Offsite: Silence by Shusaku Endo

Slow Church Blog has a post (from the book Besides the Bible: 100 Books that Have, Should or Will Create Christian Culture) about Shusaku Endo’s masterpiece book Silence.  It is Shusaku Endo’s birthday today, he would have been 90.  I coincidentally picked up Silence yesterday to start reading today.

Here is the opening of the essay:

[Note: Today is the birthday of the great Japanese Catholic novelist Shusaku Endo. To mark the occasion, we’re posting an essay John wrote for Besides the Bible: 100 Books that Have, Should, or Will Create Christian Culture (IVP, 2010) about Endo’s powerful novel, Silence. The director Martin Scorsese has said he hopes to start production on a film adaptation of Silence in 2014.]

Francis Xavier disembarked at the southernmost tip of Japan in August 1549, and for two years the trailblazing Jesuit missionary preached in the streets, debated Buddhist monks, and conversed with local warlords. When Francis left Japan, he was hopeful about the modest inroads he had made bringing the gospel to the Japanese. And for a time Christianity did seem to flourish there. By 1582, two hundred churches served 150,000 Japanese believers.  The number of Christians increased to 200,000 by 1591 and 300,000 by the early years of the next century.

continue reading the rest of the essay at the Slow Church Blog


I read Silence a year or so ago at a friend’s recommendation, and found it a mentally and spiritually grueling experience. I still can’t claim to have really processed the book–I think it either walks the reader through deep, hard truth or promulgates rank heresy, but I’m hard put to say which. I think I should read it again, though I can’t say I relish the prospect. My perspective may be influenced by Japan being a significant part of my heritage, but again it’s hard to say exactly how.

    It came up for me again through the voting of ‘Best Christian book of All time’ tournament. I had heard of it, but not actually read it.

    Martin Scorsese is planning on releasing a movie based on it in 2014.

    I completely agree the with sentiment that there are books that I know I should read again, but can’t. Just too hard to do.

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