The Etymology of Inspiration

As is the case with many word which in times past would drip with meaning and relevance, ‘inspire’ is used and abused at almost every turn. Both the OED[1]https://beingreasonable.com/definitions/#inspireoed and Webster’s[2]https://beingreasonable.com/definitions/#inspirewebsters inform us that ‘inspire’ has spiritual overtones. The OED, being a diachronic dictionary, goes a bit deeper and points to the earliest figurative use of the word to be specifically Christian in nature.

Inspire

The etymology for ‘inpsire’ given by the OED tells us that it is an “adaptation of Latin inspīrāre to blow or breathe into, from in- + spīrāre to breathe.” Analogously, Webster’s states that it is “from Latin inspirare, from in- + spirare to breathe” and that for further information, we should see “more at SPIRIT.” Hence…

Spirit

The OED is rather verbose in its etymological accounting for ‘spirit,’ informing us that it is “adapted from Latin spīritus breathing, breath, air, etc. related to spīrāre to breathe.” It delves even deeper, telling us that the “earlier English uses of the word are mainly derived from passages in the Vulgate, in which spiritus is employed to render Greek πνεῦµα and Hebrew rūaḥ. The translation of these words by spirit (or one of its variant forms) is common to all versions of the Bible from Wyclif onwards.”

Webster’s is less verbose, but tells us essentially the same thing at core: “from Latin spiritus spirit, breath; … Latin spirare to breathe”

The salient fact to be aware of here is that these terms both derive their force, power, and essence from the Holy Bible, as is the case with most of the important words in the English language.

Putting It Together

spirare is the present active infinitive for spiro.

spiritus is an etymological derivation of spiro.

Finally, per what we were informed of in the above, spiritus in turn was used in the Vulgate to translate the Greek πνεῦµα, which in the BDAG[3]A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition, s.v. “πνεῦµα.” is, most importantly, identified with “God’s being as controlling influence, with focus on association with humans, Spirit, spirit as that which differentiates God from everything that is not God, as the divine power that produces all divine existence, as the divine element in which all divine life is carried on, as the bearer of every application of the divine will. All those who belong to God possess or receive this spirit and hence have a share in God’s life. This spirit also serves to distinguish Christians from all unbelievers,” in other words, the Holy Spirit.

It would therefore be reasonable to conclude and hope that a story described as being ‘inspiring’ would be such that it would be infused and suffused with that which is holy, i.e. with that which is inestimable, ineffable, and incorruptible.

Notes and References

Notes and References
1 https://beingreasonable.com/definitions/#inspireoed
2 https://beingreasonable.com/definitions/#inspirewebsters
3 A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition, s.v. “πνεῦµα.”

Women’s Fib

After weeks of hearing and reading the platitudinous pablum which is spewed out in support of “women’s” history month, the following thought occurred to me:

Prior to the women’s lib movement, ‘feminists'[1]I put this in single quotes because what they advocate and present to the public is antithetical to what a man would recognize as truly feminine. ostensibly fought against the ‘stereotype’ of being nags to their husbands.

Post the women’s lib movement, ‘feminists’ engage in near-constant nagging of everyone and have no husbands[2]emasculated stand-ins for actual men don’t count as husbands.

Notes and References

Notes and References
1 I put this in single quotes because what they advocate and present to the public is antithetical to what a man would recognize as truly feminine.
2 emasculated stand-ins for actual men don’t count as husbands

The Atheist’s Motive

Recently, I read the book We Were Soldiers Once…and Young by Hal Moore and Joe Galloway. In attempting to gather additional information about Hal Moore the man (as opposed to what is presented in the book), I found out that he was a devout Catholic. In an interview with Raymond Arroyo circa 2009, he stated about his time at West Point:

…The only reason I got through West Point was going to mass almost daily and praying to God to help me get through West Point. But I’m proud to say that I graduated at the top of the bottom 20% of my class. … I was very dumb in mathematics, which West Point was [1]Their academic program was built on science and mathbased on in those days and I had to study late at night until two or three o’clock in the morning, and I went to mass every morning at 6:30, and that’s when you had to fast the night before, you couldn’t eat before communion, but I went to mass every morning at [2]…and finished the 20 minute mass…seven o’clock by Father Murdock and that got me through West Point. And all through my life, I have tried to keep fresh in my mind, that the whole purpose of life on earth is to qualify for life hereafter in heaven, with our father in heaven.

Hal Moore, Christian

As a reformed Christian, I have to point out that it is at odds with Scripture for anyone to believe that he can qualify for eternity with God, hence, the need for and sufficiency of Christ alone (think of the thief on the cross, what works did he perform to spend eternity with God?)[3]The Puritan divine, John Owen, put it: “Poor souls are apt to think that all those whom they read or hear of to be gone to heaven, went there because they were so good and holy..Yet not one of … Continue reading, but that doesn’t mean that Hal Moore wasn’t a Christian: it merely means that some of his labors might have been for the wrong reason. But I digress…

As I read over that quote today, I thought “What a wonderful testimony. How would this statement appear from the perspective of the [4]A rare bird indeed, for what transcendent motive does the atheist have?honest atheist?”

…The only reason I got through West Point was understanding that my life has no meaning nor any purpose, other than what my wet computer brain manufactures for me from moment to moment, and that ultimately, when the heat death of the universe occurs, everything that I or anyone else has done will have no meaning and no purpose. But I’m proud to say that I graduated from West Point due to studying late at night until two or three o’clock in the morning, and by arising each day at 6:30 to spend 20 minutes or so contemplating how worthless all of my thoughts and actions are from an ultimate perspective, and how beautiful it is that an indeterminate amount of time, mixed with an indeterminate and unknowable sequence of random mutations, all superintended by the mysterious ‘natural selection’ (thank God nobody that I have such cogent explanations for how I got here!) had brought me into being, and it was those beliefs that got me through West Point. And all through my life, I have tried to keep fresh in my wet computer brain, that there is no purpose whatsoever to my life or any life, and that in the end, the atoms of which ‘I’ (knowing that there is no ‘I.’ I just can’t help myself!) am comprised will dissolve back into the unknowable chaos from which they arose, and I have sought to share that belief with everyone I meet. (Why do I do this? I don’t know, for were I consistent in my thinking, I’d recognize that there’s no point…)

Hal Moore, atheist

One of these quotes is beautiful, inspiring, and life affirming. One of them is ugly, discouraging, and pernicious. The astute and sober-minded reader, I’m sure, can tell which is which.

Notes and References

Notes and References
1 Their academic program was built on science and math
2 …and finished the 20 minute mass…
3 The Puritan divine, John Owen, put it: “Poor souls are apt to think that all those whom they read or hear of to be gone to heaven, went there because they were so good and holy..Yet not one of them, not any one that is now in heaven (Jesus Christ alone excepted), did ever come there any other way but by forgiveness of sins.
4 A rare bird indeed, for what transcendent motive does the atheist have?