Monthly Archives: May 2012

Avenge this?

Is there any wrong worth avenging these days? The new take on The Avengers wowed me the other night an intricate plot, excellent acting, powerful directing, and surprisingly sharp philosophical underpinnings.

Can a feel good summer flick actually teach us something about ourselves and what in life is worth avenging? In a word… yes!

So what, if anything, is worth avenging these days? And what does it mean to avenge?

The writers of Avengers seem to put forward a new patriotism. And how apropo it is at a time when ‘American Pride’ is at an all-time low. Many believe our country has lost it’s way, and in many ways I agree with them. However, all is not lost! Enter Captain America – a hero from a time gone by whose powers came to him via a super soldier experiment engineered by the US – as the plot goes – to counteract the Germans super soldier program. Captain America was cryogenically frozen – think Han Solo – to be kept for a time when America would need him again. See the philosophy of American Exceptionalism sneaking in?

And it doesn’t stop w/Captain America. Tony Stark, Dr. David Banner, Nick Fury and many others in SHIELD round out a cast of heroes – the film purports – that American NEEDS. Take Fury’s motto for example – “they’ll be here when we need them.” Until then, heroes fade to the background. They go back to lives of ignonimity serving the people around them in the place they call home. Which ought to be a comfort and a call to us. We’re asked nothing more in this life than to serve those whom we “bump into” every day. When the occasion calls for it we may be asked to take on something greater. And thank goodness those moments are few and far between.

So there we have the cast of everyday people who do extraordinary things when America needs them. They will be there when our liberty is at stake. And that is the great arc to this story, the raison d’etre as the french phrase it that causes our anger to rise in response to great evil, and draws us to avenge a wrong levied against those we love.

A brief definition from Webster’s – ‘v – to take vengeance for or on behalf of.’ An avenger is one who takes action to bring justice to a wrong that has been perpetrated against another. ‘Vengance is mine.’ Thus saith the Lord. Great reminder to not take on something that is not ours to carry. And yet, we are asked from time to time to carry a heavy burden. Maybe your burden is parents who are in a rest home and being taken advantage of by “the system.” Maybe your burden is the sex slave trade across the world. Maybe your burden is parents whose nest egg was crushed by the recent financial crisis.

Whatever your burden, it is worth avenging. The Avengers teach us this eternal truth. Let’s take this film for what it is – a clarion call to refresh the liberties this country once thrived upon. Let’s you and I engage in the political process, but let’s start our care for the ‘polis’ or city where God asks us to, in our own homes, with our own communities, in our own places of worship. The effects will trickle out… and will serve as the nutrients for the tree of liberty that Jefferson mentioned in his writings – “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Our country has been in fewer periods of history that require such precise attention to the political winds. If this ship of state is to be righted, we must start pouring out the blood, sweat, and tears of sacrifice and service now that will lead to fruit for generations to come. If we don’t I don’t care to muse on what might happen. I’ve seen too much injustice already.

Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything, through prayer and petition, make your requests known to God. For he cares for you.




Starting Over

An appropriate name for a ‘Re-Create’ post, huh?

How many chances do we get in life to start over? In the movies you’d think only one… maybe two in the entire course of our lives.

I submit to you that every day is a chance to start over fresh. I had the pleasure of exploring this theme with a wonderful cast and crew this past weekend as we labored to complete a 48 hour film project. Here is the trailer for our film, which premiered at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theater last night, and will be posted online when we complete our full edit in the near future.

Executive Producer Cortney Matz, Director Arel Joseph Avellino and actors Alex Witherow, Sheila Spann, Betsy Gupta, and Geoffrey Baskir did amazing work! And who can forget our faithful PA Chris Miranda. I could not have asked for a better team! God truly brought together a unique group with their own very particular talents that flowed well into a whole. I learned so much about my directorial process, and how to let go of certain production details and delegate to talented people.


Every day is an opportunity to start over. You may not have gathered it from the trailer, but lead male actor Alex plays a ‘Sawyer-esque’ con-man who is dragged into a larger story where he is challenged to use his talents to help someone, rather than himself.  He reaches his moment of decision, and finds that along the way a transformation has occurred in him, and he reaches out, to cut Sheila loose, pick her up, and charge forward with her toward impending danger to help her accomplish her mission.

Speaking as one who has been given many opportunities to start over I can tell you that every day is a battle to continue choosing to live a different way than the path you chose in the past. The things we root ourselves in bear fruit, and it’s hard to dig up those roots and get grafted back into a new vine, if you will.  But it can be done. Change can be made. The good in us can win out over the bad, but it requires a decision!

A good friend and mentor of mine likes to point us to the root of the word decision. As a writer, I love this! He points us to another word w/the same root – incision – which is a cutting into; then he takes us to decision – a cutting off from. In order to choose one source of strength and raison d’etre we must cut off the other possibility. My generation is notorious for our inability to do this. We love to “keep our options open,” only deciding – even if you can call it that – at the last possible moment, when the repercussions or benefits of our decision are finally directly upon us.  I could spend some time telling you of the myriad ways in which this dissolves our societal ties and keeps us from the joy of community, but that may be a topic for another post. 🙂

We had an excellent time this weekend, and it is an honor to get to work in this profession. I ask you to join with me in making our professions labors of love and of rootedness in community. We, like Alex, can be re-rooted… and it can happen in a moment! Life can be re-created – in a flash!

All that is required of us is that we stop, be still, and make a decision.