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Reverend Billy’s Revelations

Issue 222

How to keep your New Year's resolutions & laugh at Trump

Reverend Billy Talen Feb 21, 2017

Dear Rev, 

Back when Trump was just a candidate I used to laugh at his antics. Now I’m horrified. I feel bad for not taking him as seriously as I should have but I can’t help but feel these days that laughing at him would take the edge off all the terror he represents. Is it safe to laugh again?  How do I regain my sense of humor when it comes to our mad hatter-in-chief?

— Cody, East Williamsburg 

Dear Cody, 

Give yourself a break. You can’t constantly be arranging your emotional response to the outside world like you’re driving a car, steering between the lines. I agree with you that we were laughing when we should been volunteering against Trump’s fascism. We should have flown to Toledo, gone door-to-door — a modern version of going off to fight in the Spanish Civil War. 

When George Orwell was fighting in Catalonia, he was quipping wittily about proceedings as the bullets flew by. One bullet struck him and he even kept laughing as he fell. That’s why he survived to tell the story. 

You don’t have to find a safe place to laugh. A sense of humor is not earned. 

We’re in a dangerous place right now, Cody. We can blame ourselves for all those years of laughing with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and letting the monster sneak up on us. But the problem was never that we were laughing, it was that we became depoliticized. Have your big laugh at Trump. He is funny. But by all means necessary send him to the Hell where he belongs. Send him to some beauty contest in a phosphorescent subterranean world, where everything is orange. That’s good for a laugh. 


•   •   •

Dear Reverend Billy, 

Every New Year’s I make resolutions. Pretty much the same goals every time. I want to read more and watch less TV, to lose weight and to get more involved in activism. I make some progress here and there but by March I’m sitting on my couch watching “Friends” reruns and eating ice-cream and babka at the end of each work day. This year my resolution is to keep my resolutions! Any suggestions to help me stick to it? 


Tanya in the Village

Dear Tanya, 

Watching “Friends” re-runs? Christ, you have got a terrible problem, my child. Let’s see. . .  

Try this: You will die. 

We all will die. Probably someone is dying while they are reading this sentence. You and I will pass away.

Be honest with yourself about this death thing. Imagine your last moments of life. You are falling from a high place. You are bleeding profusely. You are watching light stream into the room. It’s over.

People who come back from near-death experiences talk about a contented feeling, about a beautiful dream.

Give yourself the gift of imagining that you are in the super-contented, full-of-light act of dying at this very moment. Then the next moment. And the next… It is happening right now.  But for some reason you are not paralyzed in a bed. You have arranged it so that you can keep moving through life while imagining that every second in your healthy body is one of your last.  

Death is doing what it always does, moving inexorably toward you. You might last 30 more seconds, a day or 50 years. You can go at any second and each second you have is a gift. Life is letting you breathe another breath in its beautiful dream. 

The screen and sweets will really start looking ridiculous. You don’t want to live your last moments watching television. If temptation tries to catch your eye, break off, walk away, stand outdoors and start dying for life all over again.


Reverend Billy is an activist and political shouter, a post-religious preacher of the streets and bank lobbies. He’s been in New York forever with the activist performance group the Church of Stop Shopping.

Got a question for Reverend Billy? Just email and unburden your soul.


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