What Do You Worship?

First of all, an update: I’m feeling much, much better. I went to the doctor today, and it turns out that anxiety wasn’t the sole issue, but it was seriously exacerbating an underlying (minor) physical problem. Fortunately I have drugs and recommended exercise to help with that, and even just getting a diagnosis helped relieve some of the stress. I feel more like myself than I have in weeks, and I’d forgotten just how awesome it is to feel healthy and capable. So that’s all fantastic.

Second, I plan to get back to the series I was working on sometime soon. For now, though, I just don’t really feel up to a whole lot of deep thoughts. I’d rather keep it light this evening, so I’d like to share something fun with you.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve run into plenty of people who just don’t get atheism. You’ve probably heard some of the following before:

“Atheism is just another religion.”

“Everyone worships something.”

“Atheists worship themselves/money/the pleasures of this world.”


Well, no, not really. But just for tonight, I think I’d like to play along. So, if I don’t worship your favorite deity, what do I worship? Fine, I’ll show you. Here is a picture of my goddess:

Her name is Jezebel, and she is the one in charge.
Her name is Jezebel, and she is the one in charge.

Please don’t confuse my way of life with that of the ancient Egyptians. I do not worship cats in general. I love and respect them all, to be sure, but you must understand that Jezebel’s first commandment is, “Thou shalt have no other cats before me.” Failure to follow this commandment does not result in eternal hellfire, but that does not mean there is no punishment. Her teeth and claws can cause massive amounts of pain, and I still have a scar on my arm from when I violated another commandment. (“No matter how awful she smells, thou shalt not bathe thy cat.”) I certainly don’t want to press my luck.

I hope I haven’t given you the wrong impression. Cat worship has brought great joy to my life, and to my husband’s (the only convert to this specific sect thus far). It has many advantages over the major religions we have encountered, and enriches our lives a great deal. Allow me to illustrate:

First, faith is not necessary. We have empirical evidence that our goddess exists. Even those who don’t worship her are aware of her presence. Indeed, what we have is not really a religious belief, but rather a personal relationship with our cat. We continually feel her presence (particularly when she walks on us at 5 a.m. and meows loudly in our faces). If we fail to abide by her commands (such as keeping the food dish full and the litter box clean), there are discernible consequences. Those who have been to our home may choose not revere our goddess, but all who have visited us know she is there.

Second, our goddess possesses many powers that we do not. She can hear and smell things that are far beyond our limited human perception. She can read minds. This can be frustrating, such as when we are planning sinful deeds (like bathing her or taking her to the vet), but it also allows her to help us (for example, she can tell when we’re feeling sick or sad and will respond by cuddling up to us and purring). She can also teleport. She will come into the bedroom at the crack of dawn demanding food and be sitting on the bed when I leave the bedroom, only to appear next to the food dish before I make it to the kitchen. How, I ask you, could one not stand in awe of such a powerful being as she?

Third, her commands are not unduly burdensome. We have not always kept them (sometimes she gets dirty, and we have to make sure she gets her shots), but true conflicts are relatively rare. She places no dietary restrictions on us. When we have tuna, we are required to sacrifice a small amount of it to her, but she is otherwise unconcerned with what we eat. She does not care what we wear, or what we do outside our home. What we do in the bedroom is of no interest to her, and she has never sought to regulate anyone’s sexual preferences or activities. Cat food, litter, and treats cost far less than ten percent of even my meager income; those who are used to tithing would notice a steep discount if they were to convert. Most importantly, one’s beliefs do not matter to her. Even (I might even say especially) if you hate cats, she will bestow affection upon you. She asks very little, her requests are (mostly) reasonable, and she provides a great deal more comfort than I ever found in religion.

So, sure, this atheist worships a cat. Scoff all you want, but when I go to bed tonight, my cat will curl up at the foot of the bed and purr. As I listen to the soothing sound and feel her soft fur, I’ll never have any reason to doubt her presence. Can you honestly say the same about your god?


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