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    Letters from Readers

    Readers respond to Plough’s Autumn 2022 issue, “The Vows That Bind.”

    December 6, 2022
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    Lasting Relationships

    On Peter Mommsen’s “Word Is Bond”: A timely article that we all should mull over. We live in a world of instant gratification without thought of the dangerous consequences that follow. In our modern world, anything goes – there’s a passion for more and more excitement. How on earth can one expect to have peace within oneself or spread that much-needed peace in the world if the foundations for a lasting relationship are not properly laid in the first place? Today, one can divorce on the flimsiest of excuses. The divorce rates, even in countries where once there was a strong Christian faith, are on the increase. Cohabiting is considered the new “marriage” even though separations in such unions continue to rise. The simple answer to this chaos is genuine repentance and a return to God.

    Mervyn Maciel,
    Sutton, Surrey, England

    True Freedom

    On Wendell Berry’s “Can Love Take Sides?”: Berry’s insights about what happens when those who aim to take “the side of love” start hating the haters strike a strong chord with me. In a way, it’s a good telling of the alternative to Martin Luther King’s “double victory” of wearing down hate with love: the alternative is being overcome by hate (and thus becoming what we hate).

    One closing point I take some issue with, following a thread woven through much of Berry’s writing, is the dichotomy of settlers and exploiters, set up as opposites. It’s clear that by “settlers” he means people who love and care for a particular place, but it bears reminding that pioneers and colonists have also been settlers in a more malevolent sense – seeking new lands, yes, but then settling in places in order to exploit them. And many hunter-gatherer and pastoral societies have lived nomadically in much less exploitative ways. So have some who have followed calls to service in places where they might live more simply than they could perhaps have chosen, swimming against the current of a dehumanizing economy.

    This is not to take an exact opposite position to Berry’s that settlers are bad and nomads are good, but rather that no such neat parallel exists: exploitative behaviors can be found among both sedentaries and nomads, as can caring behaviors. I may have to give more thought to what the opposite of “exploiter” might be, but “settler” is not it. Carer, maybe?

    Julia Smucker,
    Biddeford, Maine

    Berry is always a champion for the oppressed and needy. I’d like to see Plough broaden its understanding of those who are oppressed and enslaved to include those trapped with addictions, including to social media – there is so much science showing social media is a trap of enslavement and addiction. Dr. Leonard Sax is one voice of many highlighting the brain damage associated with overuse of social media and porn. Perhaps Plough can do a deep dive on this evil trap, how it enslaves and how people can become free and return to their right minds.

    Steve Knudtsen,
    Broomfield, Colorado

    When We Are Sent

    On Norann Voll’s “The Adventure of Obedience”: Beautifully written devotional article. Deeply moving and convicting. When I joined my church twenty-six years ago, it also required vows. At first, I hesitated, but God showed me that as a single woman I needed to experience and understand what faithfulness looked like and felt like – not just the theology of it. Years of ups and downs with my brothers and sisters who have also had their ups and downs. But I too have learned the stability and joy – yes, the anchor – that obedience is for us in turbulent seasons. May God give us all this desire for, and living of, faithful obedience to the life and fellowship he has called us all to in him.

    Joann Longton,
    New London, Connecticut

    Thank you for this timely post. I was commissioned by my church to leave England and go to Estonia only last week. Sat in Kiviõli, a town in the Russian enclave, wondering why and what the Lord has for me to do! Our God knows all our needs and all the plans, I first must be still and wait on him.

    Nigel Parrott,
    Kiviõli, Estonia

    Care of Children

    On the forum “Charting the Future of Pro-Life”: This idea of having every child born taken care of by the community is a joke. Our Congress won’t give an extra dollar for the care of children if they can help it. If you are a single mom making ten or even fifteen dollars an hour, you really can’t afford to pay for childcare in a decent center. Where I live in South Carolina childcare alone can run from seven hundred to a thousand or more dollars a month. An apartment can run $875 to $1420 a month and that doesn’t include utilities. Add the cost of a car to take a child to a safe space for the child to stay and then the cost of gas and don’t forget car insurance. It takes more than a single mom can make. Oh yes, then there is health insurance.

    Jacquelyn Weddington,
    Greenville, South Carolina

    Not Perfect

    On Dori Moody’s “A Broken but Faithful Marriage”: I am very touched by this memoir of your grandparents whom I grew up knowing. I saw their struggles and you gave me understanding and compassion for them. It’s a fact of life that one can’t fix everything even with love and care; some brokenness is too deep, but somehow the message of love, faith, and commitment still shines through.

    Leah Maendel, Morris, Manitoba

    Such a heartfelt, honest, reflective story. Life is not perfect this side of heaven and yet God is with us, ever kind, loving, good, and just, a rock and anchor for our soul in every storm of life.

    Margaret Baird,
    Belfast, Northern Ireland

    Remembering Rich

    On Bethel McGrew’s “Rich Mullins: Ragamuffin, Celebrity, Disciple”: For twenty-one years, Rich, called Richard by his friends, was one of my dearest friends. We had all created a loose community of family friends that endures to this day, twenty-five years after his passing. I just wanted to tell you as someone who knew him well, I have read many articles about him and believe that this captures him better than anything I’ve ever read. Thank you so much.

    Kathy Sprinkle,
    Cincinnati, Ohio


    Send contributions to letters@plough.com, with your name and town or city. Contributions may be edited for length and clarity and may be published in any medium.

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