April 30, 2007 -- Water from the tap -- that's chemistry.
When it's in a bottle with a $2 price tag -- that's marketing. But water in a bottle with a label that says it's "Holy"?
What's that? Metaphysics? Actually, it's marketing and metaphysics.
In a little town called Linden outside Sacramento, Calif., a gourmet grocery called Reynaldi's is selling, just across from the Krispy Kremes, a new bottled water product called Holy Drinking Water -- water blessed by a priest.
Blessed Bottle Wards Off Bad Actions?
The brain behind Holy Drinking Water is not a church or even a clergyman. It's an ex-cop named Brian Germann, who reports sales so far of 8,000 bottles at 99 cents each.
The concept, Germann says, is to be inspirational: Keep a bottle of Holy Water nearby and it might keep you out of trouble.
"[By] drinking holy water or blessed water, they might just think and take a second thought before they take any kind of action that might be bad towards somebody else," he said.
So who makes Holy Water holy? So far, two priests -- one Catholic and one Anglican -- bless the water before it's put on sale. Germann flies them into town, because the local church didn't want any part of Holy Drinking Water.
"The local Catholic church was very much against it," Germann said, "saying it falls within simony, which is selling blessed things for profit."
Pandering, Irreverence and Simony
Simony is one sin that doesn't garner much coverage these days, but still, there's the question of whether selling Holy Water is the right thing to do. Germann, a practicing Catholic, sees nothing wrong with marketing his product.
He also says he has supporters, many of whom send letters praising him for his product. One Holy Water fan, Hazel, wrote about how she'd "taking a bottle to my friend who is inside a hospice and dying." Another woman, Marjorie, wrote that she had placed "a bottle of Holy Drinking Water inside each of my Easter baskets."
But not everyone agrees with Germann's mission. A dubious Mark wrote, "In the name of all that truly IS holy. … Please stop this ridiculous pandering. … It displays astounding ignorance and/or irreverence."
While the thought of kids making Holy Water balloons out of Germann's product might upset people like Mark, Germann doesn't mind it being used in various ways.
"I think that people can find many different uses for it," he said. "I don't think God in any kind of his laws has actually made any restrictions on the use of any kind of blessed water."