A Wizard of Oz Spirituality

by Fr. Chris Hardman

What does it mean to "know God?" Many of us know a lot "about God," but do we really "know God?" In more modern terminology we might ask this question: Do you experience the "Presence of God" in your daily life?

That is an important question because most of us avoid experiencing that "presence" without realizing it. We are all wounded in our "hearts" because of our disconnection from God. Thus, we all suffer from a sense of emptiness, incompleteness, and brokenness. We try to fill that emptiness by trying to accumulate lots of money, success, knowledge or experiences. We try to fight the world, run away from it, or control it. But nothing works-nothing except the grace of God's presence.

A 4th century Christian monk named Evagrius identified nine different strategies we commonly employ to overcome this suffering. He called these strategies "passions." They are ways we "miss the mark" in trying to overcome our suffering. As we begin to recognize these patterns in our lives, their power over us subsides, and we are able to be present to God and to one another, which heals us.

Believe it or not a movie, The Wizard of Oz, shows us that path of healing. This wonderful story is about four wounded and broken creatures who long for wholeness. Dorothy is searching for home, the Scarecrow is searching for brains, the Tin Man is searching for a heart, and the Lion is searching for courage. Each believes the Wizard of Oz will give them what they desire. The Wizard proclaims he will grant them their wishes if they will first bring him the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West. Through a wonderful and comic journey to confront what they are most afraid of, this motley crew succeeds in "liquidating" the witch and discovering that what they longed for they already had.

That is what we are going to reveal this year in Reel Spirituality. We are going to describe and illustrate with movies Evagrius' nine passions that we all carry with us. Then, we will help identify which one is dominate in our lives because that is the best starting point for our unique journey. For when we liquidate (baptize) the wicked witch of the west (our ego), we will discover that we already have brains, heart, courage, and home because God is not out there somewhere but right here with us.

Pastor Heath and I are going to lead this series together. We have some outstanding movies to show you including The African Queen, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Graduate, The Blind Side, The Breakfast Club, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Producers, All About Eve, A Street Car Named Desire, and No Time for Sergeants. A new feature this year will be a special look at one of Robert Osborne's "Essentials." Robert Osborne has been the host of Turner Classic Movies for a number of years and has put together 52 must-see movies he calls the "Essentials." This year we are going to look at one of my favorites, the 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. We are watching this one because it will scare you into taking our "yellow brick road journey!"

This series begins March 8th at 6:00 pm with soup and salad. The program will begin promptly at 6:30 pm and end at 7:30 pm. Because we need to know how much food to prepare, please sign-up by calling Laurel (847-251-6120) or going by the church office.