Is she gone, yet? Has the lipstick-pig woman left the auditorium? Can we come out now?
Seriously, is Sarah Palin still McCrazy's running mate? What's it gonna take to get this freakish church lady's staccato gibberish out of everyone's ears? Okay, not everyone. Just the relatively normal people who are having difficulty with both the accent and the volume. The religious fanatic community that spawned this creature is comfortable with the high-decibel, blank-staring, repetitious rhetoric that is Palin's "stump speech." I'm waiting for that melt-down moment - that I hope will come during her VP "debate" with Biden - when her arms shoot straight up in the air, her eyes roll back in their sockets, her head starts to bob, and she starts shrieking in tongues.
Hallelujah! The Lord is here tonight! Amen and amen! Sha-la-nee-hondo! Cloda-cloda-serape-chindowey! Pergo-uh-chinda-chinda! Sleeeeeeeeeeeee . . . .!
In a way, of course, this Christian fundamentalist nonsense is fun. As long as it's not the M-O of the country's Vice President. I mean, have you ever attended one of those week-long revival meetings at a broken-down campground way back in the North Georgia Mountains? No? I have. Whew . . . It's a real hoot.
My favorite part is when they bring out the burlap bag. That moment usually comes about the mid-week point of the Jesus Jamboree. Usually, it's some "lay" preacher who holds it up after a local Holiness Church deacon has brought the squirmy lump of horror out of the back closet were its been sitting since Monday. The preacher gets all bug-eyed when he finally notices it and holds it aloft. It's moving, of course. All lumpy and shape-shifting, and if you listen over the off-key singing and the banging tambourines (every other person in the log building has one) you can hear a definite buzzing. A deep, very pissed off buzzing coming from that burlap bag.
And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
And, as the crowd roars its approval (The bag's out! Preacher has the bag! Glory!) and the rather large woman playing the portable organ steps up the already frantic tempo, the preacher starts swaying and bobbing and jerking that goddam bag this way and that way and if you've seen this before, if you've attended one of these out-of-time moments, these fundie freak shows, you start thinking it's time to make sure there's nothing between you and the door.
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Holy sh*t! Preacher man is untying the top of the sack! The music gets louder. The tambourine beaters slam their legs and forearms even harder. The people in the front row are falling down and moaning and thrashing every which way, dresses flying up, shirts coming untucked, the shrieking and moaning getting louder, still increasing in cadence and volume . . . Glory! Glory! Glory! Halamalee-alahnda-low-jesus-jesus-angorga-gorga . . .!!!!!!
The room is in a frenzy. Heads rolling! Arms stretched to heaven (okay, to the ceiling)! Gobs of sweat and spittle flying from the churning bodies of worshipers absolutely lost in the glory! Take me Jesus! Take me! Rapture me! On and on and on, building, building, the tension palpable, the ecstasy (real ecstasy, not the pills) flooding the room, and then . . .
The preacher throws open the burlap bag and thrusts his arm deep inside! His eyes roll! He hops around the front of the room! He babbles in the sacred language! Sweat pours from his face! He pulls his arm out of the bag and holds aloft a huge squirming mass of serpents! Timber rattlers! Coral snakes! Cotton-mouths! Big ones! 4-footers! 6-footers. Their tongues darting out, trying to get a location fix on whatever crazy sonofabitch is causing them this much wild agitation. They are some seriously pissed-off snakes! I mean!
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Later, in the local hospital emergency room, arms bandaged and nauseous from being shot full of snake-bite anti-venom, those who experienced the full and mighty power of the Lord join in a circle to pray for the brothers and sisters who didn't get to the hospital in time. They're with the Lord now, enjoying the peace that passeth understanding. Praise God!
Yeah, let me tell you . . . watching a fundamentalist church snake-handling service is right up there with really, really bad acid for terror value. Once you witness one, you'll never be the same. Never.
If you're really, really, curious but hesitant to actually locate one of these, um, worship services, I'll bet Governor Palin could fill you in on a few more details.
Mike Malloy is a former writer and producer for CNN (1984-87) and CNN-International (2000). His professional experience includes newspaper columnist and editor, writer, rock concert producer and actor. He is the only radio talk show host in America to have received the A.I.R (Achievement in Radio) Award in both (more...