Monday Missive – September 24th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, back with you again. I’ve finished my Monday run, grabbed something to eat, and I’m keen to touch base with you before I call it a night.

I hope you’ve had a good week. It’s been a big one for me, with three of my four girls returning from their overseas adventures, and we’ve had both Ange’s birthday and our wedding anniversary since they returned!

It’s also been a big week for human-rights activism in this part of the world, as we reach the conclusion of a week-long tour of this country by Israeli historian and activist, Professor Ilan Pappe.

Professor Pappe is one of those extraordinary characters whose convictions have led him to go against the grain of his own community. He is a Jewish man and was lecturing at an Israeli university, but his research into the history of the modern state of Israel led him to question the publicly accepted narrative – that his homeland had been a ‘land without a people’ when the state was formed in 1948. He subsequently went on to uncover and publish truths about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that politicians had tried to keep from the rest of the world (including the Israeli public).

I am embarrassed to admit now that I didn’t make any significant effort to attend Pappe’s lecture at Sydney University, even though it is within walking distance of where we live. It was at an inconvenient time and I figured that I knew all he was going to say and that I didn’t need further motivation to support the cause of Palestinian human rights. I thought that it would be nice to actually shake his hand and have a picture taken with him, but I didn’t think that was really an adequate reason to upset my schedule. Now I wish I had the photo to show off to you as I’ve become a genuine Pappe fan!

I saw his performance on ‘Q&A‘, and it really affected me!

For those who don’t know Australia’s Q&A it is a live TV panel discussion, featuring five panelists and an adjudicator. I don’t know whether the professor knew that two of the other panelists who were on that night were specifically there to take him down, but I suppose he’s used to that sort of set up by now.

Pappe was articulate, passionate and direct! It was not an easy discussion, but he pulled no punches! It really brought home to me how difficult it can be for a Jewish man to speak out against the state of Israel.

It’s a unique situation. If I speak out against the Australian government, I’m not branded as a ‘self-hating Australian’, but Pappe is constantly branded as a self-hating Jew because of his opposition to Israeli government policy. He shrugs off this accusation when challenged with it, and responds humorously by saying that his wife thinks he has the opposite problem – ie. that he thinks too much of himself!

Anyway, I’ve added a 3-minute segment from the Q&A episode right below, and if you see nothing else of Pappe’s do watch this.

[imaioVideo v=1]

If you’d like to see more, I’ve created a compendium of recordings of Pappe’s TV and radio appearances in Australia on www.israelandpalestine.org, including a link to the complete version of the Q&A episode from which the above segment was taken.

My friend Terry (who I know is reading this missive) particularly recommends Pappe’s address to the National Press Club in Canberra. We were having lunch together on Friday and Terry was telling me how he was transfixed listening to Pappe.

Terry is a beautiful man but not someone who was especially familiar with the situation in Israel/Palestine. Pappe’s address to the National Press Club affected him deeply, as indeed I think this speaking tour has touched the lives of a great many people.

Let us pray that Pappe’s untiring work will indeed lead to great strides forward being made in the pursuit of justice and peace in the Middle East and across the globe.

Join the Discussion!

Will you do me a favour please? After you’ve taken a look at what Pappe has to say will you get on the forum and join the discussion?

I am deeply grateful to my brother Cibby for courageously making a post last week that challenged me on the issue of how we should respond to our Muslim sisters and brothers who have been involved in the recent protests and violence. I’m only sorry that we couldn’t get more people involved in that discussion!

I appreciate of course that there are at least two barriers to having more people publishing their thoughts:

The first is that you need to be a financial member of www.fighing-fathers.com in order to post to the forum. As I have said though, if you can’t afford the $10/month fee, I will organise a temporary membership for you that will cost you nothing (though of course if you can afford the $10/month I will be deeply grateful, as this is what keeps us going).

The second barrier is that many people are afraid to speak out on this subject, and I think this is the far greater problem!

I have had a number of good people say that they are not ready to have their name publicly associated with controversial political issues. In the case of one person, she believed that her job might be put at risk should she be seen as being sympathetic to Palestinians!

In response, I can only repeat the well-known quote: “The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing”

The quote is often attributed to John F. Kennedy but most likely goes back to Irish political philosopher Edmund Bourke in the 18th Century. Either way, history itself proclaims this! Evil can only triumph so long as we keep our mouths shut!

So don’t keep your mouth shut! Speak out! Blog about your convictions! Share your insights with the world! And if you don’t feel ready to post to the Fighting Fathers Forum, then leave a comment at the end of this post (which requires no membership of anything) or leave a comment on www.israelandpalestine.org.

Join us on Sunday

I believe that this week coming we are finally, finally, finally going to video-cast our Sunday morning church service!

  • Fighting Father Jim has procured all the necessary equipment
  • Tests are being done to check that everything is operational
  • Our Parish Council has given consent for it to go ahead
  • Church.TV has provided us with our own channel!

I know I’ve been promising this for ages, and every time it looks like it’s going to happen something comes up to delay us, but this time …

Be warned though: I think this Sunday I’ll be preaching on my LEAST favourite book in the entire Bible – the Book of Esther!

Anyway … I’ll confirm by email later in the week if we’re going ahead and I’ll give you all the details then. Join my mailing list at www.fatherdave.org if you’re not on it already.

I think all you need to join in the broadcast is a free membership at church.tv. You can then have me preaching at you live in your living-room this Sunday!

Until then, may the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave

dave@fatherdave.org
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. If you’re interested in pursuing further the question we were looking at last week as to why so many Muslim people around the world seem to be angry as hell right now with the United States and her allies, I recommend an excellent article that was published only a few days ago by former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern.

The article, entitled, Why the Mideast Exploded, Really, looks at the current explanations being given for Muslim anger and takes us back to George W. Bush’s infamous “Why do they hate us?” speech given after 9/11. It is detailed and comprehensive, and well worth the time you’ll take to read it.

P.P.S. And I’d love it if you could leave some comments about the article there too.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – September 17th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave with you again, back from my Monday evening run, tired but still on a bit of a natural high from the endorphins. Even so, I’m far from content as I write tonight, as I fear that our world has taken a turn for the worse since we last spoke.

I’m thinking of the chaos that has followed in the wake that bad-taste Californian anti-Muslim movie going viral on YouTube. I won’t include a link to the movie as I don’t think it does anybody any good to watch it. I watched about two minutes of it myself and that was enough. It was evidently designed to provoke and offend, and the people behind it (who will remain nameless) have certainly succeeded in their aim.

Even so, the protests and riots that have taken place over the last few days in reaction to the movie – even in my own city of Sydney – have shocked much of the world. This in itself surprises me a little. I’m sure those behind the movie anticipated exactly this sort of reaction. I would have thought it almost inevitable!

I read what I thought was an excellent press release from the Free Muslims Coalition of America that both condemned the movie and the ensuing violence (you can read it here). What shocked me though were the comments (posted mainly by non-Muslim Americans I assume). A large number of those comments criticised the press release for condemning both the movie and the violence side-by-side, as if they were comparable crimes! The movie may have been in poor taste, they said, but that is hardly comparable to murder and violence!

Certainly I can see their point, but what those commenters seemed to lack was an awareness of the bigger picture. This is not a one-off attack from the so-called ‘Christian West‘ against Islam. For many Muslims this is just another grievous volley in what is an all-out crusade!

My friend Ali Baghdadi – a sincere and articulate Muslim man – put this very well in an email he sent out over the weekened:

“The enemies of Islam and its adherents seem to have a short memory. Muslims don’t. The burning of the Quran in Florida by a Christian priest, the urination on the Quran and Muslim dead in Afghanistan by US soldiers, the cartoons to demonize and malign Prophet Muhammad by a Danish “artist”, and the water boarding of Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and other parts of the world by US interrogators, are not easily forgotten. The “War on Terror” that took over a million lives in Iraq since the US 2003 invasion, as well as the unlimited US support of Israel, explain the degree of rage, anger, indignation and hate Muslims have for the United States government and its allies.”

I republished Ali’s letter in its entirety on IsraelandPalestine.org if you’d like to read it (click here). And you don’t have to agree with every word that Ali says to appreciate the sobering reality he is warning us of – that perhaps after all these years of violence against the Muslim world, the chickens are finally coming home to roost!

I’d encourage you to give Ali’s words some serious thought. And while you’re on IsraelandPalestine.org take a look at the two-and-a-half-minute video that I posted there yesterday about a Palestinian woman and her children (click here).

Try to imagine what your reaction to this video would be if you were a Muslim mother or father who already felt betrayed and persecuted by the West. See if this helps you to understand why this latest insult was, for some people, the last straw.

For me personally these incidents bring back to mind the last conversation I had with my dear friend, Father Labib Kobti – a great human-rights activist and one of the finest priest I have ever had the privilege of knowing. We were in the rectory of his church – St Thomas Moore Catholic church in San Fransico – saying farewell, and he said to me, “brother, your time may soon come”

By ‘your time’ he meant not just me specifically, but the time for all of us who have been working to build bridges between East and West, between Christians, Muslims and Jews. Labib foresaw what Ali Baghdadi sees – a deepening divide between East and West, increasing violence between Christians and Muslims and, along with it, a revival of genuine anti-Semitism!

For all of us who insist on treating our Christian, Muslim and Jewish neighbours with equal respect and love, our time may soon come! By opening our arms in love to everybody we are likely to be targeted from all sides. We must be ready to take a stand, and we must be ready to pay the price for the stand we take.

with Father Labib at Thomas Moore Church, San Fransisco
saying farewell to Father Labib at St Thomas Moore Church in San Fransisco


Let’s Discuss this further!

I’m very conscious that I’m doing all the talking here, and I’d really like to get your perspective on these issues, and I do believe that our new forum would be the ideal place to have you share your thoughts.

Please note that the new forum is at www.fighting-fathers.com/url/forum.

This is not to be confused with the old forum which is at www.fighting-fathers.com/forum

The problem we were having with the old forum was that it was constantly being SPAMMED and it was difficult to control who could post to it. The problem we have with the new forum is the opposite. Only financial members can post to it! This eliminates the problem of SPAM but it also makes the forum far less accesible than I would like.

Without wanting to bore you with the details, we actually lease the fighting-fathers.com membership platform, and some aspects of the software can’t be changed by us. I can’t adjust the settings on the forum to allow anonymous visitors to post. It’s not an option.

I have got a solution though: If you can’t afford the $10/month to become a financial member but you are keen to participate in the forum, contact me (my contact details are below). I’ll organise you a temporary membership (unless you are a spammer, in which case you can keep working on the old forum).

And now for something completely different!

Let me take time out for a moment from the painful subject of the global battle for justice and address something far less painful: Boxing!

My thanks go to Fighting Father Mungo who uncovered a video of my July 20 battle with Rod Walker!

This fight was not as I remembered it. I seem to remember being massively surprised in the first round with how good my opponent was, and doing quite badly. I then remember picking up in rounds two and three. When I look at it now, I think I did pretty well in the first round and started to look desperate in the later rounds!

[imaioVideo v=1]

I remember talking about this battle in a previous missive. It was a bout that started with a rude awakening for me as I realised that my opponent really knew what he was doing! As I remembered the fight, I did quite badly in the first round and picked up in rounds two and three. When I watch the fight now, it seems I did pretty well in the first round but started to look desperate after that!

At any rate, it was a close and noble bout, and it looks as if we’re going to have a rematch in early November! Be assured that I’ll give you all the details closer to the time.

The really exciting this is that Rod subsequently joined the Order of the Fighting Fathers, so after you’ve watched the video you can message him direct and give him tips on how he can take me apart in the rematch (or at the very least, congratulate him)!

In closing …

I’ve been prattling on long enough for one night, but let me mention two quick things before I go:

Firstly, you might enjoy my sermon from last Sunday. Unfortuantely there’s no audio version this week as my MP3 recorder has gone missing, but you can read the written version here.

The basic thesis of my sermon is that every complex problem always has a simple answer and it’s always the wrong answer! That might not sound much like a proclamation of the Gospel, but I see the cross of Christ as the ultimate illustration of this wisdom.

Confused? …. read the sermon!

And finally, thank you for all the lovely comments on my blog last week. You made my day! Feel free to comment again (and to post to the forum this week too)!

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
dave@fatherdave.org
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – September 10th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, touching base with you again, relatively briefly this time.

In truth, I had planned to have a Massive Missive for you today – centering around the latest pugilistic triumph of Dulwich Hill’s own Lovemore N’dou over the challenger from Cameroon – Rivan Cessaire.

The fight was scheduled for eight rounds at The Melbourne Pavilion in Victoria last Friday night. Lovemore had trained like a Trojan for the event. His fitness was great, we had a solid fight plan, and in terms of preparation, all that needed to be done had been done.

I was actually boarding the plane to fly down and meet Lovemore in Melbourne when he called. “How are you, brother?” I asked cheerfully. “Not so good”, he said. “I’m in hospital!”

Thankfully Lovemore’s health is picking up now, but it’s taken a few days of solid bed-rest. And we still have no idea how he picked up the virus that brought him down so rapidly. Quite likely it was something he ate after the weigh-in? We’ll never know for sure.

All in all it was a good lesson in humility. We make these plans and we think we’ve got everything worked out. All the contingencies have been covered and so the battle is as good as won! How easy it is to forget that we are only made of frail flesh and blood!

I was reminded of the wisdom of St James: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:13-14)

Of course this doesn’t mean we have to diminish our vision. I still believe that we’re going to see some great fights, raise significant funds, and change the lives of many people, enshallah.

Details of the revised schedule will be coming your way soon.

Forgive the Whinge

Forgive me if I appear to be whinging today. In truth, half my family are overseas at the moment, so I’m struggling to find people to listen to my moaning!

What makes the distance particularly hard is that today is my lovely daughter Imogen’s fifteenth birthday, and instead of being here with dad she’s cycling her way through northern Italy!

I guess when you put those two options side-by-side, it’s hard not to choose the bicycle over the old guy. Even so, I miss her.

At least I have this lovely photo of me and my two lovely older girls, taken shortly before they both took off overseas.

proud dad with his lovely daughters - Veronica and Imogen

In case you don’t recognise them, that’s Imogen on the right (my left) and my other jet-setting daughter, Veronica on the left.

Two Quick Favours

Actually, the favours may not be quick but I’m going to be quick in asking them as I’m not well myself. I’ve been struggling with a cold for the last few days, and I’ll need to get to bed soon if I’m going to recover properly.

Favour no.1: please consider making a comment on my blogs

I’ve noticed that the only comments I’ve received on www.fatherdave.org/blog lately have come from people who hate me.

Thankfully I set up my blog so that I’d have to manually approve all comments before they are made public, and I’ve just been deleting these comments as they’ve come in. I’m not worried if people disagree with me, but all I’ve been getting lately is foul-mouthed abuse.

Anyway, I’m guessing that the reason for the one-way traffic is because most of my friends read this as an email and reply to me with an email, and so you don’t bother going to the archived version on the blog and leaving comments there. Why would you?

Even so, it would be nice to have some balance on the blog. So if you’ve got any comments to make on anything I’ve said this week or in previous weeks, and you don’t mind sharing your thoughts with the world, go to www.fatherdave.org/blog and make your presence felt

The same goes for www.israelandpalestine.org of course. I put quite a bit of time each day into this site and have posted some great articles on it lately (such as this one by Noam Chomsky). It would be great to receive some more balanced comments on that site too.

Favour no.2: check out this web-promotion offer from my friend Raam.

This offer is only relevant to you have a website that isn’t getting enough visitors and you wouldn’t mind spending some money on it to see the site become more popular.

Raam’s promotinal techniques are similar to those I outline in my How 2 Change the World eCourse. The difference is that Raam and his team do all the work for you. This saves a LOT of time, but of course you have to pay for it

Anyway, here’s the link.

It’s an affiliate link, which means that we get a commission if you decide to use Raam’s services. In truth though, I’ve been a client of Raam’s for the best part of ten years now. I use his paid services every month and intend to continue to do so indefinitely.

OK. That’s enough from me today. I’m going to get to bed.

Hopefully I’ll be fighting-fit again by next week and have something bigger and better for you.

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
dave@fatherdave.org
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four