A Japanese Catholic novelist

Fifteen years ago today, Shusako Endo, a Japanese Catholic novelist died at the age of 73.

His novels and short stories are enlightening and disturbing, touching deep themes of faithfulness and images of God. His novel Silence treats the public apostasy but private faith of a missionary in 17th century Japan. He also wrote  A Life of Jesus. But the book I most appreciated was his collection of stories,  Stained Glass Elegies.

In my reading of Endo, these three quotes have been among the most challenging:

“It was to share men’s pain that I carried my cross.”

“In ‘maternal religion’ Christ comes to prostitutes, worthless people, misshapen people and forgives them. God is not a punishing God, but a God who asks that children be forgiven.”
A Life of Jesus

“A novelist cannot write about what is holy. He cannot depict the holy Christ, but he can write about Jesus through the eyes of the sort of people who stepped on the fumie, or the eyes of his disciples and others who betrayed the Christ.”



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