01 February 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: the possibility of balance

"But what if it's a huge river," I asked him once-- "like the Congo, which is much broader than the reach of any vine?"

"This is simple," he said. "Such a river should not be crossed."

If only a river could go uncrossed and whatever lay on the other side could live as it pleased, unwitnessed and unchanged. But it didn't happen that way. The Portuguese peered through the trees and saw that the well-dressed, articulate Kongo did not buy or sell or transport their crops, but merely lived in place and ate what they had, like the beasts of the forest. In spite of poetry and beautiful clothes, such people were surely not fully human-- were primitive; that's a word the Portuguese must have used to salve their conscience for what was to come. Soon the priests were holding mass baptisms on shore and marching their converts onto ships bound for sugar plantations in Brazil, slaves to the higher god of commodity agriculture.

There is not justice in this world. Father, forgive me wherever you are, but this world has brought one vile abomination after another down on the heads of the gentle, and I'll not live to see the meek inherit anything. What there is in this world, I think, is a tendency for human errors to level themselves like water throughout their sphere of influence. That's pretty much the whole of what I can say, looking back. There's the possibility of balance. Unbearable burdens that the world somehow does bear with a certain grace.

-from The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver


This book. It's been haunting my thoughts for weeks. Themes of guilt and forgiveness, pride and submission, wildness fighting order . . . a twisted Gospel sapped of life by hatred and a lifeless land given hope through love. Beautifully written and piercing in the depth of its characters, their struggles, and their conclusions. I borrowed it from the library but it's one worth buying.

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