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Reverend Billy’s Revelations

Issue 268

Reverend Billy Talen Dec 22, 2021

Dear Billy,
I find the holiday season depressing. I live alone. I’m estranged from my family, and I don’t return home to see them for Christmas. The colder, darker days don’t help either. I think I’d be fine if I could tune it all out. But since that doesn’t seem possible, do you have any tips for how to get into the cheerful holiday mood?

ROGER
Hell’s Kitchen

Roger let’s try something radical. In your letter, you are a stationary being with relationships, and the dark weather rolls over the room you’re sitting in there in Hell’s Kitchen. You assume that you won’t move, and so you’re depressed and blame the holidays. Well, we all do that. But here’s the radical act — you move. You climb Bear Mountain or you swim out at Coney. You walk until the rocking of walking is rolling around in the cradle of your pelvis like a greasy cannonball.

You walk out under the sky until the screaming hawks clearly see you are not a rabbit or a vole…. I’m saying doing this physically, not virtually — because the screen will persuade you that it is reality — it isn’t. The Earth still wants you and you will feel wanted if you get out into that wind and rain and sun. Are you with me? Did you get this far? And when you get home, read a good book. I just read America by Frank Kafka. Fantastic.

— REV

• • •

Reverend Billy,
I like to buy Christmas presents for family and close friends, but holiday shopping is a lot harder this year with limited supplies and people snapping up whatever they can get their hands on when it becomes available. I imagine you are delighted about this situation. I find it incredibly frustrating.

CANDACE
Crown Heights

Candace, thank you for your mocking acknowledgement of my strange career. But I have to say, the old idea of purchasing presents at Xmas — where does that fit in the current age of raging fascism and the Earth’s extinction? Celebrating the Santa-centric Xmas in 2021 reminds me of the goofy Americans who had a big holiday bash after 9/11 and the Afghanistan war in 2001. Disconnect! Mayday! We’re going down! Candace this year your gifts need to surprise not just the gift-getter but you the giver. Have an eccentric Xmas not a Santa-centric trash-making ritual under the dying tree.

Give experiences, home-made and hand-made “maker gifts” — nothing from retail and nothing from this traditional extractive/colonizing culture. The old Xmas is so carbon heavy. No, Don’t give this economy a pass just because its Xmas. Don’t give this capitalistic illusion more reason to believe it is the only reality. Blow up reality with your gift! Experiences not tchotchkes! Make promises you cannot keep! Give your love the gift of handcuffing yourself to a bulldozer before it wrecks your nearby forest. Millions of us have to make fools of ourselves at the same time, like very shocking synchronized swimmers. This Xmas — break the culture!

— REV BILLY

REVEREND BILLY TALEN IS THE PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF STOP SHOPPING. HAVE A QUESTION FOR THE REVEREND? EMAIL REVBILLY@REVBILLY.COM AND UNBURDEN YOUR SOUL.

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