An internationally known writer, producer, professor and religious scholar visited the UO this month to deliver a talk on religion, identity, and the future of America to a packed room of more than 600 people.
Reza Aslan's lecture was the first in the Oregon Humanities Center's "Humanities" series, which is exploring multiple perspectives on "the humanities" as traditionally understood — through fine arts, literatures and languages, philosophy, religion and classics — as well as on various and varied aspects of human experience and humanness.
While in Eugene, Aslan also appeared on an episode of campus talk show UO Today to discuss the roots of his scholarly work, the relationship between religion and identity, and what gives rise to religious fundamentalism.
"Faith and religion are not the same thing. Faith is ineffable, it's mysterious, it's highly individualistic," Aslan explained on an episode that aired Oct. 20. "Religion is the language that one uses to express faith. It's a means through which an individual can communicate the almost inexpressible experience of faith to other people who understand the language."
Aslan is the author of the best-selling books "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" and "No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam," as well as a producer on a variety of television programs and documentary series.
The next lecture in the "Humanities" series will be delivered Feb. 9 by Vijay Gupta, a violinist and founder of Street Symphony, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing performance music to people experiencing poverty, homelessness and incarceration.