I did not get to see the movie Silence but just finished the audiobook. I now understand why many of the people who saw the movie felt a bit conflicted afterward. People are most often drawn to stories in which the conflicts of life are black and white and where the hero, though he may struggle, will prevail in the end. We have an unconscious expectation for every movie to end "and they lived happily ever after." In Silence the real conflict, the major battle, is internal, in the heart, the mind, the seat of faith and trust in the heart of a believer. How does faith remain in the face of great suffering? How can trust and doubt coexist in the same heart? Why does God seem so distant, so silent sometimes? These are the lines of the battle, the space in which religious idealism is tried by fire and famine.
A friend of mine asked me if I enjoyed the book. I replied that enjoy was the wrong term. It was not an enjoyable story but it struck me as more authentic than most, and I am glad to have encountered it. Silence left me with many conflicting thoughts and emotions about my own faith journey. I am thankful for stories like this that do not gloss over the hard questions of faith, God, meaning, and suffering. It is in the conveying of the questions and struggles that I, the reader and the listener, know that I am not alone in my own struggles, questions, and doubts, and that much of the struggle of faith isn't out there but rather in the internal geography of the heart and mind.