“Stop Complaining and Sustain Them All”

I served on my mission with one of the grandsons of emeritus Seventy Elder F. Enzio Busche, whose autohagiography has been on Mormon bookshelves for a few years. My wife and I recently completed reading it a chapter a week for FHE. Among the often incredible and always uplifting stories he tells is one about Sister Neuberg, an elderly German sister with unique spiritual gifts. The two became acquainted while Edler Busche was working in Salt Lake around 1983. He gives one vignette in which Sister Neuberg is bothered by something she heard from the church’s leadership:

One day, she was unsettled by a talk at general conference by one of the Brethren. I do not remember who it was, because I did not listen too closely to her complaints. Then she said to me, “Yes, I went to the Lord and complained about the talk and that brother, but,” she said, “the Lord told me, ‘They are all different, but they are all acceptable unto me, even the least among them is acceptable unto me.’” Then she said, “So what can I do? I have to live with that and stop complaining and sustain them all.” (Yearning for the Living God 189)

There have been some controversial, well-publicized, and much-discussed statements from church Ieadership as of late, and I hope to relate the above selection to TT’s post last year on inerrancy and criticizing church leaders. My own interest is not necessarily in Sister Neuberg’s proposed solution to “stop complaining and sustain them all,” but rather in the answer to her prayer: “They are all different, but they are all acceptable unto me.” No statement of consistency or unanimity. No insistence that the Brethren really do agree on everything or even that they are of equal merit. Rather it is a frank acknowledgement of dissonance and a blanket statement of support. It may be an actualization of TT’s ideal spiritual practice of silence, i.e. holding competing or hard sentiments from church leadership in tension with one another as part of an interpretive strategy. To me this declaration focuses not on the leader’s position at the head of the body, but on his position before the Lord. Emphasis is not on his vested authority or special placement but rather on whether the Lord “accepts” him or not. It looks like a clemency to church leaders in spite of their disunity and imperfection.

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