There are quite a few activities in the field of inter-religious relations in Jogjakarta. I was also invited to CRCS, the Center for Religious and Crosscultural Studies, part of the Graduate School of the secular Gadjah Mada University. It was started in 1997 at the initiative of Alwi Shihab (a graduate of Temple University, then minister of foreign affairs, or soon after that!). There was strong support from people of Temple University. Now they have some 20 students for a Masters Degree, from various religions, most of them Indonesian, but a small number of foreigners. All classes are in English. Zainal Abidin Bagir is the Director. Dr. Simon Rae, good companion in the writing of the HCI, History of Christianity in Indonesia, had just arrived with his wife Marian to work until December 2008, financed by the government of New Zealand. I also saw Prof. Mark Woodward, scholar of things Javanese and teaching at Tempe, Arizona,working here with a Fullbright for six months. In the same building the Protestant Duta Wacana University has in cooperation with Gadjah Mada and the State Islamic University a doctoral programme in inter-religious studies, with Bernie Adeney as director. Some cynical people say that the Arab countries, especially the Saudi people support fundamentalist Islam, while western funding is generously given for liberal and interreligious studies. So be it, amin!
A very special contact, again, was with the Jesuit priest Sindhunata, editor of the cultural magazine Basis and as a Catholic novel writer more or less the successor to the late Mangunwijaya. During the last decades Sindhunata has given much attention to elegant Javanese, to books in Javanese history and folklore. His own parish in Pakem received a well with not only Mary, but many old artefacts, statues, animals, so syncretic that the bishop did not like to accept an invitation for the official opening of this new place of pilgrimage. Sindhunata has a Javanese name, is one of the few authors to write novels not only in Indonesian, but also in Javanese, he is preparing a Javanese poetic translation of the four gospels. But actually he is of (mixed, partial) Chinese descent. After the anti-Chinese riots of 1998 he has thought a lot of his Chinese mackground, about the Chinese as scapegoats for Indonesia (with the theories of René Girard) and he has now written a full elaborate novel about "The Chinese Princess", a complicated book with several story-lines, the most important about a Chinese princess who is considered as the mother for many Javanese princes, but also about someone who was living in the 20th century in java, amidst riots and a low position of being a 2d class citizen. The novel is very successful and already more than 25,000 copies were sold. This is a first attempt to create something of a distinct Chinese Indonesia Christian identity.