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    Plough Quarterly Autumn 2014

    Plough Quarterly No. 2: Building Justice

    Autumn 2014


    Featured Articles

    All Articles


    We’re All Adopted At the onslaught of World War Two, English citizens welcomed nearly three million evacuated children into their homes. Isn’t this the spirit Christians need today?


    The Economy of the Early Church The new future puts an end to all powers, legal systems, and property laws now in force. The coming kingdom reveals itself even now wherever God’s all-powerful love unites people in a life of surrendered brotherhood. When Love Demands Justice In order to truly help my immigrant brothers and sisters caught in the web of this dysfunctional system, I need to add an essential component to my ministry: the confrontation of injustice. Living Justly: One Disconnect at a Time What does it mean to give everything to Christ? The author grapples with the demands of social justice and discipleship to Christ, and his continuing struggle to live it daily. Costly Forgiveness: The Bomber and Me “One day I received by mail an envelope with two religious magazines. When I opened it, the package exploded, destroying both my hands and one eye, shattering my eardrums, and inflicting many other injuries.” Heroes Why is it that whenever I’m asked to tell a story I go blank? My father also never told stories. Perhaps that’s because his own father was a story. The Church I Dreamed Of We need to come to our senses and stop trying to deceive God. The Christianity spread today is like the food sold in the markets, full of poisonous chemicals and nicely packaged. We must stop using Jesus’ name to sell fake Christianity.


    Sandpile Parenting Every child needs to discover the magic of making snow angels, splashing in puddles, or climbing trees. Composting as Prayer There is a secret joy, a kind of charity to be found in this act, transforming a pile of grass and dirt and old leaves into an offering of humic mystery.… The Chief End of Marriage The Stoic philosopher Gaius Musonius Rufus’s lecture “On the Chief End of Marriage” is a remarkable statement by a thinker who stands outside the Judeo-Christian tradition. Saint Francis, the Artist Were all artists like him, our duty towards our neighbor would become a game. He played it so beautifully that the memory of how he played it is still with us – a possession for the meek upon the earth.


    Poem: Little Religion Wiman, former editor of Poetry magazine, shares a poem from his latest collection, Once in the West. Poem: Rubbernecking We cannot fix the contest / outside, even if we / rubberneck our way / through accident and luck.


    The Bell Ringer It’s early morning, four o’clock. On a hill outside the village stands a little church with a little bell tower...


    Christianity’s Third Divorce How is Christianity to cope with a world increasingly hostile to its message and mission? Will the polarized responses to this question lead to yet a third schism through the Christian world? Finding the Balm in Gilead The Gilead of Marilynne Robinson’s novel is a fictional Iowa town described as “a dogged little outpost.” It’s a humble setting for the playing out of great themes.…

    Editors’ Picks

    Editors’ Picks Issue 2

    Family and Friends

    Family and Friends Issue 2 Casa de Cristo, a community church in Asunción, Paraguay, approaches completion, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation celebrates its one-hundredth birthday.


    What Was the White Rose? In summer 1942, German university students Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell began secretly writing and distributing leaflets signed by “the White Rose,” calling themselves Germany’s “bad conscience.”


    Readers Respond: Autumn 2014 Here is some reader feedback; we can’t wait to hear yours.

    Digging Deeper

    Digging Deeper: Issue 2 Start talking about justice, and you can quickly find yourself mired in competing definitions and agendas. The following books will help readers toward a deeper understanding of justice in light of the gospel.


    Heaven in Hell’s Kitchen In addition to the traditional monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Sisters of Life take a fourth vow promising to protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life. Vera Mae Perkins Vera Mae Perkins is a striking woman with an incredible smile and an all-encompassing heart full of the love of Jesus.


    Insights on Building Justice Excerpts from Aurelius Ambrosius and Basil the Great taken from Charles Avila, Ownership: Early Christian Teaching (Orbis, 1983).


    Plugging the Hole in Our Gospel In this interview, Plough asks World Vision president Richard Stearns why he says there’s a hole in our gospel and why we need to “kill the American dream.” Marriage - Can We Have Justice Without It? Marriage is the greatest anti-poverty program that was ever created. It is so effective at enabling people to live in dignity and avoiding collapse into poverty that one would almost be tempted to think that it is no mere human creation.

    The Naturalist

    Birding in the Bush Readers in the northern hemisphere will find zebra finches in most pet stores, but in Australia the zany little birds line up in droves on the fences. Birding in the bush offers unique opportunities as well as hazards.


    Isaiah Sometimes called “the Shakespeare of the Bible,” Isaiah is among world literature’s greatest poets. He gives voice to the cry for justice by oppressed peoples still today.

    Featured Authors

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    quarterly 2 cover

    About This Issue

    “Justice” has become a rallying cry for many Christians today. And for good reason: justice is at the heart of the kingdom of God, as Jesus and the Hebrew prophets made abundantly clear.

    Yet once our eyes have been opened to the gospel’s demand for justice, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Child poverty, mass incarceration, oppression of women, human trafficking, religious persecution – these and many other evils cry out for redress, making legitimate claims on our conscience. Where is an individual or a church to start?

    More fundamentally, what is the nature of the justice we ought to be pursuing? Obviously not all that goes by the name “justice” in our culture is necessarily the justice of God’s kingdom. How can we tell the difference?

    Jesus teaches us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”– or in scholar N.T. Wright’s translation, “Make your top priority God’s kingdom and his way of life.” God’s justice, in other words, is not a goal to be achieved through successful projects or viral campaigns. (As Pope Francis has reminded us, the church is not an NGO.) Instead, God’s justice is a new life, one that the first Christians called “the Way,” a vocation we are to live out every day – first in our life together as the church, and then through our work in the world.

    This issue of Plough Quarterly explores how to build this kind of justice. In compiling material, we soon realized we’d never manage to be comprehensive; many important topics (for example race, the environment, criminal justice, and war) will have to wait for future issues. All the same, since justice is not merely a vague ideal, this issue addresses a number of concrete questions: wealth and private property, care for the marginalized, marriage and children, restorative justice, and immigration. While our contributors hold diverse views on many subjects, they each cast light from a different angle on how to put God’s justice into practice – and challenge us to get started.

    As you may know, Plough is much more than an online oasis. Many of you will have first encountered us through our magazine, or as the publisher of books on discipleship and life issues, or as a group of people trying to put Jesus’ teachings into practice together. For those new to Plough, we feature reviews and excerpts of our forthcoming titles, as well as other books we think deserve your attention.

    This autumn we’re especially excited about the release of Their Name Is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World by much-loved Plough author Johann Christoph Arnold.

    As always, we depend on your inspiration, so please keep the responses coming.

    Warm greetings,
    Peter Mommsen, Editor

    Front cover: Cleaning up Debris in Minutka Square, Grozny, photograph from RIA Nowosti / AKG-Images

    four issues of Plough Quarterly

    About Plough Quarterly

    Plough is an award-winning international magazine of stories, ideas, and culture that appears weekly online and quarterly in print. We also publish a line of books, including literary nonfiction, fiction, and graphic novels. Founded in 1920, Plough asks the big questions: How can we live well together, and what gives life meaning and purpose in a complex world?