zondag 29 juli 2012

Wahyu Wibowo in Utrecht

Wahyu Wibowo is a lecturer in systematic theology at the Protestant Duta Wacana University of Yogyakarta. He is now in Amsterdam to do research for his doctoral dissertation. He brought some books for me and so he came yesterday to Utrecht. We used the opportunity to make a walking tour along the major churches of Utrecht to see the variety of Christian denominations: three underground churches that were used during the period 1580-1800 when Reformed Protestantism or strict Calvinism had issued a ban on public service by other denominations. The 'Old' or Dutch Catholics, a schism from the Roman Catholics in the 1670s, Mennonite and Lutheran congregations. We saw the old monastery of the German Order, the great medieval Cathedral, transformed into a Calvinist sober place of worship after the alteration of 1580. As a warning to the Protestant iconoclasts the stone carvings of one chapel are saved, with the heads of Mary, her mother Anna, of Jesus and other persons chopped off.
 It was a crowded Saturday, with a Festival of Gothic in the area surrounding the old Cathedral, now called Dom Church. From Dickens' style to Satanic: it was all in the inner city of Utrecht.
We also visited Saint Peter's , one of the four churches surrounding the old cathedral. The most festive was Saint Willibrord, in neo-Gothic style, totally restaurated during the last decade. The last we saw was Saint James, a popular medieval church, with a cell for a solitary woman living as a recluse. I saw a new bronze statue in front of the church, a window with the title of Paradise: a young boy looking at it from one side, the nun sitting on the other side.
We talked much about the books that were brought by Wahyu: Ayu Utami on the life of Soegijapranata, a book with many pictures of the movie. Nirwan Dewanto plays the role of Bishop Soegija. He is a Muslim and therefore FPI opposed that he was featuring in the movie. During the first two weeks it was difficult to get tickets, at least in Yogyakarta, because the Catholic churches made much propaganda for the movie and tickets were sold by the parishes. So, Protestants who wanted to see the movie had to wait and to cue for some 2 hours before they could buy a ticket for a performance, some 2-3 days later.
Some criticism was about the love story of a Dutch soldier and a Javanese girl in the period 1946-9: but the film maker deemed it necessary to introduce some romantic element in the movie.
Even more serious is the episode where Soegija hears about war criminals by the Indonesian National army that killed many innocent people in a village (something that happened also on the Dutch side and only recently criticism has been uttered in Dutch society). Soegija did not like to start a conflict with the leadership of the Indonesian National army and kept silent: you cannot be a bishop with a political role without dirty hands!

Wahyu wants to write his thesis in the tradition of  Yewangoe, about the suffering of Jesus and of his community. I suggested that he also involves Mangunwijaya and his plea for a Diaspora Church. Christian churches are still dreaming about a full conversion of all Indonesians to Christianity. They also know that it is an impossible dream that never will become reality. Mangunwijaya states that Indonesian Christian must say goodbye to their old imperialism and dreams of an Indonesian Christian State, they should think about themselves as a small, but vibrant and participating community with the whole of Indonesia. We will see what comes out of it.
Wahyu also told me about the most recent hysteria in Indonesia: some fundamentalist Christians claiming that nowadays every year two million Muslims of Indonesia convert to Christianity, but some of them have to suffer and struggle for this. There is a youtube movie (Save Maryam) that sounds more or less like a Muslim call to stop this action (but is it really a Muslim initiative? Watching this in Utrecht it more or less sounds like a Christian initiative to ask attention and openness for this movement of conversion that definitely is not as massive as stated here: that in 2035 Christians would equal Muslims in number).

zondag 15 juli 2012

Christian Artists in Yogyakarta

The Theological College of Kampen will merge with Free University of Amsterdam and partly with Groningen University. This was the reason why Professor Volker Küster sought and found a new chair in Mainz and resigned in Kampen. He gave his farewell lecture on 27June. We were still traveling back from Portugal on that day, but he was so kind to send me the nice booklet with the title The Christian Art Scene in Yogyakarta. Below I write some impressions of this small but nicely printed and illustrated booklet.
Küster has been since long a good writer about Christian art starting in the 1990s with his Bildmeditationen, meditations on spiritual images. In this lecture he discussed works by five artists:
Bagon Kussudiardjo
Hari Santosa
Dopo Yeihan
Wisnu Sasongko
All five were born in Javanese, more or less Muslim families, but converted to Christianity. Hendarto and Hari Santosa seem to be Catholics. Dopo Yeihan worked with the Jesuit Ruedi Hofmann, but longer even with the Art Centre of Duta Wacana, the Protestant University. Denomination is probably not really important, although Catholic churches buy many more art works than the empty and quite sober Protestant buildings. To whom sell these works? The lecture was about the artists, not the selling and reception of their work.
Bagong is represented here with a work that I have never seen: Jesus teaching the (quite small) crowd of some fifteen people. Jesus is shown from his back. Much more on Bagong has been written by Küster in the great book A History of Christianity in Indonesia.
Hendarto was born in Bandung, 1951, but lives since long in Yogyakarta. Most of his family is Muslim and this may be the reason why his paintings are just sketches. He seems to meditate long before painting. Like monks who are working on icons.

Hari Santosa is depicted here as a fervent Catholic, active in the parishes and a pro-diakon (the Indonesian word for a lay deacon).  His works are often full like Balinese paintings. You may see more on the Powerpoint, available on the internet, folk.uio.no/heidl/images/.../asiatiskkristenkunst

Dopo Yeihan is depicted by Küster as a painter and social activist whose works often deal with social evils. I found only a socially concerned painting on the internet (on a site of Canadian Mennonites who sell these paintings: also a method to do some marketing for Indonesian Christian art).

This is called The Factory: Labourer's Child and must show child labour.

Finally number five is Wisnu Sasongko, also connected to the Duta Wacana Visual Art and Design Centre. Küster discusses his Jesus Praying in Gethsemane but also a very joyful laughing  Jesus.

At home I have a work by Nyoman Darsane, Martha and Mary, together. I have also a calligraphy by Saiful Adnan. What about modern Muslim artists, making truly Islamic Art? Will there be a Muslim artist who illustrates a Lives of the Prophets? Or a Life of Muhammad? There are many new movies on Islamic heroes like Sunan Kalijaga, but what about other works of art?
The Christian artists  do not only work on paintings and drawings: book illustrations are important and drama: dansing, theatre, especially for television. and movies. I am now waiting for the movie on the life of Archbishop Albert Soegijapranata. Recently we visited the compound where Dutch Catholic architect Pierre Cuypers worked between 1860-1900. A great place, but for dynamism of this kind we have now to turn to Indonesian Christians. Volker, thank you for analyzing this work. Good luck, much inspiration and a good life in Mainz, together with Dorothea!

zaterdag 14 juli 2012

New turn in Dutch debate about war crimes in Indonesia, 1945-1949

War is never a clean business. Reports about war crimes are not welcome on the side of army leadership. This was also the case in the period of the Indonesian Revolution, when the Dutch tried to regain their colonial power in the colony after August 1945. the best known case is the Westerling terror in South Sulawesi, where villages have been destroyed and some three thousand innocent people were killed, but many other crimes have been attested and rejected by the Dutch government. Even Westerling was never brought to a criminal court. In June 1969 under leadership of historian Cees Fasseur an Excessennota (a report about 76 cases of war crimes) war presented to the government, but no consequences were formulated. Even the suggestion of socialist opposition leader of the time, Joop den Uyl, to start a more serious research with interviews of people who at that time were still alive was not successful. Parliament deemed it better to be silent and not to reopen the investigation and express excuses to the Indonesians and offer remuneration to the most clear victims. This report was written after psychologist Dr. J. Hueting had confessed on Dutch television that he had committed war crimes. Also sociologist Prof. J.Van Doorn started research and publications about this period, but without political consequences.
During the last two or three years human rights lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld has restarted this debate about Dutch war crimes. She pleaded for the few relatives of some 431 people killed by the Dutch army in the village of Rawagede in West Java. A Dutch court issued finally in 2011 a decision that compensation should be paid to the heirs of these people. In December 2011 the Dutch ambassador to Indonesia pleaded guilty in the name of the Dutch government and apologized for the war crimes. Nine relatives received € 20.000 each. Since then the debate has continued.

Last week, 10 July 2012, the daily De Volkskrant published two photographs of Indonesian men who were killed by the Dutch army, apparently without a proper court decision. The details of this case are still not clear, but according to specialists these pictures were the first to be known in public about executions by the army that have to be labeled as war crimes.

Today, Saturday 14 July 2012, a new interview with Dr. Joop Hueting appeared in the same newspaper. Here he tells again about war crimes. Among other stories he tells about "the case that a common soldier emptied his gun in a house of prayer. He runs crying to the place. The dead and wounded people were mostly women and small children. Inside it is a pool of blood, outside his colleague soldiers react irritated: how could he have done this? He was shooting as a madman, he could have hurted or even killed his fellow soldiers in this stupid action."
A second story by Hueting: in his house a statue of Lord Shiva is standing on a cupboard. It was taken from the house of an Indonesian during one of the military actions. The soldier had taken the statue of Shiva, but had left a grenade in the house that soon exploded after he had left the house with Lord Shiva in his hands..
Coming Saturday, 21 July a television programme is scheduled with some kind of a documentary television play, as if it is mid-1947 and now the truth about the real facts of this colonial war will be presented.
There is definitely now more openness, more consciousness about bad things that happpened. But its is very late. Even later than the openness about the Indonesian killings of 1966-1967.