Kim Jong Un, the Hermit Kingdom’s Brilliant Comrade, launched a new hairstyle on an unsuspecting world four years ago. One source critiqued it this way: “The style is a variation on Kim’s signature shaved sides, but with the top now sculpted into a high, wedge-shaped pompadour that sits atop Kim’s head like a hat, or perhaps a small, dormant woodland creature.”
Some speculate that he’s trying to look more like his grandfather, the founder of North Korea, the “Great Leader” and still its Eternal President. Grandfather Kim was a revolutionary hero, and Li’l Kim may be using his new hairdo to declare that he’s maturing into that role.
Why so much excitement over a haircut? Because North Korea is a dangerous and unstable enemy, and there’s so little information that even something this trivial was parsed for clues.
Remind you of Someone?
And that’s also the Christian’s task. They have their own unpredictable Great Leader whose intentions they must infer from minimal clues. Christians become pigeons in a B.F. Skinner experiment, where intermittent reinforcement produced better results than continuous reinforcement. The dribbles of approval they infer falling from God’s table are enough to keep them eager for more.
Kim’s uncle was executed early in Kim’s reign, presumably with Kim’s approval. Similarly, God is also dangerous, and Christians unashamedly admit that he’s killed millions. But, like the North Koreans who wept genuine tears at the death of the previous leader in 2011, Christians are quick to justify God’s actions. Someone’s child dies? Their faith is strengthened. The Canaanite genocide? Those bastards had plenty of chances. The Flood? They got what they deserved. In fact, God’s actions are good by definition.
I imagine the conversation in North Korea about Kim is similar.
North Korea is officially the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” but how can a dictatorship be democratic? I suppose in the same way that Yahweh the genocidal murderer is “all loving.”
But of course we have better, more tangible things to talk about in North Korea than a haircut. Instead of the hair, we could ask about the quality of life of North Koreans. And instead of God worship, we could focus on helping his children.
Lord knows he’s not doing it.
— Rev. Joel Osteen
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 2/20/15.)
Image credit: Vox