Religious Practices and Ideologies in the Works of Octavia ButlerEdited by Aparajita Nanda and Shelby L. Crosby
Throughout her work, Octavia E. Butler explored, critiqued, and created religious ideology. Her prescient thoughts on the synergy between politics and religion in America are evident in her 1993 dystopian novel, Parable of the Sower, and its 1998 sequel, Parable of the Talents. They explored, respectively, what happens during a divisive “cultural war” that unjustly impacts the disenfranchised, and the rise of a fascistic president, allied with white fundamentalist Christianity, who chants the slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
But religion, for Butler, need not be a restricting force. The editors of and contributors to God Is Change heighten our appreciation for the range and depth of Butler’s thinking about spirituality and religion, as well as how Butler’s work—especially the Parable and Xenogenesis series—offers resources for healing and community building. Essays consider the role of spirituality in Butler’s canon and the themes of confronting trauma as well as experiencing transformation and freedom. God Is Change meditates on alternate religious possibilities that open different political and cultural futures to illustrate humanity’s ability to endure change and thrive.
Contributors: Alexis Brooks de Vita, Phyllis L. Burns, Charlotte Naylor Davis, Ebony Gibson, Mary Grover, Gregory Hampton, Jennifer L. Hayes, Christopher Kocela, Michael Brandon McCormack, Keegan Osinski, Chuck Robinson, Tarshia L. Stanley, Brianna Thompson, Briana Whiteside, and the editors
“Staging conversations between Octavia Butler’s work and religious traditions from Hinduism to Buddhism and Ifá to Black Christianity, this expansive and evocative volume will be the starting point for all future discussions of Butler and religion. Attending to the rituals, sacred texts, and healing practices that feature in Butler’s writing, the rich essays collected in God Is Change speak to a great question of our time: how can spirituality animate movements for racial, economic, and gender justice even as religion is increasingly treated with suspicion? Whether you think Butler challenges the status quo or is a symptom of the status quo, today it is urgent that we creatively engage with her distinctive voice.”
—Vincent Lloyd, Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies and Director of Africana Studies at Villanova University
“God Is Change speaks urgently to today’s world, which is shaped by settler colonial racism and capitalist extraction—forces Octavia Butler powerfully critiques in her work. These essays document the myriad ways her fiction engages with spirituality to offer a vision of religion as community-centered praxis. Insisting on the clear-sighted recognition that we come together through histories of inequality and exclusion, Butler goes beyond utopian/dystopian binaries to offer us tools for the difficult and uneven work of shaping the future we desire.”
—Sherryl Vint, University of California, Riverside, and author of Biopolitical Futures in Twenty-First Century Speculative Fiction