The 2008 Conference of Interfidei took place in the compound of PUSKAT, Pusat Kateketik, the audio-visual studios and trainings centre in Sinduharjo, built since the mid-1990s by the Jesuit priest Rudi Hofmann. It is located at about one kilemtre from the office of Interfidei itself. This office is built in a residential area with quite spatious houses for middle class people. Interfidei has bought two lots and one is still empty. It is now used by the local community for sports, communication. There are plans for a second building with a library, guest rooms, conference places, but now it is still "Lapangan Interfidei" the free Interfidei square, the starting for the Sunday morning fitness walk and a central point for many other activities in the local community. There is very little common space in the suburban area, where local people like to fill up every inch with buildings. On the evening of the 10th August the neighbours of Interfidei received special award and thanks for their cooperation in the activities of the centre. For such a centre where many people come and go, it is important to have good contacts with the neighbours.
The actual location for the conference, the audio-visual centre also has a place for the local people, the Balai Budaya Sinduharjo, the cultural centre of Sinduharjo. It a large podium with a spatious roof, but low walls, like the traditional buildings in villages. Also the swimming pool of the centre is open for the public. As a specific feature it has a nice entry: people have to go to the swimming pool by entering the giant ear of Dewa Ruci, the small deity who is the teaching patron of the giant Bhima in the Hindu (and Javanese) stories of the Pandawa brothers. Not only the walls of the vultural centre and of the swimming: many walls in this centre are filled with pictures from the Hindu-Javanese mythology. On the whole there are no walls surrounding the centre and as such it is an inviting open place for people.
As a place of worship Rudi Hofmann (died 28 May 2008, while in Zwitserland for an exhibition, but at that time working for Catholic media in East Timor) designed an open space with a roof and four walls with texts of four religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. For Christianity nowhere in the compound the sign of the cross is used. "Too many wars and acts of violence were carried out under the sign of the cross" was a saying by Hofmann. On the 'Christian' wall we see a bird and the text: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them." On the northern side of this place of woprship is a large buiulding in Minangkabau style. While sitting in its high middle floor, one feels as if sitting amidst the top of the trees. This is a place of meditation to observe Mount Merapi (when weather is clear and it is not so in the dry season). After a place for the four great religions there is also a quiet place to perform sometimes like religion of nature.
NB: I wanted to add photographs of the compound, but I am still learning how to manage this blogger. Karel Steenbrink