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    Plough Quarterly No. 5: Peacemakers

    Summer 2015


    Featured Articles

    All Articles


    Waging Peace in the Culture Wars To know that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world should not be interpreted as a reason to be nonpartisan. But the Christian vocation in the public square is not to win debates and elections, but to build a civilization of love. Forgiveness Is Not Fair Forgiving has nothing to do with excusing wrongdoing. But in order to obey the gospel, we must let go of our hurt. The Children of War Cat Carter interviews children scarred by the violence in Syria and Gaza as part of her work for the relief organization Save the Children. She says, “Let these stories change us. That is the only conclusion I can offer.” What Gandhi Taught Me about Jesus As India erupted in Hindu–Muslim strife, a young Christian responded to Gandhi’s plea: “Where are the Christians who live according to the Bible?” The Future of Christian Nonviolence Is just war theory meaningless? What about defending the innocent? Disruptive Peacemaking: Living Out God’s Impossible Standard “Whenever we place our faith in mammon, wealth, and things, we enter a state of war with ourselves, with each other, with creation, and with God. The cycle feeds itself, gaining momentum as long as it goes unchecked. We must disrupt it at all costs.” The Blessings of Conflict I tried everything I could to eliminate conflict in my life. But I soon found that this would not be possible if I hoped to have meaningful and lasting relationships, the kind I read about in the New Testament church...


    The First Need of the Church On the evening of the first Easter day, the disciples heard a word of promise. Nonviolence: An Impossible Ideal? Jesus tells us that it is just because we live in the world, and just because the world is evil, that the precept of nonresistance must be put into practice. Everyone Belongs to God The hope of the world does not rest on our ability to recruit others into a religion.


    Poem: Errand Baker’s collections of poetry include Changeable Thunder (2001), Midwest Eclogue (2007) and Never-Ending Birds (2009). Poems: Damascus Plumbed, Fiddlesticks “Good uses once, bad press the enemy / these days: relentless mobster, triffid from / some darker world, a ticking toxic bomb;...” Is this really a poem about a fern? Yes, but with a twist...


    The Legend of Heliopher Once upon a time there was a people that was lost in a great, dark forest.


    The Face of Nonviolence in a Violent Century: A Review Essay What does it mean to advocate nonviolence? The past hundred years were the most violent in history. But this bloody century will also be remembered for the lives of prophets who embraced nonviolence...

    Editors’ Picks

    Featured Books Summer 2015 Here are some publications from Plough that definitely wouldn’t just gather dust on your shelf. Editors’ Picks Issue 5 Plough’s editors share their best reads of recent weeks. This issue (Plough Quarterly No. 5, Summer 2015) they feature books by David Brooks, Noel Castellanos, David Baker, Andrew B. McGowan, and Kazuo Ishiguro.

    Family and Friends

    Crossing a New Rubicon Marine Corps veterans William McNulty and Jake Wood weren’t affiliated with any aid network, but in the first hours after a disaster they saw a gap that wasn’t being filled fast enough. They teamed up with six other veterans and first responders... Family and Friends: Issue 5 A glimpse into the organization Heifer International and an invitation to share stories of modern martyrdom with the Bearing Witness Stories Project.

    Another View

    Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis: The Hymn Konstantinas Čiurlionis had a distinctive talent makes him difficult to classify into any one school; some have called him a symbolist, while others point to his role as a pioneer of abstract art.

    Community Snapshot

    Lessons from a Village Cow It truly takes a whole village to raise a cow. Milka is treated royally by everyone involved in the community barn – from the kindergartners who poke handfuls of hay through the fence, to the volunteers who milk her and pasteurize the daily yield.


    Readers Respond: Issue 5 Readers respond to the articles and topics, “No Prosperity Gospel,” “Finding God in Creation,” “John Muir's Bible,” “Can Wars Be Just?” and “Steering the Plough.”


    From Small Seeds, Great Things Grow It was a chance to rewrite that old story into something new and hopeful, but I had to confront old memories that were easier to forget.


    Insights on Peacemaking Thoughts on peacemaking and nonviolence by Charles Spurgeon, Jeanette Rankin, and André Trocmé. Is Pacifism Enough? If we really want peace, we must represent it in all areas of life. We cannot injure love in any way or for any reason.


    Jesus Abbey A friend told me about people on the mountain who shared life in comradeship, and I hurried to see for myself. I Rounded a bend in the trail, and they came out to meet me, and it was as if peace was reaching toward me through their welcoming faces.


    Badshah Khan “Nonviolence is not for cowards,” Mahatma Gandhi told his friend Badshah Khan in 1930. “It is for the brave, the courageous.” At the time, they were working shoulder to shoulder – a Hindu and a Muslim – for Indian independence and for peace.

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    Peacemaking plough quarterly cover

    About This Issue

    Dear Reader,
    Peacemaking, like a Bach sonata or a Philly cheese steak, is uncontroversially good. Everyone is for it; nobody (crazies aside) is against it. Other activities to which Christians are called can easily arouse opposition: pressing for justice, seeking purity of heart, speaking the plain truth, or living in voluntary poverty. But who will hate a peacemaker? In our live-and-let-live, so-long-as-it-doesn’t-hurt-anyone culture, peace seems like something we can all agree on.

    And so it should be – as long as we remember what peace asks of us. The contributors to this issue of Plough Quarterly show us what peacemaking looks like. Of course, they can only offer us views from this or that particular angle – the topic is too big for tidy theories. Still, a rich and challenging picture emerges. Peacemaking, these stories and reflections show, is a more ambitious undertaking, and a riskier one, than we may have imagined.

    Yet peacemakers are urgently needed, just as they always have been. Today we must wage peace where thousands of children are being murdered by militias or forced to fight as soldiers. We are to be peacemakers in divided cities from Paris to Baltimore, peacemakers in a culture with little tolerance for Christian witness, and peacemakers in churches riven by ideological fights and petty grudges. We are to make and keep peace with our spouses, and with ourselves.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers” turns out to be no warm and fuzzy slogan, then. It’s a promise of an upended world. And it’s a calling for which we must be willing to chance everything.

    How should we pursue peace? The contributors here don’t all agree with each other, nor will you with all of them. Our goal is to seek the truth together. We look forward to hearing from you.

    Warm greetings,
    Peter Mommsen, Editor

    Front cover photograph by Kyrre Lien,

    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?