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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Silence - Movie Review About The Japanese Christian Church

This is essentially a movie review about Silence… a 2017 movie about the early days of Christianity in Japan… or more specifically, just what the heck was going on in Japan AFTER Christianity had essentially been driven underground by 1630AD.

Silence is about those who followed the outlawed faith in Japan… and about those who tries to preach the religion… about those who harbored them.. and about those who did not.

At 2 hours and 41 minutes, the movie is entirely too long.

At 2 hours and 41 minutes, the movie is entirely too short.

The story revolves around two Christian missionaries who sneak into Japan to try and find out the fate of a fellow priest who went missing some years earlier.

Some of the action takes place on Goto Island… a small island off the coast of Nagasaki… and about the many villagers there who follow Christianity in secret, refusing to disavow their faith even if it meant their death… because they were told by other Christian missionaries that when they died, a paradise would await the truly pious.

D’oh. Faith.

I actually came across five Christians who live in my small city of Ohtawara in Tochigi-ken during my sojourn there 1990-93.

Four belonged to the Tomura family… the patriarch being the fabulous Tomura-sensei, the head English teacher at Wakkusa Chu Gakko (Wakakusa Junior High School)… who except for two of my girlfriends Junko and Nobuko (one a mentally ill stalker/sex fiend who showed me the ropes about ropes, the other the love of my life back then as well as being a Japanese teacher of English at Nozaki Chu Gakko), spoke the most fluent English of Japanese person I had met.

The Tomura family.

The other Christian… that would be Padre Bernard Hiyamizu Yoshimi, who led the Catholic church located next door to my apartment, immediately south…  something I didn’t know for months, as my apartment’s balconies faced north and west… and I rarely, if ever ventured south… I wonder why the hell that was??!!

I only visited the Church once in my three years there, despite being raised a Roman Catholic.  I was then and now more of an agnostic… I believe in God, but not really in any particular church or faith.

I’ve read the Bible. I’ve read the Torah. I’ve read the Quran. I’ve read the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Tibetan Book of the Dead while on acid (the latter only, in an attempt to follow the lead of John Lennon, who read the book and wrote the Beatles' song Tomorrow Never Knows).

I read about the Rosicrucians, Quakers, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnness(es)...

I’ve searched for faith and salvation, found I had none and got none. Happiness is over-rated.

I simply have little room for faith, and too much room for fact.

I do not begrudge anyone in their beliefs... more power to you. If it makes you happy to be happy, then be happy. But if your religion doesn't make you happy... well... I don't understand the point. But that's just me.

I like Saint Augustine, who said: Love and do as you will.

So - Padre Bernard Hiyamizu Yoshimi … I wrote all about him here… suffice to say that he was one cool guy. He was born on Goto Island, but lived in Nagasaki… in fact, he saw a blinding flash of light on August 9, 1945, lucky to have been outside the blast zone… but the next day wandered through the radioactive fires—not know what they were—to administer medical help to those who needed it.

It’s funny… if I had seen what he saw that day and ensuring days… I never would have believed in any god ever again, but Padre Bernard Hiyamizu Yoshimi, his resolve got stronger.

I know you have to believe… but I don’t think I even believe in Beatles anymore…

You can read about my interview with a Japanese Catholic Priest HERE.

Anyhow… the movie, Silence… it’s all about religious persecution… about refusing to allow people to follow their beliefs in a deity that may or may even exist.

Imagine… countries making up laws regarding something that may or may not even exist except in people’s faith.

But I guess we do that with all sorts of things… imagine holding a $100 bill…. and then expecting someone to give you $100-dollars worth of something.

Now imagine you only have $1 bill… how is some colored ink the only determining factor about how much food you will receive from your purchasing source.

Faith in a system… real or not… that you don’t understand… that at any given moment could cease to exist should enough people stop believing in it…. like the old American gold standard…


This past Saturday, after we found out that my wife’s mother was diagnosed with her third type of cancer after beating the other two over the past eight years, my 11-year-old son asked me why God would make people suffer?

I could spew my former party line here, but I said “I don’t know.”

I really don’t. No one does. Any answer given is merely an opinion and not a statement based on any provable fact.

I like provable facts.

Silence may be about Japan vs Christianity, but it’s a poignant reminder that regardless of religion, peaceful people must be allowed the right to practice their faith.

Silence further opened my eyes to the suffering of people who were refused the right to practice their faith… any faith… and I, too wonder why, if there is a God, why it would feel the need to make its faithful suffer… a question Silence asks time and time again.. the same thing that drives me to ask questions of everything… everybody’s looking for something…

Why is the proof for God’s glory the faithful’s suffering?

That’s what Silence will make you ask.

Silence is NOT an enjoyable film, but it is a good done.

Ya gotta have faith:
Andrew Joseph
PS: I’m not a George Michael music fan, but I freely admit this is a pretty good song.

Or, if you prefer, Ministry and Jesus Built My Hot Rod.

And while I first heard this while I was in Japan (thanks, brother Ben, I listened to it a lot more when I got home to Toronto. I pity my poor parents! LOL! But I still love this song!

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