The Collected Works
John B. Isom
12/2/1909  -  4/23/2004

John Branch Isom was labeled a "radical thinker" early in the 1940's simply because he spoke out and stood up for what he believed was right.  To the very end he continued his struggle to think creatively and tried his best to inspire others to do the same.   His dream was the universally expressed dream of all humanity - a world free of poverty and war.  World peace, racism, economic justice, organized labor and the environment are at the center of John Isom's "world and life view".   

In celebration of John's 92nd birthday I launched this site of selected works, taken from his writings, dating as far back as the 1930s.   His collected works span a long period of time and fall into several areas of interest so we hope you will check back from time to time to see what's new.  We would love to hear from you so if you have any questions, comments or suggestions  send them to 

John Isom was born December 2, 1909 on Sand Mountain in northern Alabama.  In 1939 he graduated with a masters in theology from the Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky with, as he puts it, "more questions than he had answers."   In 1944, after serving as an Army chaplain during WW II, he became pastor of the Saxon Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Isom left the Baptist denomination in 1951 to become a Unitarian minister. He could no longer honestly believe and preach what most Baptist wanted him to believe and preach.  John and his wife Elien Isom retired from the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, Iowa in 1975.  They moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1999.  John died on April 23rd, 2004 of complications following surgery for a broken hip.  He was 94 years old. We miss him terribly. 
- Cora Elien Isom, Mary Beth Isom & Rose Bowser

I Am Me, I Am Here (1972)
"Truly, I am akin, genetically, to all races and clans - of times past, and of time to come

Something Else of Human Nature (1995)  "Ask no more nor less exchange value for the work you do,  that makes human society possible, than you demand for every other worker who helps make society possible." 
(Index terms:  economic justice; Carl Sandburg; Wilderness Poem)

A Father Day's Letter (194?)
"How can I claim to believe in a God who said, 'Do unto others as you would have others do unto you' if I fail to raise my voice in protest against a practice that violates that principle?"  (Indexing terms: racism; democracy; Christianity) 

The Uncle Bill Story  (An excerpt from his autobiography, As I Remember Me,  written in 1986)  "I had my first encounter with the sickening race prejudice, which I was to learn later, infected many people in the South and  the North.  A sickness of the mind and heart that I have resisted and fought, if sometimes cowardly, and never too successfully, to this day."  (Indexing terms: racism; race relations)

State Convention Speech (194?)  "If we are sincere in our desire to lay on the ruins of the old world a foundation for a better civilization we must not forget to put the Golden Rule down as the corner stone for race relations.  You must ask that society do unto others as you want society to do unto you."  (Indexing terms:  racism; race relations; economic justice; poverty)

Labor and the Church - 1946  "These days anybody who wants to advance the cause of real freedom and opportunity of the workingman is tagged as a communist…If a Communist is one who believes in organized labor, and who thinks it would be in all our best interest if every worker in the south were organized, then I am a Communist."
(Indexing terms:  organized labor;  economic justice;  race relations; Spartanburg, South Carolina)


Albert Schweitzer Page

Democracy Now

Bill Moyers - Inequality Matters June 3, 2004

Worldlink TV


United Nations Home Page

United Nation Charter

United Nations Declaratoin of Human Rights

Unitarian Church of Des Moines, Iowa
Rev. Mark Stringer, Minister

Library of Congress

"SO LONG" - John died in Tucson Arizona on April 23rd, 2004 from complications after surgery for a broken hip. 

AS I REMEMBER ME  Updated JULY 8, 2003 "We must look within ourselves for our own salvation.  If the human race can be saved from war and the fear of war, from hate and malice, from poverty and the fear of want, it will be through our obedience to the invisible reality of our nature that demands us to treat others, all others, as we want others to treat us.  That is the straight and narrow gate, the only one, through which we may enter into the heaven of our hopes and dreams."   ...John B. Isom

March 2003
Letter to the Editor   
"If we tried, really tried and failed, to create a poverty war free world using non military means, I can not believe we would be any worse off than we will be if we give ourselves  no other choice but to continue fighting and killing one another with modern weapons of war."

February  22, 2003

Two Letters to The Editor About War in Iraq (February 2003)

It Might Have Been - February 2001  "How many billions of hours of human labor, and how many billions of tons of natural resources did it take to fight all those wars during the last 5000 years?   Had all those hours of labor, and all those tons of natural resources, been used to make peace possible and to provide the essential goods and services needed to feed, cloth, educate and care for all the people of the world - would that have helped to reduce the curse of poverty if not eliminated it?   Obviously I do not know the answer to that question, but it is equally obvious that it would have helped." (Indexing terms: United Nations; poverty; war; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Charter of United Nations; equal rights; Abraham Lincoln; Dogmas a the quiet past; We must think anew and act anew)

The Religion of Einstein - October 10, 1954   "There is nothing divine about morality, it is a purely human affair".   -Albert Einstein  (Includes Two Letters From Einstein in response to this sermon.) 
[Indexing terms:  Ethics; morality.]

Lynching of Willie Earl (1947)  "We are unworthy of self-government if we continue to poison the minds of our youth with a racial attitude that imposes upon them a disrespect for law and man."  (Indexing terms: lynching; racism)

Some Human Intangibles (199?)  "In our attempts to create a world free of poverty and war we have tried New Deals, Square Deals and Fair Deals.  We have experimented with Trickle-up Deals, Trickle-Down Deals and fought Johnson's War On Poverty.  Yet, regardless of the ways by which we have tried...we have failed miserably. Since all efforts to create such a world during all recorded history have tragically failed, it should be obvious.  If we are to succeed, we will need to learn to think and act in many new ways.  We must change the terms and means by which we cooperate with one another." (Indexing terms: economic justice)

Albert Schweitzer and "The Philosophy of Civilization" (1987)   "My deepest and most believable religious convictions had no rational world and life view to support them until I had read and studied Schweitzer's "Philosophy of Civilization."

Albert Schweitzer's Philosophy of Civilization: Decay and Restoration of Civilization   (December 2001) 
I am posting here selected quotes from the preface of the first volume of Albert Schweitzer's Philosophy of Civilization: Decay and Restoration of Civilization in hopes they may inspire you to read the entire work.

An Interpretation of Dr. Albert Schweitzer's Essay "Religion In Modern Civilization" (1949)    "Our conscious will to love is our ultimate source of ethics."

Advice From Abraham Lincoln 
"We must think anew and act anew  -  then we will save our country." - Abraham Lincoln  (December. 2002)