Danang Kurniawan is an alumnus of Jakarta Theological Seminary in the capital of Indonesia and was raised in Klaten, a small town in Central Java. He grew up being enriched by at least two religious traditions, Islam and Christianity. While the former has the largest population in Indonesia, the latter is a minority religion.
“My engagement with Muslim friends has been very natural yet enriching. I often slept in a mosque close to our house, together with my Muslim friends. As a matter of fact, my family is the only Christian family in the Muslim village, but we never had a serious issue in our relationship with our Muslim neighbors,” said Danang.
In many other parts of Indonesia, however, there have been many unfortunate conflicts between the two religions. “My wonderful experiences in my childhood, as well as my concern of so many conflicts in some areas in Indonesia, have driven me to learn theology with a very big question: ‘To what extent is theology able to address conflicts between both religions and to enrich both people to live together peacefully?’”
After listening to two alums of Hartford Seminary’s IPP (Erich von Marthin and Hans Harmakaputra) about their valuable and memorable learning experiences, Danang was drawn to Hartford Seminary.
“I really want to feel the same feeling as they did. I truly believe that interfaith dialogue is a never ending encounter, intellectually and spiritually, that should shape someone to be a humbler and passionate person. That is the deepest reason of why I really want to be one of the students of such a wonderful seminary.”
His personal passion is theological, cultural, and philosophical ethics. Danang completed his Bachelor’s thesis two years ago, in which he discussed three ethical traditions: the Western-Christian tradition as developed by H. Richard Niebuhr, the Stoic ethical tradition, and the Javanese ethical tradition as demonstrated in the great epic of wayang (puppet show) in Indonesia. It was his thought that through a creative engagement with those three traditions, Christians will be able to contribute in the struggle for peace and justice in their society. The three traditions could nurture Christians to be altruistic people who live in harmony with others.
“After finishing my studies at Hartford, my goal is to engage with social issues in my community, especially that of corruption,” he said.
“My concern is to see the possible relationship between corruption and religious motives. Moreover, I believe that the chronic problem of corruption in my society should be addressed with an interfaith collaboration. My study will even go deeper into interreligious conflicts caused by the economy of greed and power that manipulates religions for economic and political interests.”