In her groundbreaking (no pun intended) book, Scripture, Culture and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible, Hebrew Bible scholar Ellen Davis observes that the Hebrew Bible’s emphasis on possession of the land cannot be separated from the care of the land. (They were not much different from other traditional, agrarian cultures in this respect.) She observes that, for a long time in western cultures, we have put possession at the center of our thinking and assumed that care would take care of itself.
Now that those chickens are coming home to roost through the environmental devastation we have wreaked upon the land, water, and air, we’re beginning to think differently. Possession is no longer enough.
In itself, this is not grounds for optimism, but it is grounds for hope. Looking within ourselves and to our neighbours for a deeper sense of meaning and purpose than possessing things is an important step on the path to what the Jews call Tikkun Olam – repairing the world. When consumers become citizens again, new possibilities emerge.
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