“Silence” – Swamp-analogy questions are finally put to rest


In March 2017, I wrote a review of the movie, “Silence.”  Those who know me well know that I stop at nothing when a question needs to be answered, especially when I feel the need to prove a point.  Such was the question about Japan being a swamp where no seeds of Christianity grow.

Shortly after the blog was posted, on my birthday, I learned that David had worked secretly with my brother in Japan to surprise me with what I really wanted – “Silence,” the original book, in Japanese.  This was one of the best birthday presents ever!

As noted previously, I knew the original book would give me the answers I was looking for.  I devoured it like a hungry lioness – so that I could share with you my findings.

There were two key questions to which I wanted answers:

  1. In the original book, did Shūsaku Endō, the author, explain the historical background as to WHY Japan closed its doors to the rest of the world in 1635?
  2. Was the analogy – of Japan being a swamp in terms of Christianity not having a chance to grow – actually in the book?

The answers to the respective questions are as follows:

  1. The author did not explain the historical background in the original book.
    • I cannot fault the author, however, in that it was written in Japanese for the Japanese audience.  In other words, no explanation was necessary because any Japanese who has gone through its school system understands why the country was closed to the rest of the world for over 200 years.
    • Nor can I fault Director Martin Scorsese for simply following the book and not digging deeper into the reason behind the “swamp” analogy. (My March 2017 blog explained the historical backdrop.)
  2. Yes, the original book clearly indicates the swamp analogy.

With these questions having been answered, I was finally able to appreciate the story of Christian faith as it was intended to be.


Postscript: In the theater, as well as in the DVD (yes, we bought one), for some unknown reason, the very first torture scene did not come with subtitles.  Only those of us who understand the Japanese language could comprehend what was being said by one of the samurai tormentors. He said, “Why is Jesus, the one in whom you believe, not here to save you?”  Throughout the entire book, Father Rodriguez also kept asking the same question, “Why is God silent?”






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