The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

I Like the Christian Life! #11


Original Caption:

Grasshopper Valley, Tenn -- Lewis Ford is shown as he drapes a rattlesnake about the neck of a fellow member of his congregation at the Dolly Pond Church of God (1945).

5 comments :

Vanwall said...

Where was Darwin when ya needed 'im !?!

estiv said...

A few years ago a friend told me about stopping at what was basically an old-fashioned general store, on a back road about thirty miles outside Knoxville. On one wall were several tiers of cages, each cage containing a snake. It took him awhile to realize that he was looking at religious supplies.

Maureen said...

Have you read Donna Tartt's "The Little Friend"?

Mike said...

estiv,

Your friend was wrong. No store in Tennessee is selling snakes for religious purposes.
1) Religious snake handling is quite rare and is certainly limited to less than 50 small Pentecostal churches in the U.S.
2) There has never been such a market for the rattlesnakes used in this practice that would enable a store to start stocking them for this purpose. Besides, the practitioners of religious snake handling either keep and raise the snakes themselves or an associate of the church does it. There is some demand in the U.S. for snakes as pets but the venomous ones aren't sold out of general stores(Check out the TV show, "Miami Animal Police" on the Animal Planet channel.) Other "markets" for rattlesnakes are development of antivenin and selling to herpetologists for research.
3) Laws have been passed in Tennessee and other states against snake handling in any public place and they are enforced. Southern Christians abhor religious snake handling just as much as the rest of the general populace.

Dorita said...

I would like to get more info on the photo used itself. Who owns the original or where it was copied from. I deeply appreciate finding it. And please forgive me if this info is already placed on this page somewhere and I overlooked it please point that out to me. I am a grandmother who is not that well versed in the internet or links and stuff. Thank you.