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Overanalysis: The Godless Wizard of Oz

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As a Christian with a passion for quality entertainment, I’m aware that my fellow believers have boycotted a lot of different media.  We disapproved of the witchcraft in Harry Potter, we worried Pokémon was of the devil, and we even refused to watch Disney movies when the theme park offered a special day for homosexuals.  Some of these reactions I can understand, some may have been overblown, and some are just weird.  But there is one movie I think we’ve overlooked, one great classic that opposes the very core of what we believe.  I’m talking, of course, about The Wizard of Oz.

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Think about it…

Almost as soon as Dorothy arrives in Oz, she hears about the Wizard, an all-powerful being who can grant any wish, mush like answering prayer.  No one has ever seen the Wizard, but everyone believes he exists.  She goes on a journey, possibly a pilgrimage of sorts, in order to meet him and have her prayer answered.  Along the way, she meets others and tells them about the Wizard, convincing them to seek after him so that their desires may be granted as well.  In a way, she is converting them to belief in the Wizard.  She is even sent on a mission that involves freeing the Winkies from their enslavement to the Wicked Witch, just as Christians are part of God’s mission to free others from their enslavement to sin.

In the end, however, it turns out that, while there is a wizard, he is merely mortal and has no power.  He is a con artist who uses tricks and inventions to make the people of Oz “worship” him and obey his every command.  But even though our heroes know he is a fraud, they still come to him asking for what they want.  In this case, the book is probably worse than the movie, because in the book, he actually pretends to give them what they want, whereas in the movie, he makes no such pretense, only making them appear to have everything they need and want.

So how do our heroes get what they want?  It turns out that they answer their own prayers, in a way.  Throughout the movie and especially at the climax, we see the Scarecrow being smart without a brain, the Tin Man showing affection without a heart, and the Cowardly Lion facing fear without any courage.  Even Dorothy could have gone home to Kansas the moment she arrived through the power of her magic ruby slippers, which have been on her feet the whole time.  Each character could have helped himself or herself all along, because they, not the Wizard, had the power.  This illustrates the concept known as secular humanism, which asserts that our own scientific knowledge and human effort are all we need to make the world a better place.  God may or may not exist, but he has no place in such a system.

In short, The Wizard of Oz seems to imply that God is not as powerful as he claims to be and that we can thrive on our own power.  Is this just cause for boycotting the film?  Probably not.  It’s still entertaining, with themes of friendship, cooperation, and the importance of home.  I guess I’m just surprised no one in the Christian community has gone ballistic over this movie yet.  But then again, I’m probably the only one who has overanalyzed it.

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