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    Plough Quarterly No. 27: The Violence of Love

    Spring 2021


    Featured Articles

    All Articles

    From the Editor

    The Case for Meekness Before 2020, society overwhelmingly agreed: using violence for political ends ought to be out of bounds.


    Behind the Black Umbrellas A Portlander talks with the black-clad anarchists and Proud Boys battling in his hometown.


    With Love We Shall Force Our Brothers Peace is not quiet. The work of creating peace requires confrontation with the forces that undermine it. The Risk of Gentleness I was shocked to find I was pregnant during a pandemic. Then I learned how subversive hospitality can be. The Great Escape For those trapped in the violence of poverty, rap tells heroic tales of breaking free. Beyond Pacifism To be a Christian means serving as a soldier. This is no mere metaphor. A Life That Answers War A Bruderhof member, my grandfather is an ardent conscientious objector to military service. But resistance to war has shaped his entire life.

    Personal History

    The Minimalist The boxer to beat calls for help. Call to Prayer, Call to Bread Eighteen years among Somali Muslims in the Horn of Africa have taught an American Christian much about prayer, one of the five pillars of Islam.


    Militant Peacemaking Pacifism is unrealistic – unless it’s conformed to Christ. Did You Kill Anyone? I was ready for that question, the biggest and most intimidating. It would hang as an ominous backdrop to nearly every conversation about my time in Iraq.


    Poem: “Candid” Someone she loved, and who loved her, held the camera / And pointed it suddenly, teasing. The focus is blurred. Poem: “March Thaw” Overhead, skeins of geese ya-honk as they pass. / The dwindling snow crust, an eggshell of glass, Poem: “Annuals” When we go limp and brown, for mercy’s sake / leave us alone; don’t mangle our last shoots / to press in any book; we have no stake / in memory. Poem: “The Widow Offers Herself to Life” Make me your herald, Life: send me ahead / to hail you, as the earliest light is doing / for each day, and the scent of coffee brewing. Poem: “Mary Magdalen Responds to the Harsh Judge” Be honest, please: I long to know / why judging others makes you glad: / does my uncleanness make you sad, / or lift you high as I am low? Poem: “In Retrospect” What did he need to prove, / to no one but himself? What made him so / harsh with himself when others found him better— no, best—at everything? We’ll never know. Poem: “A Backward Look” Some of us turned out much like Mama, though / a silent “No!” / crept into every dialogue, and kept / some secrets swept / into dark corners. Poem: “Where Nectar Was” Thinking of you, all day I rediscover / myself still here, wondering where you went.


    Editors’ Picks: Charis in the World of Wonders Joy Clarkson reviews Marly Youmans’s Charis in the World of Wonders: A Novel. Editors’ Picks: The Reindeer Chronicles David R. Montgomery reviews Judith D. Schwartz’s The Reindeer Chronicles And Other Inspiring Stories of Working with Nature to Heal the Earth. Editors’ Picks: I Ain’t Marching Anymore Bill Galvin reviews Chris Lombardi’s I Ain’t Marching Anymore: Dissenters, Deserters, and Objectors to America’s Wars. Editors’ Picks: “Floaters” Sheryl Luna reviews Martín Espada’s Floaters: Poems.

    Family and Friends

    Learning Generosity in Syria I used to believe the fundamental premise of charity was material, that those who have more wealth than others share with those who lack. Then refugees taught me the meaning of true hospitality. A Tireless Peacemaker A co-founder of the Basisgemeinde, Lore was tireless both within her community and on a broader scale, caring for the homeless, fighting for tenants’ rights, and witnessing to the peacemaking of the gospel.


    Excerpt: Freiheit! Every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure.

    Community Snapshot

    Turning a Corner Amid the pandemic, a farm stand is born.


    Letters from Readers Readers respond to Plough’s Winter 2021 issue, What Are Families For?


    Peacemaking Is Political The cross itself is the world’s peace, and our task is to live into it and bear witness to it. Poetry You Can Touch Plough’s poetry editor speaks with poet Rhina P. Espaillat, who recently turned eighty-nine.


    Felix Manz Those on the river bank heard Felix sing, his voice echoing back toward Anna’s. His final words were of unwavering faith.

    Covering the Cover

    Covering the Cover: The Violence of Love To represent the Violence of Love on our Quarterly cover, we chose a detail from an Agnus Dei by the Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbarán.

    Featured Authors

    Plough Quarterly No. 27: The Violence of Love

    About This Issue

    At some point between George Floyd’s killing on May 25 and the invasion of the US Capitol on January 6, America’s consensus against political violence crumbled. Before 2020, almost everyone agreed that it should be out of bounds. Now, many are ready to justify such violence – at least when it is their side breaking windows or battling police officers. Something significant seems to have slipped. Is there any way back?

    As Christians, we need to consider what guilt we bear, with the rise of a decidedly unchristian “Christian nationalism” that historically has deep roots in American Christian culture. But shouldn’t we also be asking ourselves what a truly Christian stance might look like, one that reflects Jesus’ blessings on the peacemakers, the merciful, and the meek?

    Oscar Romero, when accused of preaching revolutionary violence, responded: “We have never preached violence, except the violence of love, which left Christ nailed to a cross.” If we take Jesus’ example and his call to nonviolence at face value, we’re left with all kinds of interesting questions: What about policing? What about the military? What about participating in government? This issue of Plough addresses some of these questions and explores what a life lived according to love rather than violence might look like.

    The PloughCast logo depicting a microphone against a wheat field

    Plough Quarterly’s Podcast

    The PloughCast

    How can we live well together? What gives life purpose? What about technology, education, faith, capitalism, work, family? Is another life possible? Plough editor Peter Mommsen and senior editor Susannah Black dig deeper into perspectives from a wide variety of writers and thinkers appearing in the pages of Plough.