I just finished reading the newest work of Mormon scholarship on women administerring blessings in the early church written by Johnathan Stapley and Kristine Wright. Its surprisingly long-85 pages- most of which chronicles examples of women giving blessings between the 1830s and 1940s. The purpose of the article was actually to trace the changing views on the practice overtime and map how the practice was discontinued. Now that I have read it, I see a few places in which questions remain and I believe are worthy of further investigation.
A few questions that are lingering for me:
The 1949 statement of Joseph F. Smith did not actually prohibit the blessing and annointing of women during pregnancy (which was the only remaining allowable activity left to women of the church), so how and why then did it actually get discontinued? Where are the statements discouraging, rebuking, and correcting those who continued the practice? And if those statements do not exist, what then is keeping women of the church from continuing to give blessings to pregnant women?
What were the reactions of women of the church to the gradual restrictions placed on their religious practice of healing? Was there upset? Disappointment? Dissent?
The authors briefly refute the D. Michael Quinn claim that there is evidence supporting the idea that women were ordained to the priesthood but do not cite a more indepth refutation. Is there a scholarly work that does argue against Quinn's thesis?
Also missing from the article is the So What? An answer to the question, What do this mean for us now as Latter-day Saints? Is it enough to be comforted by knowledge of this heritage (e.g. that somehow knowing that women used to collaborate in the blessings of women, and the sick and afflicted makes us equal)? Ought there to be an effort to reclaim this privilege? What are the thoughts and feelings of LDS women to this knowledge? What is their response to the practice being phased out?
I will likely come back and write my more personal thoughts on this topic but for now I needed to get these questions down.