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    Plough Quarterly No. 33: The Vows That Bind

    Autumn 2022

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    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.