Further to yesterday's blog post:
It strikes me that it is worthwhile to analyze the general, public significance of my - or anyone else's - claim of experiencing spiritual contact with an author - whether dead, or indeed still alive!
In terms of such public activities as literary scholarship or criticism, (because false claims are so easy, and none can be checked externally) a person's claim of special spiritual understanding cannot be allowed to have any formal or explicit significance: Scholarship or criticism ought to stand or fall on its intrinsic qualities.
(This is what ought to happen in an ideal sense; despite that, in practice, this is seldom the case - and that instead high status institutional affiliations and educational certifications of the scholar or critic are too-often taken as validation of specific claims.)
So, we ought to judge for ourselves and not accept spiritual claims of another person simply because they have been made. Nonetheless; it seems absolutely valid to take-into-account such matters as spiritual affinity, when (as a merely specific example) evaluating Tolkien scholarship and criticism.
And, in practice, this is done; both by the majority mainstream, secular and academic, Tolkien scholars, and also by the significant minority of scholars whose perspective on Tolkien is rooted in his devoutly Roman Catholic religion.
For myself; I make an evaluation concerning each scholars spiritual sympathy, that is his empathic understanding of Tolkien - and my attitude is (broadly) that the scope of a scholar's understanding is constrained by the limits of his spiritual sympathy.
That does not exclude the possibility that - within that scope - a scholar may make a vast contribution to the understanding of Tolkien: thus (IMO) the greatest of Tolkien scholars so far - Tom Shippey - is neither a Catholic nor a Christian.
Nonetheless, that constraint is still operative; and I would not expect Shippey to have much to contribute to a spiritual approach to Tolkien - that is, to the idea of regarding JRR Tolkien as a spiritual mentor and guide (as I do).
Broadening-out the argument; my summary is that each of us whose concern is spiritual and Christian, can and should be discerning and evaluating, and taking into consideration, the degree and nature of spiritual affiliation between a specific scholar, critic or philosopher - and any person under discussion.
In sum: making decisions concerning another person's spiritual affiliation is not just relevant, but a necessary activity in the world generally - as well as literature specifically.