Archives For Berin Gilfillan

When my daughter Christina got to law school in Philadelphia, she wanted a kitten. She got one from a friend’s parents in upper Pennsylvania, who already had 17 rather inbred cats. She named it Chairman Meow and true to its name it was dominant, vocal, demanding and was a voracious eater. Christina often commented that it’s full button appeared to be broken. When she returned for her first visit back to California, she took her kitty to a cat boarding facility in Philly. Upon announcing its name, they calmly informed her that her animal was the 11th such feline they had boarded with the name Chairman Meow. She was crestfallen.


I think everyone who names a pet tries to go for something unique and descriptive. Secretly many are hoping their pet will be the next Grumpy Cat. Many are looking for that one name that will help their pet capture the imagination of the masses, cat-apult their cat to stardom and maybe even lead to some form of monetization. Thus the rise of the evil dictator cat names, the Chairman Meows, the Kitlers, the Pussalinis, the Catsros and even the Meowseph Stalins. It has been noted that dogs have masters but that cats have servants. So before you decide to name your cat after an evil dictator, try and decide whether you want to be your cat’s servant or possibly its slave.


When it comes to our present election season, it seems there are a lot of cats vying for power. How about Hillary Kitten, Gato Rubio or Purrney Sanders? When it comes to Trump, what seems to work is “Clump” but I wouldn’t want to litter your mind with any bathroom humor. People may point out that someone with a feline disposition already has a huge influence in the White House…could that be Meowchelle Obama? You Cat to be Kitten Meow as we say in our house!!!!

Truth is one of the human race’s first tasks in the Garden of Eden was naming the animals. It seems like Adam had no problem coming up with appropriate names. I mean elephant, cheetah and hippopotamus all seem to fit. I think since eating from that tree, our skills seem to have deteriorated. A Google search of cat names yielded such choices as Catastrofee, Jaspurr and MeowColm X. When it comes to going celebrity in our cat naming one can only begin to cringe. How about Catrick Swayze, Brad Kitt, Fuzz Lightyear and Leonardo Dicatprio.

Bottom line is we need cats that are appropriately named and that we can live with for four, eight or 14 years to come. One tip that may help you in making a good choice and enable you to be more like Adam in the Garden is just to name what you see. Christina bought Chairman Meow home and dumped her (in a weak parental moment) with her unsuspecting parents. She then went back for a second year in law school and found another inbred Pennsylvania kitten. This time she just named what she saw and got Patchy.


Patchy or Patch Patch, as we call her, has the most pitiful meow and is skinny as a rake. She has none of the dictatorial tendencies of Chairman. A look at the top 100 most popular cat names on reveals that this “name what you see” strategy may truly work. In those top 100 you get names like Oreo, Mittens, Ginger, Boots, Snickers, Rusty and Socks. So the moral of the story is to be careful how you name your next kitten or leader. You may just get what you choose.

What follows is the introduction to “Pursuing Maturity” – I am looking to post different chapters as they get completed. I guarantee this book will be vibrant with illustrations. I start with one of my heroes, Nelson Mandela.

Pursuing Maturity Introduction

The Key to understanding Mandela is those 27 years in prison. The man who walked onto Robben Island in 1964 was emotional, headstrong, easily stung. The man who emerged was balanced and disciplined. I often asked him how the man who emerged from prison differed from the willful young man who had entered it. He hated this question. Finally, in exasperation one day, he said, “I came out mature.”
Richard Stengel – Managing Editor, Time Magazine

I grew up in South Africa and Nelson Mandela has been one of my heroes for many years. I personally feel a sense of gratitude to him for saving the land of my birth from becoming another Rwanda.

My formative years were spent under the heavy hand of apartheid. The ruling National Party was a brutal regime that allowed very little criticism and put down dissent with an austere and often vicious hand. They built up an impressive military, which I avoided serving in by exercising my US citizenship at the age of 18 and leaving the country. I was not willing to fight for the apartheid system and, in my mind that meant not making South Africa my future home. Many of my friends ended up in townships shooting at rioting crowds and some gave their lives fighting on South Africa’s borders with other nations.

Many of us knew the penalties of speaking up against the ruling government. The laws were carefully crafted to create an unfair advantage to the privileged white population and to control and oppress the black majority. We knew of the savage murder of Steve Biko in prison and of the terrible price other dissidents faced who tried to oppose or speak against the laws or governing systems. We also knew that South Africa had strengthened itself to withstand any outside invasion. It had developed nuclear weapons and even a strong air and naval force in addition to its massive army. It’s internal police were brutal and it seemed from inside and out to be an impenetrable regime.

So when Nelson Mandela, without the firing of a single shot, was able to bring down the apartheid government, it shook the world. From a prison cell, Mandela negotiated the conditions for a new South Africa. He transitioned from a prison to a palace and took over the leadership of a nation. There was nobody else with his stature who could have accomplished what he did and he did it because he had come to a place of “maturity”.

This book is about the benefits and rewards of pursuing a mature life. Mature people do great things for society. They also achieve a high degree of personal fulfillment. The target audience of this book is Christians and so I will draw a good bit of inspiration from the Bible. One of the greatest criticisms I hear about people of faith is that they are unbalanced and often unstable. Many believers also are not good at articulating their faith in a way that makes sense to the rest of society. Hopefully this book will inspire Christians to pursue a place of balance and wisdom, a place, like Mandela, of “maturity”.