Watching the Price family in The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is more like watching six individuals, not a family. In the section we read for today, my feelings are all over the board.
We learn more about why Nathan is so tortured: “God despises a coward who runs while others stand and suffer.” The guilt and shame he carries from the war runs so deep. I know we’re each influenced by our past too. I believe God has called us. But you and I know it’s not that simple. God called, I answered. The end. How might your past in either good or bad ways influenced your call?
Orleanna’s breakdown continued until Rachel had that cooking disaster and Orleanna resumed her domestic role. I felt for her and the girls and how trapped they were; they truly could not leave. For me, no matter how bad it’s gotten, I knew if I really, really wanted to, I could get on a plane and leave. I’ve also felt a bit conflicted about this privilege I have. But when I think about the Price females, I don’t want to trade places. Have you ever felt trapped? How does it change the call that you can, for the most part, choose to stay or go? What would it mean to you if you couldn’t leave or at least get your children out of conditions you have no control over?
In the chapter by Adah that starts “Tata Jesus is bangala!” Adah elaborates how they each had changed during their time in the Congo. Saying that only “Nahtan” has remained essentially himself. What did you think of her assessment? I picture myself a Price girl and wonder how it would impact my faith to be brought to the field in such a way (basically on probation without denominational/organization blessing), with parents that do not seem to be on the same page–or anywhere near each other in the book of life!, a political coup, and a sibling that is very ill.
What a turn of events that the Chief feels so badly for the Prices financial situation he’s willing to “buy” a bride. The family misread his visits with Rachel even strutting around in front of him! Oh my. What did you think of their solution? I just keep thinking, “so much of this was avoidable with some training!”
In terms of thoughts for our line of work:
1. I was stuck by how often the girls referenced what they learned about God and the Work by watching their parents. I know we’ve come to share our lives; this book has been a healthy reminder that first and foremost who we are sharing with is our children (and if you’re childless, the other expat kids around you.) “Watching my father, I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.”
2. The Rock Of Certainty — while it is important to be certain, it’s also important to create space for uncertainty. “If his [Nathan’s] decision to keep us here in the Congo wasn’t right, then what else might he be wrong about? It has opened up in my heart a sickening world of doubts and possibilities, where before I had only faith in my father and love of the Lord. Without that rock of certainty underfoot, the Congo is a fearsome place to have to sink or swim.”
3. God is still sovereign — “Then you mean no. We shouldn’t have come.” “No, you shouldn’t. But you are here, so yes, you should be here. There are more words in the world than no and yes.” I’ve known people on the field I wondered how they got through the screening process, and leaned into God’s sovereignty since, yes, they were there.
4. How good it is to be visited — Didn’t you wish the Fowlers could have stayed a little longer? How much Orleanna and the girls soaked up their time with them!
5. The importance of being aware of local gods and beliefs — There is much to say here as pertains to the book! but I’ll leave it as “Jesus Christ lost, eleven to fifty-six.”
Your turn! What have you been noticing and enjoying (or being super frustrated over). What do you think of the girls? Do you like the Prices? Can’t wait to chat in the comments :)!
P.S. Here’s the reading plan for The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver:
July 7 — Roughly 40% (or 220 pages) — includes the chapter titled Adah and which with the line “God works …”
July 14 — Roughly 60% (or 330 pages) — includes the chapter titled Leah which begins with the line “You can’t …”
July 21 — Roughly 80% (or 440 pages) — includes the chapter titled Adah Price, Emory Hospital, Atlanta, Christmas 1968
July 28 — Roughly 100% (or 543 blessed pages!)
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