zondag 31 januari 2016

The philosophical discourse of Franz Magnis Suseno

On 21 Jnauary this year I wrote on the chapter in a book by Heinz Schütte, Dialog, Kritik, Mission. Franz Magnis-Suseno, ein indonesischer Jesuit aus Detschland (Berlin: Regiospectra, 2013). Now I have read much more in this rich book and it a rich contribution to the biography of the most influential Catholic priest in the country after Mangunwijaya. It is a little bit strange that after Indonesians like Soegijopranoto and Mangun, now a German-born receives so much attention, but it may be a sign for the openness of Indonesian society.

Schütte (born 1937, social science, much experience in East Asia, especially Vietnam, lives now in Paris) was commissioned by the Goethe Institut of Jakarta to write this book. His special source were about 1000 letters of Magnis to his family (most to his mother), German writings of Magnis and interviews. In 29 chapters and 445 pages he gives a quite detailed image of Franz Magnis, from his turbulent youth: rich in Silezia, poor in relatively 1946 West Germany (the family still owned two houses a chapel and 130 hectares of land), education with Jesuits in Sankt Blasius and Pullach, Gymnasium and Philosophy), 29 January 1961 arrival in Jakarta. The 1960s were dedicated to study: Giri Sonta for Javanese, Kanisius College in Jakarta as a teacher, 1964-8 study of theology in Yogyakarta. In 1969 he was a first professor of in the Driyarkara School of Philosophy with eight Jesuits students (213)
It was quite a decision the beginning of Driyarkara. Back from Yogyakarta where the major seminary had begun in the 1930s, because that was the centre of javanese culture, far away from colonial politics. But in 1969 Jakarta was becoming political and cultural centre.
Chapter XII is on the 30 September events seen from Yogyakarta. In letters to Germany he gives some details about the feeling of liberation from Communism: erlösende Befreiung (134), with the Catholics students as the front soldiers against that evil Speerspitzei! P. 138-140 has a short image of the former Australian Baptist missionary Clive Williams, who became English teacher to Soeharto and lived close to his house in Jalana Cendaa later (much more on Clie Williams in the Shades of Grey by Jusuf Wanandi). This section also tells about the enormous increase in conversions in the later 1960s. But also support for prisoners, sometimes in a minimal way: just hear confession to people who later were taken to the execution (144)
Between 1971-4 took his PhD in Munich. In fact he began in October 1971 and finished the first draft of his thesis in May 1973. It was a continuation of his fascination for the young philosopher Karl Marx: the exploited classes, in order to let themselves be exploited, have to be sufficiently oppressed (246).
Returning to Jakarta he was happy to see two more philosophical centres: Harun Nasution at the Islamic University (still IAIN at the time) and Takdir Alisjahbana at UI (209).
In 1981 Magnis published a book in German, which was translated in 1984 in Javanese. It is about Javanese Ethics (or in German: Javanese Wisdom and Ethics). At that time I was teaching at the Islamic institutions in Jakarta and later Yogyakarta. I regretted that he acknowledged with Koentjaraningrat and Geertz that there are wo subcultures in Java: Islamic and 'Javanese' (in fact abangan. Heconcentrated not on the Islamic stream, but on the Javanese. That was the general Jesuit strategy: not Malay and Islamic, but pure Javanese as long as possible. In the 1993 of my book Duch Colonialism and Indonesian Islam (Amsterdam: Rodopi 1994: 147) I wrote about the Jesuits Jan Bakker, Franz Magnis and J.B. Banawiratma that "Again and again Javanism is cited as partner in dialogue, while Islam is not considered as a proper or even a possible candidate." This was then read by Nurcholis Madjid, who prepared his return to Indonesia and used in the polemic. I was at the time already teaching courses of Western approach to Islam and preparing what later became the four books on the common reading of the religious past by Muslims and Christians: the books on Adam and Jesus, the commentary on Juz 'Amma and the commentary on Surat Baqara.
In retrospect I have to correct my statements of 1993: Magnis took not the difficult path of formal Islamic doctrine, but the common interest in philosophical thinking and practical ethical discourse. That is not only an easier path, it is also more productive.
Mucvh more could be said from this rich book about this inspiring personality. In quite a few places Jusuf Wanandi, besides father Beek is described as too close to Soeharto. Page 274 writes that in 1981 fellow Jesuit Johannes Müller was expelled from Indonesia because of too open criticism of the Soeharto regime. Müller has, with Banawiratma, been teaching ion Yogyakarta. Magnis was not so direct (at that time, now he is open in opinions about MUI, Jokowi, but nevertheless received this great award in 2015). Fellow Jesuit Baskara Wardaya is also quoted on page 274: 'One of the great merits of Magnis is that he saved the Catholics from a too close identification with the Wanandi brothers, with Beek and CSIS'.

dinsdag 26 januari 2016

The four problems/mistakes of Jusuf Wanandi

Last weeks I have read some material about father Joseph/Joop Beek SJ. More an image grew that he was strong in setting things in working, but could not really finish it. He was the founder of Realino in Yogyakarta. He developed a Documentation Office for the Catholic bishops, but it was later grown into something absolutely different: policy debating club CSIS, a think tank for the conservative and authoritarian Soeharto government.
Jusuf Wanandi was one of the three Chinese Indonesian Catholics who worked in this field, together with his brother Sofjan (specialist in organizing and managing money, from the family and from sponsors) and Harry Than Silalahi, great in vision and strategy.
Jusuf Wanandi published in 2012 a fascinating book: Shades of Grey. A political memoir of modern Indonesia 1865-1998.  It is not triumphalist. It is not all black or white. At least on four aspects Wanandi regrets his struggle from the early 1960s, fighting against Communism, until in the eriod of Reformasi.
In the fight against Communism General Soeharto was a key figure. He worked often slower than wanted by the students. He made always small steps, was often hesitating, was careful to keep control of everything. But finally he had too much power. From Supersemar in March 1966 to its confrimation: Page 65: We know now, looking back, that we were wrong to support this move, and would never do it again. It gave too much power to one man. But it was a struggle at that time. We were inexperienced. It resulted in too much corruption, a father who could not constrain his children (Wanandi is rather forgiving and positieve about Ibu Tien).
11 November 1965 there was a meeting of some Catholics with Sukarno: Kasimo, Frans Seda, Harry Tjan. They called for an intervention with the killings. Sukarno answered: This is a political problem. I'll handle it. But Sarwo Edhie continued, mostly because his spiritual father, General Yani was killed. And Yani had come from the same town of Purworedjo. Is this not soo simple? Blaming Edhie only? What about strategy of the arnmy in general, already at the time?
Winning back Papua is a nationalist title. Soeharto was in the active army in 1962-3 and therefore deserved to conclude the process in a positive way. Wanandi came to Papua in May 1967 and was critical: West Papua had been completely neglected since it was returned in early 1963 ..  the whole region had been plundered by our Armed Forces. (99) I was wondering how this man already in 1967 knew that the army was not respecting the rights of citizens and still worked together with the army for so long.

Left is  Golkar politican Jusuf Kalla, right Jusuf Wanandi

The Act of Free Choice is here depicted as something that was inevitable.
A further weak sectin is about East Timor. Here agin the army took action, while Wanandi and CSIS members travelled around the world to gather documentation and support for Indonesia. And in fact they perhaps only worked as the polite, educated and reasonable side of Indonesia. In fact, the Americans had no interest at all in East Timor itself. They were only afraid of Communism.
It is a very Catholic book, although no priest or bishop is mentioned here. Father Beek is missing as well! No word about him. Also nothing about Mangunwijaya, Magnis Suseno, no bishop Belo and his Nobel Prize
Reading this book gives us a very selective history of the Soeharto period from a political Catholic group: they were anti-Communist because they were Catholic. But in a positieve way? No new formulation of Pancasila Doctrine (like Mangun wanted with more interest on social justice and true democracy, not only the focus on the One Divinity).
It is very negative about Proetstants: no organisation, no unity.
On pp 79-80 he gives a plea for a Truth and Reconciliation Process, resuming the terrible killings of 1965-6. Abdurrahman Wahid should have done it, because he had the spiritual rpestige like South African Nelson Mandela. But he had no political support. (79-80)
The book is a sometimes honest, sometimes deceiving picture of a long reign.

vrijdag 22 januari 2016

Khadija Arab, Speaker of Dutch Parliament

Khadija Arib was born in Morocco 1960. Until the age of 15 she lived in Casablanca when she joined her illiterate mother to the Netherlands where her father had found a job as a migrant worker. She had received a simple but decent education in Morocco, could speak, read and write Arabic and French and finished high school in the Netherlands. She studied social and political science at college and university. Worked for some time at a university, then at institutes for social wellfare and became a member of parliament for the Labout-Socialist Party in 1998.
Last week a new speaker for the House of Representatives (the most important 2d chamber of Dutch Parliament) was elected. It was a race between four candidates. There were four cadidates. The cadidate for the anti-Muslim party of Geert Wilders only received votes from his own party. This party strongly attacked Khadija Arib, because she holds a Dutch and a Moroccan citizenship. 'How can a Moroccan citizen become speaker of Dutch parliament?' Besides being a Muslim she was criticised by this party. But this had no effect, instead the Wilders-candidate could not attract votes from other parties. Also the candidate from the Christian Democrats was not strong enough.
In the last votes there were two candidates: Khadija Arib against the candidate from the Liberal Party. Wilders did not support both and with about 55-85 Arib was the strongest and was elected.
This election reminded me of the funny book by Michel Houellebecq, Soumission (Submission as the translation of Islam), where from four candidates in 2022 the final vote is between an anti-Islamic nationalist candidate and a liberal Muslim and the latter becomes president!

Arib has written several small books. One, Couscous op zondag (2009) is her personal and family story. A second, Allah heeft ons zo gemaakt. Liefde tussen vrouwen (Allah has made us this way. About love between women, 2011) is a defence for the acceptance of homosexuality. Arib is herself married a man, a medical doctor. But she had a grandmother who was an illiterate but practical and open minded woman. She discovered that a granddaughter had a lesbian relation and could accept it. In the book Arib has interviews with four lesbian women from Morocco (2), Egypt and Iraq. Only in a last note she claims that homosexuality is not forbidden by the Qur'an (the story of Luth is not about this practice), nor in hadith. But religion has not the proper answers here. 'Arab spring is not only about political change, it is also about individual freedom, control and authority over one's own life' (p. 71)


donderdag 21 januari 2016

Bob Santamaria and Joop Beek

In a book, written in German about  the Jesuit priest Franz [von] Magnis-Suseno, its author Heinz Schütte has included a chapter on Joop/Josephus Beek. He has the story of Beek as the founder of Realino in the 1950s. In 1959 he moved to Jakarta where he trained Catholic students to become political activists against Communism. They started in the Jesuit compound of Jalan Gunung Sahari 88 a documentation centre and Beek sent regular reports about the politcal-social situation to his Catholic network. Schütte also gives a summary of section of a book by Frank Mount, Wrestling with Asia (2012). Mount concentrates on the Movement of the Australian Bob Santamaria. In the 1930s his dream was that Australia would become a Christian country, but after 1950 he became very active in fighting Communism, first of all in Vietnam, but he had also connections to Indonesia, especially with Jesuit Joop Beek. I did not see the book by Frank Mount (there is according to the Worldcat no copy in Europe, just one in Cornell and further in Australia only!) but rely on summaries from reviews on the Internet and the book by Heinz Schütte, Dialog, Kritik, Mission. Franz Magnis-Suseno, ein indonesischer Jesuit aus Deutschland Berlin; Regiospectra, 2013; chapter 13 is on Pater Josephus Beek SJ, 151-176).
Frank Mount tells that Father Beek had a similar network to the one by Bob Santamaria. "Having got word of the coup, Beek toldSantamaria who in turn informed Australia's security organisations before the coup happened.' According to Frank Mount 'many, many thousands of dollars' were sent to Indonesia through Joop Beek (Schütte, p. 160).  The money came from Australia and the USA. Beek wrote regular secret information bulleting to his network, called 'social justice organisations' (p. 161).  The documentation centre, established by Beek in the early 1960s and staffed by people like Harry Tjan Silalahi and Jusuf Wanandi.

Picture above, left is rightwing, anti Communist journalist Frank Mount, right Bob Santamaria, South-Vietnamese Tran Van Lan in the centre.
In another book, the political autobiography of Jusuf Wanandi, Shades of Grey. A Political Memoir of Modern Indonesia 1965-1998, Jakarta/Singapore, Equinox, 2012, nothing is said about Joop Beek, although 'an older Jesuit stated that Beek had made Wanandi' (Schütte 162). Schütte quotes Mount in a Wanandi statement from 1970: What we and Beek's Bureau are working for is that in ten to fifteen years we, the civilians, through the Functional Groups, will be able to take over from the Army. In the meantime, we have to support the Army and work for change and restrain the present political parties.
In Aad van den Heuvel's (a Dutch journalist, TV programmes and books on Beek) words: Beek was the player who manipulated the Wayang puppets.  From a distance in time it may also have been the opposite. It was the smiling general Soeharto who made use of the Catholic and Muslims students with Harry Tjan, Jusuf Wanandi and Cosmas Batubara on the Catholic side, Subchan with the Muslims of NU. In retrospect Jusuf Wanandi in his energetic and short style acknowledges: We now know, looking back, that we were wrong to support this move [MPRS decision of June 1966] and would never do it again. It gave too muchpower to one man. But it was a struggle at that time. We were inexperienced (Wanandi, p. 65). Beek and his students may have been thinking that they could manage the process, but looking back they had to be satisfied with the spectators' role. Anyhow, they could make also good profit from this position.
Schütte writes that Harry Tjan still considers Beek as his great teacher, although Magnis estemates that Beek  was wrong in his analysis of the situation: Communists are not per se the great enemy, not are Muslims so (as Beek analysed after 1967; see Schütte, 169).

zondag 10 januari 2016

Ahmad Wahib and Harry Stolk on Asrama Realino

The last weeks of 2015 I was writing an article about Jesuits in Indonesia. It must be part of a book onthe bibliography of Jesuits worldwide, one volume on Asia. One aspect is of course the rise and decline of the Realino student house in Yogyakarta. Its most glorious period was in the period 1959 until later 1960s.
Realino was built as a mixed Muslim-Christian student house (boys/men only, I suppose). One of the most famous students to live here was Ahmad Wahib (1942-1973). In September 1961 he arrived as a student of science at the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta. He stayed until 31 October 1964 in the Jesuit-run boarding house of Realino and remained in contact with at least four Jesuits since then until his premature death in a traffic incident in Jakarta. In Yogyakarta he was a prominent member of the Muslim Students' Association (HMI, Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam) and between 1967-1971 of the modernizing 'think tank' called 'Limited Group' under leadership of professor Haji Abdul Mukti Ali who later became Minister of Religion of Indonesia. This was the circle with Nurcholis Madjid, Dawam Rahardjo, Djohan Effendi and others who read books like The Secular City by Harvey Cox and wanted their own style of a positive secularisation, a modern interpretation of the old Islamic values. Ahmad Wahib wrote a diary in this period: Pergolakan Pemikiran Islam. Catatan Harian Ahmad Wahib, published in 1981, Jakarta: LP3ES). These excerpts from the period 1969-1973 were published after his death and became very popular in the 1980s among intellectuals who promoted a liberal style of Islam. Some examples: on 8 September 1969 he visits an exposition of Catholic liturgical renewal where he is overwhelmed by the beauty and expression of the slide show. He meets his former mentor Harry Stolk SJ (1928-2005) and is surprised that this is possible: a meeting of a father and a son, a Christian and a Muslim (p. 40).  On 27 October 1971 (p. 139-140) the Mother Mary appears in his dream and he writes: 'although I am not a Christian, it gave me peace.'
 In the book by A. Budi Susanto, Harta dan Surga: Peziarahan Jesuit dalam Gereja dan Bangsa Indonesia modern, Yogyakarta: Kanisius, 1990, I found also a short contribution by Harry Stolk (257-260) with more quotes from Ahmad Wahib. There was a poem , written the evening he left Realino on 31 October 1964, after he stayed here for three years:

Realino
Rain is pouring down,
I can see the light of the lamp between the pine trees:
Realino, when will I be able again
to ejny the beauty of your nature?

Realino, in the wind that is blowing now so mild
the tops of your pine trees are swinging up and down
and between the leaves of your pine trees
I can notice the greeting of the lamps of the Ambarukmo Hotel.

The rice fields on your sideway look vast
how many days can I still enjoy these?
The noise of children who chase away the birds that eat from the rice,
how often shall I still be able to enjoy this?

Good bye Realino, good bye.
When will I again be able to enjoy the beauty of your nature?

In the 1970s part of the boarding house Realino was used by activities for political prisoners and their families under support of Father De Blot de Sauvigny SJ. Another section was used for the extension of the minor seminary. In the 1980s it became more and more a typical boarding house for Catholic students alone. Since 1992 it is the seat of the Realino Foundation for Justice and Peace, concentrating on studies of local problems. This is taken from a long report on Realino by Harry Stolk, in Indonesian (on the website http://forsino.wordpress.com). It was stated here that already at the beginning, in 1959, a conflict had risen between founder Joop Beek and other Jesuits: land the was baught for the Sanata Dharma University was claimed by Beek for realino. This was at that time the reason that Beek was removed to Jakarta te work with youth of the Mary Sodality. Apparently in the 1970s slowly less and less Muslim were living in realino until it became a full Catholic boarding house, which ws changed into a research/study centre. In the period 1985-1987 my two sons had tennis lessons on its tennis court (quite a luxury in Yogyakarta at that time). But they did not like the teacher, did not obey him and it was not a success.

maandag 28 december 2015

From 2015 to 2016

This letter is written as a sign of our interest in you and a wish to continue contact also for the coming year 2016. We are happy with visits of old and new friends, especially from Indonesia in our big house in Utrecht and postpone the plans to move to a smaller location. At this moment Paule and I, Karel, have reached the age of 73 years. We thank God that we enjoy good health. We are no longer able to make long walks of 16 or even 20 km in a day. 10 km is nice as well. Paule needed last weeks the help of the physiotherapist to diminish the pain in her hips, But it is already diminishing and we use the bicycle, make regular walks and hope so to stay in good shape.
We follow the life of our children and grandchildren probably more intense than before the birth of the 3d generation. Therefore we include below first the family of Floris and Inge (in Amsterdam, with Diemer, 3 years and Mette, just one year old).
Below follows the family of Stijn and Irene in The Hague with Sophie (6 years) and Maud, 4 years.

For Karel this year 2015 was the Year of the Three Books. At KITLV/Brill. Leiden, the third volume of his account of the history of the Catholics of Indonesia was published: Catholics in Independent Indonesia, 1945-2010. After a Muslim period of 1970-1995, the three volumes were written in the more Catholic period. The last volume is very expensive (€ 192), but is already regularly quoted. The second book was about Fethullah Gülen (as aeditor and author of some 100 pages, together with Gürkan Çelik and Johan Leman). Finally there was the Indonesian translation of his book on the Jesus Verses of the Qur´ān. The books are described in more detail elsewhere in this blog (as also his three academic trips in September to Mana­do, than to Birmingham, in December to Singapore).
Together Paule and I made weekly walks of some 10 km and also trips to Tuscany in June and to Luxembourg in September, see http://Karelsteenbrink.blogspot.com.
We had guests, read books, saw movies and theatre plays. Much of it has been mentioned on the weblog, some kind of a public diary. Karel continued singing in the choir of St. Johns’ Church in Utrecht. We also frequented some other churches, especially Dominicus and New Love (De Nieuwe Liefde) in Amsterdam. We were even more serious and constant church goers than in former years. Our newspaper mentioned the issue of a new movie: Would the world be better without Islam? Without religion? We do not think so. Of course, there is much inspiring art, literature that is close to religious expressions. And we love that too. There are bad things in religion, but we like to look at the sunny side of it.
We lost friends: Koos Waardenburg, our neighbour Wim Aantjes, Wasim Bilal and Simuh, old and inspiring friends and colleagues from Indonesië.
We wish everybody, the whole world, not just humans but also our infrastructure, nature and the living being in water and on land a good 2016.

donderdag 10 december 2015

Indonesian Development and Christian Churches

It was a very short trip: 2-4 December, barely two and a half day in Singapore, for a conference at the Asia Research Institute, ARI, of NUS, National University of Singapore. The theme was: The Mission of Development. Religion and Techno-politics in Asia.
In another blog I have already written about my own presentation: the colonial responsibility of churches for education and part of health care  in contrast to the quite incidental project in the more recent period after 1960. I have also already given a short summari of the presentation by Noemi Rui on projects supported by the Dutch Protestant Churches in Batakland and Minahasa.
Erica Larson is writing a Ph.D (Boston University; her husband is working also on a PhD but in China) on the Lokon High School funded by Ronald Korompis. I wrote about this school also in my 3d volume of the Catholic history. 15% of the pupils receive money from Freetown. They are the best paid: they have IPhone 6, while the other students have less money. It is a humanist institution: religiously neutral (although there are statues of Mary, a Catholic Chapel where also general meetings are held). There is halal food available, during Ramadan the students can have early breakfast. It is much less religious than the otherwise comparable Haggai Institute, where everybody must become an ambassador for Christ. Lokon wants to educate in values like sincerity, fighting corruption.
I asked her about the financial status of the school: can it be a failure if the money of Korompis ends (his death, bankruptcy?). About an agricultural college in Malaysia there was an interesting presentation by John Roxborough. It was a ChristianHindu/Muslim initiative and performed excellent during 12 years. Much money from the Church of Sweden. Then it stopped and no reason for its discontinuation (only a usual state college since then) no reason could be found. How do they deal with religious pluralism if a stronger Muslim rule will come?
In the middle during our festive dinner on 3d December is Erica Larson. Right is Philip Fountain who talked together with Laura Yoder about a Mennonite agricultural project in the Putus Sibau region, Dayak of West/Central Kalimantan. This was truly a project: every four years there is a new director for the Mennonite programs and something absolutely different will be started. This was a cooperation between highly educated international Mennonites with the Javanese Muria church (GKMI). Among the two American families one was purely on agriculture, the other one on mission, spirituality, while the churches also had more attention for evangelizing than for agriculture.
Philipi Fountain with Laura Yoder in their presentation.
Jacob Nerenberg is from Toronto. Also a PhD candidate. Many Christians in the Balim Valley have developed some kind of new cargo cult: Zionistsentiments, 'God bless' and even the Dutch flag in an imagined return to a glorious past. But this GIPI, Gereja Injili Protestan di Indonesia can be very intolerant: they burnt a mosque and prohibit also other Christian denominations. Pemekaran (regional autonomy) in line with smaller units of administration can work in a very negative way.

For me personally the most interesting presentation was by Fransiska Widyawati. She wrote a long paper together with Maribeth Erb who could not be here. They have a very substantial and long introduction about the idea of development, in general and as to Indonesia, government as well as churches. Sustainable development and attention for the environment came only late, but since 2009 it is quite strong, especially in the diocese of Ruteng where the bishop, his staff and active Catholics have begun campaigns against any kind of mining. It is a cause for corruption, only gives profit to foreign companies and destroys nature. Although it is stated that Lembata has the richest reserve of gold and copper, the Catholic Church is now strong against mining.
It gave a reaction with a summary of the movel Lembata by F:x. Rahardja: Jesuits saved Christianity, the SVD brought education and the PR or diocesan clergy will bring prosperity. If Flores and related islands are so poor, how do they want to bring a better life? Anyway: for the moment it is NO MINING.

There was much more at the conference. I can only give here a short impression. Thank you, staff of ARI and participants for these two rich days.