Good morning, y’all. So much controversy, in so many places, that it’s hard to focus on the fact that a certifiable sociopath is actually considered to be a viable candidate by about a third of the electorate. One of the controversies is football related, so I’ll “tackle” it first. Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the Forty-niners, refused to stand during the national anthem in protest to the police state we find ourselves in. Many, myself included, support the protest. Others are calling for his head; and at least, his job. Of course those with the guillotine are the same ones who support the parents of American children being deported, all Muslims being on a blacklist, and black people returning back to the days when they were “well fed and cared for”. Colin Kaepernick should continue standing up for his rights by sitting down, in my opinion. We need more like him.
Speaking of standing up for our rights brings back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Over the years, Bud had seen some pretty wild things go on at the altar call and testament of faith. He’d seen people so dispossessed of themselves that they ripped off all of their clothes. He’d seen people so “spirit filled” that they went into a catatonic state for hours and lay stiff as a board on the church floor.
Bud had seen people speak in “Tongues” and even seen people “heal” one another by the laying of hands. In all of his years and the hundreds of services, Bud had never seen an eight year old swing a six foot timber rattler by his tail like he was trying to throw a lasso. Not until this Sunday. The fact that Devin, son of the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread, was able to place the rattler back into the box without incident should go down as one of the miracles of our time.
Bud’s skin felt like it was on fire. “It’s a miracle”, he thought, “and I don’t use the word miracle lightly”. In fact Bud was probably more judicious of his use of the word “miracle” than the Catholic church was when they were proposing someone for sainthood. Bud had just happened to witness something that seemed physically impossible to what he considered was a very logical mind.
“If they didn’t pump that rattler full of sedatives before the testament of faith”, Bud thought, “then that is one very wrought up rattler in the box right now”.
Bud couldn’t imagine anyone being foolish enough to tempt fate by bringing out the rattler for a second performance. To Bud’s amazement, there was one person in the congregation that was immune to logic and common sense. Bubba Hawker’s immediate reaction to the display by little Devin shocked one and all. In retrospect, Bud could only imagine that Bubba felt compelled to act as he did because of the recognition that little Devin’s performance had stunned the congregation. Bud surmised that on some level, Bubba felt that the congregation had been given another reason for not jettisoning the Reverend Dale.
To the surprise of all, Bubba flew from his perch in the choir to the box housing the timber rattler in front of the altar. Without giving it a second thought, or perhaps the first thought, Bubba reached in and pulled the rattler out of his hideaway. Holding the snake behind its head in his right hand, Bubba carried the snake aloft while Bubba did his version of the “Tap Dance for Jesus”. As Bud watched in complete fascination, he had to admit, Bubba had moves.
If there was any cognitive thought involved, Bubba must have recognized that this was no ordinary dance off. After a couple of minutes of spinning and stomping, Bubba stomped loudly several times to get the congregation’s full attention. It was an unnecessary move as there was no doubt about who held the floor. In a move only witnessed in documentaries and the pages of National Geographic, Bubba channeled the spirit of one of those demented snake handlers in India. Bubba brought the snake around in front of him, and then kissed the snake full on the lips.
When Bud returned to reality, he joked to himself to relieve the tension. “It might be sacrilegious to ask if there was any tongue”, Bud thought, “but if so, I think it was just the rattler”.
After the display, Bubba was shaking like a dog trying to pass a peach pit. The sweat was pouring off of him like a ditch digger in the Amazon. He passed the snake up around his head one more time as if to say, “see, look what I can do”, and then put the snake back in his box. From his years of exposure to the ophidian species, Bud was convinced he didn’t want to be the next guy to open that box.
Apparently, Reverend Dale had also figured that discretion was the better part of valor. The Right Reverend did a cute little trick with a copperhead in one hand and a water moccasin in the other, but didn’t go near the rattler box. Bud reflected that Reverend Dale must have figured the “Little Church in the Valley” had run through its allotment of miracles for the day.
As Bud watched the followers flood the area in front of the Altar, he tried to project what the implications of today’s “miracle service” might have on the Elder’s decision to fire Reverend Dale. As Bud looked around, he realized that he was the only one left in the pews, even arthritic Hugh Morris had made his way to the front.
“Will the Elders be able to support the decision to release someone that clearly has the faith of the congregation?”, Bud thought, “and what do they do about the ‘miracle in the valley’?”
As exploitative as the Elders had been with Reverend Helena, Bud couldn’t wait to see their reaction regarding little Devin. If somebody hadn’t dosed the rattlesnake with gasoline to make him drunk, then Bud had been present for an event that would be told for generations.
“The fact that no one had to go to the emergency room bolsters the convictions of the faithful”, Bud thought as he headed out the door, “And it sure plants a seed of doubt in us infidels”.