By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
Few of us like getting the ‘silent treatment’ from those that we care for. Silence can sometimes be a painful expression of relational tension and even cutoff. The flip side of silence and solitude is that it can be an important key to personal and spiritual growth. We live in a noisy cluttered hi-tech world where silence is often hard to find. Choosing silence can increase our ability to hear the still small voice that is trying to get our attention. Jesus was often going off into the silence of the wilderness to be alone.
Recently my wife and I watched Martin Scorsese’s gripping new movie Silence. It was based on Japan’s leading novelist’s book which tells the story of a seventeenth-century Portuguese priest in Japan at the height of intense persecution. The recipient of the 1966 Tanizaki Prize, it has been called ” Shusaku Endo’s supreme achievement” and “one of the twentieth century’s finest novels”. Endo tells how the Japanese Christians once numbered 400,000 and had enjoyed great favour even in the Japanese inner circle. Then Christianity was outlawed, resulting in drownings, burnings, and other atrocities. The priests were under great pressure to publicly give up their faith, in order to end the persecution of the Japanese Christians. The symbol of this persecution was being forced to tread with one’s foot upon the crucified face of Jesus. In a review by the New Yorker, John Updike described the book Silence as “a remarkable work, a sombre, delicate, and startlingly empathetic study…”
The author explores the image of silence where the priests had been painfully silenced. The most painful silence seemed to be the silence of God in the midst of the great suffering. The priest Rodrigues prayed: “Lord, why are you silent? Why are you always silent?” As the persecution intensified, Rodrigues prayed again: “Lord, it is time that you should break the silence. You must not remain silent.” Near the end of the novel, Rodrigues confesses to Jesus: “Lord, I resented your silence”, to which Jesus replied: “I was not silent. I suffered along with you.” The crucified Jesus whispered to Rodrigues: “I am with you. You have nothing to fear.” Another time, the suffering Jesus said: “I will not abandon you.” Rodrigues could not take his eyes off what he called the beautiful face of the suffering Christ. As Rodrigues ended upon trampling upon the face of Jesus, he heard Jesus say: “You may trample. You may trample… It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men’s pain that I carried my cross.” Rodrigues learned that Jesus’ silence was not absence, but rather expressed the mystery of his suffering love for all humanity. Could God’s sometimes mysterious silence be a sign of how much he cares?
Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier.
-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.
-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.
In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).
Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form. Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.
Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version. You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.
To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.
– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail email@example.com . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.
-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca