Walter Breuggemann: On Land As Inheritance

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.

 

We look, to see if we are loved.

“I am like you, curious and small. Like you, I pause alertly and open my senses to try to read the air, the clouds, the sun’s slant, the little movements of the animals, all in the hope I will learn the secret of whether I am loved.”

In her book, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, Louise Erdrich.

“…the special need to debunk Christianity…”, Mark Shea

 

We sometimes hear it said that Jesus was just a teacher full of punchy aphorisms and turns of phrase: a mystic who wandered around saying nice things about the niceness of being Nice.  But his stupid disciples, being 2000 years stupider than Extremely Clever Us, managed to completely misunderstand him and construct an elaborate religion around him that he absolutely never intended.  It’s a narrative in which our culture places an extraordinary amount of faith — far more faith, in fact, than the Christian story requires, since the Christian story does not require us to believe in absolutely ridiculous claims about human psychology that nobody would ever advance for one second were it not for the special need to debunk Christianity.

 

—Mark Shea, ‘Palm Sunday’

 

“…filled with an inexplicable hostility…”, Dorothy Sayers

 

If we refuse assent to reality: if we rebel against the nature of things and choose to think that what we at the moment want is the centre of the universe to which everything else ought to accommodate itself, the first effect on us will be that the whole universe will seem to be filled with an inexplicable hostility. We shall begin to feel that everything has a down on us, and that, being so badly treated, we have a just grievance against things in general. That is the knowledge of good and evil and the fall into illusion. If we cherish and fondle that grievance, and would rather wallow in it and vent our irritation in spite and malice than humbly admit we are in the wrong and try to amend our behaviour so as to get back to reality, that is, while it lasts, the deliberate choice, and a foretaste of the experience of Hell.

 

—Dorothy L. Sayers, Introductory Papers on Dante