Weekly Missive – October 4th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

I’m writing to you from the lovely town of Narooma on our state’s south coast. Our family is taking a few days off at Ange’s partents’ house and, as you can see from the pic below, the children are out frolicking in the sunshine and enjoying the great outdoors!

Enjoying the great outdoors!

Enjoying the great outdoors!

I’m afraid that since we last spoke I seem to have been bogged down in desk work and other clerical duties, though I have been keeping myself up-to-date with Syria. Indeed, I’ve been finding myself increasingly mired in the ongoing information war.

I hope that you saw my article on How Obama lost the first battle for Damascus.  It got quite a wide circulation and can now be found on onlineopinion.com.au, orientalreview.org, and counterpunch.org, as well as on my own Syria blog – prayersforsyria.com.

My aim in the article was to try to unravel some of the rhetoric that was being used to prepare the ground for open war. Since writing, I’ve been made even more aware of just how deep and dirty this war of words really is!

The Battle for Hearts and Minds

Some of us are old enough to remember the only war in human history that was ever brought to a close due to popular demand – the war in Vietnam (1955-75). The reason the Vietnam War was so unique and was concluded in such a unique fashion was that it was the only war to have ever been televised by an independent media!

The power-brokers learnt their lessons from Vietnam. Mainline media is no longer so independent, and reporters are no longer allowed to move freely around the front lines. They are now safely ‘embedded’ at well-determined vantage-points.  The makers-of-war lost control of the narrative in Vietnam and determined not to lose their grip again. Then along came the Internet, and with it, the threat of the true democratisation of information!

This where Obama came unstuck, I suspect. He announced that Assad had committed a crime that warranted his country being invaded, and a million bloggers cried foul!

From what I could see, the mainline media did very little to question the official government narrative, just as they completely failed to notice that every sector of the church across the globe had united in opposition to US intervention. Even so, the multiple voices of dissent could not be kept below the surface. There were too many of them, and too many people had the capacity to hear them!

It would be interesting to do a detailed comparison of the various lies that have been used to justify wars and see how this latest set compares. Even putting to one side the obvious lies concerning Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction and his supposed links to Al Qaeda, we could compare:

  • The stories told by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, in April 2011, about how Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was issuing Viagra to his troops to encourage the systematic rape of civilians – a charge that was later investigated by both ‘Doctors Without Borders’ and ‘Amnesty International’, and shown to be without foundation (see here).
  • The eerily similar 1993 story of an unnamed Serbian General who commanded his troops to “Go forth and rape”. It made the front page of the New York Times and helped grease the wheels for NATO’s intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The paper later published a small correction saying that “the existence of “a systematic rape policy” by the Serbs “remains to be proved.”” but this received little attention.
  • The Kuwaiti girl who testified before Congress in 1990 that she had seen Iraqi soldiers storm the hospital where she worked and dump newborn babies out of their incubators. She turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, if you remember, and the whole ‘baby-killer’ story turned out to be the brain child of an American marketing firm, but nobody questioned the story until well after it had played its role in justifying the first invasion of Iraq.
  • George Bush I’s outlandish depiction of Manuel Noriega, accompanied by the transparently false claim that American lives were at risk in Panama, used to justify the invasion of 1989, cynically named “Operation Just Cause”!
  • The outrageous lies told by Ronald Reagan back in 1983 to justify the invasion of the tiny Caribbean nation of Grenada – claiming that the tiny country was being developed into a Cuban-Soviet military base that would be used to launch communist attacks against the US!
  • The staged “The Gulf of Tonkin” incident that launched America into a full-scale war in Indochina in 1964!

Most of us are too young to remember this last incident, but recently declassified documents reveal quite unambiguously that the “unprovoked attack” by North Vietnamese vessels on the USS Maddox on the night of August 4, 1964, never actually took place!

In short, government lies are nothing new and they are rarely particularly sophisticated. You get the impression that the great powers assume that their voting public will believe anything that comes from the top, and history shows that generally we do!

I think the reason for this is simple. The papers inevitably report what our leaders say. If the official narrative is challenged, that challenge is nestled somewhere deeper in the paper, on the pages that most people never reach.

But nowadays the counter-narrative is in your face! It’s coming at you through your smart-phone, and it’s all over Facebook and Twitter before the papers carrying the official narrative are even printed! This must be causing those who reap the big profits from war and human misery to panic!

The Machinations of Propaganda

It’s macabrely fascinating to watch the way the power-players are handling these latest developments.

On the one hand we see the relatively sophisticated US propaganda machine try to reframe the argument for war and refocus us on other issues, using their full arsenal of ‘weapons of mass distraction’ (as Chomsky calls them). On the other hand we find basic thuggery and intimidation being used in other parts of the world!

One saga that has gripped me has been the unraveling of an article published in Mintpress News on August 29 that was the first to claim eye-witness accounts of the gas attacks in Ghouta! According to the two Jordanian journalists to whom the article was attributed, it was actually the Saudis who were behind the attack!

Since the publication of that article, one of the journalists seems to have disappeared and the other is trying to distance herself from the work completely. Apparently she’s under pressure from … (you guessed it) … the Saudi’s! (see the full story here).

In the middle of all these machinations is our own dear Mother Agnes, who published a lengthy study of her own that disputes the official US version of the gas attacks. This has earned her praise from some quarters and ridicule from others. Mother Agnes’ study can be downloaded here.

Mother with Mairead and myself in Beirut

with Mother Agnes and Mairead in Beirut

I found it difficult to study Mother Agnes’ report in detail as it contains multiple images of apparently dead and suffering children, and it is hard to look at such images analytically. Even so, I appreciate that if we are to take these children’s suffering seriously we must investigate these crimes scrupulously, and this is what Mother Agnes has done. If you’d prefer an abbreviated version, this RT News article draws directly on Mother Agnes’ work and makes it clear that at least some of the videos used by the US to justify the proposed attack on Syria cannot be trusted!

And so, as Mother Agnes tries to unravel the propaganda, she becomes a target of propaganda herself! Media sources from Russia and other countries that oppose foreign intervention in Syria have been praising her while those in favour of intervention pillory her.

The effort from Australian mainline media seem particularly pitiful. One recent article published in the Melbourne Age that was straightforwardly critical of Mother Agnes turned out to be a simple cut and paste job done on an article that appeared in the New York Times. The interesting thing is that the New York Times article is actually far more balanced. The Australian version has all the balanced bits cut out!

And now ‘Human Rights Watch’ have come out in opposition to Mother Agnes! This might sound like a damning indictment, but it probably says more about ‘Human Rights Watch’ – an organisation whose objectivity has been under suspicion for some years – than it does about Mother Agnes. Read this article published on the ‘Ron Paul Institute’ site if you’d like to know more about this saga.

A Solution for Syria?

And while the propaganda war rages, a solution to the actual war on the ground may be nearer than we had thought!

One consequence of the proposed intervention that the Americans may not have anticipated was that it has further fragmented the Syrian opposition, many of whom hate the Americans even more than they do Bashar Al-Assad!

On the one hand this has led entire units of the ‘Free Syrian Army’ to defect to Jabhat Al Nusra – the largest of the Islamist groups – who are by no stretch of the imagination fighting for a free and democratic Syria! Conversely, those Syrians who are still fighting for reforms to their homeland are now considering teaming up with government forces to help throw out the foreigners!

Robert Fisk reports that secret meetings between FSA and government officials have already taken place and that we may well soon see a complete reshaping of the conflict! If this happens I expect that the war in Syria will end pretty quickly. There will be no way that the US will be able to justify arming Al Qaeda against an all-Syrian coalition who are defending their country from foreigners. And once support for the opposition dries up from the US and its allies (the Saudis, Qatar, Israel and Turkey) it will not take long before the insurgents will be in full retreat!

I pray that this will happen quickly, as I would much rather return to Damascus when this is all over there than go there as a human shield. Even so, things are by no means resolved as yet, and the propaganda machine still has plenty of fuel left in the tank.

Sermon Time!

I attended some lectures by the great theologian Stanley Hauwerwas last week where he emphasized the need for theological language to be challenging and confrontational. No parable of Jesus’ manages this task more disruptively than His ‘Parable of the Sly Bastard’, recorded in the first half of Luke chapter 16.

I received mixed reactions to my sermon on this passage – some thinking I went too far and was downright offensive. I suspect Jesus received much the same reaction when He told the parable!

[imaioVideo v=1]

If you can view this video click here

You’ll have to forgive me for the length of today’s tome, but I’ve got one more thing I must share with you before I let you go.

Last week my friend Steve Lacey called and told me that I’d been featured in an article he’d written for the Sydney Morning Herald, entitled “I want to see my abs one last time“.

I do remember Steve calling me and asking for my advice as a fitness trainer regarding how he should lose weight and strengthen his abs, but I hadn’t put two and two together and realised that my advice was going to appear as part of a major article. Neither did I really think too much about what might happen if I won the poll, featured at the end of the online version of the article, where readers were encouraged to choose which of the four advisers Steve should listen to.

Bottom line is that (thanks no doubt to my loyal Twitter followers and Facebook friends) I received 33% of the 6791 votes, with my nearest rival coming in at 28%. This means I’m now Steve’s official trainer for the next seven weeks, and apparently Steve’s progress is going to be monitored with further articles and a video diary!

Anyway, my prescription (as you can read in the article) is basically lots of boxing and no carbs. I suspect though that plenty of my subscribers will be able to supplement this program in useful ways that will help Steve achieve the rock-hard six-pack he’s looking for!

So send me your suggestions please. Indeed, come and join us in person and shout your encouragement at Steve! The training times are on dulwichhillgym.com if you can join us.

Family day trip to Montague Island

Family day trip to Montague Island

OK, I’m winding this missive up now, having just returned from a wonderful day-trip to Montague Island.  I’ll be back in Dulwich Hill in time for church Sunday morning and I’ll hope to see you there.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

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

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Weekly Missive – September 11th, 2013

[imaioVideo v=1] Speaking at the “Hands Off Syria” rally in Sydney
(if you can’t view this video, click here

Hi there Fighter,

It’s been a dramatic week!

While America prepares to unleash hell on Syria, Australia has elected a new government that promises to make life hell for asylum seekers!

We live in dark times – dark times indeed – and yet, as ever, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome it!” (John 1)

For me that light shone most brightly this week in St Peters’ Square in Vatican City where the Pope led a hundred thousand people in prayer for Syria and for peace.

We are at a critical point in human history. The powers of darkness are emerging from their crevices and the stench of death is in the air. At the same time, I have never in my life seen the church so united as they are over this looming escalation in global violence.

The forces of darkness and light seem to be lining up! It’s time for all of us to decide where we stand!

I swore at the Television!

I swore at the TV the other night!

I appreciate that this sort of thing doesn’t accomplish much, but I couldn’t help myself.

I was listening to Barack Obama addressing a press conference. He had a look of deep sincerity on his face as he said “It’s not me that has drawn the red line over chemical weapons. It’s the international community”. I cried out “BULL****!”

Whatever opinion you might have of Syria and of the American President’s plans to bomb Damascus, we all know that the international community is NOT behind Barrack Obama!

Not even the American public are behind him! Indeed, in no country in the world (apart from Israel) does Obama have anywhere near majority support for his militaristic agenda, and the man knows this full well! And yet he smoothly spits out his lie – that the whole of humanity is supporting him in his stand, and then the camera pans around the room to focus on more sincere faces, nodding in agreement.

It’s all so smooth and it’s all so convincing and it’s all so entirely FALSE!

Truly this President is far more dangerous than his predecessor! George Dubya was a clown – albeit a criminal clown, but a clown nonetheless – and we all knew it! This guy is slick, and he seems like such a nice man! That makes him far more dangerous!

There was one valuable lesson that I learnt from my first Martial Arts instructor, Mr Kim. He taught me “your mouth can lie but your body can’t lie”. He was referring to people who said they were looking for a friendly sparring session but once they got into the ring it was an all out war! The principal applies across various areas of life. If you want to know what someone is really on about, don’t just listen to what they say. Watch what they do!

Barrack Obama’s record speaks for itself. Military expenditure is greater than under any previous administration, a covert domestic surveillance programs is eroding American civil liberties, whistle-blowers and dissenters are being handled with unprecedented brutality, and now Mr Obama seems to be on a personal mission to destroy what is left of Syria!

001_military_spending_dollars

Christians around the world unite!

joining hands with Mother Agnes and the Melkite Patriarch in Damascus

joining hands with Mother Agnes and the Melkite Patriarch in Damascus

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never overcome it!”
(John 1)

I can say in all honesty that I have never in my lifetime seen the church so united on any one issue. It seems that every Christian leader in the world is speaking as one in their opposition to Barrack Obama’s plans for war with Syria!

In St Peter’s Square the Pope openly denounced those “captivated by the idols of dominion and power” who destroy God’s creation by war, and earlier in the week he wrote to leaders of the G20 meeting in Saint Petersburg, urging them to “lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution” for Syria (see full report here).

Meanwhile, Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham of Antioch (who was my host while I was in Beirut earlier this year) spoke optimistically to the faithful in Damascus “This is the start of the victory. No to war. Yes for peace.” (see full report here).

Archbishop Matta Roham, Syro-Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop of Jazirah and Euphrates, was explicit in his concerns: “It is easy to pave the way for air strikes on Syria, but it is difficult to end the war and the consequences of these attacks throughout the Middle East”. (see full report here).

Father Adolfo Nicolas, superior-general of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was even more explicit in his condemnation of Obama’s plans, saying that any attack from the United States will be a “terrible mistake” and an abuse of power. “The US has to stop acting and reacting like the big boy of the neighbourhood of the world. This leads inevitably to abuse, harassment and bullying of the weaker members of the community.” (see report here)

Not to be outdone, mainline Protestant and Evangelical leaders have also been adding their voices to the growing throng.

Geoff Tunnicliffe, CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance, pointed out the negative effect military strikes would have on Christians in the Middle East. His remarks were given during a meeting of Christian leaders in Jordan. He added “I couldn’t find a Christian leader at the conference who supported military intervention”.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore echoed Tunnicliffe’s concerns, saying, there are just-cause principles missing “both to justify action morally and to justify it prudentially.” (Read both full statements here).

I must say that I find all this deeply encouraging! It seems to me that the Holy Spirit is speaking clearly and unambiguously through every branch of Christ’s church! The only question is whether those in power who claim to be Christians will be willing to listen!

Shall we meet in Damascus?

Mother Agnes with children in Damascus

I must be honest and say that I don’t expect the light to prevail in the short term.

The US Congress is yet to vote on the US attack as yet, of course, but President Obama has not ruled out the possibility that he will personally authorise an attack even if his Congress votes against it! The people of Damascus are expecting the bombing to start on Thursday.

I haven’t heard much from my friend in Damascus, Ghinwa Maia, over the last week. She and her family are on the move, looking for a safe place to hide. The one text I did receive from her said “We are not afraid of the US strike itself as much as we are afraid of terrorist groups moving on the ground while the US would be covering them from the sky!”

This is indeed a legitimate concern. According to all reports, Jabhat Al-Nusra and various Jihadist groups are massing on the outskirts of Damascus, ready to use the American missile strike as air cover while they make their ground assault!

If appeals to common sense and the vote of Congress won’t dissuade Mr Obama from the path of violence, I can only see one other strategy remaining. Concerned people from around the world will have to gather in Damascus to act as human shields. Should we go together?

A number of people I know in Syria, Lebanon and the US are trying to put together a human-shield program at this very moment. Indeed, there have been 100’s of emails circulating over the last week as we rapidly try to organise something.

The problem is that it can’t be a rush job. One friend who was involved in the human-shield program in Baghdad in 2003 warned me that a poorly organised program only serves to put more people at risk. It needs to be well organised, and this takes time. The problem is, of course, that we don’t have time.

At any rate, I know that Mother Agnes and various Christian leaders are planning on being involved and I am certainly interested in joining them. I mentioned this in church on Sunday and a handful of others expressed an interest too. Would you be interested in joining me in Damascus too, fighter?

As I say, I don’t have any details at this stage but if you’d like me to keep you in the loop as plans develop, just hit me back and let me know. Take note though that while I’d like to take a sizeable team with me, I’d prefer to take only those who are over 50 years of age and don’t have any young dependent children.

The Cost of Discipleship

It was serendipitous that our Gospel reading last Sunday was that dreaded passage from Luke 14 where Jesus says that we need to ‘hate our fathers and mothers and children and our own lives if we want to follow him!’ (Luke 14:25-34).

The passage has always confused as well as disturbed me, but this time when I read it, it all seemed to make sense! Jesus is addressing His disciples the same way a military commander might address his soldiers. The issue is not really so much how they feel about their loved ones but whether they are willing to let go of them. In other words, Jesus is asking His disciples whether they are ready to die for Him (or rather with Him)!

[imaioVideo v=2]
(if you can’t view this video, click here)

As is always the case, thoughts of death reminds us of how much we have to live for!

This month is a time of great birthdays for us here!

Last weekend we celebrated our dear parishioner, Rabiatu Kamara, turning 21!

Rabiatu turns 21!

Rabiatu turns 21!

Today I celebrate my dear daughter, Imogen, turning 16!

Imogen turns 16!

Imogen turns 16!

This month is also Ange’s birthday and our wedding anniversary.   Indeed, with so much to celebrate it seems like an odd time to be planning a trip to Damascus. And yet it is precisely our appreciation of the value of human life that makes the survival of the people of Damascus so imperative!   We’ll talk again soon.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

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

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – April 1st, 2013

HI Fighter,

Father Dave here and again I’m a day late with my Monday Missive, but this week it’s deliberate!

I figured that it would be a bit silly to broadcast my Easter sermon two weeks after Easter, and I didn’t think it right to urge Denning to work on the video on a public holiday so … the holiday is over, the video is up and the missive is posted! :-)

Thinking about Syria

It appears that our trip to Syria is back on the agenda! Indeed, it may take place May!

The whole process of postponement and rescheduling has been very educative and has been helpful for me personally in terms of helping me clarify what I see as my own role in the campaign for peace.

Without wanting to divulge information that should remain private, I can tell you that when the initial March visit was suddenly cancelled the day before we were scheduled to leave, a handful of the original delegates did travel to Syria regardless. These persons (who were from India) made it to Damascus, met with Mother Agnes, and returned home safely. From there they organised a follow-up peace conference in Damascus to which Denning and I were invited.

We decided not to attend the conference,  not because we disagreed with the aims of the organisers and not because we’d become any less concerned about Syria, but because the conference seemed to have quite a specific political agenda and I felt that if I had a contribution to make it was more in supporting grass-roots humanitarian work than broad political change.  Again, this wasn’t because I consider the work of political change unimportant – far from it – but because I don’t think it’s my area of expertise and I simply don’t feel it’s my calling to be involved at that level (at least for the moment).

Anyway, it appears now that Mother Agnes is re-initiating the tour of the grass-roots initiatives being undertaken by her Mussalaha (‘reconciliation’) group and I am keen to do whatever I can to support her wonderful work. Of course nothing is confirmed as yet but I would appreciate your prayers and ongoing advice. :-)

Thinking MORE about Syria

While I don’t see myself as being an agent for political change, I am doing my best to understand what is really going on in Syria and the rest of the Middle East, and I normally add two articles each day to my blog on Middle Eastern events – www.israelandpalestine.org – .as well as pieces I publish on our member site.

I’d like to draw your attention to two resources that I’ve found particularly helpful in the last week and that I hope you’ll find enlightening too. Both of them appear on our member site.

The first is a video posted by Fighting Father Ali Baghdadi, entitled “WWIII is Coming Soon and Here’s Why”. It covers the relationship between gold, the US dollar and the trading of petroleum, and how this all relates to the wars in the Middle East that we are familiar with.

The second is an audio of a one-hour radio show that includes a 20-minute interview with Deepa Kumar – Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University in the USA – on the topic of Syria’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Kumar draws attention to the similarities between the current talk of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ in Syria and the almost identical accusations leveled against Saddam Hussein ten years ago. Once again it appears that the US is about to unleash massive violence against an already beleaguered nation on the basis of accusations that are at best speculative.

Moreover, as Kumar points out, the assumption behind the US President’s latest ultimatum to the Syrian government is that the USA has the right to intervene militarily wherever it deems it necessary to change the course of world affairs, like a father stepping in to pacify his quarreling children.

It is taken for granted, of course, that this paternal act will lead to the betterment of all the warring peoples involved, and yet even a cursory glance at the recent history of US intervention shows the opposite to be the case! Indeed, the only real beneficiaries of the US interventions in. Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan seem to be US and multinational business interests!

The interview with Kumar is in the first half of this audio broadcast. Even so, I kept the entire broadcast intact as the second half also includes a powerful interview. It’s with Fred Branfman who, in the late 1960’s, was the first person to report to the world the US secret bombing campaign of Laos.

Christ is Risen

Let me balance out these painful reflections with the wonderful proclamation of Easter!

Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed! :-)

The resurrection of Jesus is a great beacon of hope for our sick and suffering world. It’s the ultimate reminder that death and destruction are never the end of the story! :-)

That’s not exactly the theme of my Easter sermon but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

[imaioVideo v=1]

  • If you can’t view this video, click here.
  • If you’d prefer the audio recording (with much better audio quality) click here.
  • If you’d prefer to read the written version, click here.

That’s enough from me for today.

Apologies if this Easter missive was a bit ‘heavy’ but I’m sure you’ve had your fill of chocolate and fluffy bunnies over the last few days. :-)

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

Your brother in the Good Fight,

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

Please follow and like us:

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!

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – December 3rd, 2012

Hi Fighter!

You’ll have to forgive me for sending out my ‘Monday Missive’ a little late this week!

I’m afraid I’m on the wrong side of the world, in a different time zone, and I’m currently encloistered in a monastery where hi-speed Internet access is not the priority for residents.

Actually, I’m not sure if ‘encloistered’ is a proper, word but if it’s not, it should be!

Either way, I am very glad to be here and have been made to feel very welcome by the brothers, and this despite the fact that they are all currently maintaining a day of silence!

In truth, the contrast between the environment here and that of the casino that I emerged from after the fight could not be greater, but I can elaborate on that later. First things first: let me tell you about the fight!

Egberime v Spadafora

This was Sol’s big chance to prove himself on the world stage. Spadafora had a record of 46 wins, 1 draw and no losses! He is a former world champion, and his team’s plan was simply to use Sol as a stepping-stone to another world title shot. We knew though that they had underestimated Sol.

Sol v Spadafora - weigh-in
click the pic to see full-size

In truth, there is a lot more to the Spadafora story. Like so many boxers, his life has been filled with turmoil and tragedy. He has a history of addiction problems and has spent a lot of time in jail. More recently though he has given his life to Christ and is trying to make a fresh start.

I met with the Team-Spadafora attorney, Joe, before the fight. He is a great guy who has played a key role in the fighter’s recovery. I told him that I was keen to meet Paul Spadafora after the fight. He told me that unfortunately that wasn’t going to happen because it was his young son’s birthday, and Joe was taking Spadafora straight from the fight to go see his son. I couldn’t argue with that!

Sol Egberime - ready for the big fight!
click the pic to see full-size

Sol had trained for this bout like his life depended on it. He had spent a month in Las Vegas with Luis Tapia (pictured above) who really impresses me as a manager and as a trainer.

As we did the final preparations in the changing-room, there was a real sense that nothing had been left out. Sol had done the hard work in the gym. He was fit and he was ready. This was going to be his night!

Unfortunately it was not to be. Sol fought well, and he did his best to stick to the plan – moving forward on the lanky south-paw and trying to stifle his movement. He was certainly the more aggressive of the two fighters and he really started to take control in the final rounds. I believe if he’d had another round or two he might have put Spadafora on the canvas.

The fight went the distance, and I truly thought that Sol should have been slightly ahead on points. But it’s impossible to win a points decision against a former world champion in his home town.

One of the judges scored the fight 100 to 90 against Sol! For those who don’t know how boxing scoring works, that’s ten rounds to zero! That was just a slap in the face. The other judges scored the fight more evenly, but no one gave it to Sol. I think if the fight had taken place anywhere else in the world we would have at least scored a draw.

Sol loses to Spadafora on points after ten rounds
click the pic to see full-size

In truth, Sol put in a great performance and I hope that this might have been enough to open some more doors for him in the US fight scene. Time will tell. For the moment though he will return home unscratched, knowing that he did himself and his family and his country proud.

Traveling Across the USA

I had hoped that these 10 days in the US would be relaxing for me. In truth, they have been full-on! At the same time, they have been terrific!

Fighting Father Ricardo
click the pic to see full-size

I met up with Fighting Father Ricardo in Los Angeles – a young man who is studying at University and is determined to become both a medical doctor and a Catholic priest and a Muay Thai champ! Ricardo is my sorta guy!

Gettysburg
click the pic to see full-size

From there I headed to the East Coast and drove to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the great battle took place in 1863. The pic above is of me standing on top of the lookout on Culp’s Hill, where much of the fighting took place on the second day of battle. That’s the town of Gettysburg in the background.

The high-water mark of the Confederacy
click the pic to see full-size

While on the battlefield, I made sure to pay my respects at the Armistead marker – the monument that marks the spot where General Lewis Armistead fell on July 3rd, 1863, while leading his troops across the stone wall that was held by the Union troops. This point is considered the ‘high water-mark’ of the Confederacy. It was as close as they came to winning the war.

Rob Burgess
click the pic to see full-size

From Gettysburg I drove four hours to the fight venue in Chester, West Virginia (the story of which has already been told) and from there I drove six hours north-west to St Joseph in Michigan, where I met up with Fighting Father Rob Burgess – a great guy and a full-time custodial grandparent to his lovely grandson, Colin (who was unfortunately asleep at the time we took the photo).

Father Iovane
click the pic to see full-size

From there I drove another four hours south-west to arrive at the monastery on the Community of St John in Princeville, Illinois, where I am now. The invitation to be here came from my old friend, Father Iovane, who I met through Father Elias some years ago. He is a beautiful man and this is a beautiful place. I only wish I had more time to spend here.

Iovane and I have been chewing the fat about the three years of ministry that he’s just completed in Addis Ababa, and about his visions for ministering to young people where he is now. Who knows but there might yet be a significant work for the Fighting Fathers to do here too.

From here I head off early tomorrow morning to drive to the airport in Chicago, where I hope to meet up with some more friends before spending the requisite 16 hours in the air that it will take me to get back home.

God willing, I’ll be writing to you from there again as usual 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. 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!

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – November 12th, 2012

Hi Fighter!

You’ll have to forgive me if it’s a rather bare-knuckle missive this week – no pics, no videos, nothing fancy. I’m afraid it’s been that sort of week for me – a bare-knuckle bash!.

There hasn’t been any literal violence. It’s been more of a spiritual stoush.

Mind you, I did fear that some real blows were going to be thrown a few days back when Judas (whom I mentioned last week) showed up again at our Youth Centre.

I must tell you about it as it ended up being almost humorous (in a tragic kind of way).

Racism in the Youth Centre?

Our boy is now wanted by the police for a number of incidents (and suspected of a number more) and I have banned him from the premises of our Youth Centre for the most obvious of reasons. He compromises the safety of the other children!

I confronted him as soon as I saw him enter the premises and asked him to leave. He wanted to argue his case with me, claiming:

  1. That he had smoothed over all issues with the police and that they were now not charging him with anything (which I knew was garbage).

  2. That since he hadn’t actually assaulted anybody on our premises (yet), none of his acts of violence and intimidation should affect his standing with the Youth Centre.

  3. That I had no right to ban him from our premises because the Youth Centre belonged to the church as a whole and that therefore only the congregation as a whole could ban him!

You have to give this guy points for ingenuity!

Of course my response was that his issues with the police were not resolved, that I didn’t care where his crimes had been committed, and that as far as he was concerned I was the church.

At this point Judas dug down deep and came out with what he considered to be the verbal equivalent of a knock-out punch. You’re being RACIST!” he cried.

I have seen this trump card played so many times now and yet it never ceases to amaze me that these kids seem to expect me to take them seriously when they play it!

I still remember one of the girls we banned, walking out of the Youth Centre with one fist held defiantly in the air, crying STAY BLACK!”

The girl in question had been involved in numerous thefts and assaults and had just stolen a brand new motor-bike from one of our Youth Centre staff ! I’m still scratching my head trying to work out how she construed that our taking exception to her actions had anything to do with the colour of her skin!

In the case of young Judas, I think his parents are Egyptian. The kids he’s been beating up on are Islander kids, and (for what it’s worth) they are certainly ‘blacker’ than he is. Playing the race card just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me in this context!

Anyway, in terms of my bare-knuckle week, this was more like the comedy relief than a stoush. The real battle-front was at Binacrombi.

For your Prayers

I don’t know if this is your experience, but I find that whenever I attempt something creative that could really make a difference, everything always starts going wrong!

I know that some people will think me superstitious but I believe there’s a spiritual dimension to this sort of thing. If you make a direct assault on an enemy stronghold, you get resistance!

The ‘assault’ was in terms of a decision we made last week to launch a series of youth camps down at Binacrombi in 2013. The ‘Fighting Fathers Warrior Weekends’ will combine fitness workouts, boxing training and spiritual reflection. We’ll be calling on some of Australia’s greatest boxers to help us lead the camps – men who will not only be able to impart their pugilistic expertise to their young charges but who will also function as mentors and role-models. We’ll draw our clients from boxing clubs, youth centres, refuges and anywhere else we can find young people who need inspiration and direction.

The vision has been taking form for a while. Last week I spent a night at Binacrombi talking it through with Fighting Father Geoff (our onsite manager). We committed ourselves to the project and to a timeline. Within days we’d taken so many hits that we were tempted to throw in the towel!

I won’t go into all the details, but the culminating blow was when Geoff and Laura had a vehicle accident that could have been very serious!

Oil slicks on dirt roads are tricky at the best of times. When you hit one just after a rain-storm has started there is little you can do to maintain control of the vehicle. Thanks be to God that Geoff and Laura avoided going off the side of the ravine where they were.

The vehicle isn’t in great condition. Geoff and Laura were shaken but not disheartened!
As we say in the game, they were down but not out!

I would appreciate your prayers for both Geoff and Laura and for the Warrior Weekend program of 2013. The time has come for us to offer Australian youth a real alternative to the culture of reality TV and virtual violence! Let’s get our young people back to basics, back to nature, and back to building real relationships with real men and women!

OK … I’ll get down from my pulpit. You get the idea. The bottom line is that we are not going to step back from this one. We’ve got a great team and a great venue and it’s time to do something great together – something that we can all be proud of!

Prayers for Peace

Of course ours battles at Binacrombi are only small skirmishes in a much larger theatre of hostilities. I’m conscious of the fact that the US elections have been the focus of attention for most of the world in this last week.

I confess that I am glad to see Mr Obama back for another term. That’s not because I think he’s the Messiah. Indeed, for all I know my Republican friends may be right and he may be the man to bankrupt the US economy. Even so, I believe that he’s also less likely to lead us into World War III. Indeed, I think Uri Avnery is entirely correct when he says that Obama’s re-election means that any plans for an Israeli attack on Iran are off the table, and this is something to be thankful for!

I appreciate that we don’t all see eye-to-eye on these matters of course, and I’ve been encouraged to see some healthy debate on the forum of late. Please keep the discussion going!

Pray for me!

And put in a prayer for me as I take on the formidable Fighting Father Rod Walker at the Randwick Labor Club this Friday night. I’m not asking that you pray for me to win but just that we both perform to the best of our ability and that we don’t do too much damage to each other!

It’s a rematch! If you missed the original stoush you can see it here.

Rod is a great man and a great man of faith and, in truth, I’d sooner lose a bout to Rod than to anybody else I can think of. Even so, I’m planning on coming home with another win, but I know it won’t come easily.

If you’d like to join us, the show starts at 7pm, and Fighting Fathers Caine and Mungo and Kath will be performing as well as myself and Rod. The address is 135 Alison Road, Randwick. Tickets are $40, with all proceeds go to support the Urban Compassion project of Hope Street Baptist Church.

Heading to America

My plans for a trip to the USA to support our friend and parishioner, Sol Egberime, in his fight against Paul Spodafora are slowly coming together.

At present I’m thinking to arrive in Washington D.C. on Tuesday 27th November and leaving (probably from Chicago) on Wednesday December 5th.

These plans are tentative and open to change. I’m hoping to touch base with as many friends and subscribers as possible in my brief sojourn this time, while hopefully indulging myself with a few visits to US Civil War battlefields (a passion of mine that not everybody may be familiar with).

Anyway, hit me back if you think I’ll be coming through your area, and be assured that I don’t mind taking a hefty detour for a good home-cooked meal!

OK. That’s enough bare-knuckle brutality for one week!

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

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!

P.P.S. A big apology to everybody who tried to join us for our worship service last Sunday on church.tv. Apparently the church.tv servers in the US went down just at the time we began. We’ll be back on the air next Sunday at 9.15am (Sydney time). Take out a free membership at church.tv if you want to join in.

 

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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

Please follow and like us:

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four