“Silence” (2016) is a Deeply Reflective Journey of Contemplation into Faith

“Silence” is filled with moments of contemplation about faith, in scenes big and small.

Take, for example, the scene in which the villagers ask Rodrigues and Garupe whether they may step on the plaque of Jesus if it means saving their lives. “Yes,” Rodrigues exclaims and implores the villagers to do it, yet Garupe has the opposite view and immediately rebukes him. The short scene brilliantly illustrates one of the most fundamental questions about faith: is it enough for the believer to believe in his heart, or must he be willing to do much more?

Or take the underground Christians. When Rodrigues finally meets Ferreira, he discovers that Ferriera has apostatized. Trying to persuade Rodrigues to apostizise as well, Ferreira explains that all of Rodrigues’ efforts are for naught because the Japanese, who idolize the Christian God in the form of a sun, will never come to understand Christianity. This may very well be true, but what of the sufferings the Christian villagers endured for their profession of belief in Jesus Christ? Are they not recognized as Christians because they have misunderstood Christianity?


The Amazingly Different Remarkableness of Japanese and Americans

The Japanese excel in order and discipline.

My favorite example to illustrate this is the shugaku ryokou, which is like a field trip for an entire grade over a couple nights at some exotic location like the historical city of Kyoto or Tokyo Disneyland. There, the students are divided up into small groups of four to five who are told to explore the locale without adult supervision and return to their lodging by a certain hour.

If you`re an American, there are so many things that are remarkable about the shugaku ryokou. For starters, it’s hard to imagine four American high school teenagers collectively having enough maturity to study the travel guide and coming up with a two-day plan to explore the city.

But what is really mind-blowing is that the shugaku ryoko occurs every year in middle and high schools across Japan without a single incident that makes newspaper headlines. This means that unsupervised teenagers roaming the streets for an entire day manage to avoid having a brush with the police and return in time for dinner.

This is unthinkable in the United States, where the thinking would go “of course teenagers are going to be reckless and irresponsible and expecting them to act any other way would defy common sense.” Any American school that lets something like a shugaku ryoko happen will be rightfully sued for negligence.


Let’s Have More of the Winter

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Four Seasons

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s a tough one month period because, after the calendar turns to December, the mind begins the countdown towards Christmas. On the other hand, there is something indescribably jolly about this time period. It’s not just the shopping for the gifts, the colorful red and green illuminations, the Christmas carols and the holiday dinners. Japan has embraced the commercialization of the Christmas season as much as the United States, but there’s a distinct difference that I suspect comes from cultural differences that can’t be simply imitated. For all the materialism that seems to drive Christmas, the holiday season has an intrinsically special meaning for people that puts everybody in good spirits. And happiness breeds more happiness, something I observed even while I was living in the perpetually grumpy New York.


There is So Much to Love About Autumn

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Four Seasons

Autumn is one of those gifts from God where it seems like everything comes together. It’s not only pleasant to be outside, but also beautiful to see. If my mood is to be indoors, there’s plenty of things to do and get excited about indoors. The season of autumn is special all the way to the end. Thanksgiving, that most wonderful of holidays in the States, marks the official end of fall (at least for me), as the weather begins to feel exactly right and the Holiday spirits fill the air. Yes, I love the fall. It’s a shame it only comes once a year.


Summer is the Memories of Discontents

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Four Seasons

There is only one good thing about the summer, and it’s that it is followed by the most pleasant season of the year.

I was born in August, right in the smack of the summer, no doubt on a hot, humid and miserable day. My mom always wonders why I hate so much the season in which I was born, and my guess is that I was forever traumatized by experiencing at birth the worst of what this world has to offer. Coldness is something you can deal with by putting on more clothes and putting on a cap to keep you warm. There is nothing I can do about the heat of the summer. I can strip naked, take a cold shower, and it still won’t change the fact that I’m always hot.


Why I Hate the Season Everyone Loves

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Four Seasons

There are many reasons to hate spring, but topping the list is the fact that it is a dooming reminder of the apocalyptic summer to come. Spring is when day-by-day, week-by-week, the conditions outside becomes gradually hotter and more humid, until it culminates in the arrival of the season of the unbearable. I suppose my hatred towards spring is somewhat unfair because spring is really just a collateral damage to my sheer disdain for the summer, but spring just needs to accept that life–and I–are unfair; it’s going to get blamed more for being close to something evil than being the evil itself.

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