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The Sermon Of the High Plains

• online.wsj.com
 Haruf slips in a bit from the Gospel of Luke, straight and uncut. The Reverend Rob Lyle is preaching at some point in the near past to a church in the fictional eastern Colorado village of Holt. His text is the Sermon on the Plain, which he condenses to its awesomely direct core: "Love your enemies. Pray for those who harm you. Turn the other cheek. Give away money and don't expect it back." 

The point of Rev. Lyle's sermon, that the U.S. should turn a "collective national cheek" to its enemies, so enrages his congregants ("You're a damn terrorist sympathizer," one fumes) that he is forced to resign. The humiliation prompts his termagant wife to move back to Denver and drives his desperately lonely teenage son close to a breakdown.

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