Friday, 15 April 2011

"Silence" and God's love

I have just finished reading "Silence" by Shusaku Endo. Put simply it is an excellent novel exploring the silence of God in the face of suffering and the nature of grace.

Whilst there are numerous themes to consider the one that seems most pertinent to me is the question of God's silence.

In the novel the Jesuit Priest conitnually comments on the silence of God in the face of suffering and I was struck by the candid honesty of his struggle.

In a church such as the Uniting Church in Australia which speaks of dsicerning God's will confessing that we hear silence from God can be difficult as it may indicate a lack of faith.

In a culture such as the Australian culture which touts atheism and in which my children are taught to beleive in Easter Bunny at school by their peers speaking of the silence of God may be seen as undermining an already shakey faith.

In a world where there continues to be great suffering through social, economic, political and natural movements admitting the silence of God may seem fatal.

Yet the silence from God can be almost palpable, a tangible reminder of our human frailty and need for answers.

For me the services in the week ahead are an opportunity once again to throw ourselves on the mercy of God and in our longing to hear his voice recall how Jesus prayed in the garden "not my will but yours". To recollect how on the cross Jesus experienced the agony of Godlessness "why have your forsaken me". To remember that in the face of the finality of death Jesus came and stood among his disciples and said "peace be with you".

It is remembering that God's silence is broken and we discover again God's loving concern for our world.


  1. It would have been interesting to have the atheist author of “Religion for Atheists”, Alain de Botton, answer this question, but even if he or anyone else can prove that religion is good for the world it misses the point and reduces faith and belief to a function of our humanity.

    Mate good piece but wanted to argue with you on the quote above. Its a bit of a throw away line that needs unpacking. I think Jesus calls us to see faith and belief as a function of our humanity. 'Reducted' or not an athiest and a faithful person act and behave and participate. If our faith does not challenge this then its reduced to spiritualism. Jesus said "Go" many times and Jesus came and returned bodily to point to our humanity. Our badies and their actions matter. Not for salvation but loving God and our neighbour.

    1. Hi Ben. Yep obviously the comment does need unpacking. My point was not that christians, or people in general, should not act and behave and particpipate but rather than God existence is not determined by how that God may or may not benefit our humanity. Put simply God is. A similar critique can be put to those who reduce God existence to spiritualism, which is also problematic. Our bodies and our actions do matter, otherwise the incarnation is rendered nonsensical. As for loving God and neighbour is this not what salvation is. I do not define salvation as getting to go to heaven when I die but living with God in the gift of creation now, as well as the mystery of life beyond death which lies in God's hands. Hope this helps my argumentative friend. Must be time for coffee or lunch again soon!

  2. I may be off beam, but simply God gave humanity freedom. We do our own thing until it is all too difficult then blame God when God is not obviously present, or present as we desire. "I am with you always",God is faithful to God's word, we must learn faithfulness in our walk to be more aware of God's presense.
    Sue, Redcliffe

    1. Hi Sue. In the book "Silence" I see that the Priest is utterly faithful in the face of God's Silence. A sense of God's presence may be an outcome of our faithfulness or not. The question is does that mean that God is any less present if it is not and is the aim of our faithfulness about what we get out of it e.g. a sense of the divine. I am reminded too of Tomas Halik's book "Paitence with God" which deals with similar themes and a story "The Silk Drum" in one of my other books "A guide to retreat" Peter