Silence – Shusaku Endo

soft blizzardphoto © 2010 Axel Hartmann | more info (via: Wylio)


I just finished reading Silence, a novel by Shusaku Endo. It is the story of a Portugese Catholic priest who went to Japan in the 1500’s to inquire of a priest who had been his mentor and had apparently apostatized there. Beautiful, haunting, deep, and disturbing. He incurs silence in several ways:

Silence as beauty
Silence as contemplation
Silence as wisdom
Silence as fear, hiding
Silence as moral victory
Silence as moral failure
Silence as the absence of God’s presence

As with Abraham, when God speaks He asks for betrayal.
As with Jesus, the Father asked the unthinkable.
As Jesus said in the moment of His death,
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”

Jesus knew the silence of the Father.

I think that sometimes in our haste to make God speak, to seek some word or prophecy, or some insight, we miss the profound nature of His silence. And, like the cymbal crash in a great symphony, sometimes the timing is all-important. The right word spoken at the wrong time is not a right word; and so we must respect, even reverence, God’s silence.

A beautiful, powerful, and thought-provoking book.

Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , .


  1. That’s intriguing. I love silence, but it can be hard to find. I love the kind of silence you find in the desert, or especially in snow!

    How does the novel deal with Christianity?

  2. It’s true, it is almost impossible to find in modern society. Every nook and cranny of privacy is invaded, marketed to. I remember I was trying to get out of the house because of the children, to find a place of quiet to write some music, and there was no place where there wasn’t a radio or television or some kind of canned music playing. Everywhere we go we reach for the radio or the iPod or television or something. We talk and talk, rarely respecting the silence of each other.

    I did not think the priests had a firm grasp on grace, but this was really historically accurate with catholic priests in the 1500’s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *