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Clergy trio attempt bolder interfaith dialogue

November 29, 2009

This NYT story about a rabbi, a minister and a mullah reminds me that a) interfaith dialogue is hard to do beyond a superficial kumbaya moment and b) the Israel factor is always going to be a stumbling block and c) there are folks out there who are willing to be honest not only about their beliefs but about the problems in their scriptures. This Seattle-based trio, made up of Rabbi Ted Falcon (Reform), the Rev. Don Mackenzie (UCC) and Sheik Jamal Rahman (Sufi), travel the country giving talks and have written a book about their experiences.

Here’s a particularly interesting passage:

The room then grew quiet as each stood and recited what he regarded as the “untruths” in his own faith. The minister said that one “untruth” for him was that “Christianity is the only way to God.” The rabbi said for him it was the notion of Jews as “the chosen people.” And the sheik said for him it was the “sword verses” in the Koran, like “kill the unbeliever.”

“It is a verse taken out of context,” Sheik Rahman said, pointing out that the previous verse says that God has no love for aggressors. “But we have to acknowledge that ‘kill the unbelievers’ is an awkward verse,’ ” the sheik said as the crowd laughed. “Some verses are literal, some are metaphorical, but the Koran doesn’t say which is which.”


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