Winter Issue 5
APOSTASY IN SILENCE:
BETRAYAL OR REDEMPTION?
by Joseph Zondervan
He destines himself to a life that is at best subversive and at worst submissive.
Apostasy is not just a symbolic act.
The second perspective is to condemn Rodrigues outright. What a coward! He has witnessed the courage of the Japanese Christians, choosing the very worst tortures over apostasy. And not only that…Japanese Christians have died for him, so that he could preserve the Japanese church and continue the sacraments. In apostatizing, he invalidates their martyrdom, ending the work that they started.
Again, while carrying some validity, this perspective ignores the complexity of reality. Rodrigues’ resoluteness, rather than preserving the Japanese church, has undermined it. Rodrigues’ parish had heroically defended him, but watching three of their own die slow, painful deaths while Rodrigues waited in relative safety only sacrificed their confidences. While Rodrigues grappled with God’s silence, his village grappled with his silence. To make matters worse, the three Japanese Christians whose lives depend on his apostasy have apostatized themselves. And they have not confessed. In Rodrigues’ mind, letting them die in the pit condemns them to eternal damnation.
Apostasy is not a cowardly act.
Rodrigues’ choice is not whether or not to apostatize. Rather, Rodrigues is forced to re-evaluate what apostasy means. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines apostasy as “an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith.” Stepping on the image is certainly that; Rodrigues will be turning his back on Christ, and by stepping on the icon, will drive the nails that bound Jesus to the cross even deeper. But what about the other option? By remaining resolute, he will superficially defend his Christian faith, but the apostasy will be no less. By remaining resolute, he will contradict the self-giving love that Christians are called to. By remaining resolute, he will defend his pride, but not his mission.
Apostasy seems inevitable.
But then God speaks:
Trample! Trample! I more than anyone know of the pain in your foot.
Trample! It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men’s pain that I carried my cross.
Does Rodrigues abandon God? Perhaps. But if so, he is turning his back on a God who has shown himself capable of bearing our abandonment and redeeming it. In his apostasy, Rodrigues offers his life up, finally identifying himself with Christ, and giving himself a chance to serve God more authentically.
I hope I would have the courage to do likewise.
SPOILER ALERT: This article will be exploring the conclusion to Martin Scorsese’s latest film, Silence. If you have neither seen the movie or read Shūsaku Endō’s book of the same name, read at your own risk.
Last week, Jon Berends gave a powerful personal reflection on Silence, describing the necessary despair inspired by the depicted plot. As the movie progresses, God’s silence seems almost deafening, starkly emphasized by the suffering cries of the innocent Christians persecuted in 17th century Japan.
For most of the Japanese Christians, the options seem simple: apostatize by stepping on an image of Christ or die. For many, an agonizingly slow martyrdom is the preferable option. For others, apostasy “frees” them to a life of shame.
Enter our main character, Portuguese priest Sebastien Rodrigues. While inspired by the heroism displayed by the ‘common’ Japanese peasants, Rodrigues also firmly believes in grace. Apostasy is indeed a great sin, but God will forgive the repentant heart. For those who fear that their strength may fail at the critical moment, Rodrigues is consoling: he allows them, as their priest, to trample the icon when the time comes.
But Rodrigues holds himself to a different standard, identifying with the suffering Jesus. He too has his Judas, a chronic apostatizer and betrayer named Kichijirō. He too is confronted with God’s silence. And he too will remain resolute…nothing will sway him from the love of that face too beautiful to be described.
Once captured by the Japanese, Rodrigues finds himself also facing two options. But rather than facing the choice between apostasy or death, he faces the choice between apostasy and the death of three Japanese Christians, who notably have already apostatized. As the moment of his decision approaches, Rodrigues is desperate. This is not the climax of the gospel narrative with which he identifies.
And then he apostatizes.
He steps on the face too beautiful to describe.
He rejects his distinctive status as the only remaining Christian priest in Japan.
I’ve frequently heard two common responses to this climax, both proving insufficient. The first is to dismiss the act as trivial. After all, it’s just a picture of Christ. Stepping on it is just a symbolic act. Doesn’t it seem like this veneration of the image of Christ is a bit idolatrous anyway? But questions of iconography aside, we need to acknowledge the significance of this act to Rodrigues. The face of Christ has been his prime comfort during stress and distress. Stepping on it confirms his ultimate rejection of his priestly and personal duty. This is the point of no return. By apostatizing, he condemns himself to the shameful service of a secular state.
POEM OF THE WEEK:
Under Our Feet
by Andrew Headley
Where can wisdom be found? - Job
In angst, the weather does nothing
but shine brightly on the field.
If the sun ever sets, she does so
quietly, over the shoulder,
and the moon bathes the river gardens
in silver and immortality.
The grass is treaded down under our feet.
Understanding only exists
when you can bleed for your answers.
But the grass lays down
under our feet and kisses
its brother, the earth
And needs no more than this.
What can the long grass know?
The green and white wind blows
cattails and cotton fuzz
down to the water's edge,
where shadows melt into the reflection.
The sky overhead is vast
as a mountain lake,
and the clouds are distant
as pennies in the wishing fountain;
The children reach for them.
PACIFIC THEATRE REVIEW:
by Erik Delange
merges so well with the Shakespearean world that it begins to feel like its own piece.
When performed today, Shakespeare is rarely, if ever, set in its original time period. Where swords are often replaced with guns in contemporary Shakespearean adaptations, this reverse adaptation had the added appeal of seeing the hyper-violence of the Coppola films swapped for choreographed sword-fights or even a sonnet. This had the effect of holding up a mirror to contemporary culture, revealing both the universality of its corruption as well as the particularity of its depravity at the same time.
A lot of the success of this performance was due to the performances. There were very few stagey lines, and the whole cast seemed to embody a real sense of joy and playfulness throughout the brief 80 minutes. The standout performance of the evening belongs to Nicola Lipman’s utter transformation as Vito Corleone. Lipman brings grace and conviction to her role. She tied together genuine feeling and love, a stunning Brando impression, and iambic pentameter, all while making it her own.
One other moment of inspiration came from seeing Stephania Indelicato’s Michael Corleone and her romance with Kay played by Kaitlin Williams. While at first the audience must suspend their disbelief to believe the romance between these two love-birds, the actors persist in their belief; toward the end, as Kay looks Michael in the eyes with deep trust and fidelity, their love and Indelicato’s masculinity becomes utterly convincing.
The genius of this particular staging is that precisely when Indelicato’s manhood is no longer in doubt the audience is left wondering if this type of masculinity is worth preserving at all.
Corleone, by David Mann, is a play with a simple question, “What if Shakespeare wrote The Godfather?” Mann, who is clearly both a student of the 1972 Coppola film and Shakespeare, penned a lovely short play that as he says, “rides the line between parody and homage, to both.” This inspired idea was executed without a hitch, shedding new light on the universal themes present in Shakespeare, the relatability of Gangster culture, and the role of gender in these works and broader society.
The Classic Chic production, running at Pacific Theatre until February 25, made the classically Shakespearean choice of bending gender but with a contemporary twist. In Shakespeare’s day, both the male and female roles were played by men. The current production of Corleone boasts an all female cast, a compelling move which casts fresh light on the already problematic gender situation of the Godfather universe, let alone Shakespeare’s day.
Gender bending has always been a theme in many Shakespearean plays. One need look no further than The Twelfth Night where this is a central theme, but it happens throughout his works. Mann was sure to work this in to his play which led to a particularly delightful moment in Classic Chic’s all-female performance when Christina Wells Campbell’s male gangster character “cross-dresses” as female, leading to a terrifically acted moment whereby the actor is put in the tenuous situation of being a female playing a male pretending to be female.
Toward the beginning of the play there are a couple of on-the-nose references to original Shakespeare plays where a classic line was bent just slightly to fit the story like a mediocre song parody. But as the play progresses, the Italian mafia culture of New York City
THE POWER OF LOOKING STUPID
by Jubiracy Filho
At this exact moment, two very sophisticated, elegantly dressed ladies enter the workshop. They are late and, for what they find the audience doing, visibly disturbed by the stupidity.
Cliff then talked about his acting career. It took him more than sixty auditions to get three acting jobs. In one of them, a VISA commercial, they wanted him to walk and trip—not in a goofy way, but just to trip, without falling.
Not only did he trip and fall—he flew.
They liked it. “That was actually pretty good,” they said. “Can you fall again, right on top of this table full of food?” they asked.
“Will it hurt?” Cliff responded.
They shot it five times. The food on the table flew with Cliff. It did hurt.
At this point, the audience is laughing, everyone enjoying themselves for the most part—everyone, that is, except those two ladies. They are not impressed. They are horrified.
Next, Cliff called for volunteers to pose while he improvised. Kathy went. She maintained a challenging position for several long minutes. You think that hurt? “I felt the burn,” she said. When she gets a prize for participating, I’m not jealous. Nope.
Cliff finished with some closing remarks. He thanked people and apologized for wasting their time, right as one of the two ladies replies:
“Will you give us our money back?”
That must have hurt. “If you didn’t see anybody looking stupid tonight,” Cliff answered, “especially myself—I will.”
What any comedian fears the most, I gather, had just happened. Cliff took it very well, but that proved fear is real and not stupid.
Nevertheless, this could not have ended any better! This is real life! If Cliff wanted to encourage people, he did it. “Will it hurt?”—we ask. Well, we conclude the best answer is: “probably!” But would that be all?
No! There is also a prize! There are people laughing and there are people dancing, there are people writing and there are people dreaming; much better still, there are both people and food flying before our eyes.
P.S. If you have a strong desire now to see me look stupid, fear not! I will be joining Matthew Nelson hosting the entertainment portion of Taste of the World...
Matthew Lee Nelson gave me this job to do and I didn’t like it a bit. Now there will be an article, in print and online, written to the intelligent Regent people, with my actual name on it—not even a pseudonym—about the power of looking stupid. Well, the fact that his actual, full name is the first thing to appear on this, right at the beginning of it, as close to the title as possible, is no accident either. He’s coming with me.
For those who don’t know, Matthew is ETC’s editor and my TOP 3 best friend (don’t be jealous, competition is fierce). My assignment was to participate in a workshop happening at Regent, as an undercover reporter for the ETC. I figured I would keep my yellow tennis shoes at home and save the haircut for later. Nothing could go wrong on that day.
January 27th, 7:00pm: I’m the first to arrive, which is not very discreet of me— I’m from South America. I walk around the atrium to blend in with the remnant, and I find Kathleen Ross. When I tell her that I myself was going to the workshop, she immediately follows me.
Okay, that’s not true (it’s the title—I feel I can write whatever!). Kathy was actually invited to participate by Cliff Prang himself. And she did.
Cliff is a comedian. He started these workshops—The Power of Looking Stupid—to encourage people to face their fears and take themselves less seriously. Little did he know, what was about to happen in that workshop would prove that fear is a real thing and, sometimes, not stupid.
He began with stories about his family. One day, one of his kids screamed, at the top of her voice, “Help! There is a pig in my room!” Cliff ran to her bedroom. “Get it out of here, hurry!”
It was her brother—snoring.
Another time, his little boy screamed, now from the bathroom: “Cliff!” the boy called: “Wash my nipples!” He must have heard it wrong. “Cliff,” the boy kept on screaming, “wash my nipples!” He walked into the bathroom and found his helpless little boy in the shower, “Wash my nipples, Cliff.”
“First of all, I’m not ‘Cliff’,” he answered. “I’m your father. My friends call me Cliff. I’m not your friend,” he said. “Second, these aren’t your nipples. These are your knees.”
“Now,” Cliff addresses the audience, “every night before I go to bed, I go down on my nipples and pray for that kid.”
Cliff then shows us how his three kids dance, each his own way. You know what’s coming. He makes the audience stand up and dance like them. Now we’re all looking stupid.
IT IS TIME:
SUBMIT YOUR PAPERS TO THE
RCSA ACADEMIC SYMPOSIUM
by Austin Stevenson
listening to older students (some of whom are now Ph.D. candidates) and thinking, “I don’t see how I could ever write well enough to do this.” Just a couple of years later I was presenting my own work and reflecting on how far I had come. If you’re just getting started at Regent, set your sights on the Symposium; it’s a great step on the way to academic excellence.
The Symposium is held in the format of an academic conference and many students and faculty will be in attendance. Papers can be on any topic, between 2,500 and 5,000 words in length. The papers will be selected by a peer committee. Submissions, including the below information, must be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 4:30 pm on Monday, February 13. Please include your phone number in your email.
Please do not include your name anywhere in your paper or word document attachment. Papers and materials will be blind read by the Symposium Committee.
Please submit the following in a word document (or PDF):
1. A 500-word abstract of the paper.
2. A personal statement concerning this paper.
a. What excites you most about the topic?
b. Why did you choose to write this?
c. What have you learned?
3. A personal statement concerning yourself and Regent College.
a. Why do you want to participate in the Academic Symposium?
b. What are your hopes occupationally?
c. In what ways does your work represent Regent College’s mission, ethos, and values?
Also attach the paper itself, including word count (2,500 to 5,000 words). Those papers chosen for the conference will be given opportunity for revision prior to publication.
This year the RCSA Academic Symposium will be held on Friday, March 3. The deadline to submit a paper for the symposium is 4:30 pm on Monday, February 13. If you’re on the fence about submitting a paper, I encourage you to go for it! There is nothing to lose. If you haven’t really thought about it, or you aren’t sure what the point is, here are a few thoughts.
Many Regent students put a significant amount of work into their research and write on topics that are important to them. However, most of the time only one person reads those papers: your professor. This is your chance to have a bunch of people read your work, offer encouragement and critique, ask questions, make connections with their own interests, and so on. If you think you’ve written something that matters, why not share it?
Furthermore, it can be difficult to gauge the level of your writing if it’s never exposed to a wider audience. You may have gotten an “A,” but does that mean your research is good enough for higher level academic work? Does it mean your argument is valid? Is it publishable? Are there other people at Regent with similar interests? One of the best ways to begin to answer these questions is to present your research publicly, so why not start with the Symposium?
I presented a paper at last year’s Academic Symposium for the first time, and I had an excellent experience. Some professors made connections between my work and other contemporary debates of which I was only dimly aware. Others provided encouragement and helped me probe further into the significance of the topic and my argument. My essay was eventually published in Crux after a few professors who heard my presentation encouraged me to submit it. Beyond this, I had so many great conversations with other students about issues related to my research. None of that would have happened if I had decided not to submit my paper.
So, if you’ve done research during your time at Regent that you believe is important and well-written, I encourage you to share it with the rest of us. If you’re not ready to submit this year, start thinking about next year. I remember sitting in the Academic Symposium my first year at Regent
THAI CHICKEN CURRY
by Tim Cruickshank
900ml rice, cooked
300ml lime juice
salt and pepper
chicken skin, roasted and broken
In a large soup pot: fry ginger, lemongrass, and curry paste in a splash of olive oil, at medium high heat until toasted and fragrant. Add onion and red pepper; saute until vegetables are slightly tender. Deglaze with soup stock. Add lime leaves, brown sugar, coconut milk, and fish sauce; bring to a gentle simmer, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add chicken and carrots; simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust sugar and fish sauce as desired. Take pot off heat; stir in rice and lime juice. Garnish with cilantro and chicken skin bits.
Ingredients for 6-8 people:
45ml ginger, grated
1 stalk lemongrass, split in half
10ml Thai red curry paste
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3-5 lime leaves
15ml brown sugar
1L chicken/veg stock
375ml coconut milk
45ml fish sauce
500g chicken, cooked (or sauted mushroom)
3 carrots, sliced thinly