Who’s watching the cats?

By the Rev. Diana Circelli - Your pastor speaks

PeeWee will turn two soon. She’s our adorable calico cat that was dumped, still nursing, in our back yard. I guess whoever cruelly dumped her saw other cats hanging around and decided it would be fine. Phil and I had no idea how to care for an orphaned, unweaned kitten – but through the grace of God, she lived.

We’re not cat people – at least we didn’t used to be. But in 2009, when a hungry, orphaned kitten followed us home, we couldn’t turn him away. We named him YumYum. Then a handsome tomcat wandered in – and stayed. His name is Bruiser. Then a gray female secretly moved into our woodshed and had a kitten there. She’d made friends with all the neighborhood males, so we named her Floozie. Her baby is Lucky, after surviving a 13-mile ride atop our car engine.

When we moved to Sidney in 2013, we naturally brought the four cats and our Labradoodle Daisy, too. We moved into what we thought was a vacant house, but it had already been claimed; two cats came with it – Butterscotch and Bertie. The neighbors moved away and left their little black cat – Midnight. And finally a crippled wild cat showed up. We named him Fuzzy. All have been neutered (except Fuzzy, who nobody can touch). When will they stop showing up? Is it OUR job to watch over them?

Being a pastor, I went on a search for the answer. I found an old Hebrew word, radah. Written by Moses somewhere around 1800 B.C., the document we know as “Genesis” holds the best known form of that word, in chapter 1, verse 26: Man has been given dominion over every creature of the earth. What exactly does that mean, anyway? Webster’s Dictionary defines it this way: supreme authority; control. However, there are other words with the same Hebrew root: dominate and domineer. To dominate means “to govern, control…” To domineer means “to rule in an overbearing or arrogant manner; swagger, tyrannize.” Even worse, I find in the Hebrew Lexicon that the Arabic form of the word is defined as “tread or trample.” In a Syrian form, it means “chastise.” Hmmm.

What does this mean for us? Sadly, we see many leaders become corrupt in their quest for power, and their rule becomes overbearing, arrogant domineering. And we see other world leaders who don’t mind dominating, tyrranizing their own people, treading and trampling upon them to keep absolute control over them.

Dominion was meant to be different, from the very beginning. At Creation, God generously provided animals for the first humans, with the command to “…have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:28) Dominion carries with it a responsibility, to wisely and compassionately care for the earth (as the Lord cares for us) as good stewards of these divine gifts. Our “rule” over creatures does not give us the right to mistreat them. God gave humans (those created in his image) the authority to watch over, care for, and use them humanely, to glorify God. Remember, God thought enough of earth’s creatures to make a covenant “with all creation” (Gen. 12). And we have a sign of that divine promise in every rainbow.

What can we do to fulfill God’s expectation? Be responsible. We can exercise dominion over the animals by tending our own pets, providing enough food, water, shelter and veterinary care. We can manage the local pet population by having them spayed or neutered. We can help the Shelby County Animal Rescue Foundation in financial support for their grand new facility to be built soon. And we can volunteer in their feral cat program, now in full swing (look for the traps occasionally set around town to bring wild cats in for neuter, then release).

We do have a responsibility. We can choose to arrogantly tyrranize, domineer and dominate every living thing in our path. Or, we can faithfully and obediently care for God’s paradise – Earth – in all of its grandeur. Who’s supposed to watch the cats? ALL OF US! This is the Lord’s earth; He’s just letting us care for it while we’re here!


By the Rev. Diana Circelli

Your pastor speaks

The writer is the pastor at Sidney First Presbyterian Church.

The writer is the pastor at Sidney First Presbyterian Church.