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    Plough Quarterly No. 34: Generations

    Winter 2023


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    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.