Monday Missive – April 15th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

You’ll have to forgive me if today’s missive reads more like a campaign letter but I want to devote my energies today to a membership drive for the Wikileaks Party!

join the Wikileaks Party

Become a Foundation Member of the Wikileaks Party:-)

I assume that everyone knows who Julian Assange is and what Wikileaks is about.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the news (or my missives) you might not know that Julian is running for a seat in the Australian Senate in the Federal election this October.

Further, it’s not just a solo campaign on Julian’s part. The Wikileaks Party intends have candidates running in a number of Australian electorates, and if you’ve been keeping up with my missives you know I’ve been meeting regularly with Julian’s dad in order to further the campaign in my own area.

You might be wondering why I am such a passionate supporter of Assange, especially when he is wanted in Sweden for questioning in relation to a sexual assault investigation.

In truth, I suspect that charges against him are concocted but, either way, it’s not the man I am inspired by so much as by what he (and the Wikileaks Party) stand for – the democratic requirement of truthfulness in government.

I read a striking quote recently:

“Why of course, the people don’t want war. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Who said it?

Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring – Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man!

I wasn’t alive during World War II but I’ve lived long enough to see Göring’s methodology employed multiple times to start wars that have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people!

I grew up fearing the Viet Cong and the ‘Red Terror’ of Communism. After the fall of Soviet Communism I watch my government manufacture a new enemy – the Muslim terrorist who had been plotting to murder my family and destroy my way of life for all of history though I had been blithely unaware of it! 

I watched my government lie about Saddam Hussein’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ so as  to wage war upon the people of Iraq, resulting in the deaths of more than a hundred thousand civilians! Now I am watching my government tell the same lies about the chemical weapons of Bashar Al-Assad in an attempt to escalate the death-toll there!

So far as I can see, Wikileaks has been one of the very few voices in this world that has been exposing these lies and shining the harsh light of truth on the murderous power-play of our democratically-elected leaders!

Bradley Manning’s revelations are a case in point. Manning now admits that he leaked internal army video of airstrikes in Baghdad in 2007, where civilians are clearly targeted and killed.  Wikileaks published the footage under the name Collateral Murder.

Manning was later arrested for leaking the video, has been in prison ever since, and is currently standing trial, facing a possible life-sentence. Assange, for his part, was called a “terrorist” by Newt Gingrich, while Sarah Palin suggested that he should be hunted down “with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders”.

The official rationale behind the rhetoric was that Manning and Assange were putting human lives at risk through releasing this sort of classified information. When you watch the Collateral Murder video though and read through the other leaked material, you realise that the only persons put at risk by Wikileaks’ revelations are the politicians who need to keep their official narrative in place in order to maintain their campaigns of global violence!

Enough said! If I haven’t convinced you by now to join the Wikileaks Party, I guess it ain’t gonna happen.

If you are interested in joining, let me encourage you to do it NOW, and I’ll give you a few good reasons why you should:

  • The Wikileaks Party has not yet registered with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
  • The AEC requires that the party has 500 financial members before it can register.
  • I’m told that more than 500 have applied but that a significant number of those memberships have been deemed invalid (due to typos in data entry, I believe).
  • We thus currently need another 72 persons to join before the party can officially register for inclusion in the next election!

So here’s your chance to become a foundation member of the the Wikileaks Party and to try to put the democratic requirement for truthfulness in government on the political agenda! Of course:

  1. You must be an Australian citizen and
  2. You must not be a member of any other Australian political party.

If that’s you though and you can afford the $20 membership fee, you can apply for membership online at the the Wikileaks Party website and there is now a provision to pay online via credit card. :-)

Please be careful though when filling out your application. Apparently your name and address etc. must appear exactly as it does on the AEC’s enrollment records. If you get it even slightly wrong, the AEC will apparently deem your membership invalid. 

 The Road to Damascus!

As you may remember, Denning and I will be heading off to Syria in the next few weeks, and I can’t pretend that this didn’t influence my choice of text for last Sunday’s sermon.

While I normally preach on the Gospel reading, the first reading scheduled for last Sunday was the story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus – the man we know as the Apostle Paul! It took place in Syria – on the road to Damascus.

It’s an amazing story of one of history’s most amazing men, and I couldn’t resist preaching on it. I’ll tell you bluntly that I was very pleased with this sermon. I felt I really did communicate something of the character and eccentricities of St Paul.

I appreciate that my depiction of the early Saul as a religious fundamentalist and terrorist is not a common one, yet I believe it is accurate! Click below if you’re ready to hear my take on St Paul and please leave your comments (positive and negative) in the comments section at the end of this post.

[imaioVideo v=1]

  • If you can’t see this video, click here.
  • If you’d rather read the written version, click here.
  • If you’d prefer to hear the audio version, click here.

Reasons to be Cheerful

It’s another reason for me to be cheerful, at any rate – the eleventh birthday of my dear son, Soren Lee Mordechai Smith.

Soren Lee turns 11!

Soren Lee turns 11!

In case you didn’t know, Soren was named after my three great heroes:

  • Soren Kierkegaard (the father of existentialism)
  • Robert E. Lee (the great Confederate General)
  • Mordechai Vanunu (who told the world about Israel’s hidden nuclear arsenal)

On reflection, perhaps I should have also included the other man I most admired – my father, Bruce – but at the time three middle-names seemed like more than enough.

Anyway, Soren Lee is now eleven and he’s showing himself to be a talented boxer as well as a kick-butt Yu-gi-oh player!

That’s enough from me today, fighter.

Until next week I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
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!

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – July 30th, 2012

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave, back from my Monday night run and keen to share my week with you.

I ran alone again, which was a shame as the Cook’s river looked beautiful tonight, if a little eerie. Everything was bathed in a cold winter moonlight, and I hardly saw another soul out there! It left me feeling very peaceful and thankful, and this despite the fact that it started raining when I was still about 5kms from home.

One of the reasons I enjoy my weekly half-marathon so much is because I listen to books on my MP3 player as I run. This week I heard two lectures by Richard Rohr on “Great Themes of St Paul” where Father Richard was focusing on one of St Paul’s great insights – that God doesn’t reward us with love and forgiveness once we’ve achieved a level of moral or religious perfection. Rather, God simply loves and forgives us, despite all our imperfections, and this is what empowers us to achieve whatever we are capable of achieving. Great stuff!

As I look back, my week has really been defined by three gatherings that each expressed unity with diversity.

Diverse Arts

The first was an all-day conference for Martial Arts instructors that I attended on Saturday. It was hosted by the Australian College of Sports Development and brought together martial arts instructors of all kinds from across Sydney and across the country, though I think that Mungo, Caine and I (the three Fighting Fathers) were the only boxing trainers.

The conference was well organised and well-presented, though I must confess that it left me feeling very thankful that I had ditched the ‘sensei’ persona years ago in favour of being a simple ‘trainer’.

The distinction is chalk and cheese! The ‘sensei’ figure stands up the front as the dispenser of all knowledge, while the students bow and scrape before him, ever respectful of sensei’s superior wisdom and power. Of course I’m not suggesting that anybody at the conference behaves that way, but the role is custom-made for people with ego problems. Mind you, there are plenty of clergy who run their churches that way too. Enough said!

Diverse Foods

The second event was a glorious ‘International Brunch’ we put on at church on Sunday, where everybody was encouraged to bring a dish from their own country of origin.  The diversity of the cuisine was wonderful, but even more so the diversity of the people who were there!

The immediate excuse for the party was the reunion of one of our Sierra Leonean families. Ramatu had been trying for years to bring her husband and two daughters out to Australia to join her, and now they are here!

Here’s a pic of me with Ramatu and Muhamed, whom you’ll noticed are dressed in dazzling African outfits! (click on the pic to see it full size)

Diverse Faiths

The third event was an Inter-faith dinner that I attended last night at the Nabi Akram Islamic Centre in Granville. It was a fantastic event that that brought together people from across the religious spectrum – Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Indigenous religious leaders.

I was particularly impressed with Sheikh Zaid Alsalami, who organised the event, and with Rabbi Zalman Kastel, who represented a group called “Together for Humanity” (of which I believe he was the founder).

Here’s a snap-shot of the panel discussion that took place towards the end of the evening (click it to enlarge). I’m sitting between the Indigenous Australian representative on my left and a lovely young Sunni Muslim man from Liberia on my right.

I was deeply impressed by the respect that everybody there showed to each other, and by the articulate and well-reasoned nature of the speeches that were given. Indeed, the only statement I took real exception to on the night came from the other Christian representative!

I won’t mention his name, and I’m sure he’s a better Christian than me in almost every way, but when he was asked whether Christians believed that God will forgive us our sins even when these sins are committed AFTER we have turned to God, he replied “we can’t be sure but we can hope!

I thought he’d been given a golden opportunity to share the distinctively Christian proclamation of universal and everlasting forgiveness, and he blew it! I’ll think I’m going to have to send him those lectures by Richard Rohr!

Before I let you go tonight I must apologise if you’ve been having trouble with www.how2changetheworld.com. We seem to be under some sort of attack that is chewing up all the bandwidth and making it impossible to access the site. Hopefully we’ll have it fixed by later today.

OK. That’s plenty from me tonight.

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

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four