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.