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Ben Gutierrez
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158 followers
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Google added a couple small enhancements. This is the weird techno utopia I sometimes live in.
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Our first catch of the year is some kind of ground beetle. I'm also astounded by the magnification on my phone.
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Sometime I wonder how California is doing. According to this article that covers reservoirs, rainfall, and snowpack, the answer is: better.
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I was playing around with recording my sketches. What do you think?
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When I Was Part of the Religious Patriarchy

I wish I were one of those people that could recognize the little injustices that happen to people that are not myself, but I'm not one of those people. People must point these out to me over and over before I get any kind of clue.

I was twenty years old when I first registered the idea that perhaps I was part of a society in which women weren't treated fairly. I was a Mormon, taking a walk with two other women: my girlfriend and a Mormon author, Carol Lynn Pearson. This ground-shaking idea hit me when Mrs. Pearson said, "I think women should have the priesthood." I was gobsmacked. It was a desire for the actual Church of God to change. A recognition of both what was right and what was wrong with this church, and a belief that it needed to become better than what the actual Church of God currently was.

The story of that long walk is, well, another story. Even though that was one of the weirdest and coolest conversations I'd ever had, I didn't really buy the idea that women needed to have the priesthood. I figured that if anyone had a problem with the church's teachings, they could just leave, as I eventually did. Any Mormon woman that stuck around must be perfectly fine with it all.

I didn't really think about it after that, but that was before Kate Kelly got excommunicated for refusing to just shut up about it. She was a Mormon that was trying really hard to get a discussion going about this. She wanted the church leadership to go to God and ask if women could have the priesthood. When she wouldn't stop talking about it, she was cut out of the church.

The most interesting part of this is reading the reactions of some of the Mormon women. The ones I know are saying that Kate Kelly was absolutely wrong and should have listened more closely to the church leadership. I've heard absolutely nothing from the men. So, even though I haven't been an active Mormon for years, I was an active Mormon for more than twenty years, and I'd like to describe some of what I experienced as a Mormon male. Men and women can decide for themselves if they want to be part of this church, but boys and girls cannot, and I think it's worth hearing what some boys are learning about their place and the place of women in the Church of God.



When I was a young boy, I remember thinking, "I'm so lucky to have been born into a Mormon family that is able to have all the truth of God's Gospel. What if I had been born somewhere else, living in spiritual darkness? And how lucky I am to be born a boy! I wonder how girls must feel, having been born a girl." As a boy, I could grow up and get the priesthood. And maybe become a Bishop, who leads over the local congregation. Or a Prophet, who leads the whole church and speaks for God. No one had to tell me that it was better to be born a boy.

It was always men that lead the services, performed the Mormon rites, that always had the final say. It was hard for me to see how important that was until someone pointed out that the Sunday services absolutely needed men. Without women, well, we'd have our hands a little fuller with the children, but we'd probably get along okay.

Sometimes I'd get really sick and we'd call over our Visiting Teachers: two men that were assigned to check in on us every month. They'd perform the blessing which I had every expectation of healing me. One time when I was feeling especially ill I remember believing with perfect certainty that after the blessing I would immediately excuse myself, throw up, and be completely fine afterwards. This literal invocation of the power of Christ ended, I stood up, shook their hands, excused myself, and emptied my stomach in the bathroom. I felt totally fine after that, was happy and chatty. They didn't seem to feel the same excitement at being called over to our house and trying to heal this now healthy child. My Mom seemed a little embarrassed.

We learned that there is a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father, but that is all we learned. We were told that she was too sacred to talk about often, but we never prayed to her, talked with her, or were encouraged to have a relationship with her in the way we were encouraged to have a relationship with Heavenly Father. Again, we were getting along okay without Her.

When I was twelve, I became a Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood. Every Sunday, I'd bring the sacrament to the rest of the congregation with the other Deacons. My mother and sisters had no roles like this. At times, my mother was called to be the organist, but guys sometimes did that too.

At this time, I also started Boy Scouts. This was a mixed blessing. There was no doubting that the boys' activities were usually in every way superior to the girls'. There were several camping trips every year, and we learned lots of neat stuff, like how to tie knots, carve wood, shoot guns, ride horses, and start fires. It also meant that sometimes, we'd spend an hour at the weekly meetings learning how to fill out our merit badge cards or inadvertently tearing out our eyebrows and eyelashes with plaster masks for our Art merit badge. But if we got those merit badges, we could go on the High Adventure trips. As a Boy Scout, I went to Yosemite and hiked Half Dome, rode horses deep into the Idaho wilderness, and canoed through Yellowstone. The girls... well, they had a single camping trip every year, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't Yosemite or Yellowstone.

Also when we turned twelve, both boys and girls began having periodic interviews alone with the Bishop of our local congregation. It was a sort of confession, where we were asked questions about whether we took any drugs (including cigarettes, beer, or coffee), or if we did anything naughty with ourselves or anyone else. The Bishop would counsel us and maybe decide we were not worthy of partaking of the body and blood of Christ for a period of time. I know how embarrassing these interviews were for me. I can't imagine what the girls my age felt.

When I was sixteen, I was ordained a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. This meant I could be bless and sanctify the bread and water, which I did from time to time. I also had the power to baptize others into the church, which I never got the opportunity to use. This were some of the most important ordinances of the church. Again, my sisters and mother had nothing like this.

When I was eighteen I got to join the rest of the men for their Sunday School. Before that, I had been having Sunday School with the other kids my age. Just like many places outside the church, the dynamic changes when only the men are left. Nothing too surprising, except that a couple of times I heard a couple cracks about polygamy that we all chuckled at. The men hadn't forgotten that polygamy is permitted—and maybe even necessary!—in the afterlife. The women probably hadn't forgotten either, but they probably talked about it in a different tone.

Soon, I went to a Mormon college. The dress code was hugely important. Students with beards or showing too much leg, shoulder, or belly could be sent away from the testing center. The dress code covered things like hair length, piercings, facial hair, but most of the day-to-day applications were about making sure the girls were dressing modestly. Letters to the Editor in any student newspaper are terrible, but not all other universities could count on seeing regular pleas for women to please, please, dress modestly. There were regular pronouncements that immodest dress reflects poorly on these women and brings impure thoughts the minds of others. By this time, both men and women had learned to write letters like this.

There was a (mostly) unspoken assumption that the men were there to prepare for careers and financially supporting a family, and women were there to prepare in case something terrible happened to their husbands, or just to meet said husband. Men that studied the arts and women that studied engineering could count on having to answer to their choices. Not all the time, and not to everyone, but they would have to know how to reply.



These are just some of my experiences and they're not unique. There are huge differences in the way men and women are viewed in the Mormon church and it hurts the way the men and women see each other. It doesn't matter to me much these days. Like I said, I'm not good at recognizing or caring about the injustices I don't see right in front of me. This time I want to at least say, "I was there, we were treated differently, and it wasn't right."
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Naptime sketch while Lela and I listen to an episode of This American Life about a home that was abandoned, possessions and all, in the 1960's.
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It's between a while since I posted anything so here's something I started on a recent flight.
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Do any of my friends out there own electrical safety gloves? I'm in the mood to ignore a warning sticker.
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I guess he doesn't need me to tie his shoes for him anymore. He's got it all figured out.
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Thanks for rotating the tires kiddo. It's about time you started pulling your weight around here.
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