on 22 September 2009
After reading the synopsis on the back cover I had to take one step backwards. This account seemed too horrific to contemplate, but having just read the book it is clear that the horror and barbarity is more than equally matched by the incredible response of love towards the author's former tormentors.
If you only read one book this year then this is the one to read. It will change your perception of how life can truly be lived for the better. If you are struggling with unforgiveness then this is a 'must read'. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
on 6 January 2013
Sokreaksa's life was filled with anger justifiably as he had watched his whole family bludgeoned to death by Khmer Rouge men. After years of trials as he worked hard to start a new life, feelings of revenge filled his mind. When he found total forgiveness and the love of Christ he learned how to forgive the killers. This has led to him founding a church, a school, library and computer lessons for children who live in the area of what was his family's grave. One of the killers has become a Christian and his son benefits by attending Reaksa's school. Reaksa has learned lessons through forgiveness that have motivated him to turn this tragedy into a triumph through serving others in need of new lives. This book has the power to change your life.
on 21 November 2009
In theory this book could be of interest to three groups of people: those interested in the spiritual dimension of Christianity, those interested in psychology/therapy with a focus on the recovery of victims of extreme violence/trauma, and those interested in the history, life and culture of Cambodia. This book has a lot to offer the first group, might well be of some interest to the second and has only the occasional insight to offer the third.
Mr. Himm's parents, brothers and sisters were killed by the Khmer Rouge, Mr. Himm himself being left for dead in a mass grave. The principal motive for him writing this book is to describe "in detail a forgiveness from my own experience" in order "to help others who struggle with post traumatic experiences". To this end Mr. Himm's honesty and sincerity are unquestionable: he talks openly about his desire for revenge and his own turmoil as a converted Christian in this respect. His exploration of the debilitating power of hatred and the pernicious effect of intensely negative thought forms is excellent. For the author, Christian forgiveness is the therapeutic solution to exorcise his hatred and achieve peace of mind, but he engages in some mental gymnastics to make the negative "lack of forgiveness" the cause of his problem: having found a Christian solution to a problem which others might have solved differently, Himm then defines the problem in terms of the absence of his personal solution.
This book is the introspective monologue of a new convert to Christianity which contains both interesting analyses and tedious repetition. There is a deep pathos to the story of the university-educated graduate converted to Christianity "forgiving" the illiterate peasant who, swept up in the Khmer Rouge momentum, had participated in the murder of his family. On meeting him, the author cannot comprehend the sociological causes of the peasant's inarticulate behaviour and, in his self-involved spirit of "forgiveness", can only relate to him in his abstract Christian discourse: "The devil's spirit controlled his emotions". The author's trek through the Cambodian villages leaving messages for illiterate ex-Khmer Rouge peasants that he wishes them no harm but rather seeks to "forgive" them smacks of patronising condescension. Significantly the only killer who has the wherewithal to deal with the situation intelligently is educated and literate. As with many missionaries, the solution to everyone's problem is the imposition of one's own solution, in Himm's case Christianity.