#ThursdayTheology: Zoroastrianism, part 1

Back in 1893, the Swedenborgian Judge Charles Bonney initiated the first World’s Parliament of Religions, the largest of all the congresses held in conjunction with what we think of today as a world’s fair. Swedenborgians are still recognized today as a strong proponent of interfaith efforts, and the New Church of Montgomery’s programs are flavored with the basic idea that all religions can be honored for the wisdom they offer, and for their various approaches to encouraging a universal friendship across peoples. Our own faith celebrates the infinite expressions of the kingdom of heaven, as Christians call it, and those who inhabit it, and those who, knowingly or not, grow towards it as they live the best they know how. Here we shine a light upon one of the world religions represented among the many presented at this 1893 exposition, and with which we maintain connections in 2022.

Consider this little piece of historical text

This letter is used as the preface for an essay reprinted as part of the Kessinger’s Legacy Reprints, A Brief Sketch Of The Zoroastrian Religion And Customs, An Essay (1893), by ErvadSheriarji Dadabhai Barucha. While the essay itself is quite long and provides much historical and theological perspective, one thing that can be easily found is some basic ideas that 129 years later still can be found to apply to the local Zoroastrian Community in Cincinnati.

In this posting we include a few excerpts from the essay, and some commentary on our recent interaction with the Zorastrian congregation some of our parishioners participated in a few weeks ago.

First some historical notes right from the essay: “While other religions of the ancient world, such as those of ancient Egypt, Chaldea, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome have disappeared from the face of the earth, this [Zoroastrianism] has survived many trials and vicissitudes and still flourishes, if not in all its pristine vigour and glory, with many of its distinctive features preserved practically intact. In the earlier days of its greatness its adherents were counted by millions, and it had a considerable body of renowned literature.” Today most of the literature has been destroyed or hidden, and only now (in the 2000’s) are recent finds coming to light that can shed some light on the history of both the life of Zoroaster and the development of the religion. The number of adherents has dropped to a quite small number, due to repeated persecution, mostly situated today in India and the United St ates. “…this religion and this ancient customs of its followers … possess certain striking and interesting features which have always excited the admiration and respect of those who have brought a liberal and sympathetic spirit to bear on their study…”

The essay goes on to speak about what little information is known about Zoroaster, rather, Zarathushtra in ancient Iranian, and about the early personages involved in supporting or denigrating his teachings. However, in this short offering we’ll just point to it’s peak time and influence in the world, and what things the events of those times reveal about the religion.

“Leaving aside the prehistoric times and coming to the historical, it may be confidently asserted that the kings of the Achaeminian Dynasty such as Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, and others (B.C. 559-329) were Zoroastrians, for they emphatically speak of Auramazda, the greatest God, as does every Zoroastrian…” For a thousand years it was the dominant religion during three mighty Persian empires, that stretched west towards Rome and Greece, east to India, north into Russia, and south into Egypt. At that time it was the largest empire geographically that had ever existed in the world. When Cyrus conquered Babylon, during the time the Jews had been held in captivity there, he returned the jews to Israel and financed the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. This illustrates one of the principles of Zoroastrianism, namely its openness to other religions and cultures, and those dynasties of the Persian Empire were (like the later Roman Empire) largely successful due to their integration of conquered peoples into the empire, rather than practice subjugation and oppression, as many other conquerors did.

Being one of the other faiths (meaning similar to our own) that has a particularly universal perspective on how God and the world’s people operate in a cooperative fashion that includes everyone as a worthwhile and loved child of God given the opportunity to strive for the success of goodness over evil, it is instructive to learn how similar and different our two faiths really are in practice. In a future post we will examine this and other faith groups that can be working hand in hand to advance our common missions.

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#Tunesday: “Be Still My Soul”

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#WeekendPlans: Keep Moving Forward w/Rev. Machiniak 8/7/22

Please join us Sunday, August 7, 2022, for an entirely virtual (zoom) presentation on the theme: Keep Moving Forward, with Rev. Renée Machiniak. Fellowship begins at 10:30 am, worship at 11:00 am.

Rev. Machiniak will present a sermon entitled “A Scary Crossing”.

Do you ever panic in fear, try to escape from your circumstance and feel trapped? When we are taking our first spiritual steps to make positive change in our lives, sometimes our ego begins to change its mind and we feel overwhelmed. This is a common experience. Moses, the truth within, speaks to us strongly. Join us as we explore higher truths that will assist our understanding when we are ready to “cross over the Red Sea” to a new land, a better life waiting for us.

Rev. Renée Machiniak
Sound Sunset by Marguerite Panyko 2022
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#WeekendPlans: “You are the Light of the World” w/Rev. Cory Bradford-Watts 7/31/22

Please join us for our hybrid in-person/zoom church on Sunday, July 31, 2022. We welcome guest minister Rev. Cory Bradford-Watts from Kitchener, ON, who will join us virtually. Fellowship begins at 10:30 am, worship at 11:00 am. Zoom details will be emailed to church members and their contacts.

“You are the light of the world,” is the title of the service. These empowering words were spoken by Christ, not as an elitist view of his “Christian” followers, but as a description of the very nature of each of our spirits – especially when we allow ourselves to shine.

Rev. Bradford-Watts
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Virtual church only today!

Our hybrid service has been changed to zoom today. Please meet us online at 10:30 for fellowship and 11:00 am for worship.

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#WeekendPlans: 7/3/22 “Spirit of Reconciliation” w/@ChaplainSherrie

This Sunday’s service will be a hybrid service. Rev. Dr. Sherrie Connelly will deliver her service on zoom from home, but members and friends are welcome to join for fellowship and to watch the service together at the Glendale New Church.

Fellowship begins at 10:30 am, 11:00 am for Worship. Zoom link will be emailed to members and their contacts. We hope to see you in person or virtually.

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#ThursdayTheology: Chauncey Giles

Via: https://prabook.com/web/mobile/#!profile/3766351

“Rich people often assume a great deal of superiority on account of their wealth. They think this gives them some advantage and makes them better, and others are apt to accept their own estimate of their superiority… It is best, however, to forget our outward conditions far as possible and to feel kindly toward all, and to act out your kind feelings freely to one person as to another when opportunity offers.”

Chauncey Giles – Swedenborgian pastor 1864-1870
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#WeekendPlans: Hybrid service w/@ChaplainSherrie 6/19/22

Please join us at the Glendale New Church or via Zoom, on Sunday, June 19, for fellowship at 10:30 am, and worship at 11:00 am. Rev. Dr. Sherrie Connelly will be providing our message.

Swedenborg Book Room and Bust of Swedenborg (side view)
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#WeekendPlans: “When Jesus Left” w/Rev. Brugler 6/5/22

Please join us Sunday, June 5, 2022, for a hybrid, in-person/zoom service with Rev. Ronald Brugler officiating from Florida. We will have Fellowship at 10:30 am, and our service will begin at 11:00 am. The title will be “When Jesus Left.”

Bird flying in evening sky blue to pink
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Thanks be to G! and P! and C!

The feat of learning new technologies and tweaking things and readjusting is made to look easy by these three, who keep our worship services flowing, all amidst a pandemic.

Thank you so much to Gloria and Pete Toot and Rev. Clark Echols, whose tireless devotion to our churches brings enjoyment, connection and spiritual fulfillment to the members of the New Church of Montgomery and the Glendale New Church. We couldn’t do it without you.

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