Monday, May 10, 2010

Christianity in Bali


The Christian communities on the island of Bali in southeast Asia offer one of the most interesting examples of nonwestern Christianity in the world, through its embrace of indigenous arts such as architecture, relief carving, music, dance, ceremony and dress (this is a part of the world that is definitely on my must-travel list!). Back in 1972 the Protestant church of Bali decided to embrace the contextualization of their faith, after about 40 years of having practiced a version of Christianity started by Chinese missionaries that condemned the native cultural practices (in earlier decades, the Catholic church had made the same choice as well). The result has been churches which are built in the Balinese architectural style which reflects the Hindu culture of the island (though I suppose with reinterpreted meanings). The church services use gamelan music, shadow puppetry and traditional Balinese dance . Some Hindu cultural celebrations have been adopted or reinterpreted as well. Unfortunately, tantalizingly little has been written about these rich cultural practices of Bali's Christian community . Maybe one day I'll have to do something about that...

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