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By David Bachelor, PhD
Pastor, Pearsall 1st Methodist Church
In the course of each week, there is a topic that is in the headlines nearly as often as COVID-19. No, the topic is not “Congress”, or anything to do with politics. No, the subject matter is not directly connected with “climate change” or the unusually hot weather around the globe. The non-political, non-COVID, non-climate change topic in headlines every week is “pigs.” For example, ABC13 News in Asheville, North Carolina, has the headline “‘PIG-apalooza’ adoption event.” The story is about the Asheville Humane Society’s attempt to get over 30 pot-belly pigs and piglets adopted. Or another porcine headline, from the Irish Examiner, proclaims “Pig price drop put down to shift in EU markets.” In this story the low tourist numbers in Europe due to COVID (yes- it’s even in this pig story) and low demand from China has caused a surplus of pork. Each week there are a multitude of economic and human-interest stories about these four-footed omnivores.
Since I tend to focus on novel items making headlines, let me explain the reason “pigs” is being featured this week. Swine are the focus of this piece because of a recent Texas headline that has particular interest to folks in Frio and LaSalle County. The July 9th edition of Texas Farm Bureau newsletter has the article “Contraceptive available in Texas to help control wild pigs.” To incentivize ranchers and farmers to invest in this porcine contraceptive, the writer, Julie Tomascik, includes in the narrative a recap of annual hog-related crop damage and the failure of other abatement techniques to stem the state’s rising feral hog population. To personalize the swine menace to those Texans who are not involved in agriculture, Tomascik says, “The invasive species can degrade water quality and introduce E. coli, making the water unsafe to drink. They also pose a threat to livestock and wildlife, preying on small animals.” These critters carry a whole host of pathogens with them.
The good news is that at least Texas hogs do not have the pathogen carried by some pigs in the Bible. In Mark 5 Jesus exorcised a legion of demons from a homeless man. Before the demons would leave their host, they asked for permission to enter a new host— a herd of pigs grazing nearby. Jesus granted their request. Verse 13 says, “The evil spirits went out of the man and entered the pigs. The whole herd—about two thousand pigs in all—rushed down the side of the cliff into the lake and was drowned.” Even though two thousand pig carcasses seriously degraded the water quality of that area, it was better than two thousand demon-possessed pigs running loose in the countryside. These animals were livestock, not feral hogs, so the locals asked Jesus to leave. They did not need his assistance with hog-eradication.
From another angle, there was one man who was very appreciative there were pigs in the field that day. This pig-appreciator was the man Jesus set free. I bet if this man was alive today in North Carolina and passed the ‘PIG-apalooza’ on his way home, he probably would adopt one of the little swine to commemorate the creature Jesus used to set him free.