Ivy Leaf - Spring 2004
When you think of preachers, you typically picture them leading a church or congregation. But Penn State Altoona saw a preacher of a different nature this past March when Reverend Billy, a revivalist preacher who leads the Church of Stop Shopping, visited the College to conduct a workshop for students and present his message of anti-consumerism to the community.
Created by the actor/activist Bill Talen, the Reverend first appeared alongside the sidewalk preachers in Times Square during the Giuliani years, bringing his new post-religious theology to New York crowds. Reverend Billy has appeared regularly on National Public Radio and has been featured in The New York Times and The Observer, and now lives and preaches in New York City. He spent an entire afternoon with students, conducting a workshop on Retail Interventions and The Drama of Contested Space, where he showed students how to take action and resist temptation — the temptation to shop — by visiting local retailers. He preached against the 'evil' of consumerism, noting that shoppers have little regard for how, where or by whom the products they buy are made. He hopes to make folks aware of the futility of shopping and focusing too heavily on the material at the expense of the spiritual and emotional.