Friday, October 3, 2008


Last night I did my usual stint as pre-school "rap" leader at our mid-week program. During the course of the night there was a scuffle over a toy. "Mine!" one toddler yells and an intervention was called for. It is a typical scene in early childhood and I think it is a behavior we never overcome. Dreams of ownership begin early. I had the radio on a lot this week and several advertisements caught my attention. "Make sure your grass is the greenest in the neighborhood." "Act now to own your home." "Update your Will so that your money stays in your family." Ownership and the focus on ours and mine seems ingrained and constantly reinforced.

I've been spending time with the 'Wicked Tenants' this week since I wrote the previous post. I believe that we share their problem of desiring ownership. It goes far beyond a temptation. It's a goal of life, admired, understood and shared by people of every social class. We are conditioned to work toward ownership; owning is better than renting. We even get tax breaks for ownership. "Accumulate, store in barns" are all part of the same pattern of greed that grows out of a desire to provide for ourselves and make a safe future. Yet the ownership issue is in a slightly different category. We understand greed as over-providing, far beyond what is needed. But ownership is just a good step along the path of self-sufficiency. What we don't see is that even our desire for self-sufficiency is bad when it is raised to the level of a 'god' an ideal and idol that must be achieved. 

How can we identify with the tenants? We understand them. They want only to own what they have worked so hard to achieve. Perhaps similar to colonists who work and develop a land and then desire to make it their own. Oversimplification? yes, perhaps but if we really look at the tenants, their desire is our own. It is all about ownership; to have stock in and gain the profits from our work. And we call them "wicked tenants" because their desires led to violence and violence soon led to death, just like in our world. No matter how I look at it, it does seem that they are us and we are they


RJ said...

I think you have hit on an important part of the story: we are they. Not very pretty to look at, true, but totally real. And when all this fear/insecurity is part of the picture, it isn't any wonder that it leads to violence. Have you read the Rene Girrard material re: sacrifice and scapegoats? Very helpful to me. Blessings as you go deeper with this.

Rev Nancy Fitz said...

thanks for the comment. I'll look for the Girrard material, it sounds familiar. The sermon came together and seemed to be timely when I focused on ownership and fear of loss.