Considered by many to be one of the best books to ever come out of Japan, Shūsaku Endō’s “Silence,” is a harsh reminder that faith isn’t always easy. Imagine being a Portuguese Jesuit priest undertaking a secret mission to infiltrate seventeenth century Japan in an effort to both find a lost colleague and to push Christianity in a country openly hostile to the religion itself.
Two Christian brothers endure the hardship of the voyage only to arrive in Japan where they are captured and subjected to a myriad of torture including having to watch their disciples lose their lives due to their faith. There are many takeaways. First, I’m glad I’m not religious. Solves a lot of problems right there. Second, the Japanese were experts when it came to torture and you really have to tip your hat. Ingenious techniques. The goal was to get the brothers to renounce their faith. Not an easy matter when someone has devoted their life to spreading the faith.
The conversation between the Japanese captors and the Jesuit fathers is worth the read. The back and forth about faith with each attempting to trick the other into seeing the world in their way. Oh, how I could go on about religion itself and how this very thing is playing out on a daily basis in this world of ours. But I won’t.
Silence is a beautiful book. I know that might seem like a horrible thing to say but it’s true. The cover artwork is beautiful, the prose as well. The story is compelling and captivating and also shines a bit on the history of the world at that point. Get it, read it.
I’m Catholic and the movie Silence tore me up ten ways to Sunday. It took me six hours to watch the damn thing. I kept pausing it and arguing with the movie, my faith, and God in general. And yes, the Japanese were smart in going after the Jesuits. I didn’t like their methods, but could appreciate them in some weird way in what they were trying to do. It’s beautifully shot as well. Man, the cast and crew did a phenomenal job and Silence is wonderfully directed by Scorsese. It’s ranks #2 after The Godfather for me.
That’s actually good to know. Made you FEEL something. That’s the point of good literature, story, or film. Sometimes these feelings are harsh but we come away more informed. The movie is on my list!