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    Plough Quarterly No. 30: Made Perfect

    Ability and Disability / Winter 2022


    Featured Articles

    All Articles

    From the Editor

    Made Perfect Whose lives count as fully human? The answer matters for everyone, disabled or not.


    The Hidden Costs of Prenatal Screening Testing for fetal abnormalities is not a neutral practice. It sends a message.


    Mary’s Song My journey with disability taught me to trust a God who raises up the weak and brings down the mighty. When Merit Drives Out Grace Meritocracies assume that economic productiveness is the highest value. That’s why they fail. Hide and Seek with Providence Suffering from intractable Lyme disease, I look for meaning and fear to find it. Unfinished Revolution On the long road toward dignity for people with disabilities, we’ve gone far – but not nearly far enough. The World Turned Right-Side Up Was Saint Paul’s famous “thorn in the flesh” a disability? The Lion’s Mouth Mass shootings have made violent death seem normal. It’s not. Stranger in a Strange Land Even in Brooklyn, our Orthodox Jewish family feels alien. That’s not all bad.

    Personal History

    The Baby We Kept Our son Yusang has Down syndrome. He saved another child’s life. How Funerals Differ When the woman with the clown nose walked past us, I noticed that her eyes were wet with tears.


    Falling Down When you’re challenged by your body, you must love as fiercely as you fight. One Star above All Stars A star shone forth in heaven brighter than all the stars; its light was indescribable and its strangeness caused amazement.


    Poem: “Consider the Shiver” Consider the shiver that goes through still water like a sound. / Who would we have to be to hear it? Poem: “No Omen but Awe” No diamond, no time, no omen but awe / that a whirlwind could in not cohering cohere. / Loss is my gift, bewilderment my bow. Poem: “So Trued to a Roar” So trued to a roar, / so accustomed to a grimace / of against, I hardly noticed / it was over.


    Spaces for Every Body What would a world designed for humans with and without disabilities look like?

    Editors’ Picks

    Editors’ Picks: Dirty Work Who are the people who do jobs we cannot imagine doing ourselves, and does their work trouble them? Editors’ Picks: Millennial Nuns Eight millennial women tell why they ended up in a convent. Editors’ Picks: Directorate S Why did the United States lose in Afghanistan?

    Family and Friends

    Letter from Brazil As Brazil’s Covid pandemic rages on, a small community of urban farmers serves its neighbors. Peace for Korea The Korean War is still not officially over. According to the Quincy Institute, it’s high time to end it.

    Community Snapshot

    Time for a Story Reading aloud to children takes commitment. The rewards are many.


    Letters from Readers Readers respond to Plough’s Autumn 2021 issue, Beyond Borders.


    The Art of Disability Parenting What’s it like to raise a child with a physical disability? I asked six mothers around the world.


    Flannery O’Connor As a writer with a disability, the beloved Southern novelist showed the beauty of a costly life.

    Covering the Cover

    Covering the Cover: Made Perfect Regardless of differences, each person shares the ability to give and receive love – a bond that connects every soul on earth.

    Featured Authors


    About This Issue

    The ancient Greek ideal linked physical wholeness to moral wholeness – the virtuous citizen was “beautiful and good.” It’s an ideal that has all too often turned deadly, casting those who do not measure up as less than human. In the pre-Christian era, infants with disabilities were left on the rocks; in modern times, they have been targeted by eugenics.

    Much has changed, thanks to the tenacious advocacy of the disability rights movement. Yesteryear’s hellish institutions have given way to customized educational programs and assisted living centers. Public spaces have been reconfigured to improve access. Therapies and medical technology have advanced rapidly in sophistication and effectiveness. Protections for people with disabilities have been enshrined in many countries’ antidiscrimination laws.

    But these victories, impressive as they are, mask other realities that collide awkwardly with society’s avowals of equality. Why are parents choosing to abort a baby likely to have a disability? Why does Belgian law allow for euthanasia in cases of disability, even absent a terminal diagnosis or physical pain? Why, when ventilators were in short supply during the first Covid wave, did some states list disability as a reason to deny care?