Sunday, May 28, 2017

Silence by Shusaku Endo

“Lord, why are you silent? Why are you always silent...?” 
― Shūsaku EndōSilence

Silence is filled with non-quiet moments that make you want to scream, "Dear God, please save these poor Japanese people!" It is a lesson in the decisions that religious people make to protect themselves from the torture in dictatorship ran countries where freedom of religion doesn't exist. 

Endo does a great job of helping you to feel the stress that Father Rodrigues goes through with every step of his journey from Portugal to Japan. He and his missionary companion Garpe go in good faith to find Father Ferreira a priest whom the word around the Christian world says apostatized from the Catholic Church. Rodrigues and Garpe were Ferreira's students, they don't believe that he could have become an apostate.

Many times Rodrigues talks to the Lord of Chicago, Inoue who argues that the Catholic faith is not for the Japanese. During one of those conversations Inoue argues that the Japanese don't need the christian religion, they have the Buddha, they have their religion and that the Catholic faith is a false teaching, an untruth for the Japanese. This is how Rodrigues answers: 

"'according to our way of thinking, truth is universal, said the priest... a moment ago you officials expressed sympathy for the suffering I have passed through. One of you spoke words of warm consolation for my traveling thousands of miles of sea over such a long period to come to your country. If we did not believe that truth is universal, why should so many missionaries endure these hardships? It is precisely because truth is common to all countries and all times that we call it truth. If a true doctrine were not true alike in Portugal and Japan we could not call it "true".' " - Rodrigues, Silence

Garpe, the priest and companion drowns in the ocean as Rodrigues watches, while trying to save some of their congregation before the faithful japanese are drowned themselves. Rodrigues in the end is not as strong as he believes as Garpe was to save the japanese people. The journey through his belief becomes parallel to the one that Christ took on his way to eternal life until the very end of Christ's Martyrdom. Their guide Kuchijiro fills the role of Judas. At the point right before death Rodrigues must decide what it means to save his people: for them to die for his teachings and their faith or for him to die as a martyr never backing down from his belief. 

“I did pray. I kept on Praying. But prayer did nothing to alleviate their suffering.”   Shūsaku EndōSilence