Julia Duin is a Christian journalist who is a real pro. She has a long story in the Washington Post Magazine on West Virginia snake handlers. What I appreciate is that she approaches these mountain Pentecostalists with utter respect,without a shred of condescension or ridicule. She does, though, describe the desperate social context of these folks–the lack of jobs and young people, the rampant drug abuse in these rural areas–though this isn’t the cause of snake handling, which itself is in decline compared to more prosperous times. Apparently, even these declining churches are trying church growth methods: They now have electric guitars and drums. I much prefer the rattlesnakes and strychnine. Anyway, the profile is very Flannery O’Connoresque and very much worth reading: In W.Va., snake handling is still considered a sign of faith – The Washington Post.
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About Gene Veith
Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.