Obergefell – The Majority Opinion – The Due Process Argument – Part 2

We finished the last post as Justice Kennedy set up the next section of his argument in Obergefell.  He explained that the Supreme Court had developed the legal tenets that it used over the years to discover previously unseen constitutional rights.  When the Court applied those tenets to a case in 1972, the Court did not believe that same-sex marriage presented any federal question for it to consider.  But, as Justice Kennedy went on to explain,  “[s]till, there are other more instructive precedents.  This Court’s cases have expressed  constitutional principles of broader reach.  In defining the right to marry, these cases have identified essential attributes of that right based in history, tradition, and other constitutional liberties inherent in this intimate bond [he means “marriage”].  And in assessing whether the force and rationale of its cases apply to same-sex couples, the Court must respect the basic reasons why the right to marry has been long protected.”

As we move into a discussion of these four principles, there are two questions to ask yourself as you read.  The first is whether you agree that the Court has identified principles that are central to our definition of marriage.  Second, do you agree with Justice Kennedy that the principles “compel the conclusion” that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry?  This is a summary of the four principles.

  1. “A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy . . . decisions about marriage are the most intimate that an individual can make.” In light of Justice Kennedy’s introductory discussion of the history of marriage, changing from arranged relationships to relationships based romantic love, it is difficult to argue with this conclusion.  It is an accurate reflection of our culture’s current view of marriage.
  2. “A second principle in this Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals.”   Marriage is uniquely and specially designed to support the union of two people who want to live in a committed relationship.
  3. A third basis for protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childbearing, procreation, and education. The rights and responsibilities associated with marriage are an important foundation for the family that is created by the relationship.
  4. Fourth and finally, this Court’s cases and the Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of our social order.  Webster defines “keystone” as  the wedge-shaped piece at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place.”  So, applied here, marriage is one of the institutions that locks our social order in place.  Justice Kennedy also quotes Alexander de Tocqueville, who said that marriage is “the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress. . . . For that reason, just as a couple vows to support each other, so does society pledge to support the couple, offering symbolic recognition and material benefits to protect and nourish the union. . . .These aspects of marital status include: taxation [at special rates]; inheritance and property rights; rules of intestate succession [what happens when a spouse dies without a will]; . . . hospital access; medical decision-making authority; adoption rights; the rights and benefits of survivors; birth and death certificates . . .” and the list goes on.

He concludes this section by finding that, In exchange for people’s commitment to enter into marriage, “[t]he States have contributed to the fundamental character of the marriage right by placing that institution at the center of so many facets of the legal and social order.”

So, if we put together the reasoning from the four points that Justice Kennedy has enumerated, we have this argument:

  1. Two people who love each other have the Constitutional right to decide if they want to live in a committed relationship.
  2. Marriage is uniquely and specially designed to support the union of two people who want to live in a committed relationship.
  3. Marriage as an institution safeguards the other rights and responsibilities that flow from the committed relationship, like children and families and the long list in the quotation above.  All of which are critical to our society,
  4. Because marriage is critical to our society, society has pledged to give certain special rights and benefits to those who enter into the marriage relationship.

Justice Kennedy begins his conclusion to this section by stating “[t]here is no difference between same- and opposite- sex couples with respect to this principle [The principles are equally valid and will accomplish their purpose of ultimately strengthening society regardless of the gender of the parties is the marriage.]  Yet, by virtue of their exclusion from that institution, same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage.”  He then explains that “the limit of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just. but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest.”  These words underline what he has said before in the decision; marriage is a right that is endowed by the Constitution upon every citizen of the United States and the individual States may not limit the right only to same-sex couples.   He recognizes that people acting on “decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises” have passed laws excluding same-sex couples from the same legal treatment that opposite-sex couples receive in marriage.  But, because those laws conflict with the fundamental Constitutional right to marry, they cannot stand.

To borrow from Justice Kennedy’s “keystone” argument above, the application of these four principles to same-sex marriage is the keystone of the majority decision.  All that has led to this analysis is setting the stage and all that follows is cleaning up the loose ends.  If another individual challenges whether a state has unconstitutionally denied the him or her the right to marry, one would expect the Supreme Court to us this set of principles to analyze the claim.

In the next post, we will review Justice Kennedy’s Equal Protection argument supporting same-sex marriage, cover his concluding comments and observations, and finish the discussion of the majority opinion.

To read all the posts in this series and for other resources, including a copy of the decision in PDF format, please follow this link.



Obergefell – The Majority Opinion – The Due Process Argument

My goal is writing this series of posts on Obergefell is to share what I am thinking about the decision and what its effects might be.  I definitely don’t have a better understanding of the law in this area than the Supreme Court.  And even they can’t agree on what law applies to this issue and how it applies.    I hope that you will read these posts, read the decision, think about its implications and leave questions and comments.

After setting the historical background discussed in the prior post, Justice Kennedy begins the Court’s legal analysis.  It is here that I had my first question about the structure of the argument that Justice Kennedy is forming.  Is his introduction the background for the decision or the foundation for the decision?  If it is a background, then, like the background in a painting, its purpose is to put the main subject in context, but it doesn’t provide critical information.   I think the introduction is more foundation than background.  He seems to mix together the developing social theories on marriage and sexuality with past Supreme Court case law like he is mixing concrete.   The parts of law and sociology that are permitted into the foundation are filtered by the “principles” set out in the introduction.  I say this because the points he raises in the introduction appear again in the body of the decision.

The Due Process Argument

[As I write these posts, I will be quoting sections of text from the decision.  Rather than using block quotations, which would be formally correct, I will put the quoted text in blue and use quotation marks.]

Justice Kennedy begins section III of the majority opinion.

“Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, no State shall ‘deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.’  The fundamental liberties protected by this Clause include most of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights [the decision cites the Griswold case here]. In addition, these liberties extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs”  The 1965 Griswold case cited by the court struck down a state law forbidding a married couple to use birth control.   At the time, Griswold was seen as an expansion of the Due Process clause.  But, Griswold, was an expansion that most American’s accepted.  I don’t know that American married couples knew they had a constitutional right to use birth control in 1965.  But, I am guessing they welcomed the information as good news.

Justice Kennedy uses the Griswold case as an example of when the Court identified a new fundamental right that had not previously been recognized.  Justice Kennedy goes on to say, “[t]he identification and protection of fundamental rights is an enduring part of the judicial duty to interpret the Constitution.  That responsibility, however, ‘has not been reduced to any formula.  Rather, it requires courts to exercise reasoned judgment in identifying interests of the person so fundamental that the State must accord them its respect.”  To paraphrase, just as the Supreme Court identified the previously unknown right to use birth control,  it has an ongoing duty to keep finding previously unidentified rights.  Further, there is no magic formula for how these rights are determined, but the Court must use its best judgment to figure them out.  And, when the Court has found a fundamental right, the State must accept the right as being constitutional and, therefore, invalidating any state law that conflicts with it,

The Court then explains that it has, over time, developed some tenets. or guidelines, of constitutional interpretation that it uses to identify these previously unseen rights.  When these tenets are applied to marriage generally, the Court has found a constitutional right to marry.  The Court has found that the right to marry cannot be “burdened” (prevented) for certain reasons, for example, because a father is behind in his child support payments or because one of the people wanting to be married is in prison.  But, the Court, like many institutions, had “made assumptions [about marriage] defined by the world and time of which it is apart,”  and in 1972 found that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage did not present a substantial federal question.  In other words, in 1972,  the Supreme Court didn’t think that applying the above-referenced tenets of constitutional interpretation to the topic of same-sex marriage would yield any previously undiscovered rights.

But, as Justice Kennedy explains, the trail didn’t end in 1972, “[s]till, there are other more instructive precedents.  This Court’s cases have expressed  constitutional principles of broader reach.  In defining the right to marry these cases have identified essential attributes of that right based in history, tradition, and other constitutional liberties inherent in this intimate bond [he means “marriage”].  And in assessing whether the force and rationale of its cases apply to same-sex couples, the Court must respect the basic reasons why the right to marry has been long protected.”  Justice Kennedy is referring here to the four principles of marriage that will follow next and round out the Due Process section of his argument.  He says that, when these four principles are applied to same-sex marriage, “[t]he analysis compels the conclusion that same-sex  couples [emphasis added by me] may exercise the right to marry.  The four principles and traditions to be discussed demonstrate that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples [emphasis added by me again].”

As we move into a discussion of these four principles in the next post, there are two questions to ask yourself.  The first is whether you agree that the Court has identified principles that are central to our definition of marriage.  I am not a constitutional law scholar.  You probably aren’t either.  But, you and I can both read these principles and ask if they make sense to us.  The second question to ask yourself is whether the four principles necessarily apply only to “couples.”  Is Justice Kennedy suggesting that there is something mystic  or special about two people in a marriage relationship?  Or, is it just that the question before the Court, and therefore the only question the Court can answer, is limited to couples?

I have tipped my hand, so this is a spoiler alert.  You can read the Court’s holding at the bottom of page 22 of the Majority Opinion.  Did you find the word “couple?” in the Court’s conclusion that marriage is a “fundamental right”?  I didn’t either.  The word “couple” is used in the two holdings that follow because, in this case, the Court was only addressing the question of whether there was a constitutional right that applied to couples.  So, what happens when the Court gets a case asking if the fundamental right to marriage is available to polygamists?  Stay tuned for Justice Roberts dissenting opinion.

Please leave comments and questions.

Please click here to get to the landing page for earlier posts on Obergefell and other resources.


Obergefell – Majority Opinion – Part 1

If you have read the first two posts in this series, you know that Obergefell is the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.  If you haven’t read the first posts in the series, I have set up a landing page with links to the earlier posts and a link to a PDF version of the decision.  If you are interested in this discussion and keep reading along, it will help you if you have a copy of the decision to read sections when I refer to them.  You can find the link page here.

I need to talk about one more thing before we begin.  The Court uses the term “homosexuality” when describing the sexual orientation of people who are gay and lesbian.  I’m not comfortable with the term for two reasons.  First, my classmates in college who were lesbian objected to being called “homosexual.”  They believed that the “homo” in homosexual was used in the same sense as the “homo” in homosapien.  Therefore, it was a term that should be used only to describe men.  The correct term for women was lesbian.  I know that “homo” in homosexuality really means “similar” as in a homogenous group.  But, they made a big impact on me and I have carried that sensitivity for decades.  Second, though the word “homosexual” began as a clinical term to describe same-sex attraction, it has taken on a derogatory sense.  Maybe I am being overly sensitive and politically correct, but I promised to be honest with you. That is all to say that I will use the word “homosexual” throughout my posts on the case because the Court uses the word in the various decisions.   I’ll deal with my personal discomfort and if you are offended by the word, I apologize and at least you know that I don’t mean to use it offensively.

The majority opinion was written by Justice Kennedy.

Section I of the decision sets up what is called the procedural posture of the case.  The Court explains briefly how the 14 cases came to the Court and the two questions that the Court has agreed to answer.

Section II gives some historical background.  Justice Kennedy begins by saying, “Before addressing the principles and precedents that govern these cases, it is appropriate to note the history of the subject now before the Court.”  He then begins a seven-page survey of society’s understanding of marriage and society’s understanding of homsexuality. He says of marriage that “[t]he lifelong union of a man and a woman has always promised nobility and dignity to all persons without regard to their station in life.”  He admits that, “historically, marriage has been the union of two people of opposite sex.  That history is the beginning of these cases,  The respondents [the States arguing that marriage should remain a union between people of opposite sex] say it should be the end as well.”

Justice Kennedy then talks about the States’ assertion that it would demean the timeless institution of marriage by extending the status to two people of the same sex.  He says that, far from wanting to devalue marriage, the petitioners [the 14 people who want the law changed] seek marriage for themselves because they respect – and need – the privileges and responsibilities that marriage carries with it.”  He concludes this section of the introduction by telling the stories of three sets of the 14 petitioners.

James Obergefell and his partner. Arthur, lived in Ohio.  Arthur was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 and they decided to marry before Arthur died.  They travelled to Maryland for the ceremony, which was difficult for Arthur because of his medical condition.  Three months later, Arthur died.  Ohio law does not allow James to be listed as the surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate and, as Justice Kennedy says it, “By statute, they must remain strangers even in death, a state-imposed separation that [James] ‘deems hurtful for the rest of time'”

April and Jayne are co-plaintiffs from Michigan.  They are both neonatal nurses and, between them, they have adopted three children.  But, the state of Michigan only allows adoptions by married couples and single people.  In Michigan, same-sex couples are not allowed to marry, so each child can be adopted by only one of them as his or her legal parent.  Justice Kennedy explains that this situation could cause a problem in emergency situations where a school or hospital may treat the child as having only one parent who could make medical decisions.  Further, if one of the women were to die, the other would have no legal rights over the children that she was not permitted to adopt.

Finally, Ijpe DeKoe and his partner Thomas Kostra are from Tennessee.  Ijpe is in the Army Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011.  They were married in New York before his deployment.  When he returned, they settled in Tennessee where Ijpe works for the Army Reserve.  Tennessee does not recognize the couple’s New York marriage and, as a result, Justice Kennedy says  “[T]heir lawful marriage is stipped from them whenever they reside in Tennessee, returning and disappearing as they travel across state lines.  DeKoe, who served this Nation to preserve the freedom the Constitution protects, must endure a substantial burden.”

Justice Kennedy then discusses the deep changes that have occurred in our understanding of marriage over the past centuries,  Marriages were at one time arranged relationships.  They became relationships where the couple was treated by the state as one male-dominated entity. Over time, we have seen that women are an equal partner in marriage.  Finally, we have seen that marriage is based on romantic love.  He says that these are new insights that have resulted in a deep transformation in the structure of marriage.

He closes the introduction with a brief description of society’s changing attitudes toward homosexualty.  He explains that society now understands that sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic and a normal expression of human sexuality.  The legal standing of homosexuals has similarly changed over this time.  At one time, intimate relations between two people of the same sex was a criminal offense.  The laws have changed and homosexuality has entered the main stream.  Those are my words, not his, but I think they reflect the point that he is trying to make.

It is against this changing understanding of marriage and of sexual orientation that the legal question about same-sex marriage has come up.  Some State legislatures (or state Supreme Courts interpreting the state’s constitution) have legalized same-sex marriage.  Other states have not.  Numerous cases about same-sex marriage have reached the Unites States Courts of Appeals in recent years and the appeals courts have reached different decisions about the legality of same-sex marriage.  This “split in the circuits” as it is called, gives the U.S. Supreme Court the authority to hear these cases and issue a decision that will unify the courts.  Also, he notes that the states are still divided on the subject of same-sex marriage even though they have had years to try and work it out.

It is against this background that Justice Kennedy begins his legal analysis and I will begin covering his legal analysis in the next post.  Thank you for reading along.  Please leave me comments and questions.




Obergefell – The Definition of Marriage

Before I talk about the different opinions entered in Obergefell, there are a couple more introductory points I need to make.  (If you didn’t read my first post in this series giving an overview of the issues covered in the decision, you can read it here.)

The first point we need to understand is that, in the Obergefell decision, “marriage” means “civil marriage.”  A civil marriage is the the legal union of two people (before Obergefell, in most states, the people were of opposite sex).  Civil marriage carries with it a bundle of legal rights and responsibilities that are granted by the States.  The Petitioners argued that it was unconstitutional for States to prevent same-sex couples from entering civil marriage and, as a result, denying same-sex couples the same bundle of rights and responsibilities that the States give to opposite-sex couples.

“Marriage” may also be defined as religious marriage.  For Christians (I won’t get into comparative religions here), marriage is spiritual union in which a man and woman become one.  Someone does not need to be licensed by the State to perform a religious marriage and the couple does not need a license from the State to enter into a religious marriage.    I don’t know anyone who has done it, but a couple could choose to be married in a purely religious ceremony.  They would be no less married than anyone else in the Christian sense.  But, the couple also would receive none of the legal rights and privileges given to couples who have a State-recognized civil marriage.  The Supreme Court decision does not require churches to perform religious ceremonies for same-sex couples.

This is where it becomes confusing for people.  Here in America, most people don’t think about marriage as a legal relationship and a spiritual relationship.  At least for Christians, it is a spiritual relationship first and the legal rights and responsibilities that come with it are extras.  It is easy for Christians to think that because the legal union and spiritual union are usually accomplished at the same time.  The person officiating the wedding doesn’t say, “OK, that completes the spiritual union, now we will move on to the legal union.”  The couple is joined spiritually in the religious ceremony.  The couple is joined legally when the person officiating the wedding signs the marriage license that has been issued by the State.   The signed marriage license provides evidence of their legal relationship.

What I Think about the Decision

I was not going to tell you what I thought about the decision until I had summarized the majority and dissenting opinions.  But, if you are taking the time to read these posts, you deserve to know my potential biases from the beginning.  I will try to be fair-minded, but everyone writes from a point of view.

I agree with the dissenters that the case was not ready to decide and the question should have been sent back to the States.  If you know me, you know that I did not reach this conclusion because I hate people who are gay or lesbian.  If you don’t know me, it won’t do any good for me to tell you that.  No one who wants to be credible on this issue is going to say that they oppose Obergefell because they don’t like the people who will benefit from it.

The fact that the Supreme Court split 5 to 4 on this case tells me that of 9 of the best legal minds in the country can’t decide if the Petitioners’ have constitutional rights that were violated by the States.  The majority says they do and the dissenters say they don’t.   For a decision of this magnitude, I would like the Supreme Court to be 100% certain that they have rendered the right decision.  In Obergefell, the Court is effectively 55% (5/9) certain.   55% “certainty” is barely better than a coin toss.  Is that a high standard?  Brown vs Board of Education, the decision that ended the despicable practice of “separate but equal” was a unanimous decision. The Supreme Court was 100% certain they had reached the right decision.  Likewise, Loving vs Virginia, which is cited in Obergefell, was a unanimous decision ending the State white supremacy laws that made it a crime for a white person to marry a person of color or for someone to conduct a wedding between a white person and a person of color.  Regardless of whether people agreed with these decisions (and many did not), they knew that the Supreme Court was completely certain it had reached the right answer.

To be fair, the Supreme Court is not required to render a unanimous decision just because someone thinks the case is really important.  The Supreme Court needs only a simple majority to support a decision.  But, I hope you see my point.

Next, I plan to go through the majority and dissenting opinions.  I won’t outline the decision for you.  Instead, I will go over the major themes or arguments used in the majority and dissenting opinions.  As I do it, I will point out questions and observations along the way.  The next post will talk about the introduction to Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion.

If you would like to read the Obergefell decision, or follow along with the coming posts, you can follow this link.

Do you have questions or want to raise a point?  Please leave a comments.


Obergefell Series Introduction

Originally published in July 2015

By now you have heard that the US Supreme Court has ruled that states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and states must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples that were performed in other states.  You may read a lot of information from people who are for same-sex marriage or against same-sex marriage.  Some of the conversation on both sides is inflammatory.  What I would like to do here is give a simple summary of the decision.  I hope it will help you see through the smoke to what, I believe, are the core issues.  If you want to wade through the 100-page decision, I link to it at the end of this post.  If you are interested in the issue, I recommend reading it.

First, some basic information.  The case was a consolidation of four cases from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which sits in Cincinnati, Ohio and handles appeals from the states of Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.  The cases were from all four states.  In addition to the briefs filed by the Petitioners, the Court received 139 Amicus (or Friend of the Court) briefs arguing the two questions that the Court agreed to address in the appeal.

As additional background for those of you from outside the US as well as those who haven’t taken a civics class for a long time, the way our government is set up, the State is responsible for the health and welfare of its citizens.  That responsibility includes deciding who should be granted the legal rights that accompany civil marriage and how the State’s children will be educated, to name two examples.  Therefore, it is a big deal for the Supreme Court to step in and act as a “super legislature” that tells all the people of every state what the law requires them to do.  The Supreme Court has done that before in cases that you will recognize when I talk about them in later posts and, when you find out what the cases are, you will likely agree that the Court’s action in those cases was appropriate.

What were the questions that the Court agreed to address?  The first is whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex.  The second is whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to recognize a same-sex marriage licensed and performed in a state which does not grant that right.  (I am going to leave out the citations to the decision.  If you really want to know where information came from, leave a comment.)  The Court split five to four on the two questions.

The Justices supporting the Majority opinion were: Kennedy (who wrote the opinion), Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.  The dissenting Justices were: Roberts (Chief Justice), Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.  In addition to the Majority opinion, there were four dissents that were joined by various combinations of the dissenters.  No one dissent was joined by all the dissenting Justices.

The Court held that the 14th Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.  In the Majority opinion, Justice Kennedy relied on the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment plus Supreme Court case law.

The dissenting opinions believed that the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses did not apply in these cases and that the question of licensing same-sex marriage should be left to the States’ legislative processes.  As Justice Roberts said, “[s]tealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”  The other dissenting opinions focused on different aspects of the argument, but ended at the same place; the question should be left to the States to sort out through the democratic process.

That is a very short summary of a very long decision.

One final takeaway, and this is where the controversy lies.  The Justices in the majority do not say in their opinion that they support the idea of same-sex marriage and neither do the Justices who dissented say they are against it.  The decision is based on the Constitution and case law.  Those who disagree argue that the majority opinion or the dissenting opinions were written out of a desire to see a certain outcome and not in accordance with the Constitution and the law.  A practice sometimes referred to as “judicial activism.”  We will likely not know the motives of any of the writers.  But, regardless of the side you line up on, I think it is important to understand the reasoning of the other side.  Not because of what it says about same-sex marriage, but because of what it says about how and when the Supreme Court will step into matters that are otherwise constitutionally the responsibility of the States.

In future posts, I will talk about the opinions in more detail along with some of the implications I see for the church in particular and everyone in general.

Here is the link to Obergefell.  The majority opinion and the dissents total about 100 pages.  I am an attorney, and parts of the decision took some thought to follow the arguments.  You may also find it challenging.  But, if you really want to get past the headlines, it is a good idea to read the full opinion.

What do you think about the decision and what questions do you have?  Please leave a comment.



The Digital Disciple’s Screen Resolution Chart – Fall 2016


I created The Digital Disciple’s Screen Resolution chart 4 years ago to compare the display sizes, screen sizes, and resolutions of Android and Apple tablets.  I posted it on the blog and it became the lead post and lead page.  Fast forward to today, the chart has gone from about 20 tablets to over 70. I update the chart twice a year.  This edition includes PC Magazines top 10 tablets for 2016 and it is sorted in alphabetical order by manufacturer to make tablets easier to find.

I will keep the most current version of the chart on this page.

Please let me know if you find any mistakes and leave a comment if the chart has helped you.

How have you used the chart and what tablet are you buying?

The Digital Disciple’s Website and Application Design Resources

These charts and illustrations have been very helpful for people who are comparing devices and they have become very popular with device application developers and Web designers.  These charts are no longer updated regularly.  If you would like a PDF of the chart, please contact me using the Contact Me link at the top right side of the page.

Screen Charts and Illustrations:

Apple Device Screen Chart


A spreadsheet that compare the display specifications of all current Apple devices.  The chart gives the pixel dimensions, the physical dimensions, and aspect ratios.  This chart is available in PDF format.

Apple Device Screen Illustration


An Illustration that overlays the displays of all current Apple devices to compare their physical size.  This illustration is available in PDF format .

Display Aspect Ratios Illustration – Geek Edition


An illustration comparing the aspect ratios of common display resolutions.  I call this the “Geek Edition” because it takes a geek to appreciate the level of detail in the illustration.  If you want something simpler, check out the next illustration.  This illustration is available in PDF format.


Display Aspect Ratios Illustration


An illustration showing the relationship between the three common tablet and computer displays: 16:9, 16:10, and 4:3.  This illustration is in PDF format.


Display Aspect Ratio Chart


A chart with display pixel height on one axis and display pixel width on the other axis.  This Chart is available in PDF format.


Display Size Comparison


An illustration comparing the physical size of 13 common devices.  This illustration is available in PDF format.


Smartphone Display Size Chart


This chart lists the pixel dimensions, physical dimensions, front size, and aspect ratio of over 45 current smartphones.  The chart is available in PDF format.

Table Display Size Chart


This chart lists the pixel dimensions, physical dimensions, front size, and aspect ratio over 25 current tablets.  The chart is available in PDF format.  Follow this link for a larger view of the chart.


What is it Like to Die? Part 3 – A Different View of Death

This post was originally published in August 2014

For Christians, the Bible calls us to reverse our thinking on a lot of subjects. We are to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and serve if we want to lead. When we are finished living, death is not a final punishment, but the beginning of a new life in heaven and an eternal reward. We don’t see death that way because we can only see one side of it, the side that takes place in our present reality.  To understand the Bible’s view, we need to see death from a different perspective.

As I said in the first post in this series, people have two “parts;” a physical part, the body, that will wear out and die and a spiritual part, the soul or spirit, which will never die.  When a person becomes a Christian, God’s Holy Spirit begins to live in them and for many people it is their first experience with the spiritual world. We are aware of feelings and input that comes in through ways other than our senses. It is both exhilarating and unnerving when we “sense” the Holy Spirit tell us that something is wrong or we just stop doing things we used to do. Our spirit is being changed and the change is reflected in what we do and how we think. That’s how Paul could be sure that a person who had accepted Christ would begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22.  God’s Holy Spirit teaches our spirit to be God-like and demonstrate God’s character.

When we die, our body releases our spirit. I talked in an earlier post about where the spirit will go. In this case, I am talking about those who have accepted Jesus’ death for their sins and their spirits are going to heaven for eternity with God. For those of us on the earthly side of death, all we see is the body stop working and the person we knew is gone. But, if we could see the whole picture, we would see that when the person drew his last breath here, his eyes opened in heaven where there are angels singing, there are the spirits of believers through the ages who have died before him, and he is where God dwells in His glory. The joy, peace, and acceptance are overwhelming. There is a sense of finally being home in the place that Jesus promised he would prepare for us. Here on earth, we only see half the picture, and it’s not the good half.

That is why Christians see death differently. Do we miss those who die? Of course we do do. Do we think that someone died too soon, or too young, or that they lingered too long? Sure. It’s OK to feel that way. God comforts us in our sorrow. Jesus, as God in the flesh, had people in his life die. When his friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept. But, because of the great hope we have in heaven, we can celebrate death as a graduation or passage. Death no longer means eternal separation from God. As Paul said, because Jesus paid our penalty for sin “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” I Cor 15:54-55.

I don’t want to over spiritualize this.  If you have lost someone to death, it hurts and there is sense of loss that will never go away.  The way you feel is normal and you should not bury those feelings.  It is OK to grieve and take time to heal.  God will comfort you if you ask and He will restore your hope for the future.

Really, the purpose of this short series on death is you.  Do you know what will happen when you die?  I hope that you have accepted, or will accept, Jesus’ death for your sins and that you will spend eternity in heaven.  I became a Christian when I was in college.  There was this girl, I don’t even remember her name, who wanted to share the gospel with me every time I talked to her.  I humored her and I knew enough from attending church to respond to her questions and tell her that I just hadn’t made my mind up about Jesus.  One day, I thought I had her.  I said, how about all those people in other countries who will never hear the gospel, are they just going to hell?  She didn’t even flinch.  She said, “Dave, this isn’t about them, it’s about you.  God loves them and I trust he will treat them justly.  But, you have heard the gospel, you have to decide what to do with it, you have no excuse.”  I never forgot that.  It was a couple years later that I committed my life to Jesus in a little country church when I was home on summer break.  My life was forever changed.  If you are not a Christian and you have read these last few posts, you have all the information you need to make a decision.  What will it be?  I trust that God will speak to you and that you will accept the wonderful free gift of grace and salvation that He is offering.

What is it Like to Die? Part 2- My Experience

This post was originally published in August 2014

The week of June 8th I could feel a flare coming on and the medication was not working fast enough to control it. I expected that it would land me in the Cleveland Clinic, so Wednesday night, June 11, I went downstairs to pay some bills and get things cleaned up. The next thing I remember is that it was now 4 AM and I knew I needed to get to the hospital. I called Mary Ann and told her (I couldn’t walk upstairs). I don’t remember the ambulance ride or any part of the admission process, maybe a spill-over of the effects of the sedation.  I remember Mary Ann telling me that they were going to vent me. I knew that had caused problems with other RP patients and I signaled her not to do it. They warned my that I could die as a result and that it was necessary if they were going to fly me to the Cleveland Clinic. I didn’t care about dying, but I did want to get to the Clinic if we could. I signaled OK and I was out.

The next thing i remember is waking up at the Clinic 8 days later. (It had taken 36 hours for a bed to open so I remained on a vent and sedated in Cincinnati until Friday August 13th (I know, lucky for me).  I was flown to Cleveland Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, June 14, the doctor asked Mary Ann to step out of the room so he could put a line in my neck and I had a heart attack. While Mary Ann and our daughters prayed for me over the phone in another room, the “Code Blue” team gave me CPR for 30 minutes.  When my heart started, they put me in a medically induced coma to prevent or limit any brain damage that may have been caused by the lack of oxygen.  After 8 days in the coma, I responded to my name and could answer “yes” and “no” questions by nodding my head. Do you know who you are?  That was a softball, I responded to my name, right?  Do you know where you are? I knew where I was supposed to be, so I guessed right. The effect of the sedation wore off and I was “waking up.”

I’m retelling this story in case you have just found the blog and missed the longer version of the story in my initial post in this series. I also want to remake the point that I was out cold. During those 8 days, folks visited me, talked to me, read to me, prayed for me and I was completely unaware.

I have read 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven is for Real (both great books) and I would have expected a different kind of experience as I laid close to death. But, I didn’t hear angels singing , see people who had died before me, or get a glimpse inside the Pearly Gates. My only recollection from that time is what seemed like a short dream that I can’t even place in time.

It was night-time and I was in a strange city and needed to get home. I walked into the parking lot where my rented car was. I could hardly walk and I knew I needed to get home. It was a small red car. The cars in the lot were parked so closely together that I couldn’t get in mine. Someone I couldn’t see told me that there was a way to walk home so I started to walk. I was on a big concrete platform, like an outdoor performance pavilion and there were rows of concrete benches where the audience would sit. There was a wet slippery ramp that led down from the middle of the stage that I needed to go down. There were no guard rails. As I moved toward the ramp, I fell off the front of the stage. I was going to fall about 6 feet and land on the first concrete bench. I rolled to brace for the impact. I stopped in mid-air and “woke up.” Something told me that what had happened was not real but reflected a spiritual battle. In the end, God said “enough,” stopped the fight and spared me.

For now, I am taking the experience at face value. There was a spiritual battle going on while I was sedated and God intervened to end it. I may remember more as time goes on, but I think it is lost in the sedation.  Mary Ann is better at talking about that time and I will ask her to write a post describing her experiences during my heart attack and the days that followed.

No pithy lessons here.  I am still processing the experience and I’ll share insights as they come.  I guess the one thing this demonstrates is that we don’t always get answers.  Our job is to trust God to lead us and follow where He goes.  Even at times where we have only enough light to see what is immediately ahead of us.  Take the step you see and trust that the next step will be there.

What is it Like to Die? Part 1 – Basic Stuff You Need to Know

Originally published in August 2014

When I had my heart attack, I was dead for about 30 minutes.  I do not have a specific memory of that experience, maybe because I was sedated when it happened.  I have some impressions that I will share in later posts along with my thoughts on death and what happens when we die.  This series will “get into the weeds” a little bit and I hope you will hang with me.  It’s stuff we don’t often think about and it may be the most important stuff I say in the blog.

Let’s start with a fundamental truth: our spirit, or soul, lives forever.  Once you exist, you never cease to exist.  At death, your soul is freed from your body, but it doesn’t perish.  Take a minute to let that sink in.

Jesus told us that, when we die, our souls will be taken to heaven where we will spend eternity with God or we will go to hell where we will spend eternity separated from God.  Heaven is a place of joy and fellowship, hell is a place of suffering (we see the consequences of decisions we can’t change) and darkness.  Hell isn’t something we like to talk about, but Jesus talked about it a lot.  It is real and he doesn’t want us there.

What heaven and hell have in common is that things happen, but time never passes.  Imagine the most peaceful and joy-filled time of your life, you look at the clock and it is stopped.  The peace and joy continue and time remains stopped.  Can this go on forever? Yes, it does.  Now imagine the worst time you ever had: fear, regret, panic, suffering and pain.  Imagine being trapped in that time.  You keep checking the clock and time has not passed.  Can this go on forever? Yes, it does.

So, the big question you should be asking is: How do I make sure that, when the time comes, I am going to heaven and not to hell?  Do  you meet the entry requirement?  To get into heaven, a person must be perfect without ever having sinned.  God is perfect and he cannot allow imperfect souls to be around Him.  That’s a problem because, on our own, we are not perfect.  That’s where Jesus comes in.

The consequence for our imperfection, or sin, is eternal death. Or, as Paul says, the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). When we sin, we earn death. Paul also confirms that we all have sinned and fall short of God’s perfect standard (Romans 3:23). We like to think that “sins” are the “big things” that we don’t do. But, the truth is, that sin is every time we do not follow God’s law perfectly. By that standard, I can’t begin to count how many times a day that I sin.

God knew that His standard was unreachable when he set it, that is why He planned an alternative. For us, because we sin, death is the necessary outcome. But, what if a person did live a perfect life? That person would not have “earned death” and would be entitled to go to heaven and spend eternity with God. That person is Jesus. He lived a perfect life, yet he gave up his life for us on the cross. Jesus died the death that we are all condemned to die. God allows us to claim Jesus’ death on the cross as the death that we should have received for our sins. Then, because the price for our sin has been paid, God wipes out its consequences and we can enter heaven as if we had never sinned. The Bible calls us “righteous” meaning that we now have right standing before God.  When we get to heaven and are asked, “Did you live a perfect life?”  We can say, “I have accepted the perfect life that Jesus lived for me.”

The last question is, if you don’t have this right standing with God and are sure you will go to heaven when you die, how do you get it? You simply need to ask. There are many versions of the “sinner’s prayer” that you can pray. I will give you one here. There is no magic formula. You are committing you life to God and asking Him to forgive you and change you. Will there be changes in your life? You bet. Will it always be smooth sailing? No. But, I can assure you that a life spent on earth at peace with God and eternity in heaven with Him will far outweigh any temporary problems you may face.

Here’s what you can pray. Don’t be afraid to be honest and fill in the gaps.

“Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Please take my life and make me the kind of person You want me to be.”

This prayer is from the Cru Web site.  If you want more information, follow this link.

If you have prayed this prayer for the first time, welcome to the kingdom of heaven! If you have prayed this prayer or something like it to recommit your life to Jesus, welcome back.  Now,  scroll back to the top of the page and click the header to go the blog main page if you are not there already.  Read the posts on daily prayer and daily Bible reading and get started.