Monday, April 28, 2008

Katherine Kersten on polygamist raid in Texas

KK asks some important questions regarding the removal of over 400 children from a polygamist compound in Texas:

First, marriages involving girls in their early teens—and social pressures that encourage under-age marriage—is child abuse, plain and simple. There should be no liberal or conservative divide on this point.

But let’s think about polygamous living arrangements as a basis for this raid. Today, traditional notions of marriage are under attack. We hear everywhere that anyone who is “committed” to another should not be denied the “right” to marry. Our constitutional jurisprudence is warming to the idea that many aspects of behavior involve a “right to privacy,” and that marriage is within that zone.

As a result, what moral, social or legal response can we give today to members of Yearning for Zion who demand that polygamy be decriminalized?

This question is relevant not only to obscure Mormon sects. In Canada and Europe, some Muslims are already demanding state recognition of plural marriage. To the right of privacy and equal protection under the law, they add religious freedom as a justification.

Another point: The Texas raid wrenched hundreds of children away from their mothers. According to Time, 77 of these youngsters are under the age of two. The children are now living in a variety of temporary facilities and foster homes, and are being supervised by a foster care system that is already overtaxed. Was grave harm done to these children and their mothers when Texas authorities seized and refused to return them? The answer seems clear, and should make us shudder.

When this story first broke it reminded me that all of our talk of "tolerance" and church signs proclaiming "WE WELCOME EVERYONE TO OUR TABLE!" is really a mask for a whole lot of discrimination. We all discriminate by drawing a line somewhere. Religious freedom is not absolute: If you marry off 12 year old girls to 45 year old men as part of your religion you should be stopped. "Tolerance" in a church is not absolute: If the pastor who "welocmes all" hired an unrepentent child molestor as a youth leader, he has done wrong by welcoming the pervert.

It is not a choice between being "welcoming" or "intolerant." The question is simply, Where do YOU draw the line? In a culture where no foundation of universal morals is recognized, all that remains is the whim of public opinion backed by the power of the state. Might not my own marriage lived according to my religion be eventually viewed as dangerous to my children?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Osmosis update

Here is a thorough explanation by Uri Lachish of guma science with many links. I'm not sure what "guma science" is, but he seems to be a well published scientist.

Now, I'll just have to refresh my thermodynamics. Do you think Prof. Kakalios covers it sufficiently in The Physics of Superheroes? That's probably a better read than my old Thermal Physics text. :P

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mysterious osmosis

In college I took an intro biology course with a lab component. There was an osmosis demo that I found memorable due to the fact that nobody has been able to explain it to my satisfaction. The problem is that it was a bio lab, but I think the answer involves thermodynamics and biologists are generally not that up to speed on such things (a generalization, I know). But I didn't get along with my thermo prof and so can't remember enough to answers my own question. Here's the demo:

A U-shaped tube has a semi-permeable membrane at the bottom which allows water (the solven) to diffuse across it, but larger solute molecules are blocked (like salt). One side of the U contains fresh water while the other has some salt dissolved in it. The water levels start even on both sides. Leave it for a while (overnight) and the water will diffuse from the fresh side to the salt solution side diluting the solution in the process. The level of the fresh water will drop and the salt water level will rise. The rule is that the water will diffuse in order to "try to" equalize the solutions.

My question is this: A certain amount of work has been done in raising up the water level on the salt solution side. That risen water now has greater gravitational potential energy. I could run a little water wheel and use that energy for something. Where did that energy come from? What provides the energy for the work done raising the water level on the salt water side?

My lab TA in college didn't know. The PhD bio teacher here at my school doesn't know. Our chem teacher doesn't know. The internet is doesn't know (or is at least holding out). This Hyper Physics page suggests that the "internal" or "thermal energy" is responsible. I can sort of see how there might be a change in temperature to explain the gain in GPE.

Can anybody quantify this in a better way? I'm looking at you, PhD physics people!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vespers, Wednesday of the Fourth week of Easter

With Pope Benedict XVI from the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception! A beautiful vespers. I like how all the bishops could sing along without much help from their prayer book whenever the traditional latin chant was used (Deus in audiutorium meum, Magnificat, Pater noster). What a lovely expression of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.

I'm still working on my simple setting of Sunday Vespers to propose singing at my parish on a regular basis. Mine is all simplified chant mostly in English similar to the Mundelein Psalter. Which, BTW, I highly recommend.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rainbow Sashers confused in more ways than one

Courtesy of Uncle Di, I learned that the gay activist Rainbow Sash Movement is calling for "all Catholics of good will to take the Papal visit as an opportunity to shower the Pope mobile with ashes instead of confetti." Their press release could use a good editor:

Ashes are an ancient and appropriate greeting for a sinner who has caused the Church so much division and pain.

I am aware of the biblical habit of repenting in sackcloth and ashes. However, a sinner usually puts these upon himself. Have I missed some tradition of calling a sinner to repentance by throwing ashes in his face? "REPENT!" POOOF!

as sign of repentance his Holiness should be washing the feet of the
victims of clerical sexual abuse

Are we to understand that Our Divine Lord washed the feet of His apostles as a sign of His own repentance? Perhaps he's referring to the sinful woman who washed the feet of Jesus in tears. That makes a little more sense.

Ecumenicalism/Intra faith Dialogue - Freedom of conscience must be respected inside and outside church as it applies to the plurality of beliefs, religious or not. The recent Vatican Islam Forum that has been developed cannot continue without including the issue of human rights violations of women & gays/lesbians/bisexuals/transgender people within Islamic countries.

"Ecumenism" perhaps is more common? This is dialogue between Christians working toward greater unity, but they don't seem to mention this dialogue. "Intra faith" seems to refer to dissent within the Catholic Church. "Interfaith", which is dialogue between members of different religions, isn't mentioned. The context of a Vatican Islam Forum would suggests that "interfaith" would have been more apt.

The US Church is a basically a Eurocentric Church it is time for the United Council of Catholic Bishops to recognize this, and address it. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago as the President of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops should address the Pope’s Eurocentric selection of Cardinals and Bishops to the hierarchy

I've never heard of the United Council of Catholic Bishops. Might they mean the College of Bishops? Or did they just mean the USCCB both times?

We will not enter any Church’s but we will bring ashes to reign down on the Popes motorcade, and call on individuals to blow whistles at any public papal events such as outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Ground Zero, St. Joseph’s Seminary, and Yankee Stadium as a sign of our disgust over the way the clergy abuse scandal has been handled under his leadership

As least they aren't entering any Church's. If your outside, be sure to bring an unbrella in case of reign.

Will you have pouty faces too? Give me a break. Talk about children throwing a hissy-fit...