woensdag 7 januari 2009

In Memory of Egypt and 2008

In this last week of 2008 we want to wish you all the best for next year, good health, good conditions of life, good spirit and a good environment.
2008 was for us the first year of a full retirement, 65 the two of us, Paule and Karel. Still, life was often dominated by some obligations. First of all it was the final touch and on 14 October the launching of the thick book: 1004 pages of A History of Christianity in Indonesia published by Brill in Leiden and edited by Jan Aritonang and Karel Steenbrink. An impression of that event is put on the weblog http://relindonesia.blogspot.com/ that is planned to continue the work on this theme. Still two more books are planned: a commentary in Dutch on the second sura of the Qur’an, under the title of Een kleine Koran and the third volume of Catholics in Indonesia (for the period 1945-2010).
We enjoyed quite a lot of travelling, trip of one week to Gran Canaria, Istanbul and in June to Sicily. Karel visited Indonesia in August for an interreligious conference at Interfidei in Jogjakarta. The longest trip was 15 days to Egypt in December. We were very impressed by the megalomania of the pharaonic statues (above you find us in front of the Ramses II statues at Abu Simbel)

After visiting all these graves, temples, statues of pharaohs in Upper Egypt (from Luxor to Aswan and finally Abu Simbel), we were also in Cairo where we were struck by the many similarities between pharaonic religion and Coptic Christianity. Common people in both cases were not allowed to enter into the most sacred part of the temple/church: they had to offer to images outside and only sometimes shown what was happening in the inner part. In Al Azhar and other mosques we found some more democratic religion, in these magnificent open spaces where all people stand in one line. Well, this was also for some time the debate during this trip: ‘Why Egyptians changed from Pharaonic Religion to Christianity but then again to Islam. The answer to this question is much more complicated, but we leave it by this for now.

Stijn married to Irene this summer. They moved also to a beautiful spacious house in The Hague. Also Floris and Inge have moved to a larger house, in Amsterdam. They work hard, but live in good harmony and all four are happy with the jobs they have.

So, we count our blessing and thank God for life that has been given to us.
We wish you ale the best for next year, 2009; hope to hear from you and to see you sometimes. = Karel and Paule Steenbrink

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