Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What would Jesus Buy?

The 'Reverend Billy' is a man on a mission. He wants the world to change their shopping habits and use local shops instead of big chain stores. His message claims Consumerism and Militarism are the overwhelming fundamentalist churches that we face today. We pray when we buy, we worship at the altar of the almighty dollar, the Mauls (Malls). Chang-ellujah!
What started out in the 1990s as a prank has become something bigger, more meaningful even if it is still as zany as ever. Bill Talen, an actor, created a reverend hybrid of street preacher, arguably Elvis, and televangelist called Reverend Billy. Billy is no longer a send-up of a church leader. He is a church leader. The Church of Life After Shopping (formerly known as the Church of Stop Shopping) is an activist performance group based in  New York City led by Reverend Billy. Together with his Stop Shopping Gospel Choir he tours this land of ours where people are clinically addicted to shopping.
Children at an early age are exposed to marketing on TV and want stuff, designer brands. Even if it burns a hole in their pants, parents will fulfill their wishes because to be in and cool you need to be seen with the right stuff. It’s all gotten out of control. “It’s for the kids”! From a young age we are conditioned to see Xmas as a combination of consumerism and love. You buy for the people you love.  Ask any older person what were their happiest Christmases, many will tell you about when they were young, when they were poor and only got few things they badly needed. (My grandma , as a young girl in the 1920s, was delighted about her only gift: an orange).
Is it politics? Is it art? Is it religion? His church is resisting consumerism and they want to share an experience with you.
Stop sinning- stop shopping!
We want… no more of that junk.
Are you people or are you sheeple?
Exorcise that credit card that leads you into eternal debt.
You may be reading the Scriptures, but you are missing half of the message.
Whereas other street preachers chose Times Square because of its reputation for sin, Reverend Billy's sermons focused on the evils of consumerism and  advertising—represented especially by Disney and Mickey Mouse who for him are the Antichrist. Shops don’t like him in the neighborhood. He gets arrested over and over again. His gospel choir and his message are disturbing the peace and detrimental to big business.  Starbucks prohibits him to come within 250 ft of any of its shops. 
Reverend Billy and his choir traveled to Washington, D.C. in March 2007 to participate in an action against the war in Iraq, "Don't Buy Bush's War," organized by Code Pink Women for Peace, where they roamed the halls of the U.S. Congress preaching and singing their anti-war message. No arrests were made.  His is a non-profit organization – just like any other church, of course.
Santa is for Sale
Give us the Power to Stop Buying
Save Christ from the Shopocalypse!
That was then...when I last wrote about him.
Rev. Billy has recently changed his tune and message: He wholeheartedly embraces Occupy Wall Street. "Let’s talk about the Devil. Corporate Commercialism has sped up to a roar, virtually unopposed". We are the 99% (as gather together).  He now has a weekly video podcast from The Church of Earthalujah. "Reverend Billy's Freak Storm" finds our wandering preacher at Occupy London on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral. We open with the Stop Shopping Choir sings their "99%" anthem, livestreaming from Occupy Wall Street."
One of his upcoming event is Bushwick Farmer's Market Winter Solstice Party on Dec 16."The Most Delicious Night of the Year: our joyous annual celebration of the season, is a party & benefit for Bushwick Farmers' Market and the other neat projects of EcoStation:NY (including Bushwick Campus Farm, Farm-in-the-Sky at Brookyln Fire Proof, and the upcoming veggie oil and solar-powered Bushwick Farmers' Market Green Machine, recent winner of a federal grant from USDA.)"
The Man has a point. I may have found a new church.
Siggy Buckley 

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