Shusaku Endo's novel Silence, first published in 1966, endures as one of the greatest works of twentieth-century Japanese literature. Its narrative of the persecution of Christians in seventeenth-century Japan raises uncomfortable questions about God and the ambiguity of faith in the midst of suffering and hostility. Endo's Silence took internationally renowned visual artist Makoto Fujimura on a pilgrimage of grappling with the nature of art, the significance of pain and his own cultural heritage. His artistic faith journey overlaps with Endo's as he uncovers deep layers of meaning in Japanese history and literature, expressed in art both past and present. He finds connections to how faith is lived in contemporary contexts of trauma and glimpses of how the gospel is conveyed in Christ-hidden cultures. In this world of pain and suffering, God often seems silent. Fujimura's reflections show that light is yet present in darkness, and that silence speaks with hidden beauty and truth.
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Foreword by Philip Yancey Introduction: A Pilgrimage 1. A Journey into Silence: Pulverization 2. A Culture of Beauty: Cultural Context for Silence 3. Ambiguity and Faith: Japan, the Ambiguous and Myself 4. Ground Zero 5. Fumi-e Culture 6. Hidden Faith Revealed 7. The Redemption of Father Rodrigues 8. The Aroma: Toward an Antidote to Trauma 9. Mission Beyond the Waves Acknowledgments Appendix 1: Endo and Kawabata Appendix 2: Kenzaburo Oes "Human Lamb" Appendix 3: A Summary of Silence by Shusaku Endo Notes Glossary of Japanese Terms About the Author Image Credits Name and Subject Index Scripture Index
"Only Mako Fujimura could have written this book. It sheds light on a wealth of topics—a classic novel, Japanese culture, Martin Scorsese's filmmaking, the fine arts, theology, the enigmas of East and West—and leaves the reader with a startlingly new encounter with Christ."
"My friend Mako Fujimura is one of the most thoughtful, sensitive and eloquent artists of this generation. Like his otherworldly and luminous paintings, his book Silence and Beauty is at once glorious and profound, an exquisite exploration of truth and beauty, silence and suffering. Give yourself and others the immeasurable gift of this gentle, inspiring treasure."
"Silence and Beauty is an astounding work, a gift and challenge to all of us as well as a deeply felt love letter to Japan."
"Silence and Beauty is a classic work of art. The book is a call to the world for reconciliation, understanding, and a depth of intimacy that can heal us and return us to each other and to a humble seeking of God in both the silence and beauty that surround us daily and attend us in the wake of our continual Ground Zeros."
"Shusaku Endo's novel Silence makes us eyewitnesses to the brutality of Japan's seveneenth-century persecution that forced Christians to choose between silence and death. In his reflection Silence and Beauty, Makoto Fujimura masterfully appropriates that painful history for the challenges Christians face in this time between times—whether it be death in Syria and Iraq or increasing hostility in the West. Fujimura asks us to face our own silences and emerge understanding both the suffering and the beauty that silence calls forth."
"Mako Fujimura offers us a moving and illuminating series of reflections on one of the most powerful novels ever written. He helps us to understand how Endo's tale of martyrdom lives in the tensions between East and West, faith and doubt, trust and betrayal. Above all, Fujimura enables us to sense that grace can live—and inspire new life—even in the midst of suffering."
"When I read Shusaku Endo's Silence for the first time, I vowed that I would refuse to ever read anything written about it. I wanted to preserve the profound sense of mystery and beauty that the novel evoked in me. I am so happy now that I broke that vow by reading this wonderful book by Makoto Fujimura. Mako not only enhances and deepens the sense of mystery, but—as he has done so consistently in his visual works of art—he adds significantly to the beauty!"
"Fujimura's Silence and Beauty is a truly remarkable spiritual, theological and intellectual autobiography for our time. It will be of interest to a broad readership, not least of all those who still hear the disorienting and potentially transformational call to intercultural mission in the way of Jesus. Fujimura's musings on the Christ-hidden culture of Japan, his own story and contemporary culture are revelatory, and his layering of the Ground Zero theme functions like a Rembrandt primer out of which a sublime beauty and grace emerges."
"How can we live in a world where we encounter suffering every day? Where is the voice of God when we doubt his goodness? It takes a very specific perspective to write beautiful prose about these questions, but in this book, Mako does just that—exploring the themes raised by Endo's novel and their continuing resonance across our difficult, anxious times. Silence and Beauty is a gift for us as we try to be the fragrance of Christ in a suffering world."
"Fujimura's book is a brilliant blend of investigation and reflection. The reader learns about the compelling history of Christianity in Japan and its strangely enduring influence there, while at the same time being led into a profound meditation on the relation of Christian faith to contemporary culture. A truly impressive achievement."