February 3, 2009

The Church of Stop Shopping

A friend just turned me on to this fantastic website called Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. Apparently this guy, who calls himself Reverend Billy, started doing spontaneous "sermons" in Times Square back in 1996. He ranted preacher style against the evils of consumerism and materialism, and he caught on. Now the act includes an entire choir and they tour around the U.S. and the world, preaching the gospel of love, anti-consumerism, and radical neighborliness.

The group believes that consumerism is overwhelming our lives and that corporations want us to have experiences only through their products. They think their message--consuming less--is the single most effective and immediate response an individual can take to immediately halting the climate crisis. Their website claims the message has reached millions of people and has contributed to the public's increasing awareness of the relationship between shopping and climate change.

Check it out- it's really interesting. They've been involved in a number of successful grassroots campaigns. And there's also a Morgan Spurlock-produced (Supersize Me) documentary about Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping called What Would Jesus Buy? that I just put in our Netflix queue.

A few days after that Wal-Mart worker got trampled to death by a crowd of bargain hunters on the day after Thanksgiving, Reverend Billy held a candlelight vigil to honor the man and raise public awareness about the dangers of excessive materialism and consumption. That sounds like a little bit of sanity in a world gone crazy.

Has anybody seen the documentary? Let me know what you think about it if you have.


Marylyn said...

I've had Rev.Billy on my bookmarks for quite a while, although I don't always check out what he's up to. Y'know, one are in which "corporations want us to have experiences only through their products" is, in fact, the internet and any product that enables access to it, including cell phones. Cell phone communication is more valued than face-to-face communication (which is free). Of course there are good things about these technological marvels, but they are a part of corporate-mediated experience. Just sayin'.

Marylyn said...

Why can't I write just ONE PARAGRAPH without a typo? Second line, "are" should be "area." Pffft.