Monday, October 11, 2010 | By: Zachary Bartels


There’s a phenomenon that I bump into maybe once or twice a month, which occasionaly manifests itself in ordinary spoken conversations, but is usually found on Internet social networking sites. And since I’ve never seen anyone else identify/ isolate/ name said Internet sensation, I’ve decided to refer to it as being holified.

What does it mean to holify someone? Well, the holifier is a relative of the “story-topper” or “one-upper”—you know, the guy who always has to out-do you in conversation. If you got two speeding tickets in one week, he talks about the time he got three. You had painful surgery on your foot; she had the same surgery twice, and the second time, they left a pair of snips inside her big toe, which then became infected. If you say which ‘80s punk bands you like, he scoffs and explains how none of those are really punk, then schools you on which bands you should like. Story toppers are very versatile; they will one-up your story no matter the topic or context.

Holifiers, on the other hand, are more specialized. They also can strike at any time, regardless of the subject being discussed, but they only spew uber-spiritual stuff. This leaves the one holified with the implied message that he hasn’t been holy enough in how he has expressed himself or even in his topic of conversation.

This may all sound absurd and quite random, like nothing you’ve ever encountered before. Let me show you some concrete examples, and I’m sure you’ll recognize when you yourself have been holified!

It often starts with a quote, quip, or inside joke to which the holifier is not privy. For example,

Facebook status:Do you ever just get down on your knees and thank God that you know me and have access to my dementia? [this, of course, is a quote from George Castanza on Seinfeld]

Comment/response:I thank God that I know HIM and have access through Jesus Christ!

You’ve just been HOLIFIED!

Do you see how, even though you weren’t actually talking about gratitude or heavy spiritual matters, all the same you sort of look like the jerk now? I mean, compared to what that second guy is thankful for, your thing just looks downright irreverent, am I right?

Some more examples:

Facebook status:I hate it when people cut you off in traffic because they’re texting, applying makeup, and eating at the same time.

Comment/response:Hate? How is that Christ-like? They only text while driving because they are in dire need of sound doctrine and religious conversion. You should be on your knees praying for these people, not on facebook complaining about them!

Facebook status:Check out this video; Mark Driscoll is awesome.

Comment/response:No man is awesome; that belongs to GOD ALONE. Soli Deo Gloria!!!

Facebook status:I hate so much...of the things you choose to be.” [this, of course, is perhaps the funniest sitcom line ever, penned by Steve Carrel for The Office Season 2 finale]

Comment/response:Maybe I'm just stupid, but I thought Jesus told us to LOVE our enemies last time I checked!” [This begs the question: do I need to love Toby Flenderson to be a good Christian—even though Toby is a fictional character and does not really, ya know, exist?]

Most of the holificiations I’ve encountered have been directed at other people’s statuses, tweets, etc., but I’ve been holified a good number of times. Of course, not every critical comment of a spiritual nature makes the cut. It must be at least somewhat passive-aggressive and come out of nowhere. If one is truly holified, it’s a straight-up topical ambush!

You get it, right? At this point, you probably think I want to hear examples of when you have been holified. You are correct, and bonus points if they took place OFF-LINE.


10 reader comments:

John said...

Me: "Have you read the new book by ______________?"

Holifier: "I don't have time for all these modern books. I only read the word."

Mita Pogue said...

Holified. It is now a word.

Jennifer Waldman said...

That cracked me up. I'd give examples in the comments if I could remember any specifics, but basically my entire sophomore year of college. My roommate constantly holified people.

ZSB said...

There was a great Onion article a few years ago about the religious relative who ruined Christmas. They didn't know it, but they were referring to this very phenomenon.

Pete Scribner said...

I don't know if it is required of us, but I do love Toby Flenderson.

Cory said...

Great article, Zach! Unfortunately I can't think of any examples quite as perfect as yours, though I know they've happened. I have known one or two people who have been good deadpan imitators of holifiers to get a laugh. For example, "I love Oreos." "Really? I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

I've experienced holification in less clever or unexpected ways in certain pastor gatherings—all of which are offline. (Me: "Check out my friend's Facebook page." Him: "I try to avoid online communication as much as possible.")

How are you? Me: "Doing all right; hanging in there." Him: "God has been very kind and showing me his grace."

Me: "Things are going okay at home. The kids are in school; My wife's been really busy with her music and theatre." Him: "God convicted me through his word that I need to really devote time to my wife and love her as Christ loved the church. And I've been taking my 11-year-old through Grudem's Systematic Theology."

Me: "I've really gained some great insight into my church through George Bullard's congregational life-cycle model." Him: "I try to keep focusing on sound doctrine as Paul says in 2 Timothy."

Me: "Folks in my church tend to be people whose families have lived here for generations; they tend to be politically conservative and on average have a technical school education." Him: "I really couldn't characterize my church that way. We have all kinds of people who are attracted to our preaching of the gospel."

Me: "Blah blah blah blah blah." Him: "Blah blah sin blah blah blah cross."

And every time I think, Okay, yes—that too!

JB said...

Every time I see someone leave a comment like this (on my FB page or anyone else's), I will now follow up with "Holified!" as my response.

Brad Williams said...

Wow. Thank you for this. I get holified so much I sometimes hesitate to update my status with anything other than quotes from the church fathers. I didn't realize what was happening to me until now. I owe you one. If I still blogged, I'd like you for this.

Brad Williams said...

That was supposed to be I'd "link" you for this. Oops.

WarAxe said...

I agree with JB, I will now reply "Holified!" to every instance I see of this on FB (with maybe a link back to this blog entry).