Theses Master's

To Love Thy Neighbor: A Place-Based Theology of Home

DeLong, Autumn

Through this essay, I am attempting to explore and answer the following questions: How are we memorializing the past? What habits and practices have allowed our community to ignore its poor neighbors for so long? How are we moving forward? How do our relationships of inequality and injustice repeat in cycles of perpetuity, and how can we disrupt them? Is it possible to create a shared identity among the Twin Cities community so that it is more than the sum of its parts? And finally, how might a re-orientation toward place help us do this?

While the lessons learned by exploring these questions may apply to a variety of contexts, this essay is based in the history of the Twin Cities and my experience living here. Thus, I first consider the role of place in white Christian settlers’ interaction with the Dakota and Ojibwe Indigenous communities which inhabited the land when white settler-colonists arrived in the early 1800s. I then consider the construction of Interstate 94 in the 1950s, particularly the resulting destruction of the prosperous, historically Black Rondo neighborhood, as another example of the lack of consideration of place in our dominant society. With this history in mind, I suggest that the current housing crisis in Minnesota, especially in the Twin Cities, fits within this lineage which ignores place in favor of time. Finally, I shift my focus to consider the historic role of place in Christian theology, as it has been replaced in Western thought by the primacy of time. I suggest that a theology which takes seriously the history of the Twin Cities as a lived place would prioritize communal care – both because place was central in the worldview of the Indigenous communities who originally inhabited this land, and because place was once central in Christian theology.

Keywords: theology of home, place-based theology, history of Minnesota, history of Christianity, Dakota, Anishinaabe, Rondo neighborhood, history of homelessness, the Twin Cities, kin-dom, reconstruction


More About This Work

Academic Units
Union Theological Seminary
Thesis Advisors
Thatamanil, John
Dorrien, Gary
M.A., Union Theological Seminary
Published Here
May 24, 2022