On this day in 1939, The Wizard of Oz, which would become one of the best-loved movies in history, opened in theaters around the United States. It was based on the 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). Nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category, The Wizard of Oz won a Best Song Oscar for “Over the Rainbow,” which became one of star Judy Garland’s signature hits.
Garland won a special award at that year’s Oscar ceremony for Best Juvenile Performer. Filmed at MGM Studios in Culver City, California, The Wizard of Oz was a modest box office success when it was first released, but its popularity continued to grow after it was televised for the first time in 1956. An estimated 45 million people watched that inaugural broadcast, and since then, the iconic movie has aired on TV countless times.
Today, some of the film’s famous lines, including “There’s no place like home,” and “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” are well-known to several generations of movie goers.
Let’s break down those two lines for a moment.
1. “There’s no place like home.” I have a soft spot for my hometown, which is Houston, and the part of town in which I was raised, which was Sharpstown. I still remember my first home address, the kids who lived on my block, and where we played in the street every day after school. When in Houston, I still love to drive by and make sure nothing much has changed. Indeed, “there’s no place like home.”
2. “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” I love that line, as well. My parents were both from Kansas. As a child, we used to go back there at least once a year, to the big cities of Kingman (dad’s hometown) and Pittsburg (mom’s hometown). I still love Kansas, its wheatfields, and the generous people of that great state.
Here’s the lesson. We like what we know. Familiarity is comfortable and we like comfortable. And for the most part, that is probably a good thing. But don’t get too comfortable. The Christian life is about movement. We are to move closer to our God, our faith, and those around us.
Times change, but the Gospel doesn’t. So share it wherever you go. I know three things. There’s no place like home. We’re not in Kansas anymore. And God is good – all the time.