Essays on traditions

Among some of the other younger musicians, there has been a movement to bring back the old songs and the acoustic small band sound, proving that the more traditional styles are still vital. One such band which is gaining a large and varied following is Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. Steve has studied the styles of his mentors, accordionist Marc Savoy and fiddler Dewey Balfa. He maintains the traditional style of playing accordion and fiddle which he loves and appreciates. Always joined by a top notch band that shares his belief that "quality plus tradition can't be improved upon," Steve Riley is a good example of the future of Cajun music.

  . . an epidemic broke out, a sickness of pustules. It began in Tepeilhuitl. Large bumps spread on people; some were entirely covered. .[The victims] could no longer walk about, but lay in their dwellings and sleeping places, . . And when they made a motion, they called out loudly. The pustules that covered people caused great desolation; very many people died of them, and many just starved to death; starvation reigned, and no one took care of others any longer.

Excerpt and illustration from Sahagún, Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España , c. 1575-1580; ed., tr., James Lockhart, We People Here: Nahuatl Accounts of the Conquest Mexico (Univ. of California Press, 1993)
More astonishing than the difference between the length of the lists of Old World's and New World's domesticated animals is the difference between the lengths of the lists of infectious diseases native to the two. The New World had only a few, possibly because humans had been present there and had lived in dense populations, cities, for a short time compared to the Old. Possibly of greater importance is the relative lack of domesticated herd animals in America, one of our richest sources of disease micro-organisms. (For instance, we share influenza with pigs and other barnyard animals).

An essential feature of religious experience across many cultures is the intuitive feeling of God's presence. More than any rituals or doctrines, it is this experience that anchors religious faith, yet it has been largely ignored in the scientific literature on religion.

"... [Dr. Wathey's] book delves into the biological origins of this compelling feeling, attributing it to innate neural circuitry that evolved to promote the mother-child bond...[He] argues that evolution has programmed the infant brain to expect the presence of a loving being who responds to the child's needs. As the infant grows into adulthood, this innate feeling is eventually transferred to the realm of religion, where it is reactivated through the symbols, imagery, and rituals of worship. The author interprets our various conceptions of God in biological terms as illusory supernormal stimuli that fill an emotional and cognitive vacuum left over from infancy. 

These insights shed new light on some of the most vexing puzzles of religion, like:

Essays on traditions

essays on traditions


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