I attended church service with my wife and two daughters yesterday. I do this on occasion at the request of my wife–not because she wants me to “convert”, but because time is so precious now with all the work I am doing for Project Conversion. If there is no conflict in my monthly schedule, I don’t see a problem.
But there’s another reason.
I am more open now to the Christian faith in general than ever…even when I was a Christian.
Because I do not have a month set aside for the Protestant branches of Christianity, you could say that my occasional church visits serve as an unofficial month when added together. And the most astounding boon is the connection I’m seeing between the faiths. Three months and three religions into Project Conversion, the dots on the theological page are beginning to look less like scattered dust and more like a starry night. And the religions are forming constellations.
Over the weekend we explored the Zarathushti concept of Humata, Hukhta, and Huvareshta or Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. We talked about how simple and seemingly obvious this philosophy is, yet how formidable the path of Asha is in practice. We must actively mold ourselves for a positive outlook, to be a blessing to others, at every single moment of the day.
So when the speaker at my wife’s church began his talk on Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” I felt a pang in my stomach; as if a spark had just crackled inside me. You all know this speech Jesus gave. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…Ye are the light of the world…Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick…Let your light shine before men, that they might see your good works.” Here’s another one that creates a stir: “Whosoever looks upon a woman and lusts after her hath committed adultery.”
Light a candle and be the light, good works, do not lust…this sounds a lot like Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. This is that common moral thread we see time and time again. Zarathushtra called on us to revolutionize our psyche–our life–to reflect the supreme good of the “Wise Lord”, Ahura Mazda. Jesus challenged his audiences to do the same over a thousand years later. Did Jesus know about the Zarathushti religion? Probably. Was he borrowing from the teachings of Zarathushtra?
Does is matter?
On a larger scale, because these themes repeat themselves from prophet to prophet, religious leader to religious leader…they begin to resemble reminders. If we step back from our exclusive truths–our favorite star in the night sky–for just a moment, a pattern of lights emerge. We see thousands of candles guiding us through the black and mysterious expanse. Just as the mariners of old, we can use these lights to help navigate us home, but only if we are able to discern the constellations–the common threads.
Now, as I stare into the flame, a sacred symbol of Ahura Mazda in the Zarathushti Faith, I see light…in a different light. Fire burns away impurities and veils that might otherwise keep us apart. I challenge you to ignite the fire that is the Sermon on the Mount, and the three-fold Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds. I challenge you, with a fiery vision, to look beyond the veils of religion…and see God.