reading _salvation on sand mountain_ by dennis covington (reading, mass: addison-wesley publishing, 1995). creative nonfiction. a sympathertic rendering of snake-handling congregants of "the church of jesus with signs following" and how the preacher was convicted of trying to murder his wife with snake bites. covington treats these handlers with respect and awe as their faith tells them to "take up serpents and drink deadly poisons." the church is located in scottsboro, al, site of the sensational trial of the scottsboro boys, charged with raping two white women. (the verdict was later overturned by the Supreme Court.)
Covington writes: "By the late summer I was feeling comfortable among the handlers. In fact, I was getting restless in my home church in Birmingham, where I'd occasionally want to put my hands up in the air. I didn't. But sometimes I'd tap my feet during the choir's anthem or mumble an amen or two. And I was pretty much obsessed with snake handling, though I had not, in fact, handled one myself" (81).