MISSOURI – Once, after getting up from studying his Bible at the kitchen table, the Rev. Richard Eisenberg returned to find a visitor at his table perusing the open book.
“I saw our cat Gracie up at the table with the book,” he states. “I grabbed my phone and took a picture. I didn’t think any more about it for a while.”
Eventually, the pastor showed the photo around to a few groups of friends, all of whom laughed.
“They weren’t all people of faith, but all the cat lovers just went nuts over that picture,” Eisenberg states. “They just thought it was hilarious.”
The strong positive reaction to the photo led to an idea which has now culminated in the book of short pieces titled “Why God Made Cats.” It has been co-written by 30 members of Grace Baptist Church in St. Joseph. The goal is that the book will help people enjoy and recognize all cats as pieces of “God’s artwork,” Eisenberg says.
“God provides cats to bring laughter and a smile to the brokenhearted and wounded spirits to give endless entertainment to a dark and dreary day,” he states. “That’s revealed through the co-authors’ stories one by one.”
The theme of the book is an appreciation of God’s creations, made for our pleasure and for his, Eisenberg states. He likens it to when a parent gives a child a present.
“When the child is glad to get it and is excited about it and enjoys it for the days, weeks, months or even years after they get it, the parents find pleasure in that,” he states. “As the children of God, our joy at receiving his creation and enjoying it, God enjoys that as much as we do because we are enjoying his creation, his artwork.”
The book includes a message from Eisenberg and also some short pieces from three dozen contributing authors, ranging in age from 9 to 91. Stories include tales about a blind cat, a cat who loves to travel, and also a writer who takes in sick cats and nurses them back to health. The entire writing process took just about a year.
“One cat got locked in a garage several blocks away, and another cat, the family didn’t know was ‘sent’ to find the owner,” Eisenberg states. “It took a few tries, but it led the family to the cat that was trapped in the garage.”
His goal is to publish a series of similar books, including “Why God Made Dogs,” and he’s already collecting stories for the next installation. So far, the congregation has had much success in sharing “Why God Made Cats” within the community, and has gotten a very warm reception, he says. He hopes to have the book in retail stores soon.
“It’s been overwhelmingly positive,” he states. “I’ve had a strong reaction.”
Although the first book focuses only on cats, its message is much wider, Eisenberg says.
“God created heaven and earth for his pleasure, and I want to get across the concept that, just as when we look at God’s creation, we are kind of like at an art gallery. A lot of times, the artist doesn’t reveal their identity as they are walking around the people looking at the art so they can listen to what people say without their presence being known,” he states. “I believe that God does that with his creation and his creatures. It’s his delight to see people, young and old, enjoy his creation.”
Eisenberg and other authors will hold a book signing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at Wellington Point, 3811 Beck Road. Copies of the book will be available for sale.
“I’m excited,” Eisenberg declares of the book. “I’ll be 74 in January and I’m excited like a grade-school kid. This has all been real exciting.”