(an “I’m not home” film review and/or commentary on the Christianity of this classic book and film by Timothy J. Verret)
For quite some time, I’ve been wanting to write a film review and/or commentary on THE WIZARD OF OZ, a film I consider highly Christian. I don’t know if this was on the mind of the author of the book, L. Frank Baum, turned into a film, but it’s all right there, “holier than thou,” in the beautiful technicolor of the film. It was only today when I was in the throes of extreme pangs of loneliness, what I deem “I’m not home” loneliness, that it was all decided by God that I needed to write about what I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now.
You know the film, right? You’ve seen the film, right? If you say you don’t know or haven’t seen the film, you must be kidding me, right? I suppose there might be one person who doesn’t know or hasn’t seen this classic film and if you are that one, it might be time for you to visit Oz NOW! And the visiting of Oz is what I consider very Christian about this film. Dorothy is a girl with a dog, Toto, who BOTH! (there’s that word again!) get swept up in a cyclone in Kansas (or do they?) and are whisked away to a land of munchkins, witches, and flying monkeys….oh my! Dorothy wants nothing more than to go back to Kansas but before it’s told how she can (you know, ruby slippers and all), she hooks up with The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and The Cowardly Lion who have their own “want” agendas, i.e., a brain, a heart, and courage, respectively. They all go down the yellow brick road to go see the great and powerful Oz for fulfillment of their agendas. Just one thing (and I mean to say “thing” rather than “person”) stands in their way: The Wicked Witch of the West.
So, why is this a highly Christian book and film? First, Dorothy is a “female Jesus.” She wants what Jesus wants, i.e., to go back “home.” For Dorothy, “home” represents family and comfort and love and for Jesus, “home” represents exactly these same things. It’s Jesus who wants to go back to the real “home” which is His Heaven, and I think just maybe, Kansas aside, this is the same real “home” that Dorothy pines for and most of us pine for when we experience “I’m not home” loneliness. We, like Dorothy, are all walking down the yellow brick road on earth wanting, wishing and waiting for the end of this yellow-brick-road earthly life. Our final destination? Heaven’s “home.” Please know that I am not talking about loneliness of a physical nature here, the kind of loneliness felt on a physical plane that is either one all alone or one in a sea of a million people. I’m not talking about what “and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6) children say in the backseat of a long drive, “are we home yet?” No, I’m talking about “I’m not home” loneliness of not being in Heaven’s “home,” as mentioned earlier, something ALL of us feel from time to time and maybe quite often if we are truly being honest with ourselves.
Speaking of honesty and speaking of Jesus, Dorothy “Jesus” (I’ll refer to her as this from now on) spoke only honesty just like Jesus. I don’t think she told one lie in her little life that I can recall. And Dorothy “Jesus” was kind, compassionate, considerate, thoughtful, only angry when she had a right cause to be (the Wizard of Oz telling her he couldn’t grant her and her friends their agendas even though she brought back the broom of The Wicked Witch of the West to him would have pissed me off to no end). And this one “thing” standing in Dorothy’s way, i.e., The Wicked Witch of the West, is very similar to the one “thing” that stands in all our ways of getting to Heaven’s “home.” That one “thing” (and I mean to say “thing” rather than “person”) is Satan. Much like W.W.W. (I’ll call that “thing” this from now on and, no, I’m not talking about the internet) who is standing in the way of Dorothy “Jesus” getting “home,” we have Satan who is standing in our way of getting to Heaven’s “home.” And much like both W.W.W. and Satan, they will do just about anything to make sure we don’t get there. But there is something to know about Satan. The Wizard of Oz was all gruff and loudness and noise but when Toto revealed the very little “man behind the curtain,” The Wizard was exposed for the “all bark and no bite” (Toto can relate) he really was. Satan is just like that.
I don’t know about you, but the things that The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and The Cowardly Lion wanted are the very same things I want and all us of strong (or weak) faith want. We all want a brain that is “transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.is of the renewal of our minds in Christ Jesus” (Romans 12:2). We all want a heart that is “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in Love, may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17). We all want courage that is “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Once again, I’m not sure if author Baum considered any of these Bible verses when he wrote the book or when the film was made, but I certainly considered them when I reflected on this commentary. And what’s so interesting about wanting these three things is that The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and The Cowardly Lion already had these things; they just didn’t know they had them. Might we, as well, not know we have them either?
I don’t care to give away the ending of the film because I’m assuming you know the ending. But if you are that “lonely” one who does not know the story or has never seen this film, Dorothy “Jesus” is finally able to kill W.W.W. by throwing water on her and melting her. Nothing like “The Living Waters of Jesus Christ” (“Rivers of Living Water will flow from Jesus’ Heart.” [John 7:38]) to melt W.W.W., and nothing like these same waters we all need to melt Satan. And Dorothy “Jesus” does get “home,” but the reality is she never left. Dorothy “Jesus” tells Glenda, The Good Witch: “And it’s that if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” Then she asks Glenda, “Is that right?” Yes, Dorothy “Jesus,” that is right! We don’t have to go looking for our heart’s desire further than our own backyard. But our heart’s desire will always have that “I’m not home” loneliness contained therein until we are Heaven “home.”
If you have any comments or insights I didn’t explore or downright objections to this film review and/or commentary of THE WIZARD OF OZ, please drop me a line or two (BOTH!) at: https://timothyjverret.blog/contact/
Love and blessings and empathy for all those, like myself, experiencing “I’m not home” loneliness,
Timothy J. Verret
PS: My therapist, Mark, talks about this film all the time. He is the only straight man I know who talks about this film all the time. But Mark talks about it for the very same reasons I just talked about it, i.e., it is a highly Christian film. It gives all of us so much insight into what it means to (be) (go) (never leave) “home” and how we are all, whether we know it or not, experiencing “I’m not home” loneliness because we just ain’t Heaven “home”….yet!