Archive for December, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past: My Favorite Holiday Movies

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2009 by Stephen Tickner

It’s been a pretty serious year for me so as it comes to an end I decided to have some fun and try to run down memory lane by remembering some of my favorite Christmas movies.  I hope you enjoy!

Movie #1–A Christmas Story

Movie #2–National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Movie #3–Charlie Brown Christmas

Movie #4–Santa Claus, the Movie

Movie #5–Home Alone (Trailer)

Movie #6–Elf

Movie #7–Love Actually

I couldn’t upload a video so here is a link to one of the best scenes!

Clip #8–The West Wing: In Excelsis Deo

While it’s not a movie, it’s one of my favorite television shows of all time and they always had great Christmas episodes.

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Avatar: A Moral Lesson Disguised by Technology

Posted in Uncategorized on December 19, 2009 by Stephen Tickner

On Friday morning I went to see the new Hollywood blockbuster “Avatar.”  Written and directed by James Cameron, this new movie has been promoted in large part for its use of state of the art cinematic technology and cost an obscene $230 million to create.  But disguised in this miracle of modern invention, a moral tale is conveyed to an unsuspecting audience.

This tale is thinly disguised as it is told but the affect was brought to life for me by an anonymous Native American man – Pueblo by birth.  As I left the theater trying to describe my immediate excitement of the film he interupted me saying, “It was very disturbing. That is the tale of my people.”

As he explained why he felt this way he fought hard to hold back tears, even having to stop for a minute to compose himself.

The movie tells the story of an unidentified military, which is given away by the nationality of the actors, invading a planet called Pandora.  They are attempting to mine the country of an underground resource it contains that goes for $26 million a kilo back on earth.  In order to obtain this mineral, nothing is out of line.  What follows is the attempted destruction of a people and their environment.

I don’t want to say too much about the movie in order not to spoil it for those that have not seen the movie yet, but the movie touches on so many aspects it is almost overwhelming.  The human need to conquer and destroy and the quest for wealth are two aspects but also included are more spiritual elements; the interconnectedness between life and nature, the sacredness of all life, the seeking of God’s (or larger spirit’s) guidance, learning from your ancestors as well as your past, and the importance of sacrificing life as you know it in order to fight for the greater good.

Hearing the pain expressed by this anonymous man left an indelible mark in my soul.  It got me thinking of the empire that I live in and how I have taken advantage of my station in life and how I have lived a life shut off from the natural world, and and ignored the lessons of my God and my ancestors.

All of these things are well known and practiced in indeginous cultures.  However, living in the economic capital of the wealthiest country in the world, these things are easy to overlook.  Just take food for example.  If I want a filling meal, all I have to do is pick up my iphone, briefly talk to a stranger and have another stranger bring it to my door.  All in under 30 minutes!  I’m ignorant of the planting of the seeds, the amount of effort it takes to harvest the crops, the labor it takes to cut and bag the particular food, and the knowledge entailed in the cooking process, all I know is I expect to be able to get what I want when I want it.

That goes for the quest for wealth as well.  I want a better house, a bigger bank account, a nicer car, but I don’t consider if I’m hurting or taking advantage of anyone to achieve those things.  All I know is I’m not personally hurting anyone so I’m not doing anything wrong.

As our society moves even more toward a technologically advanced world, I fear we are losing touch with the environment in which we reside and our connection with life on the whole.  As our society’s teachings start to spread throughout the world, I pray someway, somehow, a miracle will happen.  I pray that we will return to the knowlege and practice that our ancestors and our God taught us, that everything in this world is connected – the earth, the sky, the water, and life (both human and natural), and we play an important role in a greater scheme.

It’s crazy that it took a movie, one I didn’t want to see, to speak to me in this way.  It’s even more crazy that this man would see the movie at the exact same theater, at the exact same time, and express his story to only me out of the possible hundred’s of other’s.  But as the saying goes, “Miracles happen in the most unlikely of places.”


A Prophecy Fit for Today

Posted in Uncategorized on December 1, 2009 by Stephen Tickner

Words worth meditating on today: