26 November 2010

dignity and advent

Dominating our current culture is the issue of airport screenings, specifically those instances where a clear violation of individual rights are occurring. This, or so we are told, is happening in the name of security. We are also told that it isn't happening all that much, so the issue is being blown out of proportion.

Neither is true.

It is not being blown out of proportion for the simple reason that one instance is too many, especially when the public handling and fondling is justified by our supposed leaders. So it is a situation which must be addressed from a theological perspective, because at the end of the day it is a matter of dignity - more specifically, how we have lost our sense of it.

It seems to me that there are more important things than safety in this life, and when we are willing to trade our self-worth for a few moments of a perceived security it is an indication that our priorities are skewed. When we refer to self-worth we must remember that we ultimately make a theological claim: the only worth that is given to the self is endowed from our Creator, who has made the image of humanity valuable by shaping it within the image of God. When this idea was still fresh upon the world the people of God were told not to make images and engravings, for they themselves were the images of God in the world.

When we speak of a lack of human dignity, we address the corruption of the imago Dei. Sin has twisted this image and has made us quite undignified creatures from within, and it is a constant struggle to keep this image as restored. Thus, it is difficult for me to watch the current events of how we are treating each other as less-than-human (groping and feeling and violating) for the sake of someone's perception of safety. We are working directly against the dignity of the human person who is made with all of the dignity found in the image of God.

And this happens in the final days before the church calendar walks us through Advent, which might be an appropriate time for this discussion. Within the notion of Advent we celebrate the coming of God into the world to restore the fallenness that has overcome his creation. In Jesus we have the dignity of humanity restored and renewed, the imago Dei given its full measure once more. The ensuing Spirit thus rests upon this fallen humanity to complete the work of restoration as the kingdom continues to come. For us to throw that away is a direct movement against God's restoration.

(The same could be said for many human activities, and restoration work needs to respond there as well.)

Thus the church is summoned yet again to make a statement regarding the life and death of this world, its humanity, and its movement to newness and renewal through the coming of the kingdom. Until then, although we are not surprised when we see fallenness happening around us, our hunger and thirst for righteousness will cause us to mourn. The comfort given to those who mourn will undoubtedly move us to bring the kingdom.

1 comment:

mindfulsearcher said...

My wife and I have made a decision not to fly, except in the case of an emergency that requires that we help another quickly and flying is the only way to arrive in time. I have also signed several petitions protesting the new TSA procedures and am commenting on this wherever I can. If we stand for this invasion of our privacy at airports, we may soon discover that such invasions will become commonplace in other public settings, such as federal buildings and schools. We cannot trade our freedoms for a questionable increase in public safety.