Note: Due to the holidays, Peace & Life Connections will not be published on the next two Fridays, and will start the new year on Friday, January 6.
The Magi were Zoroastrians The Magi of the Christmas Nativity story (see Matthew 2:1-12) were Zoroastrians, and people of all religions, as well as our secular readers, may find this monotheistic group interesting for its role in the history of the consistent life ethic. Scholars argue about when the religion started – that is, when the founder Zoroaster/Zarathustra actually lived – but it’s comparable to Judaism in its antiquity. Persian in origin and long-lasting in influence, with ideas that seeped into Judaism and Christianity, it was for several centuries one of the largest religions in world. Some adherents are left in Iran, but the largest group now live in India as the Parsis.
Blood Sacrifice Human sacrifice as a ceremony was never considered as a possibility in Zoroastrianism. Animal sacrifice was explicitly rejected by Zarathustra as contrary to the spirit of compassion (see Yasna 32:3 and 32:8). He expressed sympathy from the cow’s point of view. War The religious foundations for raids and battles were undercut by Zoroastrian practice, and the end of wars was one of the expectations for the spreading of goodness. Wars were the work of Angra Mainyu (basically, the devil). While defensive war was practiced on Zarathustra’s behalf in his lifetime, and of course the Persian empires practiced war, it was still progress according to the understandings of the time. Infanticide and Feticide Zoroastrian scripture understands abortion as an unjust taking of the child’s life and reassures a pregnant, unmarried woman that she need not feel shame and thus resort to it. The father and the community also have obligations toward sustaining the child’s life, prenatally and postnatally (Vendidad 15:9–16). Poverty Zoroastrians regard involuntary poverty as one of the afflictions that they want to work to remove from the world, a product of destructive energies. As Parsis in India, they’ve been active in poverty-prevention programs such as schools.
Human Equality The notion that all humans are equal in worth, including men and women as well as all races, was radical by contemporary ancient standards. Euthanasia As with abortion, euthanasia is seen as destroying God’s good creation and has been forbidden. The Environment Since its beginning in ancient times, with its emphasis on the one Creator, Zoroastrians have had a special concern for care of the environment. They’ve seen environmental destruction as a form of violence.
Past Holiday Editions In 2010, we showed “It’s a Wonderful Movement” by using the theme of what would happen if the peace movement and the pro-life movement hadn’t arisen. We also had quotes from Scrooge (against respect for life) and a Martin Luther King Christmas sermon. In 2011, we covered the materialism-reducing “Advent Conspiracy” and offered two pieces of children’s literature: a 1938 anti-war cartoon called “Peace on Earth,” and the anti-war origins of “Horton Hears a Who,” whose tagline – “a person’s a person, no matter how small” - is irresistible to pro-lifers. In 2012, we had a couple of quotes showing the pro-life aspects of two prominent Christmas tales: A Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge, and the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. We also quote from John Dear about Jesus as peacemaker and Rand Paul about the 1914 spontaneous Christmas Truce; he then related it to the culture of life. In 2013, we shared several quotations reflecting on Christmas. In 2014, we offered a quotation from a lesser-known Christmas novella of Charles Dickens and cited the treatment of abortion in the Zoroastrian scriptures. In 2015, we had a list of good holiday movies with consistent-life themes – check it out for what you might want to see this season. We also had information on Muslim nonviolent perspectives to counter the stereotypes against Muslims, which unfortunately are still a major concern
From the Board of Directors of the Consistent Life Network
Board meeting May 1, 2016 Back row, left to Right: Eve Kuha, Tony Masalonis, Rob Arner, Bill Samuel, Carol Crossed, Thad Crouch Front row: Lisa Stiller, Rachel MacNair, Mary Rider, Evelyn Brush
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