Singing to the Dead: A Missioners Life among Refugees from Burma

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Singing to the dead : a missioner's life among refugees from Burma, Victoria Armour-Hileman, electronic resource Resource Information. The item Singing to the dead : a missioner's life among refugees from Burma, Victoria Armour-Hileman, electronic resource represents a specific, individual, material embodiment of a distinct intellectual or artistic creation found in University Of Pikeville.

This item is available to borrow from 1 library branch. Creator Armour-Hileman, Victoria, Contributor NetLibrary, Inc. Language eng.

Singing to the Dead: A Missioner's Life among Refugees from Burma

Publication Athens, Ga. Extent xvii, p. Isbn Label Singing to the dead : a missioner's life among refugees from Burma, Victoria Armour-Hileman, electronic resource Instantiates Singing to the dead : a missioner's life among refugees from Burma Publication Athens, Ga. Dimensions unknown Extent xvii, p. File format unknown Form of item electronic Isbn Isbn Type electronic bk. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover.

Missionaries -- Thailand | Bangkok -- Biography (Concept) - University Of Pikeville

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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. It is , and the Burmese government's current war on its indigenous people runs into its fourth year. In neighboring Thailand, a small band of Buddhist monks harbors refugees from Burma inside their modest temple in the slums of Bangkok. The monks and refugees are all natives of the Burmese Mon State. All have the same residential status in Thailand: illegal. Under surv It is , and the Burmese government's current war on its indigenous people runs into its fourth year. Under surveillance, and overwhelmed by the needs of their charges, the monks reach out to international aid agencies in Bangkok for help in ministering to the tortured, the wounded, the diseased, and the orphaned.

Singing to the Dead recalls a Catholic lay missioner's work alongside the Mon Buddhist monks of Bangkok. For more than two years, Victoria Armour-Hileman was a go-between for the monks, interceding with the world outside their temple walls for everything from a cornea transplant for a land mine victim to money to buy shoes for barefoot orphans. At the same time, Singing to the Dead details an aid worker's ongoing education: how to weave through an embassy bureaucracy, how to stave off burnout, how to pull money out of thin air at the eleventh hour, when to trust and when to be cautious, when to kowtow, when to pray.

As the centuries-old conflict between Burma and its Mon people worsens, police raids on the temple in Bangkok increase. Refugees have never been safe, but now even the monks' unofficial immunity seems tenuous. When one of the monks is threatened with repatriation to Burma and possible imprisonment and torture, Armour-Hileman begins the desperate race to secure a new home country for him.

She knows that these final efforts are as selfish as they are humanitarian, for what kind of God, and what kind of universe, will she believe in if she fails? Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title.

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Kiriyama Prize Nominee for Nonfiction Other Editions 2. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Singing to the Dead , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Oct 02, prcardi rated it really liked it Shelves: pg , kiriyama-prize-finalist , medical , memoir , inspirational. Victoria Armour-Hileman writes with a delightful and oftentimes self-deprecating awareness of her own naivete, lack of qualifications, and interloper status.

She also endears herself to the reader for her fervor, compassion, and sense of justice.

Her tale and those others' she carries forward is scented and lightly ornamented with the impressions of a Bangkok exotic to an American and deftly uses them to portray the mannerisms of a people and pace of a city. Every Buddhist Myanmar male is expected to take up temporary monastic residence twice in his life: once as a samanera novice monk between the ages of seven and 20, and again as a hpongyi fully ordained monk sometime after the age of Almost all men or boys aged under 20 'take robe and bowl' in the shinpyu novitiation ceremony.

All things possessed by a monk must be offered by the lay community. Upon ordination a new monk is typically offered a set of three robes lower, inner and outer. Other possessions a monk is permitted include a razor, a cup, a filter for keeping insects out of drinking water , an umbrella and an alms bowl. In Myanmar, women who live the monastic life as dasasila 'precept' nuns are often called thilashin possessor of morality in Burmese. Burmese nuns shave their heads, wear pink robes and take vows in an ordination procedure similar to that for monks.

Generally, nunhood isn't considered as 'prestigious' as monkhood, as nuns usually don't perform ceremonies on behalf of laypeople and keep only 10 precepts — the same number observed by male novices. Both men and women will take monastic vows at important junctures in their lives, such as after the death of a loved one, following a painful break-up or even on achieving some form of worldly success. During these periods an individual may remain a monk or nun for as long as is required to achieve some form of spiritual perspective — a week, a month or, sometimes, a lifetime.

Paya pa- yah , the most common Myanmar equivalent to the often misleading English term 'pagoda', literally means 'holy one' and can refer to people, deities and places associated with religion. Often it's a generic term covering a stupa, temple or shrine.

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There are basically two kinds of paya: the solid, bell-shaped zedi and the hollow square or rectangular pahto. A zedi stupa is usually thought to contain 'relics' — either objects taken from the Buddha himself pieces of bone, teeth or hair or certain holy materials. The term pahto is sometimes translated as 'temple', though 'shrine' would perhaps be more accurate, as priests or monks are not necessarily in attendance. Mon-style pahto , with small windows and ground-level passageways, are also known as a gu or ku from the Pali-Sanskrit guha , meaning 'cave'.

Both zedi and pahto are often associated with kyaung Buddhist monasteries , also called kyaungtaik and hpongyi-kyaung. The most important structure on the monastery grounds is the thein a consecrated hall where monastic ordinations are held. An open-sided zayat resthouse may be available for gatherings of laypeople during festivals or pilgrimages. Building a paya or monastery, or contributing to their upkeep, is a major source of merit for Myanmar's Buddhists.

Even the poorest villager can usually afford to spend a few thousand kyats on gold leaf, which can be pressed on a Buddha statue, or flowers that can adorn a shrine, which all counts towards good merit. Such practices are themselves a manifestation of traditional folk religion, which blends with Buddhism into a syncretic worship that turns an older animistic reverence for sacred spaces into a means of honouring the Buddha and the sangha.

One of the most fascinating things about Myanmar is the ongoing worship of the nat spirit being. Though some Buddhist leaders downgrade them , the nat are very much present in the lives of the people of Myanmar, and you'll often find them sharing space with Buddha in their own nat-sin spirit house at temples, in private residences and even in corporate offices.

Be on the lookout for a coconut, sometimes wrapped in a gaung baung turban , hanging above a small offering plate or bowl; this is a shrine intended for the nat s. You'll also see many nat shrines in rural areas. Worship of nats predates Buddhism in Myanmar. Nats have long been believed to hold dominion over a place natural or human-made , person or field of experience. Separate, larger shrines were built for a higher class of nat, descended from actual historic personages including previous Thai and Bamar kings who had died violent, unjust deaths. These suprahuman nat, when correctly propitiated, could aid worshippers in accomplishing important tasks, vanquishing enemies and so on. Early in the 11th century in Bagan, King Anawrahta stopped animal sacrifices part of nat worship at Mt Popa and destroyed nat temples. Realising he may lose the case for making Theravada Buddhism the national faith, Anawrahta wisely conceded the nat's coexistence with Buddha.

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There were 36 recognised nat at the time in fact, there are many more. Anawrahta sagely added a 37th, Thagyamin, a Hindu deity based on Indra, whom he crowned 'king of the nat'. Since, in traditional Buddhist mythology, Indra paid homage to Buddha, this insertion effectively made all nat subordinate to Buddhism. Anawrahta's scheme worked, and today the commonly believed cosmology places Buddha's teachings at the top.

With that said, the nats still occupy an important role as sources of potential good luck and fortune; in this regard, they are similar to Catholic saints, although they do not occupy the same intercessionary position between a worshipper and a higher power.