When You’re Right (You’re Wright)

Like Rob and Al, I also have been reading (and greatly enjoying) Surprised by Hope by the good bishop of Durham. It is a paradigm changer for a lot of people, I hope.

I have to say that some of the things I have enjoyed the most have been his offhand comments, parenthetically offered but oh so true. For example:

The church doesn’t have a monopoly on kitsch or sentimentalism, but if you want to find it, the church may well the easiest place to start (223).


But then there is this statement also:

This kind of dualism banishes the continuing healing activity of the Father from the world he made, of the Son from the world of which he is already Lord, and of the Spirit from the world within which he (she?) groans in travail (216).

The thought is incisive, but what is with that parenthetical aside? The Spirit groans in travail — she groans? Am I reading Wright rightly?

Now, I get it that he is referring to Romans 8 which speaks of creation using the analogy of a woman in labor and preparing to give birth. So is Wright suggesting that we may therefore refer to the Spirit as a “she” with propriety? Now, I am not European. Maybe I’m just a bit too traditional. Wright, to me, is too squirrelly on gender. That little extra pronoun and question mark seem over the top.

Or am I reading Wright wrongly?

In any case I encourage you to read the parts in the parentheses and the parts not in the parentheses also.

Tolle lege.


4 responses to “When You’re Right (You’re Wright)

  1. David,
    You said, “Wright, to me, is too squirrelly on gender.” Dude, he’s Anglican.
    (For non-Basketeers, that was an inside joke.)

  2. Actually, seeing the Spirit as feminine is relatively traditional (though not universal). For instance, in Syriac (as in Hebrew) “Spirit” is a feminine word, so the Syriac Churches thought of the Spirit as feminine.

    And often when “icons” of the Spirit are painted, He is Feminine.

    Also Pope John Paul II (in The Theology of the Body) and Bulgakov both seem to think the Spirit is Feminine based (in particular) on the Annunciation, and on the Feminine character of the Church.

    Anyway, I’m not sure Wright is (here) being wishy-washy on gender: at least not more so than tradition and the sketchy Scriptural witness.

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