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The Earth is the Lord'sHenry George: Thou Shalt Not Steal (1887 speech)
Now imagine, when we men and women of today go before that awful bar, that there we should behold the spirits of those who in our time under this accursed social system were driven into crime; of those who were starved in body and mind; of those little children who, in this city of New York, are being sent out of the world by thousands when they have scarcely entered it — because they do not get food enough, nor air enough; because they are crowded together in these tenement districts under conditions in which all diseases rage and destroy.
Supposing we are confronted with those souls, what will it avail us to say that we individually were not responsible for their earthly conditions? What, in the spirit of the parable of Matthew, would be the reply from the Judgment seat? Would it not be: "I provided for them all. The earth that I made was broad enough to give them room. The materials that are placed in it were abundant enough for all their needs. Did you or did you not lift up your voice against the wrong that robbed them of their fair share in the provision made for all?" ... read the whole article
Henry George: The Single Tax: What It Is and Why We Urge It (1890)
The right of property does not rest upon human laws; they have often ignored and violated it. It rests on natural laws -- that is to say, the law of God. It is clear and absolute, and every violation of it, whether committed by a man or a nation, is a violation of the command, "Thou shalt not steal."
The man who catches a fish, grows an apple, raises a calf, builds a house, makes a coat, paints a picture, constructs a machine, has, as to any such thing, an exclusive right of ownership which carries with it the right to give, to sell or bequeath that thing.
But who made the earth that any
man can claim such ownership of
it, or any part of it, or the right to give, sell or bequeath it?
Since the earth was not made by us, but is only a temporary dwelling
place on which one generation of men follow another; since we find
ourselves here, are manifestly here with equal permission of the
Creator, it is manifest that no one can have any exclusive right of
ownership in land, and that the rights of all men to land must be
equal and inalienable. There
must be exclusive right of possession of
land, for the man who uses it must have secure possession of land in
order to reap the products of his labor. But his right of possession
must be limited by the equal right of all, and should therefore be
conditioned upon the payment to the community by the possessor of an
equivalent for any special valuable privilege thus accorded him. ...
the whole article
a synopsis of Robert V. Andelson and James M. Dawsey: From Wasteland to Promised land: Liberation Theology for a Post-Marxist World
The Promised Land, like Eden, is a place of unhindered scope in which to glorify God and manifest his will. But it is not the Kingdom of God. It represents liberation from external bondage -- from oppression and restricted access to material opportunity. It is the temporal matrix within which the Kingdom may find full expression. But it is not itself the Kingdom. Although it is a heresy that locates this Kingdom exclusively in the afterlife or an ethereal paradise, Jesus declared it to be "not of this world" (John 18:36) but "within" (Luke 17:21). It is no reproach to Henry George that he lost sight of this distinction between the Promised Land and the Kingdom of God, enraptured by his vision of a just society:
With want destroyed; with greed changed to noble passions; with the fraternity that is born of equality taking the place of jealousy and fear that now array men against each other; with mental power loosed by conditions that give to the humblest comfort and leisure; and who shall measure the heights to which our civilization may soar? Words fail the thought! It is the Golden Age.... It is the culmination of Christianity -- the City of God on earth, with walls of jasper and gates of pearl! It is the reign of the Prince of Peace!
Alanna Hartzok: Ethical Land Tenure
I want to tell you the story of Charles Avilla. A while back I came across
a book called Ownership, Early
Christian Teachings. Avilla was a divinity student in the Phillipines.
One of his professors had a great concern about poverty conditions in the Phillipines,
and was taking students out to prisons where the cooks were the land rights revolutionaries
in the Phillipines. Because they kept pushing for land reform for the people,
they had ended up in jail. So they were political prisoners who were reading
the Bible and were asking the question, who did God give this earth to? Who does it belong
to? It isn't in the Bible that
so few should have so much and so many have so little. In the theological
world in this upscale seminary he was trying to put this together about poverty
and what the biblical teachings were. He had a thesis to write and he was thinking
he would do something about economic justice. One of his professors thought there
would be a wealth of information from the church's early history, the first 300
years after Jesus. So he actually went back to read the Latin and Greek about
land ownership and found a wealth of information about the prophetic railings
of the people in that early time on the rights of the land.
Nehemiah 5:11, "Restore, I pray you, to them this day their lands, their vineyards, their olive yards, and their houses."
Ezekiel 33:24, "The land is given us as an inheritance."
Ecclesiastes 5:9, "The profit of the earth is for all."
And Isaiah 5:8, "Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field til there be no place ..." Leviticus 25:23, "The land is mine, for you are strangers and sojourners with me." ... read the whole article
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Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper