Book Review: Masaru by Michael Cibenko
You Will Find That The Title Matches The Story
I have read so many books that explain what our faith means but this one shows what it looks like- from street level. Mr. Cibenko spans genres here, acting as apologist, historian and story teller all at once. I had to admit trepidation at how he would pull it off, but he does it so deftly and subtly that you forget you ever had doubts. The friendship of two of the main characters- Shiro and Tomi are a blueprint of how we live our life and win the trust of non-believers who, not having the grace to understand our ideology, must still admire fruit of that ideology which is honor, clarity of purpose and courage. Masura does that. It dives deep into the meanings of suffering and the tenants of our faith with regard to who Jesus and Mary are and what they mean to us as models. This action movie in-print places us inside the events of the 16th century persecution of Japanese Christians as if we were living them. We felt the rage they felt and suffered at the appreciation of their suffering. My biggest doubt was that the author
could frame the backstory and tell the tale effectively in so small a book (less than 300 pages) but was quite impressed that he did so. The influences are clear. Cibenko weaves the philosophy of Aquinas together with the history of someone like Father John Laux. The story telling element almost seemed like a mesh between the obvious character representations of a CS Lewis and the broader themes of Tolkein. In the end, Michael Cibenko creates something refreshingly new. I really cannot think of another book I have ever read that I can really compare to it. The only comparison I could formulate was how the Beatles sewed together elements from every part of the music universe- show tunes like "Till there was you", Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Motown and old fashioned rock and roll, and somehow made it work. They were so big, I believe, because they brought all these different vantage points into a singular frenzy. If you hear "I saw her standing there" or "Twist and shout", you could not fail to take notice. I am one who sometimes talks too much, too long, too enthusiastically. All I can say is read the book because I walked away thinking "wow! there isn't really anything I can add to that."