One of my pet peeves is the way people throw around the word “holy” to mean a lot of things other than what the word historically means. Sometimes when word-use shifts you just have to shift with it; thems the breaks in the evolution of language. Sometimes it’s worth the effort of preserving the older usage alongside the new one and recognizing which one you are facing in any given context. But sometimes, if the word and its concept matter enough, you just have to draw a line in the sand and say “No further!” and break your little ships if people try to take liberties with the word.
“Holy” is one of those latter words.
I think that the erosion of the meaning of the word “holy” has been a disaster for thinking seriously about the meaning of life and religious matters. I go out of my way to teach a basic sense of the word to my younger students and always resolve to find more ways to use the concept with my older students. I have occasionally alluded to the correct use of this word in some of my older posts, but I have never set down a full account of what I take to be the essential features of the concept of “holy.” Let’s remedy that. Continue reading Sacrifice and Sanctity