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    Plough Quarterly No. 10: What Makes Humans Sacred?

    Autumn 2016


    Featured Articles

    All Articles

    From the Editor

    Are Humans Sacred? Each person, just or unjust, is created in the image and likeness of God. Each is someone for whom Jesus died. As Christians our faith only makes sense if the proposition that humans are sacred is true. And if it is true, we have much work to do.


    My Return to Iraq Twenty-six years after fleeing Saddam Hussein, a former asylum seeker goes back to visit Christians on the run from ISIS. Although he understandably finds the situation in Iraq sobering, there are also reasons for hope.


    Death Knell for Just War The so-called just war theory is based on justifications by the pagan Cicero, not Jesus. In seventeen centuries of Christian life, we have perpetrated countless acts of horror and violence. Isn’t it now time to embrace Jesus’ way of nonviolence? Pursuing Happiness How my sister with Down syndrome can help Richard Dawkins boost the sum of human joy, and what a stint volunteering at a German maternity hospital taught me about the gift of community. Behind Prison Walls When McRay starts visiting prisons as a volunteer chaplain, he wants to explore what Jesus meant when he said we would find him among “the least of these.” What he encounters is deeply disturbing, leaving him with many serious questions. Womb to Tomb Christians must live out our belief that Christ is Lord, and think and pray for wisdom to act politically in ways that best reflect this. But how, exactly, do we let Christ be Lord of our politics? And what are the political issues we should act on? A Good Death A hospice nurse reflects on his experiences and his faith: what is most important to patients approaching death? What are the things that will bring peace and comfort? Is assisted dying truly dignified? Or is there wisdom in being a burden? Behold the Glory of Pigs A self-described “Christian, libertarian, environmentalist, capitalist, lunatic farmer,” Joel Salatin raises livestock in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Stewarding Mercy How should Christian churches respond to the ongoing, urgent challenge of the refugee crisis? And what does the New Testament have to say about what the church’s political witness should be and how it can be lived out? Learning to Love Goodness Today’s reader of George MacDonald’s books may find them long and old-fashioned, and yet they are suffused with rare gems of wisdom that Christian apologist C.S. Lewis described as “beyond price.”


    The Gospel of Life Seventy years ago, on November 1, 1946, the man who would later become Pope John Paul II was ordained a priest. This reading from his 1995 Evangelium Vitae captures what he called “the heart of Jesus’ message.” A World Where Abortion Is Unthinkable Shelley Douglass, the mother of four, shares the response of female prison inmates to a presentation on abortion. Who Invented Thirst and Water? The very thought of water makes one gasp with an elemental joy no metaphysician can analyze.


    Poem: An Apology for Vivian I am afraid, Vivian, / that my words / will find themselves alone, / shivering cold on a park bench / as evening slows …

    Editors’ Picks

    Editors’ Picks Issue 10 Plough’s editors share their best reads of recent weeks. This issue (Plough Quarterly No. 10, Fall 2016) features books by Peter Wohlleben on forestry, Grammy-winning rapper LeCrae on his conversion, and Michael T. McRay on mental health in prisons.

    Family and Friends

    Consistent Life Network We note the Consistent Life Network, an interfaith movement “committed to the protection of life threatened by war, abortion, poverty, racism, the death penalty, and euthanasia,” and introduce a new book by an abortion survivor: You Carried Me.


    Remembering Daniel Berrigan We don’t need to canonize Berrigan, but we need to take seriously his life, his commitment to the Word, his faith in the God of peace, and his steadfast resistance to evil. He showed us a human response in an inhuman world.

    Another View

    Islands In his drawing entitled “Islands,” Kuczynski comments on the age of smartphones. Are they helping us become more connected, or is the opposite true?


    Readers Respond Issue 10 Read letters to the editor responding to articles that appeared in Plough's Summer 2016 issue, All Things in Common, including a response by Rod Dreher to Stanley Hauerwas’s thoughts on the “Benedict Option”.


    Gardening with Guns In the United States, the only country with more guns than people, gun violence features daily in the news. It was while watching the news several years ago that a creative young Mennonite came up with a very different way to use guns...


    Insights on the Gospel of Life “There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between these two ways.” … “Things have a price and can be sold, but people have a dignity; they are worth more than things and are above price.”


    Building the Jesus Movement In this interview, Plough asks Shane Claiborne what he’s learned about communal living, how marriage has changed him, why millennials are leaving Christianity, and his newest mission: abolishing the death penalty. Nature Is Sacred Stuff It is so powerful to watch a tomato grow, and when it finally turns red, I eat it and the juice runs down my elbow. That awareness of my place in the context of something bigger than me is so much more profound than being the best at Angry Birds.


    Muhammad Ali At the peak of his physical abilities the heavyweight champion of the world committed what many perceived as career suicide. At the height of the Vietnam War, Ali claimed conscientious objector status, refusing to be inducted into the US Army...

    Featured Authors

    cover of What Makes Humans Sacred

    About This Issue

    The gospel teaches that every human is sacred. Orange-haired casino owners and former First Ladies. Refugee children and Islamist terrorists. Police officers and young African Americans. Unborn babies, always, and also abortionists. Progressive hipsters, prosperity-gospel televangelists, members of Congress, Confederate-flag-waving white nationalists? Sacred. This absurd claim is at the heart of the gospel. Each person is created in the image and likeness of God. Each is someone for whom Jesus died. And if this is true, we have much work to do. The writers in this issue may not agree on the best ways and means, but each challenges us to consider the implications of this gospel of life that makes no exceptions.

    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?