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    Plough Quarterly No. 26: What Are Families For?

    Winter 2021


    Featured Articles

    All Articles

    From the Editor

    Family Matters “Christian family values” aren’t what most people think they are.


    The Case for One More Child Our society’s future would be radically different if people simply had as many kids as they desire. What’s stopping them? Dependence Toward an illiberalism of the weak. The Praying Feminist The Victorian feminist pioneer Josephine Butler lost her respectability in order to defend women in the prostitution trade. What gave her the courage to stand alone? The Beautiful Institution The story of marriage is broken into seven key moments, beginning 385 million years ago with two fish in a lake in Scotland. Singles in the Pew The unmarried know better than most what it means for the church to be a family. Manly Virtues Can Masculinity Be Good? Little Women, Rebel Angels The strangely entwined destinies of Louisa May Alcott and Simone de Beauvoir. Proteus Unbound Money culture’s conquest of the American family. The First Society The sacrament of matrimony and the restoration of the social order. The Corporate Parent Unilever markets itself as a supportive and involved employer, with a particular focus on promoting women’s well-being. But in an attack on its Kenyan workers, it abdicated all responsibility for their basic safety.

    Personal History

    You Can’t Go Home Again For an immigrant family, storytelling saves those you love from oblivion. Not Just Nuclear Families are elders long buried and generations yet unborn.


    Putting Marriage Second How the Gospel saves fidelity. God in a Cave A reading on the Holy Family.


    Two Poems Dream: halfway to my destination / I remembered something I’d forgotten New Prince, New Pompe Behould a sely tender Babe, / In freesing winter nighte, / In homely manger trembling lies; / Alas, a pitious sighte!

    Editors’ Picks

    Editors’ Picks: Issue 26 Short reviews of Un-American, Prison By Any Other Name, One Long River of a Song, and Hunger.

    Family and Friends

    Family and Friends: Issue 26 Learn about Plough’s new Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award! Plus traditional Istanbul bakers; the Breaking Ground project; Zoom Bible study with Dr. John M. Perkins.


    Return to Vienna Lotte Berger Keiderling, a Kindertransport child, lost her mother in the Holocaust – and went on to bear thirteen children to “give Hitler a kick in the pants.”

    Another View

    Another View: Sunday Supper “No Memory Is Ever Alone” is a visual conversation between my dad and me. He used to bring out a box of slides…

    Community Snapshot

    Letters from Death Row How our family gained an incarcerated “older brother.”


    Letters from Readers The political is such a dangerous thing because it’s an animal with its eyes in its stomach: it has to devour a thing before it can see if it’s real.


    Why Inheritance Matters What does it mean to belong to a family you didn’t choose?


    The Best of Times, the Worst of Times How are families faring in Covid-19?


    Sojourner Truth The abolitionist was sustained by a fierce faith.

    Covering the Cover

    Covering the Cover: What Are Families For? The offshoots suggest the budding next generation as new families are formed, and the spiral toward the center of origin points us to our ancestors.

    Featured Authors

    Plough Quarterly Issue 26

    About this issue

    What is a family and what is it good for?

    Story 1: Families are in crisis, and the cause is moral breakdown. We urgently need a deep renewal of our family culture, supported by public policies that strengthen traditional marriage and encourage childbearing.

    Story 2: Families are in crisis, and the cause is capitalism. We need structural changes in society so that all families can flourish: parental leave, guaranteed healthcare, flexible work hours for parents, restorative justice.

    What if both these stories are true? This issue of Plough reflects on what a family is and what it is for, so that the transformations needed to solve the crisis of the family start from a firm basis, not a nostalgic ideal or progressive theorizing. As always, we take as a starting point the teachings of Jesus. It turns out his idea of family values might not be what people think. He calls us to extend our natural love for our biological family to a vast new throng of siblings – a family of many ethnicities and cultures that includes the widowed, the unmarried, the outsider, and the stranger.

    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.