For the Bible
Tells Me So
Into Great


What Would
Jesus Buy?

The white suit, bottle blonde hair, and booming voice echo the worst of televangelist excess. Reverend Billy has a cadence we've come to expect. His congregation sways and moves with his every word. But instead of passing the plate, Reverend Billy implores his followers to "Stop Shopping Now." He wants to cast out the demon of rampant consumerism.

"What Would Jesus Buy?" is a smart and savage satire. It keeps viewers off balance. Are we watching performance art that mocks religion? Or are we following the struggles of a nascent church? The answer is, "Yes." "What Would Jesus Buy?" challenges, disturbs, and energizes. It gets into our wallets and our heads.

Director Rob Alkemade uses his camera as a social scalpel, taking on our most sacred holiday traditions. Where would America be without day-after-Thanksgiving sales? How would our economy survive without our annual Christmas splurge? And most of all, who pays for our excess? "What Would Jesus Buy?" longs for an economic system that is fair, equitable and local.

Cries to turn back the clock may seem Pollyanna given the complexities of globalization. Not every garment is borne out of sweatshop labor. American companies can bring much-needed jobs to emerging countries. Yet, "What Would Jesus Buy?" does a great job of questioning our assumptions. How has a religious occasion morphed into a rush for Playstations and Wiis?

"What Would Jesus Buy?" offers audiences a rare opportunity to join the Stop Shopping choir, to sing a song of warning. The Shopacalyse is coming. Reverend Billy wants to break the chains that bind us to Starbucks. He wants to free us from 18 percent interest. We can only celebrate Christmas by Stop Shopping long enough to remember the original gift. Jesus' crib didn't come from Babies 'R Us. His swaddling clothes carried no label. And he turned out just fine.

Rev. Billy takes his message into the marketplace, getting arrested for disturbing the peace in malls and coffee shops across America. In a world of look-alike stores with identical inventories, "What Would Jesus Buy?" is an American original.
--Craig Detweiler

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