Sunday, March 07, 2010

Luther Burbank, Wizard of Horticulture and infidel

1849 Luther Burbank ('The Wizard of Horticulture'; d. April 11, 1926), American horticulturist, biologist, botanist, originator of new fruits and flowers, freethinker. He developed more than 800 strains and varieties of plants over his 55-year career. Burbank's varied creations included fruits, flowers, grains, grasses, and vegetables.

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

He was a friend of the Indian mystic, Paramahansa Yogananda (1893 - 1952), who wrote in his Autobiography of a Yogi:

"His heart was fathomlessly deep, long acquainted with humility, patience, sacrifice. His little home amid the roses was austerely simple; he knew the worthlessness of luxury, the joy of few possessions. The modesty with which he wore his scientific fame repeatedly reminded me of the trees that bend low with the burden of ripening fruits; it is the barren tree that lifts its head high in an empty boast." (Yogananda, 1946, p. 352)

It is uncertain to your almanackist whether Burbank considered himself an agnostic, or an atheist, but he labelled himself an 'infidel' ('Why I am an Infidel', January, 1926). On January 22, 1926, an article in the San Francisco Bulletin, 'I'm an Infidel, Declares Burbank, Casting Doubt on Soul Immortality Theory' brought him many thousands of letters from the public, most of it opposing his skepticism. The great endeavours the 77-year-old freethinker made to write dignified replies to his critics wore him out and he died soon after ...

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