Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Silence by Shusaku Endo

"It's easy enough to die for the good and the beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt" p.38 Silence.

I picked up this book by the Japanese Graham Green because Stephen Batchelor recommended it on his Facebook page. It's about missionaries in Japan in the 17th century when Christianity was forbidden.

Shusaku Endo died in 1996.  Reading in the age of the internet is fun, I've looked up a lot of things to learn more about Japanese culture. I did not know about the twenty six martyrs of Japan, for instance. I've got a hard copy, which I enjoy the feel of, but I am coming to appreciate the ability to look something on my reader without having to switch devises. Is that lazy or what?

My mother was born in Japan during the occupation, and there were always Japanese prints in my grandparent's homes. I have read quite a bit about Japan, and have always been fascinated by other countries outside of the USA. The USA seems so provincial sometimes, it's a huge country and many people don't even bother to get passports. I love living in NYC where the world comes to live.

I have not detected any traces of how Buddhism effected the efforts to spread Christianity in the east yet in the novel, but that's why I'm reading it. I'm struck at how sexy it is to smuggle something in, and how suffering for your religion has it's appeal. It kind of informs my buddhist practice in a Christian country. NYC is more than Christian, there's a holy war with Islam and Judaism, hedonism and materialism as well. It's easy to make fun of the spirit of multiculturalism and tolerance, but that is what I love about NYC. Unfortunately multiculturalism is often boiled down to food, and my favorite Sushi place is Kyoto in Kew Garden Hills. I haven't been to the new Sushi Yasu since it moved to Austin Street, but I bet it's the same.

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