Unformatted text preview: n Scripture, it was later explained to me. There was a beautiful solo, which I wrote about at length. There was also no emotion whatsoever in the service. For a contrast, I went to the Mount Pisgah Chapel in Lowtown, where the pulpit was surrounded by drums, guitars, horns, and amplifiers. As a warmup for the sermon, a full-blown concert was given with the congregation singing and dancing. Miss Callie referred to Mount Pisgah as a "lower church." On my list, number sixty-four was the Calico Ridge Independent Church, located deep in the hills in the northeastern part of the county. According to theTimes archives, at this church in 1965 a Mr. Randy Bovee was bitten twice by a rattlesnake during a late Sunday night worship service. Mr. Bovee survived, and for a while the snakes were put away. The legend, however, flourished, and as my Church Notes column gained popularity, I was asked several times if I intended to visit Calico Ridge. "I plan to visit every church," was my standard reply. "They don't like visitors," Baggy warned me. I had been greeted so warmly in each church—black or white, large or small, town or country—that I could not imagine Christian folks being rude to a guest. And they weren't rude at Calico Ridge, but they weren't too happy to see me either. I wanted to see the snakes, but from the safety of the back row. I went on a Sunday night, primarily because legend held that they did not "take up the serpents" during daylight hours. I searched the Bible in vain for this restriction. There was no sign of any serpents. There were a few fits and convulsions below the pulpit as the preacher exhorted us to "come forth and moan and groan in sin!" The choir chanted and hummed to the beat of an electric guitar and a drum, and the meeting took on the spookiness of an ancient tribal dance. I wanted to leave, especially since there were no snakes. Late in the service, I caught a glimpse of a face I'd seen before. It was a very diffe...
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