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.

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