Silence: A Gut-Wrenching Look At Faith

I do know people who were unable to go to that because of the violence. And POTC did a LOT of marketing directly to Christians via their pastors.

cough Passion of the Christ cough

I haven’t seen the movie, but I suspect the two biggest reasons behind the lackluster response are: Insufficient marketing plan and (most importantly) a faith story that doesn’t give church people warm fuzzies after watching it. The ending of the movie, as I understand it, leaves some pretty big open questions about faith and apostasy.

True and true. Driving home with my wife after the movie was quiet and subdued as we pondered it all. Later we had some good discussions about the questions raised, especially how you sometimes can’t judge a person’s heart based on outward expression, as well as wondering what we would do personally in those situations, and whether paradoxically suffering and martyrdom can be expression of someones self pride rather than that of humility and submission to God’s will, as well as others.

Hey, why don’t you add an “Arts” category for fine, performing, and popular arts of interest to the Christian?

Yes, most Evangelicals would say you’re either saved or not saved. End of story. Everybody who liked this movie should go to IMDB.com and similar sites to give it a rating and maybe leave a review.

We have a “tag” called “science and the arts” for posts pertaining to that. I didn’t know if you were directing the comment at me.

Thanks, I didn’t know about that.

The editorial team is interested in covering more stories at the intersection of science and the arts in the future. Several years back, that was more of a focus for BioLogos, but it has tapered off for a variety of reasons.

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We used to have Mark Sprinkle, the BioLogos Senior Fellow of Arts and Humanities. It will be good to have the arts back here.

Yes, the key is to stay focused on our central mission (the “evolutionary creation” conversation) while still covering the broader intersection of science, faith, and culture.

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I had been wanting to read Silence since I learned of it through Philip Yancey’s book Soul Survivor about fifteen years ago. When I heard last year that Scorsese was making a film version, I knew I’d want to see it but read the book first. I finally started it two weeks ago and am over halfway through.

I was initially hesitant to comment here, since I didn’t see the science/faith connection. But I noticed that Jim Stump published an essay last week, Science and Evolution, and it seems like that has generated some good discussion. (I’m waiting the read the essay and comments until I finish the book.)

In an attempt to draw my own connection between the book and science/faith matters, allow me to quote from the foreword in the edition I’m reading. While I never would have considered Scorsese a go-to guy for reflections on theology or Christian faith, I think he says something profound here:

[Endo] understood the conflict of faith, the necessity of belief fighting the voice of experience. The voice that always urges the faithful—the questioning faithful—to adapt their beliefs to the world they inhabit, their culture. Christianity is based on faith, but if you study its history you see that it’s had to adapt itself over and over again, always with great difficulty, in order that faith might flourish. That’s a paradox, and it can be an extremely painful one: on the face of it, believing and questioning are antithetical. Yet I believe that they go hand in hand. One nourishes the other. Questioning may lead to great loneliness, but if it co-exists with faith—true faith, abiding faith—it can end in the most joyful sense of communion. It’s this painful, paradoxical passage—from certainty to doubt to loneliness to communion—that Endo understands so well, and renders so clearly, carefully and beautifully in Silence.

I realize that the mere sight of the phrase “adapt their beliefs” will trigger heresy sirens among some. But I think if it can be understood as beliefs about Christian practice rather than essential Christian doctrine, I’m in basic agreement with Scorsese here. And I think his description of the “paradoxical passage” from certainty…to communion is beautifully rendered and parallels how some here have described their journeys out of rigid YEC thinking into a wide-eyed wonder at the universe God has fashioned.

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I finished reading Silence last week. I can’t find adequate adjectives to describe what the experience was like. Words like excruciating, profound, challenging, and disorienting come to mind, but they seem too paltry.

Among the myriad observations and questions it has left me with, I’m attempting to focus on some that seem more pertinent to the concerns of this forum.

After sharing some of these thoughts with my parents, my mom said, “So it sounds like you highly recommend it.” And my reply went along these lines: “Well, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. To someone whose perspective on the ‘victorious Christian life’ is defined by the peddlers of prosperity that are flourishing in North American evangelicalism, I’m not sure I’d recommend it. It would be very unsettling. It portrays essentially the polar opposite to that victorious Christian life.” For someone who is willing to reckon with what faithful Christian discipleship and service looks like among downtrodden peasants in a society whose leadership is determined to eradicate Christianity, I absolutely recommend it. For someone willing to consider theological questions like “What is the significance of Judas in the Gospel message?”, I recommend it.

Brad wrote previously about Answers in Genesis after his visit to the Creation Museum:

…the ministry of Answers in Genesis is not first and foremost about Genesis—it’s about Answers. …the most striking feature of the Museum is its insistence on answering everything. Every possible question or mystery is defeated by a clear, simple presentation of the Bible’s message. Over and over, the Museum is insistent that the worldview presented by Answers in Genesis can answer all of life’s questions with different combinations of the same short, snappy, unassailable one-liners.

And there has been a fascinating discussion about BioLogos’ messaging in this forum that I’ve tried to follow the past two weeks. That discussion is far too lengthy and deep for me summarize it here, but one thing it has done is encourage me to consider whether there is a particular theological orientation that many hold that makes them virtually innoculated against BioLogos’ message. Call it fundamentalism if you will (though I think that term carries varying nuanced meanings for different people) or perhaps answerism (if I can invent a term) as described well by Brad.

My observation is that the kind of issues that BioLogos addresses are most relevant to those who are willing to take their faith with a healthy dose of questions. In short, I suspect that the people whom I would not recommend Silence to are by and large the same people who would be most resistant to BioLogos’ message.

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Those following this discussion may be interested to know of a book published last year: Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering by Makoto Fujimura. It is among the five books recommended for further reading at the end of my copy of Silence. I think I heard about the book through something Philip Yancey wrote (big surprise) about the time I learned that Scorsese was making a film version of Silence. Fujimura is an artist whose work was described with admiration in Andy Crouch’s Culture Making.

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Thank you for the recommendation! I have asked our library to order it.

The revival of this thread is interesting, as I just saw Dunkirk, and it reminded me Silence in many ways. Both are great flicks, but not something for a romantic evening.

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I want to see that! Will have to wait for DVD release.

Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” is another outstanding film about a remarkable Christian named Desmond Doss in WW2. A pacifist, he refused to carry a gun. He suffered great abuse from his fellow Americans for this, but never compromised on his values. He trained as a medic and saved many lives in a very bloody battle.

See the trailer

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@BradKramer

You seem to have a pretty bad throat there… I hope it isn’t communion-icable!

Mel Gibson’s influence comes from his father who is a zealous supporter of a Catholic faction who considers the current Papacy to be completely without authority.

{ cough cough }

Oh dear … it looks like your affliction is communion-icable!

Yes, he’s a Traditionalist. The ones I’ve seen on forums are really mean and nasty.

@beaglelady

I think el Pappa uses a different word than “Traditionalist”…

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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