Andrew Garfield finds Jesus in SILENCE

25 04 2017

     I write a lot about loving your neighbor, or even loving your enemy, in the context of Christian-Muslim relations, where everything from prejudice to outright violent persecution is a daily reality for millions of people of faith. This crucible of the human experience is not lost on Hollywood either.

But rather than make a politically controversial film about Muslims persecuting Christians or vice-versa, Director Martin Scorsese brought to life the horrifying persecution of Christians at the hands of the Japanese shogunate 500 years ago in his film entitled SILENCE.

In the film, Andrew Garfield plays the role of a Jesuit priest tasked with searching for his mentor (Liam Neeson) who is rumored to have abandoned the Christian faith. To prepare for the role, Andrew studied diligently with a Jesuit father, James Martin. In a fascinating interview, Andrew shares that those studies became more important to him than the film, and what transpired through the studies surprised him.

“What was really easy was falling in love with this person, was falling in love with Jesus Christ. That was the most surprising thing,” Andrew says.

Andrew wasn’t a Christian when he started the film. But he recognized a certain pain in his heart. “The main thing that I wanted to heal, that I brought to Jesus, that I brought to the Exercises [the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola], was this feeling of not-enough-ness,” he said. But in meditating on Jesus’ life and words he found himself being transformed.

“I feel like this is what God is showing me,” he said. “I’m praying that I’m freer to offer myself vulnerably…and that these other voices, whether they’re internal or external, don’t have the same power over that flame, over the ability to offer that purest, vulnerable, cracked open heart…in service of God, in service of the greater good, in service of love, in service of the divine….If I can make storytelling a service, if I can be of service, and be as humble as I possibly can while doing it…”

He concludes, “There were so many things in the Exercises that changed me and transformed me, that showed me who I was…and where I believe God wants me to be.”

Meeting Jesus does tend to have that effect on people…

Back to the film…I absolutely loved it! The story presented two levels of religious conundrums. At the first level, Garfield’s character is challenged to deny his faith in Christ or die. He chooses his faith over his own life.

But then a more difficult choice is presented—to deny his faith in Christ, or others will die. This young Jesuit priest has to wrestle with whether it’s more Christlike to publicly bear witness to your faith though it will cost others their lives, or to sacrifice what is most precious to you (your public faith) in order to save others.

I won’t spoil the movie with what choice Garfield’s character makes. But I’m curious which choice YOU think is better—if you’re told to deny your faith or ten people will be executed, what do you think Jesus would want you to do? Post your comments below.

And then, check out the movie SILENCE.





From North Carolina with (Fearless) Love

24 07 2016

welcoming refugees   I just got back to our work in Indonesia after an encouraging month’s tour in the USA, promoting my book A WAY OUT OF HELL and meeting people with a similar passion for peace.

The most exciting stop on my tour was in North Carolina, where I reconnected with my dear friend and Peace Catalyst International colleague, Thomas Davis, an extraordinary bridge-builder and peacemaker both in his hometown and in several nations around the world. (You can read Thomas’s amazing stories at his blog: http://www.incomparabletreasure.com/. You can see his Muslim Christian Dinner Club, read his post on “Jesus–Messiah, Feminist, Friend of Outsiders, Savior of the World” and so much more.)

Thomas invited about 20 Christian friends to a dinner to hear me share about our peacemaking work in Indonesia, but I went home astounded at what Thomas’s friends are doing in their own communities!

  • Some are helping international students, including Muslims, to adapt to their new surroundings in America and find local friends who will care for them
  • Others are involved with some Iranian Muslims reading the Qur’an and the Bible together
  • Still others have joined Thomas’s Dinner Club, where several families from the church and from the mosque regularly eat together, rotating to different members’ houses, with no agenda except to enjoy one another’s friendship
  • Out of this Dinner Club came the idea of joining together to help refugees fleeing the Middle East. Can you imagine a Syrian family arriving in America, and at the airport a local Muslim family and a Christian family are waiting side-by-side to welcome them to America and help them start a brand new life? Isn’t that outrageously beautiful?

My last post asked some tough questions of my fellow Americans; my trip to North Carolina reassured me that there are still those Christians in America who have rejected fear and have chosen to reach out in love. “Love your enemy” was always meant to change us, for if we no longer see an enemy, but the object of our affections, we begin to see the whole world as “friends and future friends.”

If you feel emboldened to start something small in your hometown that builds bridges between Christians and Muslims, please let me know! Perhaps Thomas or myself or others would be able to help you take that first step.