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    Detail from Cover of Plough Quarterly Issue 13

    Plough Quarterly No. 13: Save Our Souls

    Summer 2017


    Featured Articles

    All Articles

    From the Editor

    The Real World to the Rescue Four decades into the techno­logical age, we’ve learned that screen time is bad for you, too much media consumption damages your heart, and Facebook can make you mentally ill. We all know this. But what are we to do about it?


    Ramadan In this recollection from a childhood in West Africa, the Good Samaritan is Muslim.


    Activist Mystics Where, after all, have many of those who have been most effective in the world gotten their ability to carry on? What is the source of the stubborn grace with which these people have persisted in doing good? Saving Silence Sin is not only easy to find, but it comes after you. We are prompted and guided to distraction, coaxed into desiring things we never thought we needed or needed to know. Giving God Our Attention Curiosity is a sin. But what about our inborn desire to understand things – is that all bad? No, said Thomas Aquinas: it comes from God and can lead us to him. Aquinas had a name for it: studiousness. An Impossible Hope History would write about these three men separately, but they were part of a single world. Father Paolo, Father Frans, and Father Jacques were constantly crossing paths, as were the young people who loved them. Singing God’s Grandeur Hopkins’ passionate faith may provide something not easily found elsewhere on the current curriculum – serious and disciplined Christian spirituality. Benedict Option: Signs of the Times “If you are not alarmed, you are failing to read the signs of the times.” A transcript of Rod Dreher’s remarks at the Plough event “Time for the Benedict Option?”. Forum: Even If He’s Wrong “I’m not certain Rod is right about where we are at. But I don’t think it matters that much, because many of the things he calls for are useful and important.”A transcript of Ross Douthat’s remarks at the Plough event “Time for the Benedict Option?”. Forum: Not the Full Story “There is a danger in using fear as a motivator. This can lead people to seek Christian community for cultural security, which is just another kind of idol.”A transcript of Michael Wear’s remarks at the Plough event “Time for the Benedict Option?”. Forum: The Pentecost Option “The original Benedict Option is Acts 2:42-47. We should be doing the things that are outlined there.” A transcript of Jacqueline Rivers’ remarks at the Plough event “Time for the Benedict Option?”. Forum: Not Optional “It seems to me that the howls of protest about ‘withdrawal’ … miss the point: The stronger the center, the more daring the outreach can be.” A transcript of Randall Gauger’s remarks at the Plough event “Time for the Benedict Option?”. Nature Is Your Church? Nature is your church? Not so fast, says an Indian reservation priest. If there’s a spirituality of the land, it’s tougher than any religion you might be escaping.


    Inwardness in a Distracted Age What is Christianity’s answer when civilization is falling apart? The most effective way to resist evil starts with becoming quiet before God. But it doesn’t stop there.


    Poem: A Lens Till this opacity of stone on stone, / This trace of light and music on the air, / This sacred space itself becomes a lens / To sense his presence who is everywhere. Poem: Ordinary Saints The ordinary saints, the ones we know, / Our too-familiar family and friends, / When shall we see them? Who can truly show / Whilst still rough-hewn, the God who shapes our ends?

    Editors’ Picks

    Editors’ Picks Issue 13 Plough’s editors share their best reads of recent weeks. This issue (Plough Quarterly No. 13, Summer 2017) features three books by Larry Hurtado, Tony Reinke and Dale Recinella.

    Family and Friends

    Family and Friends Issue 13 New Yorkers can be countercultural too! Find out more about the newly launched City and Kingdom New York network, or come and experience life in a countercultural community with the “Bruderhof for a Day” monthly event.


    Not a Saint, but a Prophet My father, Johann Christoph Arnold, was many things: a pastor, an elder in the Bruderhof, a veteran of the fight for peace and reconciliation through forgiveness, a warrior in the struggle to live the gospel and love his neighbor.

    Another View

    Afternoon at the Jerome An American impressionist painter uses her artwork to tell the stories of heroism, loss, and strength of families who lost a loved one in active duty.


    In These Surreal Times Combining humor with frustration over Poland’s political situation and global issues such as poverty, war, and racial division, Pawel Kuczynski uses visual metaphors to bring out uncomfortable truths.


    Readers Respond Issue 13 We welcome letters to the editor. Here are some readers’ responses to articles that appeared in Plough’s Spring 2017 issue, Courage.


    On Inner Detachment Nothing makes us true men and women but the giving up of our will. The only perfect and true will comes from entering into God’s will and being without self-will. Marguerite Porete: The Noble Virtue of Charity Charity is such a wise merchant that she earns profits everywhere where others lose, and she escapes the bonds that bind others. Simone Weil: An Encounter “You poor wretch, who understand nothing and know nothing – come with me and I will teach you of things you have no idea of.” I followed him. Waiting in Silence For we are not to speak our own words, or in our own wisdom or time; but the Spirit’s words, and in the Spirit’s wisdom and time.


    Fannie Lou Hamer Despite persecution and opposition, Fannie Lou Hamer never compromised either on justice or on mercy, speaking for her people but insisting on the dignity of every person, fighting for freedom – and for reconciliation and forgiveness.

    Featured Authors

    Cover image for Plough Quarterly Issue 13

    About This Issue

    How much of your day is spent in reality, and how much in a fake world? We’ve learned that screen time is bad for you, too much media consumption damages your heart, and Facebook can make you mentally ill. We’re aware of the mind-altering power of advertising and the dehumanizing passions of our polarized politics. 

    But what are we to do about it? If this fake world is invading our souls, it’s in our souls that we must find the cure. Only a return to inwardness can bring distracted moderns back to Jesus and to constructive work for his kingdom.

    Here activists may object: Isn’t it the height of selfishness to retreat into our interior life when we ought to be out saving starving children? Yet Christians through the ages have insisted that inwardness is crucial to the life of discipleship. It’s what keeps us from falling for demagogues and false gospels, from wasting life on superficialities, and from ignoring our neighbor. In fact, throughout history it has often been the mystics who were most active in serving others. In true Plough fashion, this issue brings together a colorful cast of examples: from medieval Beguines and Benedictines to Gerard Manley Hopkins, Simone Weil, and Fannie Lou Hamer, to contemporary voices like Robert Cardinal Sarah, Johann Christoph Arnold, and three persecuted Syrian priests. These lives offer us glimpses of the real world from which our fake world seeks to distract us, and can guide us in our own refusal to conform.