Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Juche do it

With North Korea testing nuclear bombs and threatening to go to war and such, it's important to note that the truncated peninsula is home to the world's 10th-largest religion: Juche.

And, with all 19 million inhabitants of North Korea followers of Juche, it's a force to be reckoned with.

OK, so the North Korean government created Juche in the 1950s to quash the other religions and philosophies frolicking in the country, and Kim Jong Il would be horrified if someone classified Juche -- which purports to stress independent thinking -- as a faith. He might even declare war on me for writing this blog.

But, a Web site that tracks such things, begs to differ. Indeed, if religion is defined as simply a belief involving a philosophy and code of ethics, Juche qualifies. Even if the definition is narrowed to include only a superhuman focal point of worship, Juche might squeeze in there. After all, the North Korean calendar counts 1912 -- the year longtime leader Kim Il Sung was born -- as its year No. 1, much as our own calendar is split into "before Christ" and "after Christ" periods. It's said that when Kim Jong Il was born, non-flowering trees burst into bloom.

And then, of course, there's Kim Jong Il's godlike prowess at golf, when he reportedly shot 38-under-par his first time out, according to North Korean news services. And we think Tiger Woods is pretty keen.


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