“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
―Matthew 6.1-8 (RSV)
One starts to wonder what God’s spam filter looks like. In the age of social media, the great testament to humanity seems to be a flood of cat videos and calls to prayer.
One could simply sever ties with their friends who are religious, but that seems stupid to the point of bigotry, and, besides, it will do nothing about the cat videos.
No, really, do you realize cat videos are a cartoon joke? As with hikikomori, the shut-ins, anime jokes about the Japanese obsession with cats are a societal critique, as gentle a prod as possible to remind that something is amiss.
In these United States, we are starting to adopt the cat obsession, and while the idea of becoming a shut-in because one owned only one pair of trousers that fell out the window one day while drying so he decided to just never leave the house again―a context that probably makes much more sense to the Japanese―what, exactly, would the joke look like if it was about Americans and prayer?