call for books and a poignant postscript
It will be a sad day for the humble
book when NCR readers stop climbing on podiums and soapboxes and other
high places to spread the word about their favorites. I want to renew our
annual call, which I first made two issues ago, for the book that amused or
frustrated or edified or even sanctified you.
In our Winter Books supplement, this year as always, we plan to
make space for everyone to sound off about favorite books of the year. You may
write it as short as you wish -- and brevity very often is the soul of
wit -- but try to keep it down to 300 words at the long end. Please share the
title of the work, the author, also the publisher and year of publication if
you know them -- we are especially interested in books published in the past
Since there will be no payment for this, we are forced to appeal
to your higher nature, or the fear of Purgatory, or -- well, someday you may
write a book, too, and then, when no one mentions it (an impossible situation
in your case), youll understand how gracious a thing it is to help out an
author or a book at this topsy-turvy time when the glittering newfangled media
are getting all the attention.
The deadline is Oct. 11. The Winter Books issue is Nov. 5.
Please send entries to NCR at 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas
City MO 64111. But it would be even better to send them by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
As the world struggles to find some
way to end the agony in East Timor, we pass along a poignant and sad
post-postscript to the story by James Fox that ran in our Sept.17 issue. Fox,
director of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian
National University in Canberra, Australia, was an election observer for the
Carter Center in Atlanta.
His observations here are a reminder that amid the horror, it is
often too easy to brand an entire people, in this case Indonesians, as
indiscriminately violent and dismissive of human rights. As Fox writes, there
are countless Indonesians who have joined the struggle for human rights in East
His latest dispatch follows:
Fr. Tarcisius Dewanto.
What sticks in my memory are his broad smile, wide eyes and
unmistakable Javanese mannerisms. Fr. Tarcisius Dewanto was so young and now he
We seemed to get on well from the moment we began talking with
each other in the churchyard in Suai. He invited me to visit him at the
seminary in Dili after things had settled down, and I had accepted. I was
looking forward to meeting him again.
Last week when I arrived in Jakarta from East Timor, I began
writing a short article that was intended to hold out a ray of hope by focusing
on the work of reconciliation of the two parish priests in Suai, Fr. Hilario
and Fr. Francisco. I didnt mention Dewanto because, as he told me, he had
only just arrived to help out in the parish and hadnt even reported his
move to Suai to the bishop. He knew, however, that he was placing himself in
one of the most dangerous areas of East Timor.
By the time I had finished my article, various rumors had begun
to reach Jakarta. First that Fr. Hilario had been killed but that Fr. Francisco
had escaped. I wrote a postscript and was about to send it when the news came
that both had been killed. I changed my postscript and sent it off.
Only on Friday (four days after the Aug. 30 elections) was it
clear that Fr. Dewanto had also been killed. By Saturday, the afternoon
newspaper, Suara Pembaruan, and the magazine D&R carried
eyewitness accounts of the killing of the three priests and the massacre of all
the women and children sheltering in the church at Suai. All three priests died
trying to prevent the killing of those seeking shelter in the church.
Fr. Dewanto had just been ordained on July 14 in St. Ignasius
Church in Yogyakarta in central Java, the most populated island in Indonesia.
Almost immediately after his ordination, he returned to Timor and was assigned
to teach at the seminary at Balide. When we talked, he listed for me the names
of his fellow Jesuits -- many of them his classmates -- who were also working
in East Timor. Some of these Jesuits were also from other parts of
There is a point to be made in all of this -- one that I am
certain that Fr. Dewanto would have wished to emphasize. Countless Indonesians
of all sorts have been deeply involved in the struggle for human rights in East
Timor. University and nongovernmental organization activists, those concerned
with democratic reform, journalists, commentators have all contributed to the
struggle, and many have spoken out with revulsion at the violence and
destruction in East Timor. Most reputable newspapers have continued to provide
in-depth reporting on the situation. There are a great number of Indonesians
like Fr. Dewanto, and I feel proud to know so many of them as friends.
Although a relative calm had descended on East Timor by press
time, the international peacekeeping force had not yet arrived. What was known
was there had been a heavy death toll, that religious leaders and institutions
had been especially targeted and that once again the United States would be
sorting through the results of having armed a military that committed extreme
violations of human rights.
-- Michael Farrell
National Catholic Reporter, September 24,