Halloween is just around the corner. And you have only a ghost of a chance of avoiding this most heinous of celebrations. The mighty ghost may have fallen from his pedestal, but he is still deserving of our respect. So let’s pay him a brief tribute. At his height he was a gost, playing a variety of spiritual roles from angel to devil. A spelling error, however, by an English printer named William Caxton, came back to haunt us, making him into a ghost, which is how he entered the language around 1600. His decline began in 1613 when he became a shadow of his former self—a faint image, or a slight suggestion, as in a ghost of a chance.
His stature was further reduced as a ghost (writer) in 1922, diminishing his role to the hidden presence behind many a book, he having first ghosted or ghostwritten in the 1880s.
Throwing your hands up in despair? Totally surrendering to it all? We first gave up the ghost in Job 14:10 as the soul that departs the body when we die: “Man dieth, and wasteth away; yea man giveth up the ghost and where is he?” That was the King James Version. The bland Revised Standard Version of the Bible, however, rewrote the passage, excising the ghost altogther: “But man dies, and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he?
Where are we indeed, when the holiest of books rejects the spiritual? Giving up the ghost — ceasing to function, simply expiring—that’s where.