On the Eve of Pentecost (as I write), it may be worth observing what rough times these are for the Holy Spirit, and maybe show a little love his (her? its?--that's part of the problem, a serious gender-identity issue that the Father and the Son aren't saddled with) way.
First off, we have the Charismatics. They've been staking a proprietary claim to the Holy Spirit for more than a century now, if you trace the movement back to the flowering of early Pentecostalism in America. Some of my best friends are Charismatics. Really. One of the Holy Spirit's biggest problems is that he/she/it is...well...a spirit, which is by definition invisible and impalpable in any direct manner. But the Charismatics know when the Holy Spirit is in the vicinity, because the "power gifts" start to appear, including speaking in tongues (aka glossolalia--which, for the record, I have done, and still do fairly frequently in private; it's pretty neat, but by no means "all that," and it plays a rather secondary or tertiary role in my spiritual life), healing of various sorts, and other gymnastics that resemble the movements of freshly-caught fish on the deck of a boat.
I like my Charismatic friends just fine (by one definition, I guess you could say I'm one of them), as long as I don't have to...you know...go to church with them. But I do get a trifle annoyed when they start talking like those who don't behave the way they do, or haven't experienced the "power gifts," don't really have the Holy Spirit. Call me affectively held-back if you want to (it's a large club), but this just doesn't sound orthodox, and, if anything, I'm an orthodox kind of guy.
Then we have the Liberal Revisionist Wackadoos (hat tip to Brad Drell). I've got some friends in this camp as well. (Let's face it, I've got friends in lots of unlikely places!) At this moment in the history of the Episcopal Church, they are very much the majority party, and, on a percentage basis, are gaining strength all the time because my "orthodox" confreres are bailing in droves. These are the folks who find the Holy Spirit in the democratic process, particularly when that process yields a result they are predisposed to like. Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of New Hampshire because the Holy Spirit guided the delegates in their electing convention. His election was consented to because the Holy Spirit obviously (what other explanation could there be?) guided the deputies and bishops who gathered in Minneapolis four years ago. It is the Holy Spirit who has led the Episcopal Church to declare "normal" that which the Christian tradition--with virtual unanimity before 30 years ago--has always understood to be aberrant.
As Saturday Night Live's Church Lady would have sneered a couple of decades ago, "How conveeeeeenient!" I hardly think it appropriate to envision the Holy Spirit as captive to majority rule. Definitely not very wind-like.
Then there's the widespread tendency to use the Holy Spirit--along with the vocabulary of "discernment"--as a sort of pious wrapping paper in which we cloak decisions that are reached according to much more pragmatic and prosaic criteria. In announcing to shocked and grieving parishioners and friends our decision to accept a call to another parish two-thirds of the way across the continent, I have felt squirmy about using too much Holy Spirit talk. Yes, I believe this move is a faithful response to the call of God the Holy Spirit; I believe that very confidently. But to say that, and nothing else, feels like a cop-out to me, and I suspect it would sound like a cop-out to others. So, when My Favorite Plutotian is not within earshot (she can be very severe with me if she thinks I'm misbehaving), I usually add some supporting data of a practical nature. (And usually something more than "Warsaw is only 120 miles from Wrigley Field.") I don't believe the Holy Spirit is above using concrete considerations through which to communicate his/her/its direction.
Finally, I have discerned a vocation from the Holy Spirit to be particularly vigilant against any attempt to remove the "Holy" part of that appellation. (Note to Myers-Briggs wonks: This is where the 'J' part of my INTJ really kicks in.) When anyone starts talking about "the Spirit this" and "the Spirit that," I get the heebie-jeebies, because they probably mean "spirit" rather than "Spirit." I have a sister-in-law who is both a Buddhist and a Quaker. She doesn't see any inherent conflict in maintaining both religious practices, and from what I know of Buddhism and Quakerism, neither do I. In an amazing bit of serendipitous irony, she's also a huge fan of the Anglican choral tradition, and for many years has come to St John's to sing in our choir for Lessons & Carols. Now, I completely honor her faith commitments. But when she talks about "the spirit," I don't for a minute think she means the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit as defined by the Catholic creeds.
I don't get worked up about it, because she doesn't profess to practice Catholic Christianity. One cannot fault a cat for not barking. But when I hear vague "spirit" language from someone who does profess to practice a putatively orthodox version of Christianity (such as an Episcopalian, for instance), I have an urge to set my phaser on 'Stun' and give them a good talkin' to.
Come, Holy Spirit, come.