When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.
Lauren is a young woman who was raised amidst poverty hardship. While her life seems charmed in comparison to those outside of her gated community, it’s not without hardship. Lauren is an empath, making it possible for her to physically feel the pain of others, which makes this world a difficult and very painful place to live. Also the daughter of a preacher, Lauren often finds herself questioning the faith that she has been raised to believe. How could an all powerful God sit back and watch the world crumble? Instead, Lauren begins to create her own faith, which she calls Earthseed, and becomes determined to one day share this faith with others.
Then one night, Lauren finds herself forced live the life of a vagabond, having lost everything she has ever known or loved. She quickly realizes that her empathic abilities will most likely be a determent to her in this new, violent world she is forced to navigate. Yet, with the help of some friends she finds along the way she may just survive to spread the new faith that she has discovered within herself.
There is a reason Octavia Butler is a name in the sci-fi fantasy world, and once you get the chance to read at least one of her books, you see why.
Butler has an amazing talent for creating worlds that are terrifying in how familiar they seem. In Parable of the Sower, we get a glimpse of what we can expect from our country if we don’t begin to change our stances on both environmental, religious, social, and economic issues.
In this book, a new view of God, and religion in general, is created. One whose tenets are mostly built around one main idea. God is Change. Through these tenets, Lauren creates a religion that is more accepting and malleable. One that can belong to any and all. One that demands its followers work toward peace and the betterment of the world.
Not only has Butler created the begins of a new faith, but has also examined how these faiths are started. Rather than turn from faith altogether, Lauren realizes that people still need something to believe in, especially when there is nothing in the physical world to give them any hope. So Lauren examines faith and comes to her own conclusion of the essence of God. It’s a really intriguing look into faith, and how faith can become a very individual experience. While Lauren wants to share her new faith with others, she does not want it to become something that is restrictive. Rather, she wants others to use it how she has used it. A source of hope and freedom.
This story is also one of survival. Lauren suffers from an empathic ability that makes it possible for her to physically feel the pain of others. She is forced to keep this ability has secret as possible for fear that others could use it against her. Only her father is fully aware of her ability and has had to help her find way to lessen the pain she feels from others. Yet, once she is thrown into a violent world, she quickly learns now more than ever, her ability could very easily get her killed.
Luckily, Lauren is able to find those she can trust along the way. While so many in this world choose the “every man for themselves” way of life, it quickly becomes clear that banding together is a far more reliable way to stay alive. It’s a story of human endurance and survival. But it’s also a story of how survival and love don’t have to be mutually exclusive things. Sometimes the only way to survive is to work together rather than destroy on another.
Parable of the Sower is a great book, and one that I believe is important. Even if you’re not religious (I’m not) there is something to take away from Earthseed. Something almost inspiring and calming. Something hopeful.