Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Blessing Penelope

A couple of years ago I accidently poisoned my 14 pound pug Penelope. I left the door open to my garage, and she got in and ate enough rat poison to kill a much larger dog. Luckily, I realized it right away, took her to the vet, got her stomach pumped, etc. The vets seemed to think she would make it, but I was agonized and heartsick. The dog I loved like a child had almost died because of me.

I felt strongly that she should have a priesthood blessing. I know some of you might find that ridiculous, but it was incredibly important to me that we do everything in our power to save her. I asked my husband. Since it wasn't standard practice, he wasn't comfortable with blessing an animal.

I begged . I sobbed. I was so disgusted with him refusing that I couldn't even look at him. I was humiliated that I had to beg for this - especially when he knew how hard it is for me to ask for a priesthood blessing under any circumstance. I had never felt so powerless in my marriage before. He had something I didn't - something that I knew would help her - and he was refusing to use it. And there was nothing I could do about it.

Eventually, he reluctantly performed the blessing. I held her as he spoke. He was overcome with the Spirit/emotion and cried and told me later that he now knew it had been the right thing to do.

So my story ended happily. But only because he eventually gave in. Having experienced the feeling of terror and helplessness with my dog ill, I can only imagine what it would be like with a child.

This experience made me believe it is wrong to concentrate that kind of power within only one partner of the marriage. In my ideal world, both women and men would share their priesthood and bless and annoint jointly. (But if one wasn't willing, then the other could step in and do it.) However, in the meantime, I would be happy with smaller steps. If it was acknowledged that wives shared with husbands equal decision making power on when to bless, then I'd be more comfortable. Or, if it were acknowledged that healing by faith and by the gift of healing were just as powerful as a priesthood blessing, then that would be ok as well.

As it stands now, perhaps I do have the gift to heal. But I wouldn't know it since it's such a cultural faux-pas to even entertain the idea. I think it's time for the church and its members to stop ignoring/rejecting this empowering and ennobling doctrine and give women the permission to find this talant and gift within themselves.

Or we could just give women the priesthood. That would work too.


Blogger John said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/26/2005 3:02 PM  
Blogger John said...

Poor Penelope...And poor Caroline! I'm sorry you all (including Mike) had to go through such an ordeal.

It makes me wonder how one should deal with situations of powerlessness. Would it have been best for you to simply have given Penelope a blessing yourself? Wouldn't a compassionate God honor it if it were performed out of love and sincerity? (and you would have historical precedent to back you up!) Are you truly powerless? Are you limited to the structure imposed on you by the Church institution, or can you create your own options?

10/26/2005 3:02 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Hi John,

This was two and a half years ago. At that point I would not have even considered giving the blessing myself. I'm a bit more liberated these days, so that would certainly occur to me.

I hope a compassionate God would honor a sincere blessing performed by me, but I can't help but feel that Mike invoking the priesthood might make it more powerful. No doubt that feeling comes from years of indoctrination. And when your baby's life is on the line, you want to cover all angles and do everything humanly possible to give her the best chance. Unfortunately, for me, even now, that might mean blessing with the priesthood.

The whole issue could be solved, of course, if women were simply ordained. That's what I prefer -for the church to institutionally recognize the power and authority of all righteous people, male and female.

10/27/2005 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I'd like to add a little detail. I really didn't feel a blessing was necessary. The doctor was positive Penelope would be fine, and I felt like she would be fine, too. Why give a blessing then? The fact that Penelope was a dog was another reason to not give the blessing in my mind, but not the only reason. In fact, it wasn't even the main reason.

10/30/2005 6:24 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Perhaps I'm misremembering, Mike, but I believe I was the one to take her to the vet and talk to the vet. She never said she was "positive." (Where did you get that from? And why would a vet ever want to give that kind of absolute assurance?) I believe she said "probably" or "most likely."

Maybe Penelope didn't need that blessing. Perhaps that blessing was way more for me and my peace of mind than for her. But I don't think that means that you should refuse to give someone peace of mind, just because you think Penelope would survive.

10/31/2005 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

By positive I meant that the doctor was upbeat that her recovery was likely. That is how you conveyed it to me. I didn't mean more than that.

"But I don't think that means that you should refuse to give someone peace of mind, just because you think Penelope would survive."

I agree. Your point is well taken.

11/01/2005 10:55 AM  

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