Ciara Stuhler, Lauren Engel, Sarah Beth Spraggins, Mattea Gernentz, Dontay Givens, Ellen Raedeke, Monica Colón, Haleigh Olthof, Abigail Erickson, Valerie Halim, Charles Hermesmann, Sheldon Till-Campbell, Mary Fischer, Kara Barlow, Loren Ladd
All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower, 1993
The above words are scripture, but they’re not part of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. They were penned by Lauren Olamina, the main character of Octavia Butler’s Afrofuturist novel Parable of the Sower. Lauren was raised Christian—a Baptist preacher’s kid—but in her adolescence, a series of traumatic events causes her to reevaluate her faith. Sound familiar? Her response to her crisis of faith, though, doesn’t have much in common with most of us. Lauren starts her own religion, which she calls Earthseed, in post-apocalyptic California. She leads their members on a journey north toward the Canadian border. They suffer, kill, save lives, steal, die, kiss, cry, plant trees, and stick together.
Last spring, when we were compiling what you’re about to read, the world felt post-apocalyptic in a lot of ways. White supremacy and police violence
continued to kill and terrorize Black communities. Anti-Asian hate crimes left our AAPI siblings reeling. And Latines watched in horror when Adam Toledo, a Latino child, was gunned down by the police just a short drive away from Wheaton. Add this to the toll the pandemic took on our physical and mental health, and, this semester, many of us have found ourselves to be changed, like we underwent a metamorphosis.
Back to Lauren Olamina. Perhaps the most important thing to know about her is that she has hyper-empathy, meaning that when she sees someone experiencing pain or pleasure, she feels it in her own body. So Lauren always embodies Jesus’ Golden Rule—she must do unto others as she’d have them do unto her, lest she feel their pain herself. She knows better than anyone that “All that you touch / You Change” and “All that you Change / Changes you.”
Outside the realm of science fiction, I’d say that the closest we can get to hyper-empathy is through literature and art. So when you read this issue, immerse yourself fully in each piece. Lose yourself in the surreal dreamscapes of Ellen’s art. Observe Dontay’s journey to Afrofuturism as a site of healing from the racist environment of Wheaton. Alongside Valerie, flow between print and digital media, and discover what each context demands from you.
Let these works touch you. Touch them. Be Changed and go Change.
Monica Colón ‘23