Neo and Patriarchal Blessings

So, I am only just now listening to the Zeitcast. And I have a question regarding the efficacy of Patriarchal blessings.

If you are all like me and, therefore, have a spotty record on the whole following the prophet’s commands regarding R-rated movies issue, then you have probably have seen the Matrix.

If you will recall, the Oracle tells Neo that he is not the One. The Oracle apparently knows he is the One. But she tells him he isn’t. Seemingly, this is necessary to propel him to becoming the one. It is silly and recursive (like much of the Matrix), but listening to the Zeitcast I was reminded of it.

Sometimes our patriarchal blessings are simply wrong. Is this because, like the Oracle misinforming Neo, the misinformation is necessary to make us what God wants us to be? If so, what does this do to our notion of God being a God of Truth?

ps. This is not the place to discuss R-rated movies. Please don’t.

Comments

  1. I haven’t yet encountered things in my patriarchal blessing that were wrong. But I have received priesthood blessings and personal revelation that seems to not come to pass. I usually take this in one of two ways: either I was not obedient enough to receive the promised blessings, or I needed to be told one thing to move me in a certain direction to set me up for something else…

  2. Steve Evans says:

    Those Matrix sequels sucked.

  3. Steve,
    It was in the original. Ignorance is no excuse.

    Part of the question here has to do with self-(or godly) justification. Obviously, the current set-up allows us the option of saying that God is always right. I worry that it means that we allow God to play fast and loose with the notion of honesty or truth to get it to work.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Or maybe some of what the patriarch says is just his own ideas and not reflective of a direct line to God. So if your PB says you’ll have seven children, instead of trying to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy another route might be to take it with a grain of salt.

  5. sister blah 2 says:

    Haha, I *so* thought of exactly this when I read that thread on FMH! Awesome.

  6. The sequels do suck. My husband thinks I need to give them another chance. I think I need to not waste another four hours of my life!

  7. Steve Evans says:

    John C., you are taking a pretty narrow view of Patriarchal Blessings, that they are either (a) predictive of the future (b) deliberately misconstruing in such a way for God to make you into what He wants. How about (c), they are the utterances of humble, normal human beings with the Priesthood, doing the best they can and subject therefore to the same nuances, ins and outs as any personal revelation?

  8. Thomas Parkin says:

    “Where there are prophecies they shall fail” says Paul. That may be because the future isn’t set in stone, and PBs reflect one possible future, and work best when they run near strong and invariable veins that flow through our lives and personalities, giving us personal guidance on the kinds of things God may individually desire for and from us.

    I now refer you to NCT, ad infinitum.

    ~

  9. Steve and KB,
    I don’t think that I am approaching them in any sense that differs from the majority of church members. What is the point if we don’t believe them somewhat predictive or somewhat inspired? These are not treated in the same manner as your typical blessing and, even if they were, those typical blessings are treated as predictive or corrective as necessary to explain either the infallibility of the blessing or God himself. I would go so far as to say that we tend to factor the fallibility of the patriarch as a means to maintain the infallibility of God, but only for that.

    Further, why would I want to go to a patriarch who is famous for inserting his own obsessions into my patriarchal blessing? If a patriarchal blessing is meant to be an individualized blessing for me, how should an acknowledgement that many blessings from a given patriarch feature similar themes, language, and promises affect my understanding thereof?

    Bro. Parkin,
    I’m all about the OT. In Deuteronomy, a false prophecy indicates a false prophet. This, of course, leads to some interesting explanations in Ezekiel and Isaiah when prophecies go true.

  10. SAP,
    More like 6 hours to revisit the sequels. And worth every minute.

  11. Fwiw, I go with the “inspired men doing the best they can to ascertain God’s will, generally getting it right but occasionally screwing up the translation in the process” interpretation in Steve’s #7. I arrive at that conclusion based on my own PB and that of my wife, where some very unique things I never quite understood became crystal clear when they came true – and other things are so generic that they might as well be a horoscope. Those things can inspire focus and action, but they still are generic. Depending on the insight of the patriarch, some things also can be wrong – simply translated incorrectly or assumed by personal default.

    In the case of mine and my wife’s blessings, the unique things I mentioned aren’t simply self-fulfilling prophecies – interpreted in hindsight when they could have been applicable to any number of situations. They are truly fascinating examples of prophecy and revelation, just like other experiences I have had that convince me completely that someone sees my future and prepares me for it – not for all (or even most) things, but certainly for some things.

    Life is messy; clarity is rare; the generic is fine; the wrong is forgivable; the astounding is astounding. That’s my take, anyway.

  12. jjohnsen says:

    I don’t think God would lie to use just to get us to do something, so I think it’s more likely the ramblings of old men aren’t always true.

  13. Oops, I meant “when prophecies go wrong”

    My point is that saying Patriarchs are fallible is not fundamentally different from saying God is fallible (as he, presumably, chose the patriarch). We would like to think it is, but it isn’t.

  14. John,
    That’s only true if we assume that God’s infallibility necessarily entails an ability to call infallible patriarchs. I don’t, so for me saying that patriarchs are fallible is fundamentally different from saying that God is, and, indeed, has no bearing on the question of God’s fallibility whatsoever.

  15. It is different, John. It simply means that God can’t create perfect, infallible mortals and works with us as we struggle to understand his will.

    My blessing was given by a patriarch who was not given to hyperbole and, based on what I have heard from others and read from their blessings, rarely repeated phrases – much less promises. That’s quite remarkable, since he was the patriarch who gave my mom her blessing over twenty years before he gave me mine. He gave literally thousands of blessings, and, in the couple of dozen or so I saw, there essentially is no repetition except the obligatory lineage and “according to your faith” statement. (I know that is a tiny sample, but I have discussed perhaps a hundred more with family and friends, and the lack of pattern holds.) Furthermore, these blessings have tended to be remarkably accurate upon reflection.

    Otoh, I have talked with others whose patriarch did repeat phrases and promises often – and whose blessings contain statements that obviously were incorrect. I can’t say the calling was a mistake; I just don’t know that. However, I can believe that man simply wasn’t as in tune as some others – just like Bishops and Stake Presidents and RS Presidents and Primary teachers – and apostles. Fallibility is perhaps the only infallible principle we have – and I believe God just has to work within that reality.

  16. Iow, what Brad said – in far fewer words.

  17. My patriarchal blessing has actually been pretty accurate. I can identify where most of the promises have paralled actual events in my life. The difficulty comes in the fact that I’ve read my other 4 brothers’ blessings and they are almost word-for-word similar. I’ve talked with other people of my stake cohort, and they describe the same repetitive verbiage

    As I see it, our patriarch had a formula that worked well for him–in the same way that a zodiac prediction works for a cancer. It proves quite predictive, but ultimately unhelpful.

  18. We have a tendency to separate man and calling. The whole “prophet when he is at the pulpit” notion. It is in this manner that we allow for human fallibility while maintaining divine interference. At least, that’s how I hear about it at church (am I really alone in hearing it explained in this manner? or in hearing the non-fulfilment of patriarchal blessings in the lives of faithful saints (or other appropriate blessings) blamed on God needing us to get to the place that such a blessing would take us?). That seems to be the approach of much of the membership around me, but I might be in some sort weird pocket o’ church.

    If we believe that these are fallible men chosen for a difficult calling, then we are assuming that God chose these men. Aren’t we then assuming that God has taken their areas of fallibility into account, in the same manner that the Oracle takes Neo’s hang-ups into account?

  19. My husband and I received our patriarchal blessing a few months apart from the same patriarch, who was fairly new to the calling. There are a few similar parts that may be a little formulaic, but we must admit that some things do apply to all of us. But then there are parts that are different. There is one part of mine that is so intensely personal for me, that deals with one of my biggest weaknesses and I know that even if every word of the blessing isn’t unique, that one part is definitely for me.

  20. Thomas Parkin says:

    John C.

    I’m a New Testament guy. ;)

    And in the NT Paul says prophecies fail, and that we don’t know true prophets by the infalability, or even accuracy, of their predictions, but by “their fruits.” After all, a Tarot reader may know how to tell prophecies that prove accurate, but that hardly qualifies them as a true prophet!

    When PBs fail, I just think: if it was accurate to begin with, things have changed in the meantime. After all, the Lord commands, and we don’t obey, and then he revokes, and we say it isn’t the work of the Lord because His promises aren’t fulfilled. (D&C 58, yes?)

    ~

  21. So often we forget that everything on the earth is eternal. Therefore even patriarchial blessings are eternal and may not be fulfilled or even understood in this life.

  22. The most accurate patriarchal blessings speak in generalities. Vague predictions are much more likely to come true. It’s a little like being a psychic.

    I bawled through my entire patriarchal blessing because I was creeped out. It was the first patriarchal blessing this newly called patriarch had ever given, and I was really nervous about hearing my future.

    My favorite part of patriarchal blessings is finding out if my Native American LDS friends are labeled as part of Manasseh or Ephraim. Is it some kind of unspoken rule that patriarchs should put Native Americans in Manasseh??? I think it’s probably a tradition that has persisted since the 1800s.

  23. Something to think about. A patriarch gives the blessing. If you need help interpreting it, you go to the bishop for that.

    Wasn’t it LeGrand Richards who talked about the twin boys in his family who had very similar blessings, they thought virtually identical. After the one boy died at a very young age, they went back and looked at the blessing, and saw clearly that his early death was predicted. However before the death, the words didn’t have any meaning, but they were not in the other boy’s blessing.

    Paul was right when he said prophesies would fail. But why do they fail? Because we don’t live up to them? Because we didn’t understand them to begin with? Are all prophesies self fulfilling? Those questions are spiritual, and hence can only be understood on a spiritual basis.

    When I received my blessing, he said something that was very distinct. At the end of a sentence he paused and than added a word, that totally changed the meaning of the sentence. With the new meaning that added word gave, it had great meaning to me. I knew the Lord was speaking to me. But if you didn’t know me very well, the sentence made no sense at all with the added word.

    When my mother and I walked out of the house after the blessing was finished we both looked at each other and talked about that sentence and what it meant to me. She had heard it as well as me and she had the same understanding of what it meant.

    When the printed version showed up, that word was edited out. In one blessing I realized the inspiration of HF as well as the imperfection of a patriarch, who cleaned up a sentence that made no sense to him.

    I guess I just don’t agree that some blessings are wrong. Our understanding may be incorrect, our time line may be wrong, but I think you can accept the blessing as a guide in your life.

    And the most important part of the blessing is to declare your lineage.

  24. John Hamer says:

    Taking the sci-fi angle of this thread, let’s say PBs actually predict the future. That means that a PB is almost like time travel. You have information that travels back from the future to the present.

    Now we get to sci-fi ideas of time travel. Can travelers from the future change the past? Or are you pre-destined to live out the events that make the future arise no matter what (i.e., the incursion itself creates the future that it predicts).

    If you believe the latter, then nothing you do can alter the future, even having knowledge of what will actually happen — beamed back into the present in the form of a PB.

    However, if you believe that you are a free agent, then even if the knowledge you gained in your PB reflected an actual future at the time it was given, then the fact that you received that knowledge inevitably altered your timeline. Thus the PB had been a true future, but your awareness of it altered the timeline, in some cases making its predictions fail to occur.

    PS–All the Matrix movies were stupid because of the idea that anyone fueled anything from using human bodies as batteries. So very dumb.

  25. sister blah 2 says:

    John,

    I’m not so sure that God would intentionally lie to us in order to bring about our futures. I think others have well articulated the reasons why we sometimes see blessings which fail (didn’t really fail we just misinterpreted, fallible patriarch, personal sin, etc). And actually, in the movie example you cite, the Oracle’s wording is vague enough that she didn’t necessarily lie either.

    Anyway there is another example from the Matrix that I think applies to the specific scenario in the original FMH post (patriarch said how many children each person would have, then some people may have had that many children even when they wanted to stop earlier, because they feel guilty because they didn’t yet meet the blessing’s quota). And that is when Neo is talking to the Oracle and he breaks the vase:

    Oracle: I’d ask you to sit down, but, you’re not going to anyway. And don’t worry about the vase.
    Neo: What vase?
    [Neo turns to look for a vase, and as he does, he knocks over a vase of flowers, which shatters on the floor.]

    Oracle: Ohh, what’s really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything?

  26. While I don’t think it destroys the point that anyone is making, I’ve always understood Paul’s phrase “prophecies…shall fail” a little differently than it is being used here. From the context, I understand it to mean that at some future, perfect day, prophecies will no longer be necessary, but charity will be. Here it is in the NRSV with some context:

    Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. . . . For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. (1 Cor. 13:8-12)

  27. I don’t have time (lame ya) to give references, but the Lord says a bit about eternal damnation, torment, etc.

    Then we read in the D&C that he means something slightly different that the eternal damnation that for a couple thousand years people have conjured of different versions of Dante’s inferno.

    Did the Lord want people to think a certain way? Even if he didn’t didn’t he feel it would have been helpful to add a slight qualification to his words knowing it would be completely misunderstood by millions?

    Eh, it’s pretty clear the Lord is content to let us act in our own prideful ways and misconstrue as much as we want. I think if we’re humble, we can have a reality check like, “wait a minute, God loves us all, he’s probably not going to poke our eyes out and hack off our limbs for eternity…”

    Could some of the same be going on with PBs?

    I do know that they are supposed to be considered private, so when you have these people running around sharing them and almost proudfully pointing out where they went wrong, and there’s no way they could be true… that’s sort of a test of faith/obedience right there. One that some people have failed I think.

    The again if mine doesn’t say anything too crazy, so who knows…

  28. JT, that’s essentially how I have read that verse – that at some point there will be no need for prophecy, since we will see clearly at that point on our own.

  29. Peter LLC says:

    This is not the place to discuss R-rated movies. Please don’t.

    Sorry, but like Luther I can do no other.

    Torn between wanting to see that piece of Cinéma-vérité while upholding the Honor Code, I travelled to Italy to watch the Matrix because there are no R-ratings there. And while I did manage to preserve my eternal blessings by this neat bit of letter of the law-ing, I didn’t understand any of the dialogue. So I can’t help you with your query.

    Do let me know if you have a question about the treatment of early Christians based on your viewing of the Gladiator, however–I did see that one.

  30. Ahem. The Oracle never told Neo he wasn’t the one. She let Neo believe he wasn’t the one. She only said she was sorry.

  31. I haven’t read all of the comments, but if patriarchal blessings take into account blessings that can come to pass beyond mortality, how on earth can we as mortal beings decide how or when they are inaccurate?

    My patriarchal blessing is amazingly like scripture. There are lines in it that meant one thing at a time in my life, and then come to mean something different as life goes on.

    While I imagine there probably are mistakes here and there, I think perhaps sometimes the problem with patriarchal blessings is in our interpretation of prophecy, or not being patient with the long view of the blessing, not in the blessing itself.

  32. the Oracle says:

    Dude, I did *not* tell Neo he wasn’t the one. He just heard what he wanted to hear. Peace out.

  33. Take a cookie.

    Peter LLC #29:

    Brilliant!

    John C.:

    Me not like your fundamentalist dichotomy here, but I long ago learned not to argue with strange men from Jacksonville.

    All:

    The highway sequence in Matrix 2 is rather good.

  34. Peter LLC says:

    The highway sequence in Matrix 2 is rather good.

    +1.

    I had a better time watching the making of that scene on the bonus disc than the movie itself.

  35. We have a new patriarch in our stake and he got up and spoke to us recently in a meeting. He said he had been directed to seek to have the Holy Spirit with him at all times and he also said that he found it challenging to live up to that ideal – especially when driving in NYC traffic. He also said something about how this has given his wife the opportunity to encourage him a little more to be more like a patriarch.

    I can only imagine the pressure one would feel in that calling.

  36. Ugly Mahana says:

    Re: 24

    The idea that humans power batteries is marginally dumber than the idea that a child’s screams (or laughter) fuel the powerplant of monsters, inc. (Thank you public radio for pointing out the similarities. . . )

  37. I am new to this site, but would like to dip my toe in the water on this subject. There is a wonderful Jewish/mystical tradition that says that anything can be a “gateway” to holiness – words, scripture, paintings, light, quiet, a walk, nature – anything. That if we are in a place spiritually where we recognize it, we can “walk through” and find “additional light and knowledge”.

    I have found that a scripture I have read a hundred times will suddenly open for me, when I am seeking something (sometimes something totally unrelated) and lead to places totally personal and revelatory. The scripture is simply a gateway through which I can walk if I can see it. Perhaps even the rote phrases (or ones that seem wrong from our present perspective)in a blessing are “gateways” to much more personal insight and revelation if we are able to walk through. We are told to study them, as all scripture. If we do not expect everything to be on the surface, I doubt the Lord will limit our understanding or benefit because of a struggling Patriarch. It just transfers the responsibility of the struggle to us – which is where it ultimately belongs anyway.

  38. at some point there will be no need for prophecy, since we will see clearly at that point on our own.

    True dat, Ray. There is no spoon.

  39. The Matrix is not a good movie. It strokes two of the most pernicious fantasies of retarded teenage boys: that society is a construct of people that want to take avantage of them, and that being good at computer games is better than being good at life. In fact, our society is constructed by people that mainly want you to move out of the basement and get a grown-up job, and being good at computer games doesn’t count for much.

    I have nothing to add on-topic, as usual.

  40. This review sums up my thoughts on that movie: http://www.jamesbowman.net/reviewDetail.asp?pubID=744

  41. Poo and wee to that, gst.

  42. Unfortunately, I think the biggest problems with the “accuracy” of PBs is the inherent unreliability of human “oracles”. I’ve happened to be the home teacher for the two most recent patriarchs in our stake. They are good men. But in the case of the former, he began to develop Alzheimer’s symptoms at least a year before the stake president put him on inactive status and called the new one. And that only after he had received numerous complaints from parents who felt that there was “something wrong” with the blessings their children had received.

    It is equally unfortunate that we have built up an expectation in our youth that their PB is going to be better than any Edgar Cayce reading could ever be.

    That said, I have had occasion to read three or four PBs given by the patriarch that gave me my blessing. Strangely enough, the language in each is quite radically different, and somehow adapted to the particular individual. My best friend’s is really linguistically plain and fairly long — not inferior, just well-adapted to his particular personality. Mine is rather short and flowingly poetic from start to finish. It’s a veritable work of literary art. And, I must admit, it has been remarkably prescient in every respect.

    And, just to affirm what at least one other person said, the Oracle DID NOT tell Neo he was not the one. All she said is, “You’re still looking for something.”

    And to affirm what others have said, the first movie was intriguing in many ways. The second and third were disappointing in almost every way. My wife and I just recently watched all three for the first time. We really liked the first one (Man, Trinity is HOT!) but after the third one we turned to each other and said, “Huh?”

    Too much special effects wizardry; too little story.

  43. #38 – Thanks for sharing that, Jane. That’s a fascinating perspective.

  44. gst,
    For the record, I don’t live in my parents’ basement. It is my in-laws.

    Will (and others),
    Fair enough. She may not say the words, but her demeanor clearly implies this. Is that less deceptive?

  45. I have found that too many of our youth (and apparently many here on this thread) look at PBs in the same way some look a horoscopes or gypsy fortune tellers. They want to be told their “future.” Patriarchs are not a Professor Trelawney looking into crystal balls or reading tea leaves to divine someone’s future. They are simply there to convey the truth that the Lord loves and knows each of his children individually, knows their names, knows their weaknesses and strengths, knows their potential and how to achieve it. I know of very few PBs that can be “wrong.” The outline principles and guidelines; they point out weaknesses and give warnings; they are meant to be efficatious in eternity not just in “time.” To say that PBs can be “simply wrong” is a presumption that I am not willing to make.

  46. Matrix geekery alert:

    JC, isn’t the Oracle telling the truth. Neo — because he does not believe he is The One — is not yet The One.

  47. I have found that too many of our youth (and apparently many here on this thread) look at PBs in the same way some look a horoscopes or gypsy fortune tellers.

    Strike the “and apparently many here on this thread.” I just reread the comments and there are not “many” who have commented who look at PBs in that way. But too many members do.

  48. #23,

    And the most important part of the blessing is to declare your lineage.

    Really? What possible use is it to me what lineage my patriarch says I am? Is there a club or lounge for members of each tribe, with better snacks?

  49. dug, #48 You state “What possible use is it to me what lineage my patriarch says I am?”

    You seem to think it is of no value, so I wonder if you could tell us why the Church and the patriarchs even bother to declare lineage? They must see some value in a practice in which you seem to see no value. Is it just an odd custom with no purpose? A left over vestigial practice? Do you think the Church has any reason to continue this?

    PB’s that don’t accurately predict the future, and our time being wasted declaring a lineage, the knowledge of which is of no value. Kind of makes you wonder why we even waste our time with this nonsense.

  50. Fwiw, my lineage is one of the least important things in my blessing, as far as I’m concerned. Believing I am adopted into the House of Israel is cool; how the specific tribe relates to my life . . . Not so much.

    If it means so much to you, I have no problems with that. After all, each blessing is important to each person in different ways. I just don’t think one part is the most important part to everyone.

  51. Ray, #50. There are two main dissatisfactions people have with PB’s. Either there is no declared lineage, or the blessing part is inadequate or unsatisfactory.

    In the first case, where there is no lineage declared, generally the patriarch is allowed to add it on after the fact, or an additional blessing is given. The handbook calls this an addendum. (book 1, page 43)

    In the latter case, where the blessing part is unsatisfactory, I have never heard of a second blessing being authorized. What you got is what you got. The handbook makes no allowance to correct an inadequate or unsatisfactory blessing.

    This leads me to believe that the lineage is the most important part. The blessing is not done until the lineage is declared.

    Quite frankly the first person that stated disinterest in their lineage (dug) I assumed to be a troll. Ray, you generally have keen insight and I look forward to your contributions so I am somewhat surprised at this comment. Well it is a big world and we all see things differently, but from my point of view, as I read the scriptures, the lineage is of great significance.

    However this being BCC, I am sure everybody and their brother will know of a case where the blessing was repeated for reasons other than no declared lineage.

  52. CW–
    Is there anything in the handbook about asking your bishop to help you interpret your blessing? Frankly, that’s the part of your original comment that doesn’t make sense to me. Bishops are busy enough.

    Having just talked to a patriarch 2 seconds ago, he says he himself has given 2 blessings that were in fact appendices to the original blessing. Neither was to correct a missing lineage declaration. They are rare, and must be approved by a higher up authority.

    All blessings have to have a lineage, and a sealing to come forth in the morning of the first ressurection. All else is left to the inspiration of the patriarch.

  53. CW, Let me put it this way:

    Nearly everyone (or at least the vast majority) who gets a PB in our day is declared to be of Ephraim. Why is that? It is believed to be because Ephraim was given the basic charge for missionary work, and that is the great commission of our time. Hence, the vast majority are adopted into that tribe to participate in that work.

    That doesn’t change what I need to do with my life one bit. I am expected to share the Gospel with others no matter my specific tribal lineage, simply by virtue of my acceptance of Christ and placement into the House of Israel. If I am declared to be a direct descendant of Aaron, that changes things. There’s not much else that does.

    Now, if I was declared to be something other than Ephraim, I might ask why and find some deeper meaning in that declaration. Otherwise, it basically just assures me that I am accepted as one of the Chosen People of God who needs to share the Gospel. That’s important, but it’s incredibly generic. The counsel that related to my marriage – that was amazingly prophetic and complemented my wife’s passage about marriage in a flat-out unbelievable way – is MUCH more important to me as an individual than my exact lineage. The parts that deal with my weaknesses – that also are simply prophetic, since even my parents were not aware of one of them – also are MUCH more important to me as an individual.

    Perhaps lineage is the most important *communal* part of our blessings, but I just don’t see it as the most important part of *my* PB to *me*.

  54. Left Field says:

    Not having ever heard of anyone named Neo, I keep reading Neo in the the title of this post as an adjective, as in “neo blessings and patriarchal blessings.”

    I can use all the blessings I can get. What do you have to do to get one of those neo blessings?

  55. #52, mmiles, well see, just as I predicted. Additional blessings given for reasons other than what the handbook describes and as I prophesied, it is known by members of the BCC community. Anyway you seem to have pretty good access to a patriarch, why don’t you ask him what his training is for helping members interpret their blessings. I have a source for my statement that bishops, not patriarchs, should help interpret, if help is needed, but it is verbal reference and from a source that I doubt would change anybodies mind. So I would love to hear what your patriarch says. The part about being sealed to come forth in the first resurrection, I did not realize that was a requirement, but it makes sense.

    And Ray, #53, I see your point about the generic, although I might not use that term to describe it. The lineage is the part we have in common and the blessing is the unique part. Your comments have helped me to understand my own feeling, which I can now state this way: What we have in common (the lineage)is more important to me, than the unique part (the blessing).

  56. CW-
    My grandfather has been both a bishop and now a patriarch for the last 20 years. He says if someone wants help with their blessing, they should go see a patriarch, or the SP–or higher up if available. Bishop should be last resort, they really are busy, and it really isn’t part of their calling to interpret someone’s blessing.

  57. #56, mmiles. That is interesting. And I agree it is not the bishops job to interpret your blessing. My point was to go to the bishop if you need HELP interpreting your blessing. Only you and the spirit can interpret your blessing. The bishops job is to provide counsel, to help you to interpret your own blessing.

    The idea that you would go directly to your stake president or higher,,,, well that goes against the counsel the Church gives. You start with your bishop if you need counsel. He refers you to the stake pres. if needed. And the idea to go higher if available, well the First presidency just sent out a letter to be read over the pulpit within the last 6 weeks, reminding the members not to contact GA’s with their issues, but to start with their bishop. They did read that in your sacrament meeting, didn’t they?

    I suspect that the basic handbook they give to patriarchs, I think it is called “Information and Suggestions for Patriarchs” has something to say about patriarchs counseling members about their blessing. I do not have a copy in my possession. Patriarchs have the keys to pronounce blessings. I do not believe they have the keys or calling to counsel with members about the interpretation of their blessing or any other issue.

    However that would be a good question to put to a stake pres. seeing as they have the responsibilty to instruct new patriarchs in “the sacred, revelatory nature of the office before the patriarch begins giving blessings.” He also receives a copy of the blessings, which he is to review, and “as needed” he “may make general suggestions regarding the content of the patriarchs blessings.” With that much involvement in the patriarchs work I would suspect they would know if the patriarchs job description includes counseling.

  58. Maybe it just shows us that Truth is not Fact.

  59. SilverRain,
    huh?

  60. #49

    You seem to think it is of no value, so I wonder if you could tell us why the Church and the patriarchs even bother to declare lineage? They must see some value in a practice in which you seem to see no value. Is it just an odd custom with no purpose? A left over vestigial practice? Do you think the Church has any reason to contiue this?

    CW, that’s a little harsh, I’m not sure it’s incumbent on me to say why the lineage is so valuable, you’re the one who has declared that it’s the “most valuable part of the blessing.” Questioning that statement hardly seems trollish behavior to me. My question is the same as before–that is, of what value is it?

    Your answer seems to be, the lineage is declared, other parts of the blessing are subjective, so the lineage MUST be valuable. My question is, WHY is it valuable? What do I do with that knowledge? I apologize if that seems a trollish question to you. If my remark about a club and snacks is the trollish part, I’ll leave the humor out in the future.

    I do not dismiss PBs as useless. I value mine a great deal, despite the fact that much of the first page seems to be identical to many others who got theirs from the same patriarch. I would very much like to hear how I can put the lineage to good use.

  61. CW-Just to clarify, he meant if you happen happen to know any GA’s personally (and chuckled when he said it)–not to write a letter to SLC to find a GA.

  62. #60, dug, your quite right, please excuse my rush to judgment.

    To answer your question of why I value the lineage, I will share a few thoughts. First I think of D&C 2, and how important it is for our hearts to be turned to those promises. Those are the promises we collectively refer to as the Abrahamic Covenant. In essence they tell us that we will inherit all that God has, IE heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Abraham 2:11 clarifies that these promises apply to: “the literal seed, or the seed of the body”.

    Now some people are adopted in, and if they are, they become new creatures, and it is the same as if they are literal descendants. I know that some people see this differently but I think that most/almost all people who accept the gospel are in fact literal descendants. In any event I believe I am a literal descendant. Others are free to view this as they will.

    As my mission president said many times, those people with the blood of Abraham, recognize the truth when they hear it. Full salvation is largely a matter of pre-destination as Paul explained.(Romans 8) Still important for us to come here to mortality for the things we will learn. But Father knew each of us individually and those with the ability to recognize and act on the truth were sent to earth through the lineage of Abraham.

    However every body who kept their first estate will be immensely blessed for coming to this earth, except the sons of perdition. Just like sending your kids to college. One finishes one year, one finishes 4 years, and the 3rd completes a PhD. They all benefited for going, each one according to their abilities. The parents probably knew which one would get the PhD, but they sent all of them.

    Same thing with this life, Father knew which ones would understand and accept the full gospel, but he sent all of us here. But only certain ones were sent through Abraham.

    The PB is our certification that we are in fact of the House of Israel. It is the most important fact about us, declared by revelation, by the person duly authorized to make the declaration. I suppose one could argue that the choices we make in this life are more important than our membership in the House of Israel but I could also argue that if you aren’t of the House of Israel you wouldn’t have the understanding to make the right choices anyway.

    I know I haven’t told you anything you don’t already know.

  63. I don’t know how the smiley face got in there, but that is supposed to be the number 8.

  64. CW, and I mean this in the best possible way, that sounds exlusionary, racist, elitist, and horrifying. I’m sure you don’t mean it that way, or think of it that way. But that’s how it sounds to me.

    Does it mean that those literally of the blood of Abraham will know the truth when they hear it, and those “heathens” we teach in the remotest corners of the Earth (remote from here, anyway, wherever HERE is), who accept the gospel, are adopted in, and heard and accepted the truth because they are special, attuned heathens, and so get to join the club?

    I truly don’t mean to be trollish. But really, the way you describe it sounds icky.

  65. Mormonism is Calvinistic? I’ve said all I have to say on this topic.

  66. Forget magic underwear! We’ve got a magic bloodline!

  67. CW– You are right, what you are saying is not new. But when did it come from? I believe Robert Millet has taught something of this sort, but is it ‘doctrine”?

  68. #64, dug, you say “that sounds exlusionary, racist, elitist, and horrifying.”

    Actually I mean it as the Lord described it: “Mathew 10: 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
    35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” So yes, I do find the gospel to be somewhat exclusionary.

    You further ask: “Does it mean that those literally of the blood of Abraham will know the truth when they hear it”.

    To quote a modern day apostle, “In general, the Lord sends to earth in the lineage of Jacob those spirits who in the pre-existence developed an especial talent for spirituality and for recognizing truth. Those born in this lineage, having the blood of Israel in their veins and finding it easy to accept the gospel, are said to have believing blood.”

    “Since much of Israel has been scattered among the Gentile nations, it follows that millions of people have mixed blood, blood that is part Israel and part Gentile. The more of the blood of Israel that an individual has, the easier it is for him to believe the message of salvation as taught by the authorized agents of the Lord.”

    The Lord described this principle when he said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”

    D&C 86:9 explains that we receive the priesthood because we “are lawful heirs, according to the flesh” D&C 113:8 tells us we are called to receive the priesthood which is described as something we have a “right to by lineage”.

    Hope this clarifies my perspective.

  69. CW
    Could you source that quote?

  70. CW, BRM may or may not have believed in “believing blood,” but I think the concept should have died along with leeches, witch burnings, and Zelph. It’s a pernicious, elitist idea that can really only be used to justify one’s own superiority in the absence of any other good reason. I am sorry to have pursued this thread. Ick.

  71. CW, BRM also said, in regard to justifications of racial beliefs:

    “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

    We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.”

    (Bruce R. McConkie, 1978 (All Are Alike Unto God, A SYMPOSIUM ON THE BOOK OF MORMON, The Second Annual Church Educational System Religious Educator’s Symposium, August 17-19, 1978)

    I figure his quote about believing blood fits this general statement.

  72. Ray, I see that comment as being taken out of context. It was made in reference to the priesthood ban, or rather the lifting of the ban.

    I think we have to separate the priesthood ban (official Church policy), from the many reasons that were speculated as to the reason for the ban (personal opinions of certain Church leaders). That comment was made specifically in reference to the personal opinions of certain Church leaders for the priesthood ban, not in reference to the ban itself or any official Church policy or doctrine.

    His own admission that he was wrong on that particular issue doesn’t mean we should throw out everything else he has taught.

    Abraham 3: 22&23 teaches us that God knew us before we were born and selected the noble and great ones to be leaders. BRM didn’t make up that concept. Jeremiah 1:5 teaches us that at least one person was ordained to be a prophet before he was born. Jesus Christ himself was the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.

    The idea that a loving Father knew us and placed us in this life according to our talents and abilities is not a repugnant idea. Our lineage, as declared in our PB tells us that Father knew us before this life and He expected us to accept the Gospel, and we are in fact living up to the expectations He had for us from the beginning.

  73. CW, your last two paragraphs are not related logically.

    Your last paragraph implies that those who are born in terrible poverty and never hear the Gospel deserve it – that they wouldn’t accept the Gospel in this life because they aren’t of the elect of God. BRM’s justifications for the ban were grounded in scripture; so is yours for the believing blood. He said he and others before him were wrong in how they viewed race. I personally lump the ban and believing blood together as similar speculation. It’s one thing to claim that God chose certain spirits to be his principal spokespersons in mortality; it’s quite another to extrapolate from that the idea that all who hear and accept do so because they were destined to do so. That’s Calvin, and I ain’t no Calvinist.

    I really don’t want to discuss this further, especially since I wrote a post yesterday about contemporary racism. Your idea isn’t racist, but I think it is arrogant and elitist. Obviously, we differ on this. Let’s stop now, since I think we’ve each been as direct and blunt as we can be without getting downright nasty – and I don’t want that.

  74. CW, your last two paragraphs are not related logically.

    Your last paragraph implies that those who are born in terrible poverty and never hear the Gospel deserve it – that they wouldn’t accept the Gospel in this life because they aren’t of the elect of God. BRM’s justifications for the ban were grounded in scripture; so is yours for the believing blood. He said he and others before him were wrong in how they viewed race. I personally lump the ban and believing blood together as similar speculation relative to race or bloodlines or heritage or whatever you want to call it, so I personally think what BRM said about race is relevant to what he said about believing blood.

    It’s one thing to claim that God chose certain spirits to be his principal spokespersons in mortality; it’s quite another to extrapolate from that the idea that all who hear and accept do so because they were destined to do so. That’s Calvin, and I ain’t no Calvinist.

    I really don’t want to discuss this further, especially since I wrote a post yesterday about contemporary racism. Your idea isn’t racist, but I think it is elitist. Obviously, we differ on this. Let’s stop now, since I think we’ve each been as direct and blunt as we can be without getting downright nasty – and I don’t want that.

  75. The idea that a loving Father knew us and placed us in this life according to our talents and abilities is not a repugnant idea.

    Not to YOU, because, according to unassailable circular logic, YOU are one of the “noble and great ones.” How nice for you.

  76. #73, dug. How nice for you, that you can decide my logic and conclusions.

    One point. Abraham 3:22-23 teaches us that God put people in different categories in the pre-earth life, based on His assessment of us. I suspect that there were many, many, categories. Probably one for each of us. I know only that I was in a category that He expected me, and wanted me, to accept the Gospel in this life, and that is why He sent me to earth in a place and time where He could send two missionaries to knock on my door. Your conclusion that I think I was a “noble and great one” is,,,, well,,, YOUR conclusion.

    I would genuinely be interested in hearing your perspective on why the Church bothers to declare lineage? Easy to attack my conclusions, but I have repeatedly asked for an alternate explanation, and all I hear is that my take on it is all wrong. Please enlighten me as to why lineage is declared?

    Even when I thought you were trolling, you might recall, that I politely asked you to share your perspective. I didn’t attack you, call your ideas wrong or do anything other than ask you to share your point of view.

    So perhaps I can close with a suggestion: Why don’t you share your better understanding of lineage and why it is declared in a patriarchal blessing?

  77. CW, you’re right, I apologize for the ad hominem. I find the idea of believing blood repugnant, but that was no excuse for my immature response.