Silence author Martin Scorsese By Martin Scorsese

    What a devastatingly brilliant novel about faith, fanaticism, love, suffering, and ultimately, the silence of God. Why does God allow pain to flourish in the world? Why does God stand silent while the world burns? This novel, about Jesuit Portuguese missionaries in Japan in the 17th Century is gorgeously rendered, asks the hardest of hard questions, and is simply one of the greatest novels I've ever read. Very excited to see the upcoming film adaptation by Martin Scorsese. 1250082277

    It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt.

    The context of the above line is based on the sacrifice Jesus made for sins of humanity. Now I am going to revise this line to explain the story of Silence.

    For priests of Japan, it was easy enough to die as good and beautiful; the hard thing was to die as miserable and corrupt.

    Hailed as one of the best novels of the twentieth century, Endo's Silence creates a fascinating as well as thought provoking historical fiction which draws deep from theology, faith, doubt, and pure human condition.

    Set in the 17th century, the story introduces young Portuguese Jesuit Sebastião Rodrigues and his companions who travels to Japan to seek their mentor, father Ferreira who has gone cold. This was the time when Japan had enough of Christianity and started hunting and torturing converted Christians and their sympathizers. Also, the foreign priests were given special attention (not the good kind) by the officials.

    Father Ferreira was one of the priests. The news from Japan is that he has renounced his religion.

    Rodrigues and his friends don't believe this. The mentor they knew was the most faithful and strongest of them all. They decide to travel to Japan and investigate as well as act as priests for the underground Japanese Christian community.

    In the introduction, Endo states that he was writing literature while writing the story, not theology. And I chose to read the book as literature and focused not on theological aspects, but on morality and conditions, our characters went through. Nevertheless, Endo's craftsmanship as he draws parallelism between Jesus and Rodrigues is captivating.

    Endo also writes about tortures people had to go through because of their faith. Well, that's our world's history. Religion is like fire: It can warm a person as well as burn them to death. Here, Christians were under attack. Centuries before these incidents, Christians persecuted and tortured pagans under Constantinus II. It goes on and on and on.

    These people would've felt pretty stupid if Thor received them at gates of the afterlife when they died.

    Note: The tale begins with translator's preface, in which William Johnston, the translator, gives a brief and very interesting historical and political landscape of Japan from late 16th century and early 17th century. He talks about the dawn of Christianity in Japan, the love/hate relationship between Japanese politics and priests and Shimabara Rebellion. This fact-based set up in the initial pages of the book helped to pique my interest.

    Recommended. 1250082277 This book ruined my life. Sorta true. It's the catchiest review intro I'm going to come up with. I'm afraid to review this book and remember why it set me off to feeling hopeless and stupid. Band aid scenario. Pull it off!

    I don't have the religion or spiritual kinds of faith. I'm dyslexic when it comes to religion, maybe. My mind jumbles the meanings and I just don't speak that language of KNOWING what you can't see and this is good and this is always bad. I don't look at someone who does have it and see that core glowing from within them. I hear the adults from Peanuts warbled talk about it like someone being in love with someone. *I* am not in love. Maybe it is something spiritual I have but it isn't like anything I've heard about. My Star Wars buddhism and humanism, whatever that is. Any kind of thread between me and everyone else, of past, present and future (on good days when I don't heartily wish there was no me). I at least want to see the glow in another.
    The times I believe what is worth remembering (and is actually remembered!) is enough. Things I'm afraid to try to name 'cause it'd probably make me an asshole (like if I could ever understand or know anyone else). I live for moments I feel like walls of skulls aren't so thick after all. I'll try to keep the faith (that I don't have 'cause I don't know what it is) that there's going to be something in there to spark the life and days for the next day. Something like that. Unless I get confused reading a book like Silence and it ruins my life!

    Church? After life (that there won't always be life has sometimes been my only hope)? It would occur to me last, if at all. (My first memory of catholicism is seeing the bath tub in the catholic church my cousins went to. I decided they used it to drown children while the adults watched. Not to mention the Alabama baptist church my mom allowed this kind lady - ha!- to force us to go to.) Shusako Endo's Silence might be about God and religion and stuff like that, as the book jackets and quotes suggest. Graham Greene named it as a best novel of the century. Other guys called Endo the Japanese Graham Greene. I only know The Third Man Graham Greene, really... No help at all. Since that stuff doesn't exist in my heart I read something else. I felt a little stupid reading this was about Christian themes. More remorseful still when it is about philosophy. Soooo don't get it. Humanity? Asshole! Maybe I didn't read the intended book. Oh well. Can I go on beating myself up about it forever? (Yeah, I could.) If I had read it as a Christian themes book I wouldn't have given a shit about the book at all and could have moved on with my reading life as if nothing had happened.

    What killed me was the losing the faith in the unnameable let's not be an asshole stuff. I guess I was an asshole. I can hardly explain it to myself why Endo's Silence triggered one of my more awful depressions since fall of 2009 (I didn't talk to anyone that was not purely perfunctory reasons for months. I'm, um, afraid of people sometimes. Um, all the way into spring 2010). My mental health is a fragile little balanced thing that I have to keep watch over constantly. The little engine that couldn't. The stupidest shit can make me feel bleak as hell. I never know when it is going to happen. Relatively happy one second, depressed the next. I read lots of books and listen to music to keep up the feeling like someone other than me. I need other voices than me in here.

    I don't know how it happened. Yes, I do! It was that damned Kichijiro, and Father Rodrigues. It was that damned Mariel. Father Rodrigues is pumped up with love of Jesus Christ (he loves his beautiful face. Young me thought my dad looked like Jesus 'cause he had a beard. Now I think he looked like a prototype of a hipster. Too late. Jesus couldn't stop brutal jerks from sporting beards. George Harrison had to shave his off after Charles Manson ruined the look. Anyway, the look isn't gentle to me. It's the beard! Perfect for hiding undesirable dinner foods and violent secrets). The Catholic church is ready to give up on converting Japanese. The grapevine has it that Father Ferreira apostatized. I really don't get this apostatsy business. This could be me not getting the whole religious thing. WHY would it convert anyone to your religion when you got killed for it? I wanna do that! Does it matter if every person you are ever going to meet (for example, brutal guards with or without facial hair) knew that you fantasized about paintings of Jesus in your most affectionate moments? If that's where your feelings of self worth came from... Father Rodrigues definitely got off on the inner paintings of himself looking holy and serene. Boy, did he ever. Does one moment negate your entire being, what you are about? Denial of yourself to someone else? I personally believe that you are going to spend your life with yourself and knowing yourself is more important than a few Japanese guards getting you to say what you didn't want to say. Father Rodrigues lies to himself about his reasons for saying what he didn't want to say. That was kinda creepy crawly to read about. Stop the Jesus navel gazing, man! Did he believe that God was not there for him as the most protective big brother on the block? Or did he just wake up and smell the burning feet?

    Kichijiro was their Japanese guide, rescued from exile in Portugal. Kichijiro is a Christian in his heart. I think he was embracing the Catholic guilt too well. He apostatized. His entire family did not, and died their martyr deaths (maybe they were partying up there in heaven with Jesus made water wine while their brother drowned in sake and guilt made vomit. Who knows for sure?). Father Rodrigues hates Kichijiro, for all that he will not admit it. He likes to think well of himself and it depressed me to read his full of shitness about the lost man. What is the point in having a belief system if you can't LIVE with it? It depressed me to read about the pity from his Christ for the pain of having to step on the fumie. One man hated himself and the other felt he was loved. What enabled him to think that way? I couldn't do it. What the picture of Christ thought, in the heart of Father Rodrigues? What Kichijiro followed him through so much to hear, that it was not the end to have had that moment and stepped on the fumie? It is forgiven? What is forgiven? To live? Life sucks!!!!! Most of the time, for most. It is okay to feel something about it? What the hell is there to forgive? One day was not the whole life! What enlightenment did Father Rodrigues have that Kichijiro could not have? Kichijiro who would at least admit that he wanted to live.

    I don't know how it happened. I didn't catch myself in time. I couldn't stop thinking about Father Rodrigues. They were on their crosses to bear and the darkness crossed my face, crossed my heart. Hoped to die. My cross to bear. I made a face and it got stuck that way (it isn't stuck. It was the worst because it felt like it would be. Stuck). My cynicism started up. My lack of faith is truly that I cannot trust people in the me to them and them to me way. Would I hole up inside as Father Rodrigues? So supicious, that Father Rodrigues. I related too much to Kichijiro's cut off from life, his half alive desire to BE alive again. The inkling of what he wanted, yet doing all of the wrong things to keep that desire fed. It's a struggle, to live every day. I don't care if they die and if there's a happy all you can drink wine buffet party, or the kegger from hell with every asshole frat guy all in one place. I felt hopelessly stupid that I couldn't grasp what the point of this was. Is silence better if it is unspoken to not go unheard? God is dead, or unknowable, perhaps uncaring? It is possible to escape being an asshole and hiding from what you don't understand? Is there a glowing within others and I'll never be able to see it?

    I'm feeling more myself again, today. What I live for to stay with head above total darkness is the not faith but just trying not to be an asshole I know them all while keeping some kind of faith in not being all alone in this noggin. Other voices. No silence. It was my fault. I listened to my potential Father Rodrigues too much and I should have looked into the world around him, as much as I wished they'd look at each other (starving peasants risking all to feed the priests! Ugh!). It wasn't about him. If they needed Christianity it was because it was hard to live through the day to day without a connection to someone (I'm hoping their image of Christ wasn't as reflecting back as that stupid priest!). They went through a lot, those Catholic Japanese. They didn't doubt and grow silent within themselves.

    Silence is one of the few words that I know in kanji (I'm progressing perhaps slowly in kano. I'm not rushing anything. It's a kind of hobby to relax me, that's all [Note to self, don't start feeling bad about this]). I'd show off my writing if I had a (working) camera (I break everything! [I'd bang my head in frustration if I wouldn't break it too]). I've practiced it a lot. I've been writing reminders to myself like that for a long time. It was one of my worst ones to write Shut up on my own arm to remind myself throughout the day to not talk to anyone because everything I said felt so hopelessly stupid and pointless. I was afraid of feeling worse so I hid, in silence. (I've stopped doing that during the last three years, at least.) Silence is better (golden?). New language, new meaning. Silence instead of words of despair. (I'm not positive at all it's gone. I'm moment to moment.) Silence like listening is good silence. Sometimes I do nothing but read until I feel better.

    (I am hating myself writing this review. Is there no chance? Next thing I'll probably write some shit like Forgiveness is better than faith and I'll feel hopelessly tongue tied trying to write what I feel and connect it to thoughts that are half words, parts pictures, songs from childhood.

    My favorite song from childhood is in my head. I used to think that the day would never come that my life would depend on... the setting sun! (Like Japan.)
    Father Rodrigues hiding in a hole and waiting for his church followers to feed them and be blessed. The hand of god... Someone else's hand... That's not good enough. Some clarity would be good.)

    The cover art is of a christ figure hung on the character. Jesus. 1250082277 A worthwhile read even for a non-Christian like me who, nonetheless, has a deep and abiding intellectual interest in religion and spirituality. But VERY Christian. You have to have some empathy for that side of the story in order for it to be a satisfying read. If you're an atheist, not for you. No no no... 1250082277 سرد ممتع يرصد صدام التراث والمعتقدات بين اليابان وأوروبا
    من خلال الاضطهاد الديني للمسيحية في اليابان في القرن السابع عشر
    وصول الرهبان لليابان ورفض السلطات اليابانية للديانة الجديدة
    وأساليب الترغيب ثم الترهيب والتعذيب لرد المسيحيين إلى البوذية
    أبدع شوساكو إندو في تصوير حال الراهب البرتغالي بعد أسره
    الجدل والحوار الذاتي وحيرته وصراعه النفسي
    وتساؤلاته عن الإيمان واليقين, الشر والخطيئة, المحبة والتضحية
    والأهم أثر الضعف الانساني ورهبة الألم والمعاناة على اختيارات البشر 1250082277


    Martin Scorsese ↠ 8 review

    Shusaku Endo's New York Times bestselling classic novel of enduring faith in dangerous times, soon to be a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, and Adam Driver

    Silence I regard as a masterpiece, a lucid and elegant drama.-The New York Review of Books

    Seventeenth-century Japan: Two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to a country hostile to their religion, where feudal lords force the faithful to publicly renounce their beliefs. Eventually captured and forced to watch their Japanese Christian brothers lay down their lives for their faith, the priests bear witness to unimaginable cruelties that test their own beliefs. Shusaku Endo is one of the most celebrated and well-known Japanese fiction writers of the twentieth century, and Silence is widely considered to be his great masterpiece. Silence author Martin Scorsese

    Painful and deep book about the religions
    I think this book change me and makes me more respectful to other religions even if you religion different than what I believe I should respect you because this what you believe too 1250082277 Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
    -- Wittgenstein, Tractus Logico-Philosophicus 7

    The novel starts off a bit slow, but once it hit its pace it's almost Dostoevskian in its depths. Endō, a Japanese Catholic, uses the story of two Jesuit priests in search of an apostate Jesuit to explore issues of faith, circumstance, religous colonialism, belief, sin, courage, suffering, martyrdom, etc., especially during periods when God is silent. He examines Christ and Christianity and the way they adapted to Japan and were both accepted and rejected by the East.

    Overall, it was probably 4.5 stars for me. It certainly belongs on the block next to some of the other great religious fiction (The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, Les Misérables, The Razor's Edge, etc.).

    I think some of the power of this novel exists beyond the text. I don't mean supernatural or anything silly or of that sort. I just mean that the prose of this novel (or at least Johnston's translation of Endō) was fine, solid. But the book chews on you after reading. It expands. It works you over days after reading. I am still haunted by the sea, the darkness, and obviously the silence.

    Some of my favorite quotes:

    We priests are in some ways a sad group of men. Born into the world to render service to mankind, there is no one more wretched alone than the priest who does not measure up to his task.

    But Christ did not die for the good and beautiful. It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt--this is the realization that came home to me acutely at the time.

    Men are born in two categories: the strong and the weak, the saints and the commonplace, there heroes and those who respect them.

    Sin, he reflected, is not what it is usually thought to be; it is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind. 1250082277 This is an intense - rather grim - epistolary novel written mostly from the vantage point of a Roman Catholic priest, a missionary to Japan, early in the 17th century. The events are based on historical facts and the characters on actual people. The succinct introduction by translator William Johnston reveals that the novel begins after the period when daiymo Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who had once allowed the Christian missionaries much privilege, had twenty-six Japanese and European Christians crucified. Apparently there stands a monument to commemorate the spot where they died to this day. Although missionary work continued, there began a savage effort to exterminate Christianity from Japan. The first executions created too many martyrs, so the Japanese officials attempted to force the Christians to apostatize by stamping or pressing their foot on a depiction of Christ or the Virgin, a fumie. If not, they were wrapped tightly and hung upside down in a pit filled with excrement until they signaled their apostasy (with their one free hand) or died.

    The novel opens with two priests willing to risk capture and death to keep Christ's flame burning. They are Sebastian Rodrigues and Francisco Garrpe, both Portuguese. Crossing the leaden sea, they entrust themselves to Kichijiro, a Japanese Christian who wears a servile grin. Pax Christi. What happens to these men in Japan is beautiful and terrible. The letters of Rodrigues are testament to the powerful writing of Endō and show the priest's anguish as God remains silent in the face of so much suffering. He writes: I knew well, of course, that the greatest sin against God was despair; but the silence of God was something I could not fathom. Rodrigues is plagued by his inability to understand. His journey to Japan parallels the suffering of Christ, his dealings with Judas, as well as his interviews with Roman officials. It is not a good outcome, but the ending blew me away.

    Here's an important question to the faithful: If you could save men and women from slow torture by stepping on the fumie and apostatizing, would you do it? Or would you hold your ground while listening to their agonizing moans? Does God want you to help the suffering of human beings or does God want you to keep your foot off His image? What a terrible situation for a Christian priest. At one point Rodrigues is forced to watch the death of Japanese Christian martyrs as they are wrapped alive in matting and dropped into the sea. He cannot shake the vision of it, and he sees the sea stretched out endlessly, sadly; and all this time, over the sea, God simply maintained his unrelenting silence.[. . .] 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani!' The priest had always thought that these words were that man's prayer, not that they issued from terror at the silence of God.

    If you grew up Roman Catholic, as I did, this book will strike a strong chord in you. The questions that Rodrigues asks are the questions we all wanted to ask. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Like Dostoyevsky, Endō shows the existential condition of man as alien in the world, lonely, and horribly in need of comfort. More than anything else, Silence is food for thought.
    1250082277 “Sin, he reflected, is not what it is usually thought to be; it is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.”

    Japanese Painting by an unknown artist of the Christian Martyrs of Nagasaki.

    The Jesuit priest Francis Xavier born in SPAIN, but representing PORTUGAL arrived in Japan in 1543 to save souls. The Japanese were Buddhist, not “heathens” without a proper religion. The Spanish Franciscans and Dominicans, not wanting to be left out of this mass conversion opportunity, sent their own priests to compete with Xavier. Later, the Protestants from the Netherlands also wanted their share of souls in Japan, or was it something else they wanted? For the priests and ministers who went to Japan, I’m sure their objective was saving the souls of the Japanese because anyone not embracing the “true religion” was going to hell. The governments they represented, on the other hand, were not worried about saving souls but about making a fortune on trade. Whoever won the war of religious conversation also won the trade war. The Pope was called to intercede at different times, granting the Portuguese exclusive rights to Japan or later allowing the Spaniards to compete with the Portuguese.

    This was big business.

    These men of God were the first assault team of the invading West.

    The Japanese, at different times over the following century, rounded up the priests and their most fervent converts and shipped them off the island. They made it against the law to be a Christian. There was an overabundance of martyrs, as heads were separated from bodies. Christians were suspended on crosses to be speared to death or drowned slowly with the rising of the ocean.

    They were glorious martyrs, some secretly hoping they would even be remembered as saints.

    At the peak, there were estimated to be 400,000 converts. The Japanese were obviously receptive to the white man’s God.

    Now we flash forward to the 17th century and the beginning of this novel. Christianity has been banned, and if there are any priests left on the island, they are hiding and practicing their religious incantations underground. The Portuguese priests know of one legendary priest by the name of Christovao Ferreira. They don’t know if he lives or is martyred, but there are rumors that he has apostatized and now works for the Japanese.

    Apostatized? It couldn’t be true. What man of God would give up his faith and deny his spiritual Father?

    Liam Neeson is Ferreira in the Scorsese film.

    Jesuit priests Rodrigues and Garrpe have been selected to be the next wave of Portuguese priests to go into Japan. What they know about the state of their religion in Japan is based on sketchy information from travelers and exiled Japanese Christians. The environment is known to be hostile to their intentions. They have no idea if the converts are still practicing Christianity or have been forced back to their old religion. Will they be embraced or will they be handed over to the authorities?

    They have lots of time to ponder their reception while on the ocean voyage from China to Japan. Courage works much better if needed spontaneously. A situation presents itself. You are forced to act, and with any luck you prove heroic. For these priests who are almost assured martyrdom, the death and courage to face it are still abstract thoughts. Death is never just death. How can one prepare for the myriad of ways that one can be expired? Will their faith sustain them through the pain? Will they be strong enough to remain true?

    They have one friend, a Japanese Christian named Kichijiro who guides them from village to village to find friendly Christians. These people are ecstatic at finally having a priest in their midst. Baptisms are performed at a frantic pace, and sins are confessed with true relief. Any doubts that Rodrigues and Garrpe may have felt about the insanity of their decision to come to Japan are quickly cast aside.

    Kichijiro, the one they rely on the most, is…

    “Christ did not die for the good and beautiful. It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt.”

    Andrew Garfield plays the Portuguese Jesuit priest Sebastian Rodrigues.

    As Rodrigues sits in prison listening to the moans of tortured Japanese Christians, he ponders the silence of God. He prays fervently to him, not for himself, but for these people who believe in this God enough to die for him. ”You came to this country to lay down your life for them. But in fact they are laying down their lives for you.”

    Where is God? Why doesn’t he answer? Why does he turn his face away from the piteous cries of his children? Why is he...silent?

    There are many ways to break a man, and Rodrigues will face choices that have never been considerations while he has been dreaming of martyrdom. Rarely does life follow the script that we write in our heads.

    Martin Scorsese read this book and read this book again. For nearly thirty years, he has been trying to secure the financing to make the film. Finally, in 2016 his dream has been realized. The movie had a small release on December 23rd, 2016, and will be out for wide release on January 13th, 2017. There is already Oscar buzz for best picture. I know his intention with the film, like the book, is to strip away everything but the meaning of spirituality. The purity of faith. I hope the people who see movies will support his labor of love, but I also hope that the reading public will also read the book that inspired the movie.

    Martin Scorsese’s quest has finally been completed. The POWER of books!!

    I’m not a religious person. I can’t think of anything more senseless than religious wars. There aren’t enough differences between any religions to necessitate blood being shed in the service of the God, a God, a pantheon of Gods. People who seek out martyrdom and are willing to strap bombs to themselves to blow up innocent people in a market place are, in my opinion, in for a rather nasty surprise. We all make our God out of wholecloth. He isn’t the exact same entity for any of us, but my version of a creator is not one who rewards those who hurt the weak. These “martyrs” don’t kill people for a cause, though they may say they do. The real reason is their own selfish desire to better their position in the afterlife.

    The martyrdom that Rodrigues seeks is only based upon his own destruction, but even that is a prideful wish of achieving immortality as a martyr for the cause. He soon learns that no man is an island. His death, if he can achieve it, can not be the clean, glorious quietus he most passionately desires.

    This is a book about courage, about faith, about everything that is important to most people. It is a book that resonates with readers and haunts them for decades, exactly the same way it did Scorsese. It certainly left this reader with much to ponder and the chance to reconsider the consequences of all my actions. The best of intentions can have dreadful results for the very people you are trying to help.

    If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit
    I also have a Facebook blogger page at: 1250082277 This is a historical novel about the early years of Christianity in Japan. It is a fictionalized account based on real historical characters.

    It’s set in the late 17th century. Two Portuguese priests get into Japan by ship from Macao at a time when Japanese officials had banned Christianity and were killing priests and torturing suspected Christians to apostatize (give up their faith). They are forced to verbally renounce their faith and to stomp and spit on religious figures.

    The main character is a young priest who fears capture and torture but assumes his faith is so strong that he can withstand it, as Christ did. But he’s not prepared to be left alone watching while his parishioners are killed and tortured. “You came to this country to lay down your life for them. But in fact they are laying down their lives for you.” Will he apostatize and agree to be held under “house arrest” as an example of how priests willingly give up their religion? One of his predecessors, his former professor whom he greatly admired, is rumored to live in a mansion with his wife.

    Arriving with religious fervor, the young priest quickly worries about losing his faith. He worries that Christianizing some Japanese has offered them nothing but suffering and death. As he is appalled by their suffering, at times they seem more at ease than he does, while they wait “wait for heavenly bliss” following their deaths. The priest’s interrogators carry on intellectual arguments with him that it is impossible for the Japanese culture to understand or accept his western God even though they “convert.”

    In letters that he writes back to church officials, the phrase “met with a glorious martyrdom” is a euphemism for the death of priests. While these atrocities go on, the priest asks “Why is God so silent?” – thus the title.

    The book is allegorical in several ways, not only in the priest comparing his suffering to Christ’s, but in his having his own Judas who sells him out to the authorities for a handful of silver coins.

    All the Europeans in Japan at the time (Portuguese, English, Dutch, Spanish) are trying to convert Japanese to Christianity and they undercut each other’s efforts and cause confusion about what brand is the “true religion.”

    Certainly not a pretty read, and a very slow starter, but a good read if you like historical fiction. Obviously it has a strong religious emphasis. All of Endo’s work has Catholicism as its theme and Endo (1923-1996) has been called “the Japanese Graham Greene.”

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