Study Guide

Parable of the Sower Religion

By Octavia E. Butler

Religion

There are so many religions out there—which one to choose?

Well, if you're Parable of the Sower's Lauren Olamina, you don't choose; you create your own. Confronted with a world that's falling apart, Lauren—who is just a teenager—creates her own belief system, Earthseed, the central tenet of which is that God is Change. There's no dogma here. If you're basic believe is that change is the foundation of the universe, then that means everything is always developing. If you ask Lauren, the point isn't to follow rules: it's to participate in and contribute to the constant evolution of the world.

Questions About Religion

  1. How does Lauren's father influence her creation of Earthseed? He's a Baptist, but as early as Chapter 2, we learn that Lauren doesn't believe in his God anymore. Yet he still seems to be influential for her, either by his overwhelming absence (21.33-34) or by the lessons he taught the Robledo community (15.67-68).
  2. Is there a place for humor in Earthseed? Lauren considers it very important for Curtis and, later, Bankole not to laugh at her ideas. But do any of the verses reflect a humorous attitude?
  3. How does Lauren Olamina compare with key figures of other religions? Does she seem like a prophet? A poet? An oracle?
  4. How does religion in Parable of the Sower compare with religion in the novels of other science fiction or fantasy authors? Think of Orson Scott Card's work, for example, or Philip Pullman's.

Chew on This

Founding your own religion is a healthy response to a disintegrating society.

Founding your own religion is a bad idea, no matter what's going on around you.

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