Cats Have No Souls — Disclaimer
I had no idea that the “Cats vs. Dogs” debate was so polarizing. Furthermore, that’s not even the thrust of this piece you may be about to read. I was toying with an attempt to raise awareness of the importance of evangelism with a comedic approach. In doing so, all I managed to do was open up a “can of hornets” [sic]. Only two people that I know of have liked this piece. To compound that further, one of those two people seems to be “on the spectrum”. I don’t know….autism? asbergers? something like that. “Cat People” are turned off by the title and “Dog People” are turned off after they read it.
Man! I can’t make anybody happy. If you hope to affect me with a negative comment, keep in mind, you have a pretty high bar to clear. First of all, I’m in prison. Secondly, I’ve already received the worse possible criticism from my “friends” who have said things like, “Hmmmm….interesting” or “I liked it” or “That was nice”….
Brutal. Just brutal.
When my “focus group” rejects a submission, typically I will not release it to the general public. However, this piece is an exception. Reason being, the other person that really liked this piece…..was me!
So enjoy….or not.
First of all, don’t let the title fool you. I really am a “Cat Person”. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
Lately I have been pondering all of the difficulties that are inherent in interpersonal relationships. We deal with family politics, we (1) worry (2) about hurting other people’s feelings by accident. On a day-to-day basis, we have to negotiate a minefield of other personalities, such as co-workers (3) and bosses (4). That, in and of itself, is exhausting and this is before you add ingredients like politics and religion. At least from a political standpoint I, as a registered bureaucrat, do not have a “great commission” to go out and make bureaucrats of all the nations. Because of that, you can breathe a sigh of relief (you’re welcome). However, as a card carrying member of the “Jesus Club” I am to go out into the world and make disciples of all the nations (5). Basically I need to share the love of Jesus with the world. You now have permission to rescind that “sigh of relief” from a few moments ago.
One of the roubles with being a Christian is sharing Jesus with your friends. It can be hard. I don’t know if I will be met with interest or shunned with scorn. I run the risk that my friends will avoid me for the rest of my life. Sharing Jesus with strangers, on the other hand, is a whole different “ball of yarn”. (6)
Ugggg! Sometimes I just wish that every “person” I ever had to deal with….in any way, shape or form….from now until doomsday…..was a cat.
I mentioned earlier that I am indeed a “Cat Person”. As you can see now, I wasn’t kidding. I’ll take a cat any day of the week over a dog. Dogs are, by nature, kind of “desperate”, a bit on the “needy” side and just way too clingy. The human friends in my life that share these qualities fall into a special category. I like to call it the “direct-to-voicemail” category.
Cats, on the other hand, approach life with a different type of gusto (7). If you are alone in a room with a cat, the cat is thinking to itself, “The only reason you’re still here with me is because I’m too small to eat you.” I respect that in an animal; however, I’m not here today to have the “dogs vs. cats” debate. I’m struggling with a more “quirky” or perhaps “ready-for-the-sanatorium” type of debate. I’m having the “cats-vs.-humans” debate. I’m worried because I think “the cats” are winning. I’m particularly disturbed by the fact that I find it difficult to share Christ with my friends, but I have no problem talking to a cat.
Seriously, be thankful for societal norms that have made it impossible for people like me to leave my friends behind while instead, bringing my cat to church.
For all of the upsides (8) of bringing my cat to church I am willing to concede that it may be one of the “be careful what you wish for because you might just get it” scenarios. I might be crushed to learn that my cat “Schlomo” does not believe in full immersion baptism. I also might be stunned to learn that my cat may in fact be Jewish.
Beyond that, it’s a pretty good bet you’d find him drinking out of the baptismal fount, sharpening his claws on the pews and, at the worst possible time, walking across the organ keyboard. I would also be particularly worried if someone were to come up to me and tell me that they needed to perform a “catechism”. Woah, is that going to hurt? (9) Perhaps my cat would do some good and catch some of those pesky church mice (they’re very quiet you know), but later, I’m sure, he’d spend time meowing at the back doors in an effort to be “let out”. Then, no doubt, during the quiet time of prayer and reflection, my cat would cast out a cantankerous hairball by conducting the world’s most offensive exorcism.
You know? Instead of bringing my cat to church, perhaps it would be better if cats had their own church. I sometimes (10) think about what “cat church” would be like. For starters, it seems to me like every pew would have to be its own window sill. I’m not sure how that would work architecturally, but that’s not my problem (11). I assume the altar would be a giant scratching post, communion would be a saucer of warm milk, followed by something really discusting. The caterwauling (12) choir would be awful, the poop box would be filled with litter and I shutter to think of the pandemonium that would ensue after the minister whipped out a censer filled with catnip. I also imagine “cat testimonies” (assuming, of course, cats could talk) that would include stories of haivng to walk through puddles to show love to downtrodden dogs, trips to see fellow cats that are locked up at the local pound, stories of having to eat generic cat food after getting caught in the rain, “tales” of difficulties presented by possessed mockingbirds, demonic rocking chairs and rogue vacuum cleaners.
I’m, of course, just having fun with this concept, but I’m trying to use a comedic way to illustrate real world hardships encountered by people that actually do put their life on the line for Christ. Think of missionaries in downtown ghettos ministering to the poor and needy. How about Christians who set off to live in the mud huts in third world countries just to share Jesus with the lost? They’ve been given the courage to answer “the call” and still, I’m a bit jealous of them. As difficult as their mission is, sharing Christ with close friends presents its own set of difficulties. It takes a special kind of vulnerability that needs to be learned. So I’ve decided to practice on my cat (13).
I think this may be a workable idea because, I humbly submit, that we, as humans, have more in common with domestic house cats than we care to admit. We are generally kind of lazy. We like to eat. We like to sleep. We don’t like to get wet. If you’re like me, you don’t really like having to deal with other “cats” very much. We don’t take orders very well. We’ll get out of our comfy spots if we have a pressing need or detect any imminent threat…..maybe. We like to look out the window. We like to have other people serve us and we won’t be particularly inclined to return the favor. We spend lots of time preening. It seems to me that practicing a gospel presentation on a cat is perfect (14). In our daily interaction with others we will encounter everything from vacant stares to haughtiness and everything in between — up to and including people who have breath that smells like cat food. You see, honing your proselytizing skills on a cat will prepare you for situations just like this! What would you do if you were sharing the gospel with someone and that person dozed off, or hocked up a fur ball, or decided to start licking himself? You’ll be prepared for situations where the person you are sharing with is distracted by a fly.
Perhaps the best part of all this is that you don’t have to worry about messing up a cat. It’s only practice. And besides, cats have no souls (15).
For all of you “Dog People” out there who may feel a bit left out by this piece, I apologize. I’ve never really considered how dogs would be beneficial in this regard. I’ve never thought about taking a dog to worship or thought about what “dog church” would be like (16). I’m just going to go out on a limb here and suggest that there would be an absurd amount of hair and smell REALLY bad.
If you’re, perhaps, thinking to yourself that I could practice outreach on my dog, I’m here to tell you: That’s not really a good idea (17). I contend that dogs are basically the animal kingdom’s version of the “leeching sycophant” (18). Humans that possess the traits of a “leeching sycophant” (19) are best avoided. Believe me, I speak from experience. The wrong side of experience, but experience nevertheless. Let me give you a quick illustration of what “dog evangelism” would look like.
Me: “Repent! And be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit!”
Dog: “Woof” [ok, sure…yes, yes…oh boy]
Me: “Have you given your life to Christ like a good boy?”
Dog: “Woof, pant!” [yes, yes….whatever you say…oh boy!]
Me: “Are you going to go out and share Jesus with all of your little doggie friends like a good boy?”
Dog: “Pant, woof, bark!” [oh happy day! He called me a good boy!]
Me: “You know? This means no more drinking out of the toilet, no more chasing squirrels and you’re going to have to stop harrassing Mrs. Fletcher’s poor cat.”
Dog: “Woof, pant, bark, howl!” [oh boy, oh boy…something fun is about to happen]
Me (to myself): (“Hmmmm…something isn’t quite right here. Conversions to Christ are typically a bit more subdued than this…??…)
Me: “You realize this means no more “trips to the neighbor’s yard, right?”
Dog: “Woof, pant, howl, bark, wag” [Yipeee! Can we go and do it right now?]
Me (to myself): (I’m pretty sure this dog has absolutely no idea what’s going on….let me try one last question)
Me: “Do you want to go to the vet to get neutered?”
Dog: “Jump, woof, bark, wag, pant, howl!” [oh yes I do! oh yes I do!…I’m a good boy]
Ugggh! This is going nowhere. Dogs will say “yes” to anything.
Agreeing to do whatever for whoever will not do anyone any good….believe me! As ridiculous as this analogy is, it’s worth noting (in full disclosure) that I starred as “the dog” in this scenario for many years. I excitedly agreed to “follow” Jesus without realizing what I was doing. If I was going to make somebody happy by saying “yes”, then great! Why not? What harm could it do? As it turns out — I could do a lot of harm.
I will admit that the idea of outreach practice on a cat is probably a stupid idea (20). Nevertheless, we will indeed encounter “cat people” and “dog people” as we go through life. Maybe the idea of “outreach practice” is a bad idea altogether? Jesus tells us when we bear witness to unbelievers we are NOT to be anxious about what we say because the spirit of the Father will speak through us (21). That’s probably a good thing because beyond “cat people” and “dog people” we are going to encounter an assortment of “duck people” and “squirrel people” and perhaps the occasional “giraffe person”.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to sharing Jesus with somebody. It’s a “dog-eat-dog” world out there. So make sure the cat doesn’t have your tongue. You might just be the one God uses to help save someone’s soul.
(1) or “some of us”
(2) or “don’t care”
(3) or “C.O.’s”
(4) or “other inmates”
(5) Matt 28:19
(6) Get ready, this is where my essay starts to go downhill
(7) irony intended
(8) citation needed
(9) I’m not sure why my editor left this joke in
(10) It’s not that often, I promise
(11) I have enough problems already
(12) Yes, I said “caterwauling”
(13) Don’t call the loony bin just yet
(14) definition of “perfect” subject to interpretation
(15) citation needed
(16) Until now
(17) As if practicing on a cat IS a good idea
(18) I really love this phrase
(19) Here it is again!
(20) I haven’t seen any cats in church…so…???
(21) Matthew 10: 19–20