Moses understands, as do the prophets after him, that being in the land poses for Israel a conflict between two economic systems, each of which views the land differently. On the one hand, the land is regarded as property and possession to be bought and sold and traded and used. On the other hand, in a context of covenant, the land is a birthright and an inheritance, one’s own land as a subset of the larger inheritance of the whole people of God. If the land is possession, then the proper way of life is to acquire more. If the land is inheritance, then the proper way of life is to enhance the neighborhood and the extended family so that all members may enjoy the good produce of the land.
– Walter Breuggemann, in Sabbath As Resistance.
Land as inheritance versus land as possession. Commodity versus covenant. Think Wendell Berry. This is the one perspective the environmental movement has right. Then, of course, they immediately begin advocating for state controls over property in order to impose, by law, the right spiritual perspective.
I do feel this lack every day: the lack of a home, in the form of a patch of land inherited from my family with the marks everywhere of my ancestors’ work. A farm, I suppose, which is nothing but a worked garden. Land with real trees and a wet stream and fields moving in real winds. Modernity needs mobility. And the price is home.