dinsdag 31 mei 2016

A Radical Dialogical Self in Nijmegen: Indonesian Stories by Suratno and Sahiron (2)

The second session was the place of two Indonesian Muslim to talk about developments in their country over the last 40 years.
Dr. Suratno (recently graduated in Frankfurt) of the liberal Paramadina University of Jakarta analyzed four concrete cases of Muslim hardliners, violent terrorists, who 'converted' in prison. They were the two Bali bombers (2002)  Nasir Abas and Ali Imron, the leader of Laskar Jihad Ja'fat Umar Thalib and Eddy Prayitno alias Matahari Timur, the leader of Negara Islam Indonesia. In prison (at least for 1, 2 + 4) they realised taubah or conversion. Sincere? Their partly autobiographical stories give insight in ther minds and therefore should be taken serious.
Left is Prof. Gerrit Singgih of the Protestant UKDW University of Yogyakarta. Right Dr. Suratno of Paramadina
After Suratno, Prof. Sahiron Syamsuddin (by profession a specialist on Qur'an interpretation but the most prominent Muslim in this programme) gave an overview of definitions of radicalism in Islamic discourse and its remedies. As to definitions: they run from (too) literal interpretation of classical basic texts, efforts to erect an undemocratic Islamic State, when necessary with violence. A numbers if groups and personalities are mentioned. Fotr deradicalisation the secret service of Indonesia has progammes of hard power (prisons, death penalty) or soft power (cooperation with Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah and BNPT: Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Terrorisme). Also some transnational movement (participation of Indonesian in programmes like the World Parliament of Religions, an Indonesian chapter for WCRP, World Conference of Religions and Peace.
I know that the Jakarta Islamic University has a G├╝len corner, but this movement is better known in the country for educational quality than for peace and dialogue initiatives. There was no mention of the 2005 Fatwas issudes by the national MUI, Majelis Ulama Indonesia rejecting 'pluralism' and inter-religious marriage.
Prof. Sahiron Syamsuddin is a great promoter of creative interpretations of the Qur'an, influential in the Nahdlatul Ulama.

A Radical Dialogical Self in Nijmegen (1)

Yesterday, 30 May 2016, I attended in Nijmegen, 15th floor of the Erasmus Building, a meeting of Indonesians (mostly Yogyakarta, Islamic University UIN and Protestant theologians of the UKDW) on their research cooperation of (Muslim) Radicalization. It is a plan for a project in the two countries that is already done during the last four years. The last issues of the journal Exchange (Utrecht University, Brill) has papers of a conference in Yogyakarta of 2015.
In Nijmegen the theoretical framework was not formulated by scholars of religion or by security experts, but by psychologist Hubert Hermans (born 1937). The human self is not only defined by the  self, but also by its environment. A person lives in confrontation (or rather dialogue) with the surrounding people and situation. We are always responding to others. The dialogical self has a multiplicity of positions.
Much more must be said about the theory (which was developed for curing sick people: in therapy). But Herman only had some 40 minutes and also had to give a definition of the Radicalized Self.
Some characteristics of a radical self are: 1) religion is given here a core position, central and dominant towards other positions; 2) they make sharp distinctions between us and we. If there is a combination of political and religious positions this may result in the construction of an 'enemy' that is 'my enemy' and so becomes part of the identity of the radical self.

The Jewish Robinson Crusoe. While listening to this row of quite abstract theories, I was eminded the joke about a Jew who came in an isolated island. He built a synogague to hold weekly services. After that he built a second synagogue. When other travellers finally found him after many years they asked him: why did you build two synoguges for one person? His answer: if I am preaching in my own synagogue I must talk about the wrong synagogue of the others!
 The most interesting question is, of course, how a radicalized self can be cured. How to change (radical) people? There was a link to a website of the Dialogical Self Academy, but also the old professor of psychology had no easy and ready-to-use method for curing radical minds. But it was only the beginning of a full day. Later we were also thinking of 'debunking' those who in the 1960s and 1970s had become members of new sects, called 'brainwashing' at the time. In fact it proved to be very difficult to realize.

zondag 29 mei 2016

Theocratic dreams, strong and light versions: Frans Cornelissen and Frans Seda

I am still working on the Frans Seda Memorial Lecture in Tilburg, 9 June.
In 1860 Jesuit priest Gregorius Metz wrote to his superior in Batavia about the 'royal family' of Larantuka: If we succeed n truly winning the Raja for God's affairs, then it will not be difficult, with God's grace, to establish here a new Paragyuay (Catholics in Indonesia, vol I: 98).
Now I read the book by Frans Cornelissen SVD, president of the minor seminary of Todabelu. He wrote a diary, later reworked and published as a book (Missie-arbeid onder japanse bezetting). He dreams about  Een katholiek volk, geleid door zijn eigen katholieke priesters (A Catholic nation, lead by their ownnative priests). At this moment the traditional rulers no longer had a prominent position.
This is a picture, found on the internet, with the first Flores candidates to become sister in the 1930s
A traditional village in Flores
Back to Frans Seda after this intermezzo of  traditional Flores, to Frans Seda in Java, 1963. As president of the Catholic Party he heldin 1963 a talk for the PMKRI, Catholic Students Union of Indonesia. It had a romantic and strong title: Menjadi nasionalis adalah suatu panggilan. 'To become a nationalist is a vocation'.  The word 'vocation' has here a nearly religious connotation. Seda calls for a proud and confident Catholic identity. Catholics should not be afraid to pronounce their religious identity, that pleads not for a group but for the bonum commune, the public prosperity. We should have no communistophoby but also no katolikophoby. There is a separation of religion and politics and therefore the Pancasila, Manipol, the leadership in the revolution must be accepted as political principles. (From: Frans Seda, Simfoni tanpa henti. Ekonomi Politik Masyarakat Baru Indonesia, Jakarta Grasindo 1992, 104-9, from a collection of earlier artyicles by Seda).
There is in this lecture no talk about what students should study: science, economy, medicine? It is a highly political talk to these student, by a political leader. And with no reservation as to the absolute leadership of Soekarno. We are here already far from the jubilant dreams by Metz and cornelissen about the new Paraguay, Flores and the rule of priests!
In the introduction Daniel Dakhidae has a nice quote from the description of Flores by Seda: 'For people of Flores only two professions are important: priests and teachers.' (Ib xxx). That is still the old society of Flores. But what did Seda do? He came to Muntilan to be educated as a teacher, but like so many other migrants from Flores to java, he took another profession: politics and business!

woensdag 18 mei 2016

Frans Seda on Church and Politics

Frans Seda was a very able writer: succinct, with a good number of facts and clear opinions. I read sections o the book edited by J. Philip Gobang and others, Kekuasaan dan Moral. Politik Ekonomi Masyarakat Indonesia Baru, (Jakarta, Grasindo, 1996). It is a selection of some 116, mostly quite short columns and articles. 66-78is a somewhat longer article on (Catholic) religion and politics. 8 December 1945 in Solo was the day of the revival of PKRI, the Catholic Party of Indonesia and it was clear against the return of colialism and in favour of the Indonesian Republic of Sukarno.
During the elections of 1955 the Catholics were a proud number two after the four great parties: PNU, Masyumi, Nu and PKI: how one can be proud to be great!
P. 72 describes a humorous and mild but strong Kasimo rejecring cooperation with the Communists: Ha,ha,ha tidak setuju is he quoted to have said with a smile to Sukarno!
In the late 1960s the Catholic organizations united under the label of Front Katolik Tanpa Lobang.
pp 74-5 is a very open description of the difference between Djajasepoetra of jakarta and Soegijopranoto of Semarang, especially in the 1960s. The Front Katolik Tanpa Lobang seems to have been an initiative of Djajasepoetra in Jakarta that became most active after G-30-S and attended meetings where Harry Tjan Silalahi was an important member.
As if Seda finds an excuse, he mentions that 'the chairman of the Catholic Party [= Seda!] had not become a member of the cabinet in 1964 only became a minister after pressure from General Yani.
Twice Djajasepoetra who was archbishop of Jakarta 1953-1970.

Pp 76-7 has a nice reflection on three figures around Jesus: High Priest Anas, King Herod and Pontius Pilate. All three were hypocrite men, looking for power rather than the truth. Perhaps Pilate was the most honest or reasonable of the three, but in the end he also gave in when Anas threatened that he would be considered as no longer a friend of the emperor, if he would not sentence Jesus to death. A surprise amidst the political story.
Page 76 has an anecdote about Dawam Rahardjo who asked him why the Catholics could work so well together with the Muslims?  "There was never a cabinet, led by Masyumi, where Catholics were not present. At the formation, Masyumi would first give a telephone call to the Catholics.There were also good relation with the NU in the period of Guided Democracy (in the front Pancasila)". Seda writesn that the catholics considered the Muslim parties as based on morality (beginselpartij) not opportunism, but based on principles. And there were good personal relations between the leaders.

Sentis, alias V.B. da Costa

A few days ago I mentioned the three major Catholic Indonesian politicians from Flores: Frans Seda, Ben Mang Reng Say, and Vinsentius Bata da Costa, also called Moat (=Venerable in Sikkanese) Sentis. I could find little about him in libraries or on the Internet. I wrote John Prior in Maumere who gave me some information.
Sentis was born in Paga, Lio region, probably in the middle or late 1930s. In the early 1950s he was a high school student in Makassar where he supported in 1953 a demonstration against the quite authoritarian Raja Thomas of Sikka (supporting the KangaE of central Maumere, the Gerakan Kanilima who were so brutally killed in the aftermath of G30S). He studied law in Yogyakarta, graduated in 1964, but was also member of the Constituante, 1956-9 and during quite a few periods a member of the Parliament: 1964082, 1992-7 and again 1999-2004. In fact he was one of the founder of PDI and seen as its founding generation, supporting Orde Baru in many respects.
Sentis was had a sharp mind of a good lawyer and through his firm Veritas often supported the bishops. He died earlier this year, January 2016.
Perhaps the best 'politican' was still another one, the number four: Chris Siner Key Timu (1939-2015), who was member of the Petisi 50 group, even its secretary. I wrote some lines on him in Catholics in Independent Indonesia, 289-90 and 489.

zondag 15 mei 2016

Oom Ben versus Don Thomas

While preparing a contribution for the bi-annual Frans Seda Lecture (coming 9 June in Tilburg University), I read a book about Don Thomas, edited by Oscar Pareira Mandalangi (with a preface by Frans Seda): Don Thomas Peletak Dasar Sikka Membangun (Sikka, Yayasan Pendidikan Thomas, YAPENTHOM, 2003). Don Josephus Thomas Ximenes da Silva (1895-1954) was the last feudal ruler of Sikka, until 1951. There is a large number of contributions, but they all agree in one vision: he was a powerful ruler, who could deal with the Dutch government, but he was also very autocratic. In all positions he put his own family, and the word nepotism is mentioned by several authors. He definitely was not democratic and put aside the wishes of KANILIMA, the regions of Kangae, Nita, Lio, Maumere. The Catholic mission did not open a secondary school besides the minor seminary of Todabelu and his YAPENTHOM was a secondary school, opened in 1947.
I found a nice picture of this 'strong man', complete with the magical attribute of Flores culture, an elepghant tusk.
The last chapter in the book is about Drs. Ben Mang Reng Say, born in 1928 in Umauta, a village in the Sikka region. He married in 1955 a daughter of Don Thomas. He spent most of his life outside Flores: Schakelschool in Ende, entered the police in 1943 in Maumere, in 1946 in Bajawa and from 1948-50 in Makassar, where he also followed secondary education (MULO).  In 1951 he was accepted at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta where he graduated in social and political sciences in 1956. He was the first of Flores to take this degree in Indonesia. Already in 1954 he became a staff member in the ministry of internal affairs. In 1960-1 he was during one year at Georga Washington University in Washington DC.
 Oom Ben was active in the Catholic Party and became its third (and last) president, after Ignacius Kasimo and Frans Seda in 1964 (until the party was dissolved in 1973 at the 'simplification' of the political system with a reduction to three parties only.  - After this period Oom Ben managed  to survive, but could not held a key position in PDI, the 'Democratic/Nationalist'Party. He became ambassador for Indonesia in Mexico, in 1977. He was member of DPA, in 1973: a high advisory council, where he was even Vice-President in the period 1988-1993.
In my book on Catholics in Indonesia, I did not mention him among prominent people of Flores. I do still not yet have a good idea about him. Still missing for me is also more information about V.B. da Costa, who also made a career in the Catholics Party. There was at some time even a slogan of Ganyang Tiga-S or 'destroy the power of Seda-Sentis-Say' where Sentis stand in some way for V.B. da Costa.

woensdag 11 mei 2016

Baron Sakender, Coen: reports from Peter Carey

After reading the  book from Rijksmuseum, also with reports of the images of Diponegoro, I decided that it was time to start reading the thick book (1000 pages) by Peter Carey on (as he writes it now) Dipanagara. It is a wonderful book with many perspectives: the administrative, political and economic history of the region from late VOC to British rule, beginning of the Culture System under Dutch rule. But intimate stories about the Princ and his family. It is about the love for his country, culture and religion (Islam in the 'mystical synthesis' with Javanese cultural lore) and the threat of Dutch agression. The personal experienses opf the Prince, his sense of a calling. It is all lively described with many quotes from beautiful sources. I bought the book in 2007, but only have opened it now and read most of it. It is full with nice pictures, old photographs, drawings, also from javanese manuscripts. When compared to its sequel (Vincent Houben on Java, 1830-1870) the difference is clear between the PhD of the young Houben and this ripe book, covering the period 1780s until 1830.
There is very much that can be written about the book. One of the many inetresting things I read here was a more comprehensive overview of the content and meaning of the Baron Sakendher story. In the 1930s and considered it basically as something Javanese about the story of Isandar/Alexander the Great, now including the Dutch arriving in Java. Ricklefs has given in 1974 (Jogjakarta under Sultan Mangkubumi, 1749-1792) pp. 377-407 a synopsis with many suggestions for its interpretation. In this book, Peter Carey has taken just one aspect more clearly (pp. 167): the difference between Sunda/West Java and the Central Javanese districts. Batavia is located on the edge of the mysterious world of the spirits, located in the kingdom of Pajajaran. Coen according to the Serat Sakondhar is born from a princess of Pajajaran and so the Dutch are the continuation of the rulers of Pajajaran. Ratu Kidul in this tradition is another princess of Pajajaran, but from her the Mataram rulers took their origin. It is just one of the nice interpretations in this book. Thank you, Peter, for giving us this book!