Category Archives: Christian
Now that we have AI, do we really need God?
I confess the AI conversation makes me a bit uneasy. It has for quite some time, but now that its general application and participation is rapidly advancing among us, it really has me shuddering a bit. I’ve always seen my physical nature as an essential ingredient in my learning and experience. The notion that I can “have” an experience without actually “having” it feels not only foreign but wrong. Life isn’t just a mind game, after all, it’s a people game. You, me and everybody else.
Yes, AI is coming. No, I can’t stop it. And I can see, by listening to the many arguments of its various “creators,” what a valuable tool it can be to “speed our workflow,” and “enhance our capability.” What a time saver it will be not having to search through all those references, or pour over all those documents in order craft the perfect paragraph, synthesizing all I’ve learned. All of this will be done for us! What a relief this artificial intelligence will be.
It’s not really artificial, though, is it? It’s hand-crafted by many hands, many millions of hands? All of us contributing to the vast store of human knowledge that is scannable — today’s podcast called it scrapable — and thus readily available for harvest. Now AI can ascertain all of this in the blink of an eye, shuffle it according to your personal instructions and deliver it to your inbox with a tone, a voice, a personality, suitable to your specifications. Pretty ingenious. Makes me look look like a genius. (which I just had to google because the one is not spelled like the other, go figure) All I could ever want is right at my own fingertips. The easy way — per someone else — and no one is the wiser. Heck, if everyone is doing it, it’s the only way to keep up, right?
Honestly, it is tempting right now to ask ChatGPT to go ahead and write me a Kinesthetic Christian post. Let’s see: write a 500 word blog post on … whether AI, umm, replaces the Incarnation… Geez, I can’t even come up with a proper query. My brain doesn’t seem to work right without my fingers at the keyboard or my pen on the page.
With practice perhaps I’ll get better at asking AI the right question. Then, of course, once I know what to ask, there will be no point in thinking about this, let alone writing about this. Those who are interested will simply have their say. We can debate, you and me, my bot against yours. I’m not sure how we determine who wins. I guess it’s always a draw.
But, if you’ll indulge me, let’s for a moment think about the Incarnation the old fashioned way. We read or perhaps we’ve read or we’ve heard that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Why? Here at the Kinesthetic Christian we’ve always understood that, it was to make God real to us, tangible for us, human like us. To allow us to see God in action: living, breathing, eating, sleeping, tasting, touching, speaking, listening, doing and not-doing. And somehow, even over and across the centuries, to do it with him. To feel with him, as he felt, so we can feel with him in our here and now, as we try to make sense of our circumstances and dwell among others trying to do the same.
I mean, don’t you catch yourself asking, why was I even created for this world — riddled as it is with difficulty, disaster and heartache. As I write, Turkey and Syria are reeling in the loss of 10’s of thousands from earthquake, yet they search the rubble desperately seeking lives to save. Ukraine is under deadly bombardment from ever more Russian firepower, yet they stand and fight, sustaining each other until overcoming their intruders is accomplished. People of Iran are risking their lives in protest over the treatment of a young girl by the “morality police.” And that is just scratching the surface of it all.
In each of these maybe our answer to the “why” is plain: everywhere there are people in need who need each other. Tangibly, heartily, physically, emotionally, and in all the ways a body can be sustained. With food and water, shelter and warmth, calls and comfort. With presence. None of this can AI supply. And, of course, it’s not meant to. It’s just a tool placed now in the hands of people. Flawed people. Faulty people. Misdirected people, yes. But also, in the hands of the best of us; there is the best of us in all of us. Perhaps that’s what the One Incarnated came to say. Even AI can’t put that into words.
Years ago I participated in a Bible study group where one of the participants attended only irregularly and, when he did, he brought some outlandish commentary and some off-the-wall suggestions. For instance, once he asked, “Why is the Bible scripture? Why not the newspaper or the comics? Couldn’t God just as well use these?” As I was quite new then to the faith, I shuddered and retreated from his questions, letting others manage these outbursts.
But, somewhat to my surprise, this young man was always welcomed back around that study table. In fact, his attendance was so sparce, he got applause when he showed up. And that got me wondering… what kind of a God would allow this kind of questioning?
And there was my answer: any Creator who would allow — no, create — creatures with the capacity to so freely and daringly question, explore, challenge and frankly to contend in the ring with the Divine, now THAT that was a God worth believing in. In fact, that was the only God worth believing in. And even getting to know — by the means I have available: my ears, my eyes, my nose, my touch, my taste, my thinking, breathing, feeling, heart-beating self. My only self.
Will AI make this blog obsolete? Perhaps. But as far as I can tell, God knows what God is doing. I wonder what that God has planned for AI.
Disclaimer: I did not ask AI to write this blogpost.
You are exactly what God had in mind
New year. New me! I think, striding up to the mirror, hopefully and perhaps a bit forgetfully. What looks back at me is as yesterday: puckered, lined, wrinkled and folded. Never mind the dark spots and crusty places, nor the gray, the soft, or the sagging. Ugh…. Ugly! I can’t help but think.
And yet, what I see is, as Father Boyle has so beautifully written, “exactly what God had in mind when God made me.”*
Do I believe this? can I believe this? That the Creator’s unique word spoken into me when I was laid so gently into the world years ago has aged according to plan, grown according to design, responded exactly on cue. Can I believe I have become just what God hoped?
Because, if I do, then I am not disgusted, not even disappointed in the me I see. I don’t cringe or turn away from what seems so unsightly. It’s not unsightly to God. God has seen it all along. In fact, God saw it coming. My imperfections are part and parcel of me: the me God is glad to see.
Do I believe this? can I believe this? That this broken down me, God is glad to see?
I take this with me to communion Sunday where the New Year’s Day pastor has particular difficulty breaking the loaf of Communion bread. I know they pre-pare it. There’s a finger-hold and the start of a separation to make it easier for the pastor to pull apart. Still, she tugs and pulls and works at it until the two portions are fully separated. Finally, she holds them up and announces, “His Body, broken for you.”
Broken, I think, not sliced.
Sliced bread is clean cut. A carving performed swiftly, sharply, evenly. No, this bread, this broken bread has seen warfare. It has battled and been torn in two and it shows. The two halves, their exposed surfaces mounded and shredded. The edges ragged, uneven, hanging; the terrain an unwelcome landscape navigable only by all-terrain vehicle. But I’m not navigating, I’m looking. Looking at the lusciousness that invites me to partake of mouth watering goodness.
So different from the polite bite I would have taken from the perfectly even slice neatly delivered to the toaster to be browned on both sides.
No, bread that’s broken is way more enticing. It says come, take, eat, by the handful, pinch-full or mouthful. To each according to their hunger. Beautiful. Not the least bit ugly. Exactly what God had in mind.
Can I believe this?
- ~ Gregory Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries, The Whole Language, the Power of Extravagant Tenderness, Avid Reader Press, NY, NY, 2021, pp. 6.
What if Jesus was born a girl-child?
What if the child announced by the angel, promised to a virgin mother, to be named by a dutiful father, surprised everyone on her birthday? Would Joseph still have named her Jesus? or some other name more befitting a girl-child. What is "God-with-us," in the feminine? Surely she would have nursed and cried and toddled, just as a boy-child would. walked, fallen and walked again, just as a boy-child would. run and played, though maybe not so loudly, as a boy-child would. grown in stature and in strength, perhaps even more quickly than a boy-child would. Would she have gained entrance to the Synagogue for teaching and for learning? Would she have been mentored and apprenticed in a trade? Would she have been allowed to forgo marriage to follow her true love calling? If so, then... Would she have been baptized by John at the Jordan? And when she rose out of the water, would the dove descend on her and the voice of heaven say, "This is my daughter, whom I love; with her I am well pleased." Would she then travel the countryside teaching and preaching? Would those who heard then listen to her, accept her, learn from her? -- not such a threat to authorities, this young woman, perhaps they consider her words carefully, acknowledge her wisdom and take up her cause. Following after her, they-- observing how she treated others, seeing the love in her eyes and the smile she gave to each one the hope each one departed, carrying. They might follow her in the way true followers do. Unafraid and unyielding, listening for the voice she listened to honoring the God she gave honor to growing the courage to speak to the Father she spoke to, As she did, they came to do. Would they scorn her, dismiss her, or run her out of town? Certainly not. Daughter of God, we welcome such as these, wish we all could be such as she. Would they would imprison her, stone her, or crucify her? Not a chance. Who would suspect that God would arrive in such a meek, lowly female form? Who indeed? What if Jesus had been born a girl-child? Anything is possible with God.