Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tales from the Perimeter: Mithraism

Perimeter meaning the 6 mile patrol road inside the fence of the military installation on which I work, where some half a dozen of us comprise a pool of running “talent” and strive to show up for a noontime run a couple times a week if we can escape our desks. We share a lot and these guys are one of the core pillars of my sanity.

One of our group, CH, is pretty religious but not in-your-face. His approach to faith is one that is respectful and able to be respected, even by nonbelievers.

That said, we other runners cannot help but bust him whenever we can. MS heard something about the religion Mithraism on public radio, was intrigued, did some research, and sent out a list of some 17 similarities with Christianity, just to tweak CH:

Today's Running Discussion Topic - Mithraism

Q - What is Mithraism?
A - Ancient Persian religion popular among Roman military which preceded Christianity by approximately 600 years?

Q - Who is Mithra/Mithras?
A - Ancient Persian god of light and truth; sun god?

Q - What similarities exist between Mithraism and Christianity?
A - Numerous

1) Mithra was born on December 25th as an offspring of the Sun.
2) He was considered a great traveling teacher and masters.
3) He had twelve companions as Jesus had twelve disciples.
4) Mithras also performed miracles.
5) Mithra was called "the good shepherd, "the way, the truth and the light, redeemer, savior, Messiah."
6) He was identified with both the lion and the lamb.
7) Mithras seems to have owed his prominence to the belief that he was the source of life, and could also redeem the souls of the dead into the better world ...
8) The ceremonies included a sort of baptism to remove sins, anointing, and a sacred meal of bread and water, while a consecrated wine, believed to possess wonderful power, played a prominent part.
9) The sectaries of the Persian god, like the Christians', purified themselves by baptism.
10) The disciples of Mithra formed an organized church, with a developed hierarchy.
11) They possessed the ideas of Mediation, Atonement, and a Savior, who is human and yet divine, and not only the idea, but a doctrine of the future life.
12) They had a Eucharist, and a Baptism.
13) In the catacombs at Rome was preserved a relic of the old Mithraic worship. It was a picture of the infant Mithra seated in the lap of his virgin mother, while on their knees before him were Persian Magi adoring him and offering gifts.
14) He was buried in a tomb and after three days he rose again. His resurrection was celebrated every year.
15) Mithra had his principal festival on what was later to become Easter, at which time he was resurrected.
16) His sacred day was Sunday, "the Lord's Day."
17) The Mithra religion had a Eucharist or "Lord's Supper."

Whereupon I emailed the group as follows as to my theory on why this religion has not flourished:

-----Original Message-----

From: Gary
Sent: Wednesday, January 05, 2011 10:27 AM
To: xxxxx
Cc: xxxxx
Subject: RE: Today's Running Discussion Topic - Mithraism

Probably why Mithraism hasn't caught on is that it doesn't lend itself well to blasphemy.

Like when you hit your thumb with a hammer, it's much more satisfying to say "J**** C***** !" than it'd be to say "Mithra!"

Regards/Gary

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