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    Plough Quarterly No. 33: The Vows That Bind

    Autumn 2022


    Featured Articles

    All Articles

    From the Editor

    Word Is Bond In a culture addicted to endless choice, vows offer a higher freedom.


    A Vow Will Keep You For a Bruderhof pastor, a lifelong vow makes mutual faithfulness possible.


    Bring Back Hippocrates The Hippocratic Oath has largely disappeared from modern medicine. What have we lost? The Dance of Devotion Lifestyle discipline in achievers is admired. Religious discipline in believers, not so much. Victor Hugo’s Masterpiece of Impossibility In Les Misérables, competing vows reveal the paradox of grace. Can Love Take Sides? The law of love excludes no one, but requires a choice from everyone. Why I Chose Poverty Those who, like Francis of Assisi, reject wealth and possessions find the whole world is theirs. Demystifying Chastity It’s time to rediscover chastity as a virtue for everyone. The Adventure of Obedience It’s not popular. But obedience can transplant us to places we never expected. The One Who Promises We can only make vows because Another is faithful. The Raceless Gospel Half a century after his death, Clarence Jordan still has much to teach America about war, wealth, race, and religion.

    Personal History

    A Broken but Faithful Marriage My grandparents separated for decades. But they never broke faith with their bond.


    A Defense of Vows Making vows is not for cowards. Vows of Baptism In Christianity, baptism means a total transformation, as these classic church readings from Armenia, North Africa, and England show. Hutterite Ten Points of Baptism This teaching from sixteenth-century Moravia instructed Anabaptist believers seeking rebaptism as adults – a step that could mean a martyr’s death.


    Poem: “Blessing the Bells” Bless the sounding bells— / The foundry and the furnace, / the partials and the pitch. Poem: “Autumn in Chrysalis-Time” It’s butterfly-dying time / Leaf-grieving and thieving time / Blue wings-against-pavement time / Less praise than appraisal time…

    Editors’ Picks

    Editors’ Picks: What Your Food Ate A review of David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé’s What Your Food Ate: How to Heal Our Land and Reclaim Our Health Editors’ Picks: Untrustworthy A review of Bonnie Kristian’s “Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community” Editors’ Picks: The Last White Man A review of Mohsin Hamid’s The Last White Man: A Novel

    Family and Friends

    Home in My Heart Trudi Brinkmann moves to Yeongwol, a Bruderhof community in South Korea, and finds a home there. Remembering Alice von Hildebrand

    Community Snapshot

    Tiny Knights Some life lessons are best taught by King Arthur, Robin Hood, and the occasional cowboy.


    Charting the Future of Pro-Life Activists and scholars respond to Erika Bachiochi on what comes after Roe and Dobbs. Letters from Readers Readers respond to Plough’s Summer 2022 issue, Hope in Apocalypse.


    Vows in Brief How three monogamous animal couples got from courtship to “I do.”


    Retooling the Plough We’re giving our logo a bit of an edge. Here’s why.


    Sadhu Sundar Singh A modern Saint Francis, Sundar Singh left his family and ancestral faith to follow Jesus without Western trappings.

    Covering the Cover

    Covering the Cover: The Vows That Bind Plough’s graphic designer introduces her art choices for the front, back, and inside covers of “Plough Quarterly 33: The Vows That Bind.”

    Featured Authors

    Front cover of Plough Quarterly 33: The Vows that Bind, depicting a painted blue knot

    About this issue

    The consumerism and instant gratification of “liquid modernity” feed a general reluctance to make commitments, a refusal to be pinned down for the long term. Consider the decline of three forms of commitment that involve giving up options: marriage, military service, and monastic life.

    Yet increasing numbers of people question whether unprecedented freedom might be leading to less flourishing, not more. They are dissatisfied with an atomized way of life that offers endless choices of goods, services, and experiences but undermines ties of solidarity and mutuality. They yearn for more heroic virtues, more sacrificial commitments, more comprehensive visions of the individual and common good.

    It turns out that the American Founders were right: the Creator did endow us with an unalienable right of liberty. But he has endowed us with something else as well, a gift that is equally unalienable: desire for unreserved commitment of all we have and are. Our liberty is given us so that we in turn can freely dedicate ourselves to something greater. Ultimately, to take a leap of commitment, even without knowing where one will land, is the way to a happiness worth everything.