2007November14, Wednesday

File Under “S,” for “Serves You Right”

Posted in Current Events at 23:54 by Trey Austin

In London, KY, a woman who “worships” in a snake-handling “church” (please note the well-placed speech marks) died from a snake-bite she received during a “worship service.”

Now, just let that sink in. There are still people in this world (i seriously doubt that they exist at all outside of the United States) who handle snakes in their so-called churches. I think that the historical connection in this regard is, once again, to one of my absolute banes, namely “revivalism.” I just this week posted a quote by John Williamson Nevin in our bulletin about the need to have set liturgy in worship, because, without that objective, set form of worship with historical roots and connections, worship becomes all about subjective fulfillment, and though it might begin as something spectacular (in the etymological sense of the word, i.e., being a “spectacle”), it soon devolves into dead and empty ritual. The ironic thing about this snake-handling is that those people who call themselves Christians and who worship this way would likely look down their noses at your average Broad Evangelical worship service with all the crazy things they do, but they are just as (if not moreso) guilty of the same kind of ridiculous me-centered practices in their worship services.

Now, in many cases, when people in those worship services do get bitten, they don’t seek medical attention, because part of the point is that God will heal and protect you (as per Mark 16). This lady, though, got almost immediate medical treatment, and she was to be med-evaced to Lexington to the University of Kentucky medical center there. Apparently, though, the nurse who was asking the family questions about the circumstances of the “accident” asked them questions beyond those necessary for treatment and did so in some sort of demeaning fashion. When her breathing got shallow (she was bitten in the cheek and her tongue, face, and neck swelled), and her blood pressure dropped, the family apparently asked the doctor to insert a breathing tube, but the doctor told them that her airway wasn’t obstructed and that her problem was elsewhere. The family is blaming those and other issues on the staff of the hospital, and so they are suing the doctor, the nurse, and the hospital for the death of their wife and mother.

Well, just call me a “meanie,” but i say that if you handle snakes, you’re bound to get bitten eventually. It’s like the African pastor who said he was going to walk on water, and so he walked out into the ocean, going deeper and deeper under the water, and he never came back up (alive, at least). When people do all these laughably nonsensical things in their supposed worship, they invite not only the ridicule of people from all spectrums (Christians and non-Christians alike), but they also invite the natural consequences that go along with their activities. Worthst of all of it, they invite God’s own wrath against their idolatry. The fact is that these things aren’t acts of worship at all (at least not worship of Jehovah); they are, to be sure, acts of worship that point to and reflect the glory of the person engaging in them—open and unabashed self worship, which is the worst kind of idolatry that there is. God doesn’t take kindly to any kind of idolatry, but as Lucifer found out, the one who puts himself out as an object of worship is dealt with most swiftly and most severly.

All i can say is that this serves this poor lady right. I feel for her and her family, and i sincerely hope that God mercifully accepted her into his presence. However, anyone with any kind of sense would have seen this one coming. It is only God’s mercy that this doesn’t happen more than it does (and to acts that are just as idolatrous and nonsensical in the worship that we see so often in Evangelical churches).

What’s what old saying? God takes care of children and idiots. I think you know which applies here.

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1 Comment »

  1. tempe said,

    There you go, attempting a blanket smear of all Kentucky churches. I’ll have you know that it’s not nearly as widespread as you suggest. Here in Louisville, for instance, we only handle snakes on fifth Sundays. 😉

    I would love for you to send me that Nevin quote. Your point about the need for an order of worship so that we do not fall into subjectivity is well-taken (I’ve certainly been to a service or two where I’ve seen that take place). Good post.


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