Octavia Knew

by The Rev’d Craig Lemming

“… as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit…” – Matthew 13:23

“I hope people who read Parable of the Sower will think about where we seem to be heading – we the United States, even we the human species. Where are we going? What sort of future are we creating? Is it the kind of future you want to live in? If it isn’t, what can we do to create a better future? Individually and in groups, what can we do?” – Octavia E. Butler, May 1999

If you’ve wondered whether Octavia E. Butler’s work is worth reading, watch this four-minute clip about the MacArthur genius who envisioned “a demagogue, a rabble-rouser, and a hypocrite” elected to “make America great again” in her 1998 novel Parable of the Talents.

As this article from The New Yorker discusses, Parable of the Sower and its sequel Parable of the Talents are not “prophecies” per se. Of her Parables Butler herself said, “This was a cautionary tale, although people have told me it was prophecy. All I have to say to that is: I certainly hope not.”

As I prepare Sunday’s sermon on The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23), I pray that Octavia’s seeds of wisdom find a “depth of soil” in those who have ears to listen, so that we who hear her words and understand them will work together to ensure that Octavia’s Parables cease from being prophecies.


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