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.

zondag 15 mei 2016

Oom Ben versus Don Thomas

While preparing a contribution for the bi-annual Frans Seda Lecture (coming 9 June in Tilburg University), I read a book about Don Thomas, edited by Oscar Pareira Mandalangi (with a preface by Frans Seda): Don Thomas Peletak Dasar Sikka Membangun (Sikka, Yayasan Pendidikan Thomas, YAPENTHOM, 2003). Don Josephus Thomas Ximenes da Silva (1895-1954) was the last feudal ruler of Sikka, until 1951. There is a large number of contributions, but they all agree in one vision: he was a powerful ruler, who could deal with the Dutch government, but he was also very autocratic. In all positions he put his own family, and the word nepotism is mentioned by several authors. He definitely was not democratic and put aside the wishes of KANILIMA, the regions of Kangae, Nita, Lio, Maumere. The Catholic mission did not open a secondary school besides the minor seminary of Todabelu and his YAPENTHOM was a secondary school, opened in 1947.
I found a nice picture of this 'strong man', complete with the magical attribute of Flores culture, an elepghant tusk.
The last chapter in the book is about Drs. Ben Mang Reng Say, born in 1928 in Umauta, a village in the Sikka region. He married in 1955 a daughter of Don Thomas. He spent most of his life outside Flores: Schakelschool in Ende, entered the police in 1943 in Maumere, in 1946 in Bajawa and from 1948-50 in Makassar, where he also followed secondary education (MULO).  In 1951 he was accepted at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta where he graduated in social and political sciences in 1956. He was the first of Flores to take this degree in Indonesia. Already in 1954 he became a staff member in the ministry of internal affairs. In 1960-1 he was during one year at Georga Washington University in Washington DC.
 Oom Ben was active in the Catholic Party and became its third (and last) president, after Ignacius Kasimo and Frans Seda in 1964 (until the party was dissolved in 1973 at the 'simplification' of the political system with a reduction to three parties only.  - After this period Oom Ben managed  to survive, but could not held a key position in PDI, the 'Democratic/Nationalist'Party. He became ambassador for Indonesia in Mexico, in 1977. He was member of DPA, in 1973: a high advisory council, where he was even Vice-President in the period 1988-1993.
In my book on Catholics in Indonesia, I did not mention him among prominent people of Flores. I do still not yet have a good idea about him. Still missing for me is also more information about V.B. da Costa, who also made a career in the Catholics Party. There was at some time even a slogan of Ganyang Tiga-S or 'destroy the power of Seda-Sentis-Say' where Sentis stand in some way for V.B. da Costa.

woensdag 11 mei 2016

Baron Sakender, Coen: reports from Peter Carey

After reading the  book from Rijksmuseum, also with reports of the images of Diponegoro, I decided that it was time to start reading the thick book (1000 pages) by Peter Carey on (as he writes it now) Dipanagara. It is a wonderful book with many perspectives: the administrative, political and economic history of the region from late VOC to British rule, beginning of the Culture System under Dutch rule. But intimate stories about the Princ and his family. It is about the love for his country, culture and religion (Islam in the 'mystical synthesis' with Javanese cultural lore) and the threat of Dutch agression. The personal experienses opf the Prince, his sense of a calling. It is all lively described with many quotes from beautiful sources. I bought the book in 2007, but only have opened it now and read most of it. It is full with nice pictures, old photographs, drawings, also from javanese manuscripts. When compared to its sequel (Vincent Houben on Java, 1830-1870) the difference is clear between the PhD of the young Houben and this ripe book, covering the period 1780s until 1830.
There is very much that can be written about the book. One of the many inetresting things I read here was a more comprehensive overview of the content and meaning of the Baron Sakendher story. In the 1930s and considered it basically as something Javanese about the story of Isandar/Alexander the Great, now including the Dutch arriving in Java. Ricklefs has given in 1974 (Jogjakarta under Sultan Mangkubumi, 1749-1792) pp. 377-407 a synopsis with many suggestions for its interpretation. In this book, Peter Carey has taken just one aspect more clearly (pp. 167): the difference between Sunda/West Java and the Central Javanese districts. Batavia is located on the edge of the mysterious world of the spirits, located in the kingdom of Pajajaran. Coen according to the Serat Sakondhar is born from a princess of Pajajaran and so the Dutch are the continuation of the rulers of Pajajaran. Ratu Kidul in this tradition is another princess of Pajajaran, but from her the Mataram rulers took their origin. It is just one of the nice interpretations in this book. Thank you, Peter, for giving us this book!

zaterdag 30 april 2016

Gülen people united for harmony through art in The Hague. Young Lady Wulan singing Adele

In 2013 the Gülen sympathizers organized a first big national event under the name of SANAT, Stichting Aanmoediging Nederlands Art Talent, Foundation for Promoting Dutch Art Talent. It is more or less concentrated around local networks of Gülen people, probably close to the Cosmicus Schools. It can be seen as a preparation for the annual 'Olympic Musical Performance' which brings together Gülen friends for a musical festival, promoting peace, religious understanding and harmony in Istanbul. Some of it is shown in the movie Selam (2013, see the book Gülen-Inspired Hizmet in Europe, page 42).
This year there will be two sessions in the Netherlands: the smaller one for about 400 people was in the new audience hall of the Peace Palace in the Hague 21 April. Another event will be in the great theatre Doelen of Rotterda, mid May.

The main building was paid by American philanthropist Carnegie and opened in 1913. A few years ago a smaller extension in modern style was added. The event opened with music by a youth orchestra from Utrecht. Some 20 small singers and dancers followed, most with modern songs, love songs, romantic ideas. Very special was a Syrian boy who had left Aleppo some 18 months ago and thanked the Dutch society for receiving his family. He spoke fairly fluent asnd beautiful Dutch.
Quite many people from the Gülen family were known to me, like politician Alaatin Erdal, Dialogue centre leader Alper Alasag, leader of the Dutch edition of Zaman, Mehmet Cerit. HOGIAF Business leader Adem Kuncu had come from Brussels.
A few members of the national parliament give a talk (two from the socialist party, one from the Christian Democrats). Vecih Er, president of the SANAT organisation spoke a word of welcome. He praised the sponsors and emphasized that this was meant as an intercultural Dutch event, promoting harmony. This is true, although I saw it also as the yearly warm meeting of the Gülen family. Some outsiders also were seated in prominent places. One of these was Muhammad Sini, a big name in Dutch-Moroccan organizations. He was twelve years the director of a great vocational school in Utrecht. Now he is working with the ministry of Justice for the national police. He was some 15 years ago also involved in the planning of the academic training of imams. At that moment I was defending an initiative of cooperation between Utrecht University and the Islamic University of Rotterdam. It had no chance due to political decisions, to give the money for this academic training and education to Leiden University and to the Free University of Amsterdam. In fact, both initiatives are now closed and the Islamic University of Rotterdam is still flourishing with quite many students. Also in Utrecht academic study of Islam continues, but the cooperation that was not wanted by Sini (and the minister of education) never developed further.
Above we see Vecih Er speaking. Sitting is stil the major speaker of the evening, second from left, former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Ben Bot, also now the chair of the foundation of the Peace Palace. He sketched that negotiations are always better than fighting and the peace palace is made for negotiations, for problems that must be solved through talking between parties.
There was a song on a text by Yunus Emre. Four boys and three girls gave a very lively dance performance. There was also one Indonesian singer, Wulan, a small girl of 12 years, still finishing now her primary school. She sang a lyric by Adele about love:Rolling in the deep ... There's a fire starting in my heart ... you had my heart inside of your hands.. Notwithstanding her youth she was one of the best singers and probably therefore played neary last (only a Turkish comic, singing in Dutch, coming after her).

 In a fast rhythm one group after another gave a performance. The whole session was introduced and accompanied by a very well speaker and there was indeed a great variety of Dutch muticultural society shown on the podium. In the hall itself only some 10-15% were not Turkish. The name of Fethullah Gülen was never mentioned and only insiders would know that this is also (besides the school, the dialogue centre, the business community, the publications) part of this dynamic movement.
I heard that the major sponsor of this evening, a Supermarket and restaurant owner in Rotterdam, now faces much difficulties because Erdogan supporters in the Netherlands no longer want to buy in his shops because he is known more or less as  'siding with Gülen'.  Also the Dutch edition of Zaman has since a few months less income through advertising because Turkish business people hesitate to be connected to him.
Thank you, Vecih Er fgor organising this already during four years!

zaterdag 23 april 2016

The magic flight of Heri Dono

Volker Kuester was a colleague in Utrecht, 20 years ago. Since then he has moved to Kampen and since some six myears to Mainz, where he teaches intercultural theology. He has always had much interest for religious art and is preparing a new book on Christian art of Indonesia. The terminology of' 'Christian' is sometimes rather confused, because the artist often like to take traditional motives and just call it 'inculturated in Christianity'. We correspond about some aspects of art. Last questions were twofold: some about names for churches, which are quite secular in Indonesia: Gereja Manahan or Manahan Church is just called after a district of Solo which is best known for its football-stadium.
He sent me also a painting by Heri Dono.
This is a magic/mysterious painting. I found a discussion of it on a blog in Indonesian by Yustina Probowati dated May 30, 2013. I give a free translation and some comments.
The title Kakang Kawah Adik Ari-ari  means: the older brother (kakang, not kagang as Volker wrote!) is the water breaking at the end of pregnancy and preceding delivery of a child (amniotic fluid; literally kawah means crater, here the volcanic eruption is identified as the delivery); the younger brother/sister (adik) is the placenta or afterbirth (ari-ari). It seems to be a Javanese proverb, indicating two mighty protecting spirits: the amniotic water and the afterbirth. I think that the man fleeing here is the afterbirth, flying over the amniotic water, accompanied by many similar protecting spirits. They are called the Army of the Lord, protecting and also giving active help to the embryo while still in the process of growing before birth. The two powers are very important in this period of development and will remain it afterwards. All Javanese Ancestors believed that their 'spirits' always followed human beings after birth and they remain loyal friend for the persons. They become the 'army' which accompanies man in his/her life.
The meaning of this painting is that God is always with us in our life and nobody is a lonely being. This tells us something about the goodness of God. Do you agree? What do you think about this?  There were no further comments by Yustina Probowati. I found here a rather easy transition from the world with many spirits to monotheism. In fluid harmony without critical, sophisticated but also proud, even swollen orthodoxy. This is lovely and festive like the birth of a baby always should be.