A guest blog post by Reverend Billy, leader of the Church of Stop Shopping, an activist performance group based in New York City
The Church of Stop Shopping returns to New York now, after a week in the Bay Area. A highlight: we launched the “Extinction Resurrection” campaign at the front doors and inside the big banks that finance climate disruption. Then, each evening we went indoors to a concert stage–and direct activism spiced up the prayers, songs, and shouts of “Earthalujah!”
In “The Revolt of the Golden Toads” tour, we concentrated our crawling and hopping on JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America–which move billions into coal-fired power plants. We believe that the Golden Toad was forced into extinction 25 years ago by drought conditions in their cloud forest home–destruction that was funded by these banks.
Our impact this week in San Francisco? It is impossible to make Nielsen Ratings from activism. Clearly more and more people know they must now be Earth radicals. Put some URGENCY in the EMERGENCY. Our post-big-daddy-god church, with the wonderful music, tries to activate direct action. In nine Bay Area performance events we had something short of 2000 individuals in our audiences. Our media coverage was good and in our interviews we tried to be guided by the Extinction Resurrection theme, which is surreal and funny–but people get it. It’s about survival.
We’re not celebrities. Celebrities don’t “Stop Shop.” So we have to land the message manually. During “Toads” we went at it non-stop for 6 days and 6 nights. The upside for the non-celebrity approach is this: it builds communities. (We call people who join our church–the citizens of “Earthalujahville.” For instance, we were fed, transported, and offered beds by Earthalujahville citizens as we zig-zagged around the Bay.)
Everyone in the Stop Shopping Church experienced Hurricane Sandy–and the super storm created our new songs and put us into the masks of extinct beings. Last November we were left thinking that Earth is destroying consumerism on purpose. Earth is interrupting the sale. Why? Because consumerism keeps us a bunch of little apex predators and that adds up to a horrific Super Devil. Then again, anything that distracts us from this Eco-pocalypse is the Devil and must be cast out.
Extinction Resurrection. The Dark and the Light. Honest assessment of the current environmental movement leaves us feeling dark. But the ecstatic release of a good direct action raises us to the light. Darker and Brighter. Extinction and Resurrection. It’s the up and down and up of Evolution. We felt the darkness when we performed at Oakland City Hall and felt the memory of police violence there during Occupy. But moments later we unloaded some happy toad gospel at the Chase Bank across the street. They closed the bank and locked the doors after our first song. So they had to seal off the hushed high church of the bank. So we sang on the sidewalk and sent happy curses up into the surveillance system. Eventually we’ll be naked animals hopping on Jamie Dimon’s desk. Earthalujah!
We wish to thank RAN for posting these reports. Now the toad hops back to NYC, then over the Atlantic.
To be updated with Rev. Billy and The Church of Stop Shopping tour dates, click here for tour dates.
Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes