Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Amy Welborn Podcast

 New podcast episode drops today…

…still working through our list of “Top 20 Spiritually Significant films…”  this week, we’ve got:

Lilies of the Field (me)


The Shawshank Redemption 

You’ll have to listen to get

  1. My take on Lilies


  • My rather stupendous – and maybe even stupid –  misperception about Shawshank which (I admit) I had never seen until last week.



Podcast website

But I do want to take some time to share a bit about the book on which Lilies is based. I touched on it in the podcast, but here I’m going to dig a little deeper into that aspect.

Lilies of the Field was a novella before it was film. Written by William Barrett, It’s very short – 127 small-format pages, which you can read here if you like. It won’t take you long. I actually owned the paperback that’s preserved at Internet Archive, but it’s either long gone or in a box somewhere. I read it a few times as a preteen and teen.

It’s not the gooiest light mid century Catholic literature you could imagine, by far,  but still probably gooey enough to make Flannery find some choice words if it were one of the books she’d reviewed it for the Georgia Bulletin. I don’t think it was – however, as David King notes in his article on Lilies for the Georgia BulletinBarrett reviewed O’Connor (positively) for the Atlantic, which is interesting.

Barrett was Catholic and wrote several Catholic-themed novels, including a sequel to Lilies in which Homer Smith wanders into a tent-meeting in the midwest and replaces the preacher, I think (not to be confused with the 1979 made-for-television sequel called Christmas Lilies of the Field, starring Billy Dee Williams….) One of Barrett’s novels was The Left Hand of God – about a man masquerading as a priest in post-war China – and was adapted into a movie starring Humphrey Bogart.)

As I prepared for the podcast, I not only rewatched the film, but I re-read the book as well. The major difference is that the point of view is more intimately that of Homer Smith’s, so we’re privy to some of his interior growth in a way that we’re not in the film.