459: Holy Ghost

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Holy Ghost
Okay, everyone, cross yourselves, then cross the streams.
Title text: Okay, everyone, cross yourselves, then cross the streams.


The majority of Christian sects (including Roman Catholicism) profess belief in the conception of a singular God wherein there is a mysterious unity of three distinct 'persons' who share in one another's divinity, in a concept called the Trinity. The three persons are conventionally called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — but in more archaic English usage, the third person was referred to as the Holy Ghost.

The 1984 movie Ghostbusters was based on the premise that ghosts exist and that four unemployed men had access to technology that could trap such ghosts. These men formed a business as Ghostbusters, and an important tool in their arsenal was a so-called "proton stream" powered by a wearable backpack. These streams would prod or stun ghosts, allowing them to be maneuvered into traps. Throughout the movie, the Ghostbusters reminded each other 'not to cross the streams', as this was supposed to cause a disastrous reaction, until the climax of the movie where crossing the streams was required to banish the main antagonist.

Here we see that the Ghostbusters have apparently just encountered and eliminated the Holy Ghost, and are being taken to task by the Pope, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He points out that much of Christian theology is grounded in the doctrine of the Trinity and is unwilling to accept the Ghostbusters' apology.

The title text is a play on a short Catholic prayer called the Sign of the Cross (the physical motions of which involve touching the forehead, chest, and shoulders), the practice of which is colloquially called 'crossing oneself', and on the danger of the Ghostbusters' 'crossing the streams' and touching two proton streams together, which in Ghostbusters canon causes an explosive chain reaction in all nearby atoms.


[The Pope stands behind a table.]
Pope: This is a disaster.
Ghostbuster (off-screen): Is it really that bad?
[The Pope seen from the side in white on a black background. The text is in white:]
Pope: Do you know how much scripture we'll have to revise?
Ghostbuster (off-screen): Look, we've apologized –
[Zoom out from the pope]
Pope: I mean, we can't have a trinity with just a Father and a Son!
Ghostbuster (off-screen): Again we're sorry.
[The four Cueball-like Ghostbusters with their proton packs.]
Pope (off-screen): Sorry's not enough. Guards, take their proton packs.
Ghostbuster: Hey, we were just doing our jobs!
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Pope: Do you know how much scripture we'll have to revise? It isn't a problem. Trinitarian dogma isn't even peripheral to scripture. So the answer is: "None". I am sure that had there been cause for concern at least one comedian would have come up with it by now.

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 09:46, 31 January 2015 (UTC)

It's not the Trinity that's the issue. It's that the Bible talks a whole lot about the Holy Spirit. He is very important to the theology. If He can be trapped, it means the Bible got a lot of things wrong. Trlkly (talk) 23:50, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
Uh, the Bible got everything wrong, it's fiction... -- The Cat Lady (talk) 09:00, 15 August 2021 (UTC)
No it didn't; Even if you don't believe it's the infallible word of God (it is), you still need to except it as a book with potentially unreliable historical accounts of things that actually happened (talk) 19:13, 31 January 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
One can "except it", but it's hard to "accept it". Too many gods (or versions of gods) with their own infallible words. At the most, just one could be correct, and the chances are that every one has been miscopied/mistranslated/re-edited without necessarily having a proper meeting with the ultimate author to discuss the result. (Various of the Holy Books do have statements that command like "do not change the words of this book", for a kind of memetic stasis. But it's hard to know if this was obeyed (or even present) right from the start. It could easily have been frozen after being corrupted.)
Learning history from the Bible doesn't help, though. Anything that's not actually wrong is at least biased (and no room for updating with any newly attested understanding of, say, the socio-economic situation in Pharoah's Egypt) or unprovable (what did the leper actually say? ...and does it matter?). But given that (e.g.) Herod The Great died BC (4BC-1-BC, by best estimates) you have to decide that it was his son, or revise all the other book-inspired dating/event systems.
I have no problem with the Bible (and most other equivalents) suggesting that we all follow the line of "be good to each other". One should not mind which God/gods/elemental-philosophies people subscribe to if they do that. (c.f. that done to Aslan, in C.S. Lewis's "The Last Battle", and that is almost directly a theologically-inspired Jesus avatar anyway.) Not that everyone does that, with or without the Bible as their go-to. 21:54, 31 January 2024 (UTC)

Nk22 (talk) 11:18, 20 April 2015 (UTC)Woah

Why is the 2nd frame inverted?