Phenomenology, Dallas Willard, and Dwelling in the Word

I found a connection to Phenomenology and Dwelling in the Word through Dallas Willard and Ken Reynhout. I had lunch with Ken yesterday and I described Dwelling in the Word to him. He smiled, and, knowing Keifert’s basis in phenomenology, saw the connection immediately.

This morning I was reviewing my resources in Scrivener and was immediately drawn to Willard’s Chapter Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Phenomenology from the book on phenomenology and counseling, (Paul Bloland, ed.) Willard provides a helpful overview of Husserl’s Phenomenology and then connects it to counseling. He says,

Jennings notes that the understanding of phenomenology among psychologist is often exhausted by “the simplistic idea of valuing the individual’s subjective point of view.” (p. 1231) The “phenomenological” approach to the client and client/therapist relationships in the practice of counseling is often understood to be one of unbiased readiness to receive whatever presents itself in the client and the relationship without denials or prejudicial interpretations.1

Willard goes on to say,

[phenomenology] inculcates an attitude toward the individual client and the counseling situation which permits the client and the therapist to be “themselves present” to one another.

I suggest that this is the power of Dwelling in the Word. The listener, within the conversation between two “reasonably friendly looking strangers,” approaches the speaker “with unbiased readiness to receive whatever presents itself in the [conversation partner] and the relationship without denials or prejudicial interpretations.” I further suggest that this form of listening is a Trinitarian Praxis of indwelling–of being fully present for the other–in order to set the other free.

  1. Jennings, Jerry L. (1986) “Husserl Revisited: The Forgotten Distinction between Psychology and Phenomenology.” American Psychologist. 41, 1231-1240. []