Saturday June 13, 2020

Earthseed, the religion founded by Lauren Oya Olamina, the heroine who narrates Octavia E. Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower, resembles other faiths (including the Baptism of Butler’s upbringing) in its evangelical cast. Lauren spreads the word and seeks converts, her church being a kind of mutual aid society. Together, she and her followers form a traveling, changing community — a “team” or “tribe” of sorts, decisions made organically based on the group’s capacity to survive amid thieves, murderers, cannibals, junkies, wild dogs, and arsonists. Lauren’s view of the world is paranoid, but it’s a paranoia borne out by lived events of trauma. She “experiences” and “shares” the pain of others due to what she calls “hyperempathy syndrome.” She has an ability that makes her vulnerable, and thus cautious of who she can trust. We needn’t think of this as mere delusion. The reactions to bodily harm sometimes manifest physically, another’s pain sometimes drawing blood. However we view this aspect of Lauren’s experience, it leads her to seek followers. She wants others to believe her, offering in exchange a path toward survival.

One thought on “Saturday June 13, 2020”

  1. Many many years ago I read Julian May’s series, ‘The Many Coloured Land’ (some or all of the preceding may well be wrong; such is the impact of time on memory). I do recall a key character who could heal others via a kind of metaphysical empathy. As I remember, things didn’t end well for her. Yet empathy is without doubt one of humanity’s strongest attributes for development and change. What a shame it hasn’t replaced religion.

    Liked by 1 person

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