Fallible Patriarchal Blessings

Receiving my patriarchal blessing was the spiritual highlight of my youth. The whole event carried an intense and happy feeling that God knew me personally and that the church — being the repository of such wonders — was true. The effect my patriarchal blessing experience had on my subsequent life cannot be overestimated.

Mormon patriarchal blessings are strange creatures. They exist theologically to declare one’s Israelite lineage. Our modern understanding of genetic lineage is forced to now emphasise the symbolic nature of the declaration, powerful in its own right (we are to do the works of Abraham, “pure Ephraimite” or not), but still a relic of the day when Mormons imagined direct descent from biblical patriarchs.

The prophetic element of the blessing is a marvel indeed, especially when we consider that such bold and specific seership is not common on a general level in the church anymore. For me, my blessing was a collection of wise admonitions and promises, coupled with an uncanny appraisal of my character. That our Stake Patriarch did not know me added in a unmeasurable way to the sense that it was God who was speaking to me. Again, this was powerful stuff.

But Patriarchs are not infallible oracles, and their blessings ought not to be considered the unadulterated word of God. The church (sort of) recognises this when we hear counsel not to imagine the blessing as fortune telling, to remember that blessings are conditional on obedience, and that some prophecies may not come to fruition in this life. Despite this, I think that on a practical level such counsel is sometimes forgotten and that there’s a strong feeling in the church that the patriarchal blessing is infallible scripture, where questions of being “translated correctly” are not properly applied.

Just like scripture, I believe that patriarchal blessings contain the word of God, but that does not mean that they are, in themselves, the word of God. The recipient must seek God’s counsel to understand the nature of the blessing, what represents God’s word and what is the imperfect language of the fallible man giving the blessing. To think otherwise would be to claim a level of oracular perfection in a Patriarch that I do not think can be sustained.

My own blessing is pretty uncontroversial but still requires me to gain a sense of its relevance and application in any given circumstance. Sometimes, however, patriarchal blessings can have major consequences to life and faith. Here are some examples that I am personally aware of (i.e. they have happened to people I know):

- An engaged woman is told that she will serve a mission “in her youth.” Should she break-off the engagement?

- An engaged man is told that he has not yet met his future wife. Should he break-off the engagement?

- A woman is told that she will see the Second Coming of Jesus. If she dies beforehand, should the blessing be considered fatally flawed?

- A woman is told she will have children but currently finds herself infertile. Is her faithfulness in question?

- One patriarch often told girls exactly how many children they would have. At what point does this become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Should the woman who was told she would have five children really stop at three (she doesn’t think she can cope with any more)?

In a church where prophecy “means everything,” faithful Mormons will naturally and justifiably grapple with questions like these. My only advice is that decisions not be made simply because “my patriarchal blessing says so” and that we not agonise over every jot and tittle. That would be an abrogation of agency and a foolish step down the road of infallibility. All prophetic blessings are, in their final tally, the utterances of men, the level of inspiration in which must be personally and prayerfully ascertained by the recipient. A patriarchal blessing is scripture “as far as it is translated correctly.”

Comments

  1. The inspiration for this post came because of someone close to me who thinks that a single word in his blessing necessitates the making of a quite radical decision. It may well do, but I do not think this should be taken for granted. In my mind, that would be both theologically unsound and foolish.

    I didn’t include examples of PB’s causing all manner of wackiness, e.g. “you will serve in a high and holy calling” = “I will be prophet.”

  2. As I’ve looked through the geneological information for my deceased ancestors (put together by others), I’ve found that a common phrase used in patriarchal blessings that were given in the 1800s and even into the early 1900s was that the person would live to “see the Second Coming of Jesus” to the earth, as set out in your example.

    In my ancestors at least, this phrase seems to be used less and less by the patriarchs as time goes on. I wonder if there was any specific instruction to them to stop making this promise, or if they just stopped making the promise as people who had been promised this started to die.

    Of course, it can always be argued that such a promise means simply that you will be resurrected on the morning of the first resurrection and thus be alive and on the earth to see the Second Coming.

    However, the particular phrasing of some the blessings seems to suggest that this is not really what was meant by the patriarch. For instance, one of my ancestors’ blessings says that she will be blessed “and be protected from the wicked, and your life will be saved and preserved with the Saints of God and you will not taste of death until you see the Second Coming of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the earth.” It sounds like a bit of stretch to say that this was not intended to mean what it sounds like.

    The blessing was given in 1858. She died in 1906 of “natural causes” at the age of 86.

    I don’t have an answer to this type of question.

  3. Cheers, Elbow. That would be Exhibit A.

    I don’t have an answer to this type of question.

    I do: PB’s can be wrong. QED.

  4. Patriarchal Blessings are one of the wonderful aspects of being a Latter-day Saint. The revelation of tribal lineage has to do with spiritual duties and inheritance and can be very enlightening. The guidance and spirit of the blessings strengthen testimonies and give confidence. We believe that God really is speaking through those who have been called as patriarchs in the Church.

    I really like your idea about approaching our patriarchal blessings the same way we approach scripture. Patriarchal blessings are in a sense scripture to us but as with all scripture we should bear the “translated correctly” principle in mind when them. The message in patriarchal blessings can mean different things to us at different times in our lives. Our experiences, worldview, and even feelings provide for the current “translation” of our patriarchal blessings. We should understand when reading the patriarchal blessings that the blessing itself had to be translated into whatever language we speak in the mind of the patriarch and then it is again translated by us when reading it. The translation is shaped by our understanding of words, syntax, scripture, and even history that might differ slightly or dramatically from the way the patriarch used the words, syntax, scripture, and historical understanding in giving the blessing.

  5. This is a great post. I am one who, at an earlier stage in life, labored over the jot-and-tittle searching for “hidden” meanings in my blessing. Now I recognize that certain phrases and themes are traditional, and that patriarchs are human and prone to mistakes like all of us, and I see the patriarchal blessing as a wonderfully powerful art form. That doesn’t demean its divinity to me in any way, and I have made the argument with LDS friends of mine that the patriarchal blessing is one of the really unique institutional aspects of Mormonism that really “opens up the cosmos” to each member and provides a deep, meaningful connection to the divine.

    Of course, like many faith-based things, you get out of it what you put in to it (which begs the horrible question of construction) but ultimately it is what we make of it — if we go into it skeptically, as I have done many times, it will lose it’s importance and the divine connection will be lost. So my advice to your friend would be to carefully follow his heart, and if that means splitting hairs in his blessing, then that’s what he has to do.

  6. Glenn and John,
    I agree that PB’s are a remarkable and sacred aspect of Mormonism. I am just advocating that we stick a “handle with care” label on them. The same goes for all priesthood blessings that become prophetic utterances. In a church that believes in prophecy, I don’t think we are all that equipped to deal with the times when the “prophecy” is inexact or simply not prophecy at all.

  7. Norbert says:

    The recipient must seek God’s counsel to understand the nature of the blessing, what represents God’s word and what is the imperfect language of the fallible man giving the blessing.

    I think this is well-stated. In my own experience, prayer and common sense are necessary companions of the pb.

    At one point in my life, I read my pb as a general goodwill message, like many baby blessings. Then some years ago I was facing a decision and felt prompted to read it, and found some direction. Now I see it as self-fulfilling prophesy, pointing me in directions and ecouraging me to develop strengths.

  8. My older brothers and sisters got their blessings from the same patriarch and my younger brothers and sisters and I got our blessings from someone else. It is fun to compare the different idioms and phrases that the two men used. But, the patriarch for my older siblings was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and the stake president went back to people that had recently received their blessings from the Patriarch to see if he had left anything out. Apparently, in several blessings he left out parts about lineage and added in all kinds of ramblings. The stake president offered to let people get another blessing from the new patriarch. My sister declined the offer and felt that her blessing was sufficient.

  9. In a church that believes in prophecy, I don’t think we are all that equipped to deal with the times when the “prophecy” is inexact or simply not prophecy at all.

    Interesting. I’m not sure what I think about that to be honest. What do you think it takes to be well equipped to deal with those things (or well equiped enough to “handle with care”?) Is faith and desire not enough? I don’t think we can ever really know how correct or exact anything is except through faith, right? (again, thinking of your friend in his prospecitve position right now, not so much the retrospective recognition of things that did not come true in the past)

  10. Glenn,

    We can never know God’s will outside of the realm of faith. You are right on this. All I’m saying is that we need to take personal ownership of the prophecies that other people pronounce upon us.

    The woman in one of the examples I gave should not, in my opinion, take the “you will have five children” line as infallible scripture and then simply exercise faith to bring this to pass (even though she doesn’t feel able to have more children). Instead, she should seek to personally find out whether “five” is in fact “true.” Therein is the exercise of her faith.

    Given Arrow’s example — that PB’s can be utterly wrong — I think this is vital. That’s what we should be equipped with, a recognition of fallibility. Just because your Home Teacher gives you a blessing which tells you to do X, doesn’t mean that you should. I can give you a whole list of bad advice people have received in blessings. Good advice too, which is why we should apply faith to receive the wisdom to determine between the two. That’s all.

    The next question would be why we have blessings at all, given their inexactitude. I think, probably, it would be the same reason we have anything that claims to be divine but is mediated through humanity. Such is religion.

  11. BTW,
    I realise that taking “personal ownership” might lead you to pick and choose which admonitions and prophecies to follow and which to reject. This is a danger, I admit. But the alternative — to take blessing prophecy as the pure word of God — is also fraught. It is my belief — and I am sure others will disagree — that if we are to err, it is best to err due to our own mistakes rather than to err because we blindly follow others.

  12. I know of a couple of instances where a patriarchal blessing promised a woman that she would bear “sons and daughters,” and she took it as a mandate to keep having kids until she had at least two of each sex.

  13. Chrystabel says:

    I agree with Glenn and John.

    My patriarchal blessing is a gift, an acknowledgement of who I am (and I am not talking physical lineage here), and a promise of eternal if I remain close to my Heavenly Father. It has always been a comfort to me during hard times. IMO PB’s are fluid blessings not constrained by time and limited only by our patience and understanding.

    Maybe this woman you talk about with the five kids in her future needs to consider this possibility of more children-even if she doesn’t choose to have more children. Maybe considering this possibility will help her down the path she needs to go (physically, spiritually, emotionally-who knows). Not to be rude but it isn’t your business, actually. The blessing is for the receiver and no one else.

    Many of my blessings have come true but not in the ways I expected them to. One promise in my blessing has rung false but lately I realize that this particular promise was necessary so I could focus on this area in my life. Maybe it will also come to pass as I continue to strive?

    But my question for you Ronan is this: when is a priesthood ordinance or blessing “real” and when is it inexact prophecy? I too think we have a responsibility to use the spirit to determine our path but I also place a great deal of faith in priesthood blessings. I have had many of them and as I later found out God was behind them each and every time.

  14. lamonte says:

    Ronan – Thanks for this post suggesting common sense advice to all of us. I find the phrases you have cited troubling and they seem to be proof that patriarchs themselves can get carried away with their own powers. I firmly believe they are inspired in the words they say but, as you suggest, they most likely overstep their bounds on certain occasions.

    On the other hand, when I occasionally re-visit my PB (and I do that far too seldom) I see things that have happened or are happening in my life that seem to be mentioned in the blessing. Just recently I had an unpleasant encounter with someone. I spent a good part of my Saturday fuming over the incident and scheming about how to “get back” at them. Then for some reason, I felt a need to review my PB and found words to the effect that “Satan will use your pride as a means to hold you back” and could suddenly see the error in my ways. I suppose that phrase may be appropriate for many or most church members (and thus might not seem too prophetic) but what I found interesting was the fact that I felt prompted to read my PB that day – something I had not done for at least two years prior. Now in the latter half of my life as my extended family (parents, brother, sister) grow ever more estranged, my PB reminds me that it is my responsibility to hold family reunions. That phrase may also be common to many PBs but I also have to admit to myself that I am the only active church member in my family and so how else would that message get across to the members of my family if not through the PB. The Patriarchal Blessing is a one of the great blessings we have as church members.

  15. I touched similarly on this topic a little while ago here. I’m just glad that my blessing isn’t so specific as some that I’m reading about here.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    Great post, Ronan. As usual, I agree with your perspective.

    The patriarch who gave me my blessing (in the Wilmette Stake north of Chicago, sometime in the 70s) was an absolute spiritual giant of a man. He had participated in underground activities during WWII. I was in awe of him, and to this day I’m grateful I was able to get my blessing from such a person.

    The odd thing about my blessing was that instead of being assigned to Ephraim, it says that although my blood is mixed, I am of Joseph. I’ve always been curious what, if any, significance to assign to this particular lineage declaration. I’ve never quite been sure whether I should be offended, or flattered, or whether it is completely neutral. But I choose to see it in a positive light. At least it’s different. (It probably was foreshadowing the fact that I would become a liberal and an intellectual and would one day blog on BCC.)

  17. Rebecca says:

    The word ‘prophecy’ has been mentioned more than once now in regard to PB’s. I wasn’t aware that the church considers patriarchs prophets.

    A personal progress goal, (straight from the church produced manual) suggested that you study and split your PB into categories: counsel, lineage, and information. Nowhere was there a category for ‘prophecy’.

    I think this is in part is what Ronan is referring. We’re labeling incorrectly what we expect from a PB.

    If we look at it (like I did ever since I completed that PP goal when I was a Laurel) as counsel and information, rather than prophecy, then we can use our PB along with continuing personal revelation from Heavenly Father in our lives.

  18. In my own family my great grandmother died in the great Influenza epidemic. She had been promised in her PB that she would see many of her descendents serve missions for the Church. The facts that she had only daughters (four of them, none of whom served missions) and she died when the oldest was about six seemed to invalidate the promise of the blessing. Most of her grandchildren were inactive and only one served a mission.

    One of my great aunts used the failure of the PB to come true as a reason not to attend church for many years, becoming active only when she was abotu 90 years old.

    However, if you look at my generation there are something like 20 missionaries and most of the family is active.

    So did her PB come true? It’s a good question, and you can answer it either way. It is certainly true that in her lifetime (and even for many decades afterwards) it looked like a miserable failure, but now it doesn’t look so bad. I guess you can take what you want from it and make your own meaning.

    Not all have such a seemingly easy resolution, and I think we need to recall that the blessing is what it is and we are what we are: fulfillment depends on our choices and what we take as fulfillment.

  19. Ronan, I want to make sure you read the second paragraph of my # 4. Your # 6 made it seem like you hadn’t seen that.

  20. One other item. When I was at BYU there was a fellow who told us all about how his PB was over two hours long and told him all sorts of specific things about not his not needing to serve a mission because he would serve the Church through his music (he composed “space music” that I quite disliked). At the time he had some of us naïve young college students wowed, but in retrospect I had to conclude that he had probably elaborated on the truth, to put it kindly. I have no idea what happened to the fellow, but he clearly treated the PB as something with oracular powers that testified of his special role in this world. I somehow doubt that his “two-hour blessing” came true, but in his case I wouldn’t blame the blessing…

  21. Raphael Enos says:

    Sacred things must be handled with care. I am reminded of the scripture:

    30 Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?
    31 Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?
    32 I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.
    33 Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.

    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 58:30 – 33)

    I am not arguing for infallibility, but I do wonder sometimes if we, with our little minds are able to comprehend God as well as we think we sometimes do.

    I think of a chess example. Sometimes I move a piece, not because I need this piece to be where I have just placed it, but because I need my opponent to react to my move, freeing up a space or whatever the case may be.

    I have often wondered whether God moves pieces in a similar manner? If we had not received a particular piece of information in a blessing, would we have moved in the way that we did, would we have been brought to the place where we are now, where we need to be in order for God to do his work, either in our own lives or in the lives of others?

    I too have seen and heard many things in all kinds of blessings that seemed inaccurate in hindsight but which I have been convinced of the ‘truthfulness’ of nevertheless. When I think and pray about these things, I often feel that they were God’s way of moving me across the board.

    I used to think that the Liahona would be pretty cool to have, but all these things are faith based, right? and work only according to the heed and diligence with which we give them:

    28 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them.
    29 And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.

    (Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 16:28 – 29)

    Who knows what small means God is using in our own lives? Maybe they are called Patriarchal blessings?

    One last scripture:

    27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

    (Book of Mormon | Mosiah 4:27)

    God expects us to use wisdom in negotiating our own personal journeys through the wilderness. Whether we have the strength to have five children or three, whether we are frightened of excited that we have been promised that we will be there at the Second Coming, whether we quit our job, or break off an engagement to go on a mission . . . . . wisdom and order. Learn to counsel with him, do what you can do, and leave the rest up to Him.

    God could have given sheep much larger brains if he had needed that kind of follower. With us, he expects us to be thoughtful, to be diligent, and to do the best we can with the information he sees fit to give us.

    As a gratefully recovering addict, I have had to learn to let go and let god. He has sufficiently proven that he is able to take care of his side of the net. The more I learn to trust him and his messengers, the more I am able to feel that peace which passes all understanding.

    As we say in my recovery circles: Take what you can use and leave the rest.

  22. Not to be rude but it isn’t your business, actually.

    Since there is nothing to indicate that this is a real person we are talking about, but is posed as a hypothetical, I think it is our business. If we were being called upon to council a real person and tell her what her PB means in her own life, I’d agree with you, but as a hypothetical case, it is our business because it raises fundamental issues of interpretation for all of us because it is the sort of thing we could all face.

    My own PB talks about me doing things in the sciences (something that seemed a reasonable future when I got the blessing), but now I am a folklorist. Does that mean that I should throw away my education and start over to go into science? It’s really the same issue as the hypothetical five kids question.

  23. Kevin Barney says:

    Now that I think about it, in retrospect I think I would have preferred to get my blessing from the Oracle at Delphi a la the movie 300.

    (Sorry; couldn’t resist.)

  24. There is a Dialogue that addresses some of the issues discussed here.

    Patriarchal Blessings and the Routinization of Charisma, by Irene M. Bates, Fall 1993, pages 1-29.

    The article is based on the author’s review of 744 blessings, including 560 from the 19th century. It discusses themes that appeared in blessings during different periods, including 19th century references to seeing the second coming. It also discusses leaders’ different perspectives on the meaning of lineage declarations.

    Here’s one quote that supports Ronan’s views:

    Apostle John A. Widstoe once cautioned the Saints, “Since patriarchs are but men, they are subject to human frailties. Their manner of speech and thinking is reflected in their blessings.” [From his Evidences and Reconciliations]

  25. Nick Literski says:

    “The effect my patriarchal blessing experience had on my subsequent life cannot be underestimated.”

    Umm…perhaps you meant to say “cannot be OVERestimated?”

    I look at this from a historical perspective. Many early patriarchal blessings (such as those given by Joseph Smith Sr.) included rather elaborate and extravagant prophesies. They reflected the early millenial expectations of the Mormons at that time. Absent some real theological acrobatics, many of them were pure nonsense.

    The story is told of one early prominent church member who was told in his patriarchal blessing that he would not “taste of death” until the Second Coming. The man died when a shingle blew off a nearby roof, striking him in the neck. I have seen attempts to justify the prophecy by saying that because this man died instantly, he never “tasted of death.” This may be a satisfying answer for one who needs to rationalize away any hint of disbelief, but for more rational observers, it’s simply an over-exuberant patriarch.

    I wish I had a source to confirm it, but I was told that at one time, direction had to be given to all patriarchs to stop making “extravagant promises” in blessings, after MANY blessing recipients were being told that they would be one of the two prophets to lie in the streets of Jerusalem, as prophesied in the Book of Revelation.

  26. Prudence McPrude says:

    This post is destroying testimonies. IT MUST BE STOPPED!

    Patriarchal blessings always tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If it appears otherwise, then Satan is deceiving you, or you are hallucinating, or your blessing is a forgery, or you have no faith, or you are committing adultery.

  27. I received my PB when i was too young. I definitely went in thinking that this man would answer questions such as, “Will Sarah go out with me?” I was too spiritually immature.

    My PB is about 3/4 of a page long, and very vague.

    As I have gotten older, tho, I have appreciated that openness, because it seems to adapt to my current circumstances.

  28. In a recent General Conference, in a talk specifically about stake patriarchs, President Packer said:

    On regular occasions, perhaps twice a year, (stake presidents) should interview the patriarch and read some of his blessings. Remind him that each blessing should be individual and special to the member. The periodic reading of blessings must not be neglected by the stake president.

    To me this counsel suggests that Elder Packer believes that patriarchal blessings are fallible.

  29. Kevin #16,
    Have you read the post “Descendant of Joseph” over at BoM Groupies?

  30. Chrystabel says:

    Fenevad,

    I didn’t mean it that way. I have never used my blessing as an oracle and I don’t even think of it that way at all.

    When I said it wasn’t are business I meant that it is up to the receiver to determine the merits and correctness of the message. No one could possibly counsel me about my PB-nor should they because it is private revelation. Isn’t it a teency bit presumptious to think your opinion of this woman’s blessing(hypothetical or not) is more important than her own efforts to come to her own revelation about it. It is almost like trying to interpret someone elses dreams…almost impossible.

    I don’t doubt that there have been mistakes made with PBs’ but we have all made mistakes understanding our own personal revelations that weren’t given to us through a patriarch.

    I guess it boils down to an attitude-if you look at the blessing as a gift it can be used as another tool for revelation and reflection to help guide your path. In this way the PB is a future to live into and can be beneficial because it brings hope and reaffirms spiritual worth and talents.

    On the other hand if one looks at the PB as some kind of set in stone depiction of the future the blessing can be come a millstone and the expectations of fulfillment suffocate real possibilities and meaning.

  31. Anyone know anyone from an unusual tribe? I always ask because I’m from the tribe of Dan and have yet to actually encounter anyone else from it. Unless I’ve forgotten them, which is entirely possible.

    My husband’s PB says he will have children. It specifically says “boys and girls, girls and boys.” We have two boys and one girl. For a long time I wondered if I’d die young and he’d remarry and have more kids. Still a possibility.

    We have also over the years taken in two of my nieces, and my husband says they count.

  32. Latter-day Guy says:

    Am I crazy, or do I remember correctly a comment (Joseph Smith?) to the effect that once we have made/are part of a prophecy, we have a duty to actively seek to fulfill it. Citations, anyone?

    I think that adds to the complexity of the issue: Yes, we are told we must be righteous to receive the blessings stated in a PB, but how often are we told to go out and put effort into fulfilling them? That was not my experience.

    I am not saying this eliminates the difficulty of revelation coming through cracked or dusty conduits, and the resulting you-will-live-to-be-a-million-years-old, you-will-have-47-children-immaculately, you-will-make-the-greatest-apricot-pies-in-all-of-Zion promises, but it does add another twist.

  33. My mother’s PB is incredibly short (hardly any advice or counsel at all), and this was from a man who was known for his long blessings. My mom is too humble to admit it, but, looking back at her life, she really didn’t need much counsel or advice – but the two things that were said were absolutely spot-on and described a mental condition that was undiagnosed until almost 10 years after the blessing and unknown at the time by her family.

    Looking back on my wife’s life thus far, her PB identifies every single one of her major issues – those with which she struggles continually. It’s not self-fulfilling prophecy, but rather real insight into many issues of her upbringing and natural tendencies. One fascinating aspect of both of our blessings is that the focus in each section dealing with marriage is her. (She is the focus in hers, and she is the focus in mine.)

    I could go on and on, but I agree with the overall tenor of this thread completely – that PB’s are powerful, but that they are only as infallible as the individual who gives them – meaning that none of them are completely infallible. The process and the event are an amazing part of my own testimony of the Restoration, but what I make of it (ideologically and in practice) still depends on me.

  34. When I was younger I thought that each and every word in your PB was just for you and unique to you.

    Then one day in Young Women’s one of the girls, who had gotten her blessing from the same patriarch, mentioned some phrase from her PB. I felt this great sinking feeling inside, because it was the exact phrase from my blessing. “How could this be?” I wondered. And later a friend read me part of her blessing (again same patriarch), and it again it seemed to be worded exactly like mine. It was at the time really devastating to my testimony.

    Later in life my best friend and I read each other’s PB and I could finally see that while much of the wording was apparently this Patriarch’s stock phrasing, there were some key differences between the two. I felt much better then, but it was a real blow for awhile.

  35. Here are a few of my experiences with Patriarchal blessings:
    1) I remember very well when our stake Patriarch was called. He is a good friend, and he was overwhelmed by the calling. The first blessing he gave was about one paragraph long. (I know this because I talked to the first person to receive a blessing under his hands.) However, when two of our children received their blessings (after he had been a Patriarch for several years), the blessings were quite long and beautiful, and Bruce and I were deeply touched by the Spirit in the room.

    2) This same Patriarch gave a blessing to one of my African American friends. I had the audacity to ask him what lineage he pronounced. Now, I’m not real lineage-centered (in fact, I think it’s a rather dangerous idea in its possible implications), but his response was extremely interesting, because he had pronounced a lineage contrary to what he himself had anticipated. He said, “I expected it would be Cain or Canaan, because–well, you know. But it was Ephraim. That was very clear. It was Ephraim.”

    3) My sister was told that she would work with “much suffering.” That phrase haunted her for years, because she imagined she’d lose a child or something else horrible would befall her. As it turned out, that particular patriarch used that phrase in several blessings. But interestingly, my sister is now a hospice nurse, and she deals constantly with people who are suffering. It’s her job to help them manage their pain.

    4) My daughter once got furious about her Patriarchal blessing, which told her she had musical gifts she was to develop. (She got her Patriarchal blessing from my grandfather.) When she was struggling in her vocal performance major, she said, “I would never have done this except that my blessing talked about music!” But now, well, she’s done with the major, she’s a marvelous singer, and she’s very happy. When her cousin died, my daughter sang an aria from “La Boheme” at the funeral, because the cousin loved that opera and had wanted to see it before her death. She hadn’t managed that, and hearing the aria at her funeral was very touching.

    So, just a few random thoughts…

  36. Isn’t it a teency bit presumptious to think your opinion of this woman’s blessing(hypothetical or not) is more important than her own efforts to come to her own revelation about it?

    Frst, I see I actually misread the post, and that the recipient is, apparently, a real person (even though presented as an anonymous exemplar). Second, if I had done what you indicate, it would indeed be presumptuous. But since I proposed no opinion of the blessing and certainly put no opinion forth as more important than anything else, I don’t see how it is. If anything, I said that I could relate to the question because of something in my own life. I offered no counsel and no easy answers.

    I am treating this not as a question of how to resolve this specific case (I don’t care about the case itself, per se), but rather as a way of discussing the general issue. Thus I don’t see the slightest presumptuousness, but I could be wrong.

  37. Susan M–I know someone is was told he was from Isaachar (how do you spell that?, and I have a friend who was told he was from every tribe but two. This friend is African American/Native American/ and God knows what else.

  38. Chrystabel,

    Maybe this woman you talk about with the five kids in her future needs to consider this possibility of more children-even if she doesn’t choose to have more children.

    Which was my point actually. Consider, yes. Be tied without equivocation to the specific verbiage of a fallible man, not necessarily.

    Not to be rude but it isn’t your business, actually. The blessing is for the receiver and no one else.

    It was kind of rude seeing as you don’t know the situation. The person in question asked for my advice — not to interpret the blessing but to offer theoretical suggestions regarding PB’s in general.

    CE, thanks for the link.

    Kevin, I keep telling you, my life is like Being Kevin Barney.

    John, I knew what you meant, I was just repeating myself for the sake of it.

    All, thanks for the comments. Despite Prudence’s protestations, this post is only about approaching such things “in wisdom and order.”

  39. #30 – Susan, one of the sisters in our ward is from Manasseh (she is African American, just to add complexity), and one of my former bishops is from Judah. His last name might make that seem obvious, but the Patriarch swore he didn’t make the connection until after my bishop asked. I can’t remember who, but I also am certain that a member in a former ward was from Dan.

  40. Certainly patriarchs are fallible and our PBs are subject to interpretation and correct “translation,” and in the context of this discussion such conclusions make perfect sense. But in real life I think most of us are sufficiently indoctrinated to believe that the blessings are contingent on faith, and if we never achieve what is promised therein we must have had some critical failing along the way.

    For most members (surely we all concede people who read BCC aren’t typical LDS) unattained PB promises reflect directly on their sense of worthiness and personal value. This is a pattern members have faced since O. Cowdery faced personal indictment after finding himself unable to translate. “If only I were a better father/daughter/home teacher/bishop/Mormon I would have known the great blessings promised by Patriarch So-and-so…”

    I’m not saying I disagree with the conclusions you’re all drawing about the limitations of patriarchs and blessings in general. I just think the liberal/intellectual perspective you’re describing is far more healthy than the ideas espoused by the general membership.

  41. I want SO badly to point out the acronym you would get with the initials of more than one Prudence … but that would would be sarcastic and rude, so I will refrain.

  42. Margaret,

    “I expected it would be Cain or Canaan, because–well, you know. But it was Ephraim. That was very clear. It was Ephraim.”

    It is strange that he would have thought that. I don’t see how anybody could get their lineage through Cain, because he would not have had the priesthood. You can, by the way, get your blessing outside of the 12 tribes and have it declared “through Abraham”. Patriarchs can do this if they receive no indication of a tribe. This is because we are entitled to the blessings of Abraham by baptism, and lineage is a declaration of spiritual blessings.

  43. #34…I had a similar experience. As i said, my PB is quite short. One day several years ago I was reading my brothers’ and sisters’ blessings (from the same patriarch), and it almost seemed cookie-cutter. Sooo, not only was it short, but it was chalked full of stock phrases.

    That hurt for awhile…

    I’m over it now.

  44. My favorite personal break-up story of all time: I was 19, newly on-fire with a testimony of the Church and was dating a recently returned missionary. We were starting to work out the details of getting married and we felt pretty inspired that we were to be together. A couple months later, he broke up with me. He explained that his patriarchal blessing told him that his wife would have “a strong and healthful body”. I looked quizzically at him since I think I do have a strong and healthy body. Then he said, Amri, your period is too long and I think that means you’re not healthy. I love you but I must follow my patriarchal blessing.

    And that was that. We were done, because my period was too long. And because his PB said that was not healthy.

    Our stake patriarch was really big into hellfire, damnation and the last days type language. Mine’s full of the seventh seal opening and destruction and evil and death and Jesus coming back. It’s crazy and I was a little frightened by it when I got it (age 20, post previous break-up) and then I was chatting with a big group of friends from my stake and it turns out all the blessings are the same. Verbatim in some cases. That made me less scared. I wasn’t angry, I know some people get ticked about the sameness, I was just pleased he said that to everyone and I wasn’t gonna get stuck in some god-awful tornado because I had been righteous in the right way.

    I understand that some spiritual decisions turn out to be seemingly irrational, but if we make those decisions without considering any of our rational, common sense, gut feeling ideas then I think we are stupid. And we end up making irrational decisions, that turns out not to be so spiritual.

  45. Frank–given the age of this man, I don’t think it at all strange that he would’ve thought that a Black person would be from “Cain or Canaan” given the teachings he would have grown up hearing. I have two African American friends who were told that they were “of Ham.” One of these friends is going to ask for a second blessing.

  46. Latter-day Guy says:

    Re 44:

    Wow. Are you glad now that you dodged that particular marital bullet? That is possibly the strangest thing I’ve ever heard.

  47. Chrystabel says:

    Fervenad, I am typing one handed with a baby in my arm so forgive my spelling errors and omissions (especially with the word presumtous, doh!)

    Ronan, I am sorry I misunderstood your post but it didn’t say you were asked about generalities and I really wasn’t trying to be rude. I was just making the point that with something so personal there isn’t a lot you could say about the blessing-it really is her personal scripture and she needs to come to her own conclusions. Of course with the information you gave us I had no idea what you were talking to this woman about. You stated that it was your opinion that she shouldn’t have more kids-but so what? That is your opinion. She still needs to make the choice regardless of patriarchal blessing and the thoughts of those around her. Wouldn’t it be better to support her by encouraging her to find the answers on her own rather than relying on (no matter how well meaning) the advice of friends?

    I also agree we think about this basically the same way so I won’t comment anymore. Usually I only read the blogs. I guess its safer that way! :-) Boy.

  48. Thomas Parkin says:

    I’m reminded of this bit from 1 Corinthians 13:

    “but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

    For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

    But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

    I recently got a copy of my PB, after many years of not having it. It makes many statements about my marriage that I had assumed would fall into the catagory of failed prophecies after I was divorced. But, now, on reading it again, I see that it accurately foreshadowed the mistakes I would make to help get me there. It repeatedly points out a flaw in my character that only now, many years later, is sort of dawning on my conciousness.

    Anyway, I think they should be read like scripture. After all, many scriptures indicate that the end is near, when, from our perspective, the end clearly wasn’t near. :)

    #44 *shakes it off* Amri – maybe that language in his PB was put there to save you. ;)

    ~

  49. Thomas Parkin says:

    #47 “it really is her personal scripture and she needs to come to her own conclusions…”

    Amen to that.

    ~

  50. Margaret,

    Sure, he may have thought the fellow was descended from Cain, but you can’t get your spirital blessings through Cain. That is the part I thought was weird.

    And if your friend who was declared lineage through Ham is going back for another, well that works well for the theory that one’s blessings certainly can’t be coming from that line. They come through Abraham or his descendants. I suppose, in theory, they could come through one of the other patriarchs to whom God made similar covenants (it seems like Enoch got similar promises, but I’d have to check). But Ham and Cain are nowhere on that list.

  51. @ 2:

    Could promises that the recipient of a PB will live to see the Second Coming of Jesus Christ really just be sloppily-worded promises that the recipient will receive the Second Comforter in this life?

  52. You stated that it was your opinion that she shouldn’t have more kids

    Chrystabel,
    Did I? I didn’t intend to if that’s the case. I only meant to say that she shouldn’t have five kids just because her PB says so.

    No need to duck out. Your comments are most welcome.

  53. My father-in-law is a patriarch and he told me some interesting things about his giving blessings. At least for him, it isn’t the direct word-for-word inspiration from God that I had assumed, but comes mostly through impressions and visualization. I mean, there is some direct wording involved (like tribes and what-not). It was surprising to me that it was so interpreted.

    When I got my blessing I was completely anxious about it telling me I would know who my husband was without question or doubt. I definitely had questions and some doubts when I was getting engaged to my husband, which made me doubt even more. I’m glad I didn’t take my blessing too literally, because I married my husband (um, obviously) and I definitely think it was the right decision. So, it is definitely not good when you get hung up on the exact wording or possible implications of your blessing. We are a church of revelation, but on-going revelation is more important (I think) than past revelations.

  54. I wonder if there have been any new instructions to Patriarchs giving blessings to those of African descent. Interesting observations, Frank. Thanks.

  55. cmac, Our current Patriarch said much the same thing (about impressions and visualization) to my oldest daughter before he gave the blessing – but not to my son about a year earlier. Knowing each of them and looking at each of their blessings, I can see how she needed to know that – and how my son did not.

  56. Oh also, funny story: my brother-in-law’s father’s blessing told him he would serve his mission in the land of his fathers, converting his family members, stuff like that. He was born in Holland, moved to the states when he was 4, so you think he would go to Holland, right? Well, he served in the southwest on Indian reservations.

    Kind of like the engaged woman told she would serve a mission in her youth. Maybe blessings are just wrong sometimes?

  57. Chrystabel says:

    Thanks Ronan! -wink-

  58. Costanza says:

    Cmac,
    I had a similar experience to the one your brother in law had. My PB was very specific about where I would serve a mission. Mission call comes…wrong! I got all kinds of rationalizations from people (maybe it is describing a later mission, etc), but it never really bothered me all that much. I never considered not going or refusing the call because it didn’t line up.

  59. Costanza says:

    Wow Amri, you must have had quite a thorough courtship. I don’t think I know that much about my wife after 7 years of marriage and two kids!

  60. Costanza — how interesting it would have been if you had tried to use your PB as a trump card to make the missionary department send you to where the PB said. I wonder if that’s ever been tried before.

  61. Starfoxy says:

    My dad is a Patriarch, which is, you know, weird. I suspect I may have read more blessings that the average person because when I come home to visit he has me proof-read some blessings for spelling and punctuation (my mom is hopeless with that sort of thing). Sadly I don’t have any good insights to add on that front. They were all different, though rather obviously in my dad’s characteristic way of speaking. He’s also gone to training meetings, and was told that, as a general rule, giving overly specific advice is officially discouraged.

    One thing he did share with me, was that whenever he does give a blessing he is overwhelmed by feelings of love- every time. He said that at first it was to the point where he had a hard time saying anything other than “Heavenly Father loves you.” Over and over again.

    As far as unusual tribes go, I know several people from Manasseh, one Benjamin, one from Levi, and a few from Judah. There was another lady from Dan- her blessing was really unique.

  62. Costanza says:

    John,
    I know people who have mentioned to their bishops or stake presidents at the time of their mission interviews that their blessings say something specific about mission destination. In at least two cases the bishops made a note on the forms and their calls matched the blessings. Of course, I also had another friend who wanted to go to New Zealand because his father went there and he was called somewhere else. He refused the call and attached a note saying “send me to N.Z. or not at all.” Much to my profound shock, he got a new call to New Zealand. I guess that sometimes the squeaky wheels get sent to New Zealand.

  63. My wife’s patriarch was a neat man (search for Womack). I met him on my mission and he explained how he gave blessings. He said he was given pictures of different parts of the persons potential life. He was impressed with what to say and what not to say while describing the pictures he saw. My wife’s blessing has some wonderful promises and some that are nice, but not pertinent to salvation. She was told that great works of art would be on the walls of her home. Nice, but not important, IMO. We aren’t busting the budget to buy that Picaso any time soon. :D

    So I’m with Ronan. Patriarchal Blessings are sacred and special, but as with all things outside of the saving ordinances, it’s not supposed to be a verbatim recitation of truth.

  64. Seriously can you imagine me married to someone who 1)took note of the days of my cycle without me knowing and 2)interpreted his PB at will to decide it meant whatever he wanted it to mean?
    I’m so thankful I’m not with him. So so so thankful. Though that did turn out to be the most kickass Mormon breakup story ever. Looking back, I think he must have wanted out but didn’t know how to tell me.That’s the nice thing with personal revelation. He can look at his blessing, be inspired as to what it means and then break up with me with no strings attached and I had to take it bc it was his PB and his inspiration.
    I’ve never broken up with a boy because his period was too long, but I have done the lame, ‘I think the Spirit is telling me we should be done’ rather than just saying that indeed it was I who thought we should be done.

  65. There’s the old saw about the guy who goes to his girlfriend and says “the Spirit has told me that we knew each other in the pre-existence and promised that we would find each other in this life and be wed.” To which the girlfriend responds “well, I won’t make that mistake twice.”

  66. Re: #60

    There’s a guy in my ward that was baptized in his 20s. He says that he later wanted to serve a mission, but by that time he was “too old” to go (current age limit for Elders is 26; don’t know what the policy was when this occurred 15-20 years ago). However, he says took the matter up the chain and got permission to go because his patriarchal blessing made reference to serving a mission.

    There is also a story floating around that was supposedly told by President Kimball (or is it folklore?) about how he got a distinct impression to change a person’s mission call. It turned out that the change coincided with language in the missionary candidate’s patriarchal blessing. I’ll have to look around and see if I can locate a reference.

  67. Kevin Barney says:

    #29 Isaiah’s fan, thanks for the reference, I had not seen that before.

  68. What an interesting topic. I have seen plenty of stuff that makes me think that PBs are dangerous a bit. Or at least the whole thing when the Sunday School Teacher picks up the Patriarchal Blessing and says “This is personal scripture!” you know I think that lesson fall in September sometime.

    I have seen plenty of PB stuff from active members not come true. And I’ve seen plenty of people fret over it. I think we put too much stock in it. And while I enjoy and appreciate my PB I do have to wonder whether or not the big deal made about it was beneficial or not.

    Honestly, if PB prophecies are fallible, which anyone who bothers to look will quickly find. Then you must take it with a grain of salt. Outside of my lineage I didn’t really need anything to be a better mormon, in fact I think I would be just fine even without the lineage. I didn’t need to know I’ll be married and have kids or go on a mission, or dedicate myself to studies. I would’ve lived my life the same way regardless.

    I think a lot of people look at PBs as personal prophecy. When really it should be personal advice. I wish Patriarchs would move away from saying, “You’ll be married and have five kids.” or trying their hand at fortune telling, and instead would focus on more stuff like “Focus on cultivating good habits and friends so that you can find someone to marry and possibly have children.” To me a PB should not be a gaze into a mystical crystal ball, but instead a set of personal advice to help get your feet on the right path. Of course this goes against mormon culture at large and wont happen, but I think we’d be better off that way.

  69. Kevin Barney says:

    Amri, your story actually validates the inspired nature of PBs. But for that PB, you could have ended up married to that jerk. So in a backhanded kind of way, there was true inspiration there.

    On the subject of stock phrases, it would be very difficult, really almost impossible, for a patriarch to give numerous, lengthy PBs without using some stock language. This is how extemporaneous oral composition within a particular genre is done. Next time you stand at the pulpit to give a prayer, just try doing it without using any of the hundred or so most common stock phrases from Mormon prayer practice, and see how easy that is.

  70. Costanza says:

    Kevin,
    You are going to start a world wide wave of prayer-time glossolalia next Sunday!

  71. Kevin Barney says:

    A hummina hummina hummina…

  72. Perhaps my patriarch was really good at giving blessings which were vague enough to be over-interpreted, but he says a lot of things about my mission in particular, which while on first blush might seem failed prophecies, ended up being pretty much spot on after further reflection…

    Then again, maybe some Stake Patriarchs are just better seers than others.

  73. Jason Work says:

    My PB was pretty specific about which mission I was going to serve in. It said I was going to Scotland and I went to Scotland. Now I know what some of you are thinking, “He probably already had his mission call before he got his blessing and had actually discussed the location with the Patriarch beforehand.”

    Well that is true.

    If you want to get technical.

  74. As a most conservative and naive teenager, living in one of the most conservative places in Mormondom in the mid 1950s my blessing seems very unique. It says I am a “literal descendent of Sarah of Old through Ephraim, therefore intitled to the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (I have never heard of anyone else’s lineage blessing placed in a female context–anyone know of any others??)It also says in one way or another in 3 places that I have a particular mission to help “downtrodden and oppressed women”. It has always been interesting to me who they have turned out to be. Also, I never had a single “feminist” thought even trip across my brain until I was in my mid-30s. I have since become a serious student of women’s history. It has also always seemed to me, that although I was always at least somewhat aware of what was in my blessing as a whole, at various times in my life it has been as though different parts were highlighted and therefore received the lions share of my attention at that time of my life.

    Now we are senior citizens getting papers together for a mission. My husbands blessing says “at home and abroad” about a mission. His first mission was stateside. He thinks the next one will be foreign. I seriously doubt it. However in my book, “abroad” is anywhere where you can’t spend every night in your home bed. So I suppose it will be “abroad”, at least as I see it.

  75. Kevin, I didn’t mean to validate PBs’ inspiration. I should take that comment back. Heh. Heh.

    I just remembered that my PB goes on and on about my connection with Sarah and how I’m like her, have her literal blood flowing through my veins etc. Immediately after the blessing, the patriarch was giving impressions of what he had said and told me, I’m not lying, that he felt that my kinship to Sarah meant that I was preparing for polygamy. That I was made for it basically. (!!) I about crapped a brick.

    I haven’t told the boy that yet. I hope he can handle it.

  76. Carlton says:

    I agree with Ronito at #68, advice would be best. My blessing and my wife’s blessing are both of the clairvoyant variety and have heavily contributed to doubt about everything religious including even the existence of God. Both go into great detail about our children, “born under the covenant,” because my wife “has fruitful loins,” etc. We were shocked to find out that breeding is out, unless medical technology improves in a hurry or the handbook of instructions is modified to allow for donor tissue.

    My blessing is four pages long and on the second page goes into my missionary service, marriage and children. The remainder of the blessing reverts back to lessons learned through the experiences of parenting my many children. In fact, callings and priesthood advancement occur because of skills developed by fathering. The language of my wife’s blessing is similar and can’t be mistaken by allowing for adopted children.

    So anyway, for us, our PBs are pretty much irrelevant. In fact, I now think they may exist as man-made stumbling blocks, nothing more than a pep talk intended for the un-broken. It is possible though that this is simply God’s way of leading us to apply the “by their fruits ye shall know them” test. In other words, the fruits of priesthood ordinances are way off, so what else is?

    Amri, my wife’s Patriarch was likely the same one you had, nothing about polygamy though. Maybe if it said something about polyandry it would make more sense. Ronan, thanks for helping me re-think things a bit.

  77. Great thread.

    Kevin Barney–Our high priests quorum just had a fireside with our stake patriarch. He said a member could have an addendum added to his patriarchal blessing (by his current patriarch) if lineage was not mentioned in his PB, or if the lineage was simply “of Joseph” an addendum could be received specifying Ephraim or Mannaseh. This could not be done if the blessing simply gave lineage as being “of Abraham” or such. I thought this was very interesting as it seems to apply to your situation you mentioned on this thread. Any curiosity in finding out whether Ephraim or Mannaseh?

  78. In my PB, instead of stating the blessing was being performed by the Melchizedek Priesthood, he said something to the effect of “By the power vested in me as a Patriarch in the (Church) and in the name of Jesus Christ…”. Much more powerful wording in my opinion. And it was great blessing. Spot on in so many ways in regards to my character and what I needed to watch for–it was and has been truly prophetic.

    One other thing to note, the Patriarch (who I had never met before) was somewhat speech impaired (slow/stuttery), but as soon as laid his hands on my head the impaired speech stopped and the words of the blessing were spoken without any sort of impairment. Truly a powerful experience.

  79. Amri:

    My sister had a similar experience, only instead of periods, her (recent RM) boyfriend based the break-up on her perceived lack of faithfulness. He said his PB told him to marry someone with a strong testimony and hers apparently didn’t measure up. Never mind that she was the one that convinced him to serve a mission in the first place. I told her he probably met someone else and was just using this as a lame excuse. I think things like this are the Mormon cultural equivalent of “it’s not you, it’s me.”

    I had a comp who read his PB aloud to me (and every other comp he had apparently). It went on for pages and pages about the “high and holy calling” he would have. He interpreted this to mean he would be an apostle. Of course, he left the Church soon after his mission, so if we end up with only eleven apostles sometime soon, you now know why.

  80. Kevin Barney says:

    I don’t know, Amri, the boy might be up for it. You’d better hide this thread from him.

    Derek, that is fascinating! I had never heard of such a thing. But I’m going to leave it as is; I like being different.

    To be honest, I’ve often wondered whether the lineage thing might have been a function of the way I looked. I was (and am) tall, and as a teenager I wore an afro (give me a break, this was the 70s), and in the summer I was outside all the time and usually had a dark tan. So I probably looked more racially ambiguous than your average whitebread ginger Mormon (even though in reality I’m 7/8 British and 1/8 Danish).

  81. Yeah it doesn’t get lamer than ripping out your PB to break up with someone.

    Carlton, does your wife have seventh seal stuff? Cuz it’s awesome! My PB kicks most PBs butts.

  82. “Average whitebread ginger Mormon”?

    I’m going to have to think hard about that to see if I should be insulted, you tanned, afroed freak.

  83. amri,
    I think a patriarch who counsels a woman that they are “ripe for polygamy” needs to take the Are-You-A-Fundamentalist-Trolling-For-Wives lie detector test.

  84. Kevin Barney says:

    MCQ, that’s really good.

    Actually, I only added the word “ginger” at the last second under the influence of South Park, which devoted an entire episode to the division between kids who were ginger and those who weren’t. BSP (Before South Park) I had never even heard the term “ginger” applied to hair color/complexion, and this was only within the last few years or so.

  85. Ha! Ginger complexion? ginger=red hair in my book. I thought you were calling us all red-headed step children. Being of Irish descent I naturally took “umbrage.”

  86. Perhaps you were just calling us all red-necks.

  87. Here are a couple of early Mormon patriarchal blessings of interest:

    Lorenzo Snow:
    http://www.lordfam.com/History/Patriarchal%20Blessing%20of%20Lorenzo%20Snow.htm

    Joseph Smith Jr.
    http://www.xmission.com/~research/about/patb1.htm

  88. Bro. Jones says:

    I was eager to hear my patriarchal blessing’s declaration of my lineage, because I’m Jewish by descent and my Jewish family are Levites (Kohein/Cohen surname). I figured I’d be a Levite, too–nope, I’m in Ephraim, said the patriarch. People told me I was “adopted” into this generic lineage along with many (if not most?) other Church members by virtue of my conversion.

    I was really peeved about it until I received my endowments. Without saying too much, suffice it to say that God seems to have recognized my lineage in a different way than I expected. Bet the guy doing the initiatories didn’t understand why I was all teary-eyed. :)

    I’m soft on patriarchal blessings. Reading someone else’s was what originally interested me in the Church.

  89. RE: Kevin – #80

    . . . as a teenager, I wore an afro (give me a break, this was the 70s), and in the summer I was outside all the time and usually had a dark tan.

    Of course you realize that we all now expect you to post a photo.

  90. “Of course you realize that we all now expect you to post a photo.”

    I hereby second that motion.

  91. How about a video? The one where you are dancing in a white suit to the BGs would be fine, or the one where you dunk on your buddy with the red white and blue basketball in your knee-length tube socks and short-shorts would be ok as well.

  92. Kevin Barney says:

    Oh, MCQ, you may jest, but you are closer than you think! Why couldn’t I have been a teenager in the 80s instead of the 70s?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,394 other followers