A Time to Fight!

I return to professional boxing on February 19!
Fran at Luna Park!
Imogen at Luna Park
Fran in the mouse-wheel
Grieving the death of Sheikh Nimr at Bankstown Mosque
Protesting the execution of Sheikh Nimr at Martin Place
with Syrian Girl in Martin Place
Hanging out with Nader
with Junior Talipeau
Hanging out with Sheikh Mohamad Jawad

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, back with you and ready to punch-on for another year! 🙂

The holidays are far behind us now and Christmas is but a fading memory. What I hope is fresher in your mind is the list of goals you’ve set for 2016.

As you probably know, I am a great goal-setter! I almost never reach the goals I set (at least not in the precise form that I set them) but more often than not I find we get half-way to achieving something that seemed completely impossible when I first dreamed of it, and often the final result is better than what I’d originally imagined anyway!

For the last two years I’ve recorded my goals quick explicitly in this blog. They include:

  1. Founding monastery at our bush retreat (Binacrombi)
  2. Winning a world boxing title
  3. Staging an Australia v Syria boxing tournament in Damascus
  4. Supporting my children through school

The thought of developing our bush camp as a place of prayer seemed like a crazy dream a few years ago. Last year though we did indeed Christen the new chapel at Binacrombi, and we now have fourteen Fighting Fathers who have taken their vows as members of the Order. We aren’t a functioning monastic order yet by any stretch of the imagination but we have seen Binacrombi evolve into a real place of spiritual solace!

As to my World Boxing Title, I think that one’s going to elude me. Even so, I did manage a state title last April and fought for the Australian title in October!

As to Syria, I ended up in Damascus twice last year and had the most amazing times of my life! I believe that the foundations are now all in place to see that particular dream come to fruition this year, and probably in a way that will be bigger and better than anything I had originally hoped for!

As for my kids, I am very thankful for how each of them is going. Veronica successfully completed her first year of University, Imogen managed to get a high enough score in her HSC to get into University, Soren is doing well at Tempe High, and Fran is the most beautiful and delightful 2nd-grader anyone could ask for!

So I’ve set some new goals for 2016 and they are as follows:

  1. To help rebuild Syria through a ‘Boxers for Peace’ tournament in Damascus!
  2. To initiate a ‘Boxing for Life’ program that will help integrate Christian and Muslim youth within the Australian community.
  3. To restart our Youth Drop-in Centre in Dulwich Hill.
  4. To publish at least one (and possibly two) books
  5. To raise $30,000 through boxing to support all these initiatives
  6. To continue to find enough time for my family

I’ll be expanding on these goals as they develop over the course of the coming months. The only one that might require some explanation now is the ‘Boxing for Life’ program which we are developing as a CVE initiative (Countering Violent Extremism).

Not many people would think of Sydney as the Jihad capital of the world! Even so, per head of population, Australia has contributed more fighters to DAESH in Syria than just about any other country in the world! We have between 100 and 150 young men fighting over there at the moment. This seems small when compared to around 500 from Indonesia, but Indonesia has a pool of around 220 million Muslim people to appeal to. In Australia that pool is less than half a million!

I’ve offered my own analysis of this crisis in my ‘Stop the War video’ and elsewhere. Suffice it to say here that this is a broad social problem where we really need to deal with the underlying sense of alienation affecting young Muslim men rather than simply counter violence with violence. Our Fighting Fathers’ strategy is to build social integration between young Australians of all faiths and cultural backgrounds, and to use boxing as the means to achieving it! Stay tuned for updates. 🙂

Sermon time – I love to have a beer with Jesus!

One story about Jesus that stands out like a sore thumb in the Gospels is the account of how He apparently turned some large jars of water into copious amounts of wine (John 2:1-11)! It stands out because we generally think of miracles as acts that heal or feed or help people in some obvious way. Who was being helped by this miracle? Given the enormous amount of alcohol involved, we might wonder whether Jesus was creating a problem rather than solving one!

Moreover, the Gospel writer John says that this was Jesus’ first miracle. It was, in other words, Jesus’ way of introducing Himself to the world! If this was how Jesus introduced Himself to us, what does that say about Jesus, and what does it say about us? Are we who follow Jesus all supposed to be big drinkers? This has hardly been the way the church has understood itself in history, but if that’s not the point what is the point?


Join me ringside!

fight-poster-2

click me for full-size

I mentioned above that one of my goals for the year is to raise $30,000 through boxing. That might seem a little ambitious but I’m hoping to do even better than that and it all begins for me on February 19th at Hurstville Entertainment Centre!

Due to changes in Australian law governing boxing, I’ve managed to get re-licensed as a professional boxer. I suspect I”m now the oldest professional fighter in the country! Either way, I’m scheduled to fight Glen Aristedes on February 19th and I’d be very grateful if you would come and support me.

My potential to raise money through this event is going to be determined by how many tickets I can sell so you’ll be doing me a favour if you get your tickets directly through me. There are two kinds of tickets available:

  • $80 – regular ticket
  • $250 – ringside table that includes food and drink

I’ve got two tables set aside with ten seats on each. If you’d like to join my family and key supporters at one of those tables, please let me know. If you’d like a regular $80 ticket, I can get that sent to you too. Either way, email me.

My opponent for this event is 10 years my junior and I’m expecting him to come in slightly heavier. Even so, I’m training very hard and am anticipating a win. If I fail miserably, this may well be my last fight. Either way, your support would be greatly appreciated. All funds raised will go to support ‘Boxing for Life’, Boxers for Peace, and other Fighting Fathers initiatives.

That’s enough for now as I’ve gotta get back to training. Here’s one more request though – when you email me about the tickets, let me know what your goals are for 2016, or leave them as comments on this blog page. Share the inspiration! 🙂

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Still Fighting!

Father Dave v. Tommy West - Adelaide, October 5, 2015
Father Dave v. Tommy West - Adelaide, October 5, 2015
Father Dave v. Tommy West - Adelaide, October 5, 2015
Sydney Marches for Palestine, Saturday October 17
Sydney Marches for Palestine, Saturday October 17
Soren pitches into the work at Binacrombi with his chainsaw
Bob and John launch their book on Holy Trinity - "A Church for our Times"
'Hands Off Syria' rally - Sydney Town Hall
Imogen finishes school
Imogen finishes school
Imogen does an amazing birthday sketch for Ange
showing off my Father's Day hat

Hi Fighter,

It’s been a month since we last communicated and the world seems to have been turned upside-down since then!

When I last wrote there were still fears that Russia was going to sell out Syria for the sake of gaining time before the inevitable showdown with NATO over the Ukraine. Instead Russia went on the offensive – launching a blistering attack against jihadists in Syria! As a result, as I wrote in my Syria blog, Syria has won the war (almost)!

Putin’s bold move took the US and her allies (including Australia) by complete surprise and created a diplomatic scramble with everyone desperately trying to come up with a rationale as to why Russia shouldn’t be allowed to help the West achieve their stated objectives! While the great powers mumble and fumble Syrians around the world rejoice!

Meanwhile in Israel/Palestine things go from bad to worse! The violence is sickening. The one-sided coverage by Australian media is also sickening. I won’t say more here but point you instead to an article I published on my Israel/Palestine blog, entitled “Palestinians Die. Who cares?” Be warned that it includes a gut-wrenching video of a young girl being killed in cold blood.

For me personally the world has also been turning rather rapidly of late. Two Sundays ago I fought for another Australian boxing title (old bastards division, of course). I lost on a controversial split decision. This was disappointing as I was hoping to use this title as leverage to relaunch myself as a professional. Now I’m assessing my options.

It’s not that I feel I have anything left to prove in the sporting field. It’s a simple issue of money. I’ve found that there’s only so much I can raise through grant applications and online appeals and it never seems to be quite enough to keep our work going.

Put in a prayer for me please. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been and I’m sure I still have a few fights left in me. If I could get one or two high-profile fights I could put our work on a more solid financial footing.  I’m continuing to train hard and will take whatever opportunities open up to me. The rest is in God’s hands.

The Gospel according to Adolf Hitler

“You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:42-43)

I’ve got a different sort of sermon for you this week. Sunday’s Gospel reading from Mark chapter 10 focused once again on the issue of power. This was such a common point of contention between Jesus and His disciples that I covered the issue in detail in a sermon on Mark 9 only a few weeks ago. So I thought I’d take a different tack this time – comparing the teachings of Jesus to the teachings of Adolf Hitler as spelt out in his autobiography, Mein Kampf.

I’m not suggesting that you read Mein Kampf (though you may be interested to hear my summary). I do recommend to you the teachings of Jesus on issues of power. Hopefully by giving you my take on both you’ll be less likely to confuse the two!


(for the written version of this sermon, click here, and for the audio-only, here)

The world continues to turn and my timetable for the coming months is looking increasingly dense. Hopefully some good will come of it.

Next weekend (October 23-25) is our Warriors’ Weekend two days of intense fitness training and prayer at Australia’s most beautiful bush camp, Binacrombi.

If you haven’t signed up to come there is still time (providing that you’re reading this before October 23rd). Just let me know ASAP. If you have no idea as to what it’s about, you can check out the Warrior Weekends website or download the flyer here.

Once this weekend is over things will really start to hot up for me. Highlights include:

  • Friends of Sabeel, Australia (Palestinian Liberation Theology) AGM on October 29
  • The completion of our new Youth and Community Centre in mid-November
  • Our community choir’s Bach and Vivaldi concert on November 22nd
  • A dinner to mark my 25th anniversary as Parish Priest on December 5th
  • Holy Trinity’s 100-year Centenary celebration on December 6th
  • The official opening of our new Centre by the Archbishop on the same day

In addition to all this I’m still hoping to slot that professional fight in there somewhere – perhaps on the same day as the official opening while I’ve got the Archbishop there to help work my corner.

If you’re a Christian who is committed to justice for the Palestinian people and you can make it to our Friends of Sabeel AGM that would be great! We start at 7pm and are meeting at the church building in Dulwich Hill.

If you’d like to come to my 25-year anniversary dinner, please get in touch with the church office.

If you’d like to join us for the Centenary celebrations and the hall opening, just show up (though if you warn me that you’re coming I’ll have a better idea of numbers for the BBQ luncheon).

And I’m still looking for more help. Applications for the new Youth Worker position have now closed but I’m still hoping I can find people to help me with a variety of tasks, and if I can secure that fight I might even be able to pay people something for their efforts. 🙂

Keep your hands up, fighter. We’ll talk again soon.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community atwww.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

What’s really happening in Syria?

Training with the Syrian Olympic Boxing Team
Training with the Syrian Olympic Boxing Team
A big day at Lattakia stadium!
Lots of the kids who trained with us were living in UNICEF tents that ringed the stadium
Training with the young people of Tartous!
Singing and dancing is very much a part of the culture!
At the gym in Tartous - boys will be boys!
with one of the young disabled veterans of Tartous
The art school in Damascus is full of kids!
The kids insisted on giving us some of their artworks
Damascus swimming centre where 1000+ kids get lessons each week
Back with the kids of Yarmouk
Working the pads with the kids of Yarmouk
we did lots of media interviews
with Syrian Prime Minister, Wael Nader al-Halqi
back with my beloved Mufti - Dr Hassoun
the Mufti is one of the most beautiful men I have ever met

Hi Fighter,

I apologise for the increasing gaps in communication. In truth, I simply have more to do than I can handle. There will be an appeal for help in the latter half of this missive. If you want to avoid hearing me grovel just quit after the sermon. 😉

This is the first chance I’ve had to share with you some of the photographic highlights of our last trip to Syria in late July. What a beautiful time it was, and what beautiful people! Once again the experience was one of hospitality and grace (mixed in with plenty of boxing). I came back full of hope for for the country and its people, though the subsequent moves being made by the US, NATO and my own country (Australia) to escalate the violence do bring me to tears.

Sometimes I don’t know which is worse – the way the West imposes its agenda on Syria at the cost of the lives of millions of people, or that it does so under the banner of humanitarian aid! In truth, these are days of shame for all of us who are a part of the ungodly coalition intent on destroying Syria, and it could backfire horribly. Australia has always been the ‘lucky country’ but by God we are pushing our luck at the moment!

I am regularly being asked what is going to happen next with Syria. I am no prophet, of course, but for the sake of those who would like my take on the subject, the future of Syria seems to be being determined by foreign governments, each of whom have their own agenda. It is a complex situation but I offer the following pointers:

  • Qatar wants a change of government so that it can pipe gas through Syria into Europe. Their agenda is straightforward.
  • Saudi Arabia and Israel are more interested in weakening Iran which threatens to overtake both countries economically (nb. the threat is economic, not existential). Syria is Iran’s main ally in the region (the only other being Hezbollah in Lebanon) and so destroying Syria will significantly weaken Iran.
  • Turkey’s militancy is being driven less by Iran than by the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood (though Turkish President Erdogan seems to also have a personal issue with Syrian President Assad).
  • The US is trying to back its allies in the region (Israel, the Saudis, Turkey, etc.) and are also interested in weakening Iran. Mr Obama is also still dealing with the embarrassment resulting from the fact that he told President Assad to stand down four years ago and he still hasn’t done as he was told!

These are the chief factors that have led to the war of foreign aggression against Syria. Let’s be clear about this: It is not a civil war and I doubt if it ever was. Certainly there aren’t many Syrians left on the rebel side now. We spoke to a young man in Tartous last month who was in a wheelchair. He’d been shot through the spine while fighting at Dier Yasir. We asked him ‘who were you facing there?’ He said ‘Libyans, British and French’. We said ‘no Syrians?’ He laughed.

So, given the foreign interests of this coalition of violence, why hasn’t Syria as we know it been wiped off the map? Here are some of the balancing factors:

  • Iran doesn’t want to lose its main ally in the region and hence has been giving financial and military support to the Syrian government.
  • Russia gives support too as it wants to maintain its military presence in the region (though its naval base at Tartous).
  • The uprising against Saudi hegemony in Yemen is forcing the Saudis to fight a battle on two fronts.

And so the future of Syria seems to depend on the wheelings and dealings of these foreign players, and a number of factors could tip the balance either way.

On the one hand:

  1. Iran could strike a deal with the US such that it would withdraw support from Syria in exchange for the lifting of all sanctions. This now seems unlikely.
  2. Russia might abandon Syria in order to buy time for the looming conflict with NATO in the Ukraine. This looks less likely now than it did a month ago.
  3. Israel might attack Lebanon (as it has been threatening to do) which will lead to the recall of all Hezbollah forces from Syria, thus weakening the Syrian Army.

On the other hand:

  1. Yemen may continue to resist the murderous Saudi onslaught (which is almost not being reported on anywhere) and may prove to be the end of the house of Saud. If this happens ISIS will shrivel up and die very quickly without funding.
  2. If the US does lift economic sanctions on Iran, the Saudis (and even the Israelis) may decide to cut their losses and work for economic cooperation rather than for the subjugation of their Persian neighbours. If this happens, once again, ISIS will shrivel up and die overnight.

As I said, it’s a complex picture, and the above analysis also leaves two vital factors out of the equation:

  • The extraordinary resilience of the Syrian people
  • The mysterious workings of Almighty God

Personally I am full of hope, as my faith is in God and in the Syrian people. Having said that, I won’t be surprised if God’s will is accomplished through the human agency of Iran, Russia, Hassan Nasrallah, and the people of Yemen.

Forgive me if I’ve bored you with the above analysis but I find that a lot of people are confused as to what is really going on and I thought it would be good to put it on paper.

If, on the other hand, you’d like to explore these matters with me further (and you’re in Sydney) I’ll be speaking at three different Syria forums over the next week:

  1. Sunday 13th – No Australian War on Syria Rally – from 11am at Sydney Town Hall. I’ll be addressing the rally at around 12.30
  2. Thursday 17th – The Geopolitics of the Syrian Crisis – 6.30pm at Sydney Uni. I’ll speak alongside Dr Tim Anderson and others who were on our recent trip.
  3. Friday 18th – Updates from the Axis of Resistance – 6.30pm at Coronation Hall, Arncliffe. This will be our team debrief with our supporters.

If you’re able to attend any of these events, the links above will take you to their respective Facebook Events Pages where you can get more info. And if you can’t make it, just keep track of what’s being published on my Syria blog: www.prayersforsyria.com

Sermon Time

From violence to sex – this missive has everything! 😉

Yes, my featured sermon for this missive is on the Song of Songs – certainly the most raunchy piece of literature in the entire Bible and also one of the most controversial.

The book is controversial for two reasons:

  1. It is entirely about sex and romance
  2. It doesn’t mention God at all!

What is this book doing in the Bible? That’s a question that a lot of believers have asked over the last few thousand years. Even so, some of us believe that this little book may have a lot to teach us about love and life and even about God!

(for the written version of this sermon, click here, and for the audio-only, here)

I warned you earlier that this post would include an appeal for help. Here it is:

…. HELP! 🙁

The problem is that I have more work than I am able to handle at the moment, including five speaking engagements in the next seven days, and beyond that I can see a giant tidal wave coming towards me associated with the completion of our new Youth and Community Centre and the 100-year anniversary of our church building!

Highlights include:

  • October 4-6: I fight for the Australian Masters (ie. old bastards) Boxing Title
  • October 16: Book-launch of A Church for our Times’ celebrating our 100-years!
  • October 23-25: A big Warrior Weekend of fight-training and prayer at Binacrombi
  • October 29: ‘Friends of Sabeel, Australia’ Annual General Meeting
  • Mid-November: work should be completed on our new hall complex
  • late-November: re-starting Trinity’s Youth Drop-in Centre
  • November 22: Jubilate Singers (our community choir) fundraiser concert
  • November 29: Fight-Night fundraiser in the new hall
  • December 5: Anniversary dinner to mark my 25th year in Dulwich Hill
  • December 6: special Centenary service followed by the official hall opening
  • December 25: Christmas

You are invited to all of the above events, including the Friends of Sabeel, Australia AGM (which is a Christian group focused on Palestinian human rights). Moreover, you are invited to help me survive this cavalcade of events, especially the re-starting of the Youth Drop-in Centre and the Fight-night fundraiser.

The good news is that we are offering a paid part-time position for a new youth worker. Just email me if you want the details. The not-so-good news is that I’m going to need voluntary helpers too, at least for the short term. And I don’t just need volunteer youth workers, but also web assistants, events coordinators, and just about anybody who thinks they can help me balance this intimidating schedule!

Email me if you’re interested in the paid position or a voluntary position, or a voluntary position that might turn into a paid position. Either way, I’m keen to hear from you.

Till next time, may the Lord bless you and strengthen you for the work for which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community atwww.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

I need your help

we begin our fundraising campaign for our new Youth and Community Centre
Fighting Father Danny maintains control in the ring!
Jessie and Aaron stoush it out in the Binacrombi ring
We dedicate the Binacrombi Chapel - Shiloh (a place of peace)
Our Abbot - Fighting Father Terry - delivers the inaugural Binacrombi chapel homily
Fighting Father Mungo keeps the troops entertained
The stumbling, bumbling monks of Binacrombi
Three Amigos
Fran and I visit the Sydney Tower
I love having daughters!
Don has his hands full (at the Australia Day celebrations)

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave. It’s been too long since I’ve communicated with you. 🙁

It’s not that I’ve been having a holiday (I wish). On the contrary, I’ve been struggling with a workload that threatens to overwhelm me at times, and I’ve got two major projects on the boil at the moment, and I’m looking for help with both of them.

Warrior Weekends

The first is the Warrior Weekends bush camp project. We had a fantastic camp in January (as you can see by the pics displayed above) and I’m mad keen to run a few more of these weekends this side of winter.

In truth, I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to hang on to our wonderful bush-property, but while we’ve got it I want to make the most of it, and I do believe that our distinctive format where we spend a day training like Trojans and praying like monks is a formula that invigorates body, mind and spirit in a way that is quite unique!

On our January weekend we had Muslims as well as Christians, young as well as the not-so-young, people of various backgrounds and ethnicities, and the intense training-praying format pulled us all together in a powerful way!

Two weekend warriors pause to tie Fran's shoes

Two weekend warriors pause to tie Fran’s shoes

We did four intense training sessions on the Saturday, framed by five prayer-sessions. Not everybody joined in the prayers, and not everybody joined in all the training sessions, but by the time we got to the end of the day I think we all had a tremendous sense that we had accomplished something significant together, and this led us into a wonderful evening of sharing and reflection, followed by a beautiful Sunday morning of prayer and relaxation where we dedicated our bush-chapel.

In short, I can’t wait to do it all again, and I can’t wait to see more lives changed and refreshed by the experience. I’m thinking that we hit it again on the weekend of March 21-22. Are you with me? 🙂

Peace Mission to Syria

The other major work that is consuming me right now is a planned Boxers for Peace mission to Syria that’s scheduled for this coming April.

As you know, I’ve been a part of two peace missions to Syria now (in 2013 and 2014) and on our last trip I took boxing champion, Solomon Egberime, with me to feel out the possibility of a ‘friendship games’ in boxing between Australia and Syria (see the video). This current mission is the outcome of the negotiations that began then.

Our Boxers for Peace project is a strictly religious and sporting mission. Our intention is to work closely with the religious leadership of Syria and with the Syrian Olympic Committee. The goal of this mission is threefold:

  1. To bring some joy to people who are struggling (especially young Syrian people) through sport.
  2. To build ongoing ties of friendship between our two countries through the medium of boxing.
  3. To help give the Australian public a broader appreciation of the real situation of the Syrian people.

This last goal will be accomplished through media coverage that we’ll receive. We hope to have at least one film crew with us and one documentary film-maker.

The biggest hurdle for the mission at the moment is that we’ll need to raise the funds to send the whole team to Syria. The costs will amount to around AUD $2,500 per player. I’m hoping to take a team of six.

The names of the players haven’t been made public yet, and neither have the exact dates or details of the trip. This is partly for security reasons and partly because we haven’t worked it all out yet! One thing I have worked out though is that I’m going to hold a fundraiser dinner in a few weeks’ time – on Sunday March 8. Can you make it?

Date: Sunday March 8th, 7pm start
Venue: Salvation Army Hall, Dulwich Street, Dulwich Hill
Tickets: $55/person

The evening will include:

  • Exhibition boxing bouts featuring members of the Australian team (and at least one very well-known boxing identity)
  • Some (brief) speeches from local religious leaders – Priests and Sheikhs (including myself)
  • Screening of some documentary video material that we’ve put together from our previous peace missions to Syria

That’s as much as I can give you right now but I would really appreciate your help in making this work. I’ll need:

  • People to help run the night (set-up, clean-up, wash-up, etc.)
  • People to donate items that can be auctioned off
  • People to buy tickets

If you want to order a ticket from me online you can Paypal me the $50 and I will mail the tickets to you.

I do believe that we can really make a difference with this Boxers for Peace Mission. I think of the role that boxing played in Apartheid South Africa in bringing together people of different colour, and I think of the role boxing played in Northern Ireland in helping quell the violence there. Perhaps we can help bring Syria to the point where the only fighting going on will be in a boxing ring? When that day comes: Mission Accomplished! (but we might have to put in quite a few rounds before we reach that stage)

boxing in the streets of Homs

boxing for peace in the streets of Homs (2014)

Sermon Time

I’ve got an unusually uncontroversial sermon for you today!

Rather than try to interpret global issues or give commentary on the latest terrorist attack, I’ve devoted all my preaching energy this week to untangling the first chapter of the Gospel According to St Mark and, more specifically, to unpacking the implications of a particular incident the highlights the power of the words of Jesus.

I think we often see the words and the works of Jesus as being very distinct. Jesus’ miracles can heal our bodies but His teachings are there only to improve our minds. The Gospel depiction of Jesus though is not so clear cut! The words of Jesus have healing as well as didactic power, while the miraculous actions of Jesus also have something to teach us!

To say this isn’t controversial isn’t to say that it isn’t important, for the relation between word and worktheory and praxis – is something that many of us struggle to get right. Some sections of the church are so focused on maintaining doctrinal purity that they seem to have no energy left to support the poor and needy, whereas others abandon the traditional teachings of the church in order to pursue social justice. I believe Jesus models another alternative!


Before leaving you today I must tell you that I did have a third major project that I had been working on until very recently, and that was the scheduled visit of my friend Rev. Stephen Sizer to Australia.

It was all supposed to take place next month but it all fell apart at the last minute when Stephen was targeted (entirely unfairly, in my view) for his work in advocating for Palestinian human-rights!

You can read all about it in the British tabloids. Stephen has been accused of everything from incompetence to anti-Semitism!

I know Stephen well enough to know that he hasn’t got an anti-Semitic bone in his body, and if you look at the details of the accusations levelled against him it is hard to believe that they could lead anybody to that sort of conclusion! Even so, he has now been formally silenced by his bishop and cannot speak or write about anything remotely political – not at home in London nor anywhere else in the world, including Australia!  (though how he intends to manage this while continuing to preach the Gospel remains to be seen).

Stephen Sizer and I meet up in Tehran!

Stephen Sizer and I meet up in Tehran!

I find it hard to understand how something like this can happen while world leaders in Paris are marching to defend the right to free speech! It seems that the level of freedom judged appropriate for speech depends entirely on who is being spoken about! Western politicians and Church leaders don’t seem to mind if you are mocking the prophet of Islam or caricaturing countries like Iran and Syria, but if you call into question the policies of the state of Israel you are on far more shaky ground!

Put in a prayer for Stephen please, and put in a prayer for me too as I don’t think this bodes well for any of us who speak our minds on issues of justice and peace!

And I can’t close off today without telling you that next Tuesday is my birthday. I turn 53! That sounds to me like an appropriate age to capture a world boxing title. Let’s see if I can’t do it before hitting 54. 🙂

Actually, that also suggests to me a fourth way you can contribute to our Syria mission. Buy me a drink for my birthday (click here)!

I will drink to your health if you do, but I’m sure you won’t mind if I toast you using my existing stock and put all donated drink-money into the Fighting Fathers kitty! 🙂

I’ll be in contact with you again very soon to give you further details of our fundraiser and of the next prospective Warriors’ Weekend.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – December 10th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave back with you, though only very briefly today.

I’m back in the land of Oz, and glad to be back, but feeling a little off-balance!

A part of that is jet-lag, no doubt, but the other thing that has thrown me is the realisation that we’re only two weeks short of Christmas!

You’d think I would have picked up the Yuletide warnings during my 10 days in the USA, and indeed there was no shortage of decorated trees and red and green baubles in every town I visited. But I’m afraid I just can’t associate Christmas with snow and cold weather! It wasn’t until I touched down and confronted the scorching heat of the Aussie summer that it really hit me!

Anyway … I managed to squeeze out a sermon with a Christmassy sort of theme, and I found today that it’s actually been YouTubed, and I’ll include that below, but there’s two things I want to mention to you first:

I Now Hold the Official World Record!

I received the news while I was in the US! According to the Guiness Book of World Records:

“The most consecutive boxing rounds is 120 and was achieved by David Smith (Australia) at the Holy Trinity Church Hall in Dulwich Hill, New South Wales, Australia, on 1 April 2012.”

Yes, it took more than six months for my world-record to be officially recognised, and the not-so-good news is that in that time somebody has already attempted to break it!

According to this article, Gerry Cronnelly of Ireland felt so inspired by my efforts that he decided to have a shot at 122 rounds to raise money for cancer research!

Mind you, I don’t know whether Cronnelly’s attempt was successful, and there’s a rumor going round that he fought mainly with schoolgirls and farm-animals, but since I started that rumor I’m pretty sure that it’s not true.

Anyway, even if he did complete the rounds I’m guessing that it’s not official as yet, and that I’ll still have a few more days to bathe in the glory of being a world-record holder before I fade into the obscurity of sporting has-beens!

Indeed, you can relive the glorious occasion with me now via this video retrospective if you’ve keen.

[imaioVideo v=1]

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

In all truth, I see a real opportunity in Cronnelly’s attempt. Whether or not he was successful. I’m intending to challenge him to a ‘Last Man Standing’ bout!

The idea will be to box each other till only one of us is left on our feet. Of course that might take only a few rounds, but if he’s a long-distance fighter like me I reckon we might be able to achieve another world record between us – ie. for the longest boxing match!

I’ve already got the marketing cliches worked out:

  • He’ll be on the floor in round 64!
  • (or if that doesn’t work) His ass will be mine in round 79!

Of course I shouldn’t get ahead of myself as I haven’t made contact with Cronnelly yet, but the Parish Council informed me yesterday that I need to raise another $10,000 for the Youth Centre in 2013, so unless I can come up with a way of raising money that doesn’t involve me getting beaten up …

Pray for Israel/Palestine

The other thing I wanted to raise today was simply a call to prayer for Israel/Palestine.

I do believe that these countries are at crisis point, and I do believe that the course that these two countries take in the coming days and months will affect us all, one way or another!

I’ve written a brief article about the situation –Crisis point for Israel/Palestine!. You’ll find it here.

One of the things that really struck me in my travels across the US was the difficulty of accessing a balance of information regarding what is taking place in the rest of the world. Indeed, as I scanned the radio stations over and over again during my many hours of car travel, I found it difficult to find news about anything that was happening in the rest of the world! Certainly the only news I could find on Israel and Palestine was very one-sided.

I’m not suggesting that my perspective is unbiased of course, but hopefully it will provide a balance to the perspectives you may get in the mainline media, as will the other 528 articles that are published on www.israelandpalestine.org. Read and Pray!

Tidings of Comfort and Joy … NOT!

That’s the title of Sunday’s sermon, and I’ll leave you with that.

It’s 13 minutes and 37 seconds long if you have time for it.

[imaioVideo v=2]

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

If you don’t have time for that now, let me share the latest snaps from my family album with you instead. That’s two of my lovely daughters below. Francesca is the little one, playing the part of a Christmas angel. Imogen is just looking lovely, as she always does.

Francesca the Christmas Angel Imogen

(click either of the pics to go full-size)

And it’s actually my third (and eldest) daughter, Veronica, who is celebrating her birthday on Wednesday! I’ll include a birthday pic of her next week.

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. I put together an online slide-show of my recent US trip. If you’re up to it, click here.

P.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!

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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four