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Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  502 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Endo's Silence took internationally renowned visual artist Makoto Fujimura on a pilgrimage of grappling with the nature of art, the significance of pain and his own cultural heritage. His artistic faith journey overlaps with Endo's as he uncovers deep layers of meaning in Japanese history and literature, expressed in art both past and present. He finds connections to how f ...more
Hardcover, 263 pages
Published April 1st 2016 by IVP Books (first published 2016)
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Jodi Yes. Worthy read if you are interested in Japanese history, theology,

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Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredible! Wow. I've just been blown away by Fujimura's insight on the Japanese culture, art, and spirit and how he weaves this into grace, Christ's death, and beauty. I pretty much highlighted almost every part of this book! I have so many ideas to ponder, ideas that are provocative, moving, and heartbreaking. There is the aspect of gaining insight into the Japanese people and how they are trapped within their trauma, unable to escape, but all the while have the potential to share ...more
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction, art
Summary: A "layered" reflection on Shusako Endo's Silence by a Japanese-American artist that explores the Christian experience of persecution in Japan, and the connections between silence, suffering, and beauty, that may draw contemporary Japanese to faith.

It is said that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Yet my very first encounter with this book suggested I was in for something special as I looked at a cover with a pure white background, a couple of Japanese characters, and a translucent d
Joshua Polanski
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I really wanted to enjoy this read more than I did.

It's a well-informed Protestant Japanese take on Endo's Silence, through the lenses of an important visual artist. Overall, Fujimura will enrich any future reread's of Silence: the rich intellectual history of Japan, an informative outlook on Endo's life, and the background of the Meiji restoration will change how you look at the great novel.

The problem with this book is exactly why its valuable: its a Protestant take on a Jesuit novel. The wo
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Probably I should read it again.

It intrigued me more than it enlightened me.

Ambiguity is close to the theme of the book, and Fujimura's thoughts about ambiguity tend toward the ambiguous. Others may feel more at home here.

He opened the window into Japanese culture wider for me, drawing connections between a past of failed Christianity and forced silence to the ambiguity, ambivalence, and passivity which he notes in the Japanese spirit. Little space is given to critique; he supports Japanese c
Neil R. Coulter
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
"Every creative act can be a sacramental act to reach the divine and bridge the divide and brokenness created in society" (209).
Silence and Beauty is a fascinating, thoughtful, wonderful book. Mako uses Endo's novel Silence, and Scorcese's film version, as a starting point to talk about history, Christianity, and Japanese culture. He also shares glimpses of his own journey in America and Japan.

As part of this meandering (in a good way) musing, Mako presents an excellent explanation for why the v
Curby Graham
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this immediately after finishing Endo's Silence. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in Silence or in how Japan and Christianity relate to one another. He also advised Martin Scorsese before he directed the movie version of Silence, which should also be watched after reading Silence. It is very faithful to the book.

I had the privilege of hearing Fujimura speak at a Society for Classical Learning conference four years ago and got to speak to him for a minute when he
Alexis Johnson
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
I actually ran out of sticky page markers and had to switch to post-its before the end. Sign of a book well read! An absolutely transformative book that I will be reflecting upon for a very long time. ♥ I really want to read his other books now.
Laurel Hicks
A multifaceted jewel.
tonia peckover
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
With the release of Martin Scorsese's movie this year, I wanted to reread Silence and also this examination of the novel by Fujimura, whose art I admire. I'm glad I did. Fujimura's position as a Japanese-American Christian artist gives him unique insight into Shusako Endo's motivations and perspectives in writing Silence: things like the visual nature of Japanese culture, the importance of never standing out, the fact that even the Japanese word used for Christianity designates it as an outsider ...more
Adam Shields
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Short Review: Silence and Beauty is a profound reflection on the book Silence by Shusaku Endo, the role of art and beauty in Christianity, and a reflection of the impact of Christianity on the culture of Japan. I am not going to say tons more about it now because I have purchase the paperback copy of Silence (I listened to it on audiobook the last time I read it) and I am going to reread Silence and Beauty again.

Seriously, this is an excellent book. As a side note, I purchase the hardcover beca
I feel like an ogre giving this three stars. Fujimura goes into a lot of personal detail and philosophical musing not directly related to the book Silence, and much of it I found far too idiosyncratic to really enjoy. His fans really, really like this book, but I suspect many of them know Fujimura personally, and so are interested in what, to me, was far too specific to Fujimura to be of general interest.

The parts directly related to Silence are very good, but it was hard to wade through all the
Amanda Patchin
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful. Fujimura makes the fumi-e the center of Japanese culture in a compelling and extended argument and illustration. The reality of human trauma, the hidden nature of broken faith, and the beauty of silence are "an unfolding plan that we can only access through this cultural estuary called Japan."

Part theology, part artistic philosophy, part literary criticism: this book is worth your while.
Christina “6 word reviewer” Lake
"Silence is beauty; beauty is silent." ...more
Greg Talbot
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Painting in a red barn in New Jersery, Makoto Fujimura describes laying lachite and azurite, up to 60 layers to create a nihonga painting. Describing Japanese art, he describes the emphasis on hiddenness, ambiguity, and beauty.

“The surface of my “slow art” is prismatic, so at first glance, the machite surface looks green. But if the eye is allowed to linger on the surface-it usually takes ten minuets for the eye to adjust-the observer can begin to see the rainbow created by layer upon layer of
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I can't decide whether or not I want to rate this 4/5 stars or 3.5/5 stars. This was such an interesting and fascinating read. It's going to be so hard to put down all my thoughts on it, especially since it took a while for me to read it and I neglected to write down my thoughts when I was reading the beginning! I know I won't be able to fully explain what I thought well, but I just want to make a few notes on it even if just for my own sake.
First off, you can tell this book was written by an a
Shannon Ture
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fujimura weaves together - with one uniting thread being Shusaku Endo's novel Silence - Japanese culture since the Tokugawa era, Japanese art as it expresses a certain hiddenness or ambiguity, and Fujimura's own journey as a Christian, a Japanese "outsider", and an artist.

This book is deeply personal and full of compassion - in the form of grief and hope - for Japanese culture. Fujimura's other books, which I hope to read, probably flesh this out more, as it seems his interest is broadly in con
Brennan Humphreys
Dec 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: shared
Fujimura's writing style is a bit awkward and cumbersome--he uses large words in odd places and often the chapters feel a bit jumbled. I prefer him as a speaker to a writer (he has a series of four videos titled Theology of Making with Fuller University that are really good--they briefly touch on many of the ideas he explores here).

That said, Fujimura is a brilliantly creative, insightful, and generous man. He and I actually approach Silence pretty similarly, though he is more interested in trau
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fujimura seems to write (consciously or not, it's unclear) much like his nihonga style of art - many rich and changing layers reveal prose on top of autobiography, biography, cultural explanation, philosophical musings, and faith reflections. His is a unique style and one that took me several chapters to appreciate, but reading it with the context of his artistic work helped me enjoy his layered, sometimes abstract, contemplations more.

The last two chapters were excellent, and his reflections o
Becky Baylous
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must-read with Shusako Endo's book, Silence. This book gave me a deeper understanding of the persecuted Christian's faith and how suffering, and even failure, glorifies God. Fujimura also opens the doors to understanding Japanese culture and art. An amazing read! ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wow. This book is about art, literature, culture, suffering and trauma, Japan, the gospel...Almost every page in my book is marked. I had high expectations before I began reading it and it exceeded them.
This is my second time in reading this book. I think that I need to go read Silence by Endo which this book is based on. Very heady and thoughtful book.
Michele Morin
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing

C.S. Lewis described our world as “the Kingdom of Noise,” and he composed a psalm in the praise of noise from the pen of Senior Tempter, Screwtape, in his letter to a young apprentice. By contrast, artist Makoto Fujimura praises the beauty of silence particularly in the context of Japanese culture. “Perhaps in no other culture is a single word so relevant as silence is to Japan. In Japan, silence is beauty and beauty is silent.”

In his analysis of Shusako Endo’s global best-seller, Silence, Fujim
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
In some ways, harder to get through than the original subject matter but an excellent companion read. Helps with a deeper and more connected understanding of the underlying japanese cultural ideals that play out through the novel.
Anthony Alvarado
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading when digging into Endo's Silence but he also goes into more on culture care, Japanese culture and how the Gospel is hidden there, and the beauty of suffering. ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful book about a truly important book - Silence. Which is appropriate enough, in the light of the title. Fujimura writes evocatively and movingly - of his own Christian testimony, his own parallels as a Japanese Christian with Shusako Endo, and his appreciation of Endo's remarkable novel.

The key issue for both writers is the place of suffering within Christian theology and experience. And their insights, while far from comfortable or neat, are very helpful. Fujimura's style is so
Jamie Howison
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a very fine book indeed, though you need a heads-up before you decide to dive in. Mako Fujimura has written what amounts to an improvisational meditation on Shusaku Endo's remarkable novel "Silence." I can't imagine reading this book without having first read "Silence" (and Mako says as much in his introduction), so in taking it on you're really committing yourself to two books.

Not that this is a problem. "Silence" is a stunner, often compared to Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory
I struggled with this book simply because the author often presented far more ambiguity than I can deal with. I love to read books that deal with depth, especially of the spiritual and psychosocial kind, but his points seemed to go around and around and eluded a clear foundation for me. I appreciated his in-depth analysis of the Japanese culture and the psychological demands upon them as a people. Just this fact alone, I bumped up my rating to three stars. Perhaps if I were to read Endo's book, ...more
This was a great read during Holy Week. I was moved by the explication of the Gospel that is bigger than suffering and trauma ("the Ground-Zero realities of our lives") in the context of the layered exploration of the history of Christian missions in Japan, post-WWII Japanese artists (primarily Endo but also others, such Yasunari Kawabata, and the author's own spiritual journey and experiences. I appreciated the insights into Japanese culture as well. ...more
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most patient reflections on a novel I've ever read. Fujimura extends the significance of Endo's "Silence" to help navigate the striking shipwreck of 2016 such that even in sinking our sails may billow.

Tremendously helpful.
Alex of Yoe
This book is an interesting blend of autobiography, literary commentary, and cultural exploration. It invites the reader into the history of Japan through the book Silence by Shusaku Endo, examining it through the lens of Japanese art and the author's own experiences. It is a beautiful book full of meaning and thought-provoking insights.

Fujimura is an acclaimed Japanese-American artist and a Protestant Christian who lived in New York City during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Using his own faith jo
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InterVarsity Pres...: Book Review 1 33 May 03, 2016 06:43AM  

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Makoto Fujimura, recently appointed Director of Fuller's Brehm Center, is an artist, writer, and speaker who is recognized worldwide as a cultural shaper. A Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003-2009, Fujimura served as an international advocate for the arts, speaking with decision makers and advising governmental policies on the arts. In 2014, the American Academy o ...more

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“According to Flaubert, the artist inhabits his or her work as God does: present everywhere, but visible nowhere.” 7 likes
“Our failure is not that we chose earth over heaven: it is that we fail to see the divine in the earth, already active and working, pouring forth grace and spilling glory into our lives. Artists, whether they are professed believers or not, tap into this grace and glory. There is a "terrible beauty" operating throughout creation. If Christ announced his postresurrection reality into the darkness, even into hell, as the Bible and Christian catechism suggests, then, as theologian Abraham Kuyper put it, there is not one inch of earth that Christ does not call "Mine!” 6 likes
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