Tag: Church of Not Shopping

An inside look at Reverend Billy Talen’s Church-of-Not-Shopping

February 8, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More
An inside look at Reverend Billy Talen’s Church-of-Not-Shopping

Reverend Billy is a clown and a prophet. All dressed up, he is a serious clown, self-honed and bearing sharp claws in the best tradition of court jesters. At the recent True Spin Conference in Denver Colorado I had a chance to meet the Reverend Billy of The-Church-of-Not-Shopping. Reverend Billy is an outwardly cartoonish persona constructed by actor Billy Talen.

Talan has been at it for so long and so intensely, however, that it is difficult to see where Talen ends and Reverend Billy begins. Even while he was discussing his mission during his presentation at True Spin, he was prone to erupt into his preacher voice, standing up and beckoning those present to heed the central tenet of his Church: that we “Not Shop.” Although Reverend Billy is famous for his anti-consumerist sermons, he also preaches on numerous other social justice issues. One of those other concerns is that free-flowing conversational and intellectual space—the place where naturally-occurring culture used to thrive—is now jam-packed with the profit-seeking messages of corporations seeking to deny us the natural flow of our social interactions. “They want to sponsor our stories.” He is concerned that corporations have filled our heads with their music and their values, and their buy-oriented slogans, largely displacing us of our ability and desire to construct original thoughts through natural conversion. Billy argues that we need to ramp down the shopping because on a daily basis we are selling our very souls when we unnecessarily buy. We have remade ourselves into commodities, and our unwitting plan is to deliver ourselves to our sponsors.

Pop quiz: according to Rev. Billy, what is the best thing you can get someone for Christmas?
Answer: nothing.

Why should we stop shopping? Reverend Billy might answer you with the Title to his 2007 documentary: “What Would Jesus Buy?

No words really work well to introduce you to Reverend Billy. Take a moment, if you will, to allow Amy Goodman to introduce him to you.

Those who think Reverend Billy is only a clown fail to listen closely to his serious message, perhaps because of the outrageous way with which he delivers it. But make no mistake that Billy has carefully constructed both his message and his means of delivering it. He delivers it in a way that seems absurd in order to bring a modicum of attention to his message. You see, Americans love their shopping their conveniences, and they fiercely resist any suggestion that they need to change their ways.

Share

Read More