vrijdag 10 augustus 2012

Ayu Utami on Soegijapranata

Ayu Utami did not write much about the great religions in Bilangan Fu. There is the commemoration for the death/murder of the kepala adat, traditional leader Semar, attended by some 12 national figures, many of them from Jakarta: Goenawan Mohamad, Ulil Abshar Abdalla, Ibu Oka, Dawam Rajardjo, also two Jesuit priests: Magnis Suseno and Sindhunata. This is support for alternative spirituality from representatives of major religions (besides Goenawan Mohamad who is more a humanist than a prominent liberal religious leader).
Her last book was written at the request of a Catholic project: the movie with the life story of Albertus Soegijapranata (1896-1963), first Indonesian, nominated (arch)bishop of Semarang in 1940.
Out of the three pictures above, the one below is the ´real´ or ´original´Soegijapranata, above are two pictures from the movie.
The person representing Soegijapranata her is Nirwan Dewanto, a Muslim who defended his playing that this movie is a nice example of the ideal multiculturalism of Indonesia. In the movie Javanese, Indonesia, Latin, Dutch and Japanese is spoken and it shows the real past of the 940s in his country.
The movie is accompanied by several publications. Gramedia has published a book Soegija in Frames (together with Puskat, Pusat Kateketik, Yogyakarta) with numerous photographs from the shooting of the movie with the main elements of the story.
Jesuit priest and historian Budy Subanar published a book\Kilasan Kisah Soegijapranata (KPG: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia, 2012, 135 pages) with ten articles about Soegija.

I was most interested in the picture given by Ayu Utami, Soegija, 100% Indonesia also published by PGK, Jakarta 45 pages, with many pictures from the movie, but also uite a few from other sources. There are several drawings by Ayu Utami (in Bilangan Fu she included also many drawings).

The book does not start with the birth date of  Soegija (1896 or the same year as the arrival of Father Frans van Lith in Semarang, this coincidence is repeated several times), but rather with the year 1940 when the Jakarta bishop asked the Vatican to nominate a bishop especially for Central Java. It is not sure whether Willekens himself has proposed the name of Soegija. Maybe someone else suggested this name. 'The Vatican is a quite closed institution and full of mystery. We do not know exactly what happened there.' (15) Soegija was at that time the leading priest in the parish of Bintaran in Yogyakarta, whiloe a Dutch priest, Jesuit A. de Kuiper was his assistant in this parish and this proves that the Catholic Church is not racist, like much of the colonial society! Willekens was a handsome man, full of elegance, while Soegija was not so attractive, not full of humour, a small and serious man.
Governor Karel Orie of Surakarta was a prominent Catholic. After to ordination to bishop, 6 November 1940 in Semarang, Soegija came to Surakarta and at the frontier of the Residence this Catholic Governor kneeled before the Javanese bishop and kissed his ring. This was another sign that Catholicism could erase the Dutch racism (17)

In chapter 2 we go back to the year1919 when Soegija came to Europe for his first period of study (until 1926) in the Netherlands and also visited the city of Rome.He traveled by boat starting in Tanjung Priok. Ayu gives a picture of the architecture and society of Batavia in that period. Until 1900 there were very few European ladies in the colony and white Dutch officials and other workers in the colony 'made indigenous girls pregnant and so produced Eurasian or indo offspring' (23). This was no longer the case so often after 1900 when colonial society became more and more Dutch. The rest of this chapter is devoted to the study in the Netherlands (a cold country, Dutch people are not smiling so easily as Indonesians). She also gives some basic information about the Vatican and the Catholic Church in general (in the whole book one can feel the also non-Catholic readers are supposed as possible readers). On pages 32-33 she has a curious defence of celibacy: if we compare the Catholic Church with the human body, the lay faithful are the blood and flesh, but the clergy are the bones. Blood and flesh can multiply itself, but no so the bones: they are anorganic, although from organic origin. The priests therefore cannot multiply themselves! Also Soegija's second period of study in the Netherlands (1928-1931).
Chapter 3 even goes further back in time: Muntilan in 1909, where Soegija was accepted as a high school student (after a crash course of Dutch, needed for the teacher's training school that he wanted to follow). Van Lith is depicted as a truly devoted and loving priest who started the school in Muntilan, without the obligation that pupils should become Catholic. He made it even difficult for pupils who wanted to embrace Catholicism: they he to ask for permission from their parents. Soegija wants to understand the background of his teachers, also the complex ideas of their religion like the doctrine of the Trinity. Pages 54-5 gives two explanations for the Trinity, the idea of Thomas Aquinas comparing the three qualities coming from the sun: radiation, heat and light, while from Saint Augustine she quoted the limitations of human knowledge compared to divine science.

Chapter 4 has as its major theme his ordination to priesthood, amidst  the start of Indonesian nationalism. In the Netherlands he met for the first time Muhammad Hatta. Later he remained in contact with his classmate Ignacius Kasimo, leader of the Javanese and later Indonesian Catholic Party.
On page 85 she gives a picture of one of the stone carvings by the Sundanese artist Iko at the instructions of Joseph Schmutzer, showing the Trinity as three figures, right one with a cross (=Jesus) and in the centre the Father also with a beard, while the one without beard is on the left: a female figure as the Holy Spirit. This image is according to her forbidden by the church and now at a hidden place in the Vatican. I have seen this image once in a museum of the SVD Order in Steijl, teh Netherlands. It is also in the book she quotes by Schmutzer, but her the beardless (an female?) figure is in the middle. I thought, but am not sure, that there is also a copy of this image in the church of Ganjuran. In the book by Joseph Schmutzer and Jan J. ten Berge there are two images: the one below was carved  in teak or jati-wood and puts the Holy Spirit in the middle. This is no 5. The one reproduced in the Soegija-book is no 6 in the same book. We do not find a reference to the Spirit as female, and that may be an invention by Ayu Utami. What is the reason for the different place of 'Our Lady Trinity'?

Chapter 5 starts with the Japanese attack to Indonesia. In the position of the church towards National Socialism of Germany Pius XI is praised as a brave leader, but Pius XII as a man with cool eyes, full of diplomacy, without ant prophetic charisma. Soegija is pictured as someone like Pius XI, who defended the church ('in good contact with Japan, recognized by your emperor), but also all Indonesians against the brutality of the Japanese. Immediately after independence there was a fight between the beginning Indonesian army and the allied forces. Soegija was a mediator between the parties and could reach the peace on 20 October 1945 after the 'Fight of Five Days of Semarang'.
In 1946 he moved to Yogyakarta to show his support for the Republic. Here he was close to the leaders of the Indonesian Republic, although he stayed in the parish house of Bintaran. He remained in contact with Bishop Willekens by writing letters (Ayu adds for young people: in former times people could not send an SMS and used to write letters!). He was the first to introduce Javanese and Indonesian in parts of the Catholic liturgy, long before the Council of Vatican II.
Chapter 6 is about Vatican II, the council he attended in 1962. In 1963 he made a trip by boat to Europe for the council, because his doctors did not agree with a trip by plane. In the presence of Y.B. Mangunwijaya (then for study in Aachen, with Habibie) and another Indonesian priest he died.
Curious: Y.B. is according to Ayu Utami an acronym for Juliana Bernard, the Dutch royal couple that married in 1937. But Mangun was born in 1929!
There is not much in the book about the internal ecclesiastical affairs of Soegija, how he built his church, the training for priesthood. In fact the years 1950-1962 are more or less skipped her, like in the movie. But I liked reading the book very much. Thank you Ayu, also for this nice writing. And thank you, Kees de Jong, for sending me the three books!

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