“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.”
― Shūsaku Endō, Silence
Shusaku Endo (1923-1996) was a Japanese Roman Catholic novelist. Silence, first published in 1966, has been hailed as Endo’s masterpiece and one of the most significant Christian novels of the twentieth century. To coincide with the January release of Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited film of Silence, the Library Book Club will begin 2017 with this book.
The subject of Silence is the persecution of Japanese Christians in the seventeenth century. In 1637, two Portuguese missionaries undertake a perilous search for their missing Jesuit tutor. The Shogun and Samurai have purged Japan of Western influence, rooting out Christians and subjecting them to torture until they renounce the word of God. Father Rodrigues knows that if they are discovered, they face the same brutal treatment as the Christian peasantry. The deeper Rodrigues journeys into Japan, the more he finds himself questioning the meaning of God’s silence in answer to their prayers and to the suffering of the Japanese Christians.
The Book Club’s discussion of Silence will take place on Tuesday, January 31 at 12:00 in the Library Conference Room. Dale Coulter, professor of historical theology in the School of Divinity, will lead our conversation. Dr. Coulter has just published his reflections on Endo’s work in the influential journal of religion and culture First Things.
During January, the Library is also hosting an exhibition of artifacts associated with the persecution of Christians in Japan as well as responsive works by Makoto Fujimura. The works in this exhibition were on display last fall at Wheaton College, which is still hosting photos and outstanding explanatory materials on its website.