Rediscovered Tree of Life from Paradise

Blessings to you this Christmas 2018. The LMM YouTube channel now has 5000 subscribers and nearing two million views. I have much to be thankful for. I came across this lovely read about the oldest Christmas tree. I want to visit Steyr soon. Imagine real Christmas is a tree, star and a child. So simple.

The Rediscovered Tree of Life from Paradise

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to see the oldest surviving Christmas
Christkindl Church near Steyr, Austria

tree in the world, which forms a kind of reredos behind the high altar in the church at Christkindl near Steyr.  The history of this tree takes us back to the year 1694.  At that time, Steyr had a new sacristan and choirmaster who suffered from epilepsy, or, as the chronicle innocently puts it, "the sickness where one falls down."  He came from Melk, where he had become acquainted with the devotion to the Child Jesus.  He placed a picture of the Holy Family in the hollow of a medium-sized pine, and he found strength and consolation as he said his prayers before his picture.  Then he heard of an image of the Christ Child that had healed a paralyzed nun, and after some time he succeeded in obtaining an exact copy, a waxen Christ Child holding a cross in one hand and the crown of thorns in the other.

He brought this image to the tree and said his prayers before it, sensing that a healing power radiated from the image.  Gradually, people heard about this, and they began to make pilgrimages to the Christ Child in the tree.  The Church authorities in Passau were slow to approve of this popular devotion, but the local people were finally given permission to erect a little church around this tree, and the foundation stone of the Christkindl church was laid in 1708.  It was built by the most celebrated Austrian architects of the time, on the model of Santa Maria Rotonda in Rome.  One might say that it has become a precious husk around the tree, out of which the altar and the tabernacle grow.  The tree still bears the little waxen Christ child.  He wears a crown, and rays go forth from the figure, giving an assurance of faith and hope to many people.

The story is more than just an interpretation of one of our loveliest Christmas customs: I have come to see it as key to the very heart of the mystery of Christmas itself.  This tree is now the rediscovered tree of life from paradise; as an old German hymn says, "the cherub with his flaming sword no longer blocks the way."  And this tree is Mary with the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus.  And Jesus is there as a child without weapons, issuing an invitation to us.  He is "Immanuel", God as a child, a God to whom we may speak in intimate language.  He invites us to Himself, and in a very deep sense, we are all suffering from "the sickness where one falls down."  Again and again, we find ourselves unable interiorly to walk upright and to stand.  Again and again, we fall down: we are not masters of our own lives; we are alienated; we are not free.  The rotunda of the church building underline this.  The circular octagon is the classical form of baptisteries, which in turn is linked to a very ancient tradition in religious history, namely, to the cave and to the circular building that hint at the maternal womb- at the mystery of birth.  Thus, the building points once more to Mary, to the Church, and to our baptism and rebirth.  The building explains to us what it means to affirm that God has become a child.  It explains to us the meaning of Jesus' words to Nicodemus: "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Jn 3:5).  And another saying of Jesus belongs here too:  "Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:3).

Karl Marx once said that a man is not independent as long as he owes his existence to the goodwill of someone else.  As long as you are not autonomous, you are not free, you are dependent.  This seems perfectly obvious!  But if we look more closely, we discover that Marx's words declare love to be slavery.  For love means that I need the other and that I need his goodwill.

This idea of freedom understands love as servitude; in other words, it presupposes the destruction of love.  This makes it an attack on the truth of human existence, since this draws its life from love.  And it is an attack on God, since man is God's image precisely by the fact that he needs love.  For God, too, did not want to be "independent" of love: the Son exists only from the Father, and the Spirit exists only from the Father and the Son, and the Father exists only for the other two Persons.  It is only in this mutual dependency, as the Triune Deity, that He is God.  And this must be so, if God is love.

The Child Jesus points us to this primal truth of human existence.  We must be born again.  We must be accepted, and we must let ourselves be accepted.  We must transform our dependency into love and become free therein.  We must be born again, laying aside our pride and becoming a child.  In the Child Jesus, we must recognize and receive the fruit of life.  This is what Christmas is meant to bring about in us.  This is the truth of the child, the truth of the fruit from the tree of life.  The tree at Christkindl, which tells us all this, is at the same time a monstrance, the appearance of the One who is the bread of life, the appearance of salvation.  And this tree is a cross, and thus has become an altar.  The child bears the cross and the crown of thorns in his hands.  These are the signs of the love that transforms the tree into a cross and the cross into a table of eternal life.

The true tree of life is not far from us, somewhere in a world that we have lost.  It has been established in our midst, not only as an image and sign, but in reality.  Jesus, who is himself the fruit of the tree of life, and life itself, has become so small that our hands can enclose him.  He makes himself dependent upon us in order to make us free and to raise us up from our "sickness where we fall down."  Let us not disappoint the trust he places in us.  Let us place ourselves in his hands, just as he has placed himself in our hands!

Article taken from "The Blessings of Christmas"pp 53 - 60 by Joseph Ratzinger 
(Pope Benedict XVI)

Mexico Beach, Hurricane Michael, Oct 20, 2018

Shot on DJI Mavic 2 Pro by David Whalen. Mexico Beach, Hurricane Michael Oct 20, 2018. Contact us for licensing.

ABC airs licensed LMM footage on national TV

Update: I viewed this documentary last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. I wasn't sure if I'd like it; wasn't sure if it would have an agenda. But it didn't. It was purely a hard fact based look at the person's and events. Great to see my Kaietur Falls, Port Kaituma, Jonestown and other footage, and first time to see my name in credits on national TV.

Original Post:
Tonight at 8pm ABC will premiere it's new documentary, Truth and Lies: Jonestown - Paradise Lost. ABC contacted La Mancha Media a few weeks ago and requested licensing some of our footage from LMM's 2013 documentary The Wild Coast: An
Richard Taylor, Producer of The Wild Coast
Exploration of the Guianas
We came to an agreement for use in their documentary and their promotional video/commercial. It's great to see my clips in their promo and tonight I'll (Dave Whalen, Director) watch the entire documentary. Very much looking forward to seeing my footage on national TV. When I was a child there was only three networks including ABC. Im proud to have it displayed there.

Here is a write up on the ABC documentary as well as the promo video: 
The filmmaker in Kaietur Falls

My Jonestown sign photo appears in ABC's doc

Happy 10th Anniversary La Mancha Media

LMM was founded 10 years ago today (f. 9/16/2008). It was envisioned late one night after too much wine. The idea was to mesh the love of overland international travel with telling stories of those making a difference, especially in works of charity. It's ultimate end came to in the film Men of La Mancha. It almost died a few years ago after forgetting to file a new statement of information with the CA Secretary of State but by Providence it continued on. Today LMM still tells the stories of others doing great work around the world as well as great and sometimes sad historical stories. Thanks to all the fans of LMM and thousands of YouTube subscribers for the millions of views and support.
Don Quixote (aka D. Whalen) first sallies on Rocinante 2008.

Sancho Panza (aka the late Mike Ross) meditates 2008.

Mavic Pro 2 Day 1

Excited today to have made my purchase of the new Mavic Pro 2 drone from DJI. I purchased the first Mavic Pro on the first day it went on sale nearly 2 years ago. Those who missed the first day were not able to get their drone for months due to backlog orders. I was so happy with that drone that even-though I currently have no pending film project, I wanted to make sure I had the best drone available for any potential new projects in the next few months. The Mavic Pro 2 is a huge upgrade, now employing a 1 inch sensor, 100 mbps video data rate and a 10 bit color profile to match the Panasonic GH5, my main camera. My order was placed before their announcement event was finished in NY today. I can imagine as news gets out, once again the drone will be back ordered for a few months for those who place their orders tonight and thereafter. Unfortunately there is no ND filters available yet, but the good thing is DJI is manufacturing these themselves, only have to wait for stock.

These drones have made making documentaries so much easier. I can fill in hard narrative cuts with aerials, as well as footage providing overview shots of where we film. It is now an indispensable tool. I have used drones since 2013, the first being the DJI Phantom with a GoPro and off market Chinese gimbal on my film The Wild Coast. Since then I have owned several more drones, the last being the Mavic Pro which I just recently sold on eBay to raise the funds to buy the Mavic Pro 2. Here's to wishing the coming year a great success shooting glorious 10 bit 4K all around the world, telling great historical and charitable stories. Please contact me if you know of a story for LMM to film.


The Wild Coast: an Exploration of the Guianas (Remastered)

In November 2013 I filmed in the Guianas of South America and completed the documentary The Wild Coast: An Exploration of the Guianas in early 2014. Now, mid -2018, I have decided to break the documentary into three parts for easier viewing on YouTube, and I decided to re-color the film (having improved in color grading) now employing the philosophy of less is more. I also made some small modifications to audio levels, as well as changing the Jim Jones track, and reorienting some music.

Of all my films, I am most proud of this one (other than perhaps Men of La Mancha).

This remaster is also in celebration of La Mancha Media's YouTube Channel, which any day now will hit its first 1 million views and 3000 subscribers. It took 4 years to get 1000 subscribers and in the past 3 months it has put on nearly 2000 more. The channel is in hyper-growth mode presently (following my films in the Pacific), and best of all, is earning solid monthly revenues through the YouTube Partner Program. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel on the button on the right of this page.

The Wild Coast Documentary Film is a physical, historical and philosophical exploration of the Guianas, the three countries that make up the northeast of South America. These unique, non-Spanish speaking countries, are still wild and untamed. The main theme of our film on the Guianas is freedom. Freedom has both been trampled on and clinged-to—at very great costs.

Part I of The Wild Coast explores what happened at Jonestown, where more than 900 people died during a mass suicide/murder, led by US cult leader Jim Jones in 1973, and further provides a magnificent view of Kaieteur Falls, the world's largest single drop waterfall by the volume of water, and an update to Werner Herzog's film "White Diamond".

Part II of The Wild Coast explores the freedom-loving Maroon people of Suriname who were brought as slaves from Africa, but rebelled against their slave owners establishing their own communities in the jungle and fighting back against their former slave masters. This group would later fight against the Marxist dictator president of Suriname, Dési Bouterse during the Suriname Guerilla War. We go the epicenter of the war—Albina and Moiwana—and then visit the tiny village of Melinque.

Part III of The Wild Coast explores the penal system in French Guiana, specifically Henri Charrière and his book Papillon, the greatest story of prison escape ever told. We retrace several of his escapes, including his first to Trinidad and his last to Venezuela, with a final glorious look at Angel Falls in the Canaima National Park.

America's Compact Countries: Marshalls, Micronesia and Palau (Documentary)

In this four part documentary series, entitled America's Compact Countries: Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau, we cover the nation signatories to the U.S. Compact of Free Association, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. Filmed on location in March 2018.

Part I
An overview of the Marshall Islands. Looks at its history of migration and colonization, the nuclear testing, sea rising issues, and a beautiful look at the natural island Arno Atoll.

Part II
An overview of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. Looks at its history of migration and colonization, it's overfishing issues and a non-profit trying to help, and the magnificent UNESCO world Heritage Site Nan Madol.

Part III
An overview of Chuuk (or Truk) in the Federated States of Micronesia. Looks at its history, it's sunken treasure from 1944's Operation Hailstone, its current social advantages and disadvantages, and the first class Xavier High School, one of the best schools in the far pacific.

Part IV
An overview of Palau. Looks at its history, origins, its current government, and the island of Peleliu, where we speak to a local survivor of the 1944 battle, and finally a spectacular look at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rock Islands.

La Mancha Media
Copyright © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Contact us for licensing of watermark free footage.

Shot on Panasonic GH5 10 bit
Mavic Pro Drone
Sony FDR X3000 Action Cam
Limited Credits

Limited Credits

Directed, Filmed,
Written & Narrated By
David Whalen

Produced By
Richard Taylor

Produced By
David Whalen

Executive Producer
Thomas Whalen

Executive Producer
Marilucia Garcia Calvacanti


Jack Niedenthal
Secretary General
Marshall Islands Red Cross Society

Richard Taylor

Veronica Wase
Mayor of Likiep Atoll

Cary Evarts
Seal Marine Inc.

Carol Kurtis
Director, Alele Museum

Sealend Laiden
Life Skills Counselor
Waan Aelõñ in Majel

Binton Daniel
Master Canoe Builder
Waan Aelõñ in Majel

Evelyn Simon
Marshall Islands Resort

Capt. Ben Reimers
Sport Fishing Marshall Islands

Benido Edmund
Local Guide

Eugene Joseph
Executive Director
Conservation Society of Pohnpei

Francis Quosol
Manager, PMK Fishmarket

Douglas Moror
Executive Director
Chuuk Visitor Bureau

Alpha Farata
Local Guide

Fr. Thomas Benz
Jesuit Community of Micronesia

Maria Moreno
Xavier H.S. Teacher

Raymond Ngodrii Tiakl
Local Guide

Swing Aguon
Owner, Swings Palau Tours

Hisako Sowad
Lifetime Peleliu Resident

Special Thanks

Colette Reimers
Robert Reimers Enterprises

Alson J. Kelen
Director, Waan Aelõñ in Majel
Canoes of the Marshall Islands

Karen Earnshaw
The Marshall Islands Journal

Allois Malfitani
Pohnpei Surf Club

Ringlin Ringlin
House of the Chief
Nan Madol

Crab Fisherman
Nan Madol

Rich Sulatra
Blue Lagoon Dive Shop

Rev. Dennis M. Baker, S.J.
President, Xavier H.S.

Mr. Martin K. Carl
Principal, Xavier H.S.

Students at Xavier H.S.

John Chonfan
WWII Guide Chuuk

Neil Mellen
Habele Outer Island Education Fund

Douglas Mack

Karen Taylor


Mahler - Symphony No. 5
Adagietto (4th Movement)
By Wilfred Symphony Orchestra
Shutterstock Music Canada ULC

Land of Wonders
By Remember the Future
Shutterstock Music Canada ULC

Haze of Strings
By Tiny Music
Shutterstock Music Canada ULC

On Top of Yosemite
By Tiny Music
Shutterstock Music Canada ULC

Compact Free Association: Marshalls, FSM, Palau Documentary

La Mancha Media will be filming with David Whalen the Director and Richard Taylor, a new documentary on the pacific islands nations that encompass the Compact Free Association with the USA: the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. These are not states or territories but have close ties with the USA. We are filming in Majuro, Weno, Truuk, Pohnpei and other atolls and cities in March 2018. Please contact us if you can assist with contacts and such.

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