Menu
praying in hell (1) (1).jpg

Reverend Billy’s Revelations

In his second column, the activist preacher answers readers’ questions on Trump.

Reverend Billy Talen Nov 20

Issue 219

Dear Rev,

I have anxiety from this Trump thing. I’m surprised at how strong this feels. I feel unsafe with this guy and his cronies, Giuliani etc. He brings back bad memories. He scares me.

— Amy in the East Village.

Dear Amy,

This Little Light of Mine, I’m gonna let it shine…

Donald Trump is starting to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency. Paul Ryan wants to privatize Medicare. It is happening so fast. 

I ask this question humbly, but do we have time to be anxious? The threat of Trump’s impending violence puts us on a schedule like a family from Aleppo. We can run away, or stay and fight. 

If we stay and fight, then we are doing what our progressive rhetoric has been saying for decades. 

Trump is like a rapist comedian. After the crime he tells jokes. Trump is special though, being post-meaning and without irony. He doesn’t confess or apologize. He tries to raise cruelty up to a noble pursuit, making it up on the spot. No planning, no notes, no action, no memory, no regret. 

Trump is media-as-person. There’s his obese late-Elvis body — but really he’s a screen only. To deal with him, ironically, we need to be free of media as a dominating psycho-presence. Our devotion to the glowing screen in our hands and other forms of consumer hypnosis must end. We need to pay attention in the real world.

The other day at the White House, sitting there in a chair next to Obama, Trump looked disappointed by the whole thing, like he was already bored. 

We will let our light shine and our work will help us overcome our anxiety. We need to be willing to be shamed, inconvenienced, arrested, hurt. We are being forced to be what a lot of us avoided before — a social movement. 

The reason that we won’t be anxious is because we will freely risk life and limb for what we believe, and we will be in a community of like-minded believers.

•   •   •

Dear Reverend Billy,

I’m going back home to Peoria soon for the holidays and my folks are big into Trump. I love my them but I just don’t know how I’m supposed to stomach sitting at the dinner table with them, listening to all their Trump talk. Any suggestions?

— Erika, Flatbush

Dear Erika,

How we face relatives and friends who were taken in by the Horror Clown is something that we’ll all be studying for a long time. I am considering this in my own life, regarding my Dutch Calvinist relatives in Iowa. I go on trial in Des Moines this January for protesting too close to a party some Monsanto executives were holding in the State Capitol building. I would like to visit those conservative people again the next time I’m in their neighborhood. 

Hate is always monolithic from a distance. If there is a safe way to get closer to the hater, their condition looks more like fear, even entrapment. People are trapped out there in the rural, deindustrialized terrain between the coasts; trapped and broke and “deplorable.” And they are trying to find a way to have dignity. Cynical candidates urge them to hate. 

Can you be with your family and take the blows? At least for a little while? If you can rope-a-dope them and keep listening, their hate may become more complex, clearer, and even sad. At some point compassion kicks in. If you sit with the haters and slow everything down, their hate turns into something else. It’s got to!

— Reverend Billy Talen

Reverend Billy is an activist and political shouter, a post-religious preacher of the streets and bank lobbies. 

Got a question for Reverend Billy? Just email RevBilly@Indypendent.org and unburden your soul.


The Indypendent is a monthly New York City-based newspaper and website. Subscribe to our print edition here. You can make a donation or become a monthly sustainer here.