James Matthew Wilson in the Mars Hill Audio Journal

Last year someone asked me what were my favorite podcasts. Without a second thought I referred my friend to the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Since 1993, Ken Myers has been using this audio journal to encourage conversations about faith, faithfulness, and culture, exploring the various factors that have given modern Western culture its distinctive character. Over the years this has involved Myers conducting interviews with a wide-variety of scholars on subjects that include art, technology, history, music, theology, philosophy, politics, film, poetry and almost anything else you could imagine.

I was struck with my debt of gratitude to the Mars Hill Audio Journal today when listening to an interview from the most recent issue, Volume 141, in which Ken Myers has a conversation with James Matthew Wilson on the role of beauty, truth and goodness in cultivating “intellectual vision.” Here’s a few nuggets from this interview:

“that desire, however deformed, to perceive, to encounter being, is the very foundation of the possibility of falling in love with wisdom.

…to remind ourselves that the world is beautiful tells us something about ourselves, that we can stand in contemplation before the world and not have to think ‘what are we learning this for?’ We’re learning it for the joy of it’s being beautiful. And also it tells us something about the world: that the world is itself, even in its most minute particulars, a kind of mystery, where even the crudest material thing conceals depths within itself….

The way Aristotle begins the Metaphysics…has always seemed to me one of the most beautiful few lines in our tradition. It, of course, begins, ‘all philosophy begins in wonder because human beings would practically rather see than do anything else.’ And what he’s proposing to us is that the world itself is wonderful; that is to say, the world itself is a mystery whose existence stirs us to wonder about it. And to wonder about it means both to desire and to know–to desire to know the truth. And so the world, just by its fact of its existence, inspires us to enter into that world with both our active will and our capacity to love and our capacity to know, our reason. So the world is a mystery that seems as if it was put there just to make us start thinking about it and contemplate it.