Hitchens, Wolpe And The Dear Leader

Hitchens, Wolpe And The Dear Leader December 22, 2011

I miss Christopher Hitchens.

Rabbi David Wolpe, in his really lousy book, Why Faith Matters, talks about how Hitchens described North Korea as one of the most religiously authoritarian states that he’s ever experienced.  Wolpe’s non-answer to this is to blame North Korea’s problems on its atheism and to praise South Korea for its Christianity.  That’s why North Koreans flee there.

I’m sure it’s pretty obvious that North Korea is a horrendous place to live and that, if you’re a North Korean with a way out, you’re going to run to South Korea, a free country that shares your language and history.  Wolpe asserts that it is North Korea’s official atheism that makes it the nightmare that it is and that it is South Korea’s Christianity that makes it free and so attractive to refugees.

Hitch tried to point out in debates with Wolpe that it is North Korea that is the more religious country.  Sure, North Koreans are atheistic about the western God, but they are subject to round the clock veneration of their various Dear and Great leaders.

Now that the Dear one has died, just look at how North Koreans described his death:

Sudden cracking ice, glowing mountains and glorious sunsets have all been reported after the death of the leader was reported on Monday.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on its website that “peculiar natural wonders were observed on Mt Paektu, Jong Il Peak and Tonghung Hill in Hamhung City”.

Ice covering Lake Chon was said to have cracked so loudly that the entire lake trembled with noise.

A nearby lake exploration group reported that a bitterly cold storm suddenly stopped and the clouds cleared across the lake.

Then “the sky began turning red with sunrise on the horizon” KCNA reported. “The peaks looked like a picture for wide and thick glow”.

KCNA also noted that Kim’s “autographic writings” were seen carved on the edge of a mountain, glowing in sorrow for the leader whose brutal 20-year dictatorship resulted in famine and economic catastrophe.

The state-controlled news service also reported how a crane flew around a statue of the president on Tonghung Hill and bowed its head before flying away.

“Even the crane seemed to mourn the demise of Kim Jong Il born of Heaven after flying down there at dead of cold night, unable to forget him,” the news service said.

This reminds me of nothing more than the descriptions of the moments after Jesus’ death when earthquakes shook the land and the Temple’s curtain was ripped in two.  It’s so obviously religious that, short of self-delusion, I can’t grasp how Wolpe could claim that the country is atheist.  Like so many westerners, he refuses to recognize as religion any faith without Yahweh and Co. (aka Adonai, aka Jesus, aka Allah) at its core.

I miss Christopher Hitchens.

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