The Wizard of Oz (1939)

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I intend to write every review I publish on this website from a Christian perspective, in great respect for the potential prophetic value of the arts, but I don’t think I will ever be able to do so in a way quite as obvious as it will be this time, largely because it will also probably be the most personal article I ever write for this site.

I went through terrible grief, depression, and anxiety following the results of the election three weeks ago. I felt hopeless because I understand the biblical principle that the power of life and death is in the tongue. Enough people in the country I call home had voted for a man who brought death to this nation through a vile tongue that’s full of hate, discrimination, perversity, and corruption to declare him our next leader. As if he hadn’t already done enough damage and brought enough death, now he’s been given the right to spread that death even further, likely to the whole world. And we saw its effect immediately with the rise of hate groups that had been relatively dormant for decades.

Worst of all, the movement to get Trump elected included many Christians or at least those who profess to be Christians. To see and to know so many people give in to this evil because of either a stronger devotion to party affiliation than to moral and spiritual convictions or a genuine conflict not knowing which of the main two candidates was worse was heartbreaking for me. It was proof to me that this man has not only had his way in getting the power he craves, be he got his way in gaining control over the hearts and minds of many people that I care about.

After a few days of being consumed by this grief, one of the ways for me to start trying to get back to normal life was, of course, watching a movie. I picked The Wizard of Oz because I desperately needed something happy and life-affirming. Being the movie I have probably watched more than any other movie in my life, I thought I knew how I would respond to it and that it would be the perfect choice for the occasion. Much to my shock, my reaction was far different than it ever had been before and different than I could’ve even imagined before.

When Judy Garland began singing “Over the Rainbow,” I started sobbing and couldn’t stop for about 15 minutes. I wanted to leave this country, the only place I’ve ever lived. I wanted to take every immigrant, every person of Latino heritage, every Muslim, every woman (the list of course could go on much longer than this) I have ever known—that is, I wanted to take every person who is now vulnerable to the threats, the harm, and the evil of our President-elect—over the rainbow with me. Listening to this song about hope and the beauty of imagination left me feeling completely helpless toward any way of helping all the people suddenly confronted with so much potential danger.

Once Dorothy and Toto got out of the limitations and confusion of Kansas, so did I. As soon as they get to Oz, Dorothy gets the ruby slippers, the key to knowing that there’s a way home, even though it will take a long journey for her to get back. The Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion are just like her (once she gets the slippers) in this way, already having everything that they think they need. They just need to realize that they already have a brain, a heart, and courage so that they use them well.

The power of life and death certainly is in the tongue. That means that I and all who have been transformed by death and resurrection of Jesus, by the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, have everything we need to exert power (divine power) that is greater than any of the death that our soon-to-be president can accomplish with his tongue. We have the power of life within us. We have the power to speak life over our country and this world, to overtake the death Mr. Trump has already brought. The results of this election, then, should be a call to use that power: to love, to give, and to meet the needs of those vulnerable by his policies, his likely tyranny, and his unquestionably evil words. I don’t know what the journey is going to look like to use that power and to speak life after so much death has been been allowed to reign, but I do know that we (all followers of Christ, that is) already have that power within us. We need not fear or despair because we have already been given everything we need.

 

Also directed by Victor FlemingCaptains Courageous (1937)

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