Astrid Lydia Johannsen
“I graduated from the University of Oregon in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies with extra focus on Greco-Roman history and culture. I’ve always wanted to try and understand why people are religious. I’ve questioned religion since I was a child, but it wasn’t until I attended university that I finally came out as an atheist. It was my doubt about religion which inspired me to study it in greater detail.”
July of this year will mark the ten-year anniversary of an experience which would alter my life forever. In 2002, I attended the Oregon Country Fair in Veneta, Oregon for the first time. I had no clue what to expect other than it would be filled with the unwashed hippies and sparkly-woo new-agers of Eugene. I was still living in Corvallis at the time, and was attending the Fair with the belly dance troupe I was in. While I had studied belly dance for about five years, I didn't actually do any dancing in the troupe. Instead, I was one of the musicians, playing the flute. We had been invited to perform, not at the Fair itself, but at one of the campgrounds along the lake. It was a sensuous experience with the pungent aromas of food carts, incense, and body odor; the visual cavalcade of wild costumes, painted faces and breasts, and glow sticks splattered on shirts; and the aural ambiance of music and drumming and dance. It was overwhelming.
Yesterday I watched an interview between Stephen Colbert and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Colbert has said that Dr. Tyson was one of his favorite guests on The Colbert Report, and the interaction between the two is always delightful for the audience. So it was particularly cool to see Stephen just being himself for this interview, and always cool to see Neil being very animated and excited when talking about science. If you have a moment, you should definitely give it a watch if you haven’t already. It’s available for viewing at Dr. Tyson’s blog at the Hayden Planetarium website.
I’m reading a book right now called “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism” by Bishop John Shelby Spong. It’s a fascinating read, and it has gotten me all geeked out once again (as though I ever stopped) about the origins and evolution of the Bible. Rational, skeptical folk know that the Bible didn’t spring fully formed from the forehead of Jesus in the first century. Its origins extend deep into the past to the tenth century B.C. via the oral traditions of the Hebrew tribes living in the middle east, and its evolution consists of the merging and compiling of these differing oral traditions along with an idealized retelling of Hebrew history.