Our new intern/writer/buddy at The Revealer has done it again! He’s learning fast. I think we’ll keep him.
Joe McKnight: Walter Wink was, among other things, an outspoken critic of the “biblically-based” homophobia that has long plagued Christianity. Through editing “Homosexuality and the Christian Faith,” and authoring numerous articles on the same matter, Wink showed that by approaching the subject, “from the point of view of love, rather than that of law, the issue is at once transformed.” He continued, “There is no biblical sex ethic. The Bible knows only a love ethic, which is constantly being brought to bear on whatever sexual mores are dominant in any given country, or culture, or period.” (The italics are Wink’s.) Statements of this nature had no small part in making Wink unpopular in the 1980s and 1990s, during the rise of the Moral Majority.
The loss of Walter Wink on May 10th, 2012 was significant not only for the liberation theology to which his life was devoted, but for the declining number of clergy committed to the kind of activism not seen since the days of the Civil rights and anti-war movements five or six decades ago.
Hamblin and other handlers say the Bible tells people to obey the law. So he wears a seat belt while driving, obeys the speed limit and files his taxes on time.
But he won’t give up serpent handling, which he says is a command from God — even though Tennessee outlawed it in 1947 after five people died of serpent bites at churches in two years.
“It is the closest thing to heaven on earth that you could get,” he said.
Of course the article is interesting… it’s trying to frame itself as, I don’t know, accepting? “Just covering the story”? It brings to mind Robert Orsi’s contact with the “repugnant other.” And It’s interesting how the article also tries to couch itself in issues of “freedom of religion” - they should be allowed to practice their faith, although it’s been outlawed. Blurring issues of faith, politics, and practice.
Snake handlers - they’re just like us, only different!
Among the 50 or so people at the picnic were Adam Gibson and his wife, Ashley, both childhood friends of Hamblin.
Like him, they didn’t grow up in the serpent-handling movement. They first attended a service in November after Hamblin agreed to do their wedding.
Gibson used to think serpent handlers were crazy. But during a service he knelt at the church’s tiny altar and prayed for God to save his soul.
On New Year’s Eve the onetime scoffer took up his first serpent, a 4-foot-long canebrake rattler.
“It’s a great feeling to know that God is on your side,” he said.
Gibson hopes more people will join the church.
“I would like to let everyone know if you don’t have a home church, come to the Tabernacle,” he said. “We believe in the Bible, we believe in the signs — and if you come out we will treat you like family.”