ADELINO ASCENSO, TRANSCULTURAL THEODICY IN THE FICTION OF SHŪSAKU ENDŌ
One of the best avenues towards a fruitful fundamental-theological investigation lies in aesthetics, namely, in art and literature. Poetry and fiction are means of expressing deep meaning in the sickness and anguish, as well as in the joys and the wonders of humankind. Hence, the latter is a fundamental pillar for the anthropological basis needed in the theological reflection. It is in this light that the present study about the fiction of the Japanese writer Shūsaku Endō (1923-1996) and his significance for theology is developed.
Shūsaku Endō was one of the outstanding Catholic authors of the twentieth century. His struggle with questions concerning his faith is recognizable in the publication of more than two hundred titles, including short stories, plays, dramas, reviews, critical biographies, essays, diaries and novels. Ten of his fictional works are here explored and the theological themes raised by him in his novels – such as contradictions and tensions between Western monotheistic culture and Japanese pantheistic world, «silence» of God, suffering, evil, sin, weakness, apostasy, compassion, new Jesus image – are analyzed and evaluated theologically. The study brings us to the conclusion that his fiction is based on a renewing of the anthropological quest through an existential journey and the elaboration of a new image of Christianity that can reach individuals in a secularized society, both in Japan and in the West.
ADELINO ASCENSO, born in Leiria, Portugal, in 1954, joined the Boa Nova Missionaries (SMBN) in 1991, was ordained priest in 1998 and works as a missionary in Japan. He made the theological studies in Porto, Portugal. In 2006 he was granted the licentiate in fundamental theology and in December 2008 a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University, Rome, with the present dissertation.
(C) PUG 2009