Posted by: loveleigh | May 7, 2010

A Guide to Event Planning

Over the course of the semester I have learned many valuable tools and tips in the area of event planning. I have made a slideshow of my final reflections, in a how to guide format.

Posted by: loveleigh | July 21, 2009

Final Reflection

Over the course of the semester I’ve enjoyed our class field trips. It was great to get out of the classroom and still have a learning experience. Some of the field trips I didn’t find very relevant to the material in class, but some of my favorites were Kilmainham Gaol and Ardmore.

Visiting Kilmainham is one of my favorite things we did in that whole Dublin weekend. Researching it beforehand was very beneficial to me because our tour guide would go over the same historical facts but then he also told many personal stories that added to the historical background. Seeing the actual cells where the major political leaders were held was incredible. It was even more powerful to see where the 1916 Easter rising leaders were executed and to hear all their personal stories. I really thought this field trip paralleled with our discussion of social control.

Ardmore was more of a spiritual experience. While walking St. Declan’s walk i was able to experience the emotional and spiritual connection that this place had to Irish history. I loved all the myths about St. Declan’s rock and St. Declan’s well and I thought those went along perfectly with Durkheim’s discussion of totems, Especially how society makes the symbol more sacred than the object itself.

Class field trips are great,  for me the best part of this entire experience was experiencing the Irish culture by travelling on my own on the weekends. The weekends at Dublin, Killarney, Galway, and the Wicklow Mountains are trips I will never forget. I don’t think they had much to do with the material we covered in class, but they were major eye openers to the beauty of Ireland. My favorite place was the Wicklow Mountains. We went to Glendalough and hiked a portion of the Wicklow Gap and the scenery was breath-taking. I also got a great sense of accomplishment from hiking up the mountain, which wasn’t easy at all, but the view and the emotional feeling I got at the top was incredible. Another great experience I had was when we were in Dublin we went out to the Blue Light pub which was outside of Dublin. The people there were incredibly friendly and called the pub a ‘true dub pub’ which meant it was not a touristy place like Temple Bar. Before the trip everyone told me that I would learn the most about the irish culture from the pubs, and that was definitely true about this place. I learned so much from just talking to the locals.

Overall I thought the program did a good job trying to take us to sites that related to our course material, but i do realize it is hard to organize field trips with a group as large as ours. I feel Study Abroad is what you make of it and I feel that our directors and professors tried their best to make it fun learning experience for us. I do feel that this has been one of the best experiences of my life and have loved every minute of it.

Posted by: loveleigh | July 20, 2009

Soci 3950: Participation Observation Assignment

While in Ireland I have observed many different types of classes, ethnicity’s and genders, but they all seem to be revolve their lives around religion. Since we are studying in Ireland I thought it would be appropriate to attend a catholic mass at the Franciscan Friary in Waterford. This mass was held on Sunday at 12:15 in the afternoon. The demographics of the attendees were what I expected; mostly Caucasian males and females in their late 50’s and older. Out of about 50 attendees only a few families with small children where there. Everyone seemed to be middle class and dressed casually nice. I thought it was interesting the older men and women dressed up a more whereas the younger generations wore jeans and sweater. I wore a dress and cardigan with sandals and felt a little overdressed for my age. From the outside the friary looked plain and boring, but inside a combination of the vaulted ceilings and colorful paints I got a completely different feeling. I couldn’t help but stare forward towards all the colorful walls and stain glass windows. Wooden pews filled this massive sanctuary and everyone seemed to sit on the outside of pews, so it was a little awkward trying to ask people to slide in or move so we could get in the middle. Biblical scenes lined the walls of the sanctuary and an ornate statue of the crucifixion was at the front on the left hand side. All the pews had cushioned kneeling sections, but there were no bibles or hymns for people to follow along with. Throughout the ceremony I picked up on a few symbols used like the cup used for communion.

The mass was completed in 30 minutes, but I felt within those 30 minutes a lot of participation was involved.  The attendees recited many passages and sang about3 hymnals, and that’s when I realized why there weren’t any bibles or hymnals, every one of them knew the readings and hymnals by heart. It was really incredible to observe this, but it also made me feel awkward because everyone around me was reciting or singing and I didn’t know the words. I also noticed during the many prayers led by the priest, everyone kneeled and then they stood to recite a passage. It was pretty intense to watch all the kneeling and standing and sitting, it was also intimidating because I was constantly looking around trying to figure out what to do next. This part of the mass made me laugh a bit because it reminded me of the video Dr. McClure showed in class about the guy in the elevator who followed everyone else, I felt like that guy. Everyone seemed to know exactly when to stand, kneel, and sit without any direction from the priest and made me wonder if that was something they were specifically taught at young age or was it just one of those social rules they just knew, like how to stand in an elevator?

The one thing that did help me participate was the Sunday letter that was provided, and inside it had the responsorial psalm in which the priest says a line and underneath in bold indicates what the audience is supposed to say.  This pamphlet also had the creed which was recited at the end; it even indicated when the audience was supposed to bow, which was nice. The priest did two readings, the first one from Jeremiah. This was a very powerful reading in which in the prophet Jeremiah is angry at the Sheppard’s for allowing his flock to be destroyed and scattered. He talks of the power of the lord and it is he who speaks. The second reading was from Ephesians and was kind of the opposite of the first reading. This one talked of the lord destroying hostility and he brings peace to man. The priest’s main message was about the commandments and how as a society we should follow the injunctions of the lord to obtain peace of mind. I felt that this sermon was teaching that the only way to become free and have comfort of consciousness is to be submissive to god.

During this sermon I was able to draw a parallel between it and Durkheim. I thought of Durkheim in the beginning because of his discussion of totems which were evident when I first walked into the church. Totems give us a sense of tangible holiness, something sacred we can see and touch. Even though Durkheim argues that it is society that gives these ‘sacred’ objects this power. I also thought his discussion of ‘moral ascendency’ fit well with this sermon because the priest is saying that God wants us love, respect, and for us to worship him. We respect the priest for his moral power and closeness to god so there is no questioning him or the lord. If the priest tells us this is what God wants, everyone believes him and will do as he says. You could definitely get this vibe from the attendees because during the part of the sermon many of them started kneeling, which was interesting to me because the only other time they kneeled was during prayer. So I could definitely get a sense of their respect and loyalty to the priest and also to God. Durkheim also addresses the shared rituals that make people feel a part of some external force bigger than themselves. This was evident to me with the repetition of prayers, standing, kneeling, and singing, if you are not a part of this congregation on a regular basis it is not easy to pick up the timing of these rituals, I experienced that first had. So these rituals bring this particular congregation together making them feel like an external force is guiding them which creates a sense of bonding where people begin to experience their faith and associate the rituals with it. However Marx points out that what creates these ties is society, not God. According to Marx, man makes religion not the other way around so God does not create these rituals, man does. This is the exact opposite of what I experienced at the service because the overall tone I recieved as we left was that congregation truly believes these rituals tie them to their faith and to God.

This experience and the past weeks of studying the role religion plays in society has opened my eyes to the Irish culture and to different cultures altogether. This has motivated me to get out of my comfort zone and experience as many different cultures as I can and observe how their religion affects their society. In Ireland and especially in the Fransican Friary it is evident that the bond between society and religion is very strong. This experience also has helped me understand the essential role religion plays in the daily lives of the Irish.

Posted by: loveleigh | July 20, 2009

Cahir Castle and Swiss Cottage Reflection

On tuesday we went to the Cahir Castle and Swiss cottage. At the Cahir castle we learned a lot about the castle defense strategies which was very interesting.  The Butler family put in a lot of careful thought into defending their castle.  This reminded me of Jonathan Swift’s Gullivers travels because the Liliputians use Gullivers as their own defense system ward off enemies. It kind of puts it into perspective that even though the book and Gullivers adventures are fictional, people are always defending themselves against enemies and use whatever resources they can to do that. The next place we went to was the Swiss Cottage. This house was also owned by the Butler family and i thought it was interesting because this small house contrasted with the huge castle we had just seen. So we were able to see two different sides of this family. One residence was huge and ornate and elegent whereas the swiss cottage was small and very intune with nature.

Posted by: loveleigh | July 15, 2009

Marx and Freud Questions


1. Why has the criticism of religion been completed in Germany?

Criticizing religion is a waste of time because it has already been done.

2. At the end of the search for the supernatural being, what does man find?

himself, his own reflection.

3. What are some phrases Marx usues to define religion?

inverted world conciousness”  “fantastic realization of the human being” ” man makes religion, religion does not make man”

4. Then what is truth?

Truth is what you make it to be because our reality is truth and perception is reality. so we are truth.

5. What dichotomies does Marx present in this passage?

that man is the world, the state, and society.

6. Compare and contrast Plato’s republic the cave.

Its more of a comparison because both Marx and Plato talk all about perception and being aware of your own reality.



1. What is the principle task of civilization?

to defend us against nature.

2. How does nature prove it is not easily vanquished?

by being uncontrollable, and that it can’t be changed by us.

3. With what persona does man associate nature? Why?

God or Evil

4. According to Freud, what is religion in light of psychology?

5. Would man arrive at religious conclusions on his own?

man as in society would arrive to religious conclusions on his own, but a man by himself would not.

6. Why the need for a relation, in this case father relation to nature, that is embodied in religion?

in nature people feel helpless, like a child. so they need that father-child relationship to be more confident.

7. What are three ascertains on which religion is defended?

8. What attempts have been made to evade the problem that religion does not make sense?

because they claim that religion is outside of reason. we behave as if we believe in those things even if we know they don’t make sense.

9. What can save us from these illusions and help us find the true reality that is outside ourselves?


10. Then what should determine morality, if religion is gone?

natural science and reason will provide a firm basis of morality if we didn’t have religion.



1. How has the notion of normal religious people been validated?

through social scientist.

2. What is rational choice?

cost benefit analysis and determining what the benefits are.

3. In terms of christianity, what are the cost benefits and ways to maximize net benefits?

the cost benefits are like being a part of the church just to benefit from the major events like christmas and easter events. but benefits of christianity are like internal salvation.

Posted by: loveleigh | July 15, 2009

SOCI 3950: Cashel Reflection

800px-RockOfCashelSummer1986I didn’t go to Cashel last week with the class but I did get a chance to go the week before with my literature class. Honestly, I struggled a lot with the Weber reading we had last week and haven’t fully grasped it yet, so I also struggled trying to find connections between Weber and The Rock of Cashel, but I’m going to try.  During my visit the Dean of Cashel, Reverend Dr. Knowles took us on a tour of the Bolton library and St. John the Baptist Cathedral. It was really interesting to get a tour of the protestant church because in class we discussed the question “why so many rich protestants?” and ironically this protestant church was very plain and not ornate. This was actually brought to my attention in class when a few girls who got a chance to see both the protestant and the catholic church in Cashel compared the two. But it was interesting to me because I do remember sitting in that church looking around thinking how plain it is. After the tour of the church we headed up to the Rock of Cashel and did the tour. During the tour I was overwhelmed by all the history that has taken place there and i found it difficult to remember all of it. Something I did find interesting though was secular to religious transition of the Rock of Cashel. It was first used for as a house, then it became a fort, and then it became a cathedral. and because of this transition I see why it is “used more for power than for prayer.”

Posted by: loveleigh | July 8, 2009

World Lit: Ardmore Reflection

dunlarge13On Tuesday the first stop we made was to the television station, Nemeton in Ring. This was a neat experience to see how this company is doing their part in trying to keep the Irish language alive. They dub mainly sport events in Irish and even some documentaries. After that we went to the little town of Ardmore. This was the second time i had been, but the weather turned out so much better this time. This is one of my favorite places because its right on the coast and just an all around laid back town. I really enjoyed having that time for myself during St. Declan’s  I really enjoyed learning about all the myths and stories that went with St. Declans rock and St. Declans well. Like if you could crawl underneath the rock backwards then you would never have back problems, but of course seeing the rock you realize that if anyone could fit underneath it they probably don’t have back problems in the first place. And supposedly if you drink the water from St. Declans well then you will have good health for the rest of your life.     The walk itself  along the coast had breath-taking scenery. I could kind of relate it to Othello because being surrounded by water I thought about how water is a recurring motif throughout the play. The end of the walk we ended up at the round tower and St. Declan’s oratory. I thought the walk was a good tribute to his life because it started at the St. Declan’s rock which is where he landed in Ardmore and started his life there and the walk ended at the place he was buried marking the end of his life. In between the beginning and end marked his life because there are the ruins left of where he lived and the amazing scenery he got to take in everyday. So I thought that was a pretty cool tribute to St. Declan. Overall I really enjoyed this town and would not mind going back a third time.

Posted by: loveleigh | July 8, 2009

SOCI 3950: Field Trip to Ardmore

stdeclansOn Thursday we went to the little town of Ardmore right on the coast. The day was misty and cloudy which i thought brought a good setting for walking St. Declans walk. I thought that the pilgrimage was a beautiful tribute to St. Declan’s life. We started the walk at St. Declan’s rock, which was where he first landed in Ardmore. The next site we came upon was St. Declan’s well, which supposedly has holy water that promises good health to anyone who drinks it. Also right next to the well is whats left of where St. Declan lived. The trail ultimately ended up at St. Declan’s oratory, where he was buried. so the beginning of our walk marked the beginning of his life at Ardmore and the end of our walked marked the end of his life, and the beautiful scenery in between marked how he lived. The walk is very meditative, so i can just image St. Declan as this calm and peaceful man. I can relate our trip to Durkheim by all the totems that were present in Ardmore. One example is St. Declan’s rock, in reality it is just a rock that washed up on the beach but because there is this story that goes with it, society makes it a sacred symbol for the town. There are even myths that involve the rock, like if you can crawl underneath it backwards you will be rid of back problems. but of course seeing the rock in person you realize that if you can fit underneath that rock backwards then you most likely don’t have back problems anyway. Another example is St. Declan’s well, which holds another myth of  having healing power if a person drinks the water from the well. In actuality the water probably does not have healing powers, but because society gave this symbol meaning it is now become this sacred totem. I feel like one of things Durkheim is saying is that the symbol of the totem is more meaningful than the object itself. Which is completely true at Ardmore, two of the totems are a rock and a well, which in and of itself is not meaningful, but because society as a whole made these two objects sacred they now have a meaning and even healing powers.

Posted by: loveleigh | July 2, 2009

Field Trip to Cashel


On Tuesday we went to the small town of Cashel. The first thing we did when we got there was go to the Bolton Library and the cathedral. I really enjoyed looking around in the library, its kind of mind blowing to think that some of those books are older than our country. This library is also the home to the smallest book in the world, which has the lords prayer in German. This was really neat to see. The Dean then gave us a tour of the Cathedral. I really liked him, he had a great personality and told some fascinating stories. I was really surprised that he let some of our group play the organ.

After hiking up the hill we went to the Rock of Cashel. The view from the top was incredible. We had an interesting tour of through the ruins. It was neat to have read the Confessions of Saint Patrick and then learn more history about him at the Rock. They even had St. Patrick’s rock which had a few silly myths tied to it, like if you hop around it counter clock wise on one foot nine times you will be married within a year. It was really interesting to be up there and learn even more history about St. Patrick.

Posted by: loveleigh | July 1, 2009

Soci 3950: week 2 reading response


Claffey: ch. 13

  • In this chapter Claffey compares an older Ireland from when he left to a newer Ireland he found when he returned. I really liked when he talked about his own faith on page 215 “I was not particularly close with church, nor was my family. we practised because everyone else practised but there was no emotional involvement with the church.” I found this really interesting because religion is a huge part of the Irish culture and it is evident everywhere I visit. But here is someone who has grown up in Ireland saying he and his family only went to church because everyone else did. It makes me wonder how many other families felt the same.

Inglis: ch. 3 in GI:SD

  • Something new I learned in this chapter is that the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day originated in Boston, I had always just assumed that since it celebrates the Irish, It originated in Ireland. Who knew it started in the US? I got really intrigued when Inglis starts talking about “the drinking irish” and the traditional irish pub. Being a college student I witness binge drinking all the time and often wonder the same question Inglis does about my generation “Why is drinking themselves into a stupor, anti-social behavior, mindless aggression and vandalism, the only way they celebrate?” I have no idea why we do this, but I have to agree with Inglis that the attration of getting completely obliterated is letting go and “becoming detached from over-involvement in the world.” He also makes a good point that our society likes to drink in groups of friends or colleagues buying each other drinks and also accepting drinks bought for them. Inglis states that this behavior is a ritual ” It can be seen as a form of ritual self-surrender to the group and, in this respect, as a religious ritual.” I think is a pretty intense statement, comparing getting drunk to something as sacred as a religious ritual.


  1. What is Durkheim’s purpose in arguing the totems are only symbols?  We give the symbols sacred meanings. But the symbol of the totem is more meaningful than the object itself.
  2. If the totems are only expressions, then what is the god?  God is society and society is God. God just like society sets limits and means of control.
  3. Compare society and god, how are they alike? society gives people social norms and so does god. religion and society are key methods of socialization by giving people limits like what is wrong and what is right.
  4. What is moral ascendency? Your intensity of respect for a person in charge and whether or not you do what you’re told by that person.
  5. What is the root of the unquestioning in action, this moral ascendency?  Fear and respect create a physical energy from your mental state, so your actions are a result of this energy.
  6. What is a source of authority? Opinion which is collective and social.
  7. What is the irony that science is thought to be the antagonist of opinion? Science has to provide reason and proof to have power but opinions only have to be collective and social to obtain power.
  8. What is a reason that the link between belief system and membership in society is important? a membership in a group makes you feel a part of something bigger than yourself.
  9. How does Durkheim explain why the Crusades occurred? Passions so intense that could only be expressed by violent means. Sensations were so strong that it gave them power and they believed that god was on their side so they were doing no wrong.
  10. What allows something to have moral power and from where does it originate? We value our beliefs and opinions which allow us to have moral power.
  11. Explain how kings and nobles had moral power that they did not posses in and of themselves? Society gave power to the nobility and upheld “sacred character.” You did not argue with your god and you did not argue with your society. thats just the way it was.
  12. What makes something sacred? and how is sacrilege committed? Something  like a symbol or object that society values can  be made sacred by public opinion. Sacrilege is committed by causing offense to god.
  13. How does a clan awaken within its members the idea of external forces wich dominate and exalt them? Through shared rituals a sense of collectiveness is found. During motivational speeches the members fuel each others beliefs by feeding off of each others emotions which can be very powerful and feel as though an external force is happening to you.
  14. How are these external forces thought of as totems? Totems represent a group or membership and this external force a that is felt is associated with the totem. So totems have powerful emotions attached to them.

Inglis: ch. 4 in GI:SD

  • In this chapter I was really interested when Inglis talked about Gaelic sports and thought that it related to our Durkheim readings. Sports are groups in which people become members and start to feel connected to society. The members of the GAA are very passionate about sports, this is evident everywhere you go in Ireland through colors and flags representing a certain county’s team. Each county has their own colors and totems, these things make members feel like they are a part of something more than themselves.

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