Is Thanksgiving about being thankful? Or is the turkey dinner with all the trimmings becoming less about thankfulness and more about the necessary carbo-load for the long day of shopping that follows? Are the holidays (which used to start with Thanksgiving, but now it’s more like Halloween) forever lost to our consumerist culture? Have we confused giving with spending? Have we exchanged expressions of love and thankfulness with brand name gifts and designer labels?
Even if you avoid the malls and big-box stores on Black Friday, you will more than likely find your way to one (or eighty) of them before December 25. The question is, what are you trying to buy when you are there? What happens to us as individuals, families, and as an American culture when we load our trunks with packages and our credit cards with debt? Is there something spiritual going on here?
Rev. Billy [Bill Talen] and The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir have taken to the streets (and mall parking lots) in an effort to awaken us to some deeper realities during the Christmas season. What Would Jesus Buy? is a documentary from director Rob VanAlkemade that follows this merry band of protest activists from Times Square in New York to the Walmart headquarters to The Mall of America. Each stop they make with their bio-diesel bus includes an impromptu church service, proclaiming the good news that we dont have to live this way and announcing the impending danger of the ‘Shopocalypse.’
Bill Talen is not just a performer, he is a passionate man who recognizes that as Americans, we have lost our way. Like the prophets of the Old Testamentand he is calling us back to the way things were meant to be. The Stop Shopping Choir is not just entertainment (although they are very much entertaining), they are people who care about how America is affecting the rest of the world as well as itself.
It’s not easy to swim up stream. Bill Talen and his choir are certainly doing that, and they are asking us to consider joining them. That puts him in company not just with Old Testament prophets, but with Jesus as well. This film will make you laugh, it will make you think, and it might even save your Christmas.