The Painful Verses

PARIS (Reuters) – A rabbi, an imam and a priest sat down to discuss the most sensitive parts of their sacred scriptures, the verses that offend or anger other faiths.

But instead of the Catholic criticising Koran quotes or the Jew complaining about a Gospel, each took objectionable passages from his own holy book and tried to explain them to the others.

“Les Versets douloureux” (The Painful Verses), the result of their work, is an unusual book that aims to move interfaith dialogue beyond polite meetings to discuss issues that create tensions among Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Rabbi David Meyer, the driving force behind the project, said his frustration with routine interfaith meetings that avoided tough issues prompted him to seek a different kind of dialogue with Sohaib Bencheikh and Rev. Yves Simoens S.J.

“For a real dialogue, we have to have the courage to confront difficult things,” the rabbi of the International Jewish Center in Brussels said at a presentation of the French-language book in Paris on Thursday.

The book marked a new approach in interfaith dialogue. While religious leaders have been meeting for decades, an upswing in contacts in recent years reflects a feeling they need to work even more closely to foster better understanding.

Bensheikh, head of the Higher Institute of Islamic Sciences in Marseille, stressed the book was “not a dialogue between institutions. It’s the work of three believers, that’s all.”

About Luke Ford

Raised a Seventh-Day Adventist at Avondale College in Australia, Luke Ford moved to California in 1977. He graduated from Placer High School in 1984, reported the news at KAHI/KHYL radio for three years, attended Sierra College and UCLA, was largely bedridden by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for six years, and converted to Judaism in 1993. From 1997-2007, Luke made his living from blogging. Living by Beverly Hills (, he now teaches the Alexander Technique (moving the way the body likes to move). Lessons cost $100 each and last about 45 minutes. In 2011, Luke completed a three-year teaching course at the Alexander Training Institute of Los Angeles. His personal Alexander Technique website is Luke is the author of five books, including: » The Producers: Profiles in Frustration » Yesterday’s News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism
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