So I just got done with one of my workshops here at Deaconess Convocation in Nashville and this one was talking about concepts of economic justice. We looked at various Bible passages that refer to the Jubilee year (Deuteronomy 15, Leviticus 25, Luke 4:18-19) and talked about the ancient concept of ownership in biblical cultures. Land wasn't considered something that was owned by individuals - it was borrowed from God, so if God told you to let that land rest, you let it rest. Nowadays, at least in Western culture, we are consumed with this notion of ownership. What's mine is mine and I'm going to make sure that nobody takes it away from me. Think about how many property crimes there are! What if we radically changed how we looked at things so that it was all borrowed from God (after all she is the one who created it in the first place) rather than ours to own. So many conflicts arise from challenges to ownership - land disputes, intellectual property, etc. and people literally die from these fights everyday. Is it really worth it? And who gets to decide who owns what in the cases of disputes?
One of the powerful experiences I had in seminary was going to Guatemala and meeting people in several different cities, visiting with them and talking with them about their lives and their faith in the midst of their political situations. Many stories in Guatemala (and most of Latin America) involve land disputes, some of which go back for generations. Native peoples lived on land which churches, European settlers or govt armies later claimed. Indeed, the US started this way as well! What are the chances for those native people to ever get their land back? Looking at reservations and the life of Native Americans today, I think it's clear - they didn't get much say in the matter. If we really live as the biblical nation so many want to claim us to be, do we really know what that would look like? I think it would be a lot more differnt from today than just allowing praying in our schools!