Sunday afternoon's panel discussion on interfaith relationships was an enjoyable and interesting conversation. Present on the panel were David Ford (Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge and Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme), Keith Ward (former Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford), Mona Siddiqui (Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding, Glasgow) and Marc Ellis (Professor of Jewish Studies, Baylor University). Ford and Ellis clashed quite heatedly around whether interfaith discussion and in particular scriptural reasoning was worthwhile and making a difference. Ellis believes that the majority (if not all) interfaith conversations avoid the big issues, in particular, the Israel-Palestine question. He believes in the liberation of the Palestine people from Israeli oppression. He is a Jew. So enterprises like scriptural reasoning fail to address the important issues and Christians, Muslims and Jews avoid the task of being critical friends with one another. Ford's assertation was that you've got to start somewhere and that private discussions between proponents of different faiths was the way more political and public change would occur. Peter Ochs, a friend of Ford and founder of scriptural reasoning, can under some flak from Ellis for avoiding the Israeli-Palestine question. Ellis asked where was Ochs' book on Jewish theology of liberation (Ellis wrote his book in 1987). I like both Ellis and Ford. Ellis tends to talk in simple black and white language and I agree with a lot of what he says. But I think Ford is right that scriptural reasoning and other conversations are the beginning points.