Editor’s Note: For the next two weeks, we’ve invited some of our favorite theobloggers to share the book that has most deeply affected their faith life in the past ten years, as well as the book they believe every Christian should read, but may not have yet. Here, author Sara Miles shares her response.
Salvation on Sand Mountain, by Dennis Covington, is a book that continues to deepen for me every time I read it. Beautifully, subtly written, reverent, horrific and funny by turns, it’s Covington’s wrenchingly honest account of worshipping with a snake-handling Holiness church in Appalachia. What makes the book so remarkable is that it is both a book about God and a book about church. It’s an unblinking look at the wickedness of Christian believers (from our doctrinal disputes to our petty jealousies and murderous plots) and yet it reveals the depths of the love among us. And it shows, luminously and faithfully, what happens when the Spirit descends on ordinary people. Covington, whether handling serpents himself or deciding that the whole enterprise is insane, never indulges in dishing out exoticism to readers, or in distancing himself from the experience: his Church of Jesus Christ with Signs Following is the one Church, “that wonderful and sacred mystery,” and the ancient Aunt Daisy is a prophet speaking to all who have ears. As the believers on Sand Mountain testify, “Brother, this thing is real.”
Sara Miles is the author of Jesus Freak: Feeding, Healing, Raising the Dead and Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion. She is Director of Ministry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco.