One frequent obstacle with spiritual reading is the question of where to start. There are so many writings of saints, magisterial documents, and enough devotional books and pamphlets to fill a library. Choosing what kind of books to read should have a multi-pronged approach, depending on each individual. I think a great way to organize it is an adaptation of St. John Paul II’s recommendations in Pastores Dabo Vobis. The encyclical was on the training of priests, and he called attention to four basic areas of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. Even though most of us aren’t ordained priests, we can still apply this to our spiritual reading habits. Good spiritual reads will ideally aid us in all four of those elements—or at least focus on one or two.
In 1917, Edward Clodd analyzed the mediumship of the trance medium Gladys Osborne Leonard and came to the conclusion that Leonard had known her séance sitters before she had held the séances, and could have easily obtained such information by natural means. The British psychiatrist Charles Arthur Mercier wrote in his book Spiritualism and Sir Oliver Lodge (1917) that Oliver Lodge had been duped into believing mediumship by trickery and his spiritualist views were based on assumptions and not scientific evidence.
(Everything That Rises Must Converge), Flannery O'Connor put the twisted vision and dark humor of Southern Gothic fiction to spiritual purposes. Though O'Connor, a rural Southerner, knew she would die young of lupus, she remained a faithful Catholic. Indeed, she was determined to undermine the '50s worldview which saw science and logic as steadily leading us to becoming a society based on rationality, consumerism, and progress, which would make God superfluous. Acutely aware of the extremes of religion in the South, she nonetheless preferred that "God-haunted" region to a bland world produced by advertising. She believed the supernatural lay just below the surface of the everyday, requiring the spiritual artist to portray the mundane world with great care and accuracy, however bizarre some of its events and characters might be. O'Connor saw the potential for mysterious grace in any place where the spirit, though twisted, was still alive. Her writing is powerful, at times violent, often hilarious. Sometimes I find it best to read her a little at a time; her unconquerable wit and her deep, abiding spirituality always shine through.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you.