I just watched an AMAZING movie, Martin Scorsese’s SILENCE. It was a deeply & profoundly religious movie.
I’ll have more thoughts later, probably. But here are my initial theological impressions.
Edit: I should note that I’m as much exegeting Scorsese here. In other words, I think this is what Scorsese (or Endo, the author) is saying, regardless of the degree to which I agree or disagree. (But I mostly agree.)
- Rodrigues at first refuses to deny Christ, even though doing so would relieve his people’s suffering & THEIR temptation to apostasize. This, and the way he judges Ferreira, show that his faith is idealistic but immature.
- In the end, Rodrigues accepts his own frailty–“am I better than Peter, who denied Jesus?” This was the point where his pride broke. This humility enabled him to step on the picture of Jesus, and to accept grace for this act, and to continue–as Peter did, after being forgiven & restored–feeding Jesus’ sheep. (Did you notice the quote earlier in his imprisonment?)
- At the end, Rodrigues’ faith was less idealistic but more mature & deep. He clung to God, in spite of his weaknesses and failings. His faith was deep and deeply compromised. So is all real, mature faith.
- Actually, pretty much all faith is deeply compromised. But only the poor in spirit are able to see the cracks, or admit how deeply into the core they run.
- To say to ourselves or others that we are above any sin, too good for any sin, is to be prideful & self-deceived. “Like Peter, I can’t even watch & pray one hour with you; and I bet I could deny you, too.”
- At the end, Rodrigues isn’t really refusing to take the traitor’s confession. He is refusing instead to act like a priest, offering absolution from a position of superiority, because his failure & restoration have taught him that he & the traitor are equals in their sinfulness & weakness. That’s why he kneels down to the traitor’s level; “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.”
- Rodrigues’ wife cries, even as the narrator is saying, “His wife, it is said, never shed a tear.” This is one of the clues indicating that the narrator is unreliable, and the story that he is telling–that Rodrigues apostasized & never regained his faith–is inaccurate.
- His wife’s tears, along with the way she puts the cross in his hand (along with the mini-katana) also speak of his continued faith. Plus he and his wife never had children, which implies that he did not reject his vow of celibacy.
- The title SILENCE points to how, during his suffering, Rodrigues thought that God was absent or silent. But as Jesus says to Rodrigues, God was NOT absent, in reality: he was suffering with his people. And God was not silent: when Rodrigues cried out in agony & desperation, God was himself crying out with him, sharing his agony.