Lesley Hazleton, one of our favorite “anti-Loons” describes herself as the “Accidental Theologist” by which she means that even though she is an agnostic Jew she is fascinated by religion, theology and faith. Her fascination with religion has led her in recent years to be consumed by a study of Islam, particularly the Quran and the life and times of the Prophet Muhammad.
We first encountered Lesley when she gave her memorable speech in 2010 at TEDxRainier about her “extensive devotion to the study of the Quran”:
The comment thread in our article on her speech became quite lively as you would expect.
Recently, Lesley was back at TEDxRainier and delivered another stunning speech, this time on the Prophet Muhammad (she has just completed a book on his life) and what he means today in light of those who like to cast him as the evil villain par excellence and his self-described devotees who sometimes move to excess in his “defense.”
Just released: the video of the talk I gave at TEDxRainier on November 10, 2012.
I can’t judge how effective the talk is (a few of the slides were dropped in the video-editing process, including a shot of Newsweek‘s infamous ‘Muslim Rage’ cover). But as with my previous talk on reading the Quran, I do think I’m getting at something that needs to be said in today’s politically manipulated climate of suspicion and distrust.