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My grandfather started watching lots of Fox News about five years ago and became noticeably angrier. Since the election, he’s fallen down the rabbit hole with QAnon and there’s no counter-point I can make that he doesn’t call “fake news.” Is there anything I can do to bring him back to reality?
Just walk up to the TV, turn off Tucker Carlson, and before Gramps says “What?” read some Octavia Butler right point blank.
God is Power / Infinite / Irresistible / Inexorable, / Indifferent, And yes, God is Pliable — Trickster / Teacher / Chaos / Clay, God exists to be shaped. God is Change.
And then turn his show back on and leave. Don’t try to persuade. Conspiracy theorists make alternative realities. Don’t try to get in there with logic or even love. Your grandpa is imitating the White Male God that Doesn’t Change.
Give him 24 hours to absorb the Par- able of the Sower. Then next day Song of Myself, then Revolution for the Hell of It and keep this up every day, then Wan- gari Maathi, Yoko One, James Baldwin, Lorca, AOC. … and then on the seventh day turn off Murdoch and stand there and ask him, “What do you want to hear?” If he’s ready, he’ll say, “Well alright honey, go ahead, read something.” Or it might take him many seventh days. But if he gives you some daylight, then go back to Octavia:
Change is inevitable. Like Ecclesiastes says, “to everything there is a season … ” Change is a part of life, of existence, of the common wisdom. But I don’t believe we’re dealing with all that that means. We haven’t even begun to deal with it.
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Winter always bums me out — the cold, the short days and lack of sunshine, having to get all bundled up to go on the simplest errand. I look forward to moving someplace warmer and sunnier in a few more years when I retire. In the meantime, do you have any tips for how to get through winter when warmer days seem such a long way away?
The old consumer-is-king days when the main thing was individual comfort, those days are long gone, Paul. We’re in a suicidal slide towards a permanent heat wave. Hundreds of species are disappearing weekly. We are in too much of an emergency for you to get depressed from cold weather, Paul. That’s not this present moment in history. Right now, you cancel your retirement and get to work for the survival of the next generations.
Maybe I’m the advice columnist from Hell, which is a warm place, but I’m concerned that your personal comfort, especially your own personal warming, would be pleaded for without irony. Paul, the thousands of as-yet unreleased viruses are surging inside hot bats in Wuhan … . So the bat scientists say. So Paul! Stay cool while you can … . The heating planet has a very large natural disaster called the Sixth Extinction, coming to Jamaica, Queens, and coming to your retirement village outside Phoenix too.
When your own comfort isn’t the first consideration, and the survival of life itself is the new ultimate intersectional justice, then you’ll won’t be bummed with some cold weather, Paul, you’ll be glad it still exists.
Very brisk day outside, think I’ll bundle up, don my mask, and take a walk in Prospect Park.
REVEREND BILLY IS PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF STOP SHOPPING. HAVE A QUES- TION FOR THE REVEREND? JUST EMAIL REVBILLY@INDYPENDENT.ORG AND UN- BURDEN YOUR SOUL.
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