One of my many curious quirks involves the near-OCD preference of “Holy Spirit” when referring to the one part of the Godhead. I tend to get a bit twitchy whenever I hear someone use the alternate title “Holy Ghost”. And in the instances where I’m at a liturgical church service, I always substitute Holy Spirit for Holy Ghost when reciting. Which does mess up the rhythm of the oft-used “Praise God For Whom All Blessings Flow” Doxology, but it’s a small price to pay.
“What’s the big deal?” you may be asking yourself. I get it, same difference and all. And I’m pretty sure this is one of the most messed up reasons for my little quirk, but here it is:
Throughout most of the 1990s, I was involved with a local Pentecostal church. I don’t know if it’s ubiquitous with all Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and groups, but with this one, Holy Ghost was used almost ad nausium. Especially when Holy Ghost was used as an adjective of sorts, like inserting it before things would make it something much more spiritual. Like when a popular faith healer wishes he had a “Holy Ghost machine gun” to take down those who disagreed with him. Or his wife saying we needed a “Holy Ghost enema” right up the rear end. And these are the whimsical examples.
I’m afraid, like Pavlov’s dog, I tend to associate “Holy Ghost” with a dark time in my spiritual life. And no, I’m not going to go into details. That’s in my past, and I’ve forgiven and moved on. With this, though, some echoes from the past seem to still colour my present. I hold no grudges for anyone who prefer “Holy Ghost” over “Holy Spirit”. But, in case you ever had a question as to why I prefer one over the other when addressing that part of the Holy Trinity, there you go. A little bit of self-disclosure for you all. Cheers.