Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping

“The activists call us performers, the performers call us artists, and the artists call us clowns,” said Bill Talen (the Reverend Billy) last night at the SF DocFest showing of What Would Jesus Buy? a documentary produced by Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame).

What Would Jesus Buy?As a former Calvinist, Talen said it was a stretch to bring religion into his performance art in that he had to recognize that street preachers are storytellers, and storytelling is key to his form of protest. It did open my eyes to many things such as the use of irony in protesting (I’m not sure this works, as you can see from his quote above), and the way protesting can use farce and street art to effectively bring the message.

Looks like the Reverend has gotten a lot of press over the years (see here here here and in the NY Times) and some influential friends, such as Joan Baez, to attend last night’s screening.  More curious to me was the appearance in the movie of authors Bill McKibben and Jim Wallis who connected consumerism and the religious teachings of Jesus.


Lots o’ docs coming up this month (and next):

*at CCSF on Wednesday, September 26, 7pm in Rosenberg Library, Rm. 304–director Les Blank with Gina Leibrecht showing their new film All In This Tea, a doc on what goes into your cup and where it comes from

*Friday, Sept. 28 at the Roxie will be the start of DocFest and, at 7pm, will feature What Would Jesus Buy?

*Sunday, Sept 30th 12:30pm at the Roxie will feature Buddha’s Lost Children about the sub-culture in Thailand’s (former) Golden Triangle and, later, at 5pm WTF: An Okaymentary about the reality of community-building in an online environment

*at CCSF on Wednesday, October 3rd, Soldiers of Conscience is based on the capturing the conflicts the soldiers experience over killing in Iraq

*Sunday, October 7, 2:45pm at the Roxie will be Ghosts and Numbers, “a fantastic meditation on Thai encounters with the spirit world and the world of numbers, as these intersect in unexpected ways.”

*Sunday, October 7th, 5pm at the Roxie is Off the Grid: On the Mesa about a group of Americans living in the Southwest set apart from organized law and order

I still have another doc to choose after getting the 5-day pass.  Hope I can handle all of this good stuff!

Fascinatin’ rhythm

So at one of my jobs, I sit at a desk that faces out of the library through glass doors into the “lobby” area. The library is so small and so quiet that, when a cell phone rings, you know immediately who has it. Basically, people just take their phone call outside to talk–sometimes people answer it inside, then say “wait,” then take it outside the glass windows, sometimes they try to finish the call in under 10 seconds inside (but that’s generally frowned upon), and sometimes they pretend that they don’t speak English or that Motorola Q phoneanother language isn’t as bothersome to other people, or that because no one stares them down like a gunslinger, that it “really is just a second, nothing more.” Any way you look at it, it’s rude and intrusive. Even just the ring can set other people off. It’s also surprising to me that folks can’t get the “vibrate mode” concept down.

Nonetheless, what interests me is often outside the glass windows. It’s like a lion’s den–people on their cellphones pacing back and forth. Sometimes they look inside to the library, but continue talking. Sometimes their voices come so loudly that it comes through the door and I can hear their frustration and all the details of their struggle. Sometimes they stand in front of the doors and people try to come in, but have to make them move by tapping them on the shoulders. Sometimes they look at their watches and gauge the time they have left. Sometimes they smile and laugh loudly, getting more and more excited, pacing faster and faster.

I’m not sure they even know that they are on display–like a person in a glass cage in front of a group of people working at desks. So far, I haven’t seen anyone throw their phone. I have had people complain. Unfortunately, there’s still no generally agreed upon etiquette for cell phone use.

Quaker guilt?

I’ve been pondering this one for a while–is there such a thing? Somehow, I seem to also ascribe a “saving grace” to preserve my own desire for whatever I feel guilt about. If there were a list of things I feel guilt about include:

  • Enjoying my motorcycle too much (guilt: gas/environmental impact/pollution; saving grace: smaller footprint than a car)
  • Computing (guilt: environmental impact for cheap construction/labor, hazardous materials, digital divide; saving grace: less paper use, greater equality among who controls media sources)
  • Television/Movies (guilt: less focus on interpersonal relationships; saving grace: greater storytelling possibilities)
  • Listening to my iPod (guilt/saving grace: see television/movies)
  • Living in a city (guilt: greater impact on the environment, dependence on “the grid”; saving grace: options for transportation, smaller “footprint”, shared resources and systems)
  • Working in a private school (guilt: separate school for money; saving grace: ability to openly combine religion with education)

My Quaker guilt seems to have less to do with Scripture and righteousness and more to do with whether I am living equally with others and within a sustainable, environmental life for the Earth.

St. Bernard Project needs you!

This is per an SOS call from one of the founders, Zack Rosenburg, who sent a request for volunteers to me via email…

“We hope that the world is treating you well. We write to ask for your help. And no, we are not asking for money. We are in desperate need of volunteers. As you know, there is an incredible amount of work to be done in St. Bernard. That work won’t get done without volunteers – people like you, whose commitment to rebuilding is strong.

“In September, we have an average of 8 volunteers each day. We are back to better (but optimal) numbers in October. But we are at crisis stage now. Residents need to move home, and with volunteers we can rebuild their homes and help them move home.”

Anyone wanting some service hour credits to put toward their graduation, or who want to help out with this awesome project in the much cooler months than when we visited should go to the St. Bernard Project website and buy a plane ticket ASAP (Southwest out of SFO, anyone?)