In this symposium, we will look at the great question, perhaps the most difficult of all questions: what do we do with suffering—and with the apparent silence of God? Philosophers, theologians, and millions upon millions of ordinary human beings have lived within this difficult, heart-aching question of theodicy, sometimes falling into deep despair, sometimes holding onto a small candle of hope. Wherever we are and whomever we are, there are no cheap answers.
In the last generation, Shusaku Endo has addressed this question with unusual depth and rigor, and with profound artistry. His best known work is his novel, Silence, and we will examine this as its own work, but also set it within hundreds of years of witness by Japanese Christians. Mako Fujimura's book, Silence and Beauty, will be background for this.
We will watch and discuss Martin Scorcese's film, Silence. Using the film and the above discussion as a starting point, we will enter into "the tears of Christ," exploring why this reality set forth most clearly in John 11 has been the very heart of meaningful faith for both Mako Fujimura and Steven Garber. Why does it matter that Jesus wept? The book, Visions of Vocation, by Steven Garber, follows this thread from the first pages through the last, and will be the context of our conversation.
We will then set Endo's work within the perennial and global dilemma of sorrow and sadness, injustice and evil. Christians whose hearts are made tender by their own tears and the tears of God must enter into the twenty-first century with remarkably creative and faithful vocations. We must engage neighbors near and far with this truest truth of the universe: that silence is not forever, because God himself has wept over the wounds of the world. We will see how this truth gives a way to live and love in the ruins, with honest hope.
Students wishing to take the symposium for credit will read Shusaku Endo’s Silence, Makoto Fujimura’s Silence & Beauty, and Steven Garber’s Visions of Vocation, and write a 1500 word essay, due August 20, 2018. The symposium counts towards the arts concentration for the masters degree.