FictionSilence and The Samurai by Endo. These two books are heartbreaking, but important. Fewer than one percent of Japan is Christian, but that was not always the case. In the fifteen and sixteen hundreds, Japan was the focus of a massive mission effort by the Catholic Church of which Francis Xavier was the pioneer. Thousands of Japansese became Christians during this time. But, it wasn't long before the church in Japan fell under relentless persecution and many fell away from the faith (though not all - there is also the history of the hidden church in Japan that continued, cut off from the larger church, and morphed in inexplicable ways). These two novels explore the mixed motives of the missionaries, the converts, and the faithful. They wrestle with questions related to persecution and apostasy, raising questions we, in the West, out to be thinking about. The novel Silence is considered one of the great novels of the twentieth century, has inspired musicians (Symphony #3 "Silence," by MacMillan), and is a soon to be released motion picture by Martin Scorsese.
Soon I will be posting favorite Biographies, books on culture, Christian living, and theology of 2016.