38 pages • 1 hour readDennis Covington
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Covington decides to take a closer look at his own ancestry as recorded by his father after an all-night snake-handling service in Carl Porter’s church in Georgia, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the first time, Covington has brought not only his wife, Vicki, but also his two daughters, Laura and Ashley. He is surprised to find that Ashley is very comfortable around the snake handlers during the ceremony and not at all disquieted by their loud noises or reckless behavior.
Covington finds that his father was born on a ridgetop close to Sand Mountain in Alabama, and that on his mother’s side he is related to a Methodist circuit-riding preacher, whose circuit centered on Scottsboro, Alabama: “Out of Methodism came Holiness. Out of Holiness came Pentecostalism. Out of the Holiness-Pentecostal belief in spiritual signs and gifts came those who took up serpents” (126-127). From this, Covington concludes that if nothing else, he at least shares a kind of “spiritual ancestry” (127) with the handlers.