zondag 18 januari 2015


F. Rahardi is mentioned earlier in the Dutch section blog as the author of the wise and funny book Para Calon Presiden, where Jesus returns to this world to give some insights related to the election of a new President of Indonesia in 2009. My second book of Rahardi is not less wise and funny at the same time. It has the title Lembata, also published by Bona Beding at Penerbit Lamalera, July 2008, 256 pages, in Wijirejo, Bantul DIJ.
The main figure here is a diocesan priest, Romo Pedro, who returns from a Bachelor Study in economy in Jakarta (Atma Jaya University) to Larantuka. He is sent to the extremely poor island of Lembata, to serve as an assistent priest in a parish. he is in company of a bright and good looking young lady of Menadonese offspring, Luciola. Her father is very rich, through the management of casinos in the big places of the world, Monte Carlo, Las Vegas. She only gives a nice amount of money for the CU, Credit Union in Lembata, but then disappears. (There is a warning of Pedro about the Credit Union: money should not be used for consumption, to finance big feasts, but for investment). Her trips to Singapore, Europe (Monaco, Rome, Lourdes, Amsterdam) and Latin America are in sharp contrast to the sober life of dry Lembata.
On p. 24 the Dean of Lembata gives a summary of the history of Catholicism: it was brought by the Dominican Friars in the 17th century. The Jesuits of the 19th century reformed the liturgy, the SVD brought education and better health care. In the 21st century the diocesan priests must bring prosperity for the poor and halt poverty.
Romo Pedro begins his work in the Catholic parish. At one moment he discusses the expensive wine and hosts that is imported from Australia and the USA. Why should church law not allow the use of local alcoholic beverage, moke and local food, roasted corn chips or jagung titi? Once at Sunday Mass he preaches about the idea and practises it immediately. One third of the parish leaves the church, one third takes from the blessed moke and jagung titi. One third stays in the church but does not participate.
Rome Pedro is summoned to the bishop, comes to Larantuka, but has written already his letter of resignation.
Pedro returns to Lembata and starts a project to grow wheat and grapes. He had saved some money from high school on and is given some land high on the mountain where it is cool and wet during the nights. It is quite successful and this development project helps to give an income to poor people.
There is also a debate about plans to start a gold mine in Lembata: NGOs from outside the island protest, but local people (with a corrupt bupati leading) support the possibility for development.
Luciola tried to seduce Pedro to marry her, but he remains celibate and even is rehabilitated as a priest in the end of the book. Ola, as the lady is often called, discovered lesbian love in Latin America, but visits Lembata again in the final chapter of the book. Her wild life story makes the book more lively than just the pious novel of a modern priest.
The whole style of the book is less dramatic than Rahadi by Mangunwijaya or Saman by Ayu Utami. I enjoyed this book also very much as a third important novel about a modern Catholic priest.

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