donderdag 30 juni 2016

Frans Seda Lectures. Democracy as as way to designs one's own life and spirituality. Ayu Utami in Tilburg.

9 June 2016 the Frans Seda lectures were held (or should I say: celebrated?) in Tilburg, where he studies economy between 1950-1956. The series was initiated in the early 2010s. As a student of economy in Tilburg Frans Seda was really integrated in Dutch life. In his parish ha was a president of St. Mary Sodality, of the Saint Vincentius Society for the poor, but also of a students'  dispuut. The dispuut is a group where every year some 10-30 students become member. Also after graduation the alumni remain member of a dispuut. Besides informal meetings, lectures and festives meals, a dispuut also has social activities. In this case the Frans Seda Foundation was started from this group of alumni. I heard that one member of the dispuut had owned a vineyard in France, sold it and donated a quite substantial amount of money to the foundation.
The Frans Seda Foundation brings yearly some twenty young scholars (mature students, doctorandi) together. In 2014 I gave a talk at their meeting in Sint Michielsgestel under the label of "The Ten Utopias of Frans Seda" (it is found under ma postings at This year the theme was "the rise of democracy".
I gave a talk about the period 1900-1940, when education in Flores was spread by the Catholic missionaries, their pupils in the first five schools of Larantuka, Lela, Sikka and Maumere. I saw the life of Frans Seda, but also of many teachers as a way to realize a new design of life, travelling to otyher places, findings new jobs like pearl fisher, teacher, police officer, government official, member of the army, often outside Flores. Many of these teachers had to create respect for literacy, call pupils to schools, but they often found other jobs, opportunities to develop their personality.
Gerry van Klinken sketched the difficult development of democracy in Flores in the 1950s and 1960s. Jan Djong was for him a true star in the fight for more democracy against the rather authoritarian rule of Dom Thomas of Sikka. We know how much opposition he had to withstand and finally, in 1966 he was killed not because he was a terrorist or a communist, but because of the local politics that took opportunity of the army that sought victims. It caused in total the killing of at least 800 and perhaps even 2000 citizens in the region East of Maumere.
 Ayu Utami took much interest. Quite many Indonesians living in the Netherlands, had come for her. She continued her crusade aginst the (too) great influence and rigidity of the global, international religions in Indonesia and held a strong plea for more individual and personal pity, spirituality.
In her own words:
As for my own presentation, the title taken from my novel the 3M “Modern-ism/ity, Militarism, Monotheism”could be catchy enough. However, since Indonesia is leaving behind the militarism era, I would go a  bit further and talk about the “post Order” (both Old and New Order) challenges, and will focus on a set of topics I have been concentrating these last two years, which is another triad called 3R “Rasa, Reason, Religion.”

donderdag 2 juni 2016

Salafi and Da´wah activists to be converted at Radboud University, Nijmegen

This is the third report of a seminar at Nijmegen, Radboud University, 30 May 2016.
After a good lunch and some further individual conversations (important: we come together not just to listen to papers!), there was a third session.

Martijn de Koning is a researcher in Nijmegen in the field of Salafi activists. Now he likes to call these activists as protagonist of Da'wah. They prepare actions in a detailed way and after action they observe and stimulate the media covering of what they did. In fact terrorism had as goal to make people anxious and nervous and this is mostly not through the terrorist attack per se, but by the media covering.
After actions in Azerbayjan, Pakistan/Afghanistan, Chechnya (where activist could not really be involved in fighting), ISIS in Iraq and Syria could give activists from Europe a chance to do something in the battle field itself.
De Koning makes a distinction between three narratives: the apocalyptic, martyrdom and jihad as legitimate violence. De Koning had some forty contacts but his sources have dimished quickly in the last year. Some ten are in jail, some 15 killed in action in Syria, and most of the rest have left the ideals and became inactive.
 Martijn de Koning himself loooks more or less like a happy jihadi.
There was also a presentation of the team of the Ministry of Social Agffairs of the Netherlands, where people give trainings in methods to identify possible extremists or radicalized people. They published an Action programme for integral approach towards jihadism. It is a booklet of 36 pages, which is also available on the internet: The team cosists of 12 people who give courses and training to teachers, social workers.
Identifying possible radical citizens is difficult, more difficult is even to keep contact and try to prevent their trip to the battlefield. They also have a website:
One point of discussion was the 'poor knowledge of Islam' among people wanting to do something for Muslims. Not the objective knowledge, but the self-understanding is important.

It became clear this day, that encounters with radical Muslims arwe the most difficult field to do and to formulate as a strategy. Nevertheless the Dutch and Indonesian experts who came together this day plan a research proposal for the European Research Council in this field and hope that it may support their cooperation in the years 2017-2020.
One more impression. Left is Martijn de koning. Middle is Fitria Sari Yunianti, (Ph.D. candidate from the Ahmad Dahlan University of Yogyakarta) and right Jamilah Sailam from the Malang UIN, also a PhD student who had here their first international conference.

dinsdag 31 mei 2016

A Radical Dialogical Self in Nijmegen: Indonesian Stories by Suratno and Sahiron (2)

The second session was the place of two Indonesian Muslim to talk about developments in their country over the last 40 years.
Dr. Suratno (recently graduated in Frankfurt) of the liberal Paramadina University of Jakarta analyzed four concrete cases of Muslim hardliners, violent terrorists, who 'converted' in prison. They were the two Bali bombers (2002)  Nasir Abas and Ali Imron, the leader of Laskar Jihad Ja'fat Umar Thalib and Eddy Prayitno alias Matahari Timur, the leader of Negara Islam Indonesia. In prison (at least for 1, 2 + 4) they realised taubah or conversion. Sincere? Their partly autobiographical stories give insight in ther minds and therefore should be taken serious.
Left is Prof. Gerrit Singgih of the Protestant UKDW University of Yogyakarta. Right Dr. Suratno of Paramadina
After Suratno, Prof. Sahiron Syamsuddin (by profession a specialist on Qur'an interpretation but the most prominent Muslim in this programme) gave an overview of definitions of radicalism in Islamic discourse and its remedies. As to definitions: they run from (too) literal interpretation of classical basic texts, efforts to erect an undemocratic Islamic State, when necessary with violence. A numbers if groups and personalities are mentioned. Fotr deradicalisation the secret service of Indonesia has progammes of hard power (prisons, death penalty) or soft power (cooperation with Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah and BNPT: Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Terrorisme). Also some transnational movement (participation of Indonesian in programmes like the World Parliament of Religions, an Indonesian chapter for WCRP, World Conference of Religions and Peace.
I know that the Jakarta Islamic University has a G├╝len corner, but this movement is better known in the country for educational quality than for peace and dialogue initiatives. There was no mention of the 2005 Fatwas issudes by the national MUI, Majelis Ulama Indonesia rejecting 'pluralism' and inter-religious marriage.
Prof. Sahiron Syamsuddin is a great promoter of creative interpretations of the Qur'an, influential in the Nahdlatul Ulama.

A Radical Dialogical Self in Nijmegen (1)

Yesterday, 30 May 2016, I attended in Nijmegen, 15th floor of the Erasmus Building, a meeting of Indonesians (mostly Yogyakarta, Islamic University UIN and Protestant theologians of the UKDW) on their research cooperation of (Muslim) Radicalization. It is a plan for a project in the two countries that is already done during the last four years. The last issues of the journal Exchange (Utrecht University, Brill) has papers of a conference in Yogyakarta of 2015.
In Nijmegen the theoretical framework was not formulated by scholars of religion or by security experts, but by psychologist Hubert Hermans (born 1937). The human self is not only defined by the  self, but also by its environment. A person lives in confrontation (or rather dialogue) with the surrounding people and situation. We are always responding to others. The dialogical self has a multiplicity of positions.
Much more must be said about the theory (which was developed for curing sick people: in therapy). But Herman only had some 40 minutes and also had to give a definition of the Radicalized Self.
Some characteristics of a radical self are: 1) religion is given here a core position, central and dominant towards other positions; 2) they make sharp distinctions between us and we. If there is a combination of political and religious positions this may result in the construction of an 'enemy' that is 'my enemy' and so becomes part of the identity of the radical self.

The Jewish Robinson Crusoe. While listening to this row of quite abstract theories, I was eminded the joke about a Jew who came in an isolated island. He built a synogague to hold weekly services. After that he built a second synagogue. When other travellers finally found him after many years they asked him: why did you build two synoguges for one person? His answer: if I am preaching in my own synagogue I must talk about the wrong synagogue of the others!
 The most interesting question is, of course, how a radicalized self can be cured. How to change (radical) people? There was a link to a website of the Dialogical Self Academy, but also the old professor of psychology had no easy and ready-to-use method for curing radical minds. But it was only the beginning of a full day. Later we were also thinking of 'debunking' those who in the 1960s and 1970s had become members of new sects, called 'brainwashing' at the time. In fact it proved to be very difficult to realize.

zondag 29 mei 2016

Theocratic dreams, strong and light versions: Frans Cornelissen and Frans Seda

I am still working on the Frans Seda Memorial Lecture in Tilburg, 9 June.
In 1860 Jesuit priest Gregorius Metz wrote to his superior in Batavia about the 'royal family' of Larantuka: If we succeed n truly winning the Raja for God's affairs, then it will not be difficult, with God's grace, to establish here a new Paragyuay (Catholics in Indonesia, vol I: 98).
Now I read the book by Frans Cornelissen SVD, president of the minor seminary of Todabelu. He wrote a diary, later reworked and published as a book (Missie-arbeid onder japanse bezetting). He dreams about  Een katholiek volk, geleid door zijn eigen katholieke priesters (A Catholic nation, lead by their ownnative priests). At this moment the traditional rulers no longer had a prominent position.
This is a picture, found on the internet, with the first Flores candidates to become sister in the 1930s
A traditional village in Flores
Back to Frans Seda after this intermezzo of  traditional Flores, to Frans Seda in Java, 1963. As president of the Catholic Party he heldin 1963 a talk for the PMKRI, Catholic Students Union of Indonesia. It had a romantic and strong title: Menjadi nasionalis adalah suatu panggilan. 'To become a nationalist is a vocation'.  The word 'vocation' has here a nearly religious connotation. Seda calls for a proud and confident Catholic identity. Catholics should not be afraid to pronounce their religious identity, that pleads not for a group but for the bonum commune, the public prosperity. We should have no communistophoby but also no katolikophoby. There is a separation of religion and politics and therefore the Pancasila, Manipol, the leadership in the revolution must be accepted as political principles. (From: Frans Seda, Simfoni tanpa henti. Ekonomi Politik Masyarakat Baru Indonesia, Jakarta Grasindo 1992, 104-9, from a collection of earlier artyicles by Seda).
There is in this lecture no talk about what students should study: science, economy, medicine? It is a highly political talk to these student, by a political leader. And with no reservation as to the absolute leadership of Soekarno. We are here already far from the jubilant dreams by Metz and cornelissen about the new Paraguay, Flores and the rule of priests!
In the introduction Daniel Dakhidae has a nice quote from the description of Flores by Seda: 'For people of Flores only two professions are important: priests and teachers.' (Ib xxx). That is still the old society of Flores. But what did Seda do? He came to Muntilan to be educated as a teacher, but like so many other migrants from Flores to java, he took another profession: politics and business!

woensdag 18 mei 2016

Frans Seda on Church and Politics

Frans Seda was a very able writer: succinct, with a good number of facts and clear opinions. I read sections o the book edited by J. Philip Gobang and others, Kekuasaan dan Moral. Politik Ekonomi Masyarakat Indonesia Baru, (Jakarta, Grasindo, 1996). It is a selection of some 116, mostly quite short columns and articles. 66-78is a somewhat longer article on (Catholic) religion and politics. 8 December 1945 in Solo was the day of the revival of PKRI, the Catholic Party of Indonesia and it was clear against the return of colialism and in favour of the Indonesian Republic of Sukarno.
During the elections of 1955 the Catholics were a proud number two after the four great parties: PNU, Masyumi, Nu and PKI: how one can be proud to be great!
P. 72 describes a humorous and mild but strong Kasimo rejecring cooperation with the Communists: Ha,ha,ha tidak setuju is he quoted to have said with a smile to Sukarno!
In the late 1960s the Catholic organizations united under the label of Front Katolik Tanpa Lobang.
pp 74-5 is a very open description of the difference between Djajasepoetra of jakarta and Soegijopranoto of Semarang, especially in the 1960s. The Front Katolik Tanpa Lobang seems to have been an initiative of Djajasepoetra in Jakarta that became most active after G-30-S and attended meetings where Harry Tjan Silalahi was an important member.
As if Seda finds an excuse, he mentions that 'the chairman of the Catholic Party [= Seda!] had not become a member of the cabinet in 1964 only became a minister after pressure from General Yani.
Twice Djajasepoetra who was archbishop of Jakarta 1953-1970.

Pp 76-7 has a nice reflection on three figures around Jesus: High Priest Anas, King Herod and Pontius Pilate. All three were hypocrite men, looking for power rather than the truth. Perhaps Pilate was the most honest or reasonable of the three, but in the end he also gave in when Anas threatened that he would be considered as no longer a friend of the emperor, if he would not sentence Jesus to death. A surprise amidst the political story.
Page 76 has an anecdote about Dawam Rahardjo who asked him why the Catholics could work so well together with the Muslims?  "There was never a cabinet, led by Masyumi, where Catholics were not present. At the formation, Masyumi would first give a telephone call to the Catholics.There were also good relation with the NU in the period of Guided Democracy (in the front Pancasila)". Seda writesn that the catholics considered the Muslim parties as based on morality (beginselpartij) not opportunism, but based on principles. And there were good personal relations between the leaders.

Sentis, alias V.B. da Costa

A few days ago I mentioned the three major Catholic Indonesian politicians from Flores: Frans Seda, Ben Mang Reng Say, and Vinsentius Bata da Costa, also called Moat (=Venerable in Sikkanese) Sentis. I could find little about him in libraries or on the Internet. I wrote John Prior in Maumere who gave me some information.
Sentis was born in Paga, Lio region, probably in the middle or late 1930s. In the early 1950s he was a high school student in Makassar where he supported in 1953 a demonstration against the quite authoritarian Raja Thomas of Sikka (supporting the KangaE of central Maumere, the Gerakan Kanilima who were so brutally killed in the aftermath of G30S). He studied law in Yogyakarta, graduated in 1964, but was also member of the Constituante, 1956-9 and during quite a few periods a member of the Parliament: 1964082, 1992-7 and again 1999-2004. In fact he was one of the founder of PDI and seen as its founding generation, supporting Orde Baru in many respects.
Sentis was had a sharp mind of a good lawyer and through his firm Veritas often supported the bishops. He died earlier this year, January 2016.
Perhaps the best 'politican' was still another one, the number four: Chris Siner Key Timu (1939-2015), who was member of the Petisi 50 group, even its secretary. I wrote some lines on him in Catholics in Independent Indonesia, 289-90 and 489.