Saturday, February 17, 2007

My Patriarchal Blessing

First an intro: Sister Mary Lisa recently posted parts of her patriarchal blessing on her blog. I have decided to do the same. I used to believe in this document so much. I believed that God was personally telling me how much he loved me and how highly he thought of me and what he had in store for me and the mission he sent me to earth to accomplish. I even made my PB into Section 139 of my Doctrine and Covenants and divided it into verses and inserted cross references to other scriptures. It really is beautiful and inspiring and I think patriarchal blessings in general are good for raising people's self-esteem. But, that good does not make up for what I believe to be the misdirection it gives believers. Believers make very important life decisions based on this blessing, which would be great if it actually came from God, but since in all likelihood it is nothing more than the words of an old man inspired by nothing more than his own thoughts and experiences, it can be quite dangerous to put that much trust in one man's counsel and his imagination.

Psychologists discovered a long time ago what the term as the Barnum effect: the name given to a type of subjective validation in which a person finds personal meaning in statements that could apply to many people. Many believers will testify that their Patriarchal Blessing is spot on and that it accurately predicted many events in their lives. People do the same with their astrological readings, phrenology reports, and palm readings. I could easily see designing an experiment in which we created a Patriarchal Blessing and pronounced it upon the heads of several young people and they would all think it was God's personal communication just to them and try to live their lives to fulfill their sacred assignments not knowing that several people got the same blessing. I always thought it was a special treat to read other people's blessings because it was like I got a special look into who they really are and what God has planned for them. It was a really intimate thing. If it was an "apostate's" blessing, I was sad that they had given up their blessings. If any believers are reading, try not to get too disappointed. More patriarchal blessings can be found online here:

I now share with you my PB:

Brother "Hüffenhardt", through the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood I pronounce upon you your patriarchal blessing, declaring unto you that the Lord loves you and that you are one of his chosen sons which he has sent to this earth.

Your patriarchal blessing shall be a help and a guide to you as you go forward in life serving the Lord and blessing his children. You shall be blessed with health and strength enabling you to serve diligently and with full capacity in the callings in the church which shall come to you. You shall shoulder responsibilities of leadership. You shall counsel and be blessed with the spirit of revelation and prophecy in fulfilling the assignments which you receive from the Lord.

You shall be endowed from on high with faith to bring forth the blessings of heaven. You shall enjoy the gift of healing. You shall be given the opportunity to lay hands upon the heads of those who are sick and afflicted and through their faith and your faith and the will of the Lord restore them to health.

Your footsteps shall be directed in the paths of righteousness through the promptings of the Holy Ghost. You shall be watched over and protected in your going and coming in life. The Lord shall give you utterance in expression in declaring and proclaiming his gospel. You shall teach as one having authority and shall confound those who may attempt to distract the work of the Lord.

You shall bear a testimony of conviction that your Heavenly Father lives and loves all of his children. You shall bear a testimony strong and firm that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. There shall be many who hear your testimony and partake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

You are of the house of Israel through the lineage of Ephraim. All the blessings which the Lord has promised to this house of Israel shall be yours if you are true and faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord.

You shall grow to maturity with control of your faculties. Your thirst for truth shall bring you peace and joy as you listen to the promptings of the still small voice which shall whisper to you and direct your searching. Not only shall the truths of the gospel come to you, but also truths of science which shall be for the benefit of mankind. The Lord shall use you as an instrument in his hands in bringing about his work upon the earth in establishing truths which will benefit and help his children in their daily lives.

You shall have the spirit of discernment to detect truth from error. You shall not be deceived by the cunning craftiness of the evil one. You shall use the priesthood to rebuke the powers of Satan.

Your influence for good shall be felt both far and near. You shall acknowledge the Lord in your daily living, giving him credit for the daily blessings which you enjoy. You shall bring honor to your loved ones through the example of your life and the good which you do. Many hearts shall rejoice through the kind acts and deeds of service which you render. You shall be sensitive to the needs of those around you and shall always be kind and gentle in your dealings with others.

I bless you with a healthy body and a good mind that you may truly serve the Lord and his children upon the earth. You shall be given opportunities of education and shall have employment suitable to sustain yourself and your family and loved ones. The material things of life which are needed shall be provided. You shall have wisdom in using the resources which the Lord shall place in your hands.

The day will come when you shall enter into the temple with a choice companion at your side and there be married for time and all eternity. You shall be blessed with children reserved by the Lord to come forth in the last dispensation. You shall be blessed as a father in Israel in teaching your children to obey the commandments of the Lord. Your home shall be watched over and protected from the elements of destruction. Through the priesthood you shall bless your home and the members thereof.

You shall find comfort and guidance and peace as you pray and ponder and search the scriptures. The Lord shall enlighten your mind and give you understanding of those things in life which will prepare you and others for eternal life.

I remind you, "Hüffenhardt", that the promises and blessings which are pronounced upon you this day shall be realized if you are true and faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord.

These blessings I declare unto you according to your faithfulness in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Bull said...

What strikes me is that it is all meant to be very affirming of Mormon belief systems without every committing. Some of the blessings are conditioned on not one or two, but three conditions. This basically makes it so that the lack of fulfillment of any blessing can be blamed on anything other than the lack of prophetic ability of the patriarch. In other words, no matter what happens in your life the patriarchal blessing will have been fulfilled.

What is sad is when a patriarch actually DOES make a concrete blessing that then goes unfulfilled. For example, my brother's blessing declares that he was have children (plural). He and his wife were never able to have children and were ultimately only able to adopt one. This blessing has caused them a lot of anguish and self blame because lack of fulfillment seems to imply that they were not worthy to receive the blessing and that their lack of children is a punishment for past behavior. This is one aspect of the patriarchal blessings that I think is particularly sinister.

Dave Sigmann said...

Another way in which the blessing cannot be falsified is the loose way in which the blessing can be considered to be fulfilled. For example, I have heard members say that some of the blessings will be fulfilled after death. So, a believer might say to your brother that he will have children in the CK.

I am also reminded of Pres. Faust, who said his blessing promised daughters. He had no daughters but he considers his blessing fulfilled through his daughters-in-law and granddaughters.

Thank you for your post.

NFlanders said...

What strikes me about your blessing Dave (or should I call you Hueffen?) is how generic it is. You'll bless sick people. Really? You'll grow to maturity? Yes, the odds are that you will.

I have to admit that I've probably only read my patriarchal blessing 2 or 3 times total. I misplaced my copy on my mission, and I never found it very inspiring because it was so fortune-cookie generic.

The only prescient thing it said was that I should focus on finding a career. 11 years later and I'm still looking. I guess even a stopped clock (or a geriatric man) is right twice a day.

Hüffenhardt said...

Thanks for your comments, Ned. Yeah, most of it is very generic. One of the specifics was that I would make contributions in science. At the time that I got the blessing, I enjoyed both science and literature and could having a career in either.

But, due to my blessing, I focused on science, first physics and then social science. I now wish that I did not make those critical decisions based on the words of an old guy.

NFlanders said...

Whoa, where does it mention science? I just read it twice and I didn't see anything like that.

Maybe this is why I thought mine was so generic. Maybe I skimmed right over all the juicy stuff.

Hüffenhardt said...

"Not only shall the truths of the gospel come to you, but also truths of science which shall be for the benefit of mankind. The Lord shall use you as an instrument in his hands in bringing about his work upon the earth in establishing truths which will benefit and help his children in their daily lives."

NFlanders said...

Sorry, I don't know how I missed that. I would be a little peeved too if that had affected my choice of profession.

On the other hand, I chose English over science, and frankly, I've been regretting it ever since.

natalie said...

So new at this, this is absolutely fascinating to not only read someone's blessing but to read it through my new eyes.

I was really bothered when a few years after I got mine I read both of my sisters and they all said nearly verbatim things. I was a little insulted, I felt I was special. It also seemed at the time like it would be easy for all of these things to become self-fulling prophesies.

Another thing that we could never make heads or tails of, was that my sister's blessing said that she would meet her 'eternal companion in the upcoming MONTHS'. 10 years later she is 27 and not married and has no interest in anyone she met during that time, obviously.

But none of this was enough to make us doubt.

Even as I read this, it is the first time I've thought about my own blessing. I guess it is a little bit sad to think that I've also lived my life striving to be worthy of those blessings. Mine indicates a life of leadership and high position in and out of the church.

It is only now that I realize maybe I wasn't meant to have my own cooking show, as I read into my blessing's meaning!

Sibyl Vane said...

Patriarchal blessings were one of the last few things that I held onto as my faith starting crumbling. But the day that I read Carolyn Jessop's patriarchal blessing in "Escape" and realized just how similar all patriarchal blessings are (LDS or FLDS), I couldn't believe in them anymore.