Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

January 13, 2019: Remembering God’s Promises

From Ray McGinnis


The Green Book is a film about African-American classical and jazz pianist/recording artist Donald Shirley, and his deepening bond with the Italian-American bouncer from the Bronx he hires to be his chauffeur and bodyguard on a tour into the Deep South in 1962. Tony “Lip” Vallelonga has recently lost a job as a bouncer at the Mafia-connected Copacabana on East 60th Street in New York City. Lip responds to an ad for a driver placed by a Dr. Shirley. Tony has problems with “eggplants,” his nickname for African-Americans. When his wife, Dolores, hires two blacks to repair her kitchen Tony tosses the glasses they drank from into a trash bin.

Although Tony Lip is uncouth, the ostentatious Shirley hires the bouncer because of Lip’s reputation for having an “innate ability to handle trouble.” Trouble comes in several forms. In one town south of the Mason-Dixon Line, Don Shirley walks from his coloured-only motel to a bar for a drink. He gets roughed up and Lip has to intervene by pretending to have a gun in his pocket.  
Shirley is refused access to a restroom in a clubhouse since it is for whites only. At a Birmingham establishment, he is not allowed to eat at the club. Despite these and other challenges, he succeeds in winning over his audiences through the genius of his musical talent.

Type: Comedy-Drama
Director: Peter Farrelly
Film company: Universal Pictures
Release date­­: November 16, 2018
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini

The Negro Motorist Green Book or Negro Travelers’ Green Book was an annual guidebook published between 1936 and 1966 for African-American travelers listing the businesses, restaurants, gas stations and lodgings they could use in order to avoid being refused service because of the colour of their skin. In one town in the Deep South, Lip is pulled over by the police for driving a black man after sunset. They discover they have violated the “sundown town” laws that forbid African-Americans to be outdoors at night. The police arrest Shirley and Lip. Shirley uses his one phone call to speak with Attorney-General Robert F. Kennedy. The befuddled police realize Shirley isn’t a typical black person and the pair are released from jail.


Explore… Luke 3:15–17, 21–22

  • What were people expecting from their encounter with John the Baptist?
  • What did the baptized people witness when Jesus came out of the water?
  • What did wealthy white Americans generally expect of African-American musicians in 1962?
  • What did Don Shirley’s musical performances inspire in his audiences?
  • Who or what is a sign of God’s promised reign of love and justice for you today?



O God, too often we get ahead of ourselves filled with anticipation and the word about who others are before we meet them in person. Help us to set aside preconceived notions about who is in front of us, so that we may witness what your Spirit is doing in our midst. In Christ we pray. Amen.

Read more…

Send a question or note
[email protected]

Contact the Publisher