For Lack of A Higher Purpose
A divine drama by Thorin N. Tatge
SYDNEY: A crabby but open-minded existentialist. Male or female.
BIRCH: A mostly friendly male guardian lizard. Must be able to read on all fours.
GOD: A confused and wishy-washy diety.
NIFF: A cheerful angel.
JAMIEL: A steadfast angelic guard.
NIFF and SYDNEY start offstage left. SYDNEY enters and walks to center stage. He looks around in befuddlement for a few moments.
SYDNEY (anguished): Why am I here? What for? What is my purpose? What is it all about?
NIFF (offstage left): The hokey-pokey! Thatís what itís all about!
SYDNEY (panicked): What? Oh God, you canít be serious! Not that stupid little dance! I lived my life all wrong! Oh, God! (Leaves to stage right.)
NIFF (running on stage): Hey wait, I was just kidding! And Iím not speaking for God, Iím just an ordinary angel on my off hours. You can call me Niff. Wait up!
NIFF runs off after SYDNEY.
Enter JAMIEL. JAMIEL goes to center stage and stands tall, pretending to hold a staff, and stands guard proudly. After a moment, enter BIRCH, who remains on hand(s) and knees whenever possible. JAMIEL does not look at him much even during their conversation.
BIRCH: Ho, Jamiel. Allís clear?
JAMIEL: Yes, allís clear, lizard. Not a demon in the realm, nothing bleak in my sights, nothing getting past me. But what about our Lord, eh? Whatís got to him?
BIRCH: Itís sad, really. We may be witnessing the end of an aeon.
JAMIEL: What, howís that?
BIRCH: We may be done with. Godís been saying the great experiment of existence may be complete. Saying he may have figured out what he wanted to know.
JAMIEL: Oh no, you donít say? Is he serious?
BIRCH: Is he serious? What kind of a question is that to ask about the Lord God?
JAMIEL: Oh, come on, Birch lizard. I know the fellow as well as you do. Heís been reading a lot of Nietzsche lately.
BIRCH: Yes, wellÖ all right, no, heís not serious. Heís just saying things to provoke us. You know how itís been.
JAMIEL: I pity the One mind, all tangled up with something so high we canít guess at it. His productivityís suffering, thatís one thing Iím worried about.
BIRCH: Well, look at it this way. Productivity is only a good thing because once upon a time, God declared it was. And ever since then, companies have been hiring efficiency experts and streamlining processes, and Satan got a hold of the idle-mind marketÖ not that itís my place to criticize, of course, butó
JAMIEL: No, that itís not.
Enter NIFF, who bows to each in turn.
NIFF: Jamiel. Birch.
JAMIEL: Well met, Niff.
BIRCH: What is it?
NIFF: Thereís a freed soul who wants to see God.
BIRCH: Whatís new about that? Half the dead people who come here want to meet their maker, at least for a little while. Send it to the God-lookalike in some department store. Thatís what theyíre there for.
NIFF: No, I wonít do it. Iíve deceived billions of souls to save good old God a patch of wear and tear, but this time I wonít. This soul is truly anguished. (He/she) is existentially racked, and itís not just posing. (He/she) deserves answers, good answers, to the important questions.
JAMIEL: Clear off, Niff. Youíre overstepping.
NIFF: I shall not.
BIRCH: Jamiel, this might be good for everyone. Itís all right, Niff. Send the freed soul in.
NIFF: Right then. (Calls offstage): Sydney!
SYDNEY: This is where God lives?
NIFF: God doesnít need to live. Heís above that.
SYDNEY: Oh, right. SoÖ can I go right in?
JAMIEL: First you must state your business to me.
SYDNEY: Oh yeah? Who are you?
NIFF: Trust me, Syd. You donít want to mess with the guard.
SYDNEY: Or what?
BIRCH: Or you get punished.
SYDNEY: Iím already dead! What punishment would you give me?
BIRCH: Maybe Iíd just eat you.
SYDNEY: But Iíd still be here, right? I canít die again.
BIRCH: Are you so sure?
SYDNEY: What are you, anyway? Some big komodo dragon?
BIRCH: Iím an archangel. I was created in the image of lizards, but fiercer and stronger. (Leans threateningly.) See my teeth? Theyíre sharp, and they canít be chipped. Not by anything.
SYDNEY: Theyíre indestructable?
BIRCH: Perfectly so. God went all the way when he made me. Back then he really cared about his security. But nowadays it looks like anybody can get in to see him.
JAMIEL: Not without stating their business first!
SYDNEY: Whoís this? Your fellow guard?
BIRCH: Thatís Jamiel.
SYDNEY: Well, has Jamiel got any special powers?
JAMIEL: I am a Power.
BIRCH: Jamiel is a Power.
SYDNEY: And Iím a fruit-bat.
NIFF: No, youíre an angsty little soul. I think youíre cute.
JAMIEL: The Powers are the sixth rank of angels. We protect the world from the forces of evil, and show uncertain souls the true light.
SYDNEY: Whatís the true light?
JAMIEL: When you lived on Earth, did you own a multideck sound system?
SYDNEY: UmÖ yeah.
JAMIEL: Well, you know that little light that goes on when you turn the power off?
JAMIEL: Thatís the true light.
SYDNEY: Thatís the true light?
JAMIEL: Thatís right.
NIFF: No, thatís just the Bud Light.
BIRCH: Donít listen to them, Sydney. Let me see if Iíve got you straight. Youíve come here to talk to God because you want to know what the universe is for, right? What the purpose of life is, and all that?
SYDNEY: Yeah, thatís right!
BIRCH: RightÖ the thing is, Godís been feeling a little existential Himself recently. I happen to be one of his better friends, and Heís been asking me the same sort of thing. "Why do I do it?" he asks. "Whatís it all for in the end? Should I start over? Should I give up?" It gets really nerve-wracking sometimes. I donít have the answersÖ maybe heís right, and itís all pointless. But can I really advise Him to destroy everything in creation, including myself and everything Iíve ever known? Could that possibly be the right thing to do?
NIFF: What about you, Birch? Do you feel like your existence has a purpose?
BIRCH: Of course I do! Iím an archangelóI watch over the angels and supervise the transmission of informationÖ and I keep God company in his darker hours. Iím proud to do all thatÖ I have a purpose. Donít you feel that way, Niff.
NIFF: Sure do!
JAMIEL: And I.
BIRCH: Any healthy creature learns to feel that way over time.
SYDNEY: I donít think thatís true at all.
NIFF: Well, maybe youíre not entirely healthy.
SYDNEY: GrantedÖ but what about God? Are you saying the supreme being of the universe isnít healthy?
BIRCH: It doesnít mean anything for Him. Heís not a creature. He wasnít made for any function or purpose, since He was never made. So how can anyone know what it is for Him to be healthy?
SYDNEY: I see your point. But can I go in and talk to him myself?
BIRCH: What do you think, Jamiel?
JAMIEL: Sure, go on in. See if you can do better than Birch lizard at cheering the old codger.
SYDNEY: Fine, Iíll do my best.
All leave stage. Enter GOD. GOD sits center stage and plays games by tangling his fingers together. After a few moments, enter SYDNEY.
SYDNEY: UmÖ excuse me.
GOD (not looking): Yeah?
SYDNEY: Are you the Lord God, ruler of all the world?
GOD: Yep, thatís me. Got some questions for me?
SYDNEY: Well, yes. Mind if I sit down?
GOD (looking at SYDNEY): Do you really think I would mind?
SYDNEY: Well, you know, maybe it wouldnít be respectful.
GOD: Be respectful. Be disrespectful. I donít care. Iíll make a note of it and lose it somewhere. Iíve seen respectful at itís best. Iíve seen reverent. Iíve seen awed, glorious, veneratingÖ Iíve seen disrespectful too, a lot more disrespectful than you. So donít worry about it.
SYDNEY: WellÖ okay. (Sits down near GOD.) But I guess thatís kind of one of my questions. Do we get treated better if we worship you in the way set down in your Scripture?
GOD: Oh, heck, I donít know. I havenít honestly decided yet.
SYDNEY: You havenít?
GOD: No, not really. I mean, Satan claims some souls, but the rest all come here. Some are just as evil as you please, but I take all I can get. I just drop them wherever Iíve got room and put off thinking about what Iím going to do to them.
SYDNEY: Will there be a Judgment Day?
GOD: Well, Iím thinking maybe, yeah. I mean, thatíd be cool, right? We could get all kinds of silver tinsel and ribbons and everything strewn over the skies, and play trumpets and fire cannons and stuff like that, and then make a big ordeal out of judging each person. I could maybe get some famous personalities to be Judges. What do you think of Kathleen Turner?
SYDNEY: Oh, God, I hope youíre not for real.
GOD: Whatís more real than me? I mean, honestly. Who are you to be questioning me? Whatíll you ask me that I havenít already asked myself?
SYDNEY: Whatís the purpose of the universe? Why did you create it?
GOD (sighing): Right, right. Well, to begin with it was about good and evil. I wanted to create beings who had wills apart from my own, to see what they would do and whether they would worship me just the same.
GOD: WellÖ duh, you know? Some did and some didnít. So there was my answer.
SYDNEY: Didnít you have other questions?
GOD: Well, not really, but after Iíd gone to all that trouble, I started getting fond of some things Iíd made, so I played around a little bitÖ began to dabble. Some things make me curious, you know? But in the endÖ whatís the point? Now I have all this information about people and stars and thingsÖ what do I do with the information?
SYDNEY: I donít knowÖ what do you feel like doing with it? Replacing all of existence?
GOD: I donít know, maybe. If I do, what do I replace it with? I mean, what is there besides existence? I came up with that one cool ideaÖ but Iím not sure I could do it again. So Iím afraid to destroy everything.
SYDNEY: Well, this is just great. Somehow, I knew it. Godís a putz.
GOD: I am not a putz!
SYDNEY: You putz around all the time, youíre a putz.
GOD: Get real. What am I supposed to do?
SYDNEY: Well, what do you even want?
GOD: I donít know. I guessÖ I want something for me to hang onto. I want someone to give me a goalÖsomeone to tell me what to do when I donít feel like doing anything.
SYDNEY: Well, damn. You want a god-damn self-motivated father figure.
GOD: I guess you could say that.
SYDNEY: Well, Iím sure as hell not it.
GOD: I can see that.
SYDNEY: But youíve made plenty of people like that! I bet lots of people would do anything to be in your place. Why donít you ask one of them for advice?
GOD: YeahÖ yeah, I guess thatís not such a bad idea. Whatever. Niff!
NIFF: Yes, your Omnipotence?
GOD: Do you know anyone on Earth who has a purpose that doesnít depend on anyone else? Someone who can tell me the answers?
NIFF: Gee, I donít knowÖ well, I hear thereís a pretty smart bartender in St. Louis. Heís called Clem.
GOD: Okay, good enough. Go get him.
NIFF: You want me to kill him so he can come here?
GOD: UmÖ Do you have to do that? Canít you just bring him here still alive.
NIFF: I donít think soÖ probably not.
GOD: Hmph. Well, donít kill him. Just wait for him to die naturally, I guess.
NIFF: Okay, Lord. Iíll tell you when he does.
GOD: Thanks, Niff
SYDNEY: Well. I guess weíll be waiting here a while.
GOD: I guess so. Iím used to it, though.
SYDNEY: Uh huh. (Pause.) Just one thing Iím wondering. You know that lizard guard out there? Your friend?
GOD: Archangel Birch. What about him?
SYDNEY: You gave him really spiffy teeth. White and sharp and indestructable, according to him.
GOD: YeahÖ I thought a lizard ought to have good teeth.
SYDNEY: He seems to like them a lot. Did you give them to him to make him happy?
GOD: I guess that was part of it.
SYDNEY: Why do you think they make him happy? I mean, theyíre just little white objects. Why should anything like that make someone happy?
GOD: SydneyÖ I wish I knew. (Faces audience.) I wish I knew.