maandag 28 december 2015

From 2015 to 2016

This letter is written as a sign of our interest in you and a wish to continue contact also for the coming year 2016. We are happy with visits of old and new friends, especially from Indonesia in our big house in Utrecht and postpone the plans to move to a smaller location. At this moment Paule and I, Karel, have reached the age of 73 years. We thank God that we enjoy good health. We are no longer able to make long walks of 16 or even 20 km in a day. 10 km is nice as well. Paule needed last weeks the help of the physiotherapist to diminish the pain in her hips, But it is already diminishing and we use the bicycle, make regular walks and hope so to stay in good shape.
We follow the life of our children and grandchildren probably more intense than before the birth of the 3d generation. Therefore we include below first the family of Floris and Inge (in Amsterdam, with Diemer, 3 years and Mette, just one year old).
Below follows the family of Stijn and Irene in The Hague with Sophie (6 years) and Maud, 4 years.

For Karel this year 2015 was the Year of the Three Books. At KITLV/Brill. Leiden, the third volume of his account of the history of the Catholics of Indonesia was published: Catholics in Independent Indonesia, 1945-2010. After a Muslim period of 1970-1995, the three volumes were written in the more Catholic period. The last volume is very expensive (€ 192), but is already regularly quoted. The second book was about Fethullah Gülen (as aeditor and author of some 100 pages, together with Gürkan Çelik and Johan Leman). Finally there was the Indonesian translation of his book on the Jesus Verses of the Qur´ān. The books are described in more detail elsewhere in this blog (as also his three academic trips in September to Mana­do, than to Birmingham, in December to Singapore).
Together Paule and I made weekly walks of some 10 km and also trips to Tuscany in June and to Luxembourg in September, see
We had guests, read books, saw movies and theatre plays. Much of it has been mentioned on the weblog, some kind of a public diary. Karel continued singing in the choir of St. Johns’ Church in Utrecht. We also frequented some other churches, especially Dominicus and New Love (De Nieuwe Liefde) in Amsterdam. We were even more serious and constant church goers than in former years. Our newspaper mentioned the issue of a new movie: Would the world be better without Islam? Without religion? We do not think so. Of course, there is much inspiring art, literature that is close to religious expressions. And we love that too. There are bad things in religion, but we like to look at the sunny side of it.
We lost friends: Koos Waardenburg, our neighbour Wim Aantjes, Wasim Bilal and Simuh, old and inspiring friends and colleagues from Indonesië.
We wish everybody, the whole world, not just humans but also our infrastructure, nature and the living being in water and on land a good 2016.

donderdag 10 december 2015

Indonesian Development and Christian Churches

It was a very short trip: 2-4 December, barely two and a half day in Singapore, for a conference at the Asia Research Institute, ARI, of NUS, National University of Singapore. The theme was: The Mission of Development. Religion and Techno-politics in Asia.
In another blog I have already written about my own presentation: the colonial responsibility of churches for education and part of health care  in contrast to the quite incidental project in the more recent period after 1960. I have also already given a short summari of the presentation by Noemi Rui on projects supported by the Dutch Protestant Churches in Batakland and Minahasa.
Erica Larson is writing a Ph.D (Boston University; her husband is working also on a PhD but in China) on the Lokon High School funded by Ronald Korompis. I wrote about this school also in my 3d volume of the Catholic history. 15% of the pupils receive money from Freetown. They are the best paid: they have IPhone 6, while the other students have less money. It is a humanist institution: religiously neutral (although there are statues of Mary, a Catholic Chapel where also general meetings are held). There is halal food available, during Ramadan the students can have early breakfast. It is much less religious than the otherwise comparable Haggai Institute, where everybody must become an ambassador for Christ. Lokon wants to educate in values like sincerity, fighting corruption.
I asked her about the financial status of the school: can it be a failure if the money of Korompis ends (his death, bankruptcy?). About an agricultural college in Malaysia there was an interesting presentation by John Roxborough. It was a ChristianHindu/Muslim initiative and performed excellent during 12 years. Much money from the Church of Sweden. Then it stopped and no reason for its discontinuation (only a usual state college since then) no reason could be found. How do they deal with religious pluralism if a stronger Muslim rule will come?
In the middle during our festive dinner on 3d December is Erica Larson. Right is Philip Fountain who talked together with Laura Yoder about a Mennonite agricultural project in the Putus Sibau region, Dayak of West/Central Kalimantan. This was truly a project: every four years there is a new director for the Mennonite programs and something absolutely different will be started. This was a cooperation between highly educated international Mennonites with the Javanese Muria church (GKMI). Among the two American families one was purely on agriculture, the other one on mission, spirituality, while the churches also had more attention for evangelizing than for agriculture.
Philipi Fountain with Laura Yoder in their presentation.
Jacob Nerenberg is from Toronto. Also a PhD candidate. Many Christians in the Balim Valley have developed some kind of new cargo cult: Zionistsentiments, 'God bless' and even the Dutch flag in an imagined return to a glorious past. But this GIPI, Gereja Injili Protestan di Indonesia can be very intolerant: they burnt a mosque and prohibit also other Christian denominations. Pemekaran (regional autonomy) in line with smaller units of administration can work in a very negative way.

For me personally the most interesting presentation was by Fransiska Widyawati. She wrote a long paper together with Maribeth Erb who could not be here. They have a very substantial and long introduction about the idea of development, in general and as to Indonesia, government as well as churches. Sustainable development and attention for the environment came only late, but since 2009 it is quite strong, especially in the diocese of Ruteng where the bishop, his staff and active Catholics have begun campaigns against any kind of mining. It is a cause for corruption, only gives profit to foreign companies and destroys nature. Although it is stated that Lembata has the richest reserve of gold and copper, the Catholic Church is now strong against mining.
It gave a reaction with a summary of the movel Lembata by F:x. Rahardja: Jesuits saved Christianity, the SVD brought education and the PR or diocesan clergy will bring prosperity. If Flores and related islands are so poor, how do they want to bring a better life? Anyway: for the moment it is NO MINING.

There was much more at the conference. I can only give here a short impression. Thank you, staff of ARI and participants for these two rich days.

Missionaries in harmony with anthropologists. The mythological language of SIL and Worldvision

It was a very short trip: 2-4 December, barely two and a half day in Singapore, for a conference at the Asia Research Institute, ARI, of NUS, National University of Singapore. The theme was: The Mission of Development. Religion and Techno-politics in Asia.
It was at one moment quite astonishing for me how serious, objectives and with sympathy even many styles of missionary activities were presented and discussed.
Jeremy Jammes is now in Brunei at the university, but earlier he was in Bangkok and wrote a dissertation on the original Vietnamese Cao Dai religion. He gave an overview of ideas of SIL, Summer Institute of Linguistics in Vietnam. They do work on grammars, dictionaries as preparation for the Wycliff Bible Translators. They often have established good relations with governments. There were here examples of contacts with the president of the Philippines who wrote a letter of recommendation for them to the Vietnamese Prime Minister (Magsaysay to Ngo Dinh Diem). They prefer the small languages of mountain people, the 'unreached'. The idea of the 10-40 Window is one of these more or less mythological frames for their work. In this way they protect the identity of the small ethnic groups, but at the same time prepare the way to conversion. There was another paper on SIL: by Kirk R. Person, working in Thayland (his wife as a teacher in the Palace school!), on the need to start school education with Mother Language Education, before switching to the national language. He mentioned also the 'persecution rank' for Christians and the organization Open Doors.
Second from left is Gregeory Vanderbilt, who now works in Yogyakarta, Gadjah Mada university, CRCS  Centre for Religious and Cultural Studies (sponsored by the American Mennonites). He talked about Prof. Ernest Hocking and his Laymen's Inquiry .. which critcised missions for creating a too big gap between Christianity and other religions, but in fact still more about one Japanese  Christian architect and his missionary activities.
Second from right is Noemi Rui who had worked in Jakarta and seen the archives of PGI and found some very relevant cases for this topic. She has material on the PGI and political prisoners (Hidup Baru), but had no time to elaborate on this. In her first part she discussed three cases of development projects. First deception was the removal of a village from two km distance to the shores of Lake Toba: but soon after this move the village was destroyed by a big storm and flood, with many people killed. Second deception was a village in Minahasa that did not like to advertise their vegetables to the market in Manado: they were happy with subsistence they had now. Only a third project was successful.
Thay Phoebe Yee and Singaporean/Indian Ajir Hazra work for World Vision in Thailand and Sri Lanka. They work among religiously pluriform society and hope to promote dialogue, harmony and development through non-denomination work where also attention is given to spiritual values. In general this works well. They receive also funds from institutions like the European Union. Incidentally an office was set in fire (like in Sri Lanka), but often they can perform community development. There were not the usual critical questions as to mixing development and chriatity with proselytization/evangelism.
Hui-yeon Kim is French-Korean and won the prize for the best thesis in religious studies in 2012. She studied a Korean evangelical church missionizing in Cambodia. The church propagates that Koreans can win salvation and a place in heaven by giving money to Cambodians. In this way both parties are helped. The Full Gospel Church of Korea works in this way like a prosperity gospel church with special relations between the two Southeast Asian countries.
These are just some examples of the rich program that was presented  at NUS.

The Mission of Development

It was a very short trip: 2-4 December, barely two and a half day in Singapore, for a conference at the Asia Research Institute, ARI, of NUS, National University of Singapore. The theme was: The Mission of Development. Religion and Techno-politics in Asia.
In two days we had some 22 lectures. Most of these were about specific (church/christian religious) organisations or even about concrete projects. The conference, however started with a bibliographic lecture by Michael Feener and Catherine Scheer who presented a broad view of theories on development.
The painting of Filippino artist Joey Velanco of Jesus amidst street children dominated often the room where some 60 people were present for the opening event and the public was always about 50. Scheer and Feener began with the book by David Enkbladh on The Great American Mission or the idea that the American world order (since 1961 Peace Corps) has dominated thinking about development theories and programs. However, the churches had their own strategies and formats: quite different from the key words of World Bank or UNDP, they have a religious language, but also a long tradition, beginning with education programs in the 19th century, but also a background for abolitionism. Besides saving souls they also through about saving societies.
I gave the first day a 'keynote lecture' where I contrasted the long term involvement of churches in education and health care. There were included in the colonial strategies in the outer islands, subsidised by that administration, while for the period 1960-1990 it was more short term development projects, sponsored by European governments. I gave my presentation the title: "Projects, not a plan: Christian Churches and Indonesian Development, 1965-1995". It was in fact a selection of cases taken from the book on Catholics in Indonesia, 1945-2010.
 In the middle here is Amelia Fauzia, author of a book on Islamic Philanthropy in modern Indonesia. I included in my lecture also a short section on the need to study about the similarities and differences between Muslim and Christian perspectives and practices of charity and development. Some Muslim organizations took over models of Christian Churches (like Muhammadiyah since 1912: schools with limited religious education, orphanages and health care). The modern development of NGO structures is also in many respects similar. Middle East Muslims concentrate on religious programs, pay more attention to the motives (and religious profits) of the giver.
On the right, back, is the professor of Chinese culture who will take over leadership of the religious program of ARI from January 2016 onwards.
Not only Michael Feener is about to leave the ARI program of NUS, also Philip Fountain (here right), who was also the editor of a recent book on theories of development, including the role of religious movements. Feener will go to Oxford, while Fountain will go to New Zealand, I forgot to which university.
The presenters of papers, staff of ARI as the organizers of the conference.

Singapore on foot

It was a very short trip: 2-4 December, barely two and a half day in Singapore, for a conference at the Asia Research Institute, ARI, of NUS, National University of Singapore. The theme was: The Mission of Development. Religion and Techno-politics in Asia.
I stayed in the area between metro-stations Bugis Street and Little India, hotel Village, Albert Street.
I made several walks in this area, as well as in the botanic gardens of Bukit Timah, close to that section of NUS. Marvellous: broad calm streets, nice people, helpful for foreigners.

This is about 8.00 AM. A Malay man with a white cap (for a haji?). Cleaning the streets from leaves that had been falling (further Singapore is legendary clean!)
Cars go only on the broad streets between larger blocks, but between them there is space enough for walking, some trees. Still, it may be hot during daytime as well.
There is some kind of suq, a covered market, in Bugis street. Everywhere Christmas decoration in the American style. In the evening we also drove through Orchard Road, with an enormous rich Christmas decoration. It is light, the Santa Clays, deer, some white snow: a non-explicit-Christian selection of themes of the Christmas holiday.
 The Village Hotel is a street with shops on the ground floor, while the hotel rooms are on the floor above. There is also a highrise wing, but on the whole this looks like a small scale event.
 A walk to 'Little India' begins with the cinema, where the banners wish us a 'Happy Divali'.

Above is the back side of thebuilding below. It looks from the backside as if there is still a slum area in this section of Singapore, but at the front it is clear that there is some delicate and nice part of old Singapore rescued from the general trend to make everything new in this town!

dinsdag 1 december 2015

Mujiburrahman in Leiden, and the Liberal Paradox

Mujiburrahman gave his farewell talk last week in Leiden, 24 November. He had sent his paper in advance. It is a very detailed account of the preparation of the 2006 joint decision of the Ministers of Internal Affairs and of Religion about permits for building places of worship. Mujib gave it the title: the Liberal Paradox. In order to effectuate freedom of religion (a liberal idea) some regulations must be made, including preventing people from disturbing others. This was the first time a minister took time to have 12 preparatory meetings with representatives of the major religions. All kind of protests arose, but finally a decision was made, some kind of a compromise.
Here Mujib is sitting sbesides Gerry van Klinken who had invited him to Leiden. Not withstanding heavy rain there was an audience of some 25, mostly Indonesians. I talked longer with one of them, a student/teacher from STAI Situbondo: the Theological School of the Pesantren of Situbondo, also for about one month in Leiden with about ten colleagues. In order to be a Muslim scholar in Indonesia it is good to have some Western experiences, at least once a first visit.
Mujib began with a balanced story: protests against the opening of more than 20 churches in Singkili, Aceh, but also the effort to stop building a mosque or even functioning of an existing mosque in Papua where hardline Protestants only want to allow one religion.
The photograph of Depok is a case of its own: Candidate for PDI in the election for mayor of Depok was the young academic (political anthropology) Dimas Aky Nugroho and his vice-mayor to be Babai Suhaimi. Opponents had made banners where they suggest that they are promotors for spread of Christianity and builders of churches (in all villages one church, Halleluya!). This describes the heated atmosphere around the issue. Probably the full paper is available with Mujiburrahman or with this writer.

We had also a short debate about the idea, luanched by Martin van Bruinessen of the Conservative Turn in Indonesian Islam about 2005. Mujib suggested that there were also period of liberal domination and it is an ongoing process: the Japanese occupation caused a conservative turn, as well as the debate about the Mariiage Law of 1974, the rise of ICMI in 1990. But there have been several more liberal period as well.

I wrote also my own version of the 'liberal paradox' in a short account of my personal experiences with Muslim-Christian Dialogue in the Netherlands:

Atheists or religiously indifferent people who have no sensitivity for religious values, are not the best suited for an analysis of religious movements. But, of course one should not be too deep involved in one tradition only. This is perhaps the ‘liberal paradox’ of scholars of religion: they tend to be open for all kind of positive aspects of religion, but do not like to be bound to one tradition alone! 

The Orientalist Quest of Amir Luthfi and Sudirman

About 20 November I received a telephone call from Prof. Dr. Amir Luthfi, once a PhD student in Leiden in the 1980s, later Rector of the UIN, Islamic University of Pekan Baru, that he was for a short stay in Leiden. He was together with Dr. Sudirman, some time ago Director of the graduate School. The two are now close to their retirment  but have began with an ambitious project: a history of Dutch Orientalist Studies on Indoensia.
Dr. Amur Luthfi, scholar, manager of the Islamic University in Pekan Baru, and once a politician for the province of Riau. Now he has only academic ambitions.
I suggested the two that they begin with the bibliography by Irene Farjon and Ben Boland. There is a dichotomy in the scholars/soldiers/administrators. Those who seek law and order (and enter the archives through the police reports) and the mystical/linguistic academics (who pay attention to the manuscript tradition). Already Mukti Ali once stated that nesides the study of Orientalisme also Occidentalism is important: how do Indonesians perceive all these Western schjolars?
Here we stand in the lobby of Ibis Hotel, Leiden. A rainy Sunday afternoon. They will be happy to be back in Indonesian, perhaps? Probably?  And it is not easy to undertake such cross-cultural study! Good luck and perseverance with your work and always welcome for advice, criticism or suggestions.