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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Zoroastrians today

Zoroastrians gathered for an annual fire ceremony last month in Burr Ridge, Ill. A portrait of the Prophet Zarathustra is in the background (Sally Ryan for NY Times)

My friend Mihai Bota signaled me an article in today's NY Times about today's Zoroastrians.

People in the image gathered for the annual ceremony of fire. The portrait on the wall represents Prophet Zarathustra. The resemblance with images picturing Jesus is striking and it speaks much about cross-influences among faiths born in neighboring areas.

What is the relation between Good and Evil in Universe? Is the Universe good in its essence, as being God's creation? Is the Universe far from its originary perfection, as being perverted by Evil? Is the Universe in opposition to God from the very beginning, as being created by Evil? Each faith tries to answer these questions.

The dualistic nature of Universe is the answer offered by Zoroastrianism - Good and Evil in continuous struggle. This answer proved very fertile in the history of thought: the Mysterium Magnum of Jakob Boehme would describe a Universe antithetic in its essence, with Good and Evil in struggle from the very beginning; William Blake, on Boehme's traces, would consider that now and then Good and Evil play each one the other's part. Does this sound weird? Well, then Hegel would sound weird, too.

Zoroasrian priests during the fire ceremonyAround 11,000 Zoroastrians live today in the United States. They came from India (where they are known as Parsis). Generally they are well-educated professionals, belonging to the middle and upper class. In his day job, Kersey H. Antia is a psychologist who specializes in panic disorders. In his private life, Mr. Antia dons a long white robe, slips a veil over his face and goes to work as a Zoroastrian priest, performing rituals passed down through a patrilineal chain of priests stretching back to ancient Persia (NY Times).

(Church in America)


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