Serpent-handling believers

by Burton, Thomas G.

Format: Print Book 1993
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction BX7990.H6 B87 1993
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  BX7990.H6 B87 1993
A sympathetic account of a small number of fundamental churches in east Tennessee. Annotation copyright by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Pentecostal churches that incorporate into their services the handling of poisonous snakes, and sometimes also the deliberate ingestion of strychnine, dot the South from Florida to Kentucky. In this fascinating, sympathetic ethnography Burton traces the origins of the cult to hills near Cleveland, Tennessee, where, in 1908, a rattlesnake appeared to one George Went Hensley as he was praying. Hensley picked it up and was not bitten, and thus was born his evangelical ministry based on Mark 16: "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them." Handling snakes may symbolize a mastery of evil; if one's faith is strong enough, then either one won't be bitten or one won't be affected by the bite. Burton documents the occasional deaths from such practices--as often from strychnine as venom--as well as the media scrutiny they generate and the difficulties snake handlers have faced in court. Burton is their defender, feeling they are deeply misunderstood, "a strong, courageous, ethical people. . . . Some have remarkably gentle spirits." The extended testaments from handlers and Burton's own portraits of individuals are strange, compelling, sad, and often quite moving. With Burton's 88 photographs of handlers in their act of worship they make for an extraordinary account. ~--John Mort"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Additional Information
Subjects Snake cults (Holiness churches) -- Tennessee.
Tennessee -- Church history.
Publisher Knoxville :University of Tennessee Press,1993
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Notes At head of title: And these signs shall follow.
Description x, 208 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages [181]-204) and index.
ISBN 0870497871 (cloth : alk. paper)
087049788X (pbk. : alk. paper)
Other Classic View