Viva il papa!

I heard a piece on All Things Considered this afternoon as I was driving home, talking about the Pope's latest encyclical, and how some people are upset that the Holy Father is inserting himself into "the political debate over climate change." Oh, dear.

First of all, it isn't a political debate. A political debate is whether to increase tuition at state universities. A political debate is whether to approve an omnibus spending bill that will conveniently build a dam in the House Majority Leader's home district. A political debate is whether we should station troops in Ukraine.

Climate change is a scientific debate, and it's over. There are no reputable scientists who dispute it.

Besides, the Pope isn't just a religious leader. He's also a political leader, the absolute monarch of the State of Vatican City. Outside the Vatican walls, European Union and Italian law may rule, but within, he could throw you in jail for the rest of your life without so much as a trial. And I'm sure he's sometimes tempted.

All of which gives him just as much right to weigh in on political affairs as, say, Angela Merkel. But as I said, this isn't political.

What's interesting to me is that the Pope, as the leader of the world's biggest church, frames it in moral terms. It's rather obvious, when you think about it; if this is God's creation, we should care for it, and ensure that those less fortunate than ourselves, as well as our own descendants, will have clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and food to eat that has been grown in uncontaminated soil. Such things should not be the exclusive province of the wealthy and powerful.

And that, more than anything, is probably at the root of the opposition to His Holiness. This is a Pope who decries the excesses of laissez-faire capitalism and who declined to occupy the papal apartments, preferring a simple room in a dormitory. He shames the rich, as is appropriate; Jesus Himself said it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. This is a man who probably deserves to wear those white vestments more than any of his recent predecessors.

I'm not a Catholic, but I like this Pope. Viva il papa!

Uncomfortable things that need to be said

Random thoughts precipitated by last night's events:

First off, the obvious: the murder of nine people in the AME church in Charleston, S.C. was an act of terrorism, committed by someone presumably Christian, who espoused extreme right-wing ideology. He is a terrorist.

If you believe that a guy who was photographed wearing a jacket with the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia, and who had a car with a front plate that said "Confederate States of America," shot and killed nine people because they were Christians and not because they were black, as South Carolina's Senator Lindsey Graham does, you're either completely delusional, an utter moron, or a disingenuous jerk.Just in case that wasn't clear enough: This was a hate crime, a terrorist act, committed against African-Americans because they were African-American, and it took place in a state that still flies the Confederate battle flag over the state capitol.Speaking of which, if your "heritage" requires that you continue to honor the flag of a nation that illegally attempted to secede from the United States in order to preserve human slavery (and that's what it was--"states' rights" was a convenient fiction dreamed up to defend the indefensible), you should probably dig deeper into your ancestry to find something less completely offensive to common decency and simple human compassion. Sometimes, our ancestors were assholes.

That flag, by the way, should be torn down wherever it flies and relegated to the museums where it belongs.

If you think that this could have been prevented by even looser gun laws, you're batshit insane.

The leadership of the National Rifle Association is morally culpable in every act of gun violence that is perpetrated on American soil.

While we're at it, the United States is way overdue to take a second look at the Second Amendment. No other major industrialized first-world nation has anything like the level of gun violence that takes place here in the Land of the Allegedly Free.

And most of that violence is carried out by right-wing American extremists, not by Muslims.

None of those attacks by right-wing extremists were prevented by government surveillance of our phone calls and emails, either. Odd, that.

And until we come to grips with all of the above, the president will continue to make sorrowful statements about the grievous loss of innocent lives, the pundits will bluster and bloviate, the politicans will dither and make pious statements about the sanctity of life and how unfortunate it is that nothing can really be done, and the list of victims will continue to grow until it is a stain on our nation that can no longer be ignored. And the rest of the world will know us for the incompetent and complacent fools that we are.

Circling the wagons

Someone I follow on Twitter pointed me towards an article by Rod Dreher. In it, he basically argues that the war against same-sex marriage has been lost, and that it's a waste of time fighting it. He also suggests something he calls the "Benedict option," which is essentially forming intentional communities separate from the world in which his preferred form of traditional Christianity can be practiced.

There's a lot to deal with there, but I'll say this: I agree with him on the first two points, but he's lost me with the Benedict option.

Yes, society is changing, and the ultimate acceptance of SSM is inevitable. You can see it happening now, and you can see it in the increasing "don't care" attitude of the upcoming generation. Give it fifty years, and people who oppose it are going to look a lot like people who oppose interracial marriage today. There's no going back. Sorry, but there isn't.

Rod's solution is to retreat from the world into isolated communities--essentially circling the wagons, writ large. He undoubtedly sees it as a form of lay monasticism (hence the Benedict reference), but as someone who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, it makes me think of slightly less benevolent experiments in community life. Think Jonestown. Think Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

I'm not suggesting that he's planning to lead people to their deaths, or that vast fleets of Rolls-Royces will be amassed, but I am suggesting that communities which operate in isolation (or apart from) from the outside world introduce a dangerous and unhealthy dynamic, one of thinking in terms of us vs. them. For monasticism to work, you have to have an abbot or abbess who holds unquestioned authority over every aspect of the lives of the monastics they supervise. That's been proven time and time again throughout the history, and even then, problems have arisen. It's hard to imagine laypeople ceding that kind of authority to a central leader--nor should they.

Of course, someone is going to try it anyway--religious fanatics always do--and it will play out in a yet-to-be-determined fashion. That's their right.

There's a larger problem here, though, and it's one that's way overdue for an honest discussion.

That problem is the traditional teachings of the Church.

Nobody is arguing that Christianity has never taught that homosexuality is wrong. Nobody is arguing that same-sex marriage has ever been accepted. Nobody is arguing the fact that the Bible says some fairly categorical things about homosexuality and homosexual behavior.

What I'm going to argue, though, is that even for those of us who belong to traditional churches, it's time to take the blinders off. The best scholarship tells us that while it's fairly certain that Jesus existed, the four gospels were not written by the men whose names they bear, and they were written well after the events they claim to portray. In order to believe otherwise, you're required to "take it on faith," which is really just another way of saying "turn off your brain and accept this because we've believed it for centuries." And even then, assuming you accept that, you have to contend with the fact that the Bible we have today was compiled centuries after the life of Christ.

So if you're going to claim that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, well, Lucy, you've got some esplaining to do.

Prohibitions on homosexuality, of course, come from the Old Testament, and Christians are fairly selective when it comes to which parts of Old Testament law they want to uphold. I won't bore you with details, but suffice it to say that most Evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox don't worry too much about keeping kosher and mixing linen and cotton and wool.

But even if you want to discount all that, you've got another problem, and that's science.

I don't know about you, but I believe in science. It's provable. It's given us immunization and modern dentistry and space travel and the Xbox. It's a good thing.

And what science tells us lately is that people are born homosexual. It's not a disease, it's not a sickness, it's not a choice. It's brain chemistry and more. It's an innate part of people, and it can't be changed. So, right there, you have a problem.

If your God is a God who creates people a certain way and then condemns them for it, you can keep Him/Her/It. As a fairly wise Persian man once said, science without religion leads to materialism, but religion without science leads to superstition, and that kind of religion is something we're better off without.

Airlines and competition

The Economist says that what the airline industry needs is more competition.In the last thirty years after airline deregulation in the United States, we've seen the demise, acquisition or merger of TWA, Braniff, PSA, Western Airlines, Continental, Eastern, Northwest, Pan Am, Piedmont, and more, and by the end of this year, we'll lose US Airways as well. If there's any more competition, we'll end up with one airline, which will be the end of all competition.

Airline deregulation was a mistake.

My mobile device State of the Union

Monday was day 1 of Apple's WWDC, and I find myself thinking about mobile devices again.Ladies and gentlemen, the State of the Union for mobile is a veritable minefield of less-than-optimal choices. Let's look at the major players.

Windows Phone/Mobile

I've been a reasonably satisfied user of the mostly ignored Windows Phone operating system for a couple of years now, but I've been thinking that I'll probably switch to either iPhone or Android when my current phone (a Nokia Lumia 1520) is paid off, based on Microsoft's apparent total disinterest in serving the high end of the market, and the diminishing number of apps available for Windows Phone. Let me be clear--I like the OS, but I'm starting to feel the pinch of apps that either don't get updated or are pulled from the Marketplace. Microsoft's answer is to make it possible to run Android and iOS apps on Windows Phone, which unfortunately eliminates any incentive that might exist for building native Windows Phone apps.

Then there's the decidedly iffy build quality of my Lumia 1520, a device which was supposed to be the flagship of the line. I expected more. I don't expect miracles, but when I'm getting bright spots on my screen just a few months after purchase, there's a problem.

Then there's the fact that Windows Phone as we know it is on the way out. Come this fall, the unification of the phone OS with Windows 10 means that we're looking at a somewhat uncertain future. It could be great. It could be a disaster. Either way, it'll be different. And as for tablets, Microsoft's insistence that 8-inch tablets will receive the full, desktop-oriented version of Windows 10 makes NO F*****G SENSE AT ALL. Dear Satya: That ain't what I want on my 8-inch Asus tablet.

The main argument for staying with Windows Phone is that I like and use Microsoft services, and they're well-integrated into the Windows Phone OS. But Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, has made those services also available through well-designed apps on iOS and Android, so that pretty much wipes out that advantage.

So I'm looking at Android and iPhone, and the jury is still out on which way I'll go.


Android is famously "open," but that doesn't mean much to the average user. If you want stock Android, there's exactly one choice: the Nexus 6\. Take it or leave it.Every other Android phone on the market will have additional OEM cruft added to the OS: UI overlays, non-removable apps, etc. Sure, you can root the device and flash a new Cyanogen ROM, but that's way more geekiness than I want to get involved with on a device I rely on every day. Plus, why should I have to do that, anyway? Then there's the matter of updates being controlled by the OEM and the wireless provider. I've been bitten by that before, with my first smartphone, the Droid X; I don't want to be in that situation again.

The upside to Android, as with Windows Phone, is choice and price. There are a lot of devices out there, many of them quite affordable. You can get an unlocked device for less than $200 in many cases, which is a fantastic deal. And if you're willing to take a shot at a new OEM with uncertain support, you can get the OnePlus One, which is a flagship device, runs the Cyanogen variant and is available for only $299 unlocked for the 64 GB version. Sadly, the Nexus 6 is not the screaming deal that the Nexus 5 was (or the OnePlus One is), and it will set you back about as much as a comparable iPhone.


As for the iPhone, it's still the gold standard for many people, for obvious reasons. The build quality tends to be superb, and iOS has the most apps available. If you have a problem, the solution is as close as the Genius Bar of your nearest Apple Store. Updates come straight from Apple with no carrier interference, and the customer service experience for your device is as good as it gets, especially if you pop for AppleCare. There's also a wide variety of cases and accessories available for whichever iPhone you buy. Bottom line: It's the Toyota Camry of smartphones (or, given the price tag, maybe the Lexus ES300).

The trade-off for these advantages is threefold:

  1. First, you'll do things Apple's way, or you won't do them at all (and I don't particularly _like_ doing things Apple's way). While the iPhone is a bit more open than previously--you can finally replace the godawful iPhone keyboard with a third-party option--it's still very locked down compared to the competition.
  2. Second, most all of the Apple apps will lock you into their walled garden--iMessages, Pages, etc. It's like a pitcher plant--easy to get into, but hard to get out of. And from comments I'm seeing online from dedicated Apple fans, Apple's software quality ain't what it used to be, plus their UI design is stagnant--the upcoming iOS 9 isn't all that different from the first iPhone OS (which they claimed was OS X--remember?), except for being flatter. And don't even get me started on the mess that is iCloud. Or Apple Maps. Fortunately, as stated previously, you can use Microsoft apps (or Google apps) instead.
  3. Third, you'll pay the famous Apple Tax. Want a 64 GB iPhone 6 Plus with a case and Apple Care? That'll be about $1000, please. You can get three OnePlus Ones for that.

(Before anyone gets started, yes, that's the price of the unlocked SIM-free version. Yes, if you're American or Canadian, they have payment plans and contract prices with carriers. Do the math, and once you factor in the hidden costs, you eventually end up paying about the same either way over a 2-year period.)


So there you have it. Windows Phone was a breath of fresh air, but it's gone nowhere fast and faces an uncertain future. Android has many things to like, but Google has never been able to prevent the OEMs from screwing it up. And Apple makes great devices, but they seem to be a bit sloppier with their software quality than they used to be, and it's not like they're innovating with their UI any more, either. And God knows their web services are a mess.

So where will I end up?

Good question. Not Windows Phone, probably--the cost/benefit ratio doesn't make sense to me anymore. Sad, but that's reality. Windows 10 will also mark the third time in the past ten years that Microsoft has introduced a completely new and incompatible operating system (Windows Mobile > Windows Phone 7 > Windows Phone 8 > Windows 10 Mobile). I'm not sure I trust that Microsoft is really committed in this segment, for obvious reasons.

Android? Maybe. I like Android. My first smartphone was Android. I understand Android. I just hate the broken upgrade process and the stupid, annoying OEM crapware that almost all Android phones have. But when the time comes, if my budget dictates that price is an overwhelming consideration, I'll reluctantly make my peace with that.

iPhone? Probably. It's not my favorite operating system, and it's not my favorite price tag. But when you get down to it, Apple has won the mobile race.

I look at it this way: I'm a fan of sports cars, but I drive a four-door sedan with an automatic because it makes the most sense for my daily driving. I used to use a radar detector, but I gave up when I realized the war was over and the other side won. I spent most of my college years using OpenOffice, but Microsoft Office is the gold standard for business and it's what most everyone uses, so I use it now too, because I'm tired of the effort it takes to use something else.

You gotta know when you're beaten, and you gotta know when to move on. I've liked Windows Phone, but the rest of the world doesn't care, and apparently neither does Microsoft. I've liked Android in the past, but every time I pick up the Samsung tablet at work, the garish UI overlay drives me nuts, and I still don't trust Google. That leaves Apple, who arguably invented the modern smartphone as we know it today, and who have consistently dominated the market. They deserve kudos for that.

I'm still not buying an Apple Watch, though.


I was reminded today of something I once wrote in another place, no longer online, several years ago on the subject of using, or trying to use, Linux. To this day, I believe it may be the truest thing I ever wrote.

It's kind of like driving an Alfa Romeo with twin carburetors: you can tinker with it to your heart's content, it makes you feel good and look cool, and you have the satisfaction of knowing you've gone your own way, but you better know how to get under the hood and fix it, because it's likely to give you the opportunity to do so at the most inopportune moments. Sometimes, you just want to get to work, and at those times you'll be a whole lot happier in a Nissan 350Z, particularly if it's 34 degrees F and it's raining and you're running late. God bless the man who invented fuel injection.

Fantasy garage

For some time now, I've been compiling a list of the cars I'd want to own if I ever became wealthy--really, really wealthy, Bill Gates-style wealthy. The result looks a lot like something Jay Leno would come up with. Yes, it's ridiculously long, but what is a fantasy garage for if not to be ridiculous?

There's no common thread, really, except that they're all cars that evoke a memory, represent a time and place, or that I just plain like. There's everything here from capitalist Rolls-Royces to the fruits of the Soviet auto industry.

Anyway, here's the list as of today:

  • Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale
  • Alpine A110
  • Amphicar
  • Auto Union 1000S
  • AZLK Moskvich 408
  • Barkas B1000
  • BMW Isetta 600
  • BMW 700 Coupe
  • Citroën CX
  • Citroën DS21 sedan
  • Citroën DS21 Decapotable (Henri Chapron)
  • Citroën Dyane
  • Citroën GS Berline
  • Citroën 2CV
  • Citroën Ami 6 Break
  • Citroën SM
  • DAF Daffodil
  • Datsun SPL311
  • DKW 3=6
  • Facel Vega Facellia
  • Fiat 600 Jolly
  • Fiat 850 Spider
  • Ford Falcon Sprint convertible (North America, 1963 1/2)
  • Ford Frontenac
  • Ford Galaxie 500 Spring Special (1966)
  • Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster (1962)
  • GAZ M21 Volga
  • GAZ-24 Volga
  • GAZ-13 Chaika
  • Glas GT
  • Hillman Imp
  • Hindustan Ambassador
  • Holden 48-215
  • Honda S600 Convertible
  • Hongqi CA770
  • IFA F9
  • IKA Torino
  • Jaguar Mark II
  • Lamborghini 350GT
  • Lancia Fulvia Zagato
  • Lincoln Continental Mark II
  • Maserati Mistral coupé
  • Matra-Simca Bagheera
  • Mazda Cosmo (1st generation)
  • Mazda RX-7 (Series 1)
  • Messerschmitt KR200
  • MG 1100
  • Morgan 3-wheeler
  • Morgan 4/4
  • Nissan PAO
  • NSU Ro80
  • NSU Spider
  • Oldsmobile Toronado (1966)
  • Panhard 24
  • Peugeot 504 wagon
  • Plymouth Fury III wagon (1967)
  • Renault 4CV
  • Renault 4
  • Renault 5
  • Renault 12
  • Renault 16
  • Renault Avantime
  • Renault Fuego
  • Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III
  • Rover P5 "Coupe"
  • Saab 96 V-4
  • Saab 99EMS
  • Saab 900 Turbo
  • Saab Sonett
  • Saab Sonett III
  • Sachsenring P240
  • Skoda 1000MBX coupe
  • Skoda 110R
  • Skoda 120GLS
  • Steyr-Puch 500
  • Studebaker Avanti
  • Studebaker Starliner coupe
  • Tatra 603
  • Toyota 2000GT
  • Toyota Century (1st generation)
  • Toyota FJ40
  • Trabant 601
  • Volkswagen 1200 "Beetle"
  • Volkswagen Type 3 Karmann-Ghia
  • Volvo PV544
  • Wartburg 311
  • Wartburg 353
  • Willys Interlagos
  • ZAZ 965A "Zaporozhets"
  • ZIL-114
  • ZIS-110

Last edited 2015-08-21

Grava anonco

Mi studas Esperanton denove. Vi estis avertita. :-)

The Lumia 1520, Windows Phone, and me

Sit down, folks--this one is long.

This is a tough blog post to write. I've been thinking about writing it for some time now; the impetus for finally getting started on it was a question I was asked on Twitter about how I like my phone. The quick, easy, flip answer is that I like it; a more complete and considered evaluation must be significantly more nuanced.Let's start with the basics. I've been a Windows Phone user since January of 2013, when I replaced an ailing iPhone 4 with the HTC 8X, intrigued by the operating system and attracted to its Mondrianesque UI. I've been very happy with the operating system, and it does what I want it to in a way that I find pleasing. The 8X was a nice phone, which unfortunately didn't age well, eventually having severe connectivity issues. Based on my experience with the low-end Lumia 520 that I picked up to test the AT&T network in my area, I decided my next phone would be a Lumia, as there are certain Lumia-specific apps which aren't available on other phones, and which enhance the experience significantly. When the time came to replace the 8X last October, I decided to switch from Verizon to AT&T specifically so I could get the Lumia 1520\.

So last October, I found myself in an AT&T store, selecting a bright green 1520\. It's a big phone, bigger by a fraction than the iPhone 6 Plus. It's big, but not too big, at least for me. It fits comfortably in my back pocket (just have to remember not to sit on it) and in the cargo pockets of my cargo shorts. The display is fantastic, very readable even in direct sunlight, and the rear camera is a 20-megapixel delight. Like all Windows Phones, it syncs up nicely with my Microsoft account, backs up to OneDrive (love that), and even syncs text messages between phones, if you happen to have more than one Windows Phone. I've never been bothered by the supposed "app gap" on Windows Phone, and have had no problem finding apps for what I want to do.

However, it hasn't been all roses.

Hardware quality has been disappointing. One of the things that annoyed me about my HTC 8X was that it developed bright spots on the display over time. Nothing that rendered it unusable, but annoying nevertheless. Much to my chagrin, my 1520 has begun developing these same bright spots. With a year left to go on payments for the phone (I opted for an AT&T Next plan), I'm going to be looking at them for quite a while, and this does not make me happy. I suppose I could see about a warranty return, but as AT&T no longer stocks or sells the 1520, I wouldn't be able to get an exact replacement. God only knows what they'd stick me with.

Also, a couple of months ago, I had an issue where the 3G/4G/LTE connectivity stopped working, along with the Wi-Fi connectivity. Figuring it had to be the phone, I initiated a warranty replacement request. The issue was resolved after about a week, with AT&T claiming the problem was on their end and therefore denying me a warranty replacement. I find that difficult to believe, since Wi-Fi connectivity was also affected, but at least it's working again.

Finally, in the last few days, I've been seeing some decreased battery life--battery drain has been particularly heavy for some unknown reason. I'm deleting unused apps and recently installed ones in an effort to find the culprit, but efforts are ongoing. Update 2015-05-04: I've solved the battery drain issue by unpinning Cortana from the Start screen, turning Cortana off and then on again, and not repinning it.

Despite all that, on balance, I do like the phone. I've had smartphones from Apple, Motorola, HTC, and now Nokia, and each one of them had things that were sub-optimal. It's no worse than any of the others, and markedly better in some ways, at least for how I use my phone.

And then there's Windows Phone itself.

I'm a fan. I've been a fan from Day One. But Microsoft can't seem to make up its mind what to do with phones.

Think about it: There was a clean break from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone 7.

And then there was another clean break from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 8 (sorry, Lumia 900 owners, no Windows Phone 8 for you).

They did manage an upgrade from 8 to 8.1, but when Windows 10 is released, it will theoretically be the end of Windows Phone per se, as Windows phones (note the lower-case "p") will be running garden-variety Windows 10\.

And then there's this.

Here's the TL;DR on that article: Microsoft is positively _hemorrhaging_ money on Windows Phone. They've been losing money on every single phone they sell. The only real increases in their market penetration have been with low-end smartphones. This isn't speculation; it's in their SEC filing. Please remember that while Microsoft has a stake in remaining in the mobile segment, it's also a public company, and shareholders don't sit still for losses forever--and the coming write-off is likely to be in the billions.

Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to develop apps for iOS and Android, and they appear to be making a particular effort in the Android sphere with a deal to include Microsoft apps on the Cyanogen variant. And they've just announced that they'll enable Android and iOS apps to run on Windows 10, which calls into question exactly why anyone should bother writing a Windows-specific phone app given the single-digit market share of the platform. It seems fairly apparent to me that Microsoft itself has a Plan B in mobile, and it's called Android.

So, given all that, the question for me at this point is not whether I like my Lumia 1520. The question is what kind of phone I'll replace it with next summer, and right now, I'm formulating my own Plan B, because I'm not at all optimistic there will be a Windows phone flagship worth the name by then. They appear to be concentrating on the low end of the market, and ignoring the higher end, which is the end most of us geeks are interested in.

Don't get me wrong. I like Windows Phone a lot, and it's still my preferred phone OS. But I'd be a damn fool if I wasn't looking at the big picture, and right now, the big picture isn't bright.

So, a mixed review. A great operating system, which has been singularly unsuccessful in achieving significant market penetration, and which its own maker may not be committed to in the long run. A great phone, which is let down by some niggling quality issues.

And my recommendation? Well, it's no longer for sale here, so it's a bit of a moot point. To the larger question of whether you should buy a Windows Phone, I'd say if you're interested in the platform you should look hard at the better-quality mid-range phones, like the upcoming Lumia 640 XL and the currently-available BLU WinHD LTE (which, at $199 unlocked, is a hell of a deal). I'd be looking particularly hard at that BLU, since it'll run just fine on Cricket or AT&T GoPhone, and thereby save you a bucket of money.

Sadly, if you want a flagship phone, your money is probably better spent elsewhere, unless Microsoft pulls the damnedest rabbit out of its hat that you ever saw. My own Plan B has me looking at the Nexus 6 and the OnePlus One, with the iPhone 6 Plus as a distant runner-up.

I'd like to say I won't resort to Plan B. I'd like to say I'll stick with Windows Phone no matter what, but that would be false bravado. Sometimes you have to swallow hard, look at the world the way it really is, and deal with what you see.

And that, dear friends, is the Truth.

Hyperbolic silliness

I recently saw a link posted on to an article entitled, "Dear Churches in America: Prepare to Be Treated Like 1st Century Christians in Rome."

Sorry, you've lost me with the title.

Also, whoever wrote that title is an ignorant fool.

The impetus for this article appears to be yesterday's arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage. Apparently, in the eyes of the author--or the eyes of the person who wrote the title--permitting same-sex marriage is equivalent to throwing Christians to the lions.

They're wrong.

Permitting people who don't share your beliefs to marry is not the equivalent of being persecuted, torn limb from limb, or devoured by wild beasts.

In fairness, the article doesn't go on to claim that it is, which means that the title is just clickbait, which is despicable all by itself. But it does go on to portray Christians as victims here, which is silly.

Here's the thing: We live in a secular republic. Its laws will not, should not, always fall in line with what any particular church or religion teaches.

That's important, so I'll say it again: We live in a secular republic. Its laws will not, should not, always fall in line with what any particular church or religion teaches.

Got that?

Anyone who truly cares about religious liberty should welcome that.

We're not a Christian nation, no matter how much some people would like to think we are. We're a nation of Christians, and Jews, and Muslims, and Sikhs, and Buddhists, and atheists, and Wiccans, and every other possible form of religion or non-religion.

Also: Assuming that the Supreme Court acts to legalize SSM in all fifty states, this does not constitute oppression of Christians. The Catholic Church will not be forced to conduct same-sex marriages. The Baptists won't have to invite the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to the church picnic. The LDS Church won't have to let the San Francisco Gay Men's Choir perform at the Tabernacle in Temple Square.

It just means that people who love each other will be able to enjoy the benefits of marriage, regardless of whom they love.

It's been said that never in human history has it been accepted, and that's probably true. But then again, slavery was accepted for most of human history, as well as subjugation of women, and now they're not. In South Africa, the Reformed Church supported apartheid, and now they don't. Things change.

(So, yes: I support the legalization in the U.S. of same-sex marriage. And I'm an Orthodox Christian. And if my bishop wants to excommunicate me for that, so be it.)

If you want to know why some people hate Christians, it's because some Christians expect people who do not share their beliefs to abide by the teachings of their religion anyway, which is unreasonable. And often, they're kind of nasty and unfeeling about it, which is then reciprocated, which generates more antipathy, etc.

I've said for some time now that religious groups opposed to same-sex marriage are doing it wrong. If they really care about religious liberty, that should have been their focus. They should have been working on legislation that guaranteed freedom of religion would not be impacted by any potential legalization of same-sex marriage. Instead, they've been focused on things like California's Proposition 8 and other things that amount to "You people stop that right now," and they've squandered an opportunity.

And now that they've squandered that opportunity, they're playing the victim.

Oh, please.