A similar thing could be said about the Church of England. Britain is one of the most Godless countries on earth and yet Anglican and Catholic schools are still very popular because people like the ethos, and parents are prepared to take their kids to church every Sunday to get in. Many find it a rewarding experience, after initial reluctance, but then there is a fair amount of evidence that regular churchgoing increases health and happiness.
Ersatz religion has many of the benefits of the real thing, and the same can be said for ersatz village life. Ever since the Industrial Revolution there has been a romantic longing to return to the countryside, which in the 19th century was largely the idea of High Tories who glossed over the horror of rural life. Yet for the all advantages of city living – sweatshops are generally far better paid than backbreaking agricultural work – there is evidence that urban living has a bad effect on our mental health, with city dwellers 40 per cent more likely to suffer from psychiatric problems.( (Although the mentally ill are also more likely to move to cities.)
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In 1278 the King of England came up with a new plan to raise money and land, as leaders are fond of doing. Certain that historic privileges had been usurped by uppity subjects, King Edward sent royal officers around to prominent individuals demanding by what legal right – quo warranto – they held their honours. However when Edward’s men arrived at the home of one John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, the ageing aristocrat pulled out his rusty sword and proclaimed: “My ancestors came with William the Bastard, and conquered their lands with the sword, and I will defend them with the sword against anyone wishing to seize them.”