Although Archie Smith Jr. published his book in the early 1980s, it is, as the question notes, relevant to the political, social, and pastoral concerns of today.
A critical assessment could compare Smith’s work to a relatively more recent work on pastoral care. For example, in 2006, Pamela Cooper-White published a book on pastoral psychotherapy. Her book is called Many Voices. It shares several concerns with Smith’s book from the eighties. Cooper-White discusses the “multiple layers of meaning” within an individual. Smith echoes her point when he discusses the different kinds of “relations between people.” For Smith, people are externally connected and internally linked. “They live in us and we in them,” he says.
Like Cooper-White, Smith is focused on dissecting these myriad layers and relations in order to excise harmful behavior and perceptions. Smith calls these toxic outlooks “false consciousness.” For Smith, as with Cooper-White, pastoral care involves challenging nefarious notions of individualism and finding ways to heal people.
In terms of culture and politics, Smith’s ideas tend to correspond to present discussions about systemic racism and internalized racism. At one point, Smith calls out psychotherapy for reinforcing “established social systems and practices” that only add to the patient’s suffering. Like many scholars and thinkers right now, Smith was drawing attention to the way in which oppression is embedded in the systems and practices of everyday American life.
For Smith, the pastor should use psychotherapy to benefit the patient, not to prop up oppressive norms and institutions. Smith’s concept of a progressive, politically astute, and socially conscious pastor also connects to what’s going on today. For instance, the Georgia pastor Raphael Warnock has not shied away from politics or challenging the status quo. In January, he won his Senate race in Georgia. He is now a member of the United States Senate.