Do you believe in Priesthood Blessings?

In the July 2012 edition of the Ensign, there is an article by Elder Dallen H Oaks.
In the article, he talks about the different kinds of priesthood blessings. For this post, I would like to focus on Blessings of Comfort or Counsel. The article describes them this way:

“Persons desiring guidance in an important decision can receive a priesthood blessing. Persons who need extra spiritual power to overcome a personal challenge can receive a blessing. Priesthood blessings are often requested from fathers before children leave home for various purposes, such as school, service in the military, or a long trip.

Blessings given in circumstances such as I have just described are sometimes called blessings of comfort or counsel. They are usually given by fathers or husbands or other elders in the family. They can be recorded and kept in family records for the personal spiritual guidance of the persons blessed.”

Part of the article is also very specific that blessings of comfort or counsel, should be requested by the individual receiving the blessing. So, I am curious about your experiences with blessings of this type. Since many people who were raised in the church are likely to have had a number of these blessings, I am curious which of these statements fit your experience:

I have never had a blessing of the kind described above.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it helpful in making a decision.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it brought me peace and acceptance of a situation.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it brought me strength during a difficult trial.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that there were specific things promised me that happened.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found the blessing to be non-specific but still helpful with a coming school year, decision, or endeavor in my life.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that there were specific things promised to me that did not happen.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that the contents of the blessing brought guilt or feelings of discomfort.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found the blessing to be non-specific and unhelpful with whatever I was struggling with.

Every (or almost every) blessing I received was at my request.

Some of the blessings I received were not at my request.

All of the blessings I received were not at my request.

All of the blessings I received were inspired, and I felt increased influence of the Lord as a result.

Some of the blessings I received were inspired, and most of them brought an increase in faith.

Some of the blessings I received were inspired, but most of them did not bring an increase in faith.

Most of the blessings I received were not inspired and did not have much impact on my testimony.

Most of the blessings I received were not inspired and negatively impacted my testimony.

Some or all of the blessings I received brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and decreased my faith.

Some or all of the blessings I received brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and led to me completely losing my faith.

I tried to include the variety of experiences I or friends have had, but I am sure I missed some questions. What would you have added to the list?

I realize that many people will have had a variety of experiences that fall into several categories, so I doubt that many people will have only one answer. I can say that I have both had blessings that brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and impacted my testimony in a negative way. I have also had profoundly strengthening blessings, that gave me hope in the middle of difficult trials, and the specific promises of the blessings which happened afterwards, to be an important part of my testimony as an adult.

I am curious about specific experiences that were definitive in your life. For me, during a particularly difficult period with a husband (who I am no longer married to), I requested a blessing from my step-father. The specific information about the needs of my children, and the supports that I should look for as I moved forward to protect myself, were extremely helpful. The fact that my mother took notes while the blessing was being given, and I had those notes to go back to, helped me to keep the promises of the blessing in the forefront of my mind. I have never had an actual recording of a blessing, but until I read this article, I hadn’t realized it was considered appropriate to do so. It is something that I will think about, and consider in the future when I am requesting a blessing.

So, what is your experience(s) with receiving blessings of comfort or counsel? Have they ever helped you, or did they feel like words that were just being said?

Have you ever recorded a blessing either with a recorder of with someone taking notes? If you did, were recorded blessings more helpful than blessings which you did not have recordings for?

Do you find blessings that are specific or more generalized more helpful?

If you have had a blessing that felt like it was simply a priesthood member exercising unrighteous dominion, did you request that/those blessing(s)?

While the main thrust of this post is to talk about experiences receiving blessings, but for those who have given them, at some point,is there anything that you do to prepare for giving this type of blessing, and if you have done specific preparation, do you find it makes a difference in the kind of blessings you give? Were there blessings you gave that you did not feel came from God?

“We do not need more members who question every detail.”

Spending too much time on Facebook, as usual, and a friend shared this link from the page LDS General Conference, a quote from M. Russell Ballard from October 1995 General Conference:

We do not need more members who question every detail; we need members who have felt with their hearts, who live close to the Spirit, and who follow its promptings joyfully. We need seeking hearts and minds that welcome gospel truths without argument or complaint and without requiring miraculous manifestation. Oh, how we are blessed when members respond joyfully to counsel from their bishops, stake presidents, quorum or auxiliary leaders, some of whom might be younger than they and less experienced. What great blessings we receive when we follow “that which is right” joyfully and not grudgingly.

The quote alone was enough to get my dander up. I had to quit reading the comments after three or four because it wasn’t good for my blood pressure. Fortunately there are some commenters on the thread saying, “Hey, wait a minute, let’s not throw our minds out the window,” and this post yesterday from Mike S. at Wheat and Tares about wanting to make “I believe” as valid a statement of faith as “I know” was encouraging.

Sometimes it gets hard to keep a tally on all the ways my experience with the Church was harmful, but this attitude that, “If what you think is different from what we think, we are right and you are wrong,” is definitely near the top of the list. As I’ve written on my own blog:

I think we all have an instinctive inner voice that can guide us toward a fulfilling life. The religion I grew up in taught me to override this voice if it conflicted with external authority….The underlying message: God (as represented by his appointed mouthpieces on earth) knows what’s best for you; you don’t. So just bequiet nice anddo what you’re told follow our loving counsel.

If something doesn’t feel right, you’re the problem. You need to pray harder and be more humble, and keep praying until the answer you get matches up with doctrine/your bishop/etc. My post goes through examples of questions I had about racism in the Book of Mormon, gender roles and gay marriage, and how I suppressed all these concerns to protect my testimony. The most vivid instance when I recall coming up against this “don’t question” attitude was when when I was 19 or 20 and told my bishop I wasn’t really sure godhood was for me. I couldn’t see the appeal in exaltation, didn’t understand why I was supposed to want that. His response: If I were more righteous, my desires would fall into line with what my Heavenly Father had planned for me.

I go through rather large stretches where I don’t feel any sort of hostility toward the Church, and feel I can just live and let live, sometimes even feel a bit of affection for the quirkiness of Mormonism. Then something like this crosses my radar. Yes, this talk is from 16 years ago, but it’s from an apostle during Conference, which I believe qualifies it as scripture, and it’s being shared and revered by many of the faithful today. Part of me wants to get in there and point out the fallacies, but the larger part of me knows it will be useless. So I just thank whatever deity may be out there for the fact that I’m not part of it anymore, and for the peace passing all understanding that I’ve found since relearning to trust myself.


Leah blogs at The Whore of All the Earth.

Q: How to get single Mormons to attend LDS Institute classes?

A: Guilt and sex.

Tonight? Oh, behave. Rrrrr.

h/t: r/exmormon and t.t.a.n.s.

See also Mormon Ad FAIL:

I know I shouldn’t be shocked and outraged that this comes from a church whose finest entertainment moment was the depiction of Johnny Lingo bartering for an 8-Cow Wife. And I know I’ve heard more returned missionaries than I can count who’ve been promised “a hot wife” in exchange for their faithfulness. But it is different when the video comes straight from the Church’s official website.

The church: not spiritual enough?

So, when I was checking through the list of scheduled posts at Mormon Matters, I was excited because I saw a post about the “Role of the Church in the Pursuit of Righteousness: Why it works for some and not for others.” And oh boy, I was so excited, because it was a topic that was about those for whom the church doesn’t necessarily work out…and of course, Ray’s generally fair in all of his posts — he reminds me somehow of my tax professor. This guy is so nice, a student can say the most wrong answer in class and yet he’ll never embarrass a student by bringing so much attention to the wrong answer, yet somehow he’ll have fixed every misunderstanding.

I’m not going to say I was disappointed, because it was still a good post when I read what it actually was about. Still insightful, and still fair. But I still think it was directed at a different crowd. It didn’t really capture why the church didn’t work for me, for example. This post and a few others seem to have these preconceptions, I want to say, that exmormons ‘should’ still be religious or spiritual. So the idea is, “If somehow I found out the church were untrue, I’d still find another religion” and people scramble to wonder why some exmormons are comfortable going on their own paths. Continue reading “The church: not spiritual enough?”

Christmas Story Tradition!

In my family, growing up, we had a tradition that on Christmas Eve, we’d sit together in the living room beside the Christmas tree and read a Christmas story or two. Sometimes it would be something explicitly religious — like the Christmas story from the New Testament — or semi-religious, like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Other times it would be something about Santa Claus or some other Christmas-themed story.

Well, I just found a charming brand-new Christmas story on one of the blogs I read: An Atheist’s Christmas in the Bronx. I’m thinking of printing it out and reading it to the family next year when I’ll be in Minnesota, home for the holidays (if the fates allow). I might not be able to get away with reading this one if there are small children still up (since it covers that taboo subject: existence of Santa), but maybe if the adults stay up after the kids are in bed. It’s sweet and it captures “the Christmas spirit.”

Does anyone else have a similar tradition?

Who knew the spirit is so smart?

I caught this Daily Herald summary of General Conference and one point stood out to me: Apparently Richard G. Scott is of the opinion that the “spirit” can reveal “absolute truths.” Here’s the quote from the news report:

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discussed methods for discovering truth, including the scientific method and personal prayer. It is folly, he said, to arrive at a decision based on whether it is socially acceptable or politically correct. While the scientific method has proven remarkable at uncovering many of earth’s mysteries, Scott said the only sure way for a person to arrive at an absolute truth is through the power of the prayer and witness of the Holy Ghost. “Knowledge of truth is of little value unless we apply it in making a correct decision,” he said. Continue reading “Who knew the spirit is so smart?”

The Beginning of the End

Gluby and I had been married for 16 months when I finally pulled it out of him that he was having doubts. I knew something was up because he was always upset, angry, or aloof after church or “fulfilling” his calling as the ward mission leader. One day after church I sat down at the table and basically said, “hey, I know something is bothering you and I want to know what it is. You are always upset on Sundays. Why?” He said nothing was bothering him, he was ok, he was fine. I said, “No, you are not fine. I can tell something is upsetting you. Please tell me. Please talk to me.” He was silent for awhile and then he said, “I have been having some doubts about the church.” Continue reading “The Beginning of the End”

part 2: exorcising the Holy Ghost

This post follows an earlier one, the spirit. Check that one out first so you can get a segue into where I’m coming from.

During my long process of questioning and exiting, I’ve re-evaluated just about everything in my life. I had a especially hard time explaining, defying, and reinterpreting the Spirit. One issue that held me up was that my mom spoke to the Spirit on a daily basis. Spoke. Daily. Even to the point that other Mormons thought she might be a little cuckoo. I think she eventually learned to stop announcing her personal revelations. Not because she questioned them when others did, but because she decided those other people just didn’t get it. They could have those revelations, too, if they just listened, you see. Continue reading “part 2: exorcising the Holy Ghost”