Monday Missive – February 25th, 2013

G’day Fighter.

It’s Father Dave back with you again, and I’m feeling a bit sick and a bit annoyed this week.

The fact that I’m a bit sick is a good sign actually because I’ve been a LOT sick over the last day or two, and have spent most of that time in bed!

I thought it was food poisoning initially, but it seems to have been more persistent. Anyway, you truly don’t want to or need to know the details, beyond that I am getting better and stronger by the hour and hope to be fighting fit again by tomorrow. :-)

The reason I’m feeling annoyed is entirely unrelated to the illness. It’s more to do with a certain local character who continues to plague our Youth Centre.

I mentioned him last year (though I’ve refrained from using his name). Mr X is only 17, so is still technically a youth (though he is larger than most men). He has been involved in numerous assaults of persons smaller than himself, and I have it on good authority that he is also involved in the local drug trade. He has been banned from our Youth Centre.

He has reappeared at our Youth Centre this year and has refused to leave when asked. Each time he does this I call the police. Each time I call the police he leaves and is gone by the time the police get here. On the last few occasions he has done malicious damage to our property on his way out.

Below is a picture of the new sign we’ve just had completed for the front of our Youth Centre. Above it (and out of picture) is an arched window where the glass has been broken.

Holy Trinity Youth Fitness Centre

Now … in a sane society what would happen in such a situation is that the police would arrive, find that the culprit has gone, and follow him to his known place of abode. They would then charge him with malicious damage and with trespassing (and hopefully with a few outstanding assaults) and our Youth Centre would be safe from him. But that’s not how it works in our system!

No! The police ask me whether I can prove that he knows that he is not allowed on the premises. I tell them that of course he knows this because he has disputed with me over it at the top of his voice in the presence of all our other clients! They then ask me whether I could get him to sign something wherein he acknowledges that he knows that he is not allowed on the premises! 

The police ask me whether I have evidence that he committed the malicious damage. I tell them that not only do we have eye-witnesses but that one of our team actually videoed him doing the damage on their phone-camera! The police watch the video and agree that it is clear, but tell me that the video would not be admissible evidence in court because we didn’t get his permission to film him before capturing the video!

I wonder how many people ask “do you mind if I film you while you commit this crime?” and receive the answer, “sure! No problem!”

So I’m feeling annoyed – not so much with the young trouble-maker, and not so much because of the cost and effort that will be required to repair the damage, but because of the inane system we have that allows young people between the ages of 16 ad 18 to get away with this sort of crap with apparent immunity!

It all changes when they turn 18 of course. Then they suddenly have to face big-boys’ court and the prospect of big-boys’ prison, for which they are totally unprepared. And while I don’t like this lad much, I genuinely fear for him once he reaches legal adulthood. With his brash and arrogant attitude, he won’t last long in a real prison!

Time to go Bush!

On to more pleasant topics, this is the year I hope to take a lot of our people out into the bush – young and old alike!

My vision for Binacrombi was that it would one day become Australia’s premier adventure camp for young people,and a place where confused and disorientated youth could make a fresh start. 2013 is the year I really hope to see that vision come to fruition!

  • This weekend (March 1 to 3) our church is having a weekend away at Binacrombi. We’ll be spending some time swimming, go-karting and caving, as well as singing, praying and discussing how to build ‘Christian Community’, and if you’re free this weekend there are still plenty more beds and cabins available! :-)
    a
  • March 22 to 24 will be the first of our Boot Camps for 2013. We will be targeting young people primarily, but everyone is invited! We are flying in world-renowned Boot Camp expert, Mick Richards, to run the camp. He’s coming to us all the way from the Netherlands for the event. The weekend will be focused on fitness with an emphasis on boxing.
    a
  • May 10 to 12 will be the second Boot Camp. Again Mick Richards will be flying in from the Netherlands to run the camp. Again it will be a fitness camp with a boxing emphasis.

I am hoping that a goodly number of members of our online community will be able to join us on at least one of these weekends in the bush. Having a virtual relationship is great, but it helps if we can balance it every now and then with something blatantly physical!

I’m giving you plenty of notice! If you can’t make it to the church weekend, put one of the Boot Camps in your diary now!

  • If you’d like our latest general information pamphlet about Binacrombi, click here.
  • If you’d like to download a promotional poster for the Boot Camps, click here.

 A Blessing from the Bishop!

My lament last week was that I couldn’t bring you the sermon from Bishop Rob, given at our Confirmation service. I lament no more! Here it is!

[imaioVideo v=1]

(and if you can’t see the video above, click here)

It was pointed out to me many years ago that, as a Parish Priest, you can’t lose when you invite a visitor to give the Sunday sermon. If the congregation like him or her, they thank you. If they don’t enjoy the new preacher they look forward to having you back!

Either way, I’ll look forward to being back with you next Monday, though I’ll hope to see some of you in the bush with us this weekend!

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – February 18th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

I’m going to try to be brief tonight. It’s gone midnight and I have an early start.

It’s my birthday – that’s my excuse – and I’ve enjoyed a night out at the movies.

We saw ‘Lincoln’ (no, not the one where he’s a vampire-slayer, the other one).

It was a powerful movie and makes me think that Lincoln may have been a better man than I had envisaged (which isn’t saying very much if you read some of my papers on him). Even so, Daniel Day-Lewis certainly portrays Lincoln as an admirable man.

No News on Syria

I’m afraid I’ve had no news on the trip to Syria – when it’s happening, if it’s happening, etc. I’m still hoping to get there soon but it appears that our would-be hosts are still too concerned about our safety to give us the green light.

So I can’t offer you any first-hand account of the Syrian situation but I can recommend this excellent documentary that is the work of Anastasia Popova of Russian TV station, Rossiya 24. It is a documentary that promises no politics, but only people telling their story. It’s entitled “The Syrian Diary“.

Reasons to be Cheerful

The positive side of not being in Syria was that I had plenty of time to prepare for our Confirmation Service on Sunday, which I had intended to get back for anyway, as my dear daughter, Imogen, was confirmed at the service.

It was great to have Bishop Rob Rob with us yesterday and it was a great day for our community and all the families involved.

Imogen is Confirmed - February 17th 2013

Imogen is Confirmed – February 17th 2013

Later the same day I had the joy of having a birthday dinner with the whole family. We went to one of those wonderful Japanese restaurants where they throw food at you, though as you’ll see from the pic below, my wonderful children and I survived the experienced relatively unstained!

Father Dave's 51st Birthday dinner

Enjoying a birthday dinner with my wonderful children

I must also show off to you the wonderful birthday present I received from my beloved daughter, Imogen (yes, the same one who was confirmed).

Imogen's artwork

Imogen’s birthday present to dad (her own artwork)

These paintings are Imogen’s own work and they make me very proud.

I know I’d be proud of her whatever she came up with but I do think she has a wonderful gift, and we’ve set up a website for her where she can start to display her work – www.imogensmith.me. :-)

Whosoever Divorces and Marries another Commits Adultery!

I was going to finish off today’s missive with the sermon from Bishop Rob. Unfortunately it appears that we haven’t been able to get it uploaded yet!

Apparently there were some problems with the sound recording, but we’ll hopefully have that one available for you by next week. For now you’ll have to make do with my attempt to deal with the rather prickly statement quoted above – “Whosoever Divorces and Marries another Commits Adultery!”

This is an offensive statement to a person like me who has been divorced and remarried! And the worst part is that it come straight from the lips of Jesus Himself (in Mark 10:2-16)!

What do you do with a deadly condemnation like this? Well … my answer is below.

[imaioVideo v=1]

And if you can’t see the video, click here.

I said I’d try to be brief, so it’s definitely time for me to wind things up.

I have been well and truly blessed on my birthday this year, but if you’d like to buy me a drink you are more than welcome to. Alternatively, if you really want to give me a present that will bless us all, take out a membership at www.fighting-fathers.com. :-)

I’ll see you again next week if not before.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

 

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – February 11th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

Yes, it’s Father Dave, and I’m still here!

I’m still here in Sydney that is!

I was supposed to be in Damascus today and I had anticipated filling today’s missive with pics of Damascus and Beirut. It was not to be!

In case you missed my announcement on Friday, our Peace Mission to Syria was suddenly postponed that morning. We were due to fly out on Saturday!

Our Mission to Syria Postponed

This was an enormous disappointment for me and the other 15 delegates from around the world. Even so, I appreciate very much that the organisers were giving priority to our safety. Apparently you can’t even reach Damascus from Beirut at the moment. The fighting is just too intense!

Dear Mother Agnes wrote to us: “You cannot imagine how difficult it was to make that decision!  It was your security and it alone that motivated us to postpone your visit to Syria – a visit which took weeks of painstaking preparation.  As you all have said – it is just a postponement.”

So I am hopeful that the trip will still happen – perhaps in the next few weeks or perhaps later this year? As the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, the importance of Mother Agnes’ ‘Mussalaha‘ (‘reconciliation‘) Mission becomes increasingly obvious. Even so, we internationals will not be serving the interests of Mussalaha or the people of Syria if we get ourselves killed or (more likely) abducted.

One of the other delegates really brought this home to me. I won’t mention the delegate’s name but will say that English is not their first language: “We could damage Mussalaha, if anything happens to us….Personally I was as a peace activist in many war areas BUT in this case we would not risk personally, Mussalaha (idea and people) would risk and that, we cannot accept.”

While I can’t mention the names of the other enlisted delegates at this stage, I must say that the dialogue that has circulated between us since last Friday’s announcement has left me deeply impressed with the calibre of the other team members! They are seasoned peace workers and human-rights activists from around the world. What a privilege it will be to meet them in person (if indeed the Mission goes ahead).

Anyway, I don’t have any pics of Beirut or Damascus for you. The best I can offer you is this pic of me and two Syrian ‘Abounas‘ (Arabic for ‘Fathers‘).  As I was still in Sydney, I accepted an invitation to a fundraiser for Syria, hosted by the ‘Australian Syrian Christian Association’. I met these two magnificent men at the function and many other wonderful people too.

me with Syrian Fathers Farid and Michael

Three Abounas – me with Syrian Fathers Farid and Michael

It was a wonderful afternoon of music, dancing and fundraising. Even so, the thing that stuck with me the most from the discussions I had with the other participants was the extent to which they all shared the same perspective regarding the plight of their home country – a perspective that runs completely contrary to what we are being fed by the mainline media.

These Christian Syrian people testified, one after another, that there had been no tensions between Christians and Muslims in Syria prior to these recent hostilities and that Bashar Al-Assad had been a very popular President. The agitation, they all believed, had come from outside their borders. It was their neighbours who wanted to destroy them, with the backing of ‘the West‘.

I won’t rehash the political complexities as I understand them, except to say that almost everyone there agreed that the real target in all this violence, so far as Syria’s Middle-Eastern neighbours and the rest of the world is concerned, is Iran.  Syria’s enemies want to see regime change in Iran, and the suffering of the people of Syria is just an unfortunate by-product of their greater and more sinister project.

How tragic! How demonic! Let us pray!

Jesus turned the Water into Beer!

You’ll forgive me for moving so rapidly from the deadly serious to the seemingly ridiculous, but so much of life is like that I find!

I know Jesus didn’t really change water into beer, but if He’d been in Australia I’m sure that’s exactly what would have happened!

Either way, I’ve got a wonderful sermon for you today, delivered by Holy Trinity’s most eloquent preacher – my friend, Dave Baldwin!

Dave (believe it or not) is not a professional preacher. He is, by trade, an actor! Even so, I don’t think I have ever heard anybody preach with such insight and clarity on the miracle of Jesus at Cana in Galilee – the turning of water into wine – as Dave did a few Sundays back.

We are privileged to have Dave Baldwin as a part of our Holy Trinity community, and I am privileged to be able to give you this video recording of the sermon. 🙂
[imaioVideo v=1]
(and if you can’t view the sermon, click here)

And that will complete today’s missive, my friend!

I’ll be heading off on my Monday half-marathon soon so need to go and get changed.

Hopefully I’ll have some better news about Syria when we speak again next Monday.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. As I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Peace Mission to Syria postponed! :-(

Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support for our Peace Mission to Syria BUT we received word this morning that the mission has been postponed!

Denning and I were scheduled to leave tomorrow afternoon. This is a real shock!

The email sent to me and the other 15 delegates this morning reads:

For multiple reasons including the evolving security situation on the ground in Syria which has rendered accessibility to areas of Homs, Aleppo and even some areas in Damascus difficult, and given the importance of the peace mission to witness the work of Mussalaha in the major areas of conflict and for the peace mission to have an impact where it is most needed in those areas, it was decided to postpone the visit to a later date when movement will be less restricted.

I’ve been told off the record that you can’t even reach Damascus from Beirut at the moment. The fighting is just too intense.

This is a real body blow. We only received our itineraries yesterday and the schedule looked amazing – moving in and out of both government and rebel-controlled areas and meeting with representatives from both sides of the conflict, all of whom share a common commitment to peaceful reconciliation.

I confess that the assurance we received from our host, that they have “experience and credibility in negotiating the liberation of abducted people” was a little intimidating. Even so, the opportunity to join hands in this work with some of my heroes like Mairead Maguire and Patriarch Gregory III Laham overshadowed all such concerns.

The plan is to postpone the mission to later this month. Even so, this will only happen if the situation on the ground improves to the point where the organisers can have some confidence in the safety of the delegates.

In the meantime we’ll just do the best we can for the people of Syria from where we are. Denning and I have now been invited to be part of a big fundraiser for Syria on Sunday. I guess that will be a start.

Again, thank you for your prayers and support. Continue to pray for the people of Syria. From everything I hear the situation is degenerating to the point where the most inhuman acts of violence are being inflicted on men, women and children across the country, and those of us in ‘the West’ must share some of the responsibility for this horror. May God have mercy on us all.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – February 4th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave back with you again – coming to the end of an action-packed day (that culminated in a painfully long run) and savoring an action-packed week that included the long-awaited second stoush between Daniel Geale and Anthony Mundine.

Geale v. Mundine

If you were with me last week you’ll remember that I had a tickets to give away, courtesy of Mr Geale and the PCYC. I gave away 20. I could have easily given away many times that number. It was an event that caught the imagination of countless people around this country, most of whom were mad keen to see Anthony Mundine lose, mainly on account of all the ‘trash-talk’ he came out with in the lead-up to the fight.

at Geale-Mundine II

with some of the guys at Geale-Mundine II

And lose he did! I won’t bore you with my analysis of the fight. Suffice it to say that I scored it with a five-point margin in favor of Mr Geale.

Unfortunately Anthony didn’t accept the loss with much grace. I think a large part of the problem there might have been his corner, who were apparently telling him that he was ahead throughout the fight!

I’ve seen this before with elite athletes. They end up with lots of fans but very few friends. Fans are great at telling you what you want to hear. Friends tell you what you need to hear. You need friends when you’re fighting for your life, not fans.

I’m hoping that Anthony will have a George-Foreman-like epiphany sometime soon. He is still a man who has much to offer and who could contribute a great deal – to our Indigenous community in particular – but he’ll need to conquer a few demons first.

Off to Syria!

Denning and I are off to Syria at the end of this week to lend our support to the Mussalaha (reconciliation) initiative.

I can’t tell you the exact date and time of our departure. We’ve been asked to keep the details vague for security reasons. Even so, suffice it to say that I hope to be sending you my next missive from Damascus.

Mind you, the organisers of the mission have warned us that there will be restrictions on ‘technical equipment’ that we can take with us into Syria. I’m hoping that there won’t be a problem with me taking my laptop.

Even so, if you don’t hear from me next week, don’t immediately assume that I’ve had an unscheduled meeting with a drone. Most likely it means that I can’t get to my laptop or that I can’t get an Internet connection.

Having said that, the latest developments in Syria do concern me deeply.

In case you missed it, two days ago Israel bombed a convoy and a research facility inside of Syria. It was the first blatant act of aggression against Syria by a foreign nation since their civil unrest started two years ago!

Personally, I think it is no coincidence that the attack came one day after Tehran issued a statement saying that they would interpret any Israeli attack upon Syria as an attack upon Iran itself! The Israeli’s obviously knew this but they attacked anyway!

Why is Israel risking starting World War III? Are they trying to provoke an attack from Iran? Is this how they intend to drag the US into armed conflict with Tehran?

The explanation might be much simpler. A few days ago the United Nations issue a report that found Israel guilty of war crimes against the Palestinians (read more here). Perhaps this military action was only intended to shift the world’s attention away from what’s going on in Gaza and the West Bank!

You can keep up-to-date with what’s happening in Israel and Palestine (and Syria) on my blog – http://israelandpalestine.org. I publish a couple of articles there each day.

What is this thing called Love?

Yesterday’s sermon was a variation on my usual wedding sermon on 1 Corinthians 13 – St Paul’s Ode to Love.

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is not jealous or boastful or rude.

You know the passage. It is a beautiful one, and yet if St Paul is saying that love never gets jealous, he must be talking about something entirely different from what we normally mean by the word!

Here’s my take:

[imaioVideo v=1]

If you can’t access the video, click here.

OK Fighter. It’s past my bedtime and I have to make an early start so I’ll close off here.

I hope to be speaking to you from Syria by this time next week.

Say a prayer for Denning and myself.

your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. As I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four