Friday, April 24, 2009

Pay No Attention...

Like so many people of the past 7o years, I'm a huge fan of the 1939 classic, "The Wizard of Oz". I'm sure I've watched the film nearly 100 times. The beauty of the story is that it appeals to folks of all ages. There are the elements of pageantry and fantasy that appeal to the younger ones as well as many mature themes that appeal to us old geezers.

As I've aged, I have even begun to acknowledge some sinister themes in the movie. For me, one of the most sinister parts concerns the fake Oz and how this is such a clear metaphor for the institution of religion in our world.

As the clip below this post illustrates in living color, the projected visage of the great Oz is a mean-spirited, foul-mouthed, cranky bastard! Our heroine and her cast of merry men are instilled with such terror that they can't bring themselves to look sideways while in the presence of Oz. They are only drawn to notice the feeble man behind the curtain by a little cairn terrier, Toto. Had it not been for the inquisitiveness of the little pooch, their eyes would have been fixated on the gaseous tyrannt and the promise of better days in the far off nondescript future.

Religious leaders follow this same script over and over again. The clergy or holy men (sorry, very few women need apply) alternate between terrorizing their followers with visions of an angry deity ready to cast them into a fiery furnace or worse juxtaposed against promises of a milk and honey paradise for the chosen few.

Of the two, I believe the latter is far more dangerous than the former. It goes directly to the heart of Karl Marx's famous remark that "religion is the opiate of the masses."

By fixating people's focus on the hereafter, far too many of them will allow all sorts of injustices to transpire before their very eyes without raising as much as a peep in protest. Why get all upset when I have an exclusive invitation to the heavenly country club waiting for me? Hey, suffering is good and it will guarantee me a better seat at the ball!

With this delectable carrot constantly dangled in front of their hearts and eyes, herding the docile lambs any direction one desires becomes much easier for the religious authorities. What we end up with are scores of people who will readily accept being oppressed, repressed, subjugated and dominated or legions of others who are ready and willing to go off to die to further the agenda of the rich and powerful.

And make no mistake about it, the elite within any religious order have very worldly political, economic and militaristic agendas! Some seek world political domination. Others just want to become silly rich which buys a lifetime of influence. Still others crave the intoxication of unmitigated power.

So, just like the Kansas showman, they create an apparatus to wow and terrify the believers they gather around them. These adherents are so fixated on the fiery deity that they never take the time to investigate nor discover the little cadre of scared and timid men -- each a humbug, in his own right -- hiding behind the curtains.


  1. Well done. Bravo! Really an excellent way to make your point. I know all too well the fear based religious tactics of Catholicism - my, my. If you get a minute to read my last post you will understand where such fear allowed me to go. I truly believed that to resist him was as if I were resisting God.

    That is no longer true for me - but it was quite a wrangle to break free of the oppression and fear.

    Love Gail

  2. It sounds like you're making a great point, but I couldn't get the analogy, 'cause I've never watched the WofO. Wasn't allowed to watch movies as a child! What can I say? :-(

    When you use Pride & Prejudice as the metaphor, I'll be eating off of the palm of your hand ;-)

  3. Gail,
    Thank you for your kind words.

    You've never seen the Wizard of Oz? Well, I have an assignment for you! You need to get to your nearest video store and rent a copy. For the most part, I think the film will delight you. I will be expecting to read a movie review on your blog in the near future. :)


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