Thumbs up for Silence by Shusaku Endo. Literature.
An engrossing story taking place during the state-supported massacres of the sizable minority of Japanese Catholics in the 1600’s. To simplify greatly, it deals in a well-rounded, satisfying way with the issue of staying true to one’s religion when to do so may not be the moral thing to do; and the effect of that dilemma on the faith of one man, Father Rodrigues, a young missionary. While dealing with these topics, it (and this may be part of Endo’s genius) never comes off as a Religious Novel, but a novel that happens to be about religion. In other words, it’s a good read no matter what you believe in. Elegant, vivid, and hard to put down.
“He strained his ears, but could hear no voice. It was impossible to know what part of the magistrate’s building he was in. But the deathly silence assured him that there was no one anywhere near. The walls were made of wood, and as he touched the upper part his fingers discovered a large, deep crack. At first he thought that this was one of the cracks between the boards, but somehow he also had the feeling that it could not be so. As he kept feeling it with his hands, he gradually realized that it was the letter ‘L’. The next letter was ‘A’. Like a blind man his fingers felt their way around the ensuing letters and found ‘Laudate Eum’. Beyond this his fingers felt nothing more. Probably some missionary, cast into this prison, had cut out these words in Latin for the benefit of the next person who might be there. While in this place, this missionary had not apostatized; he had been burning with faith. And here, all alone in the dark, the priest was filled with emotion to the point of tears at the thought of what had happened. He felt that to the end he himself was being protected in some way.”
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