Book Recommendation: Silence
Silence by Shusaku Endo is one of the great novels of the twentieth century. Great, first, in its writing: Endo, who died in 1996, was one of Japan's finest novelists and this is his greatest work. Great, second, in its story. A Roman Catholic, Endo takes as his theme in Silence a Portugese missionary priest to Japan in the early 1600s.
Unbeknownst to much of the west, the 1500s saw hundreds of thousands of Japanese convert to Christianity as a result of the work of Francis Xavier and his Roman Catholic missionaries.
In 1613, however, the Japanese government outlawed Christianity and a vicious attempt to stamp out Christianity followed. Thousands were martyred and in 1632 the first Roman Catholic priest apostasized.
Endo's novel takes its title from the "silence" of God as His people suffer under the persecutions of the shoguns.
This is as powerful a novel of Christian suffering as I've ever read. Beautifully told--though a somewhat difficult read--and powerfully challenging to Christians living in the ease and comfort of freedom. Ultimately, perhaps, Silence serves as a salutary warning for days ahead.