woensdag 9 juni 2010

Pela as a tool for reconciliation in Ambon? About Jesus as a/the Moluccan Ancestor and 36 hours making a difference between Christians and Muslims

On 8 June there was, after a short seminar on the present state of Muslim-Christian relations in Indonesia, the public defence of the dissertation by Rachel Iwamony on The Reconciliatory Power of Pela in Ambon. Iwamony (here on the right with left Eta Hendriks of the theological faculty of UKIM in Ambon). Iwamony starts with the powerless ideal of pela during the Maluku Wars of 1999-2005. This pre-Islamic and pre-Christian tool for reconciliation did not function any longer for several reasons. Main reasons are the rejection of pela rituals and myth by orthodox Muslims and Christians (who do not like to accept the special authority of ancestors, rejects drinking of sopi and other practies that are considered as pagan. A second reason for the weak position of pela is the fact that it has not grown with Maluku society, especially in Ambon where so many migrants from other regions have arrived since the 1960s. They are not integrated in this system.
Iwamony proposes that Jesus bee considered as Tete Manis as the great ancestor of the Moluccans. I have some questions about the Jewish identity for Jesus and how to combine it with a Moluccan passport? What about John Kennedy who stated in Berlin Ich bin ein Berliner? In Islam Abraham is seen as a Muslim: theological adopted parents?
Besides this theology of the Tete Manis, she discusses the ritual of mixing blood that was done by the ancestors before they drank small quantities of each other's blood as a token of their peace treaty. This should be seen as the token of Jesus as the ancestor, the crucified “who sacrificed himself in order to stop estrangement and enmity in the life of Moluccans.” (p. 138) Iwamony has sometimes very hopeful formulations. p. 168 sounds very unrealistic to me: “The joy the Tete Manis, the Crucified Christ, gives to the Moluccans goes beyond religious boundaries. Therefore, the Christians and Muslims can share their joy at religious events and celebrations.”
In the two theological chapters no Muslims are quoted and there was nowhere a reference to the firm Muslim conviction that Jesus did not die on the cross but was rescued (eventually the body of someone else was replaced instead of Jesus, Judas, Simon of Cyrene and Pontius Pilate as candidates). The Qur'an talks of 'raised', a terminology that we also find in the Gospel of John 7:39 about the glorification and also in Ch 12-17 where the whole process of the final days of Jesus are described as 'The Hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.' For Muslims this has been realised directly from the cross acording to Qur'an 4:158 They did not slay him: nay, God exalted (rafa'ahu) him unto himself'. In the common Christian tradition this occurred 36 hours later: after the short stay in the grave.
It was quite disappointing to me to see that in this dissertation, written as a theological effort to bring harmony between Christians and Muslims, no attention was paid to the Muslim ideas about Jesus.
This short reflection is not meant to solve this problem: after 14 centuries the debate will certainly continue. I only hope that both partners take each other serious and I regret that this dissertation did not go into the Muslim ideas in this respect.

Under the righteous but severe image of Reformed Theologian Abraham Kuyper, Moluccan leader Simon Ririhena congratulates Rachel Iwamony with the degree of Dr. Theol.

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