Barbara Kingsolver

Here in the Bluegrass state it is said that we are the land of fast horses and beautiful women (or visa versa as some like to joke). We are known for many things: blue grass, bluegrass music, thoroughbreds and whiskey. Yet, we have another treasure: our writers. They bring to literature a unique perspective of a people with resolve and tenacity.

The first poet laureate of United States, Robert Penn Warren, hails from the loins of the Bluegrass State. Even the co creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman,  hails from the great Kentucky. Kentucky can even boast that we have farmer writers. Wendell Berry is an extensive writer who is a farmer and environmental activist.

Barbara Kingsolver is one of our great Kentucky authors. Through her books, she takes us across country from Kentucky to Arizona and even over the globe to the Congo. She must be a people watcher because her insights into the human psyche touches us in our gut. Social justice and biodiversity are repetitive themes in her books. When she talks of the moths, you know them intimately: “This is how moths speak to each other. They tell their love across the fields by scent. There is no mouth, the wrong words are impossible, either a mate is there or he is not, and if so the pair will find each other in the dark.” (Prodigal Summer)

Aside from the Quran, the only book I have practically begged people to read is The Poisonwood Bible. I actually first read it when I first started studying Islam and in many ways the went hand in hand. Trust me though, it is not about Islam and is not just spiritual lessons you take from it. The Poisonwood Bible is told from the angle of the wife and daughters. As a woman who grew up in a household similar: house full of daughters and the “Minister”; I could relate. Not only do you glean that some people will fall due to their arrogance, you learn that life is interconnected and possessions will only get you so far.

The admonishment that I took to heart the most was that “things” cannot do you any good. You can try to take the world with you, but it will not benefit you in the least. In The Poisonwood Bible the Price family pack all the great things they have in Georgia (like Betty Crocker cake mixes) with them to the Congo. What a waste of time, they become useless and a burden. Much the same, all the things we collect in this life do us no good when we die. We cannot take them with us to the grave. I guess you can have them thrown in, but they will be of no benefit. The only things that will alter your station in the after life is three: your morality, your character and your conduct.

 

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