Rev Billy

A visiting pastor came to London to preach in and about HSBC.

Just outside the bank there was a moment of high serendipity as a genuine reverend wearing a genuine dog collar met Rev Billy. He was a Christianity Uncut activist, on the way to a monastic retreat in France, and joined us for our action.

Not to say that Rev Billy isn’t genuine – he is, as are his crew of outrageous New Yorkers. Genuine sometimes looks like its exact opposite. And the entirely spurious makes a fair pretence of branding itself as genuine – HSBC sponsoring alternative fuels, or the Green Economy marketing the commodification of the environment as a model for sustainability.

We’re at a very interesting place at the moment. The language of devotion has been totally co-opted by market forces and imperial drives, and not just for decades or centuries, like most cultural forms, but for millennia. You can still make a cake without most people assuming you are trying to profit by it, or that you have been conned into believing that it is tasty by someone with an agenda. You can say “icing” without raising too many sceptical eyebrows from right-thinking people, but that is not the case with words like “Saint Anthony”.

People inspired by nature, including some of us who see nature as a transpersonally active intelligence, rather than just nice trees and stuff, are scrabbling around for new forms of expression, sometimes taking the old forms and mashing them up a little.

They did a show that night at Battersea Arts Centre. There is a bit where the singers harmonise on “I believe…. hmmmmm”

Me too.


This is a blog post called God-talk, an exchange I had about belief and nomenclature with a marvellous mystic who calls herself an atheist.

Here’s something I commissioned from Rev Billy for the Occupied Times of London (before I got kicked out of that wonderful institution!)

And here’s the Guardian piece on the HSBC action

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