Julian. Here is 150. I will look around to see if I would add another. Enjoy the sun and warmth. Today [March 12] I am 94 years on this earth. I have had a good life. A number of events I would erase. But some I would underlined.



The Religious Ultra-Right members claim that they are oppressed by secular humanists, which constitute just fourteen percent of the population. They further claim that this country is going to hell on a sled slicked by the sins of that fourteen percent. They really would, I suspect, like to eliminate all secular humanists in the manner that Torquemada eliminated thousands of them and other apostates during the Inquisition.

But this is not the Fourteenth Century. So to alleviate the   frustration of their not being able to eliminate humanists in the manner of that century, I suggest, in view of their concern over the sins of humanism— namely, abortion and divorce; abolition of prayer in schools; toleration of same-sex marriage; teaching sexual education and evolution; advocating contraception, stem-cell research and euthanasia; violating the sanctity of the Sabbath and committing with cavalier nonchalance most of the deadly sins—that they leave the cities, where most of them and everyone else in this country live, and return to the land where few of the sins that they abhor flourish now or have flourished or, if committed, done so covertly and less often—owing more to constricting circumstances than to innate virtue. The faithful need to be reminded of the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Thomas Jefferson, a deist, that is, one who believed that a First Cause created the world and all that is in it, set it in motion and then retired, and one who believed not in the divinity of Jesus— envisioned for America a land where everyone owned a piece of it and thus would never be unemployed and could with work and sweat provide a living for his family and enjoy the fruits of his labor. And since independent of everyone but his neighbors and nature, he could vote his conscience and knowledge and thus help maintain a democracy. But Jefferson’s utopian dream died with the advent and monumental growth of the cities where now 90 percent or more of this nation’s citizens reside. In fact, cities are where one half of the world’s inhabitants reside, or to put it more accurately, where most of the one half of them barely exists—rather than resides.

The city is man’s response to his eviction from Eden and the penalty for his disobedience, to wit: The earning of his bread by the sweat of his brow. There were those evicted who in the heat of day in the field, or in frustration after an unsuccessful hunt, decided that there was a better way to earn their bread, to wit: To figure a way to acquire, without sweat, a portion of bread and meat of those who produced or caught it. Thus, from that dream of a scheme grew a crossroads into a metropolis, where nothing happens that is not a repeat of the getting a bit of someone’s bread, or whatever he has, without sweat or, at least, attempting to do so. The name of the scheme was capitalism.

Capitalism is a game of competition instead of cooperation. It produces enormous wealth for the predatory type and produces crumbs for the cooperative type. Wealth corrupts and great wealth corrupts greatly. The city’s wealth corrupts the wealthy, who have it, and corrupts the proletarians, who have too little of it. The city’s wealth corrupts all within its jurisdiction. The hinterland is poor relative to the city and poorness on the land is less corruptive. Never was there a rich saint. Poverty is a prerequisite to sainthood. Christ was aware of the corruptibility of riches. A rich man had the obstacle, he taught, of threading himself through the eye of needle to enter the Kingdom.

So in view of all of the above, I suggest to the Religious Ultra-Right that the members thereof migrant from the city and take up quarters on the land, where they can escape the modern trends that disgust them and infuriate them and where they can live free of all the sinful life-styles of the urban types.

I can attest to the virtue of those who lived on the land, even though their virtue was probably more the result of a lack of time, money and opportunity to live other than virtuously. I know that on the land the righteous will be relatively free of the sins of humanism; for I lived there and I know the culture of it. If the righteous would return to it and thus to the culture of a century or more ago, they would be more at home than, say, at Las Vegas. Infinitely so.

There would be no abortion because every child would be wanted and needed. There would be no idleness for anyone for the Devil to exploit—thus drugs and alcohol would be absent—because everyone would be always employed, would become tired, know rest and sound sleep, from the time he or she could walk and talk until he or she died. There would be no divorce because the cost of one and the disruption of the family enterprise would be such that everyone involve would become a beggar in months. There would be no promiscuity because there would be no time or energy or opportunity for such an excursion into the short-lived bliss and the long-lived remorse of an affair.

There would be no need for sexual education or contraception because unprotected sex would be sanctioned as necessary to produce children, the sine qua non of rural existence. Prayer would be needed, even if sterile, and used extensively because one on the land is naked before nature with only neighbors as insurance. Homosexuality would be a non-issue because if one did not wish to or could not produce children, he would be pitied not scorned. Euthanasia would also be a non-issue because the aged would remain in their homes and die attended tenderly by loved ones. Violating the Sabbath would be unheard of, because the occasion of going to church would be the social event of the week. Evolution wouldn’t even be defined in their dictionaries.

There would be no radio, TV or internet to seduce; no telephone, daily paper, art museum or symphony hall to capture attention and divert one from his duties. Music would be the birds and the wind; art would be all that nature has created; news would be the signs of the weather; communications would be with oneself mostly and confidants; and the outside world would intrude only when some city slicker arrived hawking an elixir that cured everything from warts to fallen arches.   Wars and talk of wars would never break the peace except when a youth would have to go to serve the nation and, if sent to Paris, would never return to the farm.

But the routine of living on the land—planting, cultivating, harvesting, preserving, procreating; celebrating birth, marriage and grandchildren; enjoying the satisfaction of the day’s work and the day itself; watching the sun from up to down, the night from darkness to dawn, and the seasons from summer to spring; with sweet air to breathe, clean water to drink, rain to refresh; no trash to bag, no taxes to pay, and the coming of the end of life with a confident feeling of having lived it as nature, and perhaps God, would have wanted one to live it —would be the rewards and the happiness of returning.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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