Love of Religion, Love of Nation: Catholic Mission and the Idea of Indonesian Nationalism

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/

Abstract

The relationship between nationalism and religion is very complicated. In the context of colonialism, Christianity has surely been perceived as a foreign religion that poses a menace to native nationalism. This essay presents a different picture, taking the case of colonial Java (the Netherlands East Indies) to illustrate the complex historical relationship between Catholicism and Indonesian nationalism. Perhaps it is rather ironic that it was chiefly through their connection with the Dutch Church and their mission enterprise that the Javanese Catholic intelligentsia were made deeply aware of their own dignity as a particular people and the limitations of European colonialism. In this case, Catholic Christianity as a world religion with supranational connection and identity has been able to help the birth of an intense nationalism that was prevented from being too narrow, chauvinistic, or simply “racialist,” precisely because it is connected with its larger ecumenism or network. More specifically, this ecumenism is also founded on the idea of “catholicity,” that is, universalism, that lies at the heart of Catholic Christianity. In the post-colonial Indonesia, however, this Catholic view needs to be translated into common platforms with the views and concerns of Indonesian Muslims, who face the same new challenges as they play their role in the formation of an authentic Indonesian nationalism.


Keywords

Catholicism, colonialism, Indonesia, Java, nationalism, the Netherlands East Indies, religion, universalism

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)