"Oh baby baby it's a wild world..." sang Cat Stevens in September 1970.
This was the refrain in my head this week after our son, Aaron, schooled me on a particularly strange fishing technique. Sometimes, when I learn about things that many others may already know, I joke that I live under a rock. Maybe you live under this rock too?
Both our sons really enjoy fishing. I don't, though I do enjoy eating certain types. But when I heard about noodling as it relates to fishing, I was introduced to a whole new level of strange. If I were tech savvy, I would now create a yes/no survey to learn just how many of you know what noodling is.
According to the infallible Wiki, noodling is "fishing for catfish using one's bare hands, and is practiced primarily in the southern United States."
One who noodles is a noodler. Simply place a hand inside a catfish hole and voila! If it bites, you're successful. If a snapping turtle bites, you lose. A few fingers. I feel a little nauseous each time I think about this. Not at all because I don't like to eat them (I don't), but precisely because this act of noodling is a real and terrifying thing!
Many things could frighten me as much as being trapped in a small room full of frogs. Being forced to noodle would be one of them. Also, boating with silver carp jumping at me would be another. Thankfully, none of these situations is likely to occur. Ever. Whew.
Adding to the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction effect that this new awareness of noodling had on me, is the fact that I learned there are TV programs dedicated to noodling. Yes, that was plural. A cursory search turned up titles such as: Hillbilly Handfinshin', Mudcats and Chasing Monsters.
I can't review any of those shows for you. My quick web search displayed just enough visuals to keep me from following any rabbit holes into the dark internet world of noodling.
I can, however, recommend an excellent film that Scott and I just finished watching tonight. It reveals much about a whole different world of bottom-feeders. Not carp, rather prosperity gospel preachers. Unfortunately, the profiteers and their message are all too familiar.
American Gospel, is an excellent documentary about false Christian teaching and the main purveyors of this perversion of truth. Does God want us all healthy and wealthy? Why would he allow suffering? And maybe we have the question backwards, posits one preacher: "Why do good things happen to bad people?"
If only Job could speak to us face to face. We can read his story. Days after God allowed all ten of his children to be killed, while he was scraping sores off his body with a broken piece of pottery, he said to his wife: "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
What is the true gospel? Can we earn God's favor? Are poverty and illness a sign of his disfavor? Will we "be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead?"
These and many other critical questions are answered in American Gospel. Additionally, there are some powerful interviews with people who have experienced doubt and suffering.
I promise you, the time you spend watching this film will profit you oodles more than any time you could spend noodling. Embedded below is a free abbreviated version. The full version is available on DVD/Blu Ray and also for a small fee on various streaming services.
What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? ~ Mark 8:36