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Batak and Wealth: A Critical Study of Materialism in the Batak Churches in Indonesia

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In this article, Indonesian theologian Batara Sihombing analyses the place and function of wealth among the Toba Batak of Northern Sumatra, the people into whom he was born. After surveying the Batak kinship system and the Batak people in general, Sihombing reflects on the three highest ideals of the Batak people and provides a number of proverbs which point to the centrality of wealth and honor in Batak culture. In a third section of his essay, Sihombing reflects on the practices of auction, patronage and corruption among the Batak, and offers a strong critique of each in the light of Scripture and Christian principles.

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