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Wim Straathof, Agama Djawa Sunda--Java Sunda beweging: Het verhaal van een andersdenkende groepering in een overwegend islamitisch land: Indonesie 1964-1971.

Wim Straathof, Agama Djawa Sunda--Java Sunda beweging: Het verhaal van een andersdenkende groepering in een overwegend islamitisch land: Indonesie 1964-1971. Nijmegen: Valkhof Pers, 2015, 169 pp. ISBN 9789056254445. Price: EUR 15.95 (paperback).

Wim Straathof (1936) was a priest and sent to West-Java in 1964 to work among the Sundanese. He soon, in the village of Cigugur, came in contact with the followers of the Agama Djawa Sunda, a syncretist movement, counted to belong to the kebatinan religion, a designation for a wide variety of local and regional religious movements that fell outside the 'officially' acknowledged religions. Their fate was sometimes uncertain. The Agama Djawa Sunda also experienced this in 1964 when its marriages were denied official recognition. This rejection touched on its very existence, and the Agama turned to the Catholic Church for a way out in seeking cooperation and even affiliation. By chance, Straathof and a few colleagues became closely involved in the process. He studied the scattered writings of the Agama founder Pangeran Madrais (1835-1940), and presented his learnings in a systematized format in a number of brochures. This description is the basis for his exposition and analysis of the Agama Djawa Sunda in this book. It is a remarkable set of beliefs and guidelines, of a sophistication that may well compete with that of the great religions, and as to its dynamics, anthropocentrism, tolerance, inclusiveness, and harmony on a par with these great religions. It is all admirably presented by Straathof, who after his Sunda years studied cultural anthropology, in the first seventy pages of his book. The sequel that follows on geography, history and culture of Indonesia on a general level could better have been replaced with the story of the process of cooperation between Agama and the Catholic Church. Did the Agama change its views, and how did the Catholics adjust to the Agama learnings? And how did the Agama fare after 1964, and up until now? Straathof only offers glimpses of these. The reader is thus left wanting more.

DOI: 10.1163/22134379-17202027

Harry A. Poeze

KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies

Poeze@kitlv.nl

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Author:Poeze, Harry A.
Publication:Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2016
Words:356
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