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Peckinpah, the Publican, and the Pharisee

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Yesterday in the Eastern Orthodox world was the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the parable from Luke 8: 9-14. On the Orthodox calendar, this marks the beginning of the weeks of preparation for Lent.


The story always puts me in mind of the great Ride the High Country, Sam Peckinpah's first studio film, with Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea. Scott's last movie, and McCrea's last significant one (he did small roles in two forgotten films thereafter). The movie is on my top 5 list of Westerns.


Peckinpah was a preacher's son, and used religious themes numerous times in his movies, but particularly in this one, which includes the biblical quotation exchange with the half-crazed farmer, played by R. G. Armstrong.


As for the parable, Jesus contrasts a haughty man at the Temple, in effect bragging to the Lord in his prayer of his own virtues, and thanking Him that he is not like the sinning tax collector. But that publican, standing far off, won't even raise his eyes to heaven, and beats his breast saying, "have mercy on me Lord, a sinner." Jesus tells his disciples that that is the man who went down to his house justified, rather than the proud one.


Here's the exchange in the movie:


A great scene.

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