Silent Cries (No More) : Silence Unfolded

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He risks his life by going to Japan at a time when the small Japanese Christian minority is being fiercely persecuted. Rodrigues is motivated by a missionary concern for peasant Christians who have persevered in their faith in a clandestine church without priests. But he has a more personal motivation as well.

His Jesuit mentor, the great provincial Cristovao Ferreira, the man who imbued Rodrigues with a fiery passion to spread the gospel in the face of every danger, has apostatized under torture. Rodrigues goes to Japan to face probable martyrdom, in part to discover the truth about Ferreira, and in part to offer himself as atonement for the unspeakable affront of apostasy. Ferreira's apostasy is a historical fact. Francis Xavier had brought Christianity to Japan in In a mere thirty years a community of , Christians was flourishing.

However, the unification of Japan under a central governing power in the late sixteenth century was accompanied by an increasing suspicion toward foreigners. Persecution erupted periodically, culminating in an edict of expulsion for all foreign missionaries in In the following years priests and ordinary Christians were ruthlessly suppressed. At first, Christians were publicly executed, but the blood of such martyrs, to paraphrase Tertullian, proved to be the seed of the church's persistence.

At its height, the Japanese Christian community numbered , Eventually, however, the magistrates hit upon a sinister torture designed to change the public spectacle from one of a heroic acceptance of death to an ignominious public renunciation of faith. The torture, called the ana-tsurushi , consisted of hanging the victim upside down in a pit.

A small incision made on the victim's forehead allowed blood to drain, thus intensifying the agony. Still, no missionary apostatized until But when Cristovao Ferreira, leader of the mission in Japan, did so under torture, the blow to the remaining Christians was devastating. In Silence , Endo's fictional Ferreira serves as a goad to Rodrigues's pride. It is Rodrigues's pride, hidden behind his self-abnegating journey toward martyrdom, that sets up the climactic scene in the novel.

As he sets his face toward Japan, Rodrigues writes in dread-filled yet fascinated tones of the perils that await him. Rodrigues is haunted, and feels himself pulled toward Japan, by a vivid vision of the face of Christ. Endo compels us to admire the Jesuit's willingness to face up to any torture for the sake of the gospel, and we have no doubt that he has the strength to die for Christ. But the novelist subtly lets Rodrigues overplay his courage until it touches on pride. In the end, the Jesuit risks violating the church's stern admonition that a Catholic must never seek martyrdom.

Silent Scars of Domestic Abuse

The antithesis of Rodrigues is Kichijiro, the Japanese who serves as his guide. Kichijiro is a cringing, lying, cowardly drunkard, a thoroughly untrustworthy character who sports the expression of a beaten dog, yet with a hint of cunning. Though Kichijiro denies being a Christian, gradually we learn his secret: he, too, is an apostate.

His entire family had been brought before the magistrates and given the customary chance to apostatize by treading on an image of Christ's face called a fumie. Kichijiro was the only one to submit. He later watched his brothers and sisters being burned at the stake. Rodrigues regards him with a mixture of annoyance, contempt, and pity. What is remarkable about the novel is the way in which, as Rodrigues and Kichijiro move through the countryside eluding capture, Endo begins to blur the sharp moral line which separates them.

Rodrigues's presence, much like that of Graham Greene's whisky priest, brings terrible suffering and death to the faithful who harbor him.

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As Kichijiro, Rodrigues, and the reader look to God for some relief from the unrelenting suffering, Endo allows the Jesuit to articulate the theological problem which gives the novel its name. Rodrigues writes:. Everything our Lord does is for our good. And yet, even as I write these words I feel the oppressive weight in my heart of the last stammering words of Kichijiro on the morning of his departure: "Why has Deus Sama imposed this suffering on us? I suppose I should simply cast from my mind these meaningless words of the coward; yet why does his plaintive voice pierce my breast with all the pain of a sharp needle?

Why has our Lord imposed this torture and this persecution on poor Japanese peasants? No, Kichijiro was trying to express something different, something even more sickening. The silence of God. Rodrigues watches as two Christian peasants are tied to stakes and left for the ocean's waves to bring a slow, merciless death. The martyrdom he has read about in his native Portugal is a glorious thing, a triumphant ascension to paradise accompanied by the sound of angels blowing their trumpets.

But the martyrdom he witnesses in Japan is a miserable and squalid affair. And while the voices of the peasants cry out in anguish, "'God remains with folded arms, silent. Rodrigues's growing doubts stand against the backdrop of the enduring faith of the peasants. However, rather than soothe his doubts, Rodrigues finds the simple faith of the peasants a further irritant. The more the peasants suffer for their faith, the more Rodrigues seems to recoil from the whole missionary enterprise.

Against his will, he begins to struggle with the idea that faith is a mere escape from reality; worse, he is haunted by the dim awareness that the suffering of the peasants is increased because of his own presence. And much worse still, their faith now appears as a cruel burden laid on them by a God who refuses to speak.

More than half of Silence takes place in prison. Rodrigues is betrayed by Kichijiro for a few silver pieces, but then Kichijiro visits him in jail and confesses his weakness and apostasy. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history.

Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us. Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path.

At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: "Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front.

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It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in the successful resolution of the problem.

While they both may have justifiable reasons to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

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Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans. Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America.

A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle.

Suffering The Silence of God - Coastal Junkie

It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.

So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such. Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.

And so we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. And so we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor. My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers.

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam?

They ask if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government.

For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent. For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader? In when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:. Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read: Vietnam.


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It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be -- are -- are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land. As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in ; 1 and I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for "the brotherhood of man. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I'm speaking against the war.

Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the One who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life? And finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God.

Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions.

We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers. And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now.

I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries. They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in -- in rather -- after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China.

They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China -- for whom the Vietnamese have no great love -- but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists.

For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives. For nine years following we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will.


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Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization. After the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva Agreement. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords, and refused even to discuss reunification with the North.

The peasants watched as all this was presided over by United States' influence and then by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace. The only change came from America, as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support.

All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees.

They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals.

They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe?

Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones? We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing -- in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon.

We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. Survivors typically experience these nonviolent forms of abuse long before a physical assault ever occurs. Everyone comes from a different culture and level of pain. They may consider abuse to be normal, or even an action of love, as they become adults.

Although this may be the case for many survivors who are in this situation, there is still something within their spirit, gut, intuition that sounds the alarm that something is wrong. John was angry because I wanted a divorce. I called the police, who gave me the address of the courthouse. I filed for a restraining order.

Based upon my petition, the judge was concerned. The first weekend went fine. So, they did nothing! At least your children are with their father. Now, you can cook for one. Snap out of it and get back to work. Not only did he take our children away, he also emptied our bank accounts, leaving me penniless, and informed the landlord that he would no longer pay the rent. I had to be admitted into the hospital.

She called the hospital. Later that night, a social worker came in and said I could not go home. Two, we will bring you different clothing to wear so you can leave the hospital. Three, disconnect from everyone you know, because we need to keep you safe. She asked me to slouch down in the seat, so no one would see me. Never leave an enemy behind. My children were still missing. I called the FBI to inform them my children were out of the country, which is a federal offense, but since it was an ongoing case originating in Washington State, the agent said I needed to call their office in Seattle.

He stated that was the only way they could help me. Uncomfortable compromising my physical safety to that degree, I declined. On August 31, , I received a call from the Executive Director of the Phoebe House that my children had been found. The judge gave me full custody of our children.

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