You can’t make this stuff up.  If you happened to read The Nashville Scene this week, you might have stumbled over this story out of Columbia, Tennessee:  it is now the home of an end-times cat cult.  Yes, that isn’t a misprint.

    Apparently, the Rev. Sheryl Ruthven and a few dozen followers left Washington state three years ago hoping to find a place where they could live in peace and quietly wait out the apocalypse—and along the way they hope to rescue as many cats as possible. “Why?” you ask?—because according to Ruthven, cats are divine creatures that will carry the 144,000 souls mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

    “Carry them how”, you might ask?  Details, details.  Don’t worry about the how.  Just get ready to have “Snuffles” and “Fluffy” whisk you away into Heaven.

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve never encountered a cat that I would trust to take me anywhere—none of the ones I’ve ever known seemed as if they wanted to be bothered with such a task.  I imagine them getting underway and then losing interest and leaving thousands upon thousands of poor, stranded souls floating around in some purgatory of sorts.

    Now dogs, on the other hand—I could easily see dogs getting the job done.  Dogs are loyal to the death and are always SO happy to see us.  If I’m having to depend on an animal for my heavenly well-being, I’m getting a German Shepherd.

    This story makes me sad for Columbia.  It’s a very nice, county seat town.  I served the 1st UMC there and it is a splendid church filled with wonderful people.  If you haven’t seen Mule Day Weekend in Columbia, you haven’t really experience America.  Now they are the home of this wacky group.

    Turns out there are a number of former members who have described this as a “cult of personality”.  They say the Rev. Ruthven is a fake and dangerous.  Far be it from me to be too critical of any religious organization, but seriously—cats??

    We seem to be living in a time when, spiritually speaking, anything goes. I suppose it must be appealing to a number of folks to simply be able to make up the rules as they go along.  Somehow the God story of a love so deep that a Son was sent to teach and heal and then to be labeled a criminal and executed—and then this marvelous resurrection from the dead; somehow that story isn’t a good one.  We found a need for cats.

    Heaven help us (I sure won’t be waiting on any cats to do it).