Externals vs. internals

November.13. 2012

I’m not what you might call a deeply religious man; yes I go to church most Sundays but more out of habit than anything else.

Recently, I’ve been watching developments in the church I go to — the Catholic Church.

It seems like these days, there’s a lot more bowing and other gestures of supplication going on.

And the liturgy has changed too.

These days it reads more like legalese, carefully crafted together by a legal team in Rome.

(For instance ‘consubstantial.’)

I expressed my dismay about all these changes and emphasis on externals to a priest once.

And he said to me, people need externals.

Yes, I understand that perfectly, externals is what the modern world is all about.

I mean, nothing is real these days, it’s all about show. All manufactured stuff, from business to politics to entertainment and yes, apparently to religion too.

If you were to buy a piece of furniture these days, it may look really beautiful on the outside, but scratch the surface and you’ll find there’s only sawdust underneath.

What’s wrong with manufactured wood, you might ask?

It’s not wood. It just appears to be wood but it has none of the qualities of real wood. If it’s a bookcase, be prepared to see the shelves sagging in no time.

Yes, people need externals, but what about the internals?

Surely when you spend so much time focusing on the external, you will inevitably begin to neglect the internal.

And shouldn’t the external be a reflection of the internal and not vice versa?

No matter how you cover up that sawdust, it’s still sawdust.

I’ve been reading the Gospel of St Thomas lately, and it’s interesting that the original Jesus was also a man of internals.

Asked whether circumcision is a useful thing, he said, if it was useful, man would’ve been born circumcised.

And then he added, true circumcision in the spirit is entirely useful.

Powerful stuff.

(Yes, I know some will question the authenticity and validity of this particular Gospel, but I refuse to be influenced by the politics of the early church fathers and prefer to make my own decisions based on the evidence, and all the evidence seem to suggest that the Gospel of St Thomas was indeed one of the original gospels, written just a few decades after Christ died.

And going back to externals vs.  internals, the power of its contents leave no doubt as to its authenticity. Who could have made up its radical message of love and compassion?)

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