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    Plough Quarterly No. 34: Generations

    Winter 2023


    Featured Articles

    All Articles

    From the Editor

    Yearning for Roots We’re born with a hunger for connection with our ancestors – both biological and spiritual.


    Fear of a Human Planet Will having children hasten a climate apocalypse? Or will humanity end because we stop having children?


    Reviving the Village By returning to the land, African Christians seek to heal the ravages of ecological and ethnic violence. Is There a Right to Have Children? The fertility industry pushes IVF as an answer to the pain of childlessness. But at what cost? The Stranger in My House We adopted children with trauma in their past. It didn’t go as expected. The Sins of the Fathers Our ancestors’ guilt can affect the present generation. The Hebrew prophets show a way out. Decoding the Bible’s Begats We moderns tend to think genealogy shouldn’t matter. Scripture disagrees. The Name of My Forty-Sixth-Great-Grandfather My children are growing up far from our ancestral village in South Korea. An ancient genealogical book connects them back. Somewhere in Chessington My hometown debunks the idea that family-friendly neighborhoods are a thing of the past. Singing the Law Chanting the Torah joins past generations to generations yet unborn. Uncle Albert An Irish-Catholic family’s story of crime and forgiveness, finally told. Soldier of Peace I asked the Bruderhof’s oldest member, a World War II veteran, about how to pass on a legacy.

    Personal History

    My Father Left Me Paperclip What kind of inheritance can an illegitimate son expect?


    Two Crônicas A Ukrainian-born Brazilian storyteller remembers her son and her father in a pair of evocative sketches.


    Poem: “The Revenant” “That winter when awareness flies away / and I keep losing keys and cat and mind…” Poem: “L’esthétique de la Ville” “I love when nature recreates the urban. / I love this garden on a fire escape…” Poem: “When You Pursue Me, World” In this new English translation, a seventeenth-century Mexican poet and nun prizes learning over luxuries.


    Gazapillo After the young folk moved away, the Three Kings stopped visiting the village. Or did they?


    Desiring Silence Ancient believers went to the desert seeking God in the stillness of open spaces.

    Editors’ Picks

    Editors’ Picks: God Loves the Autistic Mind We need books like Matthew Schneider’s God Loves the Autistic Mind because, too often, autistic people of faith have been led to feel the opposite. Editors’ Picks: Damnation Spring Davidson’s debut novel asks what it means to care for one’s family, one’s neighbors, and the natural world – when those priorities collide. Editors’ Picks: Life between the Tides Nicholson takes a deep dive into shallow waters, exploring tidal pools through the lenses of history, marine biology, philosophy, myth, and geology.

    Family and Friends

    The Faces of Our Sons In Guadaupe, Mexico, three generations of women feed migrants riding the trains north.


    Remembering Tom Cornell A pillar of the Catholic Worker movement, Tom Cornell dedicated his life to peacemaking and building community.


    Letters from Readers Readers respond to Plough’s Autumn 2022 issue, The Vows That Bind.


    Monica of Thagaste, Mother of Augustine Her famous son left her no surviving grandchildren. Yet she became a spiritual grandmother to millions.

    Covering the Cover

    Covering the Cover: Generations Plough’s graphic designer introduces her art choices for the front, back, and inside covers of “Plough Quarterly 34: Generations.”

    Featured Authors

    front cover of Plough Quarterly No. 34: Generations

    About this issue

    The past two decades have seen a boom in family history services that combine genealogy with DNA testing, though this is less a sign of a robust connection to past generations than of its absence. Everywhere we see a pervasive rootlessness coupled with a cult of youth that thinks there is little to learn from our elders. The nursing home tragedies of the Covid-19 pandemic laid bare this devaluing of the old. But it’s not only the elderly who are negatively affected when the links between generations break down; the young lose out too. When the hollowing-out of intergenerational connections deprives youth of the sense of belonging to a story beyond themselves, other sources of identity, from trivial to noxious, will fill the void.

    Yet however important biological kinship is, the New Testament tells us it is less important than the family called into being by God’s promises. “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Jesus asks a crowd of listeners, then answers: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.” In this great intergenerational family, we are linked by a bond of brotherhood and sisterhood to believers from every era of the human story, past, present, and yet to be born. To be sure, our biological families and inheritances still matter, but heredity and blood kinship are no longer the primary source of our identity. Here is a cure for rootlessness.