How Lilies of the Field challenged the fallacy of racism

That actor went on to have one of the most successful acting careers in history, winning numerous more awards, but more importantly appearing in productions that explored issues of race, discrimination, human rights, and justice.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (In the Old Testament, Solomon was a King, who was the richest man in the world at that time.)

 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6, ESV

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

“Lilies of the Field”

Although his acting ability had already won critical acclaim, a young actor made movie history in 1963 in a film based on this Bible text. In Lilies of the Field , he portrayed an itinerant handyman who meets a group of German-speaking nuns living in rural Arizona. After performing a small repair on a roof for them, he naturally asks to be paid. To which the Mother Superior replies,

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

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That actor went on to have one of the most successful acting careers in history, winning numerous more awards, but more importantly appearing in productions that explored issues of race, discrimination, human rights, and justice.

Sidney Poitier, Best Actor

Sidney Poitier, now 93 years old, won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field. He was the first black man to win the best actor award, and the second black person to win any Academy award. ( Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress for her role in 1939’s Gone with the Wind, making her the first black person to be nominated for and receive an Oscar. In June 2020 HBO planned to add “historical context” to the streaming version of the movie.)

In a post on the website The New Lyceum, Joey Barretta wrote this about the actor.

Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win the Best Actor Oscar in 1964, the same year that the Civil Rights Act was passed and a year prior to the Voting Rights Act. He rose to be a star at a time in which racism was common and his career began before segregation was abolished. This man is a true hero, albeit one who played some compelling fictional characters setting an example for the fallacy that is racism. By portraying decent men, he set an example of excellence in character that even the prejudiced whites of his day could not ignore.

J. Baretta, March 5, 2018

Some of Mr. Poitier’s other works which delved into social issues include

  • Cry, the Beloved Country-based on the novel about apartheid in South Africa
  • To Sir, With Love-social and racial tensions in an inner city school
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – interracial marriage
  • A Patch of Blue and The Defiant Ones -interracial friendships
  • In the Heat of the Night and They Call Me Mister Tibbs!– racial bias among law enforcement professionals
  • Separate but Equal– portrayal of Thurgood Marshall, future Supreme Court Justice
  • Mandela and deKlerk-portrayal of Nelson Mandela, future President of South Africa
from story to novel to movie

The movie was based on a 1962 novel, The Lilies of the Field , by William Edmund Barrett. He in turn used the true story of the Sisters of Walburga as his inspiration.

Why not read a post I wrote about another novel that used this Bible verse. Here’s an excerpt-

Dr. Saunders is summoned away from his home  to a South Pacific island to attend to a wealthy man who requests his medical care. He boards a small ship with a salty captain and a young man who keeps his reason for travelling a guarded secret.

What was supposed to be a pleasant and uneventful trip to a tropical island, turned into an uncomfortable and shocking adventure when they meet four people whose lives proved more complicated that they initially appeared.  Dr. Saunders and his travelling companions soon find themselves sucked into their intrigue. 

continue reading at

books lined up with titles of classic novels

The Narrow Corner- a classic novel

In The Narrow Corner, Maugham tells a story about Dr. Saunders, an English physician who lives and practices in China. He is quite in demand among wealthy Chinese; we never learn exactly why he left England but the author hints that he was more highly regarded in the Far East than he had been in Britain. 

exploring the HEART of life through literature and media

I’ll hope you’ll watch Lilies of the Field if you’ve never seen it before. And also watch some of Mr. Poitier’s other films, which I think you will find add revealing context to the social justice issues our country is confronting and correcting in the 21st century. Check out this article for some suggestions .

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

                              Dr. Aletha 

September 2020-back to school, not back to normal

One of the darkest days in United States history, as well as the rest of the world is September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked by terrorists. A possible attack on the White House was averted when private citizens caused their hijacked plane to crash in rural Pennsylvania. The country and the world have not been the same since.

September usually feels like we’re in the home stretch of the year, two thirds of the way through. Where I live, the first day of autumn happens. Vacations end, school resumes, and life settles down into a routine.

Life feels anything but routine this year, 2020. We’re digging our way out of a viral pandemic that continues to sicken and kill. Continued outbreaks threaten to keep kids and teachers home from school and stop sports. Most large events are cancelled or scaled way down.

In this podcast, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, medical journalist for CNN, discusses issues surrounding the dilemma of opening schools while the coronavirus continues to spread.

Back-To-School Jitters

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Labor Day

In the United States we observe a holiday called Labor Day, although most people get the day off work. Not much happens on Labor Day except in a book and a movie by that name, and I reviewed both in this post.

a freshly baked apple pie

Labor Day, a book more interesting than the holiday

I find that reading books after the movie or vice versa is seldom satisfying. Often characters and settings are changed so the storyline is confusing. And invariably the movie version leaves out much of the character development that a writer can express with words. I didn’t feel that way here.

Grandparents’ Day

Another un-holiday is Grandparents’ Day, usually the second Sunday after Labor Day in the U.S. I think the only people who observe it are grandparents. I shared my grand-parenting journey in this post.

a woman with her arms around 2 little girls on each side

Exploring the HEART of grandparenthood

Why would I talk about grandparenting on a medical blog? Health professionals consider the family a vital factor in health, both positive and negative. You probably know that family medical history contributes to physical health, but family interactions also play an important role in child development, learning, and emotional health.

Remembering history

Although not as well known or observed as Independence Day (USA), Constitution Day, September 17, is probably more important. This day celebrates the creation of the United States’ government in 1787 as outlined in the Constitution.

If you listen to the news or follow social media, you know that what is and what isn’t “constitutional” creates heated debate, but that very debate is protected by the Constitution-and that’s something to celebrate. The day is also called Citizenship Day, an event I celebrated in a post about attending a naturalization ceremony.

9/11/2001

One of the darkest days in United States history, as well as the rest of the world is September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked by terrorists. A possible attack on the White House was averted when private citizens caused their hijacked plane to crash in rural Pennsylvania. The country and the world have not been the same since. Read about that historic day here.

a New York City fire truck at night

Remembering and reading about September 11, 2001

When she applied for a position in New York City at the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), Dr. Judy Melinek never imagined that decision would plunge her into the nightmare of September 11, 2001. She was at the ME office that day when the Twin Towers were attacked and fell, killing thousands of people.

Election 2020

The contentious presidential campaign will hold our attention for another two months, culminating on Election Day November 3. Both parties have completed their conventions,having nominated their candidates who are ramping up their appeals to voters- the incumbent Republican Donald Trump and the challenging Democrat Joe Biden. Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris are their parties’ choices for Vice President.

exploring the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

                              Dr. Aletha 

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My Reader Rewards Club is a great way to earn free books and Bibles for yourself, friends, and family! Your journey to earning free faith-based products starts HERE.
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As a member, you’ll have access to inspiring literature, Bibles, special promotional offers, and much more. Earning points is easy—you’ll receive 25 points just for signing up!

Get active

Summer is the perfect time to start or increase physical activity. I’ve been using a fitness app on my phone, Aaptiv. Consider trying it. I’d appreciate you using this affiliate link through which you can help fund this blog. Thanks and enjoy.