Like I have been saying all along, I am fascinated and constantly perplexed by the multitude of issues and forces that make up the Indonesian experience. I have the benefit of having a local friend in law school, married to a researcher and professional in the social sciences, and in possession of bookshelves full of books on Indonesian politics, history, economics, culture. Marsen is currently working with an international NGO concerned with development and Labor Rights, so his and Rini’s library is by no means a collection of government sponsored books endorsing the majesty of the national government.
An article that I read recently gives an interesting perspective on religion and the role it has and is playing in conflict in Indonesia and around the world. The article is about religious and ethnic violence that has broken out since Indonesian independence and talks about the causes of these conflicts and their implications for the transitioning democratic government and the challenge of building a single nation from a very pluralistic society.
One of the factors cited in the rise of religious violence is the emergence of more fundamentalist manifestations for both the Muslims and the Christians.
He asserts, no doubt a bit controversially, that the rise of fundamental religions is in part due to the built-in inability of monotheistic religions to cope with modern pluralistic societies. He says they cannot reconcile the fact that they are living with others who do not share their beliefs and therefore become more agressive, prosthelityzing. This activity by churches in Indonesia has been cited as a threat by some, and it has been used as justification for attacks and church burnings. Can one draw parrallels to the USA?