Subject for ezine:
Partners in the Good Fight
Father Dave's Partner's Ezine
Partners in the Fight
When one man dreams, it is just a dream, but when we all dream together, it is the beginning of a new reality.
Dom Helder Camara
It's been another week of battles here. Two pieces of bad news to share:
Firstly, our 'brother in chains', Morde Vanunu, has lost his court appeal. Well ... he hasn't exactly lost it, as he's had his sentence commuted from six months to three, but it's not a result that brings us any real joy.
In case you don't know the story, Morde was the man who told the world about the enormous stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction that are being hidden under the Negev desert in Israel.
Morde passed photos of the secret nukes to the Sunday Times (in London) in 1986, and was subsequently kidnapped by the Mossad, put on secret trial back in Israel, and sentenced to 18 years in prison for revealing state secrets.
Morde was released in 2004, but under bizarre 'release restrictions' that forbade him from talking to the foreign media about his ordeal.
Morde and me after his release in 2004
Given that Morde had spent 18 years in prison for telling the truth, he wasn't keen to keep his mouth shut once released, and has subsequently found himself back in court facing possible further imprisonment for the crime of talking to the press.
The latest 3-month sentence is the result of years of legal wrangling, where Morde has found himself to be a small pawn in a large and vicious political machine.
Morde will now contest this latest sentence in the High Court, but whether he'll find justice there is anybody's guess.
The other piece of bad news is that one of our original Fighting Fathers - young Daniel Bowtell - is currently near death, having fallen from a cliff at a nearby beach.
Daniel was the youngest member of the Order of the Fighting Fathers when he joined back in 1998. He'd come through some hard times, had found faith in Christ, and was about to compete for the NSW Lightweight Kickboxing title. He celebrated his 27th birthday a few weeks ago.
At time of writing Dan is on life support but the expectations are not good. Please keep his mum (Robyn) in your prayers especially.
I've been encouraged to see a resurgence of activity on the forum over the last week or two:
The discussion on depression and suicide continues, with Jarey sharing an article that disparages any use of anti-depressants (which is a heartfelt issue for me at the moment). Brother Andy has responded with some personal insights into the value of testosterone as a treatment for depression.
I've been deeply encouraged to see that my sermon on 'Love is all you need' is continuing to provoke thoughtful and challenging responses from various members of our online community I do believe that, as a faith issue, this could be the most vital matter we have yet discussed, and I would encourage each of you to think through these issues and have your say.
I'm also greatly encouraged to see people getting into discussion on the Meaning of Meaning (though notably we've had no contributions yet from people attending the discussion group). C'mon guys! Get in there and have your say here!
A touching article by Ramzy Baroud entitled, "There are no Checkpoints in Heaven", where the well-known author and activist shares personal reminiscences about his upbringing and about the life of his father in particular.
This last article is an unusual one for the www.fatherdave.org article database but I have dialogued with the author and am now convinced that this guy is offering a real service - helping people who have money to invest to do so in such a way as to maximise support for their church and other charitable works. It may not be immediately relevant to you (or me) but I have a feeling that if more people of good will were following Rob Cavanaugh's strategies, the world would be in a better state!
Teleconference with the Sheikh
I must say that I am very proud of the teleconference that Father Elias and I held with Sheikh Mansour last week. I thought it was a fantastic and well-informed dialogue, and my only regret was that we didn't have more people on the call.
The subject, in case you didn't know, was the Dutch film, 'Fitna'. It's a short but highly disturbing anti-Islamic propaganda film, filled with scenes of rather horrific violence.
If you haven't seen 'Fitna', you can look it up on YouTube, or go to this site, where you'll find both the movie and a comprehensive collections of reviews and responses - both written and on video. When you're ready to unleash the real action though, hit the play button below.
Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Forgiveness isn't something that comes natural to us. If in doubt, spend some time in the boxing ring and you'll find very quickly that the natural reaction to a good punch in the nose is not to compliment your sparring partner for his accuracy. It's to punch the bastard back! Yet forgiving people seemed to be at the very heart of Jesus' teaching and life, and he told us a rather crazy story about forgiveness. Find out more about it by hitting the play button.
I can't sign off today without giving another brief tribute to Fighting Father Dan, pictured on the left with Father Elias. The pic was taken only a couple of months ago in our ring in the Youth Centre.
Dan was a very capable fighter, once knocking out his opponent with a kick to the head, only seven seconds into the first round! More significantly, he showed a great commitment to help young people in the community - especially those who had had a rough start like himself. He joined our Youth Centre staff as a trainee back in '98, and was a valued part of the team.
You can see the full-size pic above by clicking on it, or see a scan of a newspaper article Dan and I did together back in 1998 here. Please keep him in your prayers.
OK. I'll sign off now with one final invitation to all those live within striking distance of the rectory here to join me for our 'Meaning of Meaning' discussion group on Sunday night at 7pm.
We ended up with about double the number I expected last week, and such a wonderfully broad range of people, including high school students, stay-at-home mums, a University Professor, and at least one contender for the World Heavyweight boxing title! God knows who we'll have join us this week, but I'm very much hoping that one of those people will be you!
May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.