Fr George: WNC Baptist snake handler

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How shameful! Father George is in a short-sleeved clergy tactical work shirt with the collar open doing a bit of R and R! And he’s, he’s, he’s a man of ecumenism, practicing up to be a Western North Carolina Baptist Minister Snake Handler! Surely he’s a snake in the grass! Whatever you want to call him (Eastern Racer, Bull Snake, Rat Snake, Black Snake, Snake in the Grass, Satan…), this is the friendliest kind of serpent in the world. Oh, I’m talking about the snake, not me! Or do I protest too much? Anyway, these guys are happy to laze around in the sun right in front of you, keeping a watchful eye for varmints.

It was a local one-time Baptist minister friend who was happy to see me practicing up. He’s the one who brought the snake over to a parishioner’s house as there was a developing problem of rats eating the dog food, a serious concern since she raises the best cadaver, drug, bomb, protection, accompaniment, PTSD, and especially bite-dogs in North America. Everyone was scared of the snake, only because they think such snakes bite. They don’t. But her bite-dogs do bite. One of them broke her training “arm” with one bite. She said she saw one bite-dog break both forearm bones and rip off the forearm of someone in one bite. Serious dogs. I’m making friends with the one that law enforcement is especially afraid of. So far, he sits down for me upon request, but at this point that only means that he’s happy to make a meal of me while sitting down. Yikes!

In these days of great confusion in both the Church and the world, I think we need to remember a sense of humor amidst all the darkness, and be able to bring joy to those around us. We are all Missionaries of Mercy when we do this, as this brings people hope. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said that making people who suffer laugh was a great act of mercy. When we suffer we tend to drag all the hurt of the past into the present, and then project all that into the future dragging that, then, back into the present as well, making for unbearable suffering. But when, in the present moment, one is brought into innocent laughter, all of this mind-game with time of past and future is shattered, giving one hope for the future regardless of the past because of present goodness. Our greatest fears are brought under control with the love that Jesus Himself provides to us, His littlest children.

Update: sent in by a reader with the request of making a parallel video for priestly vocations:

11 Comments

Filed under Dogs, Ecumenism, Humor

11 responses to “Fr George: WNC Baptist snake handler

  1. meshugunah

    Had a friend in Jr, High who loved snakes and reptiles; brought one to class one day…We draped it around my neck so that the head and tail were hidden. Walked into Social Studies class, Teacher begins to complement me on “Nice necklace you’re wearin……” when the snake starts moving – so does Teacher! Took us half an hour to get her back into the room! Didn’t realize rhe poor woman was that afraid of reptiles!

    As you know, they feel nice and warm and smooth, not cold and slimy like some folks think (And, unlike a certain cold-hearted, slimy Adversary.)

  2. Father George David Byers

    I think I would have laughed for that entire half-hour! LOL

  3. SognPlaci

    So why do you think that the snake does not bite?

  4. Father George David Byers

    Years of experience with snakes of all kinds, even human, or demonic.

  5. I guess you went from being a little kid with two little snakes to a big “kid” with one big snake. I could not find the picture of you with your Mom and Dad and the snakes though. I thought I saved it somewhere.

  6. sanfelipe007

    That picture of you holding the snake made me laugh! But I’d be running the other way if I had been present – I know how that teacher felt, it is an irrational fear and hard to overcome.

  7. Joan Furst

    Yes Fr., I believe you do have way too much fun sometimes!!

  8. Pam

    I just can’t like snakes. They’re ok if I can look from a distance. But my worst is spiders. Except Daddy Longlegs. I got bit by a Brown Recluse, which didn’t help anything.

    This is totally o/t and I hope I don’t offend, but I am so curious. Reading the 1960 Divine Office Matutinem today, there is this:

    “Sing for us again and again before this maiden’s bed * the tender idylls of the play.” I couldn’t find out anything about it. Is this in the Bible?

  9. Father George David Byers

    Is there Latin for that? Is that an antiphon?

  10. Pam

    Yes:

    Ant. Ante torum * huius Virginis frequentate nobis dulcia cantica dramatis

  11. monicaharris58

    Reading on wikipedia about snake handling was very amusing, but you are supposed to wear long sleeves for that, Fr Byers!

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