CLAS 3305 Sample Journals
My intent here is to allay your fears about this first journal due the last day of September. These are parts of sample first journals from previous years. I have no template in my mind as to what you should offer. Make it interesting. Make it real. Write it well.
I have always had at least a passing interest in myths and ancient history.
I can remember going through English class in high school. We would spend
about 2 or 3 weeks out of the term focusing on Greek mythology, but not much
else. Even though I had always been interested in learning more about
ancient history, I didn’t really have much of an avenue to do that through
until this past Spring when I was selecting my courses to take this year.
The Classical Studies classes caught my eye right away. Many of the classes
looked interesting to me. This particular one would give me an opportunity
to study not only Ancient Greece, but also the history of humanity itself.
I had dabbled a little bit with Ancient Egypt before. Brief stories about
Babylon had been told to me so many years ago, I don’t remember most of them
now anyway. It almost pains me to admit that my knowledge of the Stone Age,
or I guess now I should call it the Paleolithic Age, is mostly limited to
what I have seen on a TV screen. So when I read that I could get a more
in-depth background in all of these things and more, with a whole school
year to soak it all in, I jumped on it right away.
Even in the first lecture, I already found myself feeling like I’m learning
things that I didn’t know before. Do you really want to know how bad it
was? The word “ Sumer ” was something completely new to me. If you were to
ask me before our first lecture who the first human civilization was, I
would have had no clue. So as interested as I was in getting a brief
introduction to Sumer , I was even more surprised to learn how similar a lot
of their concepts and ideas were to ours today. I suppose the Sumerian
proverbs were the most obvious example of this. The one that made me laugh
the most was “The wife is a man’s future; The son is a man’s refuge; The
daughter is a man’s salvation; The daughter-in-law is a man’s devil.” I was
reading that and thinking, “Here we (humans) are. We barely have our first
civilization and we’re already taking shots at the in-laws!” Hey, maybe I’m
reading that wrong, but that’s what it looked like to me.
Learning about the different archaeologists in the second lecture was very
useful to me too, because most of those names I had not heard before. It’s
always interesting to know who or what originated all of this stuff we talk
about every week, and even all this stuff in our everyday lives. Whether
it’s Sumer coming up with the first ever language as we know it, or Napoleon
spear-heading a movement to search out Ancient Egypt that is still going
today, the idea of knowing where we came from has a tendency to peek my
curiosity to say the least.
One thing that I have found to be rather useful so far is the common links
between all of my classes. My Straight Thinking & Argument class, even
though you already know this, has already been teaching more about critical
thinking and looking at sources of information objectively. I’m finding
this skill to be particularly useful in this class simply because we’re
studying times from before history was actually being recorded. I want to
make sure that what I’m reading is from a source I can trust. In my English
class, we have been doing critical reading of the Bible, more specifically
the creation stories. My Astronomy class has been going over the Big Bang
theory and how our planet came to be, moving onto the first signs of life on
Earth, through the Ice Age, all the way up to today. All of my classes seem
to be tying together, which I guess works out rather well for me. I wish I
could tell you it was my brilliant foresight that allowed me to do this, but
then I’d be lying.
September 16, 2002
After attending our first class last week I am intrigued by the course outline. Many of the concepts explored during class relate to questions that I face during my working day. What does it mean to live a good life? Is there purpose to my life? Without my wife/husband/child can my life have meaning?
I am employed in pastoral care with ***********. My work with the dying and the bereaved explores these thoughts almost everyday as the people that I visit try and redefine their lives in the face of loss. Not only loss through death but also the day by day loss as illness robs people of their freedom, mobility, finances, status and future. I say that I work in pastoral care but I am not comfortable with the term—work, it infers that I have a task to perform, that I can go to someone’s home and fix their problem. I cannot. My visits with the dying and bereaved are more of a shared journey. I listen while people tell their stories; the most important thing I have learned is that there is great power in story.
The people I visit teach me of dignity and of grace. You spoke of rituals and myth providing an anchor, of being a means to prove that you are alive. Is it their strong sense of shared myth that gives the people I visit the grace that many of my own generation (I will be 50 in January) seem to lack?
I am both excited by and fearful of what I may discover as we continue this course. After our first class I have some questions that scare me:
What makes Christian mythology any more ‘real’ than other belief systems?
Will people look back on our era and shake their heads at our naivete?
Is my faith something I cling to because to abandon hope is too frightening?
I would like to think that my faith is motivated by love rather than being a fear response. I have the feeling that the next few weeks will pose more questions for me than will be answered, but that is okay. I want to know why I believe what I believe.
September 30, 2002
Two statements jumped out at me during last week’s class:
If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him
Laws carved in marble couldn’t shelter men
From the song Magic is Alive
Between these statements and all the information regarding the organized use of religion to control behaviour and validate political power my mind is in turmoil. I question why I profess to be a Christian. What is the real motivation behind my weekly attendance at worship? I have for many years drawn comfort from my church ‘family” which provides friendship and support and like most families also frustration. Am I there to worship or to belong to a group? If it were only to belong to a group perhaps membership in a health club would free up my weekends and improve my well-being.
I found the song played during class hauntingly beautiful. I believe that there is a truth spoken in the line I quoted above. Both religion and law seek to control and protect mankind, but neither can do so in and of themselves. Both systems only work if they gain the respect and loyalty of those they purpose to benefit. But in the end it is not the courts and the church that are needed for justice and peace, but the education of mankind so that we can live without fear, for fear is the root of most pain and suffering.
I find it amazing how many different religions there actually are, and how each has progressed over time. Religion is something that I find necessary in society in order to give people hope, as well as something to look forward to in the afterlife. I often wonder what the afterlife might be like, and how each one of us will be greeted when we die. That is why I enjoyed learning about Zoroastrianism, firstly because it has been influenced by Christianity and Judaism, and secondly because I am Christian and feel that I may be able to relate, to some degree to this particular religion. I find Zoroastrian dualism very interesting because it includes interesting aspects that can be applied to our everyday life. This includes being able to have free will-choosing from what is right and wrong, battling between good and evil, as well as how one finally judged. I think that final judgment somewhat relates to Christianity because eventually everyone dies and they are judged through their actions and what they have done during the course of their life. There are times when people I know try and judge others, and I just tell them that there is no sense in judging them because only God is the final judge. So if someone has wrong doings in this life, they will be taken care of in the next.
Another religion that I found interesting to learn about was Buddhism. I think that the concepts followed by a Buddhist, such as the four noble truths and the eightfold path, would help someone to become a better person if these were actually followed. In my first year religion course, I learnt about many different religions and felt that it was beneficial to me in the long run because I felt that with the information I learnt I could apply it to other courses, as well as apply it to my everyday life. The same thing goes for this course; I am able to take information from my first year religion course and apply it to this one to some degree.
Although many people study religion, and follow various religions, there are others that feel that the importance of religion is declining and society is totally moving away from religion. This is true to an extent because religious values are no longer emphasized in daily routines, like in the past. For example, earlier in the 20 th century prayer was apart of morning opening exercises in the elementary schools and now it has been taken out due to conflicting views-society was becoming more secularized at this time in history.
I also found Mesopotamian religion and outlook interesting to learn about. There were many different gods during this period that all had names for heaven, earth, air and water, which I find very intriguing because people today do not even think twice about these everyday aspects. Religion during this time seemed extremely important, especially since private devotion and ethical behaviour was important in everyday life. I find that I can somewhat relate to this aspect of Mesopotamian society, due to the fact that my family is extremely religious. I was brought up in a family where I was required to go to church every Sunday, pray before meals and before going to bed, pray the rosary, and read the bible all on a daily or weekly basis. When I was younger I did not appreciate religion as much as I do today. However, as I became older I became interested in a lot more aspects of religion. Today, I enjoy studying different religions, and am intrigued to learn more about the Bible. Another part of Mesopotamian religion that I find interesting is the Code of the Hammurabi that was established during the Babylonian Empire. This code seems to relate a great deal to the Ten Commandments; it is interesting to note how through out history different societies have different codes, commandments and laws, but they all seem to somehow relate to one another.
Taking this course has made me realize that ancient people in previous ages had a lot of the same religious views, and as society progresses these views were just expanded, and changed. I think that if religion is an on going aspect in our everyday lives, society would not be as corrupted as it is today, and the world would be a better place to live in.
September 10, 2002
Classics 3305 is the first classics course that I have participated in. I choose the course because I am able to obtain a religion credit. I had not put much thought into what the course would have to offer me until I had time to reflect on the first class.
have been told many stories about the ancient east from various people,
though I never seemed to pay close attention. I found myself confused
and frustrated with the almost unimaginable time periods and the names
that seem so difficult to pronounce. As I listened to the course agenda
being outlined it began to become clearer. I began to realize that the
connection to religion and the Bible was extensive. I was able to make
immediate connections with other classes that I have participated in,
both recently and in the past. I remember learning a small amount of mythology
as far back as early high school. We did studies of various Gods and Goddess.
More recently, the different religion courses that I have taken here at
Nipissing have provided me with knowledge of mythological stories, accounts
and theories. Women and Religion/ Gender and the Bible provided me with
knowledge of mythological goddess that had a profound effect on the stature
of women in religion and more specifically the Bible.
that I have had time to reflect on the first lecture the confusion and
frustrations that I once felt have dissipated. I realize now that the
content of this course is so widely related to my many other areas of
study. I have come to realize that the material that is learned in this
course will be useful in both English and other religious studies.
When I saw that this course would count towards my religion teachable, I did not hesitate to take it. Although I have never taken a course in Classics before, I knew the content would relate to other classes I have taken. As a sociology major, I can see how the evolution of societies affect man in his existence today, especially through the development of technology. When we think of technology today, we think of computers and palm pilots, not tools made of stone. Without technology where would we be today? Who ever thought a spear made from a rock, or a bowl from pottery was a revolutionary invention? What would have happened if the first species on earth were as lazy as we are today? Would they have even survived the forces of Mother Nature? These are questions that would inevitably effect our society today. Technology is constantly evolving and has helped advance society in many different areas, one being efficiency. At the same time though ! technology is destroying modern society. With the development of guns, bombs and dangerous gases, many countries live in fear.
If our doubly wise counterpart were as lazy as man is today, their chances for survival would have been minimal. Therefore, by adapting to the different conditions that they endured, man was able to evolve. Another aspect that was evident in the Neolithic age that is evident in society today is the class system. There were those who were prosperous through farming and those who were not. Those that were prosperous had food and survived, and those
who did not have food or resources died of starvation. In today’s system according to the conflict perspective there are two classes: the bourgeoisie are the upper class, they own the means of production and then the lower class also known as proletariats who are the labourer. There is a constant struggle between the two classes according to Karl Marx. This suggests that the different levels of stratification have always been a part of our society.
Through my women’s studies courses, I have noted that women always struggled for an existence the same or equal to men. For thousands of years women were second class to men and this seemed that way from the beginning. As I read through the chapters of Dunstan, I am astonished to see the role women played in these societies. Women were not always second class; sometimes they played equal roles to men especially in the paleolithic age. So only in the years after the Neolithic era did the status of women decline. This in turn brings me back to the beginning of creation, and the story of Genesis. This theory states that women were created for man, by man and out of the rib of man. Well, if this is true than there seems to be no way the genders would be equal. Women would have been slaves for men.
One theory that I find very interesting is the theory of evolution and natural selection. Charles Darwin developed this theory with evidence that our skull and facial features were similar to apes. He theorized that our species went through a similar evolution process as other animals. However, because the church did not appreciate his theories they saw his work as the work of Satan. This is where I again disagree with the church. Why is someone who discovers something worth studying seen as working in connection with the devil? Darwin also saw that humans developed their social behaviour from apes in hopes of survival, and as society progress these behaviours changed to adapt into society.