vrijdag 27 oktober 2017

New place of pilgrimage in Java: Sragen. Official blessing by (Muslim) District Officer, together with the archbishop

In the small town of Sragen the Catholic parish counted  7640 fathful in 2001 (Buku Petunjuk): a confident, but still small minority in the town between Solo and Surabaya. They have during the last few years built an extended memory of Mary's apparitions in Fatima.

The complex was blessed with an official inauguration by the district officer of Sragen withhis wife, and the archbishop of Semarang. They stand here side by side at this action. The short information given had as title: Bupati Sragen Resmikan Taman Doa Santa Maria Fatima Ngrawoh which means thet the Head of the district of Sragen officially opened the 'Garden of Prayer' Saint Mary of Fatima in the village of Pilangsari in the subdistrict of Ngrawoh, 22 October 2017.
Apparently, the Bupati,Dr. Haji Kusdinar Sukowati accepts this sacred place also as a public affair, close to the market place of the subdistrict. Inviting him means that also Catholic religion is not only a private affair, but a public business and it should not be without the highest government official in the region. Besides, it was said, that this also shows the general positive relations between the two major religions.

woensdag 25 oktober 2017

Award for Magnis Suseno: prominent philosopher

The highest award given to Franz Magnis Suseno was the Bintang Mahaputra Utama (Award for being an Excellent Son) by President Joko Widodo, 13 August 2015.
UCAN had on 24-10 a report  of the first award for 'outstanding philosopher' or Filsuf terkemuka, given by the faculty of philoophy of the Gadjah Mada University of Yogyakarta and it was given to Magnis Suseno for his 'intellectual support for social struggle'.
Born in May 1936 in Silesia (then East Germany, now in Poland), he has been in Indonesia since 1961 in Indonesia. Founder opf the Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta he has given comments on many social issues in Indonesia as a specialist in social ethics, taking Javanese culture and even mysticism as his intellectual partner. In my book on Dutch Colonialism and Indonesian Islami (first edition p. 147) I wrote 'Again and again Javanism is cited as the partner in dialogue, while Islam is not considered to be a proper or even possible candidate'.  In the second edition (2006) of this book the last chapter has been thoroughly re-written and this remark has been deleted.
Even liberal Indonesian Muslims now want to see Islam Nusantara as a strong concept: local formulations of Islamic wisdom rather than repeating an ethic based on shari'a rules and formulations. This has also been the strategy of Driyarkara himself who wanted to take Pancasila as the basis for social ethics. In the same line Magnis Suseno has formulated social strategies using not one particular religious tradition (also not his own Catholic doctrines), but more universal and some local and cultural background.

zaterdag 21 oktober 2017

Strong men, strong statements? Anies Baswedan and Eggi Sudjana

Donald Trump, Tayyib Erdogan, Vladimir Putin: as if the age of the strong leaders and their simple statements is back again! Two examples from indonesia last week. First: Anies Baswedan gave in speech at his inaugration as governor of Jakarta (after defeating Ahok as sequel to a campaign of slender and sectarian actions). He stated that  for centuries the pribumi or native/indigenous people of Indonesia/Jakarta was neglected and considered as second class. Now the power was given back to pribumi and they should be given the opportunity to make profit of it. Colonial times are over, power given back to the indigenous. Does this mean that only Malay and Muslim should have political power? Many reactions were given: from Chinese businessmen to social activists. Still, no precisions were given.
Anies Baswedan and his deputy governor were in white shirt at the inauguration: no western black suite, no Indonesian batik, the simple white shirt is now one of the innovations by President Jokowi.  (More of him is needed nowadays!)
Another strong statement was given by Eggi Sudjana, Muslim businessman, not so successful in politics (failure to run a governor in West and East Java). He stated that only Muslims are true followers of Pancasila with its definition of the Indonesian religious identity as 'belief in the One Supreme Deity'(Ketuhanan yang Maha Esa). Buddhist are even not sure about a personal God, Hindus in Bali have multiple deities and Christian follow the three of their Trinity. It was the beginning of court cases in Bali. Prominent Catholic priest Franz Magnis Suseno only reacted that Sudjana had made a stupid statement not knowing what he was talking about. Another court case, now by Sudjana against Magnis.
As if the tsunami season of court cases has started again!

zondag 15 oktober 2017

The Burda of the Prophet and the Kaftan of the Caliph

Worldwide, also in indonesia, one of the most popular stories of the prophet Muhammad is the Qasidatu'l Burda of Al-Busiri. Prof. Drewes once published a Malay translation from the 16th century, with a Dutch translation (1955). Burda means mantle and the word most often applies to the mantle of the Prophet. According to the tradition this mantle was given to a strong opponent of Muhammad. Ka'b ibn Zuhair, who finally surrendered and accepted Islam in front of Muhammad, while reciting a poem of submission to Allah and his Prophet. Thereupon Muhammad gave him his mantle as a petious gift, for this poem and his faith. After the death of Ka'b ibn Zuhair the mantle was bought by the Ummayad rulers, and finally during a period in poesession of the Abbasid Caliphs and finally in the palace of the Ottoman Caliphs. It is in the palace of Istanbul and yearly honured in the second half of Ramadan.
Al-Busiri, living in Egypt, where he died in 1295, once was very ill and dreamt that the Prophet visited him, touched his hand and gave him his mantle. the following morning al-Burisir was healthy again. At this moment al-Busiri already had planned to write a poem to praise Muhammad. After finishing this poem, at soon became famous, also through propaganda by the Mamluk Sultan Mali az-Zahir Baibar. Soon it was accepted that touching a manuscript of the poem would heal all kind of diseases.
Another mantle, a sacred robe, played an important role in a strange movie: Vatan, on the coup of 15 July 2016 in Turkey. The movie shows in the beginning a man, Turkish speaking Dave, who brings the sacred robe of Sultan Selim, Yavuz, to Fethullah Gülen, who just told that he last night has a dream where the Prophet Muhammad appeared. Dave is perhaps a CIA-man, in fact a conspirator against President Erdogan, tells Gülen 'You will wear the Kaftan of Sultan Yavuz in Istanbul soon'. This is the introduction to a conspiration where also George Soros is involved: the bad person is orchstrating the whole endeavour. Nearly 80% of the movie is filled  with fighting of brave Turkey citizens against an army that wants to take over the state. Soros is sometimes shown as waiting, calm, without a strong personality. Gülen flies to Istanbul but hears just before arrval that Erdogan is on the airport and that the coup has failed. Thereupon Gülen returns to America: without drama, without further explanation.
 This is the hand of Dave who promises that he will divide Turkey in parts, with a good share for Gülen and a big piece also for Soros. The text says: 'Long live chaos' because the chaotic fight should lead towards the annihilation of present Turkey. But it is a failure.
The real conspirator Dave,  goes swimming in the Miterranean, is picked out of the sea (first swimming like another James Bond, relaxed)  by an helicopter and later drowned. A strange movie, but apparently for Turkish citizens clear enough to strengthen their feeling that Fethullah Gülen is a bad guy who joined a complot against their president. May God forgive them.

maandag 9 oktober 2017

Iswanto Hartono fights against Dutch Colonialism and finds a way to annihilate JP Coen

Europalia is a programme of the European Union to pay attention to 'the other' (alium), in case another big coutry. For 2017 the EU has planned a programme on Indonesian culture, society and history. There is a big exhibition in Brussels, encounters in many places in Frans, Belgium and the Netherlands with intellectuals and artists. Ayu Utami will also come, next November.
For Amsterdam there is an exhibition by the artist Iswanto Hartono.
The Oude Kerk or Old Church in Amsterdam was built for mediaeval Catholic liturgy: a central hall or choir for the clergy (seven times per day prayers were said) and a nave for the common lay people. Some chapels, for societies of workers (guild) and for rich families to bury their beloved. A chapel of Mary. But after reformation the church was only used for Sunday service and now this giant building is only used for some 100 churchgoers  on Sunday morning. They use only a small part of the nave, from 10:30 tot 13:00. Outside these hours tourists may look at the building, there are some concerts (Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck played the organ outside the service: it was in early Calvinism not allowed to use the organ!), and exhibitions. For Europalia 2017 Iswanto Hartono made some works of art, in critical memory of Dutch colonialism.

He brought an image of the great Governor General Jan Pieterszoon Coen: the lower part is plaster, the upper section is wax with the idea that it burns like a candle and after the six weeks of the exhibition the wax has disappeared and so the (bad) memory of Coen disappears day after day. We were only three days after the opening of the exhibition, but the image was unpacked, the wick of the candle had burnt for some time and now the inner side of the head was empty, but the outside soemwhat damaged but still standing.
Coen stand here in a side chapel, in the back of the church (West-side). On the northern side in some chapels Hartono had made images of the murder of the population of the Banda Islands, some 2000 people. The great castel, Benteng Belgica stand also with burning candels, waiting to be destroyed.

In the centre we see the great castle of Banda of wax waiting to disappear, while in the back the church of Batavia is shown: is this the Emmanuel Church? Top and below are images of animals that were shot by the Dutch who loved the hunt and finally killed all wild animals in the Banda islands, while the original population only had killed the animals in so far as they needed meat for eating.
Spice harvesters are depicted here with the horns of deer.
Colonialism is ere never seen as an encounter of different nations and cultures, not as an opportunity for international trade and promotion of some agriculture, but quite simply and only as oppression and exploitation. Or should we consider the image of the Batavia Church as something different from the rest: probably not, because it is also temporary, made of wax.

For Hartono the personality of Coen is equal to corruption, to the oppression of the Chinese, to Soeharto's New Order. Does he work in the line of Mangunwijaya, who wrote a book  on early colonialism under the title Ikan-ikan Hiu, Ido, Homa [Sharks, tuna and sprat, after the big fishes who eat the smaller ones, who again live from the smallest]. The novel depicts the period of Western expansion in the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the Dutch tried to take over the Portuguese spice trade in the Moluccan archipelago. Both parties had to win the support of the Muslim Sultanates of Ternate and Tidore. In this novel the arrival of the colonizing powers is not depicted as a conflict between West and East or between Christians and Muslims, but as just another stage in the history of the rich and powerful who manipulate and exploit the poor. Sharks eat the tuna fish or middle class and they eat the sprat.