The words “It’s a good snake” are like someone saying, “It was a good 18 car pile-up” or “It was a good root canal.” People say the craziest things. They look at you with a straight face and say, “It’s a good snake.”
I guess you can get by with saying that about a snake at someone else’s house. I could be guilty of saying such nonsense if it was a snake at your house and you asked my opinion. If you said, “We have a Black Snake in our backyard. What should we do about it?” Then, and only then, would I be tempted to utter such nonsense that folk have uttered to me, “It is a good snake.”
What constitutes good?
“It eats other snakes,” they say.
“It eats rats, they say.”
Does it promote world peace? Does it bring conflict resolution to homes? Does it help solve global warming?
What I might say to you, if you have a Black Snake in your backyard, is what others have said to me about the Black Snake we had at our house. When I say “at our house” I should have said “in our house.” We saw it crawl through an opening into the flooring/ walls of our sun room. It was about six feet long but looked about 20 feet to me.
“Don’t worry,” otherwise intelligent people have said to us, “it’s a good snake.” Those words sound like some other famous last words: “Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite.” How about these famous last words: “Hey, I know a short cut.” Since it is always a political season, these words are surely appropriate: “And if elected, I promise…” Yes, it may be a good snake, but what if it has a bad day? Have you ever heard of “unforeseen consequences?”
Yes, it may do other “good” things like eat poisonous snakes and rats. But what if having a snake that long in our home causes me not to sleep at night and sends me to the therapist once a week? How is that good?
Mother Teresa was good. Billy Graham was good. I don’t like snakes, and I would never call one at my house “good.”
In the words of Calvin Miller: “Snakes have a bad reputation. It’s what they deserve, after all! Some rattle their tails, some fan out their necks, some hang from trees where you’d never suspect. But all of them crawl and look sneaky and snakey. Snakes prove that it’s hard to like anyone who lies in the grass and sticks out his tongue.”
I have a friend who refers to snakes as “Mr. No Shoulders.” I cannot put into print in a Christian article what I have called them. It is not that I am totally frightened out of my gourd at them, like some of you. On the other hand, I think they are creepy. I see why ancient folk have always either made them the sum total of all that was evil in the world (Jewish/Christian), or worshipped them (Egyptian). In Genesis 3, evil is represented by Mr. No Shoulders: “Cursed are you more than all cattle…Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.”
“It’s a good snake. I promise” Yeah, right.