It’s hard to believe that Lost will begin its final season with tonight’s premiere. Even harder to believe I’ve stuck with the commitment I made at the end of Season 2—way back in May 2006—to read and blog about every book that appears or is referenced on the show.

Now that I’ve finished reading Flannery O’Connor’s short story collection Everything that Rises Must Converge, I am caught up. That’s 38 books I’ve read to better understand this show, but it’s also 38 (mostly) really good books I’m glad I was encouraged to read. The full list along with links to my individual posts is here.

O’Connor’s stories are exquisitely crafted slices of southern life in the 1960s. Her characters struggle to understand and make sense of a rapidly changing world full of astronauts and civil rights, but change never comes easy. Many of the stories center on generational conflicts wherein strong-willed characters attempt to bend others—usually loved ones—to a “better” or “more enlightened” way of thinking. Sometimes it works, but the cost is steep and many of the stories end with unintended consequences for the protagonist: often violence or the death of a loved one. Often those who would teach a lesson are forced to learn the most painful lessons of all.

The book made its appearance in “The Incident,” the Season 5 finale. The mysterious Jacob was reading it in a flashback scene just moment’s before Locke was thrown out of the window by his father where he would break his back and eventually become lame and the first to enter Jacob’s home many years later, which was what was playing through the back of my mind when I read “The Lame Shall Enter First,” a particularly devastating story of the terrible toll on a father and his estranged nine-year-old son when the father takes in and attempts to save a juvenile delinquent.

The manipulation of Locke’s good intentions and pure faith by evil men is one of the central tragedies on Lost, and “The Lame Shall Enter First,” reminded me of how often he has tried to do right and how his core goodness has always blown up in his face. If Lost follows the trajectory of this or any of these stories, a happy ending isn’t likely.

With its focus of family conflict, many of the stories mirror the arcs of so many characters on Lost, particularly in the relationship between Jack and his father, Christian. Jack taught Christian a hell of a lesson back in Season 1, and it ultimately led to Christian’s death and copious guilt for Jack. That is, in essence, the plot of the title story “Everything that Rises Must Converge,” in which an earnest young man attempts to teach his mildly bigoted mother a thing or two about racism.

Considering the role that the dead Christian Shephard has had on Lost, I can’t help but wonder how much of Season 6 will be driven by a convergence and reckoning between Jack and whatever it is that has been animating his dead father all these years.

We also see a parallel in that O’Connor’s protagonists, especially Mrs. Turpin in “Revelation,” are so convinced of their moral superiority and their role as “good guys” that it genuinely shocks them when they are forced to confront their misdeeds. As I read, all I could think about was the number of times we’ve heard various caharcters on Lost, most recently Ilyana claim to be “the good guys.”

The final story, “Judgement Day,” features a protagonist who imagines himself shipped from New York City back to Georgia in his coffin only to jump out and surprise his friends with the fact that he still lives. Again, his fantasy sounds like the one that anti-Jacob has pulled off.

Finally, there’s the title itself. According to Lostpedia (take it for what it’s worth):

The book’s title is a reference to a work by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard De Chardin titled the “Omega Point”: “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.”

This convergence could mean many things, but I think the writers are hinting toward the convergence of the time-traveling survivors of Oceanic 815 and the survivors of Ajira 316. They will come together, and I think the mechanism for that will be Jacob’s touch as revealed in the flashbacks in “The Incident.” I think that’s what he meant when he said, “They’re coming.”

Juliet will not converge since Jacob never came to her.

Then will come judgement day and the last battle (to take it back to all the Narnia references).

That’s about all I’ve got.

Be sure to check out Lost… and Gone Forever and EYE M SICK for more serious Lost theorizing, and don’t forget to check out my Lost Book Club Index for all the books on the show and my posts about them.