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    Plough Quarterly No.12: Courage

    Spring 2017


    Featured Articles

    All Articles

    From the Editor

    A Time for Courage Words such as “crisis” and “collapse” pepper headlines, and few dismiss them as alarmism. All is not well – on this, at least, there is broad consensus. Courage – heart, etymologically – seems to be what we’re in need of today...


    The Teacher Who Never Spoke A formidable young man stayed with our family on a summer break from the Ivy League. He had never, to anyone’s knowledge, lost an argument. Until he met my brother Duane, that is – my brother, who had never learned to speak... The Soil of Friendship A cab pickup truck pulled up at the farm promptly at ten o’clock. Five men piled out ready for work. “I’ve got rubber boots, Marcus, rubber boots,” one of them intoned as he blinked and rocked back and forth...


    Confronted by Dorothy I picked up a button about a decade ago with a quote attributed to Dorothy Day on it: “If you have two coats, you have stolen one from the poor.” I loved this saying, loved the strength of conviction, the easy black-and-white application... The Art of Courage What does everyday discipleship look like? In her letters and diary entries, Dorothy Day lays out what discipleship involves in words that ring true because they come from a woman who lived them without compromise. Why We Hope The future we long for is already here. The Need of Refugees Will anyone whose heart is stabbed by the awful misery of the refugees ... either give shelter to one or two himself or do his best to make it possible for us to welcome more of those who are living in such tragic circumstances?


    Harlem Postcards In these three Easter poems, a Harlem resident reflects on the signs of Christ he sees among city residents, on grubby streets, and in Central Park on a rainy day.


    Listening to Silence Martin Scorsese’s film adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel is magnificent and harrowing – and leaves us with more questions than answers. This historically grounded tale of religious persecution probes the core of what it means to follow Jesus.

    Editors’ Picks

    Editors’ Picks Issue 12 Plough’s editors share their best reads of recent weeks. This issue (Plough Quarterly No. 12, Spring 2017) they feature The Unsettlers by Mark Sundeen, and Subversive Jesus by Craig Greenfield

    Family and Friends

    At the March For Life Participants at this year's March For Life event in Washington, DC reflect on their encounter with the pro-life movement. Why the Death Penalty Must Die American Christians are largely responsible for the continued existence of the death penalty in their country, according to Shane Claiborne's book Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It's Killing Us.


    God’s Cop Detective Steven McDonald was shot in the line of duty in 1986 and paralyzed from the neck down. Confined to a wheelchair and dependent on a ventilator to breathe, he forgave his teenage assailant. Read his remarkable story. Traudl Wallbrecher Shocked to the core by the Holocaust, in 1948 a young woman began her lifelong search for a living, authentic church. She would go on to cofound a Catholic community inspired by the first church as described in the New Testament. Here is her story. The Man Who Welcomed Immigrants Mark is gone. The news wasn’t a shock; I had known it was pending. But that didn’t soften the impact for me or for thousands of other Americans: North, South, and Central Americans alike... The legacy of Mark Zwick.

    Another View

    “What is Truth?” Russian artist Nikolay Nikolayevich Ge (1831–1894) is best known for his realist paintings of biblical subjects. Ge painted “What is Truth?” late in life after befriending author Leo Tolstoy.


    T. S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding” Inspired by a visit to the site of a 1625 religious community, Eliot’s poem portrays the choice he saw facing humanity: to be destroyed in the fires of war or to allow that fire to purify and restore. An artist interprets Eliot’s lines.


    Readers Respond Issue 12 We welcome letters to the editor. Here are some readers' responses to articles that appeared in Plough's Winter 2017 issue, Alien Citizens.


    The Happy Nuns Learning joy through self-denial from the Sisters of Life: What would cause any woman to trade a successful career for a vowed life of poverty, chastity, and obedience? I wanted to learn more about this vibrant fellowship of women.


    Insights on Courage “As long as we want to get something from God in some kind of exchange, we are like merchants...”; “God does not deny himself to anyone who perseveres...”; “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die...”


    Bonhoeffer in China What is the cost of radical discipleship? In this article, Plough interviews dissident writer Yu Jie about his experiences as a persecuted Christian in China and his thoughts on community, inspired by a dissident from another era. The Comandante and the King A veteran Cuban pastor speaks about his conversion, reveals how a direct encounter with Christians thawed Fidel Castro’s atheism, and shares his vision for Cuba’s economic and spiritual future.


    Thomas Müntzer Who was this man who, five hundred years later, remains one of the most formidable, and also one of the most controversial, voices of the early German Reformation?

    Featured Authors


    About This Issue

    It’s proving to be an unsettling year. In such times, being told to “take courage” can sound like a grim joke. Yet courage is precisely what we’re in need of today: courage to stand by the truth, and courage to stand by the gospel’s claim that everyone belongs to God, because Jesus has overcome the world. Such courage, according to Augustine, is simply “love ready to bear all things for God’s sake.” To inspire such love – and to guard against a failure of nerve or of imagination – this issue of Plough highlights lived examples of the virtue of courage.

    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?