"There are few things more deeply satisfying than a good fight. A hard night in the ring is an enormous catharsis for a man who is struggling with life, but it's more than that too."

These are the words of Anglican priest David B. Smith, Sydney, Australia's "Fighting Father." When he writes about "struggling with life" and the need for catharsis, he knows whereof he speaks. Father Dave tells his story in Sex, the Ring, & the Eucharist: Reflections on Life, Ministry, & Fighting in the Inner City.

A number of years ago, he found himself separated from his wife, struggling for the right to see his daughter, drinking way too much, and increasingly obsessed with thoughts of self-destruction. He seemed to be losing his family, his vocation, and most of his friends. He even made what he calls "a half-hearted attempt" at suicide. At some point, he decided "not to go under, but to fight back." Literally.

So he made his way to Mundine's gym, located on "the roughest street in one of the roughest neighborhoods" just outside of Sydney. "They play hard at Mundine's," he writes. "No pretty boys. No glamour workouts. No white-collar boxercise sessions for indulgent professionals. Just bodies, sweat, testosterone, and blood." The ring stands at the center of the gym, a small ring, "made for brawlers." It was here that he began to transform his life.

"When you step into a ring," he writes, "you're making a decision to take control of your own destiny. The forces that oppose you are no longer vague powers that threaten to overwhelm you from a distance—the law, the courts, the system. No. Your opposition takes clear material form in the shape of the other man advancing on you from the other corner. To get into that ring and to stay ...

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Play Ball
From 2005 to 2007, "Play Ball" examined the relationship of sports and faith: sports is important precisely because it is a form of play, that is, a manifestation of the Sabbath. Contributors included Mark Galli, Collin Hansen, Mark Moring, and others.
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