Monday, November 12, 2007

Bad Reasoning from Oz?

The world is full of "love comparison" statements:

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make
- the Beatles

If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were
- Richard Bach (or should we say "Richard Bleccch?")

Over the weekend, I was watching the Wizard of Oz for the umpty millionth time. It's like picking through a box of chocolates; you only look up for the your favorite, special parts. I'm a "Lollipop Guild" fan myself, although I also enjoy watching Judy Garland's hair get longer, then shorter, then longer in mismatched takes.

The Wizard, when awarding the "heart on a chain" to the Tin Man, says to him "You judge a man's heart, not by how much he loves, but by how much he is loved by others."

At first hearing, that seems like a decent-enough statement. But think about it: it comes perilously close to becoming a popularity contest. Loving in hope of the return of love is certainly not what we believe as Christians, nor as modelled by Jesus or taught by St. Paul. We should instead give without hope of gain, we invite to dine without hope of return, we give freely without counting the cost.

I know that there is a way of interpreting that statement, that our own lovableness, when credited to our walk with the Lord, will grow. But even famous old Technicolor movies can be unreliable philosophical guides. They all seem so clear-cut: good conquers evil, hard work breeds success, honesty is the best policy. But you see a movie a hundred times, and only on the 101st seeing does something strike a cracked note....


Anonymous said...

Ever wondered what happened with Tin Man after "The Wizard Of Oz"?
I figured out what happened after I saw this animation..
funny guy :D

TS said...

Amy Welborn posted on the film awhile back...I commented (fairly or unfairly) that "it's a very Pelagian story. I recall as a child being let down by the ending - that the wizard (the God figure) was so powerless. It seems a very naturalistic story, in keeping with those who think Christ didn't multiply the loaves and fishes but simply inspired people to express their latent generosity by sharing what they had on them."

Therese Z said...

It IS a very naturalistic story, I *delight* in that choice of word! He is powerless except through trickery, AND on top of it, you get no feeling that his good heart causes him to sacrifice himself to take her home, even. He's a lovable rogue in all his roles, medicine showman, doorkeep, wizard...

Now looking at the film with new eyes, I am mostly moved by the sincerity of the friendship between Dorothy and Scarecrow, and I wonder if it foreshadows a romance between their Kansas selves in real life. (That's probably obvious to everyone, figured out by high-school film historians and students for decades, but I'm essentially a simple soul when exposed to story-telling.)

Victor, I'm almost afraid to go and look.

Roz said...

Interesting take on the Wizard's statement. Although one valid application is that, in a really humble soul, assessment of "size of heart" is best done by loved ones rather than the person himself. My husband, for instance, has no appreciation of his own wonderfulness which is, I suppose, part of his charm.

kc bob said...

How did someone from Kansas miss this post.. aaah.. late to the dance again :(

I like what Roz said.. also liked what you said TZ.. maybe the truth is somewhere in between.. like I know what that means :)



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