Posters don't tone down their views for the season of goodwill, but the "Book Club" discussion on Christ was surprisingly free of the usual religious sniping, and excellent. Intellectuals are always fair game—see this "Chatterbox"—and Brendan Skwire said, "Calling X an intellectual is like calling ketchup a vegetable." Click here to find out who X is.
Subject: Winning Ways
Re: "War Stories: Who Won the Pentagon's Other War?"
Date: Dec 20 10:59 a.m. PT
Judging who won a war on the basis of who fired the actual rounds is correct but superficial. … As someone who briefly commanded a Class VII supply company, I can tell you the United States wins because it supports its soldiers better. We can re-supply faster, evacuate wounded faster, get replacements in faster, and fix damaged gear faster. Every nation in the world has hard men who will die for a cause. The United States knows how to support its warriors so that they often don't have to.
Subject: New Life
Re: "Frame Game: Everyone's a Twinner"
Date: Thu Dec 27 6:28 p.m. PT
"Soul" is the word I think everyone's tiptoeing around. This is clearest when we're talking about the bright line at the point where an embryo is no longer capable of dividing. "It could be one body or two bodies, so maybe it's nobody" can be rephrased, more truthfully but less pithily as follows: "At some point in its development, a human takes on an immortal soul and therefore the status of an actual human being. Twins both have souls. Therefore, this 'ensouling' process must take place some time after the twinning has happened or decisively failed to happen. So up to that point, it's just a lump of cells."
Subject: Music for Hard Times
Re: "Culturebox: Unto Us a Hit Is Born"
Date: Wed Dec 19 2:12 p.m. PT
I'm old now. I have spent most of my life in men-only environments, firstly at boy's schools then among soldiers, seamen, and oilmen. Hairy-legged, profane toughs, a lot of them bad bastards. But, I have yet to see a focs'l, a camp, or a bar that wasn't a somber and empty and subdued place on Christmas Eve or even at Easter. If [Handel's] Messiah is still popular it's because the message hasn't changed. The theme subdues all types. God is good and we are not, he has provided a savior. As long as sentiment can give our eyes humidity Handel could induce it. You could play it an al-Qaida prison and the effect would be the same I reckon.
Subject: Religion for Hard Times
Re: "The Book Club: Christ"
Date: Thu Dec 20 10:42 a.m. PT
As religion becomes stricter, it becomes more popular. … If you don't believe me, compare Southern Baptists to Unitarians over the last 30 years. There was a need in the ancient world for that certainty. … In a collapsing world, pagan religions offered gossip about the gods and the vague promise of life in a silent underworld. Christianity, for all its faults, offered paradise if one followed guidelines in a cruel, short life. If you wake up every morning threatened by plague or barbarians, sex loses importance.
Some posts have to be read in full. Raphael took the idea that "In the worldview of Bin Laden and Ann Coulter, you can get on the right side by changing your religion. In the worldview of Saddam and Hitler, you can't" from this "Frame Game" and ran with it—find the priceless result here. (And see what else Raphael is up to at the end of this "Moneybox.")
Posters are discussing big issues in "Best of the Fray" these days. Fine threads were started by ADAS, on good and evil, here, and by Bluto, on intelligence, here. But there's still room for contests: The latest one is for the best self-flame, and there is even a rather spectacular prize on offer ...
Claude Scales suggested that some words and phrases should be banned from the Fray—no, not the ones that break our rules but vogue words such as "closure." Of course, Fraysters had candidates: "issues," "soulmate," "network," "respite," "dysfunctional." We'd ask, "What's your take on this?" but Janet wants that banned, too.