In Fruita, Colorado, USA, there’s a festival celebrating a chicken. They do all sorts of stuffs from fun runs to poster making contest to cooking competitions. In the Philippines, such festivities about animals are fairly common. There’s the roasted pig (lechon) festival in La Loma, and the Carabao Festival in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Rizal among others. However, what set this celebration apart from all the other animal events in the Philippines is that the chicken festival honors one specific animal: Mike the Headless Chicken.
In 1945, a farmer in the town of Fruita went out to prepare a dinner for his family. He picked a chicken from his farm and chopped its head off. The chicken, to the farmer’s amazement, survived the beheading. It was still able to walk around as if nothing happened to it. A win-win situation was decided, the chicken won’t be dinner, and the farmer gets a plump pocket. The chicken, now called Mike, survived 18 months of fame by becoming the headless chicken. The farmer brought it to road shows and tours to earn money. The chicken had enough following that spurred the event in Fruita, where it all began.
A lot of people tried to imitate but none could produce the same kind of result as Mike. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, the axe missed the jugular vein, the carotid artery, the midbrain and a part of the ear. Since most body functions of chickens were controlled by the midbrain, Mike was more or less alive and kicking. No one else could do the same mistake. Most attempts at producing the same miracle chicken would die after a day or two.
What happened to Miracle Mike is a one in a million occurrence. Most vertebrates could instantly die the moment their head is cut off. There are few among invertebrates who could live for a few weeks after beheading. One good example is the cockroach.
This tells us more about life. In any form of being, individual or organizational, the head is the most important aspect. Once cut off, the whole body will die immediately. It is also a one in a million occurrence for any organization or individual to survive a beheading. History has told us that more than once. Several times in human history, the death or the demise of any ruling monarch would simply lead the country astray. Such is the fate of cutting off the head.
One prime example was the reaction of the German princes in the 11th Chapter of the Great Controversy. Though their head may have been cut off from them, they were still able to survive but history also tells us that it wasn’t a long survival.
With Martin Luther banned from ever joining any assembly and Fredrick of Saxony, the foremost leader among the nobles, dead, it was up to the reformer princes of the German Court to bat. With their spiritual leader banned and their political leader dead, they seemed to have been cut off from their head. It was like Mike the Chicken pecking on the ground and doing all the chicken stuff without a head.
The princes were successful in bringing Germany to accept their movement. Now, their official name was the Protestants. Though with that success, it gave fuel to the Papist Catholics violent streak. They put the ban on Luther with the help of Charles V and further showed hostility towards the Protestant princes. However, each effort to crush the Reformers, trouble at the borders of the kingdom sprouted. Every time the king tried to make war against the princes, certain troubles like Turks, French armies or the pope himself made trouble around Germany.
Then a battle of attrition ensued as to what group would be prominent in Germany: The Protestants or the Catholics. It’s the same battle being fought until today. The princes put up a brave fight despite the loss of their heads. They countered each attack by the papists including the King and his representatives. Their position: to uphold their right to speech, religion and belief, to allow them to submit themselves to the Scriptures without any hindrances from the Catholic Church or from the government.
“We protest by these presents, before God, our only Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, and Saviour, and who will one day be our Judge, as well as before all men and all creatures, that we, for us and for our people, neither consent nor adhere in any manner whatsoever to the proposed decree, in anything that is contrary to God, to His holy word, to our right conscience, to the salvation of our souls.”
The same thing is being fought until now only subtly. Each of us struggles to attain the same kind of freedom. Some people in this world could still be prohibited from even touching the Bible. What then could stop us from stepping up the plate to challenge these powers that strive to take away our liberty. Sure, there’s a one in a million chance a chicken or any being could survive without a head, but the real head of any organization or any body is Christ and the real power behind any effort that we do is Christ. It may hurt to lose the head, it does feel lonesome to wake up one morning to find yourself without a proper guide or direction, yet God’s power and mercy could never get cut off.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Romans 8:38-39