Friday, July 24, 2009

Start your reading engines...

Betty has kindly reminded me that I'm up next in the selection rotation, so here it is:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt is a Catholic author who turns out a novel once every ten years, for a grand total of two books. The Secret History was her debut novel. I read it eight years ago, and certain passages and images still float up to the top of my consciousness from time to time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thoughts on Silence

Ironically - or providentially?- the priest at Mass today spoke about the need for silence in our noisy world. But this was not what Shisaku's Silence is about. Darwin, if I had read your post before, I might of said, beware, this is a frightening book, but now I see you've already read it!

So the silence of the title isn't the quiet, listening silence our priest was advocating, but the silence of Christ in the face of fear and distress. This book is a frightening one because of the inhumanity of the Japanese rulers, the mistakes of the priests, but mostly because of God's unwillingness to speak so we can hear: We are all like Thomas who want to touch and see and hear God. How do we sustain our faith in his absence? And do we have the fortitude to suffer with and for Christ? The perseverence of the persecuted Japanese believers in the face of martyrdom also speaks a condemnation: would I be silent or speak up for God? Would I perform a physical action like spitting or trampling on an image, convincing myself that it doesn't mean anything about my faith, in order to save my life? Even though our faith believes in incarnation and that actions and words have eternal significance? Does the Fr. Rodrigues really hear Christ say, "Trample" - is the humiliation of his renunciation his true path to salvation, rather than success at his mission and dying a martyr's death? Does the priest convince himself that he will renounce his fall later, like the slinking Kichijiro who follows him around, or does he accept his humiliation? Or would I have the humility to accept humiliation? How do the priests stand to watch the suffering of their converts?

In the forward and in the book, mention is made of how Christianity didn't suit the climate of Japan. But the author remains a Christian and writes of his beliefs - did the blood of these martyrs feed his faith? How else then can Christianity take root? I just read in The Seven Story Mountain about how difficult it is for Christianity to take root in India because of the comfortable living of the missionaries. That is not the case here. Missionary work is not my calling, I like to think, but perhaps I'm sticking my head in the sand. I also don't like to think that suffering is my calling.

Time for bed. I did skim the last 2 books of the Aeneid. Got to love the warrior girl, Camilla?, and her tribe. The men don't seem to surprised by her; I seem to think scenes like this one kind of derail feminist theory, because here are women doing what they want or think they should do and not being berated for it. And there are all these powerful queens around.

But the final battle seems kind of disappointing. Aeneas barely defeats Turnus after the goddesses get out of the picture. What kind of heroic founder is Aeneas after all?

Other thoughts?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chomping at the bit

I really have a lot to say about Silence now that I've finished it. I LOVED it. Maybe it wasn't the most well-written novel in the world, felt translated, which it was, so I guess I can't fault it, but I thought it had a lot of juicy nuggets on the faith, and what exactly missionary work is and should be. I can't wait to talk about it--which I can't say about Aeneid. If no one minds, I'm not going to post again on Aeneid, because I think everyone's done with it, and frankly, I don't have time at the moment, hence the hurried nature of this post.

Anyone finished reading Silence?

Tap! Tap!

This thing still on?