I have rarely anticipated a video, no – I have to say NEVER looked forward to a video more than this one! Let me take you back to the middle of September. I was in Seattle on my book tour, and was invited to spend an evening with author Lesley Hazelton at her houseboat on Lake Union. While preparing a soufle, my friend read me the script she was working on for this nine-minute talk to the forthcoming TED x Ranier event at Seattle’s elegant Benaroya Hall on 10/10/10. She is speaking on the Qur’an. As of today, this video has more than 114,000 hits on youtube!

The Qur’an seems to magnetize more twenty-first century misinformation, rage, and fear than any other book. I have been among those people –non-Muslims as well as Muslims – who long for well-considered, intelligent, subtle, as well as universal thoughts on this sacred Scripture. It is a puzzle to so many of us.

Lesley draws us into her discoveries, confronting the stereotypes: “Part of the problem, I think, is that we imagine that the Qur’an can be read as we usually read a book, as though we can curl up with it on a rainy afternoon with a bowl of popcorn within reach as though God …were just another author on the bestseller list.”

She set about reading four English translations side by side, with a transliteration and the original Arabic. “Every time I thought I was beginning to get a handle on the Qur’an, that feeling of ­– I get it now! – it would slip away overnight, and I’d come back in the morning wondering if I was lost in a strange land.”

She speaks of paradise. Forget the virgins. “It’s fecundity, it’s plenty. It’s gardens, watered by running streams.” Her delightful and brilliant talk is received with – yes – a standing ovation.

May the way open for careful, and respectful discussion of this sacred book. I invite you to join me in spreading the word of  lesley’s excellent video.

Lesley Hazelton

Lesley Hazelton is author of several books including After the Prophet, the epic story of the Shia Sunni Split and Mary, A Flesh and Blood Biography of the Virgin Mary. Visit Lesley’s blog: < http://accidentaltheologist.com/

Untold and After the Prophet are both discussed here on Bill’s Faith Matters” weblog Kansas City Star: