Silence, by 20th century Japanese Catholic novelist Shusaku Endo.
Silence is a novel about a Portuguese priest, Fr. Sebastian Rodrigues, who attempts a dangerous mission to Japan in 1638, in the midst of severe persecution of Christians. He has heard a rumor that his former superior has apostasized and is now working for the Japanese government.
Fr. Rodrigues is smuggled onto the island by a former Japanese Christian who has apostasized but says he wants to return to the church. This man is obsessed with the idea that if only he had lived in an easier time, he would have lived and died a good Christian.
The Japanese figured out pretty quickly that public executions of priests simply made heroes out of the martyrs, and that torture worked a whole lot better for stamping out the faith, especially torturing the faithful in order to get priests to apostasize. It’s even worse than it sounds.
This book is simply written and a page-turner. Haunting is the best word I can think of to describe it. Martyrdom hangs over the characters at every turn. In this time where Christian blogs and periodicals are talking more and more about the need for Christians to be ready for the culture to turn against us, Silence is a must-read.
No Greater Love, by Mother Teresa
According to Endo, one of the questions he attempts to answer in Silence is how can Christianity take root in an Eastern culture? After close to two thousand years of missionary efforts in Asia, Christianity is still a minority religion in most Eastern countries.
Mother Teresa answers that question in her own way in this collection of spiritual writings and talks. She says,
In India, I was asked by some government people, “Don’t you want to make us all Christians?” I said, “Naturally, I would like to give the treasure I have to you, but I cannot. I can only pray for you to receive it.”
Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers
I’m a big Agatha Christie fan, and I’m afraid I just don’t like Dorothy Sayers as much. I think Miss Marple could beat Lord Peter to a clue every time. Still worth reading though.
All-of-a-Kind Family, by Sydney Taylor
I’m trying to find some upbeat early 20th century children’s literature to counteract all the tragedies we are learning about in history, and this book is definitely cheery.
A Jewish family of 5 girls in Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century. I’ve mentioned this book before, and I think it gives a great window into Jewish culture. I’m fascinated by the ways they keep the various feasts and Sabbath. It’s interesting to me to see how the family unit is the primary place of worship, not the synagogue, and the family meal is where the faith is celebrated. My kids liked picking out the ways the Sabbath dinner and Passover dinner prefigure the Mass.
Linking up with Jessica @ Housewifespice