Father Murphy: In God’s Arms

I’ve been watching Father Murphy, a show in the 1980’s that was created by Michael Landon. The following episode is entitled “In God’s Arms”, and it is my favorite episode thus far. It’s about a priest named Joe, who loses his faith because of the harshness and evils of life, and he finds his faith again, as he works in a saloon and reaches out to the people around him who need help. Even while he is an unbeliever, God uses him to help others, and God teaches him that the way of Christ is the way to go. Before Joe lost his faith, he believed because that was how he was brought up. But he lost that faith to gain a deeper faith, one that was not naive about the evils of life. Although the world remained the same harsh place that drove him to despair at the beginning of the episode, at the end, he resolves to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

There’s one thing that bothers me: at the end of the episode, he returns to the priesthood. The priesthood was where he had a hard time reaching out to others, for, as he said, people came to him confessing the same sins over and over, and he didn’t feel he was reaching them or making a difference in their lives. He was apart from the people. It was when he was in a saloon—among people—that he could make a difference. I hope that, even though he returns to the priesthood, he will not be cloistered and away from others.

I don’t want to use this episode to beat people over the head on the need to reach out to others, for people have beaten me over the head with that, and that’s really tough for me, an introvert. But I like how Joe’s reaching out to others in the saloon was pretty simple: a man was lonely, and so Joe listened to his story and played chess with him. A woman was getting beaten on, and so Joe stood up for her and affirmed her dignity as a person of worth. He also was there for her when she was sad. Joe wasn’t the life of the party, but he reached out to others in his own humble way.

I also like the soundtrack of this episode. It reminds me of the soundtrack of the Little House episode, “The Preacher Takes a Wife.” I’ve noticed that Michael Landon sometimes used the same soundtracks for shows. On the episode after this one, “The Dream Day” (which has Tina Yothers of Family Ties fame), I heard what became the theme song for Highway to Heaven.

This is a beautiful episode, and it reminds me that I’m in God’s arms, wherever I might be.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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