Maxwell Podcast Episode #144: A Spiritual Life in Literature, with Matthew Wickman

06.21.2022 | The Maxwell Institute

Spiritual experiences are famously transformative. They sometimes inspire dramatic effects of conversion and healing, of vision and new life direction. But even in their more quotidian forms they expand our cognitive and emotional capacities, help cultivate virtues, and intensify our feelings of closeness to God, others, and things we deem ultimate. For Matthew Wickman, spiritual experience makes us feel more deeply alive. And literature functions as a special medium for capturing the nuances of spiritual experiences, helping us reflect more deeply on them and become more receptive to them.

In Wickman’s experience, which he reflects on in his new book from the Maxwell Institute’s Living Faith Series, LIFE TO THE WHOLE BEING: THE SPIRITUAL MEMOIR OF A LITERATURE PROFESSOR, literature has also helped him negotiate the complex relationship between spirituality, faith, and organized religion. He discusses all this by way of deeply personal experiences, theological reflection, and discussion of literary texts by Virginia Woolf, Denise Levertov, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Christian Wiman, and more.