Father Dave here, writing from my remote outpost in the middle of the Australian wilderness. At Binacrombi I am a long way from the toxic wastelands of the Big Smoke where life seems to revolve around the virus. Out here we have our own struggles with drought, fire and flood, yet I’m happy with the trade-off.
I shouldn’t pretend that the virus hasn’t affected us here. Indeed, today I went around making sure all our cabins displayed posters promoting hand-washing and other virus-avoidance strategies. Even so, one thing that struck me again this weekend is that the people I meet at Binacrombi respond very differently to the virus than do those in central Sydney. I am yet to meet ANYBODY out here who agrees with the way our government is handling things.
There is a fair degree of ambivalence in the city. Nobody loves the lockdowns or social distancing but many Sydney-siders I meet do accept these things as genuine and necessary strategies for maintaining public health. Out here everybody is convinced that the government is trying to destroy us.
I think the reason for the contrasting views is straightforward enough. Most of the city-folk I interact with haven’t been too affected by the lockdowns. They’ve been inconvenienced but they haven’t lost their jobs or their homes. Out here in the bush, everybody seems to know somebody who has died – not from the virus but at their own hand, due to the lockdowns!
Feel free to disagree, but it seems to come down to a clear class divide. Professional people (like the politicians who make the rules) haven’t been too drastically affected by the new rules. Indeed, many are enjoying a bit more time at home with the kids. People at the other end of the economic spectrum though have lost their jobs, can’t make loan repayments, their small business has fallen to pieces, and their family home has become a powder-keg.
On a global scale, the situation is even more stark. UNICEF predicts that as many as 1.2 million children may die in the next six months – not due to the virus itself, but due to the way governments have responded to the virus. World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley went further, telling the U.N. Security Council that an additional 130 million people could be on the brink of starvation by the end of the year due to the lockdowns!
People keep accusing me of being unconcerned about people at risk if I’m not behind the lockdowns. My response is to ask ‘which people am I not concerned about – the people at risk of getting the virus or the people at risk of suicide, domestic violence, poverty or starvation? I sincerely believe that if our governments had taken a different course and had put their energies into isolating and protecting the small percentage of people who are genuinely at risk from the virus, the world would look very different right now and a lot more people would still be alive.
I read a fascinating statement from a church in the US today that is refusing to go along with the lockdowns. I didn’t agree with everything they said in their (very lengthy) statement but I was truly encouraged to find one church that was willing to question whether the government even had the right to tell people that they can’t meet. As I say, I don’t agree with everything they say, but what saddens me is that I’ve come across ZERO churches in this country that have even raised the questions these people are asking.
Why are we all falling into lockstep behind the government? Do we really all believe that love of neighbour compels us not to go near our neighbours? I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t embrace those I love. Do I really have to wait until I’ve been vaccinated and microchipped before I can be fully human again? Why are none of our church leaders even raising concern over these issues?
I’ll climb down from my pulpit now but I do consider it a great irony that I found myself applauding Alan Jones the other day – the only commentator I could find who was asking these questions. Perhaps he’s one of the few media personalities left who can say what he thinks because he has nothing to lose?
Join me at Binacrombi
If you share any of my frustrations, come and join me for a weekend soon at Binacrombi. We box together on the Saturday night and share the Eucharist on the Sunday morning. You can tune into both via livestream on the Binacrombi and Father Dave Facebook pages, respectively, but why not take the extra step and actually come out here and join me physically for the weekend. I’m keeping rooms aside each week for people who want to fight or pray with me (and hopefully, both).
I’m sharing below a compilation of one of our last fighting sessions (with my son, Soren) and the prayer session from the same weekend (with both Soren and Fran). It’s not a polished compilation but I’m hoping to develop this over the coming weeks. Either way, I’m hoping that this might inspire you to make the trip to join me.
On the fight front, I was scheduled box in Townsville against my old nemesis, ‘Wild Bill’ Kinbacher. The fight was set for next Saturday, and then they locked down the Queensland border. 🙁
On my book front, “Christians and Muslims can be friends” is just about ready to be published. Expect copies to be available within the next month or two.
On the Binacrombi front, lots of programs are gradually coming together:
- Camps for Indigenous young people
- Camps for men at risk
- Camps bringing Christians and Muslims together
- Camps helping young people get out of white-supremacist groups
The harvest indeed seems to be plentiful, and I’m watching God gradually supply the workers we need.
It’s a hard struggle for all of us at the moment. I have no idea when (or even if) things will get back to normal. I am thankful though for our little oasis out here in the bush and I’m keen to share it with you. Let me know when you’re ready.
Your brother in the Good Fight,
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