EVERYTHING IN THIS POST IS A SPOILER
One of the remarkable things about the Utah of The Bishop’s Wife is how integrated into the nonChurch community the bishop is. For instance, sometimes the police call to keep him up-to-date on investigations that involve members of his ward. Wow! (But I’ve never been a bishop. Maybe clergy gets incoroporated like this all over the world. Seems pretty wild to me though.)
Anyway. In contrast to that, Linda Wallheim, bishop’s wife, is practically invisible.
For instance, on page 123 (quotation-disclaimer reminder), the police are investigating a phone call that Linda received, yet they never speak with her about the content of the conversation.
Or, most notably, on page 324, when she walks into a hostage situation:
By the time the SWAT team saw me, I was already knocking on the glass door and [the hostage] was opening it.
It is a bit absurd of course, but it’s fulfilling two functions. First, it’s emphasizing the male/female differences in the culture. Second, her invisibility seems to be a spiritual gift that allows Linda to infiltrate situations and become useful. If you follow the link in the previous sentence, after a long list of gifts of the spirit, you’ll find this:
. . . the bishop of the church . . . [is] to have it given unto [him] to discern all those gifts . . . .
In other words, from a doctrinal standpoint, Bishop Wallheim is fulfilling his role when he sends his wife out, invisible behind her platter of cinnamon rolls, slipping into people’s lives, calm, plain, letting them project what they need to upon her. Or, as her son says, not making waves “lets [Linda] see thing that [the bishop] doesn’t. [She] understand[s] people in so many ways. [She doesn’t] judge them” (24).
Maybe that’s what Linda’s invisibility actually is: Minimizing herself, in order to allow, charitably, others to be their true selves?
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