Reverend Billy’s Revelations

Issue 281

Feeling hopeless about climate change? Reverend Billy would like a word with you.

Reverend Billy Talen Aug 7, 2023

Dear Reverend Billy, 

I’m a big fan of yours and appreciate all that you do. As far as climate change goes, do you think we’ve missed our chance to stop it over the past 20-30 years with all the dithering and inaction by our leaders? At this point, It seems like it’s easier to go numb and try to ignore what’s happening as best as one can.  

— Doug

Dear Doug,

The middle class of the USA is locked up in passivity, locked up in a prison of “isms.” Religious fundamentalism, capitalism, racism, sexism, consumerism — we got isms to the wall. There is only one force that can free us from this bondage: The Earth, the planet Earth.

In autocracy, it’s simple to keep control. The dictator has one party, lots of guns and a controlled media, and a lot of fear. In a commercial democracy, the ruler is the investor class, and they need to keep those isms growing around us like dazzling walls that simulate life. The Ism Prison…

What the Earth is doing right now, especially in the last month of extreme heat and a world of natural disasters is pull us from that virtual reality. We have noticed in our work a basic change in the usual passivity. Many of us no longer consider the climate cataclysm merely a three-minute news item, in other words…. consumable information. A critical mass has been reached, and it’s a shock.

It is well known that JPMorgan Chase is the dirtiest bank because of all the funding it provides to fossil fuel projects around the world. The Earth Church invades the Rockefeller Center JPMorgan Chase a lot, 15 times in the last two years. We do this at lunch-time so that the singers who have jobs can use their lunch break for our “Radical Lunch.” The managers inside the bank often grimace when they see us parade through the door with anthems about the Earth.  (In the last days, researchers from and indigenous groups revealed that Chase has been financing Amazon rainforest killing projects in Peru, Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador.) JPMorgan Chase tops the list of forest killers, with Citibank in second.  

This of course is featured in our chanting and preaching, and the managers sit there in their plush chairs, our audience until the police arrive.  But last week they didn’t call the police. Our reception seems changed.  We sense a new thoughtfulness in some of them. The heatwaves on three continents might be impacting them.  Of course there is the laughter and moaning and swearing, but in our action last week we found some of them sitting there like they had heatwaves in their air-conditioning, stuck in their moral quandary. 

We urged them to hack into that computerized money flow. Detour the millions meant for the TransCanada pipeline. Route the money away from the Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk lands. Protect the Amazon. Starve out the ranchers and miners and dams. Hack, strike, practice hidden labor slow-downs. Be a whistleblower in the dirtiest fossil bank. Radical whispers at the water cooler. Work undercover for the Earth.  

Doug, I’m using this as an example. All of us need to turn against this fossil economy. This is what each of us needs to do in our own lives. Our work for the Earth will be scary, and probably illegal if it is to have any impact at all. We will help each other break out of our “Ism Prison”. 


Reverend Billy Talen is the pastor of the Church of Stop Shopping. Have a question for the Reverend? Email and unburden your soul.

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