Missions and patriarchal blessings

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DoubtingTom
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Missions and patriarchal blessings

Post by DoubtingTom » 05 Jun 2017, 20:51

Sitting around talking with family today and we were talking with my brother-in-law who is planning on going on a mission in about a year. He kept making references to serving in other countries and I casually made the remark that he might serve in the states. My MIL told me, "you don't know about his patriarchal blessing, do you?"

So his patriarchal blessing says that he will serve a mission "in a strange land with a strange tongue to a dark and benighted people." Because of this, he has always assumed he would serve a foreign mission. So one question I have is, does anyone know if patriarchal information like this goes into a missionary application?

When we started talking about hypotheticals, like Detroit could be strange land to someone who has never been there, and a strange tongue could be different dialects of English. Others also mentioned that if the blessing doesn't seem fulfilled with his mission call perhaps it could be fulfilled as a senior missionary or even in the next life.

As a very skeptic (mostly agnostic) individual, all this talk about patriarchal blessings started to get to me. I personally believe that these blessings most likely simply come from the mind of the one giving the blessing. But for those who believe there is more to it, do they believe it in actuality? Because as soon as the possibility of him receiving a mission call that doesn't seem to fulfill the blessing, the rationalizing explanations immediately began so that the patriarchal blessing could still be "valid" even if it didn't seem literally fulfilled. Over the years, I have heard of some pretty strange things said in patriarchal blessings, particularly when it comes to missionary work.

I think patriarchal blessings can be beautiful and helpful in many ways, but I do have a hard time with some blessings that seem to contain very specific things. Some of these can be self-fulfilling and up to the individual to make them come true, but other things like where a mission call is extended seem to be opening up the door to disappointment if it doesn't seem to be fulfilled.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Missions and patriarchal blessings

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Jun 2017, 03:37

Upfront, I am of the mind that PBs are generally not really inspired. I have pretty strong feelings of disbelief about them, and my own has some things that are clearly not the case - and you can't even stretch to make it fit.

No, the mission application does not ask anything about the PB. Somewhere in there the prospective missionary is advised to get his or hers before serving if they haven't already.

In your BIL's case, he could be called to NYC as a Spanish speaking missionary and that would "fulfill the prophecy." IMO people tend to stretch to make things fit. There are lots of possibilities that can fit depending on the definition of strange, strange tongue, dark, and benighted. Apparently many years ago we had a patriarch that liked to bless people that they wold see the second coming in the flesh. We have some old timers in our ward who were so blessed. We also have some who have died. Although the line is pretty specific and more than alludes to seeing the second coming in their lifetime, invariably the thought has been adjusted so that "in the flesh" can also mean after they are resurrected. It does seem modern patriarchs are less specific about some things, but your BIL's does seem to be more specific than any of my kids'.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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SamBee
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Re: Missions and patriarchal blessings

Post by SamBee » 06 Jun 2017, 04:48

What are his language skills like?
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nibbler
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Re: Missions and patriarchal blessings

Post by nibbler » 06 Jun 2017, 05:25

...as opposed to serving a mission in a strange land with a strange tongue to a tall, dark, and benighted people. :P

Dark and benighted... I'm sure that attitude will win the savages over.

A few things that our Stake Patriarchs have said in recent years (we've had three in the last 5 years) gave me the impression that PBs are being reigned in a little, a mini-correlation of sorts. I don't mean to imply that PBs will one day follow a script like a spiritual Mad Libs but from things that were said it sounded like there was a training effort where patriarchs were told to reign in the crazy and and to reign in being overspecific.

Of course that won't stop people. :smile:

My PB was generic on the whole mission thing, It said I would be blessed with the opportunity to serve a FT mission, but to me that was a very big deal. I'm a convert and I wanted to serve a mission but lacked that extra oomph to stand up to family that were (very understandably) dead set against it. The PB helped give me the courage to pursue something that I wanted to do, despite how daunting the task would be. God was on my side and believing that helped me through many trials.
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DoubtingTom
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Re: Missions and patriarchal blessings

Post by DoubtingTom » 06 Jun 2017, 05:33

SamBee wrote:
06 Jun 2017, 04:48
What are his language skills like?
He took a few years of Spanish in high school but is not very proficient. He has one year of high school left and is not taking any foreign language classes his senior year. And he's planning on going on his mission straight after high school. That's it.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Missions and patriarchal blessings

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Jun 2017, 05:53

DoubtingTom wrote:
06 Jun 2017, 05:33
SamBee wrote:
06 Jun 2017, 04:48
What are his language skills like?
He took a few years of Spanish in high school but is not very proficient. He has one year of high school left and is not taking any foreign language classes his senior year. And he's planning on going on his mission straight after high school. That's it.
Back in the dark ages when I served (not quite the Crusades, but close enough ;) ) there was a language test. It was mostly based on a made up language and tested one's aptitude in learning a new language. I'm not sure how I did, but I went to a strange land with dark and benighted people (some literally dark, some metaphorically). However I spoke their brand of English. Nowadays there is no test. A young woman in our ward disliked Spanish and took four years of another language in high school to avoid it. She was called to the American Southwest as a Spanish speaking missionary. Another young man in our ward took Spanish in HS and serves in Italy. Another guy in our stake serves in Russia, I don't know what language he took in school but I know his school doesn't offer Russian (there is a local school that does). Several years ago we had a young man called to California Hmong speaking - a surprise to most of us because he was not a stellar student and it's a tough language (he struggled mightily and still doesn't consider himself a speaker). Our school only offers Spanish, my children all took the full course. One went Spanish speaking, but said the high school stuff was only minimally helpful. The other went to Brazil. (DD didn't go and another son is in the "paperwork" process.) My point here is that language skills or training don't seem to matter these days. And I suppose if the process is really as inspired as we are led to believe that makes sense. (Side note and another topic, it really bugs me when people consider this "speaking in tongues." This is not at all what speaking in tongues means nor is it what is referenced in AofF 7).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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DarkJedi
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Re: Missions and patriarchal blessings

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Jun 2017, 05:56

nibbler wrote:
06 Jun 2017, 05:25
A few things that our Stake Patriarchs have said in recent years (we've had three in the last 5 years) gave me the impression that PBs are being reigned in a little, a mini-correlation of sorts. I don't mean to imply that PBs will one day follow a script like a spiritual Mad Libs but from things that were said it sounded like there was a training effort where patriarchs were told to reign in the crazy and and to reign in being overspecific.

Of course that won't stop people. :smile:
Things I have picked up from my SP and our former patriarch (we were friends) indicate likewise. Neither has come out and said it, but it is apparent something has happened in the last few years in this regard. The patriarch did once say he was cautioned by a GA against being overly specific.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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dande48
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Re: Missions and patriarchal blessings

Post by dande48 » 06 Jun 2017, 06:40

I had almost the EXACT same statement in my patriarchal blessing (serving in foreign countries, and speaking in a new language with the gift of tounges). I served in California, English Speaking.

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but the thing about Patriarchal blessings is that they are IMPOSSIBLE to fail. Seriously. If a part of it looks like it didn't come true, it will be re-interpreted until it actually happened (or will happen). That, or your brother-in-law is unworthy, or didn't have enough faith. It's a catch 22.

Roy
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Re: Missions and patriarchal blessings

Post by Roy » 06 Jun 2017, 09:49

I had decided not to go on a mission before receiving my own patriarchal blessing. The Patriarch asked me about this before the blessing. In the blessing it says that the Lord has a mission for me to serve and I have a decision to make but if I follow the promptings of the Lord the blessings will flow.

It somewhat irritated me that the Patriarch did not respect my decision not to go. He could have left it open ended so that serving a 2 year mission was one of the many ways that I could be of service in the kingdom. Instead he decided to double down so that if I did not end up on a mission, forevermore my patriarchal blessing would indicate that I had failed at that particular plan and trajectory for my life.

Setting up a scenario where young men that do not go on missions are less valued is a recipe where many young men that do not serve missions end up leaving the church. (which I am sure some could point to as evidence that all young men should be missionaries or risk their salvation. Are we reinforcing our most stalwart and committed or driving away those on the margins? Probably a mixture of both!)

Also on this topic of missions and PB. One young woman I met was afraid to receive her patriarchal blessing lest she discover that she was not from the tribe of Ephraim. She was under the impression that since the gathering is the responsibility of Ephraim that only members from this tribe are allowed as missionaries.

Of course that is not true - it does not necessarily matter what tribe is declared. But if it does not really matter, why do we continue to do it. I am not an expert in this regard but I believe that it used to be more meaningful back in the day when the church was teaching a more literal gathering/ return of the ten tribes from the north type of stuff. Now it just seems like a vestige of times and teachings of long ago.
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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Missions and patriarchal blessings

Post by hawkgrrrl » 06 Jun 2017, 11:35

a dark and benighted people
That's straight up racist. Dude.

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