Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Differences between what Mr. Dennis Covington thought he would find and what he actually found concerning people who “handled snakes”

By Sudipa Sarkar

Salvation on Sand Mountain written by Dennis Covington is a story of snake handling and strychnine drinking, of faith healing and speaking in tongues, of one man's search for his roots and of his spiritual renewal. The author comes to this ecstatic form of spiritual journey as a journalist covering a thrilling murder case where Glen Summerford had been accused in the charge of attempted murder of his wife Darlene Summerford with rattlesnakes. In his search for the truth against a thriller crime as an investigator cum journalist, Covington gradually explores an understanding of spiritual reality with an absolute genuineness and respect for his subject matter.

Meta-analytical self-transition

In such an excellent and captivating story writing style, Covington initially starts with the covering of the trial of Glen Summerford as part of his church services and soon finds himself transfixed as a part of the ritual of snake-handling services. In this book, the author attempts to deal with snake-handling, Southern culture in the context of self-analysis in an exotic spiritual frame. He starts his voyage with an expectation of finding a mere truth about a murder case, a simple adventure of finding the rattlesnake origin in Southern zone, soon turns into a mysterious trip by interacting with snake handlers and their unusual ritual with a strong belief in spiritual power.

Being a Part of Own World

Throughout his journey, Covington gradually shifts his quest from a mere journey to a spiritual exploration of origin, of own existence. However, in the very beginning when he observes and tries to find our the reason behind the phenomenon of this small abandoned church practicing many fringe doctrines such as snake handling, speaking in tongue or drinking strychnine as a part of their ritual and great belief in God and the author starts an investigation in the lives and weird rituals, but soon he finds himself within the culture attending the religious service. The turning point is remarkable here which entails the emotional uplifting within the envelope of mysticism. While in the very beginning his quest includes only to find out the motivation lies behind the worship habits of these types of cults, he became turned himself into it and becomes a snake handler himself, although for a succinct phase.

The Spiritual Association

In his interaction with snake handlers, being a subject of spiritual investigation to him, he shows his great respect towards the cult by asserting “The more faith you extend, the more power is released. It’s an inexhaustible, eternally renewable resource. It’s the only power some of these people have”. In this simple but deeply meaningful sentence is one of the primary essences of this book which Covington maintains throughout his spiritual interaction, by affirming the ultimate truth of conviction and all humans are destined to get united with the Supreme Being through his belief and worship. The eventual transition of his thought and expectation about his literal journey in the way to snake handlers, he showed all his sympathy for them. In all his efforts, he placed what he finds at the end of his journey – real people with real lives and a pure love for Jesus Christ with all their hearts.
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