World magazine had an ad for a book released this year called “Silence and Beauty” by Makoto Fujimoto, reflecting on an earlier classic called “Silence” by Shusako Endo. Not knowing anything about either, I started with Endo’s story and could not put it down. Although disappointed with how things turned out, it struck me how overall on this narrow path we take, that can often, (though does not have to be), the case. Serious themes came up about how important it is to stand fast in the faith, and if it’s something worth dying, or allowing others to die, for.
Fujimoto makes some insightful, (and beautiful), points about how people uncomfortable with ambiguity can be quick to judge. Security can be a motive, not love, when setting boundaries and standards, and all of this reasoning resonates with me. Yet, at the same time, I am a member of a church that probably has more quick to judge people in it than those tolerant of gray areas, though, (and I hope this isn’t self-deception), that is what makes membership more difficult for me. My other (best) option is a parish that embraces mystery and all kinds of sin too.
I cherish Endo’s book as one of the best I’ve ever read, and yet, at the same time, I believe that the priest, (Fr Garrpe), that followed his sheep into the sea set the best example in it – not well developed characters I guess I was supposed to be most impacted by. It stuck me there is a parallel between my value of the Scripture as authoritative and the conviction to not recant my identity in Christ. The twist that you don’t die, but someone else will, is what muddies the waters.
Additionally, from what I understand of the Jewish law and Jesus’s emphasis of its fullness is – no matter what, if you can save a life, go ahead and break whatever commandment you need to to preserve life.
Knowing all of this, just as there are deal breakers for me, (Jesus was a fully divine and human being that literally rose from the dead to free us from sin), this issue falls into that deal-breaker category. It is difficult for me, and though I have deep compassion for the agony that goes with not making the best choices, I don’t think I could live with myself after recanting my faith. I hope I never have to find out.