Why do so many US Catholics support marriage equality?

The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is unabashedly and unambiguously opposed to marriage equality, yet many US Catholics support it? Why?

There’s two questions there. One is, Why do so many Catholics feel free to strongly disagree with the positions of the Church, and yet continue to call themselves Catholic? The other is, Why do Catholics so often support marriage equality? One possible reason is that the “Catholic imagination” has a “sacremental view of the world”: it sees Divine grace in human action, and so Catholics tend to see grace in same-sex unions.


“Apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device”

U.S. Patent No. 8,254,902 appears, from a quick scan, to be yet another “concept” patent, awarded not to an actual invention, but to a general idea. This is a bad thing in general, because it serves to stifle innovation, not to encourage it. (It is sometimes said, for example, that it is now completely impossible to design a method for encoding video without trespassing on many of the overly broad patents which exist in the area.)

In the specific case of this patent awarded to Apple, though, there are other problems:

What that means in real-terms is “preventing wireless devices from communicating with other wireless devices (such as in academic settings),” and for, “forcing certain electronic devices to enter “sleep mode” when entering a sensitive area.”

But the patented technology may also be used to restrict protesters’ right to free expression in oppressive regimes around the world — if you haven’t checked recently, there’s plenty of them — by preventing camera images and video being taken at political rallies and events.

Because while Apple may patent the technology, it would not be they who threw the switch.

Of course, this invention would not, in actuality, force phones or other mobile devices to shut down or to disable certain functions. What it would do is send a signal telling the phone to turn off the camera. So make sure your phone ignores those signals. This is yet another reminder that we control our destiny better by supporting Free Software.


Camping Through the Falklands

In the Falklands War, well before gay people were accepted in the British army, there was a bit of a culture clash with the merchant seamen who helped to crew the boats in that war:

Passenger ships then had a strong gay, indeed camp culture. On some peacetime vessels up to 95 per cent of the stewarding crew were out homosexuals and trans people.

And so, gradually, friendships were made and minds were changed.


God, gays and gynecology: policing the boundries of evangelicalism

Of course, no one can actually throw anyone else out of their religion. What would that mean? Revoking their license to pray? However, it is possible to police boundaries, to treat some people as your coreligionists, and others as … well, as The Other. Some people are in good standing as members of the tribe, and others just aren’t.

What are the allowable variations, and what are the dealbreakers? We can learn a lot from that. For American evangelical Christians, it seems the boundaries are drawn in what might seem to be rather strange places.

Fred Clark suggests that evangelicals police the left fringe quite harshly, but don’t really care about the right fringe. They can do what they like:

Mainstream evangelicalism — including institutions like Christianity Today and LifeWay — pays lip-service to “racial reconciliation,” but it has never been mandatory. You cannot be pro-gay, pro-choice or feminist and remain an unchallenged or un-”controversial” member of the evangelical tribe. But as Wilson, D’Souza (and let’s not forget Richard Land) confirm, you can espouse racially biased views without that ever prompting anyone to ask if you are really an evangelical.

As long as you continue to repeat the right phrases about God, gays and gynecology, you can say whatever vile things you want to about slavery, or Africa, or “race hustlers,” without any worry that it might provoke questions about your godly evangelical bona fides. You can be a vicious racist, but as long as you’re an anti-abortion, anti-gay racist who talks about the “authority of scripture” like its the fourth member of the Trinity, then you’re golden.