My Film ‘From the Sky’: Why I’m Asking for Your Support

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The setting for the film: a remote area in Eastern Washington, standing in for the Middle East.

I am not good at asking for help and I often hide my enthusiasm which is also not good. But it’s time to continue pushing beyond my comfort zone. This film project ‘From the Sky’ is a labor of love for me. The screenplay is my sixth; a story of a poverty-stricken father and son struggling to survive in an area frequently targeted by drone strikes. The film will be among the first (if not the first) narrative works of cinema from the U.S. to show the impact of drones on civilians in the Arab world. The film also explores the roots of extremism and ultimately asks the universal question: when we are harmed, will we take the wide road of retaliation or a more narrow path by responding in life-giving ways? I intend and hope to direct the project in late April if we are able to raise sufficient funds.

My wife Lauren and I have been convicted about these issues to the point that we feel we need to step out in faith. We are bringing in $10,000 of our own in addition to a (hopefully) fully-funded Kickstarter campaign, combining to cover production and post-production costs. I don’t want to ask something of you if I’m not willing to ask something of myself first.

Today marks the launch of a 30-day Kickstarter fundraising campaign; a crucial part of the fundraising effort. Here are three ways you can support this project:

1. Offer a financial pledge. Donations can be as low as $1, and rewards for donations start at $25. You won’t be charged for your pledge unless the campaign is successful; it is an all-or-nothing endeavor. This is why we need you! Many small donations are the difference between success and failure (but I won’t stop you from giving lots).

2. Giving early makes your pledge go farther- helping to drive the campaign up on the Kickstarter site, and encouraging those who visit the page to give of themselves (because an active project is more enticing than one which appears to be lagging behind).

3. Share the Kickstarter page link with your community, your social media network, and human rights advocates. It matters! Momentum helps our chance of success.

The Kickstarter page will further reveal why this is a project I am so passionate about, as well as answer likely questions. Will you stand with us by making a donation today?

FROM THE SKY Kickstarter fundraising campaign

thank you!

 

Are The Presidential Candidates Good, Respectable Men? A Response to Eugene Cho’s Article

Photo credit: 2012 Don Relyea/flickr. Use does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

Eugene Cho published a worthwhile article this week titled ‘Thou Shalt Follow These 10 Commandments of the Presidential Election.’ In this piece, Cho raises several issues which are vital for Christians to consider during this and every election cycle. There was however one point Cho made in the post that ground me to a halt, which is the belief that our two most recent Presidential candidates are good men and worthy of respect. I want to examine his idea here.

In full disclosure, I know Cho personally and think very highly of him, his family and his ministry, in fact it is a little awkward referring to him as Cho in this post because I know him as Eugene and have shared laughs, good conversation, and tea with him a few different times, and was blessed to be a part of his church for a couple of years. So think point/counterpoint as you read this rather than a flame war, and know that Cho is a humble guy with a thick skin. I don’t think this will hurt or offend him if I can manage my points in a kind way.

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Losing Moral Proportion As We Watch the Arab World

Photo credit: 2006 Nassar Nouri/flickr. Use does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

Thomas Friedman, the well-regarded Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, wants the Arab world to do some soul searching. His recent article ‘Look in Your Mirror‘ argues that American-grown hate speech like the recent anti-Islam video on Youtube does not justify violence in the Arab world, and that those in the Middle East must examine their own religious hate speech aimed at Christians, Jews, Sufis, and Shiites before they demand an apology from us. I want to examine Friedman’s writings here, because he’s got a point, but it’s a common, disproportionate view which ignores our contribution to the present unrest, and exposes prevalent confusion and numbness about that part of the world.

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Limbaugh, Letterman, Maher, and the Cruelty of Selective Outrage

Limbaugh speaks to CPAC. Photo credit: 2010 Gage Skidmore/flickr. Usage does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

By now we all know the two words Rush Limbaugh used to describe Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke (although the tirade was actually three days in length). Rachel Held Evans penned a terrific post about the alarming support that Limbaugh receives from some evangelicals, writing: “it’s hard to believe that any Christian would support a man who leveled such a crass and hateful rant against someone created in the image of God.” Bingo. But that’s easy for me to say, because I already think Limbaugh’s contribution to the national discourse is particularly vile. So why am I indifferent when David Letterman and Bill Maher make comments of a similar nature?

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The U.S. Assassination of a U.S. Citizen and the Nobility of Asking Tough Questions

A U.S. predator drone. Photo Credit: flickr/CliffStreetPhotography. Usage does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper is a hero as far as I’m concerned. Tapper bothered to ask White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a few critically important questions about the U.S. government’s assassination of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, after Awlaki was decimated in Yemen late last week by a missile fired from a U.S. predator drone. When given the political run around, Tapper didn’t shrink into his chair. Thankfully, he persisted.

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Osama Bin Laden is Dead, But This is No Time to Celebrate

Celebration at ground zero. Photo Credit: flickr/David Miller. Usage does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

For some, the news brought an understandable sense of relief, or a bit of overdue closure. Others are viewing the event through a purely strategic lens, believing the kill shot to be an accomplishment only because it will likely avert greater violence in the future. The merits of such reactions are debatable. But those who boldly celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden have fallen for a devilish trick. In an effort to assert moral superiority and to separate from the legacy of the infamous terrorist, they have unwittingly participated in the same hatred that gave birth to his kind of extremism.

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Interview with a Special Forces Captain: Was War Worth It, and Can We Leave Now?

070312-F-2828D-112photo © 2007 Expert Infantry | more info (via: Wylio)
Tyler is currently a Captain studying for a Master’s Degree in Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School. He served a year in Iraq as an Infantry platoon leader in the 101st Airborne Division, and three tours in southern Afghanistan as a Special Forces Detachment Commander and Operations Officer.

We discussed the cost of war in Afghanistan, and differing exit strategies.

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The Horrific Abuses of the War on Terror, and Why The American Christian Church Doesn’t Care

Stress positions and humiliation at Abu Ghraib. This is just the PG-rated stuff.

 “Let’s talk about waterboarding” former President George W. Bush said with an almost defiant shrug. There was Bush, sitting across from Matt Lauer in a recent interview, now bragging about his role in personally authorizing the waterboarding of key terrorist suspects- which we know occurred up to 183 times per person. “Because the lawyers said it was legal” and ‘keeping the nation safe’ were his favorite justifications, and what thuggish justifications they were to any person with even the most miniscule understanding of justice. And when the glib mockery of the rule of law was finished, and Bush had used every canard he could think of, Matt Lauer still had the look of surrender plastered all over his face, as if to say “I hope my questions didn’t offend you, sir.” Not that it matters all that much; the church, much like the rest of the nation, wasn’t really paying attention.

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Interview with a Special Forces Captain: On the American Reaction to War

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates & Soldiersphoto © 2009 The U.S. Army | more info (via: Wylio)
Tyler is currently a Captain studying for a Master’s Degree in Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School. He served a year in Iraq as an Infantry platoon leader in the 101st Airborne Division, and three tours in southern Afghanistan as a Special Forces Detachment Commander and Operations Officer. In the first of this multi-part interview series, Tyler and I discuss the American reaction to war. His last name has been intentionally omitted from this interview. 

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