The Island Of Bali, Indonesia



Typical is the story of Pan Luting, a convert village headman who had helped the missionaries to increase their fold. He repented, claiming he had been deceived, and being a topeng actor of repute, in his performances of masked dramas he now never misses an opportunity to poke fun at the missionaries and to express his joy at not being a Christian any longer. Another soul was lost to the missionaries when a young convert discovered that the venereal disease he suffered from did not disappear when he pronounced the magic formula: " I believe in Jesus Christ," as he had thought it would.

Again, a convert who felt himself at the point of death quickly renounced his new faith when the village medicine-man refused to treat him, claiming that his magic would be of no avail to a Christian. He recovered and it is needless to say that he held a great offering feast of thanksgiving. Stories such as these are repeated endlessly in Bali, but perhaps the best illustration of the superficiality of the convictions of the new Christians is the following conversation between a young convert and an enlightened official:

" Why did you renounce your religion? "
" Because I believe! "
" Believe what? "
" I believe in Jesus Christ."
"Who is he? "
" That Tuan (European) with the black coat that comes often from Lombok."

Eventually the disturbances became too noticeable and the American missionaries had to leave. Until then the Dutch missions had restrained themselves from further activity in Bali, but when the news came that rival missionaries had succeeded in making a few converts, they went up in the air and are now pulling every rope to have the law modified. Bitter controversy flared up in the papers in Holland and Java; the missionaries claimed that the Balinese were finally ripe for conversion because their religious feeling was, at last, breaking down.

A Dr. Kraemer, head of a Protestant missionary sect, went to Bali to investigate and, after a stay in the island of a little over a month, wrote a thick volume in which he aimed to prove the failings of the Balinese religion, and the idea that the Balinese really wished to become Christians, but were opposed by European intellectuals living on the island. This argument was quickly answered by Tjokorde Gede Rake Soekawati, the Balinese representative in the Volksraad, the " People's Court," in Batavia. Dr. Kraemer's prejudiced " findings " were entirely wiped out by answers and an analysis of his arguments by the real students of Bali, men like Bosch, Goris, Korn, Haga, Lekkerkerker, De Bruyn Kops, and Damste.

Dr. Cons has pointed out that the view of the missionaries is based on the principle that all peoples are by nature " no good " and in a hopeless " soul-conflict " that can only be remedied by the peculiar brand of religion the missionaries preach. Finding little evidence of this " soul-conflict " in the Balinese, the missionaries encourage it or try to create it by stirring up the natural animosity of the lower classes against the high castes and by playing on their poverty, thus encouraging the caste struggle rather than abolishing it, as was their claim. Curiously enough, the same missionaries who accuse the Balinese of religious superficiality approve of the converts made under false pretences who know nothing of Christianity except rubber-stamp Malay phraseology.

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