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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Yellow brick road instead of the Way of the Passion

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Palm Sunday outside the Church of the Holy Family Lent 2003 had some unusual visitors. Here they are providing an alternative centre of attention at the Mass.

Just so that there is no doubt as to the identity of this strange crew, here they are from the front.


The cast from the Wizard of Oz.

And the munchkins came too, with what look like palm crosses.




In fact the whole Lenten theme had been the Wizard of Oz. A yellow brick road was installed in the Church.

The priest writes to justify himself.

"One of the all-time classics about the Journey of Life is The Wizard of Oz. Originally thought to be a children's story, it was soon recognized as a parable about life's journey, and for us this Lent of 2003, the Journey of our Lent whereby we are freely given by the Church yet another opportunity to "get on the road" and walk, run, skip, hop, mope, jog, or meander towards the mythical Emerald City. For symbols to have meaning, everyone has to almost subconsciously understand them. That's the beauty of The Wizard of Oz--we all do.

Each Lent we are plummeted out of spiritual drowsiness onto the Yellow Brick Road. "The road to the City of Emeralds is paved with yellow brick, so you cannnot miss it." the story tells us. The story also enhances our Lenten journey, imitative of the Gospel, when it says "The land of Oz is surrounded by a great desert," and "You must walk through a countryside sometimes pleasant, sometimes dark and terrible." It makes you wonder if the author, L. Frank Baum, had been reading the Gospel while composing the story.

Every year, every Christian, just before steping onto the yellow brick road, is showered with ashes as a sign we know who we are with our weaknesses and shortcomings; we know the onceness and shortness of life; we are aware of our selfishness; and we promise to imitate Jesus on His journey from Nazareth up to Jerusalem (physically) to suffer and die and give us new life at the end of the road (spritually). We freely embrace the three simple, but necessary, practices of all religion, in our case elevated to a new level of significance by the example and demands of Jesus Himself."

He adds a prayer:

Prayer (deepening our own)
Fasting (mostly from immediate self-gratifying foods, liquor, pills, etc.)
Alsmgiving (giving large amounts to the poor, gouging our pre-calculated budgets).
Remember, all these practices are for our benefit, not God's (as we used to be taught). When Easter comes and we arrive at the end of the yellow brick road in the City of Emeralds, we will be the newer, the better, the rejuvenated, renewed persons.

He claims that the Frank Baum could have been reading the Gospel when writing Wizard of Oz. Originally a methodist, then episcopalian, he converted to theosophy in 1897. Three years later he wrote the Wizard of Oz. The only reference to a church in the Wizard of Oz is when Dorothy breaks a porcelain model of a church (likely to be an unconscious reference to Baum deserting episcopalianism.

Arrival in the Emerald City - otherwise known as the Reading of the Gospel and the congregation are forced to wear sun specs.




There is a clash of symbols, one set taken from the reality of the Passion of Christ and another from the fabulous world of the Wizard of Oz. Incredible that as the world is weary and exhausted with the constant bombardment of the phantasies of the modern media age, the Church wants to join in. It seems one of the effects of the Second Vatican Council has been to trap many parishes in an eternal 1969.

Troubles on the yellow brick road.





This is the best example ever of what Cardinal Arinze means by liturgies to order. But more than speeches on set piece occasions are need to bring the curtain down on these liturgical amateur dramatics.

As I was getting this story in order, In Illo Tempore commented

"I could while away the hours,
Conferrin' with the flowers,
Consultin' with the rain.
And my head, I'd be scratchin',
While my thoughts were busy hatchin',
If I only had a brain."

Exactly these liturgies are not only a waste of time, and an insult to humanity and more importanly God.
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