Archive for the ‘What Would Jesus Buy?’ Category

Reverend Billy and the Woot “Bag O’ Crap”
July 21, 2008

Perhaps all of you are well aware of the Woot “Bag O’ Crap.” I only came across it for the first time last week. In case you haven’t heard of it, here’s the main idea. Basically, an online store called Woot occasionally digs around their warehouse and gets rid of random items of mostly insignificant value. They put the items in the “Bag O’ Crap” and sell them for one dollar plus shipping. Sounds pretty ridiculous, right? Well, it certainly is ridiculous. But that doesn’t keep it from also being ridiculously popular. Apparently these “Bags O’ Crap” cause quite a frenzy and sell out in seconds. Yes, there are people who end up receiving “treasures” worth a hundred dollars or more, but most of the time the items are pretty much worthless. Woot even goes out of their way to make it clear that the great majority of people will receive exactly what they pay for – a “Bag O’ Crap.”

So why in the world am I blogging about this? Because I can’t imagine a better example of the troubling impact of consumerism on our culture. Not only do we spend unholy amounts of money to celebrate Christmas. Not only do we accumulate alarming amounts of debt. No, we also choose to spend money on a “Bag O’ Crap” at the mere chance that we may end up receiving something worth more money than we paid – even though that something is probably not something we need, or even necessarily want.

All of this makes me very convinced that we need people like Reverend Billy to raise the alarm and attempt to save us from the Shopacolypse.

In case you missed my previous posts about Reverend Billy (1 and 2), Wikipedia describes him this way:

“Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping is an activist performance group based in New York City, led by Bill Talen. Using the form of a revival meeting, on sidewalks and in chain stores, Reverend Billy and his gospel choir exhort consumers to abandon the products of large corporations and mass media; the group also preaches a broader message of economic justice, environmental protection, and anti-militarism…”

The reason I am bringing up Reverend Billy again is that I finally got a chance to watch What Would Jesus Buy? – a documentary that follows the good reverend and his rip-roarin’ Church of Stop Shopping on a Christmastime cross country tour to save America from the impending Shopacolypse. As many of you know, I was really excited to see this documentary, but when I got the movie from Netflix I was a little skeptical because Netflix viewers have given the movie a pathetic cumulative rating of 2.5 stars out of 5. But I now know we cannot give any weight to the cumulative Neflix community, because What Would Jesus Buy? is fantastic. Bump it to the top of your queue right now. Go. Now. It’s awesome. Reverend Billy is my hero.

I have to agree with Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann who compares Reverend Billy to the “guerilla theater” of Jesus and the prophets. Reverend Billy might not be a Christian, but he is certainly a prophet. He may use humor, but he is very serious about his message (he has even been arrested multiple times).

Reverend Billy is doing good work. We should all heed his call to STOP SHOPPING!

Check out some of the Revs prophetic antics on YouTube

Some Media for the New Year
January 3, 2008

In Music – check out Radiohead’s “Scotch mist: a film with Radiohead in it,” made for New Year’s Eve 2007. (HT: Bob)

In Books
– the online magazine Slate has a review of Joel Osteen’s latest book. It’s interesting to read this response from a non-Christian media outlet. Here’s the tagline: “Joel Osteen’s God really wants you to dress well, stand up straight, and get a convenient parking space.” (HT: I forget…shame on me)

In Movies – I can’t wait to see “What Would Jesus Buy?” It’s my most anticipated movie of 2008. Of course I’ll probably have to wait to see it on DVD since the chance of it coming to Waco is pretty slim – ok, actually there’s no chance at all.

Here’s a great video of Rev. Billy (Bill Talen) from Sojourners. Talen discusses consumerism and promotes his movie. Very interesting. Is Talen a modern day prophet? I’m becoming more convinced. (HT: God’s Politics)