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A Humanist Renaissance

Dear Friends,

After reading the recent article in the Atlantic entitled The Coming Human Renaissance, I found myself thinking about the state of the church, at large, and what it might mean for us to understand our role in the world given the rise of Artificial Intelligence. This article by Adrienne LaFrance doesn’t hold back when it comes to the effects that artificial intelligence is having on our humanity. She claims it is the most significant technological development in human history. She reminds us that this is one of the fastest growing fields and the window to have a formative impact on the important guardrails we implement may be closing fast.

Her suggestion is that we need a renaissance of what it means to be human, meaning we must maintain in-person friendships and real relationships apart from technology (including Zoom). One fear is that folks will begin having more artificial intelligence companions than they do real-life friendships. It may sound like a dystopian horror film if it weren’t so real.

But I didn’t finish this read with only fear and terror in my body. In fact, I actually felt some hope as I considered our mission as a church community, even with the rise of artificial intelligence. The reason I felt hope is that we already possess an intrinsic value in the personal interactions we maintain regularly. One of my favorite aspects of sharing a sermon with this community is that each time I preach a handful of folks come up to me and engage in more questions or share their own thoughts on the topic. This public discourse which may seem like a given to previous generations will soon become a critical asset to our community as we continue to engage in-person, in earnest!

Another favorite feature of our community is coffee hour. Again, it's a weekly highlight to connect with folks, in person. We chat about our past weeks, events in our lives to come, and deeper topics such as vestry concerns or programming details. I pray that this ongoing touch point of deeply human interactions won’t be taken for granted in this new day and age. I pray that we continue to prioritize our community interactions as nothing can support our humanity more than personal, real-life, messy, and fruitful relationships.

As I think on the topic of artificial intelligence, I am filled with hope, and I hope you are too. Another exciting humanist renaissance in our very community exists around our new passion groups spearheaded by Senior Warden David Weiss and the Vestry. If you are looking for new ways to share your passions, in real life, with our spiritual community I’d like to direct you to our passion groups as nothing can replace the wisdom and ingenuity of collaborative human intelligence. And if possible, I pray that you are able to experience worship in the flesh this Sunday.

Your sister in Christ,

Julia F+

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