Friday, December 27, 2013

Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping

From an article in the New York Times, I've just learned about performance artist and activist Bill Talen, who goes by the name Reverend Billy. Dressed for the part and sounding just like a gospel preacher, Talen is often backed by a rousing gospel choir as he preaches against the evils of corporate commercialism and rampant consumerism. They go at their subject with passion and with humor.

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The "Church of Stop Shopping" is "a radical performance community" based in New York City. Their website describes it this way: 'We are a post religious church. We hold “services” wherever we can, in concert halls, theaters, churches, community centers, forests, fields, parking lots, mall atriums, and perhaps most importantly, inside stores, as close to the cash register as we can get, within spitting distance of the point of purchase."

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"We sing, we dance, we preach, sometimes we perform small “interventions”, invisible plays, acts of ritual resistance. We exorcise cash registers and remythologize the retail environment, we illuminate the Devil. We make media and send it out around the world. We get hassled by security guards and sometimes get arrested."

Although the Christmas season is a particularly important time for Rev. Billy, as you might well imagine, his message is timeless and universal, serious as well as tongue in cheek. I particularly enjoyed his short spiel on global warming, called The Invitation.   

You can view a number of the "Church's" videos on their website.

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