Once again I start on my newsletter from my cabin in the remote Australian outback.
It’s raining outside.
The weather forecasters have been predicting rain every weekend, and every weekend people cancel their bookings here on account of these dour forecasts. Earlier today I said to one of the two families that did decide to brave it this week, “You were smart. The weather is great!” Mum said, “let’s see what tomorrow looks like”.
I feel in a similar situation when I look out on the country as a whole. Things seem to be brightening up. Lockdown restrictions are gradually loosening. The gloom seems to be lifting, and yet a voice within me says, “Hang on a second. Let’s see what tomorrow looks like”. Will it really be a return to normal, or will there be a ‘new normal’, with severe restrictions on freedom of movement and of speech – where it’s not only illegal to protest government policy, but where even creating a Facebook post proposing a protest will get you arrested.
I was listening to Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews, tonight, talking about the implementation of spy drones across his state, designed to hover over people’s home to ensure that they are in compliance with lockdown procedures. When questioned by the press about this extraordinary measure, Andrews said that he was happy to have drones flying over his house as he was in compliance.
“Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.” Andrews didn’t use those words exactly (normally attributed to Nazi Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, in 1933) but it is precisely what he meant. Does anyone else find that a little scary?
In truth, I don’t know where our society is heading, but I don’t think we really need to wait until tomorrow either to know what needs to be done. We need to take back our community. We need to stop keeping a ‘safe distance’ from one another. We need to rediscover trust and rebuild community, one embrace at a time. I appreciate that the dominant narrative says that when we embrace, we put each other at risk. I sincerely believe that a community where people no longer embrace is risking a great deal more!
If you need more motivation to get moving on this issue, I recommend this appeal from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. It’s encouraging to see a man of his stature putting his head above the parapet at a time like this. It’s time we all stood up. The world needs us, and make not mistake about it – we are the ones we have been waiting for.
As I’ve been writing, the intensity of the rain outside has been building, along with ominous sounds of thunder, and then it all suddenly stopped! Who knows what tomorrow will look like?
Preach and Punch Fest
This week I’m sharing the boxing and Bible chat from the October 17 to18 weekend.
My boxing opponent on the Saturday night was the great Nathan Nicholas – soon to be World Middleweight Champion. If it’s not the most entertaining bout you’ve seen, that’s because all the effort is going one way. I’m working crazy hard, trying to land a shot. Nathan, on the other hand, is struggling to stay awake.
Well … maybe it’s not quite that extreme, but I know full well that I wouldn’t last long if Nathan determined to take me out. He is a class athlete. Having said that, he was no match for me in the Bible discussion the following day (which starts at about the half-way point of the video) and that’s because he’d forgotten that Daylight Savings started that Sunday. He and the lads turned up just as I was finishing.
Our Gospel reading is from Matthew 22 – the story where the religious leaders ask Jesus whether they should be paying taxes to the Roman occupying forces. It’s a trick question, of course, but Jesus deftly evades it what’s designed to be a knock-out blow.
“Give to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and to God what belongs to God”. it’s a very clever response, but I believe there’s more to it than just sheer cleverness.
Christians and Muslims can be friends!
The big news in my last newsletter was that initial copies of my new book had arrived. Another fifteen boxes have arrived since, which means I’m now ready to launch!
The official launch of “Christians and Muslims can be friends” will be on Saturday, November 28th. The plan is to begin in the boxing ring in Dulwich Hill, with myself, Anthony Mundine, Billy Dibb and Solomon Haumono – doing a bit of light sparring and chatting in between rounds.
I won’t tell you the full schedule for the evening, but I plan to follow the boxing session with a series of interviews with some of the people who appear in the book. Some of our guests will turn up in person. Others will Skype in from the other side of the planet. Amongst those who have agreed to participate thus far are:
- Syed Shoaib Naqvi
- Anne Aly, MP
- Father Bob Maguire
- Sheikh Mansour Leghaei
One of the main aims of that evening will be to sell a lot of books on Amazon.com, as we’ll be trying to get “Christians and Muslims can be friends” into the list of Top 100 Bestsellers for that day. If we can achieve this, it could do a lot to bring the book to the world’s attention.
I’ll fill you in on more details in the days between now and November 28. I’m also going to start to release teaser videos of some of the interviews that appear in the book. These will be released on Facebook and Twitter, and will link back to videos of the complete interviews, which have now been posted to www.christiansandmuslims.com. You can expect to see the first of these teaser videos in the next few days.
I won’t bore you with further details about the book launch now but … watch this space!
I’ll be in touch again soon.
Your brother in the Good Fight,
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