In the ruined landscape of twenty-first-century California, Lauren Olamina, the main character of Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, founds a new religion, Earthseed. Earthseed deifies the cosmic pervasiveness of change with a simple statement: “God is Change.” While several scholars have usefully explicated the religious origins and affective qualities of the Earthseed community, I argue that Earthseed goes further, challenging the 1990s utopian imagination to invent new modes of organization that can work within new social and material realities. As a religion, Earthseed aims at changing humanity as a whole species, a goal so large that it requires radically new models of social and political organizing. In the second novel, Olamina changes Earthseed from a local, sustainable community to a decentralized movement that parasitically draws energy from social ruin. In doing so, Earthseed offers a challenge to the utopian thinking of the 1990s: fidelity to utopian goals requires new methods that can allow a utopian movement to thrive even in the absence of the robust public sphere that supported revolutionary social movements of the 1960s.

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