Bringing In The Sheaths


Good morning, y’all. As I previously explained, one of the upsides to Corona quarantine is a legitimate excuse to miss Sunday service at The Full Gospel Original Church of God. As promised, Mulva has kept me up with the goings on at church and she just texted me this picture. Since everyone here at TackyToo is at church, I rushed over to the rec room to post this:

What you see before you is the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread taking one for team Jesus. Today was Summer fish fry, and Reverend Bread thought he would take his highly successful indoor show outdoors to troll for sinners while the hush puppies fried.

Apparently Old Ben, the rattlesnake in the picture, had checked his contract and there was nothing in it about two shows a day. Old Ben also didn’t appreciate being drug outside into the 98 degree heat without being given a few minutes to acclimatize before being asked to perform. Mulva’s eye witness account is that the Reverend Bread reached into the snake box, grabbed Old Ben by the tail and went into his “tap dance for the Lord” which looks a lot like a fellow trying to stomp out a fire that is burning up his legs.

Just as Mulva was recording the event for the church newspaper, Old Ben doubled back and popped Reverend Bread on the bridge of the nose. Evidently the only one who was not stunned into stupefaction was Old Ben, who used the confusion to slither off into the weeds. Mulva’s account details that the Reverend Bread proceeded to speak in tongues at such a loud and rapid voice that some of the words sounded like words I use when my beloved Bulldogs are losing to a lesser opponent. The Reverend Bread is on his way to the hospital in Blairsville, Old Ben is beating a path to the Chattahoochee National Forest.

I know many of you will find a judgement in this scene, probably along the lines of, “if you play with fire, you’re gonna get burned”. I’m not far off from that assessment, but, I will say there are other religions that also have peculiarities that could result in harmful physical results. Fasting, flagellation, pilgrimages, circumcision are all practices based in a religious belief that could go badly. Where snake handling varies from the other practices is that at its inception it was purely a scheme devised to “put butts in the seats”.

Appalachia has been poor since Methuselah was a pup. Local churches don’t have the financial means to build monolithic structures with elaborate audio-visual to keep the parishioners attending. Ten percent of poor is still poor and churches trying to compete for the meager tithe available in their communities have to come up with nuances that set them apart from the other congregations. Thus, snake handling was born. Throw in speaking in tongues and the laying of hands and you’ve got a pretty good show for a few dollars. Whether in a tent or a stained glass building, the Pentecostals will give you your money’s worth.

I’m glad I was able to share this story with you and I’d like to thank my reporter in the field Mulva. We’ll be back with an update on Reverend Bread’s recovery soon. It may just be a matter of him laying hands on himself, we’ll see. I’m sure Old Ben will be just fine.



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