On Tuesday 5 December 2017, Humanities 21 Members and guests gathered in the home of Humanities 21 committee member Peter McLennan, and enjoyed the hospitality of he and his lovely wife, Mary Ruth. The bubbles were flowing and nibbles were abundant as Humanities 21 members and guests mingled in the McLennan’s beautiful home. Barry Jones kicked off the evening’s entertainment with his reading of two Australian poems by much-loved poet, the late John Clarke. ‘A Child’s Christmas in Warrnambool’ and ‘To a Howard’ made us laugh, particularly since Barry attempted a thick Scottish accent to read the latter. He reminded us however that parody carries a sting in the tail, and left us with food for thought.

John Clarke’s poetry was followed by Jasmine Shaw’s performance of her original Homeric poem, based on her studies of the Odyssey. This talented year 8 student was the winner of the Humanities 21 Homer Competition: poetry division, and she certainly wowed our audience with her creativity and confidence – not to mention her vocabulary! Jasmine’s performance was followed by that of the winner of the Humanities 21 Homer Competition: matchbox division. Another brilliant year 8 student, Gila Bloch created a colourful and detailed matchbox based on her own original Homeric poem. It contained grains of sand and an origami lotus flower – we collectively envied her dexterity! Click here to view Gila’s matchbox, read Jasmine’s poem, and view other entries from the Humanities 21 Homer Competition.

One of our most in-demand speakers from the Humanities 21 corporate lecture series, Dr Matthew Laing, left a lasting impression on us all in his presentation ‘Martin Luther, Modernity, and the True Meaning of Christmas.’ 500 Christmases ago, Luther pinned his 95 Theses to a Church door (or so the story goes) and set in motion a religious revolution that would forever change world history. Luther’s discomfort with religious practices in the Roman Catholic Church was rooted in his dislike of ostentation. His mission was to marry religious practices with sincere faith, and Matt’s presentation reminded us all how we can bear this in mind at Christmastime. Thank you Matt for reminding us that kindness, love, and generosity of spirit are more valuable than anything we’ll find under the Christmas tree.