The Reality of Evil

As Christianity faces extinction in the Middle East, under attack from a merciless campaign of genocide by the criminals of ISIS, it is distressing that the response of the West has been so weak.

Even Christians appear shell-shocked by events, and do not seem to know what to do, other than pray and donate to relevant charities.

Probably they simply do not know what to do. But I suspect that many of us simply cannot comprehend that the appalling evil we hear about is actually a reality in the twenty-first century.

SilenceA new movie might be about to change such notions.

Martin Scorsese is one of the world’s greatest living directors. He seems to make a new film every two or three years, and often it is a massive hit. His last movie, released in 2013, was the hugely popular “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

That was not a Christian movie. But his next one, due for release late this year or early in 2016, might be.

It is “Silence,” based on the celebrated 1966 historical novel by Japanese Christian writer Shusaku Endo, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize.

“Silence,” Endo’s masterpiece, is set in seventeenth-century Japan and tells the story of an idealistic Portuguese missionary working to help his Christian brethren in Japan in the face of attempts by the authorities to eradicate the religion.

Sadly for much of the time he feels that God is remote, and not answering his prayers – hence the novel’s title.

It is based on real people and real events, and it is striking to read of the cruelty that was employed by the Japanese shogun – military leader – and his officials. The book portrays the torture in some detail, and I assume the movie will do the same.

A favored method was to hang a Christian upside-down over a pit of excrement, with a tiny cut behind the ear sending blood – one slow drop at a time – running down the victim’s face. Death could take a week.

At other times a Christian was tied to a pole that was secured in the sea. High tide would come up just to the victim’s neck, then the water would abate. Again, death was slow.

I do not know how graphic Scorsese will be in depicting the barbarity of the seventeenth-century torturers. I hope he is unflinching. The world needs to see the reality of evil. It is just this manner of evil that is occurring now, in our own time.

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