As usual, while I work I've got something playing on the second monitor and just listening to it while I work. Sometimes it's music, sometimes YouTube, this time it happened to be Netflix and the only season of the show Snake Salvation.
For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Snake Salvation was a National Geographic series about two churches in Appalachia where Snake Handling is practiced.
Wikipedia says this about the belief:
Snake handling, also called serpent handling, is a religious ritual in a small number of Pentecostal churches in the U.S., usually characterized as rural and part of the Holiness movement. The practice began in the early 20th century in Appalachia, and plays only a small part in the church service. Practitioners believe serpent handling dates to antiquity and quote the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke to support the practice:
And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)
Another passage from the New Testament used to support snake handlers' belief is Acts 28:1-6, which relates that Paul was bitten by a venomous viper and suffered no harm:
And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
I'm a firm believer in everybody being able to worship, or not worship, as they see fit and while I can't see myself ever voluntarily picking up a snake, much less a Rattlesnake or Copperhead, I don't see that practice as being any more unbelievable than some things others do or want done in the name of their beliefs.
But I digress…
In this particular episode Pastor Jamie Coots and his son Cody had went on a snake hunting trip so he could barter them and clear a debt to a snake salesman (who knew there was such a thing) he'd purchased from in the past.
Then Cody said something that struck me as being both redundant and a lot about how a different viewpoint really changed the way something was perceived:
"The more you do for him [God], the more he'll do for you. God worked it out to where we got all the snakes we needed and everybody was happy."
I immediately thought right then, "I don't have any snakes at all and still have all I need."
Redundancy and in the eyes of the beholder.
By the way, the reason there was only season of Snake Salvation was because Pastor Jamie Coots was bitten by a snake he was handling and died before the next season was filmed. After being bitten he refused medical treatment because of his beliefs. I don't say this in a mocking way because he stood by his convictions and carried them through to the end. While I may disagree with what he believed, that doesn't mean I'm right or he wasn't right and I have to respect that he believed even in light of what happened.
When Snake Salvation became available on Netflix I happened to be right in the middle of reading a book on the practice, thinking it might play a part in one of my books one day. I'm still pretty sure that I'd like to visit one of the churches and see a service although my wife indicated that might be a trip I'd take by myself.