Towards a Christian Pastoral Approach to Cambodian Culture
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We live in a time of Globalization, where we find ourselves rubbing shoulders and working together in one place with all kinds of people belonging to different races and different creeds. We live in a world which now finds itself immersed in deep global conflicts (terrorism, suicide bombings, political retaliations) which many attribute to religious fanaticism. Thus we can only continue to live peacefully if we maintain that respect for each others beliefs. This is the global dimension this paper wishes to bring forth.In our present situation, if many of us expatriates (in Cambodia) live far from our own native land and we live with people of another culture, understanding their milieu will certainly help us understand the people of that place. And since religion is tied up to a particular language and culture, particularly here in Cambodia, it would be worthwhile to study the different religious influences brought about through the centuries upon Cambodian culture. Hence the social dimension of the paper.The third dimension would be a practical one. Understanding the differences between religions, we could focus more on the bridges that unite rather than the walls that separate us. In this way we realize that being different does not lessen our humanity but rather enriches it.The paper will present a historical overview of the religious history of Cambodia. The literary survey used in this paper will then attempt to list and describe some particular influences of each of these religions (Animism, Brahmanism, Buddhism) to the Cambodian way of living at the present. Then the paper will try to infer some insights on the observations made focusing on how to build bridges for dialogue between Christians and Khmer Buddhists. The paper searches into the intertwining of Animism, Brahmanism and Buddhism into what is now uniquely Cambodia’s national religion and how this would impact other religions now entering Cambodia specifically Christianity.