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).

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