The Christianized Jesus - the turning of a radical into a conservative shadow of his former self - explains our problem of establishing and celebrating freedom fighters today. It is important that our progressive heroes be given a deserved fame, an accurately reported fame. This is crucial in ways that impact our own activism. Jesus of Nazareth was not a Peak Performance Strategist as the prosperity preachers would have it. Nor was he an foreigner-hating patriot as the Tea Party would argue. Obviously American politicians and their lobbyists pursue so many policies that are against the teachings of Jesus but are supported by mainstream Christian opinion. In fact, Jesus' parables and sayings push the spiritual revolution of gift economies, and of justice through radical forgiveness. The Hallmark-carding of Dr. King's life is what gave Glenn Beck the opening to disrespect his Lincoln Center speech. King's basic differences with our present corporate economy needs to be a presence in our lives, especially in the educational materials and media of the young. Malcolm X's spirited defense against the violence of entrenched power - this would help us now, as the security state begins to define 1st Amendment-protected protest as a form of terrorism. Cesar Chavez's creativity and steady hand in unionizing the California farmworkers could be useful now as state employees face labor busting by governors and their wealthy tax-dodging sponsors. These three progressive heroes must be known for what they actually were. It was believed that Jesus could be saved from the distortions of right-wing apocalyptic Christianity by researching the historical man. That hasn't worked, despite the Newsweek (“Jesus - who was he really?”) cover story every Easter. I am writing from the Mayan region of southern Mexico, in the city of Chiapas, where another defense against the predations of the Christianized Jesus has been a success. Here, some of the people subjugated by the brutal conquistadors undermined the Spaniard's god by concentrating their prayers on San Juan Bautista - John the Baptist. San Juan stood in the flowing spirit of the River Jordan as he repeated again and again, "I am not He. I am not the One." The Holy Spirit flowed through him as he baptized new believers in the water. John was in the river, in motion, always becoming. He offered his blessing to the act of belief, the creative power of the individual who approached him. As a result his personality is not so easily used to enforce hardened, violent fundamentalism. The Mayans have outmaneuvered fundamentalism to free themselves from those who rode toward them with the swords of Christ. Chiapas and Chamula, Mexico are far healthier and less consumerized then your average American suburb. This brilliant adjustment on their religion forced on them by the Spanish has a lot to do with it. What the Mayan did to the Spanish God is what we all need to do to the Bank of America. Better approaches to the figures that we revere (and worship) are needed in this time of permanent war, economic piracy, and most of all the Earth's crisis. Let's find ways to be honest about radicals' lives - so that we have clearer courage for our own activism. Photo by Sophie Molins
Filmed on the lawn of the Tate Modern museum in London, the newest episode of our video podcast Reverend Billy's Freakstorm features Reverend Billy preaching to a crowd of activists and on-lookers after performing an exorcism of BP's oil money sponsorship of the museum's Miro exhibit. For video and pictures of the exorcism, visit http://revbilly.com/liberate-tate Exorcism - the act of driving out a dark spirit that has possessed a person or a place, by commanding it to leave in the name of a more powerful power, in our case the life of the Earth - this is one of the oldest of our human rituals.  However, exorcisms are also embedded in the arts of our culture like little noticed but powerful micro-climates. We want to find a new kind of power to use against the destroyers of life, the coal companies and the Pentagon, the marketers setting the bait for babies, and the Wall Streeters with their damaging false prosperity.   Our protests that look like parodies of 60’s marches –  and I’ve served my country in a hundred of ‘em! - that’s a form of dissent that has “lost its magic.”  The on-line petitions, the “encourage your congressperson!”, - well that’s a pale imitation of the magic of democracy.  Democracy as actual magic?  Example:  When Abraham Lincoln gave his Malice Toward None speech and Frederick Douglas followed him into the White House with his analysis of it.  That political speech is artful magic. Tim DeChristopher out-bidding the oil companies for pristine southern Utah.  THAT was magic.  He called the auctioneers on their theater, and taught us all how naked the Emperor had become.  His hex-prayer was to just recite higher and higher numbers of imaginary wealth.  Tim declared that he was the richest man in the room.  He imitated their empty power ritual – and then became powerful himself.  His jail time will have its magic too, and we will walk in the land he saved from George Bush’s friends while we wait for him and he waits for us.   What Tim did – you could call it art, or politics, or law, or medicine – all of those words and none of them.  The Earth spoke through him and re-united all those old categories.  The feds want to keep it legal, but his power is deeper than that. Whole sections of our culture have slid into a kind of provincialism, because they aren’t singing about, poeming about, painting about – the Earth’s crisis.  You can’t be hip ignoring life itself.  The wasteland of the arts is a painful thing for those of us who grew up in that world.  Now serious actual magic – even just the possibility of it - is forgotten.   What we have now is technique and careerism.  Broadway has become the provinces.  It is not primary culture.  Whole theater seasons go by without life of the Earth in the storyline of any play, at a time when the physical life of the Earth is in the throes of dramatic pain. But the incredible six-months long Miro exhibit at the Tate Modern – with BP money backing it?   Here we have the destruction of meaning.  If the Director of the Tate meets you at a cocktail party and says, “Well mobsters have been financing the arts since the Medicis.”  You tell that guy to look in the window.  The Thames is an oceanic estuary which at high tide is about 4 feet below the edge of the Tate’s lawn.  The Tate has actually hung a climate change exhibit, paid for by fossil fuels money, while the Thames rises in the window.  Doesn’t that being-possessed-by-dark-spirits-is-the-real-world-honey cycle need to be broken by some high-velocity mockery? Beauty wants to begin again.  We climate change resisters need to go back to when communicating wasn’t separate from life.  Miro has much in his work that is from the Earth, bio-morphic shapes, as if he knows where life comes from.  He is at home with the comedy of fundamental particles.  He could be painting at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, that is, before the dark spirits of British Petroleum changed the picture.
At the Tate Modern in London, British Petroleum seeks to capture our imagination by hitching its BP sunflower logo to the Miro exhibit. The artistic experience is then reduced to a dangerously passive consumerism. Only the Earth itself, a kind of freak storm inside, can free us from such a damaging lie.
We tried to let all the victimized life of BP come through us on Monday.
At our exorcism of the BP devil (video below), we prayed, screamed, circle-danced, rubbed out the logo as the police mused.... Amen! May the fossil fuel companies find our interruptions are weekly, daily, hourly -- as constant as fabulous bad weather!
At the Tate Modern in London, British Petroleum seeks to capture our imagination by hitching its BP sunflower logo to the Miro exhibit. The artistic experience is then reduced to a dangerously passive consumerism. Only the Earth itself, a kind of freak storm inside, can free us from such a damaging lie. We tried to let all the victimized life of BP come through us on Monday. At our exorcism of the BP devil (video below), we prayed, screamed, circle-danced, rubbed out the logo as the police mused.... Amen! May the fossil fuel companies find our interruptions are weekly, daily, hourly -- as constant as fabulous bad weather!
Sometimes we have to start over or we can't see the end... Reverend Billy's Freakstorm #11 Watch more episodes & subscribe: http://revbilly.com/podcast Sign up for our e-bulletin: http://revbilly.com/bulletin What is The Church of Earthalujah? http://bit.ly/EarthalujahExplained
Big Bank Exorcisms
In recent days we have challenged the devils in the Deutschbank in Dusseldorf, and the ING and UBS in Amsterdam, and HSBC in Liverpool - laying our hands on the cash machines and calling our demons. What are these exorcisms? Why these muscular hexing prayers at the ATM? Of course the big banks have their famous bad practices - redlining, foreclosures, demolitions of communities. But now with the earth crisis there is a broader deeper big bank attack. In the Church of Earthalujah we have come to believe that big banks distance us from each other. The global storm of capital consumerizes and militarizes us. The force of the money leaves us dispirited and alone, more intimate with products and sentimental patriotism than the people around us...
If we human beings don't re-ignite a new kind of meeting - don't meet down in the city square in that crushing crashing way - despite the Spanish Greek Syrian Sri Lankan NYC Liverpool banker's police. If we don't physically re-crowd in a way that collapses nation states and corporations and armies in that touching/shouting/marching that we've seen from Tunis to Madison. If our uprisings don't continue to rise and engulf the planet in the good fire - then the official silence that heats the atmosphere more each day will be the quiet time that kills us all.
Most earth scientists, if you speak to them privately and off the record, will confide that it is, in fact, too late. There will be rapid and chaotic changes on the Earth's surface, and it seems to be in the tectonic plates beneath the surface as much as the polar caps and jet streams and oceans above. Despite this, we can still hope that the Earth might be persuaded to go forward in some kind of collaboration with the human species if it's convinced by the living it feels from us, as a species, as people. The social animal that we are will have to humanize in an extreme way. We will have to become much more intensely human to escape and make irrelevant or flip over the nationstates, working as they do for the distant banks.
So - thinking of another exorcism in a few hours. I know that there will be that sensation that we're asking the Earth to come up through us and it might just feel like bad acting delivered in the manner of most bad action - with misguided, hopeful energy. Our script is from earth scientists and native wisdom and radical faeries from the drag parade. And the script keeps changing as between our sweating and shouting one of the singers comes into the room reading from a book by John Berger. I know that one point of these exorcisms is to - just be together in the act of doing it. We're feeling this as the tour progresses. We are so close together that we ourselves are changing with the effort of willing some kind of forgotten magic that would spiritually hack into the evil. The effort changes us as we make up new songs and leap and push against the bullet-proof edifice of global banking, as we press back against the cash machine's strange hypnosis.
Earthalujah!
In recent days we have challenged the devils in the Deutschbank in Dusseldorf, and the ING and UBS in Amsterdam, and HSBC in Liverpool - laying our hands on the cash machines and calling our demons. What are these exorcisms? Why these muscular hexing prayers at the ATM? Of course the big banks have their famous bad practices - redlining, foreclosures, demolitions of communities. But now with the earth crisis there is a broader deeper big bank attack. In the Church of Earthalujah we have come to believe that big banks distance us from each other. The global storm of capital consumerizes and militarizes us. The force of the money leaves us dispirited and alone, more intimate with products and sentimental patriotism than the people around us... If we human beings don't re-ignite a new kind of meeting - don't meet down in the city square in that crushing crashing way - despite the Spanish Greek Syrian Sri Lankan NYC Liverpool banker's police. If we don't physically re-crowd in a way that collapses nation states and corporations and armies in that touching/shouting/marching that we've seen from Tunis to Madison. If our uprisings don't continue to rise and engulf the planet in the good fire - then the official silence that heats the atmosphere more each day will be the quiet time that kills us all. Most earth scientists, if you speak to them privately and off the record, will confide that it is, in fact, too late. There will be rapid and chaotic changes on the Earth's surface, and it seems to be in the tectonic plates beneath the surface as much as the polar caps and jet streams and oceans above. Despite this, we can still hope that the Earth might be persuaded to go forward in some kind of collaboration with the human species if it's convinced by the living it feels from us, as a species, as people. The social animal that we are will have to humanize in an extreme way. We will have to become much more intensely human to escape and make irrelevant or flip over the nationstates, working as they do for the distant banks. So - thinking of another exorcism in a few hours. I know that there will be that sensation that we're asking the Earth to come up through us and it might just feel like bad acting delivered in the manner of most bad action - with misguided, hopeful energy. Our script is from earth scientists and native wisdom and radical faeries from the drag parade. And the script keeps changing as between our sweating and shouting one of the singers comes into the room reading from a book by John Berger. I know that one point of these exorcisms is to - just be together in the act of doing it. We're feeling this as the tour progresses. We are so close together that we ourselves are changing with the effort of willing some kind of forgotten magic that would spiritually hack into the evil. The effort changes us as we make up new songs and leap and push against the bullet-proof edifice of global banking, as we press back against the cash machine's strange hypnosis. Earthalujah! See pictures and video from our exorcisms all across Europe: http://revbilly.com/galleries/europe-exorcism
Reverend Billy's Freakstorm #10 Watch more episodes & subscribe: http://revbilly.com/podcast Sign up for our e-bulletin: http://revbilly.com/bulletin What is The Church of Earthalujah? http://bit.ly/EarthalujahExplained As The Church of Earthalujah takes off for our European tour, Reverend Billy gets a lesson in hysterical revolution from British activists and his one-year-old daughter.
Reverend Billy's Freakstorm #9 Rev. preaches on whittling those 700 issues in your inbox every morning down to just one: saving life itself. Watch more episodes & subscribe: http://revbilly.com/podcast Sign up for our e-bulletin: http://revbilly.com/bulletin What is The Church of Earthalujah? http://bit.ly/EarthalujahExplained

Reverend Billy's brilliantly bombastic, boldly brief Earthalujah sermons -- now available as a podcast! Watch more episodes and subscribe at revbilly.com/podcast.

What if there is a switch in our brains that Bond-like villains can flip with impunity, sending us into spasms of shopping? Horribly, this is now an American fact of life. Yes - corporate researchers have discovered a circuit in our brains that actuates our shopping. Don't scratch your head too hard, you might find yourself swooning for a $749 Barack Obama bust made of certified range-free Styrofoam.

Transcript:

There's something called “The Switch.” It might sound like a folk story – but it isn't. It's something we've all heard of. There's a company based in Chicago financed by the biggest corporations – the Coca-Colas, the Mcdonalds, Amen? Scientists are researching there in their white lab coats how to flip this nerve switch. The corporations will be able to flip a switch, something will happen to us, and we will be unable to resist. We will have no mental dissent. The corporations say “BUY!” and we say “I want that!” “I buy that!”

This company is not a folk story. It's just that the corporations hesitate to admit that “The Switch” is something their researching. Maybe there's something too Orwellian about the whole thing. Maybe it's a future they don't want us to know is waiting for us. Or maybe, children, that switch has already been flipped! Maybe it was flipped when so many of us believed that Saddam Hussein flew those jets into the Twin Towers, and we went right into Iraq and Afghanistan, sold to us like video games. Maybe they have already flipped that switch. Maybe that's why we're still buying things and using dirty coal and gas and oil even as the Earth revolts. But children - we've got our own switch. Let's the flip the switch that says the Earth is a place that we love. We want to live here. We exalt and service and make healthy the life around us. We use energy that doesn't destroy. We stop the corporations and have local economies that are healthy for ourselves and for our children. Let's flip our own switch. It's about time. Amen! Earthalujah!

Very few of us know how much we must change. We talk of climate change but not human change. We look through a window and envision a completely different vision of life on this Earth. And then that window actually is a door. We open it and we walk to our first task – and that might be gentle sustaining love, or a shout of horror.

Horror is being changed for us by the Earth – back to the kind that carries actual death; not the packaged horror that is good for jobs, that drives the economy. Not that long row of toys, games, media – the use of horror as a laughing guilty pleasure for children. The horror movie is now only a distraction, when just behind that screen is the real horror that will fling us into the sky if it wants to.

Climb through the jagged rip in the movie theater that a tornado has blown open. Talk about doorways. Look out at the Earth and first of all note that it is not media, is not a tourist brochure, is not a landscape made in America. The Earth is alive and our death might be a decision it has made, but must step through with a faith in the Earth – that fluid lively non-fundamentalistic faith - that we have a role in a collaboration with the thing that made us.

The force that trusted us with the intelligence that we now use to drill, gouge, dam, explode and drain this place it gave us… that Earth feels pain, knows who we are, and will change us because we are a part of it’s body. That Earth will know when we walk across it, held up on it’s plain of living soil. That Earth holds me up as I type this in Salt Lake City. That Earth spares me the horror a little longer but can’t make any promises, as I step through the door.

Reverend Billy's brilliantly bombastic, boldly brief Earthalujah sermons -- now available as a podcast! Watch more episodes and subscribe at revbilly.com/podcast

Sometimes people come up to me and ask “The Church of Earthalujah...what is that? Is it a political rally? Is it a real church? Is it a comedy sketch? What is it?!”

Question: Is consumerism, is consumption, is consuming too much killing us right now? Yes it is. In the Church of Earthalujah we are definitely fighting consumerism. And that starts with the flags, the banners of consumerism are labels. There's a label on every product, Amen! So, let's not label anything. Let's get beyond labels – that's the devil!

We have an Earth crisis right now that we can't label. In the old days it seems like there used to be people who would run down to the village common and shout “there's an emergency here!” The traditional town crier. Someone should be shouting “Hey! The atmosphere! Too much heat! Extinction! Everything's dying! Do something!” Where's that person now? There seems to be a giant hush from the governments, celebrities, corporations, religions, armies – all the people who are supposed to be leading us. There's a hush because they don't have the right labels. But they look around them and they see what we all see: fires, floods, tsunamis, quakes, typhoons, tornadoes...Yes! That is the town crier! That is the force that is so powerful it's chasing the God-forsaken celebrities off the front page of the newspaper. And that is the Earth itself getting our attention, and killing some of us

.

In the Church of Earthalujah we regard these events as expressions, as words, as communications from a living being. The Earth is talking to us not just through these tragedies but every time we love each other, the Earth is whispering in our ear. When we walk out across a field on a beautiful day the Earth is alive.

Lets continue to live here. Let us ask the Earth to teach us to save the Earth and save ourselves. Amen.