Faitho Cultureoando Filmoforo Feautor by A5bS8u

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									Faith, Culture and Film (EL3517 Final Project) created by Christina L. Auch



Abstract: Here I present an exercise for theological reflection based on A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001).
The format for theological reflection brings together culture, tradition (Scripture, Lutheran theology),
the participant’s experiences and one’s positions or convictions (here I reference a number of relevant
ELCA social statements). 1 There are ten sections and each lists the scenes, a synopsis, and questions as
well as further resources for reflection.

I. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) An Exercise in Theological Reflection on Creation and Genetics

Scenes
1. Artificial Intelligence [7:08]
2. His Life is Merely Pending [3:02]
3. A Mecha Child [5:10]
4. Hide and Go Seek [3:07]
5. Laughter [3:11]
6. Imprinting Protocol [2:37]

The story of A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) is the story of David, a child mecha created as a prototype
by Professor Hobby, a human scientist and inventor who steers Cybertronics, a giant in the artificial
intelligence industry. Living in a society that has survived extreme climate change and the loss of
seaboard cities like New York and Amsterdam, humans have thrived by limiting human population
growth, licensing human pregnancies, and relying on mechanized beings (mechas or robots) because
they use a finite number of resources. Now Dr. Hobby has proposed creating child mechas for whom
“love will be the key by which they acquire a subconscious.”

One of the earliest theological questions in the film is creation. Someone asks if a robot can love, what
is the responsibility of the human to that robot? And Dr. Hobby parries, “Didn’t God create Adam to love
Him?”

A second question exists around human finitude and end-of-life questions. The family into which David
is “adopted” had a young son who was in a coma-like state for five years; the parents continue to visit
him in a sterile, clinical setting waiting for his condition to change, and then, resigning themselves to his
condition, agree to adopt David.

Experience
From your own experiences or recent current events, what are the questions we face today with regard
to creation and developments in genetics and artificial intelligence? Where are the conflicts? Can we
extend life beyond its natural limits? Can we recreate someone who has died? Brainstorm a list.

Tradition
Read Genesis 1-2:4 and Genesis 2: 4-25. Compare the two accounts of creation and what Scriptures say
about God and humankind. Why do you believe God created humans?

        1
          Patricia O’Connell Killen and John deBeer. The Art of Theological Reflection. New York: Crossroad
Publishing, 2007. 95-102.


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Faith, Culture and Film (EL3517 Final Project) created by Christina L. Auch



Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.2 Can we recognize this time as a new age one in which new insights and skills
are needed? Can we recognize how God is present in the medical laboratories? Can we talk about God
creating a universe that encompasses all human experience and knowledge?

Read Ephesians 4:1-15. How do we talk about the gifts of God as evident in different people? How does
God’s gift of grace through Christ strengthen us and contribute to unity?

Read Genesis 3 and 11. What happens when humans idolize knowledge? How can we be attentive to the
good that can be accomplished with these developments and to our inability to recognize our limits and
our responsibility for our relationships with one another?

Position
Watch NOVA: Cracking the Code of Life and review the study documents for the draft ELCA statement on
genetics.

In the second chapter of the Genetics: Where do we stand s Christians? systematic theologian Philip
Hefner suggests six theological convictions that help guide conversation about genetic developments.

Read the 1992 ELCA social message on End of Life Decisions

How does this material challenge you? How does it change or confirm your original beliefs?



II. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) An Exercise in Theological Reflection on Love

Scenes
7. Teddy, a Super-Toy [4:22]
8. Martin Comes Home [1:39]
9. The New Super-Toy [3:35]
10. A Classic Story [1:52]

Shortly after his arrival, the mother gives David “Teddy” a super-toy teddy bear who accompanies David
everywhere he goes. Teddy had been their son’s constant companion. Perhaps, he appears here as a
paraclete?

Miraculously, the biological son Martin recovers and returns home, and tragically but not surprisingly, a
sibling rivalry begins. In this context, another set of questions about difference, biological vs. adopted,
and race, organic (human) or mecha (robot) are raised. The mother reads Pinocchio to the boys and
David becomes convinced that if he were “a real boy” his mother would love him more.



        2
          The Scripture suggestions of Ecclesiastes, Ephesians and Genesis 3 and 11 are found in the study
documents for the ELCA’s draft social statement on genetics.
        “In Process – A Social Statement on Genetics, Faith and Responsibility.” ELCA. http://www.elca.org/What-
We-Believe/Social-Issues/Social-Statements-in-Process/Genetics.aspx, accessed July 9, 2011.

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Faith, Culture and Film (EL3517 Final Project) created by Christina L. Auch



His dilemma raises several more questions, including “What does authentic relationship look like?”,
“What does unconditional love look like?”

Experience
Describe examples of loving relationships you have experienced or witnessed. What is characteristic of
those relationships?

Perhaps it’s easy to recognize how sibling rivalries happen between children, but what about adults?
How do we set conditions in our relationships?

Tradition
What stories of siblings do we have in Scriptures? (Examples include Cain and Abel; Ishmael and Isaac;
Esau and Jacob; Leah and Rachel; Joseph and his brothers; Moses, Miriam and Aaron; David and his
brothers; Lazarus, Mary and Martha)

What happens in these relationships? Why?

Read Luke 10:38 - 11:4. What does Jesus say about to Martha about Mary? What are the instructions
Jesus gives us in the Lord’s Prayer?

 Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. How does Paul describe love? How does this list compare to the makrs of
loving relationships you described above?

Read Colossians 3:12-14. How does Paul describe our relationships with one another?

Position
How does this material challenge you? How does it change or confirm your original beliefs? What
action toward others does it inspire?



III. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) An Exercise in Theological Reflection on Covenant

Scenes
13. Abandoned [8:18]

After an accident involving the boys endangers Martin, the parents decide to return David to
Cybertronics, where they know he will be destroyed. Destruction is inevitable because when the
parents adopted David, they implemented a protocol that “triggered” his love; it was irreversible,
unconditional and unalterable. In this iteration, he could only love the person who implemented that
protocol; that person was the mother.

So now we encounter questions about covenant and the cost of breaking covenant. The covenant is
first broken when the parents decide to give up David. However, the mother fails to return David to
Cybertronics; instead she leaves him in the woods theoretically to protect him from destruction. With
her actions, she breaks the covenant she had with the company also.

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Faith, Culture and Film (EL3517 Final Project) created by Christina L. Auch



Experience
How do we speak about covenant in modernity? How and why do we establish covenants?

Do we use legal or contractual language? Vows? What are the consequences of breaking a promise?
Does it matter whether other people are affected? (Is there a difference between breaking a promise to
ourselves – to eat better, exercise more, get enough sleep – and breaking a promise to another person
or community?)Does it matter if the promise breaking is deliberate(a teenager leaving the house
without permission) or accidental (forgetting to finish a chore)?

Tradition
Where do we hear covenant language in Scriptures? (Genesis 6-9 Noah; Genesis 15, Abram; Exodus 19,
Moses; Luke 22:20, Jesus)

Read Ezekiel 16. What language and images does the prophet use to describe Israel as faithless?

Read Psalm 105. What language and images are used by the psalmist to describe God’s faithfulness?

Read 2 Corinthians 3. How does Paul describe our relationship to the new covenant given to us through
the Spirit?

Position
How does this material challenge you? How does it change or confirm your original beliefs? What
action toward others does it inspire?



IV. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) An Exercise in Theological Reflection on Neighbor

Scenes
14. Gigolo Joe [3:59]
15. Unregistered Mecha Roundup [8:06]
16. Flesh Fair: A Celebration of Life [3:21]

Hidden in the woods, David first encounters other mechas. Near his hiding place, a dump truck deposits
its refuse, a collection of mangled mecha body parts and scavengers swarm the site to find new eyes
and limbs. He wanders into a mecha shantytown where damaged and discarded mechas roam.

Caught in an orga police raid of the camp, David and other mechas are hauled away in a trawling net and
taken to a “Flesh Fair.” The fair combines the most exploitative elements of a circus and a demolition
derby, taking aim at imprisoned mechas and destroying them in public and humiliating displays. It bears
an ugly resemblance to the slave trade markets of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with
mechas corralled in cages.

Experience
1) What is disposable in our society? How do we define wholeness? What about community? Many of
the mechas are created for one job - nannies, lovers - which they do extraordinarily well; are people

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Faith, Culture and Film (EL3517 Final Project) created by Christina L. Auch



disposable when they are no longer useful or productive?
2) Whom do we call neighbor? How do we treat our neighbor? When do we avert our eyes to
oppression or bigotry? When do we even participate in oppression? What effect do hatred, division and
fear (sin and brokenness) have on our world?

Tradition
What stories about neighbors and strangers do we have in Scriptures? (Leviticus 19:33-34; Luke 10:25-
37, The Parable of the Good Samaritan)

Read Deuteronomy 15:1-18. What was to happen every seventh year in Israel? Then, read Luke 7:36-
50. How are release and forgiveness related?

Read Matthew 22:34-40 and Matthew 25:31-46. What are Jesus’ instructions to us?

Read Romans 12:9-21. How does Paul describe life in Christ?

What does Martin Luther teach in the Small Catechism about our relationship to our neighbors?

Position
Read the 1998 ELCA social message on immigration and review the 1993 social statement on race,
ethnicity and culture. Here is also a link to the ELCA’s guide to leading conversations about race,
ethnicity and culture.

Can we reflect on how race, culture, ethnicity and economics are related? Read the 1999 social
statement on economic life.

How does this material challenge you? How does it change or confirm your original beliefs? What action
toward others does it inspire?



V. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) An Exercise in Theological Reflection on Sin, Judgment and Grace

Scenes
17. "I'm a Boy" [6:42]

Led into the center ring, David surprises everyone when he pleads for his life. People are confused and
shout, “Mechas don’t plead for their lives.” Dismissing their arguments, the despicable master of
ceremonies taunts, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”, recalling the verse from John 8:7
when Jesus challenges the crowd who would stone the woman, “Let anyone among you who is without
sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” The crowd turns on him and pelts him, creating a riotous melee
during which David, Teddy and another mecha named Joe escape.

Experience
What situations from modern society do you recognize in this scene? How do we talk about sin?
judgment? grace?

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Faith, Culture and Film (EL3517 Final Project) created by Christina L. Auch



How do define justice? How do we interpret “innocent until proven guilty”? Are there people or classes
of people who are at a disadvantage before any evidence is presented? How does media influence
justice in the United States? What does justice look like in other places?

Tradition
 Read Romans 1:18-32, Romans 2:1-16, Romans 3:9-31, Romans 5. What does the teaching “justification
through faith in Christ” mean?

Read Leviticus 19:15-18. How did God instruct Israel about judgment and hatred?

Read Matthew 7:1-5. How does Jesus instruct the disciples about judgment?

Read Lamentations 3:31-33. What does God promise to those who face judgment?

Read Deuteronomy 17:6-7 and John 8:1-11 and 12-20. How do Scriptures describe the role of witnesses
and testimony in judgment?

Position
Look at the materials for the ELCA’s draft social statement on criminal justice. Review the 1991 social
statement on The Death Penalty and the 1994 social message on Community Violence.

How does this material challenge you? How does it change or confirm your original beliefs? What action
toward others does it inspire?



VI. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) An Exercise in Theological Reflection on God and Knowing

Scenes
18. Journey Towards the Moon [1:51]
19. Rouge City [4:40]
20. Dr. Know [3:08]
21. "They Hate Us" [5:25]
22. Escape From Rouge City [2:02]

When David explains to Joe that he is looking for a woman called “the Blue Fairy” Joe thinks he knows
how to help and the trio travel to Rouge City in a journey and meeting reminiscent of Dorothy seeking
out the Wizard of Oz. After they arrive in Rouge City, David sees a status of an angel at a curbside
chapel, “Our Lady of the Immaculate Heart”, prompting Joe’s observation that “the ones who made us
are always looking for the ones who made them.” Then they go to visit “Dr. Know”, asking how to find
the Blue Fairy.

With an improvised verse from W.B. Yeats for an answer, David urges Joe to help him get to the “end of
the world” which Joe knows as “the lost city in the sea at the end of the world” or Manhattan.




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Faith, Culture and Film (EL3517 Final Project) created by Christina L. Auch



Experience
To whom do we turn for knowledge and revelation? What language do we use to describe our Creator
God? What assumptions do we have about God? How do we respond when we cannot find answers?
What do we do with our unanswered questions?

Tradition
Read Proverbs 1-3. How does Scripture describe Wisdom?

Read Proverbs 4-5. How does Scripture instruct us?

Read Proverbs 8:22-31 and John 1:1-18. How are wisdom and Word (logos) related?

Read Matthew 6:25-34. What is Jesus’ advice to the disciples about what they do not know?

Position

How does this material challenge you? How does it change or confirm your original beliefs? What action
toward others does it inspire?



VII. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) An Exercise in Theological Reflection on Identity

Scenes
23. The City at the End of the World [2:01]
24. Special and Unique [2:48]
25. Brothers and Sisters [5:47]

When David, Teddy and Joe arrive in Manhattan and find the place “where the lions weep”, they find a
young boy who looks identical to David. David asks, “Is this the place where they make your real?” Then
David asks the second boy his name and discovers he is also named David and he erupts in an
uncontrollable rage bashing in the head of the second mecha boy, screaming, “I am David! I am special! I
am unique!” Dr. Hobby comes in and tries to calm him, reassuring him that he is special, that he is “the
first of a kind” and that he is real because, in his quest for the Blue Fairy, he has succumbed to “the
great human flaw – [wishing] for things that don’t exist.”

Experience
Where do find our identity? How do we experience the difference between who the world says we are
and our identity as God’s children? What makes us or our lives real? What icons or idols do we chase?

Tradition
Read Ephesians 2:1-10 and Titus 3:3-8. How do Scriptures describe our lives after we received the grace
of God?

What does the Small Catechism teach about the sacrament of baptism and our identity in Christ?



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Faith, Culture and Film (EL3517 Final Project) created by Christina L. Auch



Position
How does this material challenge you? How does it change or confirm your original beliefs? What action
toward others does it inspire? (How would our lives look different if we lived in ways that reflected our
belief in this doctrine?)



VIII. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) An Exercise in Theological Reflection on Salvation and
Redemption

Scenes
26. David's Leap [3:08]

When Dr. Hobby leaves David to assemble the other team members, David wanders around the offices
and discovers a production line of Davids and Darlenes, child mechas in various stages of assembly and
packaging. The scene changes and David is sitting on the edge of a windowsill overlooking the sea and
he jumps, tumbling into the depths. Joe watches from the helicopter they were using and then fishes
David out of the sea, depositing him inside the cockpit. Inside, David tells Joe he saw the Blue Fairy at
the bottom of the sea. In a final confrontation between orga and mecha, the police arrive and drag Joe
off; as he gets pulled into the sky, Joe yells, “I am. I was.” and pushes the button to submerge David and
Teddy into the water so that they can go to David’s Blue Fairy.

Experience
Are there times in our lives when we have tumbled down in despair and been rescued? How do we
respond? Where do we find hope?

Tradition
Read Joshua 2, 6:22-25. Why is Rahab spared?

Read Daniel 3. How is the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego explained?

What other stories of redemption do we have from Scripture?

Read Luther’s explanation of the Creed in the Small Catechism. How does Luther explain redemption
and sanctification?

Read John 14:15-31 and 7:37-39. How does Jesus describe the promise of the Holy Spirit?

Position
How does this material challenge you? How does it change or confirm your original beliefs? What action
toward others does it inspire?




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Faith, Culture and Film (EL3517 Final Project) created by Christina L. Auch



IX. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) An Exercise in Theological Reflection on Prayer

Scenes
27. A Plea to the Blue Fairy [2:29]

David maneuvers the capsule toward the Blue Fairy, the remnant of a Coney Island Pinocchio attraction,
and parks himself there, praying “until the sea anemones died… the ice encased [him].” With open
eyes, David stared “through the darkness of the night and the next day and the next day….”

Experience
How is prayer described in culture? Is it considered wishful thinking? Is it “on demand” – “Lord, find me
a parking spot.” How is mystery regarded?

Tradition
Read Mark 10:15. How is our faith childlike? How do we pray? Do we pray expectantly?

Read Matthew 6:5-15 and the explanation of the Lord’s Prayer in Luther’s Small Catechism. What
explanations does Luther give for how we pray?

How do our prayers reflect our belief that God is active in the world today?

Position
How does this material challenge you? How does it change or confirm your original beliefs? What action
toward others does it inspire?



X. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) An Exercise in Theological Reflection on Death and Resurrection

Scenes
28. Memories [6:19]
29. Back Home [5:52]
30. A Question of Happiness [5:34]
31. A Perfect Day [4:33]

The scene shifts and we see a snowscape and the Blue Fairy, no longer under water but part of the
frozen landscape. A subtitle indicates two thousand years have passed. David is awakened by a new
being and climbs out of the capsule but when he reaches out to touch the Blue Fairy, she shatters and
disintegrates.

It doesn’t matter though because here in this world, the new beings tell him that because he knew living
people, he is “unique in all the world.” They create for him, from his memories, the house where he
lived with his mother and Martin, but when he asks , “Will Mommy be coming home?” they explain she
cannot because she is no longer living. When they tell him that they are able to regenerate people from
pieces of DNA, we discover that Teddy is still carrying a lock of hair from David’s mother. They agree to
bring her back but they explain to David that the experiment is not perfect; after the first day, the

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Faith, Culture and Film (EL3517 Final Project) created by Christina L. Auch



recreated humans die again when they fall asleep at the end of the day. David insists and he has his
“perfect day” with his mother, finally closing his eyes when she does, after she says, “I love you, I have
always loved you.”

Experience
How do we talk about death and what happens after death? What rituals do we have related to death?
If you have experienced it, describe how the death of a parent is different from other family members or
friends.

Tradition
What are the stories we have in Scripture about being raised from the dead or given new life? (Mark
5:21-43, the Little Girl Restored to Life and Woman Healed; John 3:1-21, Nicodemus; John 11:1 – 12:19,
Lazarus; John 20: 19-31, Thomas and the Disciples)

Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-58. How does Paul describe resurrection?

Read Colossians 3:1-11. How does Paul describe a new life in Christ?

Read Hebrews 12:1-13 How does the writer describe the example of Jesus in life?

Read Lamentations 3:22-26,31-33 How can we talk about grief and compassion in light of God’s mercy?

Position
How does this material challenge you? How does it change or confirm your original beliefs? What action
toward others does it inspire?




Additional Resources:

Writer, Director, Editor and Film Enthusiast Bernardo Villela’s review of the film helped me understand
lines from the script, cultural references and landmarks that were unfamiliar.
http://themovierat.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/intelligence-report-synopsis-and-mission-statement/

ELCA Congregational Resources for Faith, Science and Technology
http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Faith-Science-and-Technology.aspxELCA

Congregation Resources for Moral Deliberation
http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Moral-Deliberation.aspx

Journal of Lutheran Ethics
http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Journal-of-Lutheran-Ethics.aspx




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