Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir Occupy Wall Street

[Editor’s Note: It’s been interesting to watch the Occupy Wall Street movement take shape and gain momentum. Along with many other Burners, the Reverend Billy Talen is there on the ground, preaching his gospel.]

WATCH: Anti-Consumerist Preacher Reverend Billy Talen serves up a fiery sermon against the global economic machine at the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstration in downtown Manhattan.

There’s a term for the present American system: “Totalizing.” That means that consumerism/militarism comes all the way across the landscape – into every nook and cranny. It kills all the smaller systems, like the neighborhood economies, the gift-economies. This system is self-propelled to come into the arts, into medicine, into libraries, into our intimacy – and into our children’s lives at the beginning of identity.

At the Occupation of Wall Street you really feel this. Liberty Plaza is a small park where we say we’re free of that system. The difference is so dramatic. We are starting a culture here – a way of life from scratch. It is clumsy and beautiful and frustrating. But no-one regrets being here and everyone knows what leaving this small island means. Go back into America and our freedom is portable, hidden near our hearts.

About the author: Reverend Billy Talen

Starting in San Francisco in the early 90's Reverend Billy Talen began to explore "a new kind of American preacher" - a post-religious one, but a good whooping preacher anyway, inspiring people toward a spiritual event that did not need the mediation of organized religions or other corporations. Moving to New York City, he preached on the sidewalks of Times Square, and found people clapping and singing along with him, and the choir grew to empower the message of resistance to Consumerism. They called themselves the Church of Stop Shopping. They came to Burning Man in 2003 ("Beyond Belief"), but many of the singers and musicians were longtime Burners. They were invited to perform on a stage built in the base of the Man that year. Two years later they gathered with Joan Baez and the jazz musicians of the playa to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Their hope is to continue to preach and sing against Consumerism, and for the Life After Shopping! Change-a-lujah!

2 thoughts on “Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir Occupy Wall Street

  • Jesus (if he existed) upset the tables of the moneychangers, told his disciples to carry no money and said, “U can’t serve God & money . . . but the Pharisees, who loved money heard all this and scoffed. (If he existed, he certainly did not walk on water.)

    “No one buys or sells without the MONEY of the beast on/in mind or hand.” — Apocalypse.

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  • Saw Rev. Billy “perform” if that’s the right word for it at the Temple in 2007. It was the capper to my first burn and one of the most indelible images I have from the playa. It felt like actual church in all the best ways. He’s doing good work out there! One of his best lines when I saw him was, “And Jesus Christ, and fellow Burner!” Everyone applauded, it was hilarious and accurate.

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