Thursday, January 7, 2010

Full-body scanning and the Theology Thereof

Sr Anne posted this yesterday on "Nunblog"; since it is a Theology of the Body perspective, it is bi-locating here as well.
More talk about activating full body security scanning at O'Hare. Despite all the assurances that the persons monitoring the scans will not be in proximity to the victims, I mean, passengers; that data will not be kept; that it's all really important for public safety, I am not okay with this.
Am I being overly prudish? Hung up? Neurotic?
Isn't thwarting a potentially catastrophic act of terror worth a virtual strip search every time I travel?
What is it that really bothers me, deep down, about this "public safety measure"?
Is it that it is disproportionate, sifting through millions of travelers each week (or day, if you combine US airports that plan to install the equipment) to find one possible evil-doer (who would, of course, have chosen an alternate form of terror by that time)?
No, it's not that.
I'm beginning to realize that it's a theology of the body thing.
I object to full body scanning because I believe that, with the level of detail it offers (even if in silhouette), it violates what Pope John Paul called the spousal meaning of the body. The body's design itself makes it clear that we are meant for an "other", and we generally choose that "other" with care. We are vulnerable in revealing ourselves. Even at the doctor's office, we don't go full frontal unless that is precisely where our health is threatened. (That's why they give you that crazy paper outfit.) Self-revelation in the body is a lovely (in the full sense of the word), intimate gift. Because the body is meant for communion. Always.
It is not true that our body is just a sort of envelope for a sexlessly generic soul, or that it is a strange animal-like appendage to the "important," spiritual part, but that really doesn't matter in itself (although plenty of people in our culture seem to think this). Especially in this Christmas season, on this 12th day of Christmas, we ought to be alert to the tremendous significance of being "bodied persons": God became incarnate so he could relate to us in this very human way! (And, of course, Jesus is the true Spouse who seeks communion with us.)
So there's something really not right, in my book, with a "revelation" that takes place anonymously, apart from personal communion, in which I am being revealed to someone I cannot see or know; whose reaction I cannot guage; whose trustworthiness with the sacredness of my body's image I am asked to take on the good faith of the United States' Transportation Security Administration.
What is your take on this issue? Would full-body scanning make you think twice about buying a plane ticket through O'Hare?

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