Those in favor may manifest it...

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
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Heber13
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Those in favor may manifest it...

Post by Heber13 » 13 May 2009, 12:50

I'd like to more fully understand the principle of sustaining church leaders.

What does it mean to sustain our leaders? Is this an acknowledgement of "Hey, you're not perfect, but I accept you as leader anyway" kind of vote?
Does sustaining them validate revelation of their calling by leaders?
Can I sustain them and disagree with them at the same time, or is that hypocritical?
Should I sustain them even if I have a personal grudge against them? (Bad question, I should get rid of the grudge, right?)

As far as I know, we are the only church that does this and we frequently do it weekly and unanimously (never seen a decenting vote in my lifetime), but I certainly get a sense many folks in my ward have issues and gripes and differences with leaders from time to time.

Can you share some insights on the value of the sustaining process in our church?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Those in favor may manifest it...

Post by Brian Johnston » 13 May 2009, 13:10

Here is what it means to me:

People (volunteers) are called to lead a task. These are jobs the community wants done. When I "sustain" leaders through a public vote, like we do in our meetings, I believe I am saying "I acknowledge this person is the manager for this task. They will be the leader for it. I am a part of this community, and I will do what I can to help them be successful."

So in opposite words, I will not try to undermine them. I will not try to make their job harder. I will let them do the best they can. I will try to be positive and supportive about what they are trying to do.

It doesn't mean I might not disagree with them at times, but I will do so appropriately and constructively. In the end, they have to make the call on some things. I'll try to be a good sport about that.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Those in favor may manifest it...

Post by Curt Sunshine » 13 May 2009, 15:21

What Valoel said. :D

I would dissent only if I was aware and 100% sure of some egregious sin, and I probably would not raise my hand even then. It's ceremonial and symbolic to me, and I would not want to embarrass the person in public, but I would go to the presiding authority immediately after the meeting (before the person was set apart in the calling) and explain my dissent in private.

If it still occurred, I would try to separate the concern from the function of the calling and give my support to the organization even if I couldn't give it to the person. Having a "bad" or hypocritical leader is one of the hardest aspects of the Church.

Btw, if I was aware of something really heinous (like child abuse), that should be taken up with civil authorities independent of any church calling situation.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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just me
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Re: Those in favor may manifest it...

Post by just me » 13 May 2009, 18:38

In the early days dissent was much more prevelant. I read one funny account where the GA was so frustrated because the ward (or stake?) would NOT accept the bishop and stake president! He was very frustrated. It wasn't like a couple people, it was a large percentage!

When JS was alive there were a few times that leaders were ousted by a vote.

True story-My father-in-law has dissented once. He knew the man was involved in some problematic sins. Anyway, they met with him to find out why and tried to get him to change his mind. I can't remember if that was during or after the meeting.
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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jmb275
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Re: Those in favor may manifest it...

Post by jmb275 » 15 May 2009, 10:27

Here's my take.

The original church was much more democratic, free-thinking, and progressive. I am grateful for that, and wish we could return to something similar (without the polygamy, lying, etc.). So I view our "vote" (since that's what it is) as an attempt by Joseph to be more democratic (after all it all started in America, just after the Revolutionary war, Constitution etc.). And originally, I think it was. But somewhere down the line, in my view, it lost its significance and has become nothing more than a formality for many people. For the people in this forum, I get a different sense, more like what I think was the original intent. But I think for many, it is simply cultural.

I perceive that the culture in Mormonism is such that it lends itself to people believing our leaders are infallible. They will all say they don't believe that, but they act like it. That is, if the prophet says vote "yes" on prop 8, we all do it (even me, as I was just beginning the journey and which I would not have done now), and if we have disagreeing thoughts, we pray to have them rooted out. This is unhealthy from a group psychology dynamic standpoint, but it is healthy if you are seeking to further the power of an organization.

So what does it mean to me? Well, as has been said, I now feel free to disagree (didn't before thanks to culture), and I feel that if there were law breaking, I would not hesitate for a second to alert authorities. Not following its original democratic intent, I would probably not ever dissent, but would say something in private if I knew a tidbit of information that may change the leader's mind. This, as Ray said, I would do to avoid them unnecessary embarrassment. OTOH in following the democratic intent, I view my vote as an opportunity to approve the decision, and lend my support. If the person screws up, that's fine, we all do. I don't get upset at people for making mistakes, as I know they are generally doing their best (as I do, and yet I screw up).

@Heber13
You asked Tom in another thread about going to see your bishop. I know you didn't ask me, but I'll share my experience. I went and saw my bishop (although I wasn't as far along in my dissent) on the suggestion of a dear friend. My bishop is very conservative and seemed to not know anything other than faith-promoting history. I mentioned that my original dissent began with me not agreeing with Prop 8 but feeling I had to vote yes (for those who don't live in CA, you have no idea the pressure put on us here). This sparked a bit of a controversy and he seemed to imply that I was in the wrong and needed to pray and read the scriptures, and that I was treading on thin ice, as it were. He was certainly kind, and nice about the whole thing, and we chatted about an hour. He was intrigued by my views, and didn't discipline me. In fact, he did the opposite. I don't think he took me seriously enough. He seemed to think that everyone has doubts, and that I would soon get over it.

Anyway, my point is that I didn't agree with my leaders over prop 8, but the attitude of my bishop was that I was in the wrong. That's fine, that's a general attitude in the church and I don't take offense. It is most clearly false doctrine to believe, assume, infer, that our leaders are infallible and that we can't disagree with them. In fact, in The Rise of Modern Mormonism we learn that David O. McKay defended those who were being persecuted for not agreeing with the brethren.
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women--all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there.
- Joseph Smith, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304)

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Heber13
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Re: Those in favor may manifest it...

Post by Heber13 » 20 Jun 2009, 01:20

jmb275 wrote:@Heber13
You asked Tom in another thread about going to see your bishop.
jmb, I enjoyed your whole take on the sustaining history.

Regarding talking to the bishop, I have decided not to open up to him, mostly because for a while, I didn't know what to say as I was so scatter-brained as it was. But I really think a lot of people go through doubts, and just thought I'd work through it and only go to him if I really felt I was heading to a dark place and didn't know what to do about it. But I've felt more peaceful, and he has noticed my demeanor change.

I think bishops are pretty busy with a lot of families going through problems, he doesn't need to spend time with me just to hear I'm searching. But he's a good guy and would do it if I felt I needed it.

Has your bishop followed-up with you at all, as if he's worried about your family or anything?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Bruce in Montana
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Re: Those in favor may manifest it...

Post by Bruce in Montana » 20 Jun 2009, 11:16

The Church should do "all things by common consent". It is supposed to be a democratic process and it is a bit odd that there are few if any opposing votes anymone. It's almost like the vote is just a traditional formality now as opposed to what is descibed in the D&C.
Where confussion can come about, IMHO, is in assuming that because the Church is supposed to do this that the priesthood is also. This is not the case. God calls prophets through the priesthood. The Church calls Church presidents and other leaders.
In other words, when the priesthood was restored to Joseph and Oliver, there was no Church. Joseph was later confirmed president of the Church. That is two separate offices that one person may, or may not, occupy at the same time. The calling of the office of Prophet is done by God, not us.
I guess what I am saying is that if the original Church had decided to Not sustain Joseph Smith as prophet, it would not have made a bit of difference in him being prophet or not. He would just have "raised up another people".

This is, of course, my fundamentalist view, and personal opinion, and offered only as a different perspective and food for thought.


My opinion only...
Mileage may vary.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
-William S.

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Katzpur
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Re: Those in favor may manifest it...

Post by Katzpur » 26 Jul 2009, 19:04

As a little bit of a side note, has anybody ever noticed that when the Bishop (or whoever happens to be conducting) says, "All those in favor may manifest it," he generally looks out over the congregation as everyone raises his or her hand, but then when he says, "Any opposed may manifest it by the same sign," he is generally looking down at his notes, checking on the next item of business or the next name on hist list of people to be sustained? Seriously, pay attention next time. It's really almost funny.
"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." ~Rudyard Kipling ~

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just me
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Re: Those in favor may manifest it...

Post by just me » 26 Jul 2009, 20:25

Katzpur wrote:As a little bit of a side note, has anybody ever noticed that when the Bishop (or whoever happens to be conducting) says, "All those in favor may manifest it," he generally looks out over the congregation as everyone raises his or her hand, but then when he says, "Any opposed may manifest it by the same sign," he is generally looking down at his notes, checking on the next item of business or the next name on hist list of people to be sustained? Seriously, pay attention next time. It's really almost funny.
LOL, yeah. And I'm glad they ignore my kids when they leave their hand up for a reaaaaaly long time! :lol:
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Those in favor may manifest it...

Post by Curt Sunshine » 27 Jul 2009, 05:26

When I was at the stand asking for a sustaining vote and any who objected, I made it a point to look over the congregation thoroughly - and, for the objection part, look behind me at those sitting on the stand, as well. I just thought I should do what I could to make sure everyone knew I was taking the time to look and grant the possibility that there might be someone who would object.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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