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About A Book: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I recently drove from Nashville to Seattle. While driving through Kansas I was reminded that I love L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” I passed plenty of billboards that told me I was getting closer to OZ Museum of Wamego, Kansas. I didn’t stop by the museum, but I did spend some time reflecting on what I loved about this wonderful book. I don’t know much about the comparisons to the government moving away from the Gold Standard, but I did love the story that Baum wrote.

It’s hard for me to separate the book from the movie. I grew up with the movie, but I read the book as a grown up. I loved the book far more than the movie, and I find it interesting to pit the two against each other. I feel that way about most books made into movies. Too many times I have been disappointed in seeing a story that I love in book form changed at its core to adapt to the big screen. That being said, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" wasn’t as different as other movies I’ve seen. I still like the movie and it will remain a fond memory of my childhood.

The biggest difference, for me, between the book and the movie where the characters. Most starkly, the character of the Lion. In the movie the Lion cowers and is afraid, he is kind of wimpy in appearance. In the book the Lion wasn’t afraid, but he had great fears. I related far more with the Lion of the book who had fears, rather than the always crying Lion of the movie. Fears are far deeper than simply being afraid. You can act out of fear and not appear afraid, that was the Lion of the book.

In the book the pre-new heart Lion roars out of fear. He uses his big voice and frame to threaten and scare those who might want to get close to him. He scares people because he is scared. Scared that he might not be enough for what lies ahead of him, and so he flexes and gets big to mask this fear. He is not cowering in tears, it is the roar that he cowers behind. A loud, scary, threatening roar.

In the book and the movie, the new-hearted Lion finds his roar. This time without fear. I was struck that in the book he had many of the same actions, but his motives were completely different. His heart has changed and yet the actions look the same, with the new heart the fears disappear and those on the outside might not be able to see the difference in the actions. But down beneath the surface the Lion was able to admit his fears, overcome them and act out his God given character. He roared for justice rather than from fear.

This book speaks to me of how motives in our actions matter. Sometimes you can do the same actions with opposing motives. The lion who once roared from fear now roars in freedom. Same action, different heart. May we all find a new heart.

If you’ve never read this book, I’d recommend it. If you have kids, read it with them, they will love it. If you grew up with the movie, note the differences and be blessed by them. Most of all see how your heart might be stirred while reading this wonderful story.

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