Makoto Fujimura Awarded 2016 Aldersgate Prize for “Silence and Beauty”

Indiana Wesleyan University’s John Wesley Honors College (JWHC) is pleased to announce the 2016 Aldersgate Prize has been awarded to renowned bicultural artist Makoto Fujimura for his book, “Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering”. A master painter and leading international contributor to conversations on faith and art, Fujimura also serves as the director of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Motivated by the ethos of its Christian liberal learning community, the JWHC awards the Aldersgate Prize annually to celebrate the outstanding achievement of an author whose scholarship challenges reductionistic trends in academia by yielding a broadly integrative analysis of life’s complexities and by shedding fresh light on ultimate questions that can enrich Christian conceptions of human flourishing.

Selected from nearly eighty nominations for this year’s prize, “Silence and Beauty” is a genre-transcending work that contemplates Japan’s earliest encounter with Christianity and the unique ways this legacy survived as a subtle, yet integral, part of the quiet beauty and generative ambiguity that pervades Japanese culture. By courageously crossing boundaries between autobiography and literary criticism, personal and cultural history, memoir and theodicy, Fujimura leverages Shusaku Endo’s novel, “Silence”, as an illuminating and provocative touchstone for revealing what Japan’s “cultural estuary” can teach us about the redemptive significance of weakness and failure and the transformative power of ambiguity and doubts for grasping the depths of faith. On one hand, the “Christ-hidden” culture of Japan that “Silence and Beauty” brings to light serves as a probing corrective of Western rationalism and its triumphalist conceptions of belief, beauty and human flourishing. On the other hand, it demonstrates how Japanese works of art, like “Silence”, have the potential to re-narrate past traumas in a way that penetrates the disquieting realities of suffering and doubts for the sake of awakening genuine healing and restoration. 

The Aldersgate Prize selection committee is convinced that Fujimura’s uniquely interdisciplinary work will inspire a variety of important conversations across academic disciplines, cultures and Christian traditions about recovering the unsettling power of beauty for discerning and living faithfully into God’s redemptive presence amid the questions, complexities and struggles that haunt our everyday lives. And, in an age in which the gravitational center of global Christianity continues to shift away from the West, “Silence and Beauty” offers an inspiring model of how Eastern perspectives can enrich the black and white dichotomies of modernity with “full resonant color.”

Fujimura will accept the Aldersgate Prize on April 6, 2017 at the 2016 Celebration of Scholarship Luncheon at Indiana Wesleyan University. He also will offer the keynote address.

The selection committee for the 2016 Aldersgate Prize included the faculty of the JWHC as well as Stacy Hammons (Provost, IWU), Don Sprowl (Associate Provost, IWU), Karen Hoffman (Associate Vice President, School of Nursing, IWU), Rebecca Barnard (Assistant Professor of Music Therapy, IWU), Willem Van De Merwe (Blanchard Chair in Physics, Emeritus, IWU), John Wilson (editor, Books and Culture), Scott Huelin (Honors Director, Union University), Catherine Brekus (Charles Warren Professor of the History of Religion in America, Harvard University) and Christina Bieber Lake (Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English, Wheaton College).

Nominations are open for the 2017 Aldersgate Prize. Click here for more information on the award.

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