I recently read an amazing article about Saddam Hussein written back in 2002 and entitled, “Tales of the Tyrant.” It contains interviews of many former Iraqi citizens—newspaper publishers, artists, soldiers, high ranking officials—who have left Iraq and are able to speak openly about what Saddam was really like.

In addition to these interviews there are a number of anecdotes about Hussein. These stories cast light on the mind of a dictator. It is amazing to think about all of the things that he did to maintain his hold on power.

Like most dictators, Saddam stayed in a different palace every night. But every palace maintained the same schedule even if he wasn’t there. They cooked dinner every night. The household staff kept busy. All to give the impression that Hussein might actually be in any of his palaces. He maintained a detail of ruthless bodyguards who would go before him to ensure that any place was safe. You know, the usual stuff.

What I found most fascinating was all of the work that he did to create a public image. Hussein’s propaganda machine was always working to make him appear larger than life.

There were the notorious statues and paintings of him all over Iraq. Every night, Iraqi television featured a segment of poems and songs that extolled the virtues of the “Great Uncle” of the Iraqi people. He had a false genealogy created that traced his lineage all the way back to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed. All Iraqi officials were required to read his 19 volume (!) autobiography. He hired a former Hollywood director to edit a film about his life called The Long Days.

So much of what Hussein did was designed to make him appear larger than life—godlike, even. Once, during an award ceremony for military officers, he went down the aisle presenting awards and saying, “I will give you more, if you will only thank me.”

But you and I have a different model for what it means to be “God-like.” And a different understanding of all that it entails. So when Peter reminds us of the chance we have been given to “share in the divine nature,” I would hope that none of you are thinking about statues of yourself or tribute poems. I hope you’ll get a better idea of what it looks like this morning.