It’s wood…and more

This is a doctor’s waiting room. Note the heavy wooden furniture! This furniture is the goal of every business operation. Acquiring the 100-pound chairs on the left means you have arrived. You are the real thing, whatever your business is, be it a dentist office, a car wash, a bank, a metal fabrication shop, whatever. The Cambodian culture is obsessed with luxury woods that bestow respect and esteem upon their owners.

Politics and Theology

The incredible events in our nation’s Capitol Building are more than politics. They are also indicative of our theology. Here is a link to an article by Jim Wallis in Sojourners magazine. Read the full article and reflect on how to respond, but for me these were the ideas that struck me the most.

In addition to the political ramifications for our democracy of the attempted coup, there are also theological questions Wallis raised:

1. Truth is a central tenet of Christianity. “Does the truth matter to Christians and Christian leaders who supported Donald Trump?”

2. “[T]he biblical abomination of racism and its ideology of white nationalism…stands at the core of the Trump base…. This is no longer just politics, it is theological heresy, and one that needs to be exorcised from white Christianity in America.”

I encourage you to read the article.

Monks in Cambodia

Monk with begging bowl

One of the permanent features of Cambodia life and society is the presence of the Buddhist monks on the street, on the ferry boats, wherever. Every morning they make their rounds begging food and money for the people they care for and for their own meals. Click here to see some of the monks of the streets….


This is the toilet at St. Joseph Church in Phnom Penh. Women on the left, men on the right, and urinals in full view. Such an arrangement might seem lacking in privacy in a country like the United States but is perfectly acceptable here in this culture.

Fading Tradition

You often don’t notice them as your ride by on modern Phnom Penh’s busy streets, but there are still quite a few old traditional wooden houses around. Often a shopfront has been added to turn what used to be just a family house into a family business so that from the street only a concrete facade is visible. As the city develops, though, these house are doomed.

A landscaping business almost hides this old house near the Maryknoll office
In the old traditional style, each room has its own peaked roof.
Here is a concrete room added to the front of the wooden house to create a business.
This used to be a neighborhood of wooden houses, but now all the adjoining traditional houses have become multistory apartment blocks.
How long will this little wooden house last on this corner?

Coronation Holiday

Cambodia is awash in holidays. The United States has 11. Cambodia has more than 23. The number has changed some in the past year or two as the government recognized there are too many such days and removed one or two, but there are still too many. Today this roundabout is decorated for the anniversary of the king’s coronation. And then tomorrow we have the first day of a three-day holiday for the Water Festival!