Potpourri: Laughter, Cannibalism in Europe, Maria Doria Russell- God, Evil & Free Will, Why Does Music Affect Us?, Miles Davis & Theology

A Potpourri Today:
  • Why Do We Laugh?
  • Medical Cannibalism in Europe
  • On God, Evil & Free Will
  • Why Does Music Affect Us So Powerfully?
  • Miles Davis and Theology
  • -------
  • A big mystery: Why do we laugh? Contrary to folk wisdom, most laughter is not about humor. Read about it here.

  • The rhinoceros faces extinction partly because in Asia its horn, when ground into powder, is believed to promote virility, or act as an aphrodisiac. In Europe, a different species was once regarded as having curative powers. Consider this by Johann Schröder, a German pharmacologist, who wrote these words in the 17th century. His recipe was to cut the meat into small pieces or slices, sprinkled with "myrrh and at least a little bit of aloe" and then let it soak in wine for a few days. The meat specifically required was the "cadaver of a reddish man ... of around 24 years old." More in Spiegel.

  • Mary Doria Russell, a paleoanthropologist turned novelist has grappled with large moral and religious questions on and off the page--about God, evil, doubt, and free will. Listen at Speaking of Faith.

  • Why does music affect us so powerfully? Like language, are there universal interpretations of the emotions that various pieces of music expresses? Is it like art in that a community of appreciation gives its importance to us? Listen at Philosophy Talk

  • Jon Michael Spencer says that When he listens "to the cool jazz cuts on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue," he senses "that the music has something to do with the spiritual-realm." They aren't "like the bebop Davis was moving away from after a stint with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie 'Bird' Parker." Read at Theology Today. Look for January 1996 and "Miles Davis' Kind of Blue."
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