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Hair Is Faithless

January 21, 2023

The font of all wisdom, The Internet, says “More than 80 percent of men and nearly half of women experience significant hair loss during their lifetime. For many, the thinning starts well before middle age.” This appears without attribution at the top of the Google Search page. So it must be true.

It is true for me. Like a volcanic island, a small patch of skin at the back of my head emerged from my sea of hair twenty years ago. It has become a continent. Any photo taken from behind me has the glaring orb of skin screaming back. 

My father efforted a “Comb Back” where six inch inch long strands of hair were pulled straight back over his continental skin shelf – held in place by a fragrant hair product. When he awoke every morning there had been a violent head earthquake with the anomalously long hairs flayed all across the  one inch long headscape around them, revealing the source of hirsute inadequacy: raw skin.

In the 21st century, attempts to control visual perception have completely flipped. I know no one with a comb-over, let alone a toupee. I know many (many) who have taken the skin ball and run with it.

Men (and maybe some women who I do not know) see the emerging skin, and whether they throw money at hair-growth products or not, invest in high tech razors and multiple minutes every morning removing every vestige of hair on their heads. A variant on this scorched-head assault is the full beard that proudly proclaims the presence of testosterone on a head whose pate otherwise rejects hair.


Who cares?

Like the flowing tattoos or fashion statements so many spend a great deal of time and money on, we want to control what we can. Our lives are given to us, including the insight and capacity to do more than simply live. Somehow the joy of manifesting things beyond survival is not enough – we need to respond to fear with control. Whether Dr. Evil or Lex Luther, many of my skin head brethren opt to take partial deforestation into clear-cutting. The hair I have has not changed color in 67 years so people say “You haven’t changed!” But of course I have. Health and achievements and failures are like a rolling sea that I can only beat against, to no great outcome. But I do beat against the tide I cannot control.

I could shave my head, too. Those posterior shots would have a polished pate that would dazzle the viewer – but I would be the same. Because I do not make me – I just live what I have been given and part my hair to keep it out of the way, not to cover skin.
The skinny pants, cool shoes, and careful coiffed hair that I am incapable of would project what I want to be, not who I am. None of us made ourselves beyond the cosmetic – and I am hopelessly unfashionable.

If I know that God made me, and you, then it’s all just a little silly. I can easily screw up every gift and think I made it myself, or earned it, or just deserve more.

But I did not make my bald spot. It is not an achievement to hide it by layering it with hair from some different location or pretend that it is not there by removing all the other hair around it. All of who we are is what has been given to us by God. We can manipulate our lives to the results that we think are good for us, or we can see that our gifts only promise God’s Grace when we try to use them. Not for what others think, or even some image we feel good about – but for what we have been called to do.

Good luck with that revelation: Jesus offers no manual, no guide, nothing more than Ten Rules that leave the rest up to us.

Including shaving our heads.

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