To Continue (Briefly) with Endo

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Now, all of that said some days ago, I come to another question. Would I, as a Christian Artist, be comfortable releasing a work that did not conform to doctrinal views of the world.

The answer is quite mixed. If I felt that the lack of conformity were such that it might endanger the faith of many, I would have to self-censor. In a sense Artists are kind of minor shepherd assistants. They popularize the difficult and abstruse and they have an obligation to help the sheherds of the Church (assuming they are faithful members of the Church).

But the determination of what may or may not undermine faith is really a very nebulous criterion. We had a case here in St. Blogs or recent date where an individual found strength and solace and the ability to remain within the Church through groups that many might find alienating and challenging. Even if these groups have some doctrines which may be called into question by some, they allow many to remain within the Church if agitated by some things done in the Church.

So the problem is great. But I believe that a person of prayer, an Artist, who leans upon God and calls upon God to assist in all parts of the creative endeavor can count upon God to make good even the imperfections of a work. If the books is challenging, as is Endo's, the challenge may call forth all sorts of responses. View the discussion here, where many hasten to point out that apostasy always leads to greater damage. Note responses that suggest we need to measure our reactions and see whether we might not be sitting in judgment on the state of a person's soul and that Endo was presenting the historical reality of his time. (He was. By such apostasies public Cahtolicism of the time was effectively surprised into an interesting "closet cult" that combined elements of what was remembered of Catholicism with the pervasive Shinto animism of the time.)

A Catholic artist owes it to God and to humanity to remain as close to the Church as possible during the act of composition; however, he is also called upon to tell what he understands of the truth, however broken and distorted that may be. I could not write a perfect doctrinal analysis of nearly any Catholic doctrine. I am not ashamed to admit that much of my understanding is unclear. But stories are not doctirne and Art is not the Magisterium. It can be a great aid to the Magisterium and a great ally to the Church. It can also go astray.

The artist faithful to his vision will endure such attacks as Endo has endured. He might be considered apostate himself. He may be criticized for his stand or his content. Nevertheless, there is a kind of pact between faithful artists and their Creator which does not allow for lack of integrity. If the story leads to a point, the point must not be skirted, the structure must not be abridged.

Not every work by an artist is worthy of the name art, nor is every writing worthy of reading. What is great Art, however, may ask questions, but it will, I believe, rest strong in the faith, regardless of what others may think about it. In this much Sartre was to some extent correct: for the artist hell can be other people judging him by the work of art and its apparent confromity/disconformity with established doctrine, not by the substance of self.

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For this the twentieth edition of the Christian Carnival I wanted to place some wisdom from the Bible among the writings of the Christian Blogging community. All of the entries this time are excellent, as always, but I warn that... Read More

For this the twentieth edition of the Christian Carnival I wanted to place some wisdom from the Bible among the writings of the Christian Blogging community. All of the entries this time are excellent, as always, but I warn that... Read More


If an artist writes a novel that tells the story of an apostate, does this mean that the novel advocates apostasy? I don't think so. Not unless this is implicitly or explicitly conveyed by that author in leading his readership toward the end of the tale. Is it not licit for an author to depict the natural history of an apostasy in order that his readership might recognize analogous stumbling blocks in their own lives, the better to avoid them? One doesn't eliminate apostasy by refusal to recognize and frankly consider it.

Dear Rob,

You may have said it better than I have here, but this is precisely my point and you have made it excellently well. Thank you.



I was really only trying to clarify my own thoughts concerning the questions you raise about this very gripping and moving work of fiction. Thank you for having raised them.
I hope that my musings were not overly redundant to your excellent points.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 1, 2004 7:12 AM.

Prayer Reqeusts 1 June 2004--St. Justin Martyr was the previous entry in this blog.

Praying in Community is the next entry in this blog.

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