Dear Professor Augsburger,
It was refreshing to read your book Caring Enough to Confront – it being a change from the typical ones on the book shelves trying to address the roots of the problems of our civilization. Yes – it is our civilization. Globalization does not mean only market economy and international conferences but the age of communication across the world made possible by the Internet age of computers and cell phones. The market economy is falling behind the breaking down of archaic national frontiers as the world marches on to become one planet in the true sense. But even in the new world the old problems of greed and lust remain – not only remains but are on an astronomical scale. As such there is an urgent need for spiritual awakening. While technology and living standards are marching ahead there is tremendous poverty – on the one side there is surplus of too much food and luxuries and on the other too little of spiritual enlightenment. It is killing humanity. Here is where your book steps in with a positive message.
In the first chapter you have established this positive factor with a bang. Issues would have to be confronted prior to caring and not brushed under the carpet. You have correctly stressed that then only will relationships be healthy and lasting; then only can they be tackled. In the second and third chapters you have talked about trusting-it and about controlling anger. The question here is – what is truth? It is relative. The lion chasing the deer thinks this is the truth. While the deer thinks that the lion is doing something wrong. This is what gives rise to conflict. The question about the truth has not been fully addressed. Each group thinks they are following the truth; their flag is right and the name of their leader is the best. Unless anger is controlled, unless man sits astride the animal called anger that possesses us we can never arrive at the truth and see with a naked vision. But why do we get angry? We get angry when we are frustrated. Why are we frustrated? Our five senses are chasing five types of objects and not getting them. Anger cannot be controlled in isolation. (Augsburger, 1979) The senses have to be controlled first with priority being given to need and not greed. In the chapter about giving trust your constructive criticism strikes the right chord. But can the wolf be trusted to care for the flock? It is like asking for a square circle.
Nothing hits the nail on the head more than your advice about ending the blame game. We are all like people in glass houses throwing stones. As such repent. Rightly you have pointed out the greatness of the ability to repent, to love and forgive. Your focus on marriage and individual relationships could not be timelier. The entire social framework stands on the foundation of marriage. Unless this is strong, all others are non-issues. Thus correctly you have referred to the God within each of us in the preface. Without feeling this – sympathy cannot be turned into empathy. Otherwise giving of love or charity becomes a trade with ulterior motives. It tantamounts to benevolent lying – as you have rightly said. The love or charity has to be directed towards the worthy and not to foster a den of criminals and thieves. There is no point in nourishing weeds. Truly you have talked about committing crimes that are subjected to authority and obedience. (Augsburger, 1980) Only by awakening the conscience can this awareness of truth dawn.
Augsburger, D.W. (1979). Anger and assertiveness in pastoral care. NY: Fortress Press.
Augsburger, D.W. (1980). Caring enough to confront. NY: Regal Books.