Journal of North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies Vol 5 2007

Periodical, 2007, 136 pp
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The 2007 NAIITS Symposium convened around the theme "Redemption, Reconciliation, Restoration: Journeys Toward Wholeness."

As Canadian and US Governments debate the pros and cons of offering apologies to Native peoples for the years of torment and family disintegration wrought by residential and boarding school policies, the lack of understanding of reconciliation and restoration has become increasingly obvious. Even in the church - where such things should be a given - teachings absorbed with mother's mild as it were - the need for clearer, more biblically sound understandings of reconciliation is abundantly evident.

Instead of deeply rooted understandings of repentance, reconciliation and restoration, popular theologies abound which are rooted in one or another version of the "Great Escape" - avoidance of responsibility. "That was then, this is now!" is the common refrain. One wonders a such near-sightedness. Paul's admonition - we are to be judged by the deeds in the body whether of good or of evil - is all but unheard. More and more frequently this theological side-street has the faithful decrying any suggestion that they accept responsibility for church policies and practices rooted in a history any further back than breakfast.

In contrast, the Native world understands "Redemption, Reconciliation and Restoration: Journeys Toward Wholeness" as a statement of lived reality - in some cases a century or more of it. But we do not stay there. Hope is renewed with regularity and, as in the case of virtually every treaty, we return to extend ourselves in relationship in hopes that this time it will be different. We live in the hope of meaningful relationship for that is what the treaties promise. Life may be lives with constant reminders of transgression in our communities and families, but for those moving toward wholeness, it has also become the learned behaviour of reconciliation, the experience of redemption and the hope for restoration.

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