Saint Paulson and the Affleckian Heresy

On Monday in an interview with Politico, Ben Affleck slammed Newsweek for an old cover story that reflected favorably on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (the cover called him King Henry). Among Affleck's criticisms, he said this:

  • “They did like this hagiography on Paulson. Did you read that?"

A hagiography, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is:

  1. 1. Biography of saints.
  2. 2. A worshipful or idealizing biography.

It comes from the Greek hagio-, meaning holy, and -graphy, meaning writing. I think the second meaning of hagiography is a clever extension of the first. It's also an old one, going back at least 10 1821, according to the OED.

Here's some other interesting hagio- and hagi- words from the OED:

  • hagiarchy: the rule or order of saints.
  • hagi-heroical: characterized by saintly heroism.
  • hagiomania: saintly madness; a mania for sainthood.
  • hagio-romance: the romance of a saint's legend.
  • hagiotypic: pertaining to types of saints.
  • hagiolotry: the worship of saints.
  • hagioscope: A small opening, cut through a chancel arch or wall, to enable worshippers in an aisle or side chapel to obtain a view of the elevation of the host; a squint; also, sometimes applied to a particular kind of window in the chancel of a church.