With a mix of exposition, critique, biography, and memoir, Makoto Fujimura’s Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering wrestles with Shusako Endo’s 1969 novel, Silence, providing empathetic insight into the past, present, and hopeful future of Japanese culture. Though many may disagree with and even criticize both Endo’s and Fujimura’s theological perspectives regarding Catholicism and authentic Christian faith in Japan both past and present, one need neither agree nor disagree in order to benefit from taking this journey with Fujimura. Yes, there may be times when one questions the validity of arguments and perspectives expressed in Silence and Beauty, but the reality of shumi-e culture still exists in varied forms, and Fujimura encourages us to see both tragedy and beauty in the brokenness. One may be left with more questions in the end, but they are questions worth asking and wrestling with.
For those who have not yet read Endo’s novel, Fujimura provides a synopsis at the end of the book (Appendix 3). There’s also a glossary of Japanese terms and definitions since they are not all defined in the text. I recommend reading all three appendices and the glossary before taking the journey. This will only take a few minutes and will serve you well.
Further resources may be found at silenceandbeauty.com.