Walter Brueggemann writes,

“The sense of being lost, displaced, and homeless is pervasive in contemporary culture. The yearning to belong somewhere, to be in a safe place, is a deep and moving pursuit. Loss of place and yearning for place are dominant images…

“Remarkably, the same sense of loss and the same yearning for place are much in evidence among those whom the world perceives as being well rooted and belonging: the white middle class at the peak of productivity. Those whom we imagine to be secure and invested with ‘turf’ in our time experience profound dislocation, and we are, young and old, rich and poor, black and white, ‘as having everything, yet possessing nothing’ (cf. 2 Cor. 6:10).

“This of course is not a new struggle.. nor is this sense alien to the biblical promise of faith. Indeed, the Bible promises precisely what the modern world denies. In what follows, ‘land’ will be used to refer to actual earthly turf where people can be safe and secure, where meaning and well-being are enjoyed without pressure or coercion. ‘Land’ will also be used in a symbolic sense as the Bible itself uses it, to express the wholeness of joy and well-being characterized by social coherence and personal ease in prosperity, security, and freedom. It will be important to recognize , both in biblical usage and contemporary usage, that ‘land’ continually moves back and forth between literal and symbolic intentions.

“A symbolic sense of the term affirms that land is never simply physical dirt but is always freighted with social meanings derived from historical experience. A literal sense of the term will protect us from excessive spiritualization, so that we recognize that the yearning for land is always a serious historical enterprise concerned with historical power and belonging. Such a dimension is clearly played upon by the suburban and exurban real estate ads which appeal to that rapacious hunger.

“Land is always fully historical but always bearer of over-pluses of meaning known only to those who lose and year for it. The current loss of and hunger for place participate in those plus dimensions — at once a concern for actual historical placement, but at the same time a hunger for an over-plus of place meaning.

“Land is a central, if not THE central theme of biblical faith. Biblical faith is a pursuit of historical belonging that includes a sense of destiny derived from such belonging… [and yet] the dominant categories of biblical theology have been either existentialist or ‘mighty deeds of God in history’ formulations. In both traditions .. preoccupation with the time-space problem and the identification of time categories as particularly Hebraic have made interpreters insensitive to the preoccupation of the Bible for placement.

“Only now, with the new yearning in our culture and with the exhaustion of such motifs as fruitful lines of interpretive pursuit, is another perspective possible… What follows is a sober judgment that the quest for meaning as it has been interpreted is not first on our agenda, precisely because it is rootlessness not meaninglessness which characterizes the current crisis.

“There are no meanings apart from roots. And such rootage is a primary concern of Israel and a central promise of God to his people. This sense of place is a primary concern of this God who refused a house and sojourned with his people (2 Sam. 7:5-6) and of the crucified one who has ‘nowhere to lay his head.'”

The Land, 1977 (1-4) short review HERE