Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping

Last night Wolf and I sat down and watched What Would Jesus Buy? a documentary about Revered Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. It wasn’t the best documentary I’ve seen but I did enjoy the singing. How did Rev. Billy and his wife come to this belief system? How did the choir members come to believe and preach what they do? That’s what I like to see in documentaries so because this film didn’t have those back stories I was a little disappointed. Overall however I think it was a very good film and give it a 6.5. I highly recommend you all see it, especially if you celebrate Christmas.

The Disney font really killed me. I think it was the best part of the film to be honest. Oh, and the songs were spot on. The scene where the Church is in Disneyland is just wonderful and priceless. Here is a company dedicated to creating small town America yet everything in the small town is made in China. And oh yea, the First Amendment doesn’t apply inside Disneyland.

Now anyone who’s been reading me for a while knows I don’t celebrate Christmas. I used to despite not being Christian but after years of bad experiences with those who are Christian I stopped participating in a holiday which went against my religious, social, and enviromental values. I’m always amused when people ask me why I don’t celebrate Christmas. It seems to be such a foreign idea there are non-Christians in the US. The general prevailing idea is I should just to conform to everyone else but I’m not one to conform for conformity sake so I decline for which I’ve been ridiculed and insulted. I wonder if Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists are treated as poorly as I am around Christmas because they don’t celebrate. When people say to me “you should celebrate anyways” my response is generally “You should celebrate Hanukkah anyways.” Usually I get funny looks.

Thing is, even when I did (sorta) believe in Christianity I hated the falsity of the Christmas season. I can’t tell you how liberating it is now that I don’t buy into the whole nonsense of it all. I’ll admit I was one of those who went completely overboard when it came to buying gifts. Wolf and I watch our friends go crazy at Capitalmas (that’s what I call it) trying to buy their kids love. They get all stressed out and start fighting with each other — and their kids! — trying to have the perfect holiday and spending oodles of money on cheap (or not so cheap) plastic crap their kids will use once. They don’t create the day they want because of the tension surrounding the day.

What’s wrong with having a small, simple Christmas and celebrating the birth of Christ? Why all the gifts? The most touching moment in the movie is hearing the “elderly” talk about the apples and oranges they got for Christmas and joyful it was for them to receive these simple gifts from their parents. But it seems the elderly were the ones who didn’t want to be seen as poor any longer so they went overboard with their kids who went overboard with their kids, and so on. I guess keeping up with the Joneses is more important than creating a day filled with simple love and worship of a god.

Last night as the movie was ending I asked Wolf what his favorite Capitalmas memory is. He thought about it and said “I don’t have one.” Neither do I. Capitalmas was not a time of cheer or joy it was a time of frustration, fear, and anxiety. It’s not something Wolf and I want to recreate in our home. Reverend Billy asks you to spend half of what you spent on Capitalmas this year than you did last year. Wolf and I will honor Reverend Billy’s request. We spent zero dollars last year so that means we’ll spend half of zero which is … zero. Right?

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10 Responses to Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping

  1. farm mom says:

    Great post HH!! You wanna know what’s worse than not celebrating xmas? Not having your children believe in Santa Clause! Yeah….fun stuff right there let me tell you…..

  2. I totally get your point about the commercialization of Christmas, but I do think there can be a balance. I get such joy out of spending time with my niece and nephew and family at Christmas…and there is something very comforting about the tradition surrounding the holidays, which, in my family, does involve gifts (though I think we’re pretty good at not making presents the focus).

  3. Howling Hill says:

    Farm mom: I can remember when I found out there was no Santa. I was so mad at my mother because, as far as I was concerned, she lied to me. That’s why I was crying so hard. It wasn’t that Santa wasn’t real it was that she lied to me. LIED.

    I’m interested in why you and Eric chose not to instill the Santa myth into their brains. I think it’s great you chose not to, I’m just wondering why.

    Punchline: I get wanting to spend time with your family. I have no issue with spending time with family. I encourage it as a matter of fact. But the gift thing is what I take issue with. I don’t think you can have balance when it comes to gift giving.

    And it’s not just gifts, it’s the whole culture of spending a fortune on plastic Santas, snowpersons, reindeer, lights, and other decorations not to mention the unsustainable food made out of all kinds of crap I wouldn’t give my worst enemy.

  4. farm mom says:

    That’s the way I felt too. They LIED to me, and it rocked my world that they would DO such a thing. Well, it was Eric’s idea first. Back when we were pregnant and discussing all things “children” he told me in no uncertain terms he did NOT want us to perpetuate the santa clause thing. Truth be told he hates Christmas, he hates all holidays and birthdays and all things consumerism. I had to think about it more, as I had some of that new mom fantasy of “our first christmas” etc….. you get the idea I’m sure. It died, in no uncertain terms after the first christmas and the truckloads of crap we had to bring home from various family functions. This is not what I wanted my children to think this holiday, or life in general was about. So, the conflict soon ended for me, I was on board with Eric after that. So, I have never told my children about Santa, I’ve never had that discussion. Last year, at 4 Aden finally became aware of the figure of Santa, but she’s never asked me about him, and I’ve never told her any of the stuff about him coming down our chimney or any of that crap. To her, Santa is just a part of the christmas periphery. Like the reindeer and the tree. These are not popular ideas amongst out families as you can imagine, and I often feel like they try to undermine us…..but that’s a whole ‘nother topic, ‘eh? ;)

  5. Howling Hill says:

    I’m not a fan of the consumerism of Christian holidays either. The consumerism is now starting to take over *all* the holidays. Halloween is getting to be too much with all the plastic blow-up things for one’s yard and so is Thanksgiving.

    Wolf and I did the whole Capitalmas crap for a year or two but when the gifts I gave were insulted because I didn’t spend enough money I refused to spend anymore Chri$tian holidays with his family. They were all really, really pissed because they felt I was being over sensitive but I wasn’t about to spend my time and money on a group who didn’t appreciate what I had to give. For Chri$t’s sake, it wasn’t even a religion I practice!

    I think it’s awesome you and Eric chose note to instill the whole Santa thing into your kids minds. After the treatment I received for not participating in Capitalmas and other Chri$tian holidays I can imagine what you and Eric have to endure.

    How do you handle it when family members give gifts? Do you return them?

  6. farm mom says:

    Ha! Yeah, I’m not into the whole decorating thing either. I don’t do it, I don’t see the point. If I want my house to feel like spring, I go out and pick fresh spring flowers. I have dried and waxed leaves I used to put out for Fall. If I do decorate it comes more from nature and it’s more about seasons than about holidays.

    We don’t do easter baskets or valentines or trick or treating either. Are you sufficiently shocked here?! LOL!

    Actually, Eric is an atheist and I am not a christian. I have beliefs, but they’re different and in no way as dogmatic as most organized religion. This is one of the reasons I’ve never talked about it on my blog before, because it’s not the norm. I cannot just say “I’m a lutheran” or whatever and people will get it, you know? Also because I don’t like what talking about religion and politics bring to a space. Not my blog anyway. I don’t want it there, so I never bring it up. Everyone is welcome. I have no judgements.

    So, the religious holidays are a bit of a struggle for us, in that they don’t mean to us what they’re supposed to mean. They’re more of a deep seated tradition in the families. And just as I hate it when people try to foist their religion on me, I try very hard not to foist my lack thereof on anyone else in the family. We go to Easter dinner, but not service etc…. the truth is, if it wasn’t for our extended families celebrations, we would not have them at all. With perhaps the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Both of which, represent more of a seasonal celebration to me. Thanksgiving is my favorite, which is why I often host it. It’s more about agriculture, food and season than anything else. It’s a foodie’s dream! ;)

    So for us, christmas here on the ‘stead is about baking cookies, and making paper chains, music and candles and chistmas trees with beautiful lights. Snuggling up with the family and yes…a few gifts under the tree to the kids from mom and dad.

    As for the gifts, we limit birthday guests for our parties, and ask that people only get 1 or 2 things at most. (And I stress they don’t HAVE to bring anything at all. The kids really just love having a celebration about them with family near, ya know?) When we’re asked what our children would like or are into we really try to give honest and useful answers. Like for Ethan’s b’day that just passed I answered those questions by mentioning his love for bugs, and that perhaps a magnifying glass would be nice…or a butterfly net. Things he would really use and enjoy.

    We are still faced with a LOT of useless stuff, especially after christmas. And it IS hard not to get upset sometimes, but we try really hard not to spoil the holiday for our own parents and extended family. I try really hard to remind myself that it’s not just about me. Instead, I go through the toys and send a lot of it on. Last year alone I gave away 10 industrial sized garbage bags full of never used or barely used toys on Freecycle. One woman picked them up for her family of 8 children! (Mostly adopted foster children.) So, that’s my solution….I pass it on! ;)

  7. Howling Hill says:

    We don’t do Valentines, Easter, or any thing here either though I do miss the trick or treaters at Halloween. Of course I’d rather give out apples or popcorn than candy but healthy food isn’t acceptable.

    Since moving to Howling Hill we’ve not had a single trick or treater for a couple reasons: 1. There are no kids in our neighborhood and probably more importantly 2. Our driveway is really, really steep. No one wants to walk up it.

    Halloween has been my favorite day of the year my whole life. It’s one of the messages Paganism sent me.

    We don’t do the gift giving thing around here execpt at our birthdays. We give each other stuff — sometimes big stuff and sometimes little stuff — and we have a birthday party for ourselves in January. We ask our friends not buy us gifts but one doesn’t listen and buys us something every year.

    Not very articulate this morning. Just woke up.

  8. Burdock says:

    I think this year we’re going to celebrate the winter solstice a bit more. Last year we had some friends over for dinner and sleepover to welcome the return of the sun when morning came, but our celebration seemed more reflective than celebratory. While we don’t celebrate Christmas, Moh and I both felt we want a little more energy in that season, especially for KIA. I think we will bake Solstice cookies this year and give out some of our preserves.

    If anyone gives us shit about celebrating the solstice instead of Christmas, I let them know that Christmas is a made-up day because Jesus was not born in the winter. The solstice is a practical and sacred holiday.

  9. Fantastic post ^_^ Oh the flack I get for not celebrating Christmas (after trying one last time I officially quit after this year – it’s salvageable. From now on it’s winter solstice because at least that’s relevant to life on earth.) or Valentines day. Easter is easier since it’s mainly borrowed from the pagan spring celebrations anyway – people don’t get as uptight.

    But I digress. Even though my daughter and I still did xmas up til this year, I never lied to her about Santa. She knew it was a story, knew she wasn’t allowed to tell other kids and it’s never been a problem. And she never has to deal with the feeling of being BS’ed because she was a gullible kid. Lying sucks, period.

    I could go on and on about this subject but yeah. I won’t. Great post ^_^

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