Friday, September 12, 2008

Wicked, Wizard and Wonderful

Well, it has been a week: a wonderful wicked wizard of Oz week.

It began by reading "Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory Maguire. It's the book that the Broadway play "Wicked" is based on. It's one of those books that starts off strong, then drags, then picks up, then comes to an end oh so quickly. It's easy to tell that Maguire loved writing this witty, naughty, deeply intelligent book, but there are parts that I felt went on far too long and were unnecessary, and then important key parts (like the Witch sewing wings onto the monkeys) that came too quick with little to no explanation. For me, this book explored the spiritual concept of forgiveness (spoiler alert, stop reading here if you don't want to know the end). The Witch wants nothing more then to be forgiven but is refused that reality, and so she is shocked and taken back when Dorothy comes not to kill her, but to ask that she forgive Dorothy for accidentally killing her sister. The Witch literally dies because of forgiveness.

Then I read L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." It's a delightful tale that differs from the movie and Wicked but its amazing to think he created this, out of nothing. The Wicked Witch appears here for only one chapter and she is indeed very wicked. The spiritual part came at the end, when Dorothy discovers she could have used her Silver Shoes to carry her back to Kansas. But Dorothy and her traveling companions realize that if she had done that, they never would have met; the Sacrecrow would have passed his whole life in the field, the Tin Woodman would have stood rusted till the end of the world, and the Lion would have been a coward forever. Dorothy admits she is glad to have made such good friends, but shew is no ready to go home. This reminded me very much of the scripture that says "All things work together for the good of God for those who believe."

Finally, I sat and watched "Wizard of Oz" for the first time in over a decade, and like a child I was enthralled. This is, I think, the perfect movie. The pacing, the cinematography, the songs, actions, the use of the time piece to add tension, and the obvious studio sets which added to the fantasy element. Here, the spiritual aspect was all about home: Dorothy and her companions wandering through a wilderness where good and bad took place, but all the time wanting to return to the place she loved, with the people she loved, to the place she called home, not with a small h but with a capital H.

On a side note, as an adult, I watched the opening scenes with new eyes. Dorothy, as far as we know, is an orphan, living with her aunt and uncle. In a way, Toto is all she's got. So when Ms. Gulch takes Toto away it's a really big, separation deal. Dorothy is having her family ripped away from her.

All in all, all three works of art are their own entity, bringing their own gifts and insights, a testimony to the wonderful gift of creativity God gives to us.

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