Reverend Billy’s Revelations

Issue 286

Advice from the good reverend on welcoming the newest New Yorkers and how to cope with election-year stress.

Reverend Billy Talen Mar 25

Dear Billy, 

I read the article in last month’s ­Indypendent about how you all turned the Earth Church into a warming center for African migrants. Is it worth it? It seems like a lot of extra work.

— Joseph

Dear Joseph,

We are starting to act like New Yorkers. We are an immigrant city. We will welcome the new New Yorkers as we were welcomed. 

“The migrants will destroy New York City.”

The Eric Adams quote is from Donald Trump’s playbook, experimenting with directed fear. He’s trying to get us to forget that we are New Yorkers. 

New York City is the country’s wealthiest city, with empty real estate just sitting there. We are approaching full employment. But the newcomers are being confronted with a cynical “hostile environment,” smacking of the old workfare schemes. Under a new agreement worked out in court by the City and immigrant-rights activists, the new arrivals will have to prove to exhausted civil servants that they are looking for work and a place to live, or they will be left to the streets. This is a Kafkaesque nightmare.

If someone has fled gunmen and journeyed 5,000 miles, and now seeks asylum in the city with Lady Liberty’s torch shining on the waters, that asylum-seeker is not a helpless free-loader. This is a strong, independent person… This is the sort of juice our town needs. It is Adams who is destroying our city — with his fear. The best and brightest, the leaders of tomorrow, are sleeping on the trains. 

New York! Take them in! Take the strangers in!

— Rev Billy

•   •   •

Dear Rev, 

I have this growing dread that Trump is going to be re-elected. It would be terrible in so many ways including for my teen-age daughter who might lose the freedom to control her own body and — all of us are in danger! … and the Earth, too.

— Hannah

Hannah — Trump is not taking America off the deep end into Q’anon land. Donald Trump is, like Biden in his other way — the confirmation and expansion the violence of the United States. 

The national stage is littered with dangerous mediocrities. Boeing makes planes that crash, Coca Cola sucks water out from under thirsty villages, Monsanto and Bayer still ride their cancer epidemic. 

The government is the ritual created by the quarterly report and as the corporations become absurd in their violence the president is pulled down into an echo-chamber of lies. Meanwhile the Earth keeps coming over the horizon with its long-range death and birth — without us. The presidents hardly matter at this point. 

May I gently say that you are depending on the presidency more than you should. Our strength is in our local communities, our loved ones who raised us and the loved ones whom we raise in turn. Good neighbors are bad for the economy and that is the radicalism that we need.

Hannah — let your daughter teach you to laugh at the president and walk away. Earthalujah!

— Billy

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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