We begin this episode with a land acknowledgement.
In our latest podcast episode, we embark on an enlightening journey with Rev. Dr. Brian Konkol, Dean of Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University and professor of practice. Konkol, with his unique global perspective and methodology of accompaniment, offers a fresh outlook on Christianity, focusing on its potential to foster connectivity and unity rather than division.
Konkol encourages listeners to explore the paradoxes within religious life in general and Christianity in particular. He stresses the importance of acknowledging the injustices ingrained within the Christian religious tradition and using the concepts of solidarity, interdependence, and mutuality to provide a guide for navigating towards a more reconciled future. This conversation provides a refreshing perspective on the potential of religion to provide unity through difference in a world increasingly marked by crisis and conflict.
Our hosts, Arnold and Bigtree, use their Ten Religious Themes of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (DoCD) that Contrast with Indigenous Values to provide a significant comparison and contrast between dominating Christian values and Indigenous values, highlighting the sacredness of the earth and the significance of its life support systems. This contrast prompts listeners to reconsider their relationships with Mother Earth and their place within this complex ecosystem. The destructive consequences of colonization on Indigenous communities cannot be overlooked. Konkol agrees and highlights the ongoing efforts to mend the rifts between Christian and Indigenous communities caused by these historical injustices. Using his time studying in South Africa, he emphasizes the need for continued dialogue and action to address these issues and work toward healing and reconciliation.
As Arnold and Bigtree continue their conversation with Konkol, they discuss Christianity’s patriarchal past and present and how these patriarchal gender norms within Christianity have done significant harm to Indigenous communities. Bigtree asks how Christian theology can learn from the matrilineal tradition of the Haudenosaunee. And are Christians willing to work to be in a proper relationship with Mother Earth? Konkol responds by highlighting how his own Christian tradition Lutheranism is working to address these questions.
The episode concludes with a thought-provoking exploration of Christian theology and the theology of personal salvation. Everyone reflects on how the concept of personal salvation in its most popular form of “fire insurance” and escapism from ethical responsibility has harmed social/cultural relationships. Konkol agrees with Arnold and Bigtree and offers a notion of salvation that is instead about connectivity, interdependence, mutuality, and solidarity with one another.
The conversation with Konkol takes us on a journey toward a reimagined view of Christianity through the lens of accompaniment. By exploring the complexities of religion in society, listeners are encouraged to reflect on their beliefs and practices and how they can work to be in better relationships with Indigenous nations and the natural world.
Tune into the podcast and join us as we explore the paradoxes within Christianity, confront the injustices of our past, and navigate towards a reconciled future by prioritizing Indigenous values and a relationship with Mother Earth.
Philip P. Arnold and Sandra Bigtree, “S02E06: Reimagining Religion: A Journey Towards Connectivity, Unity, and Reconciliation with Brian Konkol,” Mapping the Doctrine of Discovery (Podcast), August 3, 2023. https://podcast.doctrineofdiscovery.org/season2/episode-06/.