Saturday, October 04, 2008

Two more!

Christ of the Khmers
through the hands of Paul E Strid

St Cuthbert's Episcopal Church,
Oakland, California

(c) Paul E Strid (just ask me for permission)

On or around September 25 we had our first visitors from Cambodia and the Cayman Islands. A hearty welcome to them and to all their fellow citizens who may follow.

I have never been to Cambodia but long-time readers of this site know that I have wonderful Cambodian-American friends from the church in Oakland, California. The stories of life under the Khmer Rouge and their escape to Thailand are harrowing. And those are only the ones they have chosen to share. It has been my privilege to baptize four generations of members of one family and, sadly, to bury members of the oldest and youngest generations.

I made a short-lived attempt to learn more than five rote sentences in Khmer but transliterations just were not working and the Cambodian alphabet utterly defeated me. I learned the Hebrew and Greek alphabets when I was twelve and learned to recognize most of the Arabic and Russian ones as well. I was young and my mind absorbed easily. In my 50s learning came more slowly. If anyone needs some books for learning Cambodian, I have them and they can be yours for the asking.

We did sing a Cambodian Sanctus during part of the year, singing it in English, then Khmer, then English again. The setting was written by the sister-in-law of one of our members whose husband is a pastor in the Midwest.

The Kingdom of Cambodia is currently best known for the horrors of the Pol Pot regime and for the magnificent sacred ruins of Angkor Wat.
Modern satellites have revealed Angkor to be the largest pre-industrial urban center in the world, larger than modern day New York.
As part of the area known (though less so nowadays) as Indochina it has a culture shaped by India and China. The early Hindu heritage transformed to a Buddhist one and the primary religion is Theravada Buddhism. The ancient Khmer Empire establishes both cultural identity and memories of former glory. Wikipedia notes that its main industries today are garments, tourism, and construction. Anyone who would like to understand what happened to Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge took over should see the movie The Killing Fields. and check the website of the Yale Cambodian Genocide Program.

Here is a video on the phenomenon with a hip-hop song on power, territory, and rice (caution: some strong images).

Just yesterday I saw a BBC article about some of the perpetrators of those horrors being tried at long last.
Five former members of the Khmer Rouge have gone on trial in Cambodia, accused of kidnapping and killing two members of a mine clearance team.


The trial is seen as a sign that Khmer Rouge figures no longer enjoy immunity.
Separately, the trial of a senior Khmer Rouge leader facing war crimes charges has reportedly been delayed.

The Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia for a four-year period in the late 1970s.
Forced from power by a Vietnamese invasion, the Maoist guerrillas continued to battle government troops from strongholds in the north-west for two decades.


The communist group implemented radical policies considered responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution.
Traditional Cambodian music played by musicians who survived land mines:

Kong Nay is one of those living treasures, a master of the Cambodian guitar known as the chapei dong veng, he was forced to play nothing but Khmer Rouge music. He survived that era and now passes on a dying art form. As a great blind musician he is sometimes called "the Cambodian Ray Charles."

Gotta have a song about young love, right?

The Cayman Islands are a British overseas territory located in the western Caribbean Sea, comprising the islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. It is a major financial centre in the Caribbean.


The Cayman Islands have the dubious honour of having experienced the most hurricane strikes in history. Due to the proximity of the islands, more hurricane and tropical systems have affected the Cayman Islands than any other region in the Atlantic basin (brushed or hit every 2.23 years). The Cayman Islands enjoy a high global standard of living fully dependent upon tourism and tax-haven dependent banking.


There are more businesses than residents in the Caymans and I think I should not even get started about tax havens this morning. I will note that IMNSHO it is not unrelated to the deregulation of financial institutions and our current economic crisis.

George Town is the capital and Queen Elizabeth II is the sovereign, estimated population is 62,000 and the currency is the Cayman Islands Dollar.

Kings Of Convenience - Cayman Islands (something soft and gentle and not likely to get your hips moving)

49 seconds of the steel drum band float in the Pirates' Week festival in the Grand Cayman:

DJ Nicholas In Cayman Islands

--the BB

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