Woman holds beer and phone in each hand and looks upward.

Logan’s Heathen Church: Mind-Blowing Science and Beer


“Let me grab my beer so we can bless the sacrament!” says event organizer Lyndi Perry as she raises her glass to toast the 40+ locals attending Heathen Church on Monday, April 22, at The Owl in Logan, Utah. The crowd responds to Perry’s toast with a hearty “AMEN!” as they proceed to clink glasses with one another. The topic for this week’s discussion was “Recent Geology: How Floods, Earthquakes and Volcanoes Shaped Cache Valley.”

When entering The Owl that evening, a place that Perry affectionately calls “The Last Dive Bar in Logan,” I was surprised to see the large crowd mingling amongst themselves before the event began. The front room has a large, church-like setting, perfect for a big gathering. I was able to take a seat amongst the other attendees and get acquainted while a server came around to collect our drink and food orders. I could immediately feel the positive, friendly vibes from those around me. Whether people came on their own or showed up in groups, a feeling of inclusion and excitement was in the air. 

People gathering around a woman speaking at a bar.
Dr. Susanne Jänecke discusses geology in Cache Valley for Earth Day. Photo: Dominic Jordon.

So, what exactly is a heathen? And why “Heathen Church”? A heathen is defined by what they are not—someone who is not a member of the dominant religion, often meant as a disapproving name for non-religious outcasts. Heathen Church has become a place for people to connect in the Logan community and learn about the wonderful culture of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in Utah.

 Perry welcomed the crowd and gave a quick introduction for the speaker of the evening, Dr. Susanne Jänecke, who would be discussing geology in Cache Valley—a perfect Earth Day topic. Jänecke is a professor in the Geology Department at Utah State University and specializes in regional tectonics. Listening to Jänecke discuss her passion in life was nothing short of amazing. Even though I had no previous knowledge of the subject, I was able to learn fascinating information and found myself drawn to the devotion that Jänecke has given to her life’s work. 

 After the event, I had the privilege to speak with Perry herself and discuss the journey of Heathen Church. As the former STEM Coordinator for Craft Lake City, Perry realized how much culture and beauty surrounds STEM. “Science at its best is very creative, but we don’t talk about that part because it’s hidden behind years of education and all this technical information you have to have,” she explains. By hosting Heathen Church, she and others are able to showcase amazing things in the science world, while creating a non-threatening environment for the community to learn and participate in. 

 Perry told me about a Logan Facebook group called “Cache Valley Heathens,” for which the main purpose is to provide a safe, accepting environment where people can meet and build friendships. She explains that the main complaint in the group is that there isn’t much to do in the Logan area. Perry’s hope is to bring people together where they can feel a sense of belonging and make new friends along the way. “It’s hard to take the risk, but I can take that risk. I can be the one to create that space for people,” she says. Choosing The Owl as the location seemed like a no-brainer as we talked about how far the establishment has come. “The new management is really having a great effect. They are really turning it around!” says Perry as she happily describes her more recent experiences at The Owl compared to those from her college days. So far, Heathen Church has been a total hit and many have shown up to support.

Woman smiles while holding a glass of beer.
Heathen Church showcases amazing things in the science world, while creating a non-threatening environment for the community to learn and participate in. Photo: Dominic Jordon.

At the first edition of Heathen Church on March 25, neuroscientist Emmett Speed brought a real human brain Attendees discussed ways in which they have learned about themselves while studying cadaver brains. Another previous presenter was Jordan Leary, who studies graphic design and game design. They opened up the world of AI, discussing not only the technical side but the human side. “We got the very human side of what AI is doing—it’s not the worst thing. If it allows more people to be creative, that’s awesome!” says Perry as she gives me a short reflection from the previous events. 

 Up next for Heathen Church is presenter Ryan Burke, an engineer whose mission is to create more inclusive literature reviews that are accessible to all. How does he do this? Through comic books! It’s all about breaking boundaries and testing the limits for Heathen Church presenters. Burke will be presenting on May 6. 

 For more information on upcoming events, check out The Owl‘s Instagram page @the_owl_logan where they post weekly information about who will be presenting and what topic they’ll discuss. To quote what Perry said best, “Church is over—heathens go home!” 

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Bar Nohm: Setting the Bar High in Central 9th
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