In Lent, we enter the wilderness with Jesus. There, we embrace our brokenness as Christ embraced his own suffering, emptying ourselves out so that as we encounter others, we might reflect Christ.
Both in novel form (by Shusako Endo) and as a film adaptation (by Martin Scorsese), Silence is about entering the wilderness. It is a horrifying journey alongside two Jesuit priests who journey to Japan during the 17th century, a time of vicious persecution. They are tested and tortured and in the midst of all their suffering, they are met with silence from God. In this way, the novel is a sort of gloss on Jesus’ own moment of silence, when he cried out from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
I would challenge you to read this book or view the film (available on Amazon and iTunes) during Lent. The film is difficult and violent and only gives the faintest glimmers of the hope and grace of the resurrection, but it gives us a necessary, honest portrayal of what it means to live out a life of faith and reminds us that we are called to offer ourselves to others not from a position of strength, but out of weakness.
For more on the film, I would encourage you to read this well-articulated review of the film by Greg Wolfe, editor of Image journal. You might also enjoy this interview that renowned Christian artist Makoto Fujimura gave to promote his book Silence and Beauty, which reflects on his reading of Endo’s novel.
If you need another reason to view the film, check out this editorial by Washington Post. He reminds us how often we hear evangelical world bemoan the lack of representation of our faith in cinema. Yet here is a film directly engaging with the deepest aspects of our faith, starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood and directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese and it failed at the box office.