So many are seeing and discussing the challenging movie, SILENCE, about two Jesuit missionaries in 1700’s Japan. During this time, Christians were undergoing horrible persecutions because Christianity was seen as a threat to Japanese culture. The movie, and the book on which it is based, by Shusaku Endo, is the harrowing tale of faith, doubt and why God is so “silent” in times of suffering.
I read the book before seeing the movie so I was prepared for being disquieted, and even disturbed. Any comfort can only come upon reflection of the film and its impact on the human spirit. In other words, you need some distance from the actual viewing to assimilating the message after much thought and prayer. Why doesn’t God seem to hear me or answer me in my loneliness and despair? This is at the heart of the film and novel.
Yes, there are other important themes: how to be a missionary, enculturation, imposing versus proposing the faith, discovering Christ in other religious traditions. But at the heart of the film, in my opinion, is: where is God in our suffering? The book was much better than the movie in expressing and exploring this question, with no easy answers. The movie was just too long and didn’t grab me the way the novel did. I would love to see a great film about religion that is rooted in life, is realistic, but one that also inspires with hope.
This Sunday after the 6:00 on Mass I will be gathering with a few parishioners who saw the film for a discussion. All are welcome.