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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

5 thoughts on “Monday Missive – September 17th, 2012

  1. Hello, Father Dave! LOVED the sermon. Wish I could have been there to hear it. If I am ever in Australia, I will come to hear you in person.

    I was hoping you would address the current crisis over the incendiary film. I always appreciate your thoughtfulness and passion. I want to clarify one thing. The film was made in California, but it was not a Californian film. That makes it sound as though the state of California sponsored it, which is absolutely not the case. As I understand it, the film was made by a Coptic Christian from Egypt who deceived actors and others who participated about his purpose. It was apparently his intention to incite violence and add fuel to religious hatreds, and it is tragic that he succeeded. Chris Stevens, the American diplomat in Libya who was killed in the attack on the US Embassy, was very much a friend to Islam and the Arab World. He was mourned by Libyans as well as his countryman.

    That said, I absolutely agree with you that Islamic countries have cause for rage at US foreign policy. I opposed and protested both of the wars in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, as did many US citizens. I also disagree with my government’s policies in Israel and support the rights of Palestinians to be a sovereign people. There are many grave issues and injustices we need to address. It is horrifying that this film, which seems as though it should be defined as hate speech rather than free speech, was posted on Youtube. But that does not make it US foreign policy, and the United States had joined the world in condemning and even tried to get Youtube to remove the film. The violent response, however understandable from an emotional and cultural point of view, is misdirected and unlikely to further the cause of justice and peace.

    Your sermon is one we would all do well to take to heart. Thank you for all you do in the good fight for justice, peace, and understanding.

    • Well said, sister.

      I appreciate your point about the film. You are right. It is not a ‘Californian film’, and not an ‘American’ film either. The problem is that it is perceived as being both by those who already feel grieved by the actions of the US.

      Your point about the murdered diplomat is well made too, and in some ways it points to the path ahead.

      The way forward, I believe, is for all of us ‘Western’ Christians who refuse to accept the dominant narrative to go on building relationship of friendship and love with our Islamic neighbours. We need to challenge the stereotype that has developed across much of the Islamic world – that we all hate Muslims and unquestioningly support US global hegemony.

  2. The thought among many wise people in the USA is that this whole incident was initiated by right-wing conservative Christians and Neo-Con operatives to get precisely the result it inspired in the Middle East in an effort to embarrass Obama and influence the American election. The fact that Romney’s pro-Israel supporters would undertake something that would cost lives to win votes from uninformed American voters both stupefies and disgusts me.

    • If it was all contrived to influence the election, it is reminiscent for me of the Iranian hostage crisis of 1980.

      There has been recent evidence that the botched rescue operation (that resulted in the deaths of 8 Americans and 1 Iranian) was sabotaged from the inside in order to cost Carter re-election. The hostages were formally released, you may remember, minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.

  3. Pingback: Monday Missive – November 12th, 2012 | Father Dave's Monday Missive

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