Brave New World

Building a spiritual community in the bush - the monks of Binacrombi
Building a spiritual community in the bush - the monks of Binacrombi
Building a spiritual community in the bush - the monks of Binacrombi
Building a spiritual community in the bush - the monks of Binacrombi

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Hi Fighter,

I’ve just finished reading Aldous Huxley’s classic, “A Brave New World”. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, as I don’t read much fiction. What surprised me even more though was to finish the book and then realise that it wasn’t fiction at all. I was living it!

Seventy years ago, Huxley envisaged a futuristic world where people are indoctrinated from an early age to believe whatever their governments tell them, and where critical speech and free thought are systematically suppressed, not primarily through force of arms but through education. If the treatment of Julian Assange – by government and by media – isn’t proof enough that we are living in this Brave New World, our response to this latest virus should remove any doubts.

Now … I’m thankful I’m out at Binacrombi as I write this – a long way away from people who can throw things at me and hurl insults. This is the problem. If you raise any questions about the virus or about the way it is being handled, you are immediately labelled a ‘pandemic denier’ who cares nothing for the countless people suffering.

Some of you may have seen the short video I posted on Facebook a couple of weeks ago where I shared some of my questions about our government’s response to the virus – whether it was the only or best option. The response was overwhelming! Persons who I had respected referred to it as a ‘rant’, and so many complaints were made to the bishop that he rang me and urged me to take it down, lest he be forced to publicly distance himself from me!

Well … I’ve now been forced out of my job with the church anyway, so the post is going back up. You can see it below. If you don’t like what I have to say, and you don’t think I should be allowed to raise these questions, you’re in good company.

For the record, I am not a ‘pandemic denier’. I do take the latest virus seriously, and I am concerned about those put at risk by it. My question though is whether our response is a bit like Johnson’s Snakebite Antidote (pace Banjo Paterson) where the cure is far more harmful than the disease!

I am concerned about those who may die of the virus, but I am also concerned about how the lockdown has affected the mentally ill. Indeed, while I don’t see any clear statistics on the local situation, I can’t count the number who have contacted me, saying things like, “I don’t know how much longer I can handle this”, and I’m told by friends who work in the mental-health sector that there have been thousands of suicides resulting from these lockdown measures already.

I am also concerned for those at risk of domestic abuse. When I heard there had been a forty percent increase in cases of domestic violence in Italy, I was very troubled. Now I’m told that in our country it’s a sixty-something percent increase!

I’m also concerned about those who have lost their jobs and will lose their homes, and I’ve read that around two million people worldwide are now at risk of starvation due to these lockdown measures. I appreciate that some of these figures may be askew or inflated, but please don’t tell me that if I criticize the lockdown measures, that just means that I don’t care about people at risk!

It has amazed me – how virulent the outcry has been against those who raise these questions. The most public example must have been the two American doctors – Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi – who run a clinic dealing with Covid19 cases and who did an interview with a local TV station where they disagreed with their government’s approach. The interview was shared on YouTube and went viral, getting more than five million views, before it was taken down by YouTube because it apparently ‘violated community guidelines’!

Of course, I don’t know whether these two doctors were right or wrong in the statistics they gave or in the way they interpreted them. That’s not my area of expertise. What appalls me though is that at a time when you’d think we needed open discussion and shared wisdom, these men on the front line were shut down, after which they were attacked by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) both of whom issued media releases, accusing the men of seeking media attention in order to further their careers (while not making any attempt to refute their arguments)!

The criminalising of dissent – that’s what we are seeing. It’s what Julian Assange is being put on trial for. It’s what Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden and Morde Vanunu are suffering for. It makes good sense to keep your mouth shut in this brave new world but remember the wisdom of Pastor Niemöller:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

OK, I’ve said more than enough today, and I suspect a good number of you have already signed off out and unsubscribed. Fair enough. I don’t question your right to disagree with me or to not have to hear from me. For those still here, I was planning to leave a long list of links to articles for anyone who wants to look at divergent opinions about the virus and the way it’s being handled. I won’t bore you with all those links now. If you want my list, I’ll send it to you. If you want to watch that interview with the doctors, let me know that too. I downloaded a copy.

Perhaps I’ll leave just two links:

I found No.24 of the above 25 facts to be especially revealing – that Ed Snowden warned us that the corona crisis would be used for the massive and permanent expansion of global surveillance. You can see his video interview on that here.

Sorry. I said I’d only add two links. I’ll add one more as an extra video below, as I don’t think YouTube are ever going to delete Fox News (though I could be wrong).

If you’re still happy to stay in contact with me, why not join me each Sunday at midday when I stream a weekly Eucharist live from Binacrombi bush retreat via my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/fatherdave007). Hopefully, Sunday worship won’t be banned from the air for a little while yet. You might even consider supporting me and our community of Fighting Fathers out here at Binacrombi. All subscriptions at www.fighting-fathers.com will be gratefully accepted.

Keep up 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.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Ready for an Easter Miracle?

Building a spiritual community at Binacrombi
my darling girl turns eleven!
my darling girl turns eleven!
Our dear brother, 'Binacrombi' Bob, turns 60!

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Hi Fighter,

It’s Easter week, but it hardly feels like a time to celebrate. Yes, the great feast day of the Christian year is almost upon us – the day of new life and triumph and chocolate eggs – but there will be no dancing in the streets this year and no Easter-egg hunts in the church. We will all be shut in our homes, hiding from the virus!

We live in apocalyptic times – so it seems – and if it’s getting to you, be assured that it’s getting to me too. Moreover, I know there are a lot of people in far more precarious situations than me at the moment – people who have lost their jobs, may be losing their homes, and mentally fragile people who feel they are losing their minds.

My fear is that these lockdown measures – designed to save the lives of thousands – may end up destroying the lives of millions. I hope I’m wrong. Either way, I’ll shut my mouth for now as I’ve already been censored by my bishop for speaking my mind on this subject and I don’t want to attract further trouble. Be assured though that if you are suffering at the moment through this lockdown, I am with you, and it’s just possible that I may be able to help.

As Providence would have it, the timing of this lockdown has coincided exactly with the latest initiative being undertaken by our Order of the Fighting Fathers. We are forming a spiritual community in the bush.

When I drove away from Binacrombi last weekend, I left another two ‘fighting monks’ lodged in the Cloister. Another two have applied to join us. We have an initiation period, of course, involving two weeks of isolation in one of the more distant cabins. By the end of that period though it should be clear whether initiates are physically and spiritually suitable for our community, and there are plenty of beds available in the cloister.

We have even developed a draft Rule for the community. Every day our monks must devote at least one hour to prayer, one hour to fight training, and one hour to giving something back to Binacrombi. I appreciate that we’ll need to work on this a bit if we’re going to get it up to the standard of the Benedictine Rule but it’s a great start. 🙂

Would you like to join us? I can’t guarantee you a place in the community, and I can’t even guarantee that we’ll be able to take you for the two weeks’ initiation period if government rules change and make that impossible. I can guarantee though that I’ll talk it through with you if you contact me. See my promo video below if you need further convincing.

I don’t have a regular ‘sermon time’ sermon for you this week as we haven’t been having regular church services lately! I’ve streamed a couple of Eucharists from Binacrombi (which you can see here), and I’ll be streaming services from the Holy Trinity church building in Dulwich Hill for Easter morning and for the following Sunday.

Both services will be streamed from the Holy Trinity Facebook page. We’ll start each Sunday at around 9.15 am, and you don’t need a Facebook account to access these live events. Please join me if you can. These may be the last services I hold in our church building, though nothing has been finalised as yet.

It’s a difficult time for all of us at the moment. I know that. It’s a difficult time for our economy and for our planet, and it’s especially difficult for those who are on the underside of the system – the poor and marginalised, prisoners, the mentally and physically disabled.

Pray with me. Pray for our planet and for its people. So many of the issues needing our attention are getting scant consideration at the moment. How many know, for instance, that the extradition trial for Julian Assange is being pushed ahead with relentlessly in London. Sadly, there is only one item in the news at the moment.

That all makes sense, of course. When you have a toothache, you can really only think about two things – your pain and a dentist – and when we’re locked down in fear of the virus, it’s really hard to expect anyone to think of anything else, which is why this is the perfect time for corrupt corporations and governments to be about the devil’s work.

And so we must pray. We also need to mobilise, but it’s hard to mobilise if you’re not allowed to meet. We must therefore pray that God will show us how to do the impossible, which brings us back to Easter, of course, where we celebrate that the impossible indeed happens! Perhaps it will turn out to be a great Easter after all?

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.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Merry Christmas

catching up with Father Bob
Antony Loewenstein wins the Jerusalem Peace Prize
Brian Dawe - a great comedian and committed supporter of Palestine
with Eddie Wardy on 'The Good Smoke' (Radio Skid Row)
with Albo (Australia's next Prime Minister) discussing Julian Assange
Bring Him Home! Support for Julian Assange is growing worldwide.
Luke Cornish throws his support behind Julian
Fran and I construct gingerbread houses 🙂
My darling Veronica turns 30!
My darling Veronica turns 30!
Soren gets his first tattoo!


Hi Fighter,

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”

The quote (in case you don’t recognise it) is from Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” and is his description of Europe at the time of the French revolution.  For me it equally describes the experience of being in the middle of the Christmas rush, with all the busyness and goodwill and tinsel and chaos.

In the light of ‘the rush’, I’ll be brief, but I must ask you to pray with me for our country. We seem to be in the grip of the worst fires in recorded history!

A friend of mine is amongst the many who have lost their homes, and Bob sends me the photos from Binacrombi. It hasn’t been hit yet (thanks be to God) but the smoke is so thick there sometimes that you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

I know some scientists believe that it’s already too late to recover from global warning and that things will only get worse from here. I pray that they are wrong. I pray too for our many courageous fire-fighters, including the countless volunteers. Strengthen and protect them, O Lord!

Of course, it’s not only Australia. The whole world seems to be on fire (literally as well as figuratively). My friends in Syria are buckling in for a harsh winter without access to diesel to heat their homes (courtesy of our draconian sanctions). Meanwhile, the situation in Palestine continues to degenerate, and our dear brother, Julian Assange, continues to languish in Belmarsh Prison – paying the price for telling the truth!

Forgive me if none of this rings of Christmas Cheer. There are plenty of lights shining in the darkness. We have not given up the struggle, and I’m trusting that the New Year is going to bring with it new vigor as we continue to fight the good fight together.

If you’re in the Dulwich Hill over the next few days I can assure you too that there will be plenty of love and laughter circulating here. You would be very welcome to join in.

  • Christmas Carols on the lawn on Christmas Eve (Tuesday) from 7 pm
  • Christmas Eucharist at 9.15 am on Christmas Day (Wednesday)

And for anyone who will be themselves on Christmas Day, you are welcome to join me and my family for lunch from midday onwards. Just give me a bit of notice that you’re coming in case I need to add a few more tinnies to the fridge.

Sermon Time

Christmas, for most of us, is a time for family, which is also why there are more suicides at Christmas than any other time of year. A lot of us don’t want to be reminded of what happened to our families, and the pristine images of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus only highlight our own failings.

But not so fast! While religious art has always depicted the holy family as an image of perfection, the Gospel accounts themselves are far more realistic. The birth circumstances of Jesus are far from ideal, and with Jesus’ broader family, there were plenty of skeletons in the closet!

Take a moment to listen to Matthew’s account of Jesus family and you may find that it is not too dissimilar to your own! The written version is here.

I do pray that you have a great Christmas and New Year. A big thank you to all my faithful friends and supporters this year. 2019 has probably been the most difficult year of my life and you guys have helped me get through.

the view from Binacrombi

Like the view from my cabin at Binacrombi, it’s hard to know what lies ahead for me in 2020. Even so, I am trusting that the God who has brought me this far will both bless and protect me and my children in the year to come. I believe I still may have my best fights left in me, and I look forward to having you stand alongside me in the rounds that lie ahead.

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.

Yours 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.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Things have got to change

Christmas is on its way! 🙂
The numbers supporting Julian grow daily!
The numbers supporting Julian grow daily!
The numbers supporting Julian grow daily!
with Superhero, Jennifer Robinson - Julian's lawyer
Alex wins yet another Karate tournament!
Nestor fights for the title
Nestor fights for the title


Hi Fighter,

It will be a quick one today as I’m weary after another round with the Combat Sports Authority (CSA).

The CSA is the government body that oversees all combat sports, including boxing. Unfortunately, my stoush with them is a legal one. It’s over the prohibition they placed on my fight last March.

In case you don’t know the story, the CSA had approved my fight against Jason Mac Gura some weeks before it was scheduled but then reversed their decision at the last minute – issuing a probation order just an hour before I was due to go on!

They gave no reason. They communicated their decision to the promoter via an email. I tried calling them to get the decision reversed, or at least to find out what the problem was. I got nothing. Given that I had 50 supporters there, many paying upwards of $200 per ticket to watch me fight, the CSA’s action left everyone out of pocket and me without credibility. I haven’t been able to fight in my home state since!

I was hoping that today I’d have my day in court. I had taken the case to the Administrative Tribunal, rather than to the regular court, as it only costs $100 to go to the Tribunal and I simply can’t afford anything else. I had all my points prepared and I really thought I’d be able to convince the judge to order the CSA not to treat me like this again, and perhaps to even give us some compensation that I could put back into our work. Unfortunately, the CSA instead asked that the case be dismissed on a technicality. According to their legal team, if the CSA cancels my fight on LESS than 24 hours’ notice, they cannot be taken to the Tribunal. Go figure!

Anyway, the judge told them to put their dismissal case in writing and to send it to me so that I have a right of reply. Of course, I wouldn’t have a clue how to respond to this, though dismissing the case because I was NOT given any notice seems radically unjust! So … if there are any legal eagles out there who’d like to give me advice on this one, I’d love to hear from you.

Social Justice Theatre

On a brighter note, this coming Saturday – November 23rd – we’ll be holding the first of our Social Justice Theatre screenings in our church hall. Our focus this time will be on Palestine, which this week took another big hit when the US government decided that the illegal occupation of Palestinian land was no longer illegal. Again … go figure!

We’ll be screening Budrus – an award-winning feature documentary film about Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites Palestinian political factions and invites Israeli supporters to join an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier.

We’ll begin with coffee and snacks at 5.30 pm and start the actual film no later than 6 pm. That will make it easy to do dinner afterwards for any who are interested. More details are on the Facebook event page (here).

If you can’t make it this week, our second screening will be a fortnight later – December 7th. I haven’t got the title for the movie that night but it will be about our brother, Julian Assange, and we’ll have Julian’s dad, John, with us for the evening.

That evening may be a big one, as support for Julian is definitely growing! I attended a meeting at the University of Technology (UTS) last Friday where Julian’s lawyer – Jennifer Robinson – was interviewed. It was a full house!

I’m not sure why we’ve had such a surge of support.  Is it because the alleged rape allegations in Sweden have finally been shown to be a ruse? Are people concerned about the inhumanity of Julian’s treatment? Has the penny finally dropped with regards to the impact it will have on humanity if everyone who reports a crime committed by someone powerful is imprisoned and tortured? Maybe it’s a combination of the above, along with a healthy respect for the importance of free speech? I’m not sure, but I am sure that support is growing, and I’m praying that it will grow into an enormous wave that will sweep across this country and bring significant change.

Put it in your diary – same time, same place.

Sermon Time

I’ve given a few sermons since my last communication. I’ve decided today to share one entitled, “Love is forever. Marriage isn’t”. This is not a commentary on my personal struggles but a reflection on Jesus’ argument with a group of religious academics about marriage and the resurrection. In the end, the dialogue isn’t really about marriage at all but about the new and beautiful future that God has planned for our world. I hope you’ll find this encouraging, whatever you are struggling with. Click below for the video, or read the written version here.

In closing, thank you for your prayers for Bob – our caretaker at Binacrombi. Our dear brother is doing much better – in body, and certainly in spirits.

It was a horrible accident. The car blew a front tire on a remote dirt road and it rolled. Tragically, Bob had the window down and his arm resting on the outside of the door, and the car rolled on to his arm! Thanks to the wonders of modern surgery, we remain hopeful that Bob will regain full use of the arm. Keep praying.

That’s all for now. I hope to see you Saturday night if you’re in the vicinity. Either way, let me know what sorts of films/subjects you think we should be covering in our future Social Justice Theatre sessions. I’d love to hear from you.

Yours 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.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Needing Prayer

my darling Veronica graduates with first class honours 🙂
my darling Veronica graduates with first class honours 🙂
Iftar dinner with the Mufti
Iftar dinner with the Mufti
Al Quds Day Iftar
Al Quds Day Iftar
Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange
Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange
night with dad (and Honey the bunny)
night with dad (and Honey the bunny)


Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, and I’d appreciate your prayers.

For any who don’t know, my family is having a rough time at the moment. Ange and I are not currently living together. Two weeks ago, Ange and my son, Soren, moved to an adjoining suburb. My youngest daughter, Fran, stayed with me. It’s been a tough time for all of us.

Situations like this are always difficult, and there are special difficulties involved when you’re pastoring a church. Suffice it to say that the future for me is uncertain. Even so, I am currently getting some wonderful support from the church, from my boxing club, our Binacrombi team, and especially from my children. Indeed, last week Imogen decided to move back in with me and Fran, and last night Veronica organised for all of the kids to join me for dinner. It was lovely.

I won’t say any more on this subject for now, and we’d appreciate not being bombarded with questions. Your prayers are what we need, and plenty of divine grace.

I know that people in these situations are often counselled to take immediate leave, rather than deal with the stress of work on top of personal struggles. My advice to others in these situations has generally been the opposite – to maintain your routine as far as possible.

I think of how the captains of the old sailing ships would respond when they were hit by a devastating storm. They would lash their arms to the wheel so that they could maintain a straight course through the storm. That’s the approach I’m trying to take myself at the moment. Accordingly, I’ve been continuing to plan ministry and mission activities a plenty.

Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange

We had our first meeting of “Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange” on Saturday. It was an Iftar dinner held in our church hall with about 35 people in attendance. I am hoping that it will prove to be the start of something big.

I believe that all attempts at social activism face an almost insurmountable problem. It’s basically impossible to achieve anything on your own, but once you form a coalition of people, powerful enough to make a difference, that group becomes subject to the same forces of corruption that affect all large groups.

The only solution, I believe, is to have our activism rooted in faith communities such as churches and mosques. These groups are not necessarily immune from corruption (particularly at the higher levels) but faith communities by definition maintain a doctrine and an idealism that binds people together and empowers their activism – especially at the grass-roots level. This is what gave birth to my vision for a Christian and Muslim coalition for justice and peace.

The imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange is an obvious point of common concern for both Christians and Muslims. The rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press are important to all of us, and the revelations that the US wants to indict Julian on are specifically related to the war on Iraq – a particularly sensitive issue in the Muslim community. I believe this is an area where we may be able to achieve something significant if we can pool our energies and work together.

If you’d like to join “Christians and Muslims supporting Julian Assange” let me know. Once we’ve helped to bring Julian back home to Oz we will redeploy as “Christians and Muslims supporting Gaza” or “Christians and Muslims against domestic violence”. Maybe we’ll even expand to become “Christians, Muslims and Jews for peace”. We are a work in progress. Let me know if you’d like to be a part of it and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

Manus – the movie

Julian was the focus of last Saturday’s meeting. This Saturday we’ll be focusing on Manus Island again with a screening of Angus McDonald’s 15-minute documentary, ‘Manus’.

Manus is made up almost entirely of footage from our trip to Manus Island in November, 2017 – the final days before the detainees were forcibly removed from their decommissioned detention centre. There were three of us on that trip – Jarrod McKenna (of “Love Makes a Way”), Olivia Rousset (our videographer) and me. Livy and I, along with Angus, the director, will be present for Saturday nights’ screening and will field questions afterwards.

Saturday, June 8th, from 7.30 pm
Trinity’s Community Centre
(2 Herbert Street, Dulwich Hill)

And if you’d like to join Angus and Livy and me (and Fran) for dinner beforehand, just let me know.

Father Dave’s Last Stand

Having still received no response from the Combat Sports Authority after having my March 23rd fight cancelled at the last minute, I’m taking matters into my own hands and having a stoush with the same opponent in my own boxing ring.

This will not be an official boxing match. It’s unofficial and unregistered. It won’t even technically be boxing. It will just be two blokes jumping into the ring and doing what they do best. I’m told that under these circumstances the Combat Sports Authority (CSA) don’t have any jurisdiction over us.

There will be ZERO cover charge – that’s requisite to not having the CSA involved. We won’t even take up a collection. However, following the event in the ring there will be a sausage-sizzle fundraiser for Boxers for Peace in the adjacent church hall. Everyone is welcome to join us for that too, but there is no obligation or expectation.

The ring-events will simply showcase the talents of the ‘Boxers for Peace’ team. We leave for Syria the following day. Meet the team and hear about our work.

Saturday, June 22nd.
Doors open at 6 pm with main event on at 7 pm.
Trinity’s Community Centre
(2 Herbert Street, Dulwich Hill)

Sermon Time

I don’t think this was the best sermon I’ve ever given but it was one of the toughest. It was delivered on the same morning Ange and I announced our new living situation.

The Gospel text for that week was John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Preaching the Gospel is always a challenge, but sometimes especially so.

A final favour

Before letting you go today, I have one final request. I need help with web design.

I need to upgrade two of my sites – www.binacrombi.com.au (our bush retreat site) and www.christiansandmuslims.com, which will soon become the launch site for my new book, “Christians and Muslims can be friends”.

I’m quite happy to pay someone to help me upgrade these sites but I can’t afford the prices I see some people charging. If you think you can help me yourself, or if you know someone who you think is capable and decently priced, please let me know.

That’s all for now. Keep us in your prayers, please, as I do you.

Yours 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.dulwichhillgym.com
www.boxersforpeace.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four