The hallow effect is a marketing phenomenon that I believe can benefit the spiritual life. So, what is the “hallow effect?” It is best understood though an example. A shampoo is typically tested marketed containing difference fragrances to determine which fragrance is more pleasing to consumers. The shampoo containing the most pleasing fragrance is typically found to leave hair more manageable, shiny, bouncy, etc. than the others having the same shampoo but lesser pleasing fragrances. This is the hallow effect, that which is more sensually pleasing is perceived to be more functionally beneficial.
How can the hallow effect benefit the spiritual life? Is this not how we try to rationalize sin? We try to convince ourselves in believing that which brings more sensual pleasure is more functionally beneficial and practical. How is it a sin, when such a great benefit is achieved? Birth control and abortion are “marketed” as being functionally beneficial and practical, as are cohabitation and so-called same sex marriage. Less serious sins are similarly rationalized.
In examining our conscious, we need to look beyond our inner self and our rationalization of our behavior. We need ask, what truly motivated our sinful behavior? Is not most sin a result of satisfying self? “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). We called to do the same, to serve others and God and not self.
I didn’t know this marketing term, but it’s rightly applied regarding sin. Except that sin never satisfies for very long before we have to run out and do it again. At some point the hallow effect wears off and all that’s there is despair unless God intervenes and we are open to His grace.