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Source: (consider it) Thread: Blessing eh?
Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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Today I was met by a very concerned lady (I suspect she had learning difficulties) after the seller on a crystal stall said a blessing over the stones she bought. She bought them for good luck but had no clue what a blessing was and was really quite perturbed at the unusual word.

I explained it as him wishing her good luck and she seemed happy with this. However, it left me with questions.

Blessings are often offered as an accessible option for those outside the faith community who want to participate. We receive blessings and give them all the time in worship. Although some suggest only clerics can do so but I would have thought that saying the grace counted as pronouncing a blessing.

Beyond wishing someone well, what are we doing?

Jengie

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mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
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I think that christian blessing involves our affirming that God exists, is the root of all good, and cares about us - before reminding the one(s) we wish to bless, that those truths apply to them, and that we personally (and so relationally - is that a word?) want to remind them and encourage them in those things.

At least, that's what I take from a blessing and would wish to convey with one.

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(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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sabine
Shipmate
# 3861

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I don't come from a tradition of ritual blessings, so I consider a blessing to be more aspirational than sacramental. When I bless someone, I believe I'm affirming God's love and grace, but I don't believe I'm channeling it. I just want the best for the other person. When someone blesses me, I accept it as a gift of good will.

Even without being ritual or sacramental, a blessing can be sacred.

sabine

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"Hunger looks like the man that hunger is killing." Eduardo Galeano

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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I suspect what we are doing is obliquely asking God to bless the person (well, at least for Christians). AFAIK no ordinary human has innate supernatural power that can confer blessing upon someone, which is why I think we are referring the matter to God, who does.

I think that some cultures have a belief that certain people do possess such power--in the Old Testament it seems as if parents, particularly the three patriarchs, have some such power, which I would assume is delegated to them from God. Though even that has its limits, as Isaac found when he blessed the wrong kid.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
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sabine
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
I suspect what we are doing is obliquely asking God to bless the person (well, at least for Christians). AFAIK no ordinary human has innate supernatural power that can confer blessing upon someone, which is why I think we are referring the matter to God, who does.

Good point. sabine

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"Hunger looks like the man that hunger is killing." Eduardo Galeano

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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The historic protestant church in France has virtually split over whether "blessing" means, roughly, "divine endorsement" or "wishing the best" with regard to... well, you can guess which DH issue.

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Lamb Chopped
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Bless you! [Two face]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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sabine
Shipmate
# 3861

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Bless you! [Two face]

[Big Grin]

sabine

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"Hunger looks like the man that hunger is killing." Eduardo Galeano

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sabine
Shipmate
# 3861

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
The historic protestant church in France has virtually split over whether "blessing" means, roughly, "divine endorsement" or "wishing the best" with regard to... well, you can guess which DH issue.

Hmm, sounds like a variation of human beings thinking they're in charge of whom God chooses to bless. It does seem hard to imagine that God loves that which we cannot accept.

I don't know much about the split in France. If I've got it wrong here or misunderstood your comment, I'd appreciate more info.

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"Hunger looks like the man that hunger is killing." Eduardo Galeano

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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The United Protestant Church, which combines the Reformed Church and the Lutherans, voted in a synod a few years ago to allow local parishes to consider the possibility of "blessing" same-sex marriages.

It was discussed in DH at the time, no longer there, don't know if it's in Limbo.

Without going into the DH territory here, IIRC the argument was made, on linguistic grounds, that "blessing" in the Bible was not necessarily the same thing as "divine endorsement". That restricted question (as opposed to the DH issue) is perhaps germane to this discussion in Purgatory.

The report that led to that decision can be found here (in French) and the relevant theological and lingustic considerations are to be found from the bottom of page 19 onwards. I don't have time right now to do a précis but may, if pressed, later.

I know one of the two authors of this document reasonably well. He is a professor of theology at the University of Strasbourg.

[ 08. July 2017, 19:02: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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Enoch
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# 14322

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So far as the CofE is concerned, although I'm not sure I've ever heard this clearly elucidated, I think there must be an underlying understanding that a blessing ontologically transmits something. Otherwise it does not make sense that only priests and bishops can actually bless, and that lay people and deacons can only ask God to bless.

I'd also assume that for the blessing to transmit, it isn't enough to pronounce it. The recipient must be willing to receive it. Now that crossing oneself is no longer the shibboleth it used to be in the CofE, it's a major part of why many people now cross themselves when the clergy person pronounces the blessing at the end of the service.

It's also my understanding, but I don't know where I got it from, that parents have an authority to bless their children. The practice was undoubtedly much more prevalent in the past. It seems to go back at least as far as the C16 and probably long before that. I assume the same applies to grandparents and grandchildren. I suspect it is derived from the examples in the Pentateuch.


My French is nothing like good enough these days to read the paper Eutychus has linked to. Would I be right in suspecting one of the issues is whether it is legitimate to require a minister to pronounce a blessing on something that he or she does not have 100% confidence that God is willing to bless? It would be asking them to step outside the authority they believe God has delegated to them, to exercise an awesome responsibility in a way they do not know is within that scope.

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sabine
Shipmate
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Thanks for the explanation, Eutychus. I was a bit out of the loop on that.

ISTM that there are quite a few linguistic and spiritual understsndings of the concept of a blessing.

Parents may say they are giving their blessing to a marriage of their child and merely be giving an affirmation. Another interpretation is that a person is actually calling on God for particular notice. Or one may use a blessing nto acknowledge God's grace. And there will be others.

I have a bit of difficulty with the concept that a blessing may "transmit" by any human action. (Maybe I didn't fully get Enoch's point).

In one if the places where I worship laying on of hands is used to acknowledge God's role in a special circumstance but I've never had the impression that anyone thought that our hands were a direct conduit from God to the recipient. The prayers said at such times are encouraging and always mention God's grace but not in a "transmission" way. I could be wrong about what the majority feel in this case and may bring it up for discussion there sometime.

Very interesting thread. I'm hoping that whatever a person's interpretation of a blessing is, that interpretation brings peace and hope.

sabine

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"Hunger looks like the man that hunger is killing." Eduardo Galeano

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Eutychus
From the edge
# 3081

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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
My French is nothing like good enough these days to read the paper Eutychus has linked to. Would I be right in suspecting one of the issues is whether it is legitimate to require a minister to pronounce a blessing on something that he or she does not have 100% confidence that God is willing to bless?

First, a correction, I see the report was by three people and not two.

The two ends of the spectrum of understanding of blessing (amid a whole other series of aspects) are "sign of unconditional acceptance" and "call to live a sanctified life" (p29). There's quite a range of meaning between those two...

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One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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People send me things signed "blessings -<name>", "yours in Christ", and similar. Then I hear "God bless <country, other political demarcation>".

The OP has me thinking about the invocation of God, and the responses to it are those of mature thought. I too wonder about how it plays out. In Anglican churches in my area, which are low to middle, various things get submitted at times for blessings: prayer shawls, other hand knitted or made items, companion and therapeutic animals, crucifixes and hand painted icons. We also see people getting blessings.

I find myself with comfort about people, slightly less with the animals, and relative distaste to indifference with objects. I've wondered quite a few times about it. Sometimes we are invited to raise our arms akin to a priest toward the blessed (venerated?) thing. I've wondered about my lack of faith and envied others who seem to get something from it. But this may be a more general problem for me too.

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Boogie

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When I was acting headteacher of a CofE Primary school I bought a large new candle to light during prayers in assembly.

I bought it from Dunelm, the vicar was horrified and held a 'candle blessing' ceremony.

🤣🤣

To be fair, she did explain to the children that blessing meant 'setting it aside for God'.

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Schroedinger's cat

Ship's cool cat
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When I was at uni, the chaplain asked someone to go down to the supermarket to get a roll and a small bottle of wine for communion.

That made it especially real for me.

Blessing is, to me, the marking of something ordinary as for being used for something special. When it is for something like in the OP, it is a wish that something is special for you. It doesn't make it special, it just offers a hope that it will be special for you.

If that makes sense.

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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
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When our dog was alive, I used to put my hand on her and ask God to bless her. She appeared to like this.

Moo

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mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
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Yes, that's helpful.(oops, x-post to SC)

It's a little different, but a friend was recently bereaved and having spent some time talking and drinking with him, I noticed a card from folks at his church. It was full of christian-ese variations on 'May God be especially close to you at this difficult time' and stuff like that, which is I suppose a bit like wishing God's blessing.

I think I'd have been groping around in those phrases myself if I were asked to sign a card like that - but I felt there was something wrong with it, which also feels wrong to me about blessing. God is so big, that asking that 'He may be especially' anything, or (by extension) 'that he might bless you in this special' whatever, seems...presumptuous, somehow.

Maybe it's just semantic and what these folks really mean is 'may you feel a sense of God's blessing / peace / grace / love at this especially difficult time, when you might especially need it but when the circumstances mean you might find it especially difficult to feel it'. If this language were code for that, it would perhaps feel more OK to me.

After all that if you ever send me a card, you're likely to just want to put 'John and Sue x'.

[ 09. July 2017, 11:39: Message edited by: mark_in_manchester ]

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
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Interesting. If a person feels in any way 'better' or more relaxed, or comforted by another person saying, 'Bless you,' then that's a good sort of thing. If people sneeze, even I sometimes say without thinking, 'Bless you!' However, I have to grit my teeth and I cringe when Trump comes out with, 'And GOD Bless America.' I think I have to put it in cappitals - he says it in capital letters!!

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Metapelagius
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The etymology of 'bless' is perhaps clearer from the Old English (aka Anglo-Saxon) form. The root is 'blood' - so to bless meant to sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial animal on a person or persons, presumably present at a pagan act of worship. A bit like the asperges, only messier. I should suppose that the idea was that those sprinkled would in some tangible way be drawn into the sacrificial act and derive some spiritual benefit from it. This is in a way reminiscent of the practice, which apparently still persists, of daubing the blood of a fox killed by hounds on the face of any novice at a fox hunt. Perhaps marginally less repulsive, unless, of course, you are an enthusiast for blood sports.

All the well wishing connotations look to derive more from the Latin term 'benedico', literally 'I say well'. More abstract, and certainly less gory.

[ 09. July 2017, 19:56: Message edited by: Metapelagius ]

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Rec a archaw e nim naccer.
y rof a duv. dagnouet.
Am bo forth. y porth riet.
Crist ny buv e trist yth orsset.

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
When our dog was alive, I used to put my hand on her and ask God to bless her. She appeared to like this.

Moo

Great. [Smile] There's a story that Luther was reading the New Testament passage about all of creation being renewed. He then turned to his dog and said, "You, too, shall have a little golden tail".

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stonespring
Shipmate
# 15530

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Going back to the OP, was the blessing over the crystals being bought a Christian one or was it New Age/Earth-Based spirituality/perhaps even Neopagan? I am so pluralistic that this does not really matter to me, but for a non-heretical Christian (seeing that many Christians would consider me heretical), if buying crystals as good luck chars just for fun without expressing any belief in the occult is ok, is it also ok to consent to a blessing being pronounced over those crystals that might have content that a more conservative Christian would consider "occult" or "pagan"?
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