Silence by Shūsaku Endō Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Silence

Beneath the light of the candle I am sitting with my hands on my knees, staring in front of me. And I keep turning over in my mind the thought that I am at the end of the earth, in a place which you do not know and which your whole lives through you will never visit.

It is 1640 and Father Sebastian Rodrigues, an idealistic Jesuit priest, sets sail for Japan determined to he

It is 1640 and Father Sebastian Rodrigues, an idealistic Jesuit priest, sets sail for Japan determined to help the brutally oppressed Christians there. He is also desperate to discover the truth about his former mentor, rumoured to have renounced his faith under torture. Rodrigues cannot believe the stories about a man he so revered, but as his journey takes him deeper into Japan and then into the hands of those who would crush his faith, he finds himself forced to make an impossible choice: whether to abandon his flock or his God.

The recipient of the 1966 Tanizaki Prize, Silence is Shusaku Endo’s most highly acclaimed work and has been called one of the twentieth century’s finest novels. As empathetic as it is powerful, it is an astonishing exploration of faith and suffering and an award-winning classic.
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    Jeffrey Keeten

    “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.”

     photo ChristianMartyrsOfNagasaki_zpssyl4fq5l.jpg
    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 Franciscan


     photo ChristianMartyrsOfNagasaki_zpssyl4fq5l.jpg

    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?


     photo Silence_zpstamkoatx.jpg

    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…(view spoiler)

    “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.”


     photo 45bff0a8-981e-4c47-bdb8-96b27bba6326_zpsuovxx24n.png

    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.


     photo Martin20Scorsese_zpspyhbepui.jpg

    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 http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
    I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
    …more

    Jim Fonseca

    Sep 23, 2017

    rated it
    really liked it

    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.

    description

    The main character

    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.

    description

    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.

    description

    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.”

    Top image from epicworldhistory.blogspot.com
    Bottom from linkedin.com/pulse/portuguese-japan

    …more

    AMEERA

    Jan 22, 2017

    rated it
    really liked it

    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