June 4, 2022
Dear PJ's Community,
I read an entire book during my recent travels. I don’t often make enough time for myself to read in my daily life, so this was a special treat. The book I read was Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.
The reason I chose this book to read was primarily because this is the novel that was chosen for New Haven’s “One City, One Read” program (plus, I’d been meaning to read something by Octavia Butler for a while). The idea behind this program is that everyone in the city reads the same book, and a variety of organizations across the city come together to host discussions, events, plays, concerts, speakers, and more focused on this one book. I thought this was a pretty cool concept, so I picked up my free copy at the New Haven Free Public Library!
The book was written in 1993, but was a New York Times bestseller in 2020 due to its relatable themes of social inequality, climate change, infrastructure collapse, and migration, along with it being written by a Black author known for her award-winning works of feminist science fiction. It is set in an eerily prescient dystopian future where fires rage, water is hard to come by, society has collapsed, and most people live in abject poverty.
In this setting, the book follows Lauren Oya Olamina, a teenager who grows up in the relative safety of a gated community. Strong-willed Lauren sees the imminent dangers just outside the gates, but struggles to make her voice heard to her family and neighbors, and ultimately must strike out on her own.
What struck me about the book, and why I am sharing this with you all today, is the message of hope and faith at the core of the story. In the midst of societal horrors, fear, and death, Lauren seeks to form a new community based off of a new faith that she creates. She interprets God in a new way that resonates with her and carries her through times of terrible tragedy.
The core verse of this fictional religion resonated with me as well:
All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
Whether or not you have read the book, or ever will, this week I invite you to ponder the following questions:
What are some different ways that you conceptualize God? How do stories, such as this novel, such as the stories we hear in church on Sundays, push us to reflect on our world in new ways? What would it mean if we thought of God as Change?
Tomorrow we celebrate Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit descended as tongues of flame, and everyone started speaking in their native languages. And amidst this babble, confusion, chaos… God was at the center.
Peace and blessings,
PJs Wardens and Vestry