Hi Everyone! My name is Bailey Stinson and I’m a Religion major and rising junior. During Summer Session 1, I spent six weeks in Indonesia. We traveled throughout the main island of Java; starting in Jakarta, to Bandung, then Jogjakarta for about 3.5 weeks, finishing in Bali for our last few days. While in Indonesia we studied religion and culture in Indonesia, specifically analyzing Islam in Indonesia. We had so many amazing experiences and once in a life time opportunities! Throughout our travels and study it was continuously revealed to us how Islam in Indonesia truly is so incredibly different from any other Islamic country in the world. The majority of this diversity is derived dynamically influential national, regional, and district cultures which continue to shape Islam to this day. Another facet of differentiation for Indonesian Islam are the remnants of historic religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Indigenous Animist faiths, which continue to exhibit their influence upon ritual practices, dress, ideologies, etc.
We also discovered that there is an obvious doubly reflexive integrative relationship between culture and religion in Indonesia. Just as religion is wrought by culture, local culture is also fashioned by religion. Social, economic, political, and educational aspects are heavily molded by the prevalence and practice of religion within various regions. I loved seeing the uniqueness of religion and its open integration into every facet of public and private life; in spite of the underlying conflicts both inter- and intra- religiously, from differing interpretations of holy texts, and expressions faith and religion, to feelings of spirituality. I have to say that my favorite experiences were, first, visiting the Gedong Gandhi Ashram in eastern Bali talking with the vice-director of the Ashram discussing his view of personally having a religion without a name, and mine deriving from Bonhoeffer’s perspective of a Religionless Christianity!! Amazing!! And second was the meeting at the Komisi Nasional Anti Kekerasan Terhadap Perempuan (The National Commission of Violence Against Women) with Masruchah and Kiai Husein discussing the plight of women as well as LGBTQ issues in Indonesia, which was close to the greatest four hours of discussion in my life!! It was an absolutely wonderful adventure and I would return in a heartbeat!!