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Unformatted text preview: s fully to fathom the conflicting emotions of persecutors and persecuted during this grim phase of Japanese
history. But for the interested reader there is an engrossing novel on the
subject: Silence (Chinmoku), by the contemporary Catholic writer Endò
Shûsaku (1923–96). Silence is based on the true story of a Portuguese
priest, Christovão Ferreira, who apostatized at Nagasaki in 1633. It is a
fictional account of how two other priests, who had been Ferreira’s disciples, made their way secretly to Japan to learn the truth about the apostasy. In the book the priests, after being sheltered by Japanese Christian
villagers in Kyushu, are forced to separate, and what follows is essentially
the story of one of them, Sebastian Rodrigues. It relates how Rodrigues
eventually finds Ferreira and how he, too, is driven to apostatize.
Rodrigues first confronts the crisis of faith that leads to his apostasy
when, after witnessing the brutal martyrdom of several of the Kyushu vil- The Flourishing of a Bourgeois Culture 167 lagers, he is asked by another villager, Kichijiro (who is actually an informer), what the Japanese Christians have done to deserve this punishment from God:
I suppose I [Rodrigues] should simply cast from my mind these meaningless
words of the coward; yet why does his plaintive voice pierce my breast with all
the pain of a sharp needle? Why has Our Lord imposed this torture and this
persecution on poor Japanese peasants? No, Kichijiro was trying to express
something different, something even more sickening. The silence of God.
Already twenty years have passed since the persecution broke out; the black
soil of Japan has been filled with the lament of so many Christians; the red
blood of priests has flowed profusely; the walls of the churches have fallen
down; and in the face of this terrible and merciless sacrifice offered up to
Him, God has remained silent. This was the problem that lay behind the
plaintive question of Kichijiro.3 Betrayed by Kichijiro, Rodrigues is seize...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13