Bill Breeden lives in one of the more remote sections of the globe, in the woods of Owen County. He has a way, though, of getting in the middle of things and drawing attention.
That 14-foot-tall papier-mache Jesus that was paraded in Terre Haute to protest Timothy McVeigh's execution -- Breeden helped build it. The similarly hard-to-miss Uncle Sam that walked with Jesus -- that was Breeden himself.
"We wanted something very visual to say there's many voices speaking out," says Breeden.
Breeden, who has long hair and a Frank Zappa goatee, is the classic hippie-at-51. Except that he didn't "go liberal" (his phrase) until 1980.
In the '60s, he was a "rabid, communist-hating redneck," he says -- and religious, too. (He enrolled in a religious college and was spared Vietnam.)
He was preaching at a Disciples of Christ church in Missouri in 1979 when the threat of nuclear war became real to him. He had always thought the American government was pretty much right, and now came to believe it was pretty much wrong -- about the arms race, about the Sandinistas, about the environment, etc.
He became a Unitarian (and now preaches in the Unitarian churches in Bloomington, Danville and Terre Haute).
At one point Breeden became famous. In November 1986, he swiped a street sign from his hometown of Odon, Ind. The town fathers had voted to name a street for John Poindexter, a local boy who'd gone on to big things as Ronald Reagan's national security adviser. Poindexter was forced out in the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal. The street sign went up the very next day. Enter Breeden.
His prank made national news. PBS ran a documentary on it. It may have been the most widely publicized street sign theft in history.
Breeden got a lot of mileage from it, but he has not rested on it. Today he is thick into the anti-capital punishment movement.
His wife, Glenda, was raised conservatively but along the way changed her stripes, too. Over the weekend, in Terre Haute, she performed a song she wrote to the tune of On the Banks of the Wabash Far Away -- "The moon cries tears of grief upon the Wabash . . ." The Breedens have been married since 1969.
For several years they and their two children lived in a tepee -- "to identify with people of the Third World who are victims of opulence."
Now, their children grown (and living nearby), the Breedens live in a cabin. With a TV.
Breeden rarely watches it, except when golf is on -- golf! He grasps the irony but cannot help himself. He's a fiend for golf. He shoots in the 70s.
Breeden says golf to him is "kind of a Zen thing" and not the frustration it is to most people who play it.
But what about everything else in his life? There are still nuclear weapons, after all; Poindexter still has a street named for him in Odon; McVeigh is dead -- the world must be a frustrating place to Breeden.
He soldiers on. He has a plan to make his Uncle Sam lighter. The thing, which surely will come in handy down the road, weighs 65 pounds. Breeden's muscles are sore from Sunday. "I was thinking about trying to put a helium balloon in his head," says Breeden -- "you know, to give it some lift.
"I don't know that anything I do will actually make a difference. Faith is believing it will."