The quest for freedom from grief and emptiness in deep river a book by shusaku endo

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The quest for freedom from grief and emptiness in deep river a book by shusaku endo

Like the sea God was silent: Picador,translated by William Johnston. First published in Japanese, I have problems with this novel. It is undoubtedly a stirring account of faith and human endurance tested to the limit, and a dramatic representation of the clash of two opposing cultures and belief systems, both in their own ways ruthless and determined to destroy the other.

The plot is depressingly familiar in this postcolonial world. Jesuit priests first started their mission of conversion in Japan in under St Francis Xavier, the Basque co-founder of the Jesuits, who also evangelised India, Borneo and other oriental countries.

At first the Catholic faith was embraced enthusiastically, until by there were said to be someChristians in Japan. There followed several waves of repression and persecution, most notably after the Shimabara Rebellion of in the Nagasaki province.

Here the mostly Christian peasants, with some ronin, rose up against crippling taxes and cruel conditions. The rebellion was crushed by a huge military force, aided by the Dutch, who were not only anti-Catholic, but also defending their trading interests.

Silence tells a lightly modified true story of a group of three Portuguese priests who refuse to believe the news that their former teacher at the seminary, a saintly Jesuit called Father Ferreira, had apostasised after many years of mission in Japan, and was even collaborating with his former torturers and taken a Japanese wife.

See a Problem?

They sail in the early s to Japan on a dangerous quest: The story, as I said earlier, is powerful and moving. The protagonist, Sebastian Rodrigues, sees his two colleagues succumb to the appalling conditions they face. This aspect of the novel is its most interesting and honest.

When the ultimate test comes, and he is forced to choose between preserving his own integrity and life while being forced to watch those in his flock who look to him for spiritual guidance and sustenance being tortured horribly, and renouncing his faith, the suspense is almost unbearable.

Are the repeated references in the narrative to the silence of God in the face of the sufferings of his faithful an indication of his absence?

Will Rodrigues be Peter the rock or the denier? Will he replicate the role of Judas? And does he understand Judas — if Jesus could love even him, could Rodrigues do the same and love himself if he reneged?

Why my problems, then? First, I found the unrelenting scenes of hardship, poverty and torture rather too much. Other equally unpleasant methods of torture and despatch are related.

The quest for freedom from grief and emptiness in deep river a book by shusaku endo

On the one hand they show the bravery and resolve of those humble peasants who had risked their lives to protect their priests and uphold their faith, even when subjected to the most terrible physical ordeals.

But on the other they seem also to reflect the willingness of those Jesuit missionaries to allow them to do so, and to demonise the cruel persecutors, as I shall show shortly.

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The focus instead is on the crisis of resolve of Rodrigues. But he undergoes no such crisis about his very presence in a country where he assumes the right to impose his own faith on its inhabitants. The persecutors, as in didactic medieval European martyr narratives and hagiography, are depicted as evil monsters and devilishly cunning as well as cruel.

At one point early on Rodrigues removes his infested kimono: In the seams of the cloth the firmly entrenched lice looked just like white dust, and as I crushed them one by one with a stone I felt an inexpressible thrill of delight. Is this what the officials feel when they capture and kill the Christians?Shusaku Endo is a Japanese Christian who writes challengely about his own faith.

To me, the core of his message in "Deep River" is the universal nature of faith and the universal nature of God. He exists for all of us but we come to know Him through the religion of our culture.

The reader in quest of philosophical pyrotechnics may be disappointed that the sutra falls into the Indian propensity for long lists and resumes such clichéd topics as the Brahma abodes. Instead of taking refuge in the gracious freedom of emptiness, we clutch at somethingness, and end up enslaved to a passion.

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Shusaku Endo (–) is mainly known in the West through the translations of his early novel Silence () that created a sensation on publication, and also through his late work, Deep River (), published at the end of his life.

Touchstones

Jan 17,  · Anita (FAMeulstee) reads on in December (13) This is a continuation of the topic Anita (FAMeulstee) reads on in November (12). 75 Books Challenge for Join LibraryThing to post. Stilte (Silence) by Shusaku Endo, book De blauwe tweeling (Reders & Reders 4) by Jan & Sanne Terlouw, book Tegenstroom (A necessary end, DCI.

Shusaku Endo’s book Deep River is about a journey to the river Ganges with a collection of tourists immersed in their own private spiritual struggles. Each character presents a face of spirituality as a whole.

The characters face uncomfortable spiritual questions that aren’t always neatly answered/5.

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