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The Mystery of God’s Silence

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    Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence brings up the troubling question of God’s silence in the midst of human evil and suffering. The reader is brought deeper into the mystery of God’s silence as the narrative unfolds. Acts of human evil that cause anguish, suffering, and death seem to elicit only cold indifference. Yet in a climatic moment, it seems as if God does speak. Father Sebastian Rodrigues faces his greatest decision, hears the voice of Christ urging him to trample on the Fumie The Fumie was literally, pictures to step on. Pictures of Christian figures used during the Edo period (1600-1868) to identify adherents of Christianity. At the conclusion of the novel the reader is left with a disturbing question: Was Rodrigues act of apostasy a cowardly rejection of the Christian faith, which he self-servingly justified as a noble and costly sacrifice for the sake of others?

    I believe that Father Rodrigues’ act of apostasy builds a case for the view that his act was a genuine renunciation of Christianity. I state this because of my interpretation of the conclusion of the book. In summary Father Rodrigues steps on a plaque that has the face of Jesus engraved on it. Today we would call that plaque a crucifix. My understanding of why this was so important is because Father Rodrigues was trying to save all of the Japanese Christians that were being tortured by the Japanese government. When he stepped on the face of Jesus he was proclaiming to all that he did not believe anymore that Jesus Christ was his savior. All of the Japanese Christians noticed what Father Rodrigues had done and followed, giving up their beliefs in Christ.

    With the occurrence at the end of the book my feeling is that he did not have a great love for Christ but denounced Christ because the pressure was too strong. However when Rodrigues heart and prayers were sincere, Jesus spoke to him in a way that Rodrigues heard and understood Jesus’ commands compelled him to step on the fumie as an act of faith and a command from Christ. I find it interesting that this book took place in the 15th century. If the details of the setting were not included into the book I would assume that I was set in modern times. The silence that the book mentions is when God talks to you. Do you ever here any thing when God speaks? Yes, he tells us things but not through words. I believe that God has a very creative side to him and he tells us what he is saying through the actions and occurrences that pass through our lives. But in the other hand the devil can also talk to you. I think for me sometimes I take the devil’s word and his frustrating temptations for God’s words. This could be the situation that Rodrigues faced and his scenario was a case of misjudgment and communication.

    Rodrigues act of apostasy is cowardly rejection of the Christian faith, which shows his great misunderstanding of the silence that God bestowed upon him. In ways I can see the sacrifice of his life in parallel to Jesus. It is a little far fetched to relate the two, but there is a slight correlation to the two instances. For Father Rodrigues did an act to save many. What he did was not to correct in the teachings of the bible and this produced a major problem for many Christians living today.

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