Towards a Logotherapist’s Self-Definition

Someone who works with small nonprofit organizations once complained to me that organizations often struggle terribly and they would have a much easier time of it if they were to work together. Instead, every other day someone else decides to start a new organization.

From my perspective I see the temptation to meld and blend together with people who don’t share the same vision as yours. The more similar the goals and vision the more clarification is needed and the sharper you become in defining what you’re about and how it’s different from the other group.

I’m thinking in particular about Spiritual Direction as compared to logotherapy. On the website the object of Spiritual Direction is “to cultivate one’s ability to discern God’s presence in one’s life — to notice and appreciate moments of holiness, to maintain an awareness of the interconnectedness of all things, to explore ways to be open to the Blessed Holy One in challenging and difficult moments as well as in joyful ones.”

This is included in logotherapy yet it’s only one of the rays of light and not the main spotlight. The main spotlight is on meaning and by extension on the unique individual’s responsibility to do what it takes for that meaning to come to life. Logotherapy does not necessarily include a discussion of God but when it does the emphasis is on my tasks and my commitment to the partnership. It is not enough to feel God’s presence; I have to be present for God.

Furthermore Spiritual Direction calls the ability to know the voice we’re hearing as God’s “discernment.” I can learn from Spiritual Direction and from Jewish Spiritual Direction many helpful ideas about how to weigh relevant factors, purify my intentions, scrutinize my actions, monitor the consequences of what I do over time, notice my emotional response and then consider if a choice might be pleasing to God by considering its effects on my behavior and how it changes me inside.

Yet I will stick to Frankl’s concept of conscience as the organ of discernment. And in this discernment it’s not even necessary to declare “This is the voice of God.” This is the voice of my conscience that God is speaking through.

So by the awareness that we have an unconscious relation to God while allowing it to remain unconscious, logotherapy makes space for those whose relation to God is unconscious. It’s more than that. But I have to go so this will be continued…

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