Better late than never, I finally saw this 2016 Martin Scorsese movie, Silence. It was a three-hour experience of holding my breath, closing my eyes, and contemplating whether my own efforts to evangelize are more tied to goal achievement or God’s love. This movie was brilliant and it messed me up. No, it was brilliant because it messed me up.
If you’re looking for a review of the Oscar-nominated cinematography or commentary on the snub from the Academy this isn’t it. Check out IMDb for some of that stuff. This post is about how confounded I was for days after watching Silence. I could not stop talking about it and it has taken me a week to post about it.
The topic of the film is apostasy, the abandonment of the faith. The issue in Silence is this notion of apostasy in the name of love. What happens when preaching Jesus is in conflict with being like Jesus? To avoid any spoilers, I’ll just say this…hearing the powerful dialogue of the Inquisitor, played by Issei Ogata and Father Ferreira played by Liam Neeson forced me to consider my own pride and arrogance in trying to evangelize a nation.
The film is carried by one of my new Hollywood favorites, Andrew Garfield, who captured my heart in Hacksaw Ridge. Love him! He is searching for Liam Neeson, his mentor, who is rumored to have denounced God and converted to Buddhism. The conflict: Catholicism is outlawed in Japan and the priests are forbidden to be there. Where to begin…
“I now look scoff at my own little zeal for Jesus after watching this film.”
First of all, I now scoff at my own little zeal for Jesus after watching this film. Sure, I’m vocal and all Jesus-y on social media and a regular Bible quoting fortune cookie to my friends. But, these Japanese people exhibited faith that made me ashamed of my own. They were forced to have church in hidden caves and underground. I complain if I’m not sitting close enough to the pulpit. They had a choice to denounce Jesus by stepping on a picture of Him or spitting on the cross. When they refused they were bound in bamboo rugs and set on fire to burn together in a pile…alive. I get annoyed if the air conditioner isn’t on in the sanctuary by early June. Throughout the movie I found myself asking, “Could I do this for God?”
“In America, we have the comfortable luxury of turning social and political battles into religious assault.”
I know there’s a lot of talk right now about making America great again but after watching Silence I came to the conclusion that America is pretty darn great right now. Our religious battles are over same-sex bathrooms and who should be allowed to share an insurance plans and china patterns. Nobody is threatening to set us on fire if we don’t choose to bake a same-sex wedding cake for religious reasons. After watching Silence I gained a great appreciation for my easy peasy Christian experience. In America, we have the comfortable luxury of turning social and political battles into religious assault.
I love movies that make me think, that change my paradigm just a little. I’m not a fan of mindless TV, film or books. This movie helped shift my thinking and I believe it will have an impact for a long time. Since watching Silence, there is one consistent thought that stays with me. Am I operating in the true love of Christ or cloaking my social and political views under my faith?
Check out Silence and let me know if it affected your views on evangelism and faith.
Kamryn Adams is an author, screenwriter and blogger who writes from a Christian worldview. She’s the founder of Leaping Lady Entertainment and The Kamryn Adams Group. www.KamrynAdams.com