Yesterday’s quick mention of religious snake handling set us off on a minor research tangent. We’re accustomed to witnessing the practice via cheesy TV segments, which have always struck us as a tad too overproduced to convey the emotional appeal of grasping serpents in the name of the Lord. Fortunately, The Tubes now contain a full version of the greatest snake-handling documentary ever made: 1967’s Holy Ghost People. The clip above contains the meat of the ritual; the snakes come out around the 4:20 mark, as the infectious guitars whip into a frenzy.
Watching the clip above, we couldn’t help but recall Lawrence Wright’s insightful take on Jimmy Swaggert:
I felt an unhappy kinship with this man. I could sense the raw and sometimes dangerous expansiveness of the human spirit. His was not a religion I could believe in—but then mere belief was not what he was after: it was surrender, total abject surrender of the spirit. And of course part of me longed for exactly that, the ecstatic abandonment of my own busy, judgmental, ironic mentality.
For those with a yen to learn more, an invaluable snake-handling bibliography is available here.