Being fully human is a threat to empire

I wrote this reflection after spending some time contemplating the interconnection of the three examples I gave in this blog post:

One of the reasons we went through, Jesus went through, Ralph Yarl went through, trauma is because we live/d in a culture that dissociates from its humanity. This is why I find it fascinating the gospels wrote about a God who became human. and he (it had to be a he for people to care. It’s not bc God is a He) lived a limited life, bc humans are limited. This happened when Rome was the biggest empire the world had ever known and was operating without limits. Jesus’ limited state as a human was powerful enough to scare the empire, and it got him killed.

It’s funny. We act like it’s the glory of God that’s too much for s person to take in. What if it’s our full humanity, wounds and all, that’s the most threatening. Very few do their inner work in our culture. The empire draws us outside ourselves. Faith is doing the same thing bc it’s captivated by empire.

A man who countered the narrative of Caesar by becoming vulnerable, a boy innocently riding his bike to pick up his siblings and despite all odds still believed in the goodness of life, and a teacher who cares about kids and will sacrifice their time to make sure they are safe and passing their classes—these things scare people who have disassociated from their humanity. These simple acts of human goodness scares those who are going by the way of empire that tells them everyone is an enemy, of a potential enemy.

This is a huge reason we are a lonely nation. We are scared of how deep it is to be human. We strive for some unknown perfected state, and we crucify people to hide our own failings bc we do not live in a world that welcomes growth, mistakes, or transformation. We don’t live in a world that allows us to say “I’m limited.” That’s not the way of empire. And it’s what’s killing the few who are remaining human enough to help. The ones who can look at pain and not run away. The ones who still innocently ride their bike and not think twice about going up to a house and ringing the doorbell.

I was listening to an actress on a talk show recently. She’s actually not a person of faith and she’s also quite fearful of what AI is going to do to our humanity. But she said something so wise about both faith and AI.

Actress (I don’t remember her name or I’d write it): I think faith and AI were both created to inspire curiosity and wonder about a world we cannot comprehend on our own. It’s an avenue for the imagination to go beyond what we can see. But instead, both have fallen into the same trap: they became about having all the answers and certainty about life. That’s dangerous.

She’s right.

When I graduated seminary, the preacher said the most important thing we can be doing right now at this place and time: we need to discover what it means to be human.

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