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← Why I watched a snake-handling pastor die for his faith

Cartomancer's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Cartomancer

Am I the only one who has a sneaking admiration for Pastor Mack? He seems to have been someone who lived life on its own terms. If we hear that someone's parachute failed to open or they fell off a mountain, we don't call them stupid for having perished in an unnecessary way, and yet skydiving and mountaineering are easily as pointless as snake handling. We may even salute someone who dies in such a manner and say "ah well, he died as he lived" or "it's how he would have wanted to go".

This man presumably spent most of his life handling snakes (and panthers apparently) and made it to the age of 44. Respect.

I haven't even got the slightest admiration for this man. He devoted his life to a dangerous brand of ridiculous nonsense that eventually killed him. And, what's worse, he did so because he was inculcated with that nonsense by his own father - who died the same way. He has a grieving mother and wife and children. It's utterly stupid and pathetic.

Devotion is all well and good, if it's devotion to something worthwhile. But this kind of obsessive, reckless, unreflective faith is one of the most harmful aspects of human psychology there is. And this guy didn't just follow it, he actively PROMOTED it. He tried to instil and nurture and shore it up in others. As his father did before him. That's not admirable, it's monstrous.

And the photojournalist too - she isn't blameless here either. She's contributing to making this tragic madman and his nasty irrational cult into some kind of heroic feat that deserves respect. By choosing to document and publicise what goes on here, she's spinning it into something that is intended to provoke admiration and awe rather than horror at the senselessness and waste of it. The toxic mindset so graphically displayed here must be roundly condemned and shunned, not held up for freak-show gawping. The people who aided and abetted this should be charged with negligent homicide, since the man was clearly a risk to himself and in need of protecting from his stupid faith.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 23:11:37 UTC | #945097