Iran and Aryans
I asked: "Do Parsis accept converts? Originally all were converts, so it is hard to understand their alleged refusal. I suspect that it may be racial. The Persians viewed themselves as Aryans and therefore superior to the surrounding ethnic groups. Since we know so little about these matters, clarification from experts including Ed Jajko would be appreciated."
Expert Ed Jajko repies: "I have problems with this paragraph, including the designation of myself as an "expert." RH suspects that the alleged refusal of Parsis to accept converts "may be racial. The Persians viewed themselves as Aryans and therefore superior to the surrounding ethnic groups." It seems to me there are a couple of logical fallacies in the highly compressed sentences of this paragraph. "Aryan" is a word that has taken on unfortunate connotations thanks to a twentieth-century history that Iranians had little, if anything, to do with. "Aryan" was an ethnic or tribal designation dating from at least Achaemenid times and is of course the source of the name "Iran." That Persians may have viewed themselves as Aryans, hence superior, is about the same as their contemporaries, the Greeks calling anyone who couldn't speak Greek but could only make uncouth noises that sounded to them like "bar, bar," "hoi barbaroi," the original barbarians. To themselves, the Germans are the Deutsch, presumably those who speak clearly (although they have to wait until the end of the sentence to find out what the verb is, just like the Persians do). To the Poles, the Germans are the Niemcy, the Dumb. There are tribes, groups, peoples, who call themselves "The People" -- in contrast to everyone else. That "the Persians viewed themselves as Aryans" -- and this is a major compression of language, history, and ethnology -- does not necessarily lead to Parsis not accepting converts.
My wife and I spent the first week of this month in northeast Ohio. In addition to attending five operettas and shows at the Ohio Light Opera, at the College of Wooster, we were pleased to find ourselves in Ohio's Amish country, the largest concentration of Amish and Mennonites in the US. In Berlin -- accent on the first syllable -- we visited the Behalt, the cyclorama of Amish history in the historical center. Having only the greatest respect for Amish and Mennonites, I listened to the lecturer as he pointed out the highlights of Christian and Mennonite history, successfully restraining myself from mentioning that from my point of view they were founded in heresy while correcting his misinformation about the fate of the Donner Party. I mention this visit only because it was pointed out several times that the Amish do not seek and do not accept converts. It is my understanding that the Sikh religion also does not seek or accept converts, despite the efforts of questing US college students. Other religions set the hurdles high: Judaism requires a painful commitment from an otherwise unprepared adult male, and while conversion to Islam is easy -- sincere profession of the "shahadah" before qualified witnesses -- changing one's mind is not, since apostasy is a capital offense in Islamic law".
RH: At Lourdes then Pope looked very frail, and I think he should resign to allow Ed to occupy the Popemobile. Surely Ed remembers that Saint Paul established the equality of all races and conditions? Belief in Aryan superiority is different in quality from the American dislike of say the French.
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