I read a book that made me hate Japan. Sunday, Jan 3 2010 

It was the famous “Silence“(沈黙・ちんもく)by Shusaku Endo(遠藤周作・えんどうしゅうさく)published during the 1960s. The (historical) story follows the Portuguese Jesuit, Father Sebastião Rodrigues (whose name rarely appears) on his journey towards and through Japan during the time of intense persecution under the Bakufu (military rule of the shogun). This persecution lasted 260 years, and was so severe in its systematic cruelty that it surpassed even England’s successes against Catholicism.

Silence made me hate Japan for two related reasons. The first is Endo’s masterful presentation of Rodrigues’ sufferings as a priest in exile, watching the misery of his flock. The bakufu interrogators torment and murder the simple Christian villagers they find; not to break their faith, but to crush the faith of the captured priests. The villagers themselves are of no consequence, the sole application of their lives (in the eyes of the interrogators) is to be a tool wielded against the foreign priests. Several passages of the book are Rodrigues questioning the silence of God, asking Him why He permits these children of His to suffer endlessly at the hands of the wicked, first in their lives as ordinary Japanese peasants (already unimaginably harsher than the life of European peasants of the same time) and then moreso under the persecution of Christians.

This exploration of the sufferings of a priest, the manipulation of his love and self-sacrifice by fiends struck me to the core because I see in myself the same ideals and aspirations that sent Rodrigues to Japan. I am not a priest, and I have not given anything of myself that every good priest in the world has already given, but this is what I hope for my life and the thought that this could be so nefariously trampled sickens me.

The second reason is the simple fact that Japanese narratives are characteristically different to Western narratives in that good does not generally triumph over evil. Formed by the nihilistic philosophy of Buddhism, Japanese culture does not demand the ultimate victory of good and in fact tends to promote the expectation of suffering. Silence is truly a Japanese novel about a Westerner (and not the opposite) wherein good is slowly worn down, beaten down by evil… and ultimately defeated. I read on and on, through the chapters, the epilogue, and even the appendix hoping to find redemption but discovering none. This story left me gaping, grasping for the victory of good which I knew was necessary and right, but could not find. How could evil triumph, in any novel? How could evil triumph over a Catholic priest, especially in a novel written by a Catholic? It was disorienting, it was wrong.

But Endo was not just any Catholic novelist, he was a Japanese Catholic. And he made me hate Japan.

We feebly struggle, they in glory shine! Saturday, Oct 31 2009 

Today is the Solemnity of All Saints. This is the day we commemorate the entire communion of saints, of which we ourselves hope to have an eternal part. Today is an especially important feast for several reasons – the two that press on my mind right now are catechesis and intercession.

For catechesis, this is the day when best to explain to children or Christian neophytes just what we believe saints are. We do not believe they are a sort of pseudo-Christian pantheon, with patron saints merely replacing pagan gods. (more…)

Colbert defends the Divinity of Christ on air. Wednesday, Apr 15 2009 

Just saw this over at the rightly famous American Papist blog. Stephen Colbert repeatedly and consistently defended the central dogma of Christian Faith against a run of the mill “the Bible is a lie” author (Bert Ehrman). Here’s hoping the embed works.

Edit: It turns out that unless I move the entire blog to a private server, I can only post videos from select sources (youtube, dailymotion, google etc) and all others are denied by the WordPress backend. Click here for the American Papist entry, and here for a direct link to the video on Colbert Nation. One of the (Papist) comments also brought up an earlier episode of the Colbert Report where Stephen interviews Philip Zimbardo, who claims that “God was wrong and Lucifer was right” about the nature of Man. Watch that too, and take note of Stephen’s response. Looks to me like some courageous consistency.