The Poisonwood Bible

I have a 45 minute commute to work. So I enjoy my car time by listening to stories, by getting lost in another world to and from work.

I just finished The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It tells the story of one family’s journey in, with, and through their crucible in Africa in the 1960’s in their own words. Each chapter is written in the first person and has the voice of the wife or one of the four daughters of the infamous Nathan Price. Nathan takes his family to the Congo for what he believes to be his calling from the Lord. The family goes through cultural faux pas, miscommunication, famine, political revolution, disease, hunger, and death over the next several years. They are scattered, literally, to the ends of the earth.

The Poisonwood Bible

It is not a happy bedtime story.

One character, Adah, was born with hemiplegia and, because of difficulty and because she is not readily listened to, she keeps her verbal words to a minimum. Instead, she writes. She is constantly writing poetry, tales, and her own story throughout the decades that this book spans. At one point she writes the following quote, which if I were reading this novel I would have read over and over again. Instead, I missed half of her next paragraph repeating it in my head to ensure retention.

Adah writes, “I take the noise in my head and clamp it to the page to keep it still.” 

I loved that. I understand that.

Writing helps me know what I think about something. When trying to explain myself or make a decision or prepare for a talk, I must write down the noise in my head, clamp it to the page, in order to keep it still and look at it logically and know what I think. The quote was beautiful and it makes me want to clamp down my words even more!

1 comment / Add your comment below

  1. Thanks for the reminder Kelly! I read this years ago. Very thought provoking! I recommend this book to anyone who wants to serve the Lord while attempting to be relevant to the culture they find themselves in. This is a sad tale of how NOT to go about the Lord’s work.

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