Monday Missive – October 29th, 2012

Hi Fighter!

I do hope your week is going well. Mine has certainly had an exciting start!

Things are warming up here in Sydney, which is lovely, though it meant that I had to take plenty of water with me when I went on my Monday run.

At the moment I’m sitting in the back yard eating pizza with the kids and listening to the dog bark at some stray kittens that have found their way into our garage. It’s 7.30pm and it’s only just getting dark. Perhaps Daylight Savings does serve some purpose after all?

Anyway …

Our Fight Club was featured on the ‘Weekend Today’ TV show on Saturday and I’m excited to share the video with you. But first … something even more exciting!

Mr Jones and me

The Big Fight

I hinted at this in the conclusion of the ezine last week – Holy Trinity’s own Solomon Egberime has the fight of his life coming up, and we are all buzzing about it here in Dulwich Hill.

Sol (who has now taken the alias of ‘Mr Jones’) is scheduled to fight Paul Spadafora on Saturday, December 1st, at the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort in West Virginia, USA. It’s the other side of the world but Mr Jones is packing his bags, and I’m certainly intending to be there to work his corner.

Spadafora’s stats are awesome: 46 wins, 1 draw, zero losses! He also has a significant height and reach advantage over Mr Jones. But if I was a betting man I’d be putting my money on our boy. Why? Because I know how much this means to him. I know he’ll fight as if his life depends on it!

So I’m planning on being back in the USA in about a month’s time, and I sincerely hope that I’ll be able to catch up with a good number of my many friends on the US east coast while I’m there. West Virginia is also a special place for me because of the role it had in the War Between the States, and I hope to show Mr Jones over Harpers Ferry, where John Brown met his untimely end.

Perhaps there will also be speaking opportunities? I guess that’s up to you guys. I’m not sure at this stage how long I’ll be in the US or how much territory I’ll cover, but if you think I might be passing through your town and you’d like to grab me, now is the time to let me know.

Our Latest TV Spot

A big thank you to Airlee Walsh and the team from Weekend Today.

Our segment screened on Saturday morning and at least one of our team members thinks it’s the best TV coverage we’ve had to date! (thanks Mungo).

Personally I think it’s way too me-focused. I wait for the day when some documentary maker will actually follow the development of one of our fighters – from angry young teenager to self-controlled master of the ring! I’ve suggested it to a few film-makers already. “From Zero to Hero” we could call it. I live in hope.

Anyway, I don’t want to downplay this lovely coverage and I’m deeply grateful to all our club members who participated. Our girl Kath came through very powerfully, I think. She’s a great person and a great fighter, and she’ll actually be making her amateur debut in only a few weeks (November 16th). You’ll also see glimpses of Mr Jones in the segment.

[imaioVideo v=1]

Share Your Thoughts

Please do let me know what you think of the Weekend Today segment via the comment box below. If they are positive comments I’ll pass them on to Airlee, who put the piece together. Feel free to add your good wishes for Mr Jones too and I’ll pass them on to him.

I must say that I’ve been deeply encouraged over the last week or so to see a lot more activity on our Fighting Fathers Members’ Forum. Sincere thanks to Rob, Cibby, Tom and Ali who have been engaging in some heated but respectful political discussions, fueled no doubt by the upcoming US elections.

Certainly the most popular discussion so far was one started by Ali, entitled “Romney, a Draft Dodger, May Take Us to WWIII. Please consider adding your wisdom to the thread. You’ll need to join our member site if you haven’t signed up already, but if not now, when?

Join the team, support the work, and enjoy the benefits.

Should Wives Submit to their Husbands?

And while I’m on the subject of sharing, I want to offer special thanks Winnie, who bravely decided to share her experience of domestic abuse and the role the church played in inadvertently sanctioning that abuse!

The immediate stimulus for Winnie’s sharing was the Anglican Diocese of Sydney’s decision to re-introduce the word submit back into the marriage liturgy. Winnie’s experience was that this sort of language had been an avenue to violence!

Read Winnie’s story here. Add your comments. Be assured that she reads the comments that people leave there (some of which have been excellent) and does respond.

You might also like to compare the latest offering from Father Keith (author of ‘A Restless Faith‘) who has just published an excellent essay on the same subject: “On Wives Submitting to their Husbands“.

OK. I need to bring this missive to a close as it’s getting late.

I can’t let you go though without wishing you a happy ‘All Saints Day‘ (or ‘All Hallows Day‘), which happens on Thursday.

I appreciate of course that ‘All Hallows Eve’ (or ‘Halloween’) plays a far more significant role for most people in my part of the world than the real celebration. Even so, ‘All Saints Day’ is a great time of year to look back at some of the great role-models in life and faith who have gone before us, and I’ll give you fair warning that I’m going to be focusing on one of history’s most memorable women of faith in my sermon this coming Sunday – the Biblical character, Ruth!

If you’re interested to hear my take on the life of this amazing woman, the service will be videocast live next Sunday morning, and this week I’m told that we’re finally going to get the sound working properly!

The broadcast starts at 9.15am, Sydney time, which works out at:

  • 11.15am (Sunday) in Auckland, New Zealand, which equals
  • 11.15pm (Saturday) in London, England, UK, which equals
  • 3.15pm (Saturday) in San Francisco, LA, USA, which equals
  • 6.15pm (Saturday) in Richmond, Virginia, USA, which equals

Joining the service won’t cost you anything, but you will need to sign up for a free account at church.tv.

I’ll hope to see you then if not before.

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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – October 15th, 2012

Bulla Fighter!

No, that’s not a typo. I’m giving you a traditional Fijian word of welcome!

I am writing to you from my cabin at the ‘Uprising Resort’ in Pacific Harbour, Fiji!

Just below you’ll see the view I’m looking out on from my cabin at this very moment!

It’s a beautiful place, and it was a beautiful setting for the wedding of Geoff and Laura – our onsite Binacrombi managers.

It has been a great privilege to be here for the wedding. I leave tomorrow, but I can see myself coming back here with the family one day. It’s a wonderful place for kids.

The view from my cabin The wedding The Happy Couple

The pics above capture something of the beauty of this experience. If you click on any of these thumbnails you’ll get a full-size version of the pic. I’ve also set up an online wedding album on the member site here.

I’m not going to take up too much of your time this week as I am trying to relax in the hours I have left in this place, but I must confess that my week has been one of both extreme highs and lows.

The highs, of course, are all associated with these days in the tropics and the opportunity to be a part of something very special in the lives of two of our Fighting Fathers team. The lows are largely tied to what’s been happening back at home – most particularly at Binacrombi!

One of the boys we’ve had staying with us out there ran amok. I won’t mention him by name. Suffice it to say that he is an old friend – someone we have been working with for many years now – and the courts had put him into our care at Binacrombi as an alternative to prison.

Perhaps we should have seen it coming. We were having trouble securing his medication as the country doctors were reluctant to take responsibility for his prescription without a fresh diagnosis. Also, with Geoff and Laura away getting married, his regular support team was not there. We had Denning – my highly capable assistant- on his way to assist for the weekend when the young man snapped. He broke into our cabin, stole a bunch of knives, and started threatening people and doing extensive property damage.

When Denning arrived he quickly got the situation back under control. He settled the young man down, disarmed him, and they watched a DVD together. By the time the police arrived the young man was quite placid, though he apparently got agitated again when they went to take him away, and he needed to be handcuffed.

So … we now have a handful of intimidated guests, a fair bit of damage to clean up, and a young man in psychiatric hospital, pending a return to prison – not a happy situation.

The one positive in it all was Denning’s performance! He proved himself a true Fighting Father. Perhaps it’s time that the rest of the Order got together and gave him his Fighting Fathers tatt!

The Fighting Fathers Tatt

The Fighting Fathers Tatt

And while Denning waits for his tatt, feel free to send him a note of congratulations via his Fighting Fathers mailbox (just click here or on his pic).

Fighting Father Denning

Fighting Father Denning

OK, I said I wasn’t going to take up much of your time today, but before I go let me say that I’ve been encouraged to see more participation on the forum this week.

My dear brother Ali Baghdadi has joined the member site this week and has published a scathing assault on Mitt Romney, most especially on his plan to “outsource US Middle East policy to Israel” (nb. I’m quoting Ali and not Romney). The Republican candidate has been staunchly defended by my Confederate brother, Cibby, but I think there’s a lot more room here for constructive dialogue! Click here to join the debate.

Might I also recommend to you a few articles that have appeared in the last week:

That should keep you busy till next we meet.

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. I know I promised you the videos of Mother Agnes by this week but Denning (who is also our video editor and producer) has had his hands full! We should have them packaged up and ready for you in a nice ezine by next week.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – October 8th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, and I’m afraid it’s going to be a short missive tonight as I’m rather tired.

It’s been a rather busy couple of weeks for me:

  • Our fighters have been fighting
  • My family has been travelling
  • We’ve had another fire at Binacrombi
  • We’ve had the privilege of hosting Mother Agnes of Homs at our church!

Accordingly, lots of congratulations are in order:

  • To Pete, Rob, Simone and Kayleen on their wonderful amateur boxing debuts!
  • To my travelling family members for making it back safely
  • To Geoff (Binacrombi’s onsite manager) for quickly putting out the fire.
  • To all who participated in the visit of Mother Agnes.
Mother Agnes and Sister Carmel Mother Agnes speaking at Holy Trinity

In truth, I only left Mother Agnes about an hour ago. She has spent the evening addressing a large group that came to hear her speak over dinner – a group that included Bishops and politicians and the press and more Syrians that I thought we had in Sydney!

Yesterday’s gathering at Holy Trinity was more of a community affair. There were about a hundred of us, and probably an equal mix of Anglicans, Catholics, Muslims and others from the local area who wanted to meet this amazing nun from the other side of the world!

She is an amazing woman, and she is a sweet soul, but her message has certainly been a bitter pill for many to swallow as she is calling into question the prevailing narrative about what is really going on in Syria.

As someone who has been on the front-line of the so-called ‘civil war’ in Syria, Mother Agnes has been eye-witness to many terrible atrocities, and she has avoided taking sides. Even so, she challenges the depiction of the ‘rebellion’ as being something akin to Robin Hood and his merry men trying to throw off the shackles of the evil Prince.

Indeed, while Mother Agnes avoided speaking directly about political scenarios, she clearly believes that a rebel victory in Syria will only result in seeing an oppressive regime replaced by an even more oppressive one. Her preference is for dialogue, and a peaceful resolution that will benefit all Syrians, and she is diametrically opposed to all foreign intervention, which she believes is inflaming the conflict and prolonging the suffering of her people.

I won’t say more about Mother Agnes’ message right now as we video’d her presentation and I did a video-interview with her as well, all of which I hope to have ready for you in the next week or so. Mind you, we did attempt to do a live video-cast of Mother Agnes yesterday, and it may be that you tuned in to that?

The Videocast

I have no idea whether the videocasts yesterday worked properly or not!

Sunday morning church was rather chaotic!

Everyone was late because of Daylight Savings, most of the lights and the sound system hadn’t been switched on when we started, there was no one to lead the singing, and Denning told me that the video just hadn’t kicked in!

I figured my frustration and tiredness had probably permeated my preaching yesterday, so after the service I was sort of glad that the video hadn’t worked. Then Denning told me that it actually had been working the whole time and he just hadn’t realised!

I remain confused!

Thank you to Stuart who notified me immediately after the service that he hadn’t been able to pick up a thing. But thank you too to those who have subsequently told me that they caught much of the sermon and that the quality of the feed was excellent (though they said nothing about the quality of the sermon as such )!

In truth, I hope quite a few of you did catch the videocast yesterday as I was preaching on that very painful statement made by Jesus:

“Whosoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12)

These words tend to cut rather deep for all of us who have failed in a marriage and have divorced and married again!

If you did miss the video, both the audio version and the written versions of my sermon are online if you’re keen.

Please share your insights!

OK. I said I’d be brief tonight but I don’t want to let you go without thanking Fighting Father Rod Walker for the forum post he made about his sister’s work at an orphanage in Mozambique. Please keep contributing to the forum, and keep commenting on the blogs.

And since I’ve mentioned the blogs, let me recommend to you a few things I’ve published lately:

On each of these pages you’ll find an embedded video of the address along with a full transcript.

I’ve also transcribed on israelandpalestine.org the details of a new law just passed in California that apparently makes it illegal to criticize the government of Israel! Your feedback would again be appreciated.

OK. Enough! It’s nearly 3am and I need to get to bed!

Please note that there will be NO video of the service this weekend as I’ll be taking a short holiday to attend the wedding of Geoff and Laura – two great Fighting Fathers who manage our beloved Binacrombi Bush Camp between them.

I mentioned above that Geoff has an expertise in putting out fires. Evidently though there’s one still kindling between Laura and himself.

I know I speak on behalf of all of our online community when I offer Geoff and Laura and their family our heartfelt congratulations and our ongoing prayers.

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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – October 1st, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, and I’m excited to be back with you again.

As I hinted in my email from two days back, we have something very exciting coming up – a very special guest who will be joining us at Holy Trinity this coming Sunday. I’ll to tell you all about that in a moment, but first let me debrief quickly about a couple of things:

The Videocast

Firstly, thank you to everyone who tuned in to the video-cast of our Sunday morning worship service here at Holy Trinity. And a special thank you to everyone who sent feedback, all of which was helpful.

As many of you realise, we hit technical problems about 15 minutes into the broadcast. Fighting Father Jim, who has now taken on a new role as ‘senior video technician’, tells me that for some unknown reason the videocast suddenly switched streams and started broadcasting on the test stream. I don’t have a clue what this means, but Jim is on to it!

From the feedback I received, I believe:

The video quality was excellent (for as long as it lasted), and a lot of you guys were really impressed with the architecture of our church building. It is a beautiful building. It’s easy to forget that and take it for granted after 22 years in the place.

The sound quality was not brilliant. Fighting Father Rod from the UK said that “The sound system picked up everything – even the mouse running up the organ pipes”. Thank you. I’ve installed a mouse trap! Mind you, Rod added that “it took the Albert Hall a while to get it right!” I take that as an encouragement.

Fighting Father Tom from Nevada, USA, offered the most encouraging response to the sound. He wrote, “when Ange and the ladies started singing, our cat Roda started singing with them. She has never done that before. I guess the ladies moved her.” What can I say? This opens up a whole new range of ministry possibilities!

Anyway, we hope to have the technical problems sorted by the end of the week and we’ll try to integrate the sound feed into our main sound system. Hopefully the result will still be cat-friendly. Either way, we’ll try again this coming Sunday – same time, same place.

In terms of the ‘place’, we are streaming through church.tv, and you need to take out a free membership there if you want to tune in (and a big thank you to Mark of church.tv who invited us to be a part of their program and is charging us nothing for the privilege)!

In terms of ‘time’, be warned that Daylight Savings kicks in on Sunday in this part of the world, which means that we lose an hour. If you’re in doubt as to what 9.15am Sydney-time looks like in your part of the world, try this oneline timezone converter.

Back in the News

Forgive me if this sounds like boasting, but I was really chuffed to find an article about myself and our Fight Club in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper yesterday. The online version of the story is here and it includes a video interview.

The video was done ringside. I don’t look particularly well-groomed . Even so, I am deeply grateful to Dave Sygall, who put the story together, and to his partner, Blaise, who jumped in the ring and did a few rounds with me last Thursday night (and showed real pugilistic promise)!

OK, it’s time for the big news …

Mother Agnes Mariam of Homs comes to Holy Trinity!

You probably remember me talking about this woman in recent weeks. You may have seen her on the news or read about her in the papers. Like me, you probably didn’t expect that you’d ever get a chance to meet her in person, but now …

Let me tell you how it all happened:

Some months ago I was chatting with Fighting Father Alan Longergan (one of our Irish Fighting Fathers) about how neither of us believed what we were being told about Syria. Alan though actually did something about it. Being a Catholic himself, he called the Catholic Diocese of Homs in Syria and asked them who he could talk to in order to get a frank update from a local!

The church in Homs put Alan on to Mother Agnes Mariam – a Melkite Nun who was Mother Superior of the of the Monastery of St. James the Mutilated in Homs. Next thing you know, Alan has Mother Agnes appearing on national talk-back radio in Ireland. You may have heard the interview. I posted a copy to the member site back in June (click here).

TV interviews followed, and Mother Agnes started to get worldwide attention as she was challenging the accepted Western narrative about what was going on in Syria – a narrative that depicts the Syrian rebel armies as the modern equivalent of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, with Bashar Al Assad as the evil Sheriff.

It wasn’t long, of course, before a public defamation campaign was launched against Mother Agnes. Soon her life was in danger! Evidently she upset some powerful people. Mother Agnes was forced to leave Homs and escaped to Lebanon – the country of her birth. From there she has continued to promote the “Mussalaha” (or ‘reconciliation’) initiative, believing that Syria’s problems can be solved without further armed conflict, and without any military intervention from abroad!

Mother Agnes is now travelling the globe to tell people everywhere about The Mussalaha Initiative, and she is taking our Irish brother, Alan, with her every step of the way! Both of them will be arriving in Sydney next Sunday morning, and we will be hosting the two of them at Holy Trinity on Sunday afternoon.

Mother Agnes Mariam Alan Lonergan

When: Sunday October 7th, starting with an afternoon tea at 3.30pm in the church hall.

Where: Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill, corner of Herbert and Seaview Streets in Dulwich Hill.

I suspect that our Islamic friends from the Imam Husain Centre may well supply much of the afternoon tea, as they are always generous in their catering support for these events, and I know that there are quite a few Syrians there who will be keen to meet Mother Agnes. Anybody though is welcome to bring a plate. We’ll move into the church building to listen to Mother Agnes at some time between 4 and 4.30pm.

If you don’t know how to find us, there’s a map on holytrinity.org.au.

If you can’t make it to the Sunday afternoon meeting, there is a dinner on the Monday night, which will also be in Dulwich Hill (at Tony’s Family Restaurant, which is just around the corner). That meal will cost you $70/head, which is all inclusive. Let me know if you’d like me to book you in for that one.

And if you can’t make it to either event on account of the fact that you are currently in Saskatchewan and I just haven’t given you enough notice, don’t panic! I’ll try to do a video-cast of the event, or at least do a video recording. You’ll get to meet Mother Agnes virtually if you can’t meet her in person. Even so, if you can make it in person, please do!

I am anticipating that this will be a wonderful gathering of people from different nationalities and faiths and various characters from across our community who share a common concern for the people of Syria. I am trusting too that we won’t have any trouble from those who would like to silence Mother Agnes but I plan to invite some of my friends from the local constabulary along just in case.

OK, I need to wind up this missive and get to bed as it’s gone 3am here.

I’ll be putting out press releases and getting a promotional poster together for the Sunday event and I’ll email that out to you later in the week.

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. For those who like to encourage me in my running, yes, I did complete my half-marathon run earlier this evening in 1.56.55.

P.P.S. Please continue to post to the forum. Cibby and Jim and I are having a gutsy debate over what constitutes ‘free speech’, and I’d love to get your input.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four