Toto: Agent of the Apocalypse

Smoke and mirrors, fog and eerie green light. A voice booms from the visage in front of the intrepid group. “I am the GREAT AND TERRIBLE OZ”. All tremble, save the “little dog too” who scampers forward and pulls aside the curtain, revealing an unremarkable man pulling levers as he also pulls legs.

Not the dog you’re looking for….

L. Frank Baum, the creator of the Wizard of Oz (and native of nearby Chittenango!) spun a tale of dreams and nightmares into something iconic. In the movie version, the group of adventurers sees a large floating head. In the book version, each member of the cohort sees something different – Dorothy sees the giant head we are familiar with, but the Scarecrow sees a gorgeous woman and the Tin Man sees a monster, whereas the Lion witnesses a huge ball of flames. 

Toto sees a man behind a curtain and unveils the truth.

So much truth is being unveiled these days. Oh, there are smoke and mirrors, and folks who should be insignificant folks who are pulling all sorts of levers, but there are also large broken systems being laid bare and corrupt values being exposed. It’s downright apocalyptic.

Apocalypse, in the original sense of the Greek, referred to a disclosure of that which was previously unknown, and which could not have been known without being unveiled. In other words, Toto is a canine agent of the apocalypse, exposing what was previously hidden.

What’s being uncovered in this time of multiple pandemics? Churches are discovering what is really meaningful. Clergy are learning what they value about their Calling. Communities are seeing (finally?) the inequities and injustices and that are seemingly baked into our systems. 

It’s not all bad. Churches are discerning new ways of creative mission. Families are discovering strength based on deep love. Leaders are finding new courage. The pulling back of the veil has caused many individuals and organizations to re-evaluate our lives and our purpose.

I’m not sure if it matters if we are in “THE” apocalypse. Certainly, we are in apocalyptic times. What matters is whether we choose to pay attention.


Mary Lutton O'Connor-Kelley September 23, 2020 at 8:38 pm

This is wonderful! Do you mind if I share it with my rector? She’s doing a Zoom class on Revelation, and I just learned this meaning of “apocolypse.” I think she would appreciate reading this.

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