copyright © 2002 Todd Ristau

I am God

by Todd Wm. Ristau

[in a soft and gentle voice]

Have you ever watched a child play? They are really good at building things, imagining things. They donít need an impressive collection of elaborate and expensive toys, they just use their imagination and a series of blocks can be a city wall, the ants living inside the walls are the people, the rip in the dirt gouged out by the claws of a hammer is a river bed that fills with water from the hose. When the dam breaks the ants all drown and the child seems prouder of the destruction than he ever was of the creation.

By building these pretend cities, the child understands the concept of God, of the benevolent power of creation and the joy of watching that which he has created exist on its own, outside his head. It is an amazing thing for a child who is just learning to understand itself to begin to grasp the concept that it can create something which exists on its own--separate from that which has created it. This kind of play also helps the child to finish the weaning process, because through this kind of play the child comprehends that it is not an extension of its parents, in particular of its mother, but separate from it entirely.

When the child destroys the ant city, kicks down the sand castle, he begins to understand the other part of Godís nature. The masculine side. He learns about God the destroyer, the one who is feared and respected. God himself never asked us to fear and respect him because of his awesome power to create, he only told us to fear and follow him out of respect for his power to destroy us all in the end. The Flood is still something we are taught in Sunday school, a lesson in Godís power, the wicked were destroyed. The Pharohís soldiers were destroyed in the Red Sea, God told Moses to kill all the wicked people worshipping the golden calf, to kill the oneís who were already living in the Promised Land. A child learns early that creation is admired, but destruction is respected.

With this kind of understanding is it any wonder that psychologists agree that a child would destroy the world if it had the power?

When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me all the time, "I brought you into this world, I can take you out of it just as easily." I donít think she meant it, but she planted the thought. I knew I could never have children of my own. That my Mother had the power to create, and because she was powerful she had the power to destroy. My mother was the closest thing to God that I had ever experienced.

I tried to compensate as I grew up, for the inability I saw in my power to create. I didnít understand as a child that Mom hadnít spontaneously created me, but in the absence of a father I didnít grasp that a man played any role in my creation. When I did understand the concept, I think it was too late for me to take ownership of it. My feelings of inadequacy and powerlessness were dominant character traits by then. I wanted to date girls, to be loved by them, but because I saw myself as having no value, there was nothing of value for them to see in me, and so I spent most of my years in high school living in a fantasy world. In my fantasy world I could create things that were beautiful and sweet and lovely and I was solely responsible for them. I drew and wrote, and even painted. I didnít want anyone to know about these attempts, so I would destroy them before anyone else saw them. I didnít destroy them because I wanted the joy of destroying them, I wanted to protect myself from having my creations destroyed by anyone else but me.

Maybe God felt this way. Maybe God destroyed the world in the Flood because he didnít want man to destroy himself through sin. Maybe God felt that if Man destroyed himself that Man would own himself and be free of God, that only by destroying Man could God exert his authority over Man. Like signing his painting. I donít really know. Itís beyond my understanding. What I do understand is that I never felt these things were finished until they didnít exist anymore.

When I went to high school I did a lot of theater. It was a good way to hide from myself, and it was a good extension of my imagination, I could empathize and get inside other peopleís heads by trying to be them on the stage, and when the play was over it was gone, it was like each night we created and destroyed the play at the same moment, because it disappeared in the same instant it was created. And when it was over everyone talked about how good you were at creating this thing that no longer existed.

After high school I tried to get jobs in areas that involved creativity, but no one seemed to value creativity. They didnít value anything except conformity, which is nothing. I lived like that, for years. Too many years. I had to pay bills, I had to be a slave, I had to be a nobody because the only thing this society values is accepting that you have no value at all.

No Values.

This month I got myself a new job. Iím self employed. I drive my own truck and I make my own hours, and every day more and more people respect me. Respect me the same way they respect God.

[Picks up a high powered rifle.]

Because, now, I am God.

[Exits. Lights out.]



Living about an hour and a half drive west of the trail left by the Sniper in his spree this past week, I felt it was important to address the shootings at No Shame. We were doing Best of No Shame on the 12th, and two of our performer/writers arrived at 8:00, I was pretty upset about them being so late for their call time, but they told me they had been delayed on Interstate 81 coming in from Harrisonburg because of police roadblocks searching for the sniper. Interstate 81 is almost 50 miles further west than Charlottesville from the shootings. I was so shocked by this that instead of watching BONS that night, I wrote the above piece backstage. I'd brought my replica K98 rifle just in case I got an idea for a sniper piece, Trent and Ceclia provided the final push to actually get it done.

For more info on what's been going on down here--you can check out CNN's website.

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