Like Toto in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – who inadvertently discovered the Wizard was a “humbug” – I too have discovered that the so-called Wonderful God of Israel is just as much a “humbug as the Wizard of Oz!
I always remember the time I saw the enchanting film the WWofOz – I loved it – however when Toto pulls the curtain to reveal that Oz is not an omnipotent deity, but merely a small old man putting on a show, the so-called wizard cries into the loudspeaker, ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!’ On the surface, the line is a pathetic attempt by Oz to mask the obvious truth that he is a fraud. But what is often overlooked is the fact that Dorothy and her friends listen to this apparently absurd advice: that is, they clearly do overlook the fact that the wizard is simply a man behind a curtain, since they continue to demand that he grant their wishes, even after it becomes clear that is he is incapable of doing so. After all, when the man admits that he is the one behind the smoke and mirrors of the great Oz, Dorothy’s immediate response is ‘I don’t believe you.’ She tries to maintain her belief in the wizard even when the evidence against it is overwhelming. And she is not alone. Her companions clearly feel the same way, since they are not outraged at the powerless trinkets he gives them (a fake degree in ‘thinkology’, a medal of courage, and a ticking clock shaped like a heart); instead, they express gratitude for these gifts. How can this be explained? It is best understood in the context of a famous story about Niels Bohr, the Nobel prize-winning physicist. There are several versions of the story with superficial differences, but Slavoj Žižek’s telling is particularly instructive:
Niels Bohr […] provided the perfect example of the way that such a fetishist disavowal of belief works in ideology: seeing a horseshoe on his door, the surprised visitor said that he isn’t superstitious and doesn’t believe that such things bring luck, to which Bohr snapped: ‘I don’t believe in it either; I keep it there because I was told that it works even if one doesn’t believe in it!’
What this paradox renders clearly is the way belief is a reflexive attitude: it is never a case of just believing, one has to believe in belief itself. (Žižek 2007, 306)
As the book reaches its conclusion, it becomes apparent that Oz does not really exist. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion must find what they desire on their own; there is no Lacanian big Other to answer their prayers. Oz is merely the convenient fiction of an old ‘humbug,’ who turns out to be ‘a very good man,’ but ‘a very bad Wizard’ (Hearn 2000, 261 & 270). Baum here asserts that the biblical God, like the Wizard, does not exist. But he also suggests that religious leaders are not necessarily evil in their deception; they are often misguided ‘very good’ people who simply cannot deliver on their supernatural promises. http://www.film-philosophy.com/index.php/f-p/article/view/289/860
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