tom Landy.


Hannah Schell was a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Monmouth College in Illinois from 2001-2018. She is the author of “Commitment and Community: The Virtue of Loyalty and Vocational Discernment” in At this Time and In This Place: Vocation and Higher Education, ed. David S. Cunningham (Oxford University Press, 2015), and, more recently, “Loyalty in the Time of Catastrophe: Anthropocene Reflections” (co-written with Mark Larrimore). Currently the Online Community Coordinator and the editor of this blog, she is also a campus consultant for NetVUE. Click here to see other blog posts by Hannah.

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