The Mutt’s Nuts

Where religion is about as attractive as a two week holiday in Afghanistan

My patriarchal blessing

with 48 comments

mosespb.jpgI found it to be a wonderfully liberating feeling when I eventually rejected my religion and started to do some of the things that I had previously been indoctrinated to think were wrong. For example, Mormons have a revelation that’s commonly known as the Word of Wisdom, which is fundamentally a health code that, when obeyed, enables individual Latter-day Saints to avoid destruction as the Israelites who put blood around their doors according the instructions spoken by Moses when they were in bondage to the Egyptians (Ex. 12:23). Part of this health code prohibits church members from drinking tea and coffee, so imagine my exhilaration when I brewed my first cup of tea after so many years of going without. And dunking half a packet of biscuits made the whole experience even better. I am a Brit after all! It doesn’t sound like much, but I guess it was my way of giving Mormonism the finger. Plus, it made me feel good inside, but with a twinge of guilt that paradoxically increased the pleasure ten-fold.

I further detoxified myself by refusing to pray, purchasing normal underwear, ceasing to pay tithes and offerings, not attending long and often boring church meetings, drinking beer (which is actually permissible by my reading of the Word of Wisdom), shopping on Sundays, no longer furthering the cause of Mormonism, and I could list many, many other things besides. Posting my patriarchal blessing on The Mutt’s Nuts is my latest step in purging myself of my former programming. If you don’t know what a patriarchal blessing is, this site will tell you more about it.

I was incredibly disappointed by the content of my blessing. It consisted of no less than 900 words that said, in essence, nothing much at all. For the life of me I couldn’t find anything of any worth in it, except the same old tired-terminology that I was already accustomed to hearing week in and week out at church. It was supposedly a personal revelation to me from a personal God but, sadly, it had all of the hallmarks of a mundane church talk masquerading as an individual blessing. It should have been something special, but it wasn’t.

It’s begins:

Brother xxxxxxx, xxxxx, xxxxxxx as the patriarch in this stake of Zion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I lay my hands upon your head as a servant of the Lord to confer upon you your patriarchal blessing. To receive those things which are important to you in your life that shall be as guidelines to you through all mortality, as you may gain spiritual strength and desire to continue to serve the Lord in all faithfulness throughout all the days of your life. That you may, by doing so, gain your eternal exaltation in the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father.

So the scene is set. And how intriguing, which is what I initially thought at the time, that my blessing will be of huge importance and as “guidelines” that will serve me throughout mortality, eventually leading me into God’s kingdom. Understandably, I was actually quite excited when I heard the patriarch say that. Any excitement was short lived though, as will become clear as I explain by way of commentary.

For this is a great work which you have embraced and it is because of your diligence and your faithfulness and your humility and willingness to serve the Lord that you have been brought forth at this time to accept the gospel, as it is restored in all its purity and with all of the gifts and powers that are embraced in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That you may also enjoy this companionship of the spirit of the Lord to be with you, that he may lead, guide and direct you in all your endeavours in life. That you may assist in strengthening, building and extending this great work for it is the work that has been given unto mankind for its salvation, for the gathering of the House of Israel and all the faithful that shall come unto it.

There’s nothing of particular interest and absolutely zero that I didn’t already know in this paragraph. Surely I didn’t need a supposed personal communication from God to tell me what I’d been thoroughly lectured in at church? And the reasons why I’ve “been brought forth” to accept the Gospel “at this time” can be deduced from the fact that I accepted it in the first place. I had been a member of the Church for at least six months when the blessing was given, so it was safe to assume that I had those qualities in some degree. Humility being my most noticeable character trait and, coming in a close second, diligence because I was immensely good at showing others how to be humble.

For these are the last days when the Gospel shall be given unto the earth and great shall be your joy and happiness as you continue faithfully to serve the Lord in all diligence. Rejecting the temptations and the evils of this world that you may stand clear of these things. That you may speak with conviction and understanding to all those to whom you associate with. It is for this purpose that you may rise, and be blessed in this manner, that you may have the companionship of the spirit of the Lord to be with you to lead, guide and direct you in your decisions and in your faithfulness.

Again, nothing that I wouldn’t know from church. And, to be perfectly honest, I was pretend happy and pretend joyful while I was in servitude. It was quite a lot of effort to regularly attempt to convince myself that I was indeed happy and joyful. “I am fortunate to be a member of the Lord’s only true church, so I should be happy and full of joy!” Barf! I am decidedly happier now as an atheist. Living a sinful life and drinking a lot of tea is so much bloody fun.

At the time of receiving this blessing I was serving as a Stake Missionary, which is something that the patriarch knew as he had spoken with me and asked me questions prior to laying his hands on my head, so it’s a bit of a coincidence that the blessing mentions that I will speak “with conviction and understanding” to whoever I come into contact with (if I feel so moved by the Spirit, of course!) because that’s what missionaries do. That “purpose” sounds dubious in light of this.

All the promises that are given unto you this day are subject to your faithfulness and diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord. Continue therefore humbly that your joy may be full, and that you may receive the blessings of the House of the Lord in due time to be upon you. That your companion in life shall sustain you, and that you may continue to serve the Lord. That you may gain your eternal reward in this way that you will have the opportunity and the privilege to give leadership and council in a manner which is pleasing unto your Heavenly Father. You are choice in His sight and great shall be your joy and happiness because of your faithfulness.

In the first sentence we have the usual get-out clause that makes everything your fault if things don’t go to plan and ensures that God is never blamed for anything. And after that the standard progression for all men in the Church is laid out – temple, marriage and leadership. The last line of the paragraph is similar to what’s been said already. Surprise, surprise.

You are one through whom the blood of the House of Israel flows and the blood of Ephraim is within you and it shall be manifest unto you as you are diligent to the words of the council, that are given unto you from time to time by the brethren.

All patriarchal blessings inform the recipient of his or her lineage. There’s nothing new here. Though I can’t help but wonder what the patriarch had in mind when he said that the “blood of Ephraim…shall be manifest unto you”. What does that mean?

Seek therefore to bear your testimony, in all truth, and faithfulness, to the knowledge, to the divinity of this great work and to your thankfulness to your Heavenly Father at all times. That you may seek Him in private prayer to seek the help and guidance that shall be yours, for the Lord will delight to honour you and to give you all of the joy and happiness that shall come by being true and faithful to this great work.

Obviously, I got a bum deal from my Stake Patriarch because here we have yet more everyday church stuff. Testimony bearing. Prayer. And obedience. I would like to read some of the other blessings that he gave around the same time to see if it was just me or if they’re equally bland and far from inspiring.

I seal upon you this day that you shall inherit the blessings of your patriarchal fathers. You shall be one that shall come forth in the morning of the resurrection with immortality and eternal life to take your rightful place in the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father. Therefore continue with all joy and happiness in this life, rejecting evil from whatever source it may come, but proclaiming the gospel, in your faithfulness, in testimony at all times. For this I give you that you may have the courage to stand up for the truth and right, and for the work in which you have been engaged. That you may go forth in all comfort and that you may have the health and the strength throughout your body to fulfil the duties and responsibilities that will devolve upon you.

Hasn’t the majority of this already been said? Eternal life? Tick. Joy? Tick. Happiness? Tick. Rejecting evil? Tick. Missionary work? Tick. Health and strength? Tick. Oops. That’s something new.

Do these to the best of your ability in furthering the work of the Lord. If you are faithful in these things you shall receive the higher priesthood. Continue, therefore, to study the scriptures and all those things that the Lord’s servants have to say and to give unto you in council and advice.

Even more standard church stuff. Scripture study. Obedience to church leaders. And I knew I was pretty much certain to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood at some future date anyway, because that’s how things work in the Church.

All the promises that are given unto you this day are yours to enjoy and will be fulfilled in due time of the Lord. There are many other blessings that you shall enjoy, which shall transpire, and for this you shall bear witness and shall recognise the hand of the Lord in all things. You shall recognise the hand of the Lord in sickness and in health and whatever circumstances or trials of life that you may be called upon to pass through.

I think the patriarch was running out of things to say by this point as it’s evident from this paragraph that he was trying to wraps things up by making sure he had all the bases covered. I don’t think I’ve ever found generalisations inspiring, and so much for the blessing being a personal one.

All the blessings and promises that are given unto you this day, I seal upon your head as a servant of the Lord in His name, the Lord, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our Redeemer, Amen.

And thus it ends.

This blessing was just another thing in a long line of things that contributed to my cognitive dissonance concerning Mormonism. You’d think that if it was really a revelation from God to me, then surely he should have at least warned me in no uncertain terms of anything that would become a stumbling block to me and possibly jeopardise my eternal future. Imagine that you were a father with an important message for your son, a message that you could only give once. What would you say to him? Wouldn’t you make it as personal and as relevant as possible, taking into account all that you knew about his personality and the path that he was likely to take in life? I know I would.

I’ve always been disappointed by this blessing, but as a faithful church member, I would often read it over and over again in an attempt to find inspiration in it. I had more chance of finding a needle in a haystack.

Curmudgeonly Yours

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Written by Curmudgeonly

February 5, 2008 at 8:27 pm

48 Responses

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  1. Not meaning to disappoint you further, Curmudgeonly, but I had some weird Blood of Ephraim line also. Could be that even though I’m American, my father’s family are all of British descent. Could be a thing, maybe not, or it could be that they’re told to throw in that line every tenth blessing. Who knows. I was annoyed by my blessing also – it felt like dinner prayer, all canned and prepackaged.

    a cup ‘o tea to you now.

    CV Rick

    February 6, 2008 at 2:27 am

  2. Tax,
    Mine seemed like everything it was supposed to be. I mean, there was some boilerplate at the start and finish, but in between it was good stuff — it felt relevant and personal.

    Rick,
    The bloodline thing is part of every patriarchal blessing. Everyone gets told that they belong to one of the 12 Tribes of Abraham. I don’t know the statistics, but apparently white people almost always get told they belong to Ephraim.

    kuri

    February 6, 2008 at 3:25 am

  3. God will not be mocked. (Gal. 6:7)

    Bryce Haymond

    February 6, 2008 at 4:19 pm

  4. CV,

    ***…I had some weird Blood of Ephraim line also.***

    Welcome to the club. Ü

    Kuri,

    ***…but in between it was good stuff — it felt relevant and personal.***

    And what do you think was the reason for that? Simple revelation? Or did the patriarch have a wealth of knowledge to draw on to make the blessing interesting enough? Or was it something else?

    Bryce,

    ***God will not be mocked.***

    And which God would that be? Is your God so weak and emotionally unstable that he can’t handle criticism and so feels that he must do something about it? Don’t you think that’s rather hypocritical of him, considering that he asks you to turn the other cheek?

    Curmudgeonly Yours

    February 6, 2008 at 7:00 pm

  5. Curmudgeonly,

    Did you read the scripture?

    “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

    That was Paul’s God, and He is mine also.

    Bryce Haymond

    February 6, 2008 at 8:49 pm

  6. Hey Bryce . . . I’m sowing some healthy curiosity, a large crop of education, and a great deal of self-respect. Oh, hey, look, that’s what I’ll reap. And I guess as a side benefit, God’s going to mock me. Oh well, I’m a big boy, I can take it.

    CV Rick

    February 6, 2008 at 9:18 pm

  7. “O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish” (2 Nephi 9:28).

    Bryce Haymond

    February 6, 2008 at 9:24 pm

  8. Tax,
    I’ve sometimes wondered that, actually. I haven’t read many other people’s blessings, of course, but I’ve gotten the sense that my patriarch’s blessings (I also read my sister’s and my mother’s) were “better” than most — they seemed longer and deeper than most of those I’ve read. I’ve seen a couple that to me seemed even more perfunctory than yours, and some close to what I have, but none that “blew me away” the way mine has a couple of people I’ve shown it to.

    I tend to ascribe it to greater inspiration on the patriarch’s part (modesty prevents me from suggesting it was because of who he was blessing 😉 ), but of course there are any number of “secular” explanations (his relative youth, the skill set he brought to the exercise, etc.)

    kuri

    February 7, 2008 at 1:15 am

  9. Bryce, quoting the BoM to me is about as useless as me engaging you in an analysis of Candide by Voltaire. Well there’d be one difference – I’ve read both works and can discuss them for their relative merits.

    CV Rick

    February 7, 2008 at 8:24 am

  10. Kuri,

    ***I’ve sometimes wondered that, actually.***

    That doesn’t surprise me.

    ***I haven’t read many other people’s blessings,…***

    There are numerous blessings HERE that can be read.

    ***I tend to ascribe it to greater inspiration on the patriarch’s part…***

    So the implication appears to be that actually getting a blessing that’s inspired is simply the luck of the draw. Is that fair? Does that sound like something that would originate from a perfect deity who apparently prefers order as opposed to chance. This calls into question whether my blessing genuinely reflected the mind of God concerning me.

    Curmudgeonly Yours

    February 7, 2008 at 7:06 pm

  11. Kuri

    One thing that I’ve noticed about patriarchal blessings is that they can become self-fulfilling prophecies – if you think God is telling you that something will happen, you (consciously or unconsciously) do whatever’s necessary to bring it about.

    For example, I happened to mention to my branch president that my patriarchal blessing had a couple of references to missionary work in it (I was a stake missionary at the time of receiving the blessing and had told the patriarch beforehand). My BP decided that it meant I should serve a full-time mission and he encouraged me to do so, even though I specifically didn’t want to. I would much have preferred to get married and have a family. Anyway, because of his encouragement, I did serve a full-time mission and luckily I enjoyed the experience.

    However, the urge to fulfill the “revelation” given in a patriarchal blessing can sometimes have adverse effects. One man in our ward was told in his PB that he would have sons and daughters. After 2 girls and one boy, he insisted that his disabled wife, at age 40 and barely able to cope with looking after the children they already had, should have another baby, as the blessing had indicated he would have more than one son. She needed a lot of support throughout the pregnancy and ended up having another girl. Fortunately, she put her foot down after that and they didn’t have any more children. I’m not sure how he reconciled that with the prediction in his blessing, though.

    islaskye

    February 10, 2008 at 9:15 am

  12. So the implication appears to be that actually getting a blessing that’s inspired is simply the luck of the draw. Is that fair?

    Life isn’t fair. That’s supposed to be one of the purposes of an afterlife, isn’t it, to make up for all the unfairness in this life?

    kuri

    February 10, 2008 at 9:03 pm

  13. One thing that I’ve noticed about patriarchal blessings is that they can become self-fulfilling prophecies – if you think God is telling you that something will happen, you (consciously or unconsciously) do whatever’s necessary to bring it about.

    Well, yeah, I think that’s one of its purposes, to provide “guidance” or however it’s phrased.

    kuri

    February 10, 2008 at 9:24 pm

  14. Kuri

    Telling someone how many children they will have is not “guidance”, it’s prophecy. And, in the case I related, it’s a failed prophecy that could have had serious consequences on a woman’s health and on her ability to care for her family.

    Some years ago there was a missionary in our ward who was told in his patriarchal blessing that he would become a stake president. Six months after he returned home from his mission he died. He had not had the chance to become a stake president, but then, of course, the get-out clause for failed prophecy was invoked – that it must have referred to the next life, not to this one.

    Sometimes I find it sad to see the desperate lengths people will go to in order to maintain their beliefs, no matter how strained their reasoning needs to become.

    IslaSkye

    February 11, 2008 at 6:32 am

  15. Kuri,

    ***Life isn’t fair. That’s supposed to be one of the purposes of an afterlife, isn’t it, to make up for all the unfairness in this life?***

    I disagree. My thinking is that the immediate purpose of the afterlife (of course, I don’t believe in an afterlife!) has more to do with rewarding and punishing individuals according to what they did with their short time on earth. I don’t think it addresses unfairness in the way that you suggest.

    I think that there are a lot of unfair situations that can’t be rectified because a person’s direction in life and way of thinking has been drastically changed as a result, and so there’s just no way back to the person they once where or the path that they were on. The very person that might have joined the “only true church” before a certain occurrence is now on a different path that passes Mormonism completely by or that causes them to reject Mormonism outright or even to actively oppose Mormonism.

    Could the following experiences ever be perfectly compensated for: a woman being the victim of a rapist, a innocent man being imprisoned for many years, a child’s utter sadness at being rejected by his/her parents, and I could go on, but that gives you a taste of what I’m getting at.

    Anyway, if inspiration is actually luck of the draw, then I can’t see how having the priesthood authority in the Church inspires confidence in the accuracy of the multitude of blessings that a person could receive during his/her lifetime. It all sounds very much like a gamble to me. How do you know that any given blessing isn’t going to be useless or misleading? Who knows, it could do more harm than good in some instances? It’s bad enough that as a believer you have to accept God without any sight or sound of him, now it appears that you can’t be sure of receiving a fair deal through supposedly proper channels. It’s just asking too much of people. What do you really get for you time, your money, your devotion and you life that you can be sure of?

    Curmudgeonly Yours

    February 17, 2008 at 9:32 am

  16. Isla,

    I think LDS tend to take patriarchal blessings far too literally and give them far too much importance. I see mine as just one of many tools to use to figure out my life. I certainly wouldn’t make a major life decision based solely — or even mainly — on what I think one word in my blessing means, the way that guy did with his “sons.”

    Tax,

    I think the idea of the rewards of the afterlife making up for the unfairness of this life has always been a part of Christianity. “The meek will inherit the Earth,” and so on. And that’s been a pertinent criticism of Christianity as well: the powerful use the promise of a pie-in-the-sky afterlife to keep the weak oppressed here in the real world.

    If it’s real, though, I’m not sure that an eternity of bliss wouldn’t make up for just about anything. Did you ever see the movie “American Beauty”? A character dies unfairly, but his last line, from the afterlife, is, “It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world.” That’s what it would be like, I suppose.

    As for blessings, I guess my expectations are just a lot lower than yours were. I’ve never expected blessings or priesthood holders to be perfect. I’ve always expected some blessings would be better than others, that they would range from powerful and meaningful on one end to empty and useless on the other, and that it would be up to me to figure out which was which. People usually do the best they can when they give a blessing, but that doesn’t mean it always works well.

    kuri

    February 17, 2008 at 10:22 pm

  17. Kuri

    I think LDS tend to take patriarchal blessings far too literally and give them far too much importance.

    Thomas S Monson has described the patriarchal blessing as a “Liahona”, likening it to the compass that guided Lehi and his family through the desert – see link. To me, that sounds pretty important. What would have happened if Lehi hadn’t taken the instructions written on the Liahona literally, or hadn’t thought them of much importance?

    I’ve always expected some blessings would be better than others, that they would range from powerful and meaningful on one end to empty and useless on the other

    You’re a dad. Suppose you want to give your children some important guidance that will help them in their future lives. Maybe they’re going to college for the first time, or something, and you won’t see them for a while. Would you spend time with your first child, giving her powerful and meaningful counsel, while fobbing off your second child with a lot of empty and useless platitudes? How would your second daughter feel if she found out how diffferently you had treated her than her sister? What would that say to her about how much – or how little – she meant to you?

    God is supposed to be a perfect Father, yet you suggest that he doesn’t even make the effort to ensure that each of his children receive the same quality of guidance and direction. As an all-powerful being, even if he has to work through a less than perfect medium, surely he could make sure that each child is given powerful and meaningful direction, that all are treated equally carefully and caringly? If not, you are a better father than he is.

    IslaSkye

    February 18, 2008 at 6:34 pm

  18. Kuri,

    ***If it’s real, though, I’m not sure that an eternity of bliss wouldn’t make up for just about anything. Did you ever see the movie “American Beauty”? A character dies unfairly, but his last line, from the afterlife, is, “It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world.” That’s what it would be like, I suppose.***

    I don’t think there’s much I can say to that, especially as I can’t imagine a beauty that makes mortal pain and suffering suddenly insignificant. Except that I don’t like the implication that the Lord can treat you however he likes while you’re in mortality and then think that everything is justifiable because of how breathtakingly beautiful you’ll find the next life to be.

    ***As for blessings, I guess my expectations are just a lot lower than yours were. I’ve never expected blessings or priesthood holders to be perfect.***

    Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t expect priesthood holders to be perfect either – that would be the height of silliness – but I do expect the Lord to make up any deficit, so that what’s meant to be said through an Elder will be spoken loud and clear. Moroni 10:32-33 is pertinent to what I talking about (let me just add that I’ve always been very much a literalist) and, if I remember correctly, Bruce McConkie in the Bible Dictionary called the endowment that I’m referring to “grace” and that it’s “God’s enabling power” to humankind. I wouldn’t consider this a ridiculous expectation. Would you?

    Curmudgeonly Yours

    February 18, 2008 at 6:50 pm

  19. Isla,

    Sure patriarchal blessings are important, but I’d bet that even President Monson would say that deciding how many children to have based on whether your blessing says “son” or “sons” is getting a bit carried away. How many children to have surely deserves a good deal more thought and prayer and planning than that.

    As for the fatherhood thing, my kids often used to say things like “She got such-and-such and I didn’t, it’s not fair!” I’ve had to tell them many times that they’re aren’t all going to get exactly the same thing every time, but I’ll do my best to make sure that what they get from me is fair in the long run. I think any parent with more than one child has to engage in a similar balancing act.

    Tax,

    “I don’t think there’s much I can say to that, especially as I can’t imagine a beauty that makes mortal pain and suffering suddenly insignificant.”
    Well, the Bible does tell us that Heaven is literally unimaginably wonderful (1 Cor. 2:9), so I guess you’re not supposed to be able to imagine it. 😉

    “…but I do expect the Lord to make up any deficit, so that what’s meant to be said through an Elder will be spoken loud and clear.”
    It’s just not been my experience that that will always happen. I’ve failed in those circumstances a handful of times as well (i.e., I believed God wanted me to do or say something for or to someone, but I failed to do so). “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” I guess. I expect imperfection.

    kuri

    February 19, 2008 at 3:40 am

  20. Kuri

    So, when you’ve set up a special situation with each of your children, in which you have promised that you’ll give them, individually, the best of your time, attention and whatever wisdom you possess tailored especially for them, you’re more than likely to give one child great quality and another virtually nothing of value? Come on Kuri. If, as you say, having children in the first place deserves thought, prayer and planning, surely treating them as fairly as possible when it really matters deserves that much effort too?

    Of course it’s difficult to treat every child exactly the same all the time, but when they are relying on you to give them quality individual counsel and guidance at important times in their lives, don’t you have a responsibility to honour your promise to give them just that? Especially if, as many people do when preparing to receive a patriarchal blessing, they’ve fasted and prayed to be worthy and receptive to the important information that you will be giving them.

    A patriarchal blessing is not a one-way street. It’s not only the patriarch who tries to be prepared and inspired to receive God’s word, but the recipient as well. Isn’t it disrespectful of God to not always honour those efforts?

    I expect imperfection.

    Then how do you know what’s true or correct and what isn’t? How do you decide which scriptures to believe if they were all written by imperfect men? Which commandments are God-given and which man-made? Was Joseph Smith speaking God’s words when he outlined LDS doctrine, or were they his own interpretations, or even simply his own ideas? Where is your basis for accepting anything the church teaches, if you anticipate that it’s likely to be flawed in some way?

    islaskye

    February 19, 2008 at 6:53 pm

  21. Just an FYI–and no, I didn’t read all the comments, so this may have been said already, but about 67% of all PB’s given (according to FARMS, for whatever reason…) tend to stick us in the Tribe of Ephraim. I used to know the reason why, but now I don’t really give a damn….

    My PB is on my blog–soothsaying is soothsaying, if you ask me…

    Miki

    February 24, 2008 at 10:17 am

  22. Isla,
    I send my kids to the best schools I can, but their teachers have ranged from excellent to rather poor. I have to rely on other people to teach them, so their educational experiences haven’t always been everything I want it to be, and sometimes one child has had a better experience than the others. God has to rely on other people to give patriarchal blessings, with similar results.

    Then how do you know what’s true or correct and what isn’t?
    I muddle along as best I can.

    kuri

    February 25, 2008 at 6:15 pm

  23. Kuri said:

    Isla,
    I send my kids to the best schools I can, but their teachers have ranged from excellent to rather poor. I have to rely on other people to teach them, so their educational experiences haven’t always been everything I want it to be, and sometimes one child has had a better experience than the others. God has to rely on other people to give patriarchal blessings, with similar results.

    ___________________________

    Fair enough, but you wouldn’t blame your child for being poorly educated if, at the end of it all, he/she only had poor teachers, would you? You would blame the schooling they received, especially if it was evident that other children had been better educated to handle life’s challenges. I don’t see the BoM or the patriarchal blessing as especially good textbooks, if I’m still able to use the school analogy. Let me explain further:
    The kicker that LDS church uses is that it will be the fault of the recipient (school child) if the blessing (diploma) does not come to fruition (get them into a decent university, get them good marks on standardized exams) – they were not honourable (did not pay enough attention in class) enough.

    That was my main problem with the LDS church – I could do everything in my power to see that I was in line with the teachings of the priesthood and the teachings in the scriptures (studied my guts out) but, at the end of the day, if I didn’t make it into the celestial kingdom then it must have been something I did or didn’t do. What that does, in my mind, is make the exercises in this life, (or in school) quite futile as you’re working with faulty texts.
    Living my life by guidance only decreases my odds for success. It’s like playing an unpredictable stock market and I would have thought that god would want to provide better odds for his client base. Especially if they were the elite or chosen ones…

    Mormon doctrine does not prepare one for this life, nor for any other, in my opinion. I have since enrolled in a different school even though my closest family members still attend the old one. I hear they have a good friend in the schoolmaster – that explains a lot, but it’s not good enough for me. I really, really want something different.

    HM-uk

    February 27, 2008 at 10:16 am

  24. That was my main problem with the LDS church – I could do everything in my power to see that I was in line with the teachings of the priesthood and the teachings in the scriptures (studied my guts out) but, at the end of the day, if I didn’t make it into the celestial kingdom then it must have been something I did or didn’t do.

    I’ve always thought that doing everything in one’s power is enough to make it to the Celestial Kingdom (with help from the Atonement). Am I missing something?

    Living my life by guidance only decreases my odds for success.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “living by guidance,” but I’ve found that seeking revelation or inspiration enhances my life.

    Mormon doctrine does not prepare one for this life, nor for any other, in my opinion.

    A great many Mormons seem to be successful in their lives, though.

    I have since enrolled in a different school even though my closest family members still attend the old one. I hear they have a good friend in the schoolmaster – that explains a lot, but it’s not good enough for me. I really, really want something different.

    That’s fine by me. To each his own.

    kuri

    February 27, 2008 at 4:40 pm

  25. kuri said:

    “I’ve always thought that doing everything in one’s power is enough to make it to the Celestial Kingdom (with help from the Atonement). Am I missing something?”

    I think you may be missing something in that there are regional variations as to what it means to be ‘doing everything in one’s power’. You are making the sort of vague statement that the LDS church makes. I wouldn’t play by those kinds of odds with something as unimportant as money so what’s the point in giving over something as important as my life and time to something as vague and changeable as the LDS church?

    kuri said:

    “I’m not quite sure what you mean by “living by guidance,” but I’ve found that seeking revelation or inspiration enhances my life.”

    This is where you and I agree, in abstract terms. I believe that I am capable of living a good and happy life with all that my mind and my experiences reveal to me. You seek your revelation and inspiration from your religion and the stories told by it to help you shape your future experiences. I have rejected all the stories as mythology and, so, I am free to have the kind of experiences that have brought ME great joy and fulfillment. They’ve come from my own choices, so I have a full knowledge of the experience, not what others have said would bring me happiness or sadness. You know what, kuri? Some of the things that the LDS church purports to bring sadness and pain actually don’t. Some of the things that the LDS church purports to bring happiness and joy actually don’t. The thing is, that there is this big group dynamic pushing you to feel the emotions, whether you actually do or not.

    kuri said:
    “A great many Mormons seem to be successful in their lives, though.”

    Of course they are, but to the wider world they are socially stunted. They seem to be afraid of having the experiences that the rest of the world is having (or at least getting caught having the experiences) and, so, limit the range of their humanity and response to the rest of the world.

    “That’s fine by me. To each his own.”

    Cheers kuri, you seem to be quite an engaging person and I’ve enjoyed reading some of your comments. I wish you well.

    Isla and Curmudge, sorry for taking over.

    HM-uk

    February 28, 2008 at 2:16 pm

  26. Actually, I think we’re almost on the same page. You’re just a little more cynical and a little more (dare I say) arrogant than I am. Oh, I used to be more like you, but I finally figured that maybe I don’t understand something. Yeah, lots of bad things happen, and one would think that a god, particularly the benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent God of the New Testament, would not let that kind of stuff go on. It’s a tragedy that people die seemingly senselessly (to us mere mortals), but that doesn’t make the blessings and miracles that do happen any less wonderful. I’ve seen my share of tragedy and what I would term miracles (one in particular) to figure I’ve just got to shrug my shoulders and go on, hoping that someday I’ll understand the why. But I’m not going to stop thanking God for things like Kaye’s return from the brink of death to a future drooling in a nursing home to the brilliant, beautiful, and much-loved person I have with me thirteen years later. I thank God every day for that, and I’m selfish enough to be glad that if somebody lives and somebody dies, it’s Kaye that lives.

    I’m a curmudgeon myself. One of my professors in grad school said I reminded her of Eeyore; my thesis advisor said I reminded her of Shirley Maclaine’s role in Steel Magnolias. So I’m no sweet little Christian lady. But I’m no cynic, either. There is some wiggle room.

    Snark

    February 29, 2008 at 11:37 pm

  27. Kuri

    I send my kids to the best schools I can, but their teachers have ranged from excellent to rather poor. I have to rely on other people to teach them, so their educational experiences haven’t always been everything I want it to be, and sometimes one child has had a better experience than the others. God has to rely on other people to give patriarchal blessings, with similar results.

    The difference is that you have no control over your children’s teachers. You didn’t train or employ them and you’re not responsible for supervising them. Even complaining to the head teacher may do little to improve their performance.

    But God, we’re told, is in control of who is “called” to the position of stake patriarch. He is responsible for that person’s training and for supervising their work. He is most certainly in a position to affect their performance. As Curmudgeonly pointed out, the scriptures state that God can bestow on humans his “grace”, or enabling power, so that they are able to perform perhaps far in excess of their normal abilities. If God wishes to use a human being to carry out his work, grace is a tool that is readily available to him. Grace is necessary precisely because humans are imperfect and there are examples of it in both the Bible and Book of Mormon. In fact, you mentioned it in your response to HM-uk when you said:

    I’ve always thought that doing everything in one’s power is enough to make it to the Celestial Kingdom (with help from the Atonement).

    The Atonement is the ultimate example of God’s grace, but it’s only one of the ways God uses it (if the scriptures are to be believed). Why wouldn’t he employ this power in the case of patriarchal blessings? After all, they’re sold as blueprints for people’s lives. Having a patriarchal blessing is a rite of passage for members of the LDS church, an experience everyone is encouraged to have and to treasure. If God isn’t bothered enough to ensure that the patriarch accurately passes on his guidance and promises to his children, what’s the point of having patriarchal blessings at all?

    islaskye

    March 2, 2008 at 10:03 am

  28. Snark

    It’s a tragedy that people die seemingly senselessly (to us mere mortals), but that doesn’t make the blessings and miracles that do happen any less wonderful. I’ve seen my share of tragedy and what I would term miracles (one in particular) to figure I’ve just got to shrug my shoulders and go on, hoping that someday I’ll understand the why.

    The thing is, do the “miracles” make up for the tragedy overall? Maybe in your life they do, but what of humankind generally? People may tend to see God as being personal to them, but isn’t he dealing with everyone else in the world as well?

    If you take into account all of the suffering of all of the people who have lived on this earth – many of them victims of terror and tragedy that we can’t even imagine – can all that be wiped out, made up for or even explained? Ever? Are you happy that a supposedly benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient God has allowed (and sometimes even instigated and encouraged) cruelty and pain to be the lot of millions of human beings over the centuries? Do you believe that the hope of someday understanding the reasons for all of this, can redeem the tears and anguish of every little child that has suffered and died horribly and needlessly while crying out to God for help?

    islaskye

    March 2, 2008 at 10:27 am

  29. But God, we’re told, is in control of who is “called” to the position of stake patriarch. He is responsible for that person’s training and for supervising their work. He is most certainly in a position to affect their performance.

    That’s only somewhat true. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” There are limits to what God can make people do.

    Why wouldn’t he employ this power in the case of patriarchal blessings? After all, they’re sold as blueprints for people’s lives. Having a patriarchal blessing is a rite of passage for members of the LDS church, an experience everyone is encouraged to have and to treasure.

    They’re oversold, IMO.

    If God isn’t bothered enough to ensure that the patriarch accurately passes on his guidance and promises to his children, what’s the point of having patriarchal blessings at all?

    There isn’t much point if the patriarch doesn’t give a quality blessing or the recipient doesn’t find value in it. Sometimes they’re a waste of time. Other times, they’re not. (I guess we’ve come full circle in the discussion.) 🙂

    kuri

    March 3, 2008 at 11:25 pm

  30. I think you’re right – patriarchal blessings are definitely oversold. But by the same definition, maybe everything about the church is oversold, even the church itself.

    IslaSkye

    March 4, 2008 at 6:58 am

  31. Curmudgeonly, you were warned to remain faithful around twelve times (by my count) within this particular blessing. Now you’re an atheist who has apparently sold his birthright for a mess of pottage (or should I say…tea?). Uninspired? I think not. Bryce is right. God will not be mocked. If your blessing seems devoid of specifics, perhaps it’s because the Lord knew beforehand you would parade this sacred and most personal blessing on the Internet for everyone to see. You have done the very thing your blessing repeatedly warned you against. And CV Rick, if you don’t like the Book of Mormon, try this one from the Bible: “The foolishness of God is wiser than men.” What seems foolish to a tea-drinking ex-mormon appears undoubtably wise to me. Far from canned, this blessing was downright prophetic.

    Noah

    April 18, 2008 at 11:29 am

  32. Noah,

    ***Curmudgeonly, you were warned to remain faithful around twelve times (by my count) within this particular blessing. Now you’re an atheist who has apparently sold his birthright for a mess of pottage… Far from canned, this blessing was downright prophetic.***

    How utterly ridiculous, but then you seem to be the sort of Mormon who would find evidence for God’s existence in a piece of burnt toast.

    Every Mormon who receives a patriarchal blessing is told to be faithful or suffer dire consequences. If my becoming an atheist proves that my patriarchal blessing is “downright pathetic prophetic” and a product of God, then I might as well believe my daily horoscope because eventually it will give a correct prediction.

    If I’d stayed faithful, I would have viewed my blessing as being inspired of God. Because I’ve left the Church, people like you view my blessing as divine in origin and prophetic. It’s a win-win situation for patriarchal blessings and the “authority” of the Church through which they’re delivered, despite there being absolutely no foundation for the claims that they’re in any way truthful other than a nebulous faith on the part of the believer.

    ***Bryce is right. God will not be mocked.***

    And you think that “I” will be mocked? I don’t think so. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. God is taking the piss when he doesn’t make good on his promises as I have discovered. To understand what I mean, read this entry.

    Curmudgeonly

    April 19, 2008 at 12:08 pm

  33. I know my PB was inspired it was this line that helped me to discover the truth and free myself from such a mentally and emotionally damaging organization

    “You can be not greatly different from our first prophet in this last dispensation”

    “Study the lives of those in this latter day who have been leaders in the church because you will have opportunity to live and perform as they have, and you should follow their example.”

    About 12 years ago these two lines inspired me to really study and understand Joseph Smith I am so greatful for THAT!

    coventryrm

    April 25, 2008 at 3:03 pm

  34. I also posted mine on http://www.coventryrm.wordpress.com

    coventryrm

    April 25, 2008 at 3:26 pm

  35. OT

    We were comparing notes a while back about our paths crossing in Nottingham or Boston – do you remember a Elder Kuhn?

    coventryrm

    April 26, 2008 at 4:50 am

  36. Coventryrm, you said,” I know my PB was inspired”

    This intrigues me greatly. I would like to know what you meant by this statement. If you PB led you to leave the church, by whom was it inspired? I would just like to know your theory.

    ***“You can be not greatly different from our first prophet in this last dispensation”***

    What are your thoughts on this statement? How do you think (if it was inspired) that you compare?
    Even though you do not believe in the authenticity of JS and the LDS church, do you still believe your blessing was divinely inspired by God as a way of telling you to get out?

    I personally have lost my ability to exercise faith in this religion. I realize that faith is necessary in order to balance any religion with reason and logic. Having lost my faith, I can no longer find any reason or means to follow the precepts of the church. However, I am still on the fence about many issues regarding the existence of God. I feel that if there is a God (with whom I have always felt a close personal relationship, whether created in my mind or not) then this God is much more forgiving and loving and less hypocritical, sensitive, a insecure than the god created by the LDS church leaders and members. I personally think that Mormons have created a God in THEIR OWN image. not the other way around.

    Anyway, I just want to know your thoughts about what you wrote earlier. I find it interesting.

    Cragnomad

    May 23, 2008 at 9:18 am

  37. Cragnomad, sorry it took me so long to respond

    It was meant as sarcasm, I am an Atheist once I started questioning the LDS faith I believe rational thinking then took me from magical thinking all together. I still have great “spiritual” experiences if you want to call them such, but I would describe them much more as moments of enlightened clarity but the wonderful thing is I no longer have to try and make sense of the nonsensical.

    coventryrm

    June 7, 2008 at 3:40 pm

  38. dear athiest

    i will PROVE God does exist

    when you PROVE that the mona lisa was not painted by a paint brush attached to a tree limb, blowing in the wind….and/or by Davinci

    mark

    February 8, 2009 at 10:24 pm

  39. Hello webmaster
    I would like to share with you a link to your site
    write me here preonrelt@mail.ru

    Alexwebmaster

    March 3, 2009 at 2:50 pm

  40. Yeah, I’ve been giving mine a lot of thought lately. I’ll give you a little background: I’ve been an atheist for about a year because of an unexpected conversation my dad and I had.

    dad: Aren’t you going to church today?
    me: Nah.
    dad: Why not?
    me: I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, I just…I dunno…
    dad: Well, make up your mind! Either you’re a member or you’re not!
    me: I guess I’m not.
    dad: Fine! Hey, wait…

    Thanks dad.

    Mine said I have talents I, at the time, was hiding. I’ve always been musically inclined. I love to play guitar, and I fancy myself a competent singer. But I’d never sing or play guitar for my family because my mom has obnoxious reactions to it. There I was at 14 playing the majority of “Master of Puppets” by Metallica, and she wanted to hear “Amazing Grace.”

    I’ve convinced myself that it was a musical talent I’d been hiding, but that part goes on to state I should use these talents in missionary work. If I remember correctly.

    Even if the patriarch was indeed referring to these capabilities I’d been hiding, I just can’t bring myself to enjoy going to church, hanging out with church people, or listening to their dumb-as-hell talks.

    ted

    April 29, 2009 at 5:15 am

  41. Have you ever thought that maybe the reason you got a “disappointing” blessing is perhaps because it would one day be plastered up on the internet for everyone to see? I don’t care if you have gone away from the church. I really don’t. Do what you want. But would you please have the respect for other’s beliefs and not blog and expose things to the internet that we hold sacred?

    Katie

    September 16, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    • hey unless you have read his blessing or know him or his life or his problems in life let it go. and if you can explain my blessing to me great other than that let it go.

      mike

      August 22, 2010 at 7:57 am

  42. well mine blessing is long and long winded. it goes on and on about being a servant to many and helping others find ways to joy and peace, and to serve people all mine says is to serve people it doesn’t say anything about God helping me develop my gifts and talents or to excel at my chosen profession. or any thing to help me achieve my goals and dreams but i am supposed to help other people achieve their goals and dreams well i think that sucks. what about my dreams and goals.

    mike

    August 22, 2010 at 7:52 am

  43. Why so bitter Curmudgeonly? If you’re happier now then why waste so much time writing a blog about the religion? It’s kind of pathetic.

    hexagon2345

    July 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm

  44. Yes Bryce, God will not be mocked. “thou shalt have no more soothsayers”. By definition, PBs are a form a soothsaying. Anything that directs the actions of a person a takes away their free will, the very purpose behind the so-called “War in Heaven”. Patriarchs fish for information just like psychics do in “cold readings” by interviewing candidates prior to giving the blessings. Members are questioned about their families heritage, so the Patriarch can assign tribal lineage. Their handbooks tell them what races are assigned to which tribes. The candidates ward and stake leaders are phoned to find out the general disposition, personality and obstacles the person has faced prior to the blessing, if already not known through association with the person. Because many members leave by the age of 16, the blessings are designed to keep people in the church by dangling blessing carrots. They speak in vague generalities, which is why those that receive them are told not to discuss them. And of course when they are highly inaccurate, the member is accused of unrighteousness or told that the blessing might come forth in the Millennium. One woman I know was caused a great deal of emotional stress when a Patriarch declared one of her children’s tribal lineage different than the rest of the family. As the Stake President’s wife, this would suggest that she had strayed during her marriage. It was obvious she had not because that child bore the same resemblances as the rest of the children to their father. LDS Patriarchs are no different than Soothsayers like Sylvia Browne that tell parents their children are dead and are later discovered alive. Promising members children, spouses, church callings is cruel, especially when the person lived a good life and is trying to figure out why they were denied a promised blessing. When a member is suspected of being homosexual, they are often given spousal and maternal guidance to try and divert them from embracing how they were born. Brigham Young has 5 PBs on file in the church archives. Seems he viewed them like an astrological horoscope and unattached to personal righteousness, which if he were, why did he need so much counsel, considering he claim of being a prophet, seer and revelator? These blessings totally discount the designated role of the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ that bear witness to the truth in all things. All things would certainly encompass anything addressed in a PB! PBs are a manipulation and mind control device. Condemning psychics and then buying into PBs is hypocrisy.

    John J.

    May 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm

  45. D&C 89:2 clearly states the “Word of Wisdom” is neither a commandment nor a constraint on the diets of the members. They are general guidelines for those seeking optimal health. The WOW doesn’t even address what would become the greatest threat to Mormon Health…obesity. How is that fasting stuff working for you?I guess because the Tabernacle in the wilderness was a big tent, the church is supposed to supply double-wides with temple garments big enough to cover them. I foresee them installing benches in the Endowment rooms because people are complaining about having to share a seat with Shamu. They make it a requirement for temple attendance even though it is NOT a commandment and then mock it by throwing moderation out the window, while still claiming it to be a sacred part of the religion. Makes my head spin! One thing is for certain, the refreshment table is sacred to Mormonism. Jello is their sacrament.

    John J.

    May 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm

  46. thanks for sharing I am nobody. nobody is perfect. therefore
    I am perfect. SIGN NOBODY

    suellen cornelius

    April 6, 2015 at 5:40 pm

  47. Lol… probably a bit late.. this article proves to me you were looking for away out.. just saying..

    God speed my friend..

    andy

    March 2, 2016 at 1:05 pm


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