"Minification"    [ 22 ]   
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Nov 2010

Rarely am I impressed (in a positive sense) by any affectation of spirituality out in the world beyond Christianity. But a little news story caught my attention recently because a man has chosen to live out his convictions in such an uncustomary way. His story got little notice in the mainstream news, likely because he wasn't some 'outing' gay activist or somesuch . . but chances are you've seen his work —


 dollar almighty

Director credits:

* Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

* The Nutty Professor (1996)

* Liar Liar (1997)

* Patch Adams (1999)

* Dragonfly (2002)

* Bruce Almighty (2003)

* Evan Almighty (2007)

Producer credits:

* Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000)

* Accepted (2006)

* I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007)

* The Richest Man in the World (2010)


Now, I am ~ not ~ accounting for the movies he has chosen to write, produce, or direct . . . but rather aim to explore his choice to live out his convictions Right Out Loud like he is for all the world to see, especially in that 'gimme-gimme-more-more-more' Hollywood/So-Cal culture. Here is the little article that caught my attention:


'Ace Ventura' Director Tom Shadyac
Has Given Away His Money

 Tom Shadyac

How do you follow up Evan Almighty, the 2007 Steve Carell underperformer said to be the most costly comedy ever? If you're director Tom Shadyac (who also helmed Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Liar Liar), you just keep giving away gobs of money. The L.A. Times checked in with Shadyac, who hasn't made another Hollywood movie since Evan, and found that after a debilitating bike accident left him with post-concussion syndrome, he snapped out of his depression with a spiritual awakening that's led him to sell his mansion, downsize to a trailer park, and give away almost all of his fortune. "It’s already enough of a privilege to be an artist," Shadyac said. "We don’t need any more privileges."  (11/16/10)


Another article found online (here) digs a bit deeper. Here are some quotes from that November 15, 2010, interview:

He was giving away money, but he instinctively knew something was amiss — after “Liar Liar” opened, he slipped away to Thomas Merton’s monastery in Kentucky for a 10-day silent retreat.

He doesn’t have a cellphone. He has a small car, but he travels most places by bicycle, always wearing a helmet. He has taken planes to show his movie at film festivals, but he flies coach, not private.

“I didn’t realize that even though I was giving my money away, my own life was a very poor reflection of who I thought I was. I thought I was taking care of others, but I was really only taking care of me.”

“Look, this is an experiment,” he says “...the way I run the economy of my life is to take only what I need to live and funnel the rest to other people.”

“What good is our art if it doesn’t change us, if our lives don’t reflect the values that we put into our films? Too many things are handed to us — the private jets and the big hotel suites. But what it does to you is insidious.”

Christian or no, he *is* a moralistic artist willing to Walk a Talk that's not easy to live out in today's jet-set culture . . and I can respect that. How many times have *you* ever heard of someone virtually giving all they have to the poor, opting to live at a remarkably lower income level just so they can really and truly "spread the wealth". . ?  I certainly have not met anyone like that, let alone read about them in the secular world marketplace. I can't help but be reminded of certain Scripture passages. Jesus said:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

( Matthew 6:19-30 )

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

( Luke 12:13-21 )


A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”

“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

( Luke 18:18-30 )


Twenty years ago, I rode a bicycle around town for all my transportation needs. Yes.. by choice. And like Tom here, twenty years ago I too opted to live at a comfortable societal level under-representing what I could have achieved/acquired. It just didn't matter to me all that much, Getting and Showing and One-upping my counterparts. I managed my income so as to be free to give as opportunities arose.

Then I married - had kids - and discovered how, in our cultural era, a sport utility vehicle just makes practical sense when shepherding a number of children (and their friends.. and all their stuff) along life's appointments. —( a bicycle just ain't gonna cut it )— I have also learned that a house makes for a better home than an apartment, if for no other reason than to cycle through kid-friendly pets without any extra 'pet rental' fees. You need a stash of cash to cover those scores of unplanned doctor visits when your kid(s) falls ill, which happens a lot between the ages of 0 and 18... You need cash for the unceasing avalanche of school costs, surprise fees, supplies, promotions, fund-raising efforts and drives, uniforms and other accessories (yearbooks, parties, School Spirit shirts, etc) .. .

So you ask yourself: What Matters Most?  Security?  A fat savings account?  ~  Pet Insurance?
 spoke-less bicycle

Jesus Himself described a patent FOOL as one who collects and hordes his resources, rests on his laurels, maps out and contents himself with the 'Safety Net' we would all recognize as a ticket to early retirement. When God Himself condemns such practices, it kind of makes you wonder where to draw the budgetary line... *Is* there such a thing as "too much of a good thing" regarding fiscal security? The Bible warns against seeking after Monetary Gain as its own reward. "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." (1 Timothy 6:10) I believe a few months' worth of income in reserve, investing wisely in health insurance, and seeking to purchase reliable mechinations as needed (automobile, oven, etc) are reasonable and worthy pursuits. But I do admittedly wrestle with the fuzzy lines beyond that... as we all do, I presume. So I find it refreshing to encounter a soul like Tom, here, who doesn't really care if you agree with his convictions, but quietly lives them out in his day-to-day routines — truly putting his money where his mouth is, eh?

Mr. Shadyac is currently promoting his latest project, a documentary about these very ideals. It is entitled, curiously enough, "I Am", which seems a bit bizarre to me (and I'm sure he understood the implications of this term) because "I Am" is how God Almighty identified Himself to Moses as recorded in Exodus 3:14. Any mention of Jesus, or the God of the Bible, appear to be conspicuously absent from Tom's documentary, although he knowingly employs * HIS * moniker...

Tom's documentary website
 ( i am )
A Review of "I Am"
 Review of "I Am"
People dividing over it . . .
 people say

I cannot relate to having "private jets and big hotel suites" handed to me. Nor can I comprehend what it must be like with so much surplus that I could sell off a mansion at my leisure, ridding myself in the process of those pesky expensive cars... Tom describes a lifestyle far removed from your average web-surfing / HTML / Flash-coding guy.. . But the principles he exemplifies remain as valid as they were when Christ spoke of them 2,000 years ago. It certainly is something to aspire to, no matter what your religious convictions may be.




As an absolute aside, I have to include this amazing

picture of a prototype Bicycle of The Future . . .


Tell me this is not straight out of TRON:


 spoke-less bicycle


Ah . .. you see?  THIS is how we get so easily side-tracked . . . or 'de-rezzed'!


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