Cathedral Conference Delegates Consider Navigating Uncertain Times
The North European Cathedral Conference is currently taking place in Lund in southern Sweden. The conference is back after a hiatus – the last NECC took place in Dublin in 2019. The conference, which runs from Tuesday February 6 to Friday February 9, is being attended by Archbishop Michael Jackson and the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral Dermot Dunne. The conference invites contemplation against a backdrop of global uncertainty. The theme for 2024 is ‘Living with Uncertainty’ and those attending are exploring together ways to navigate an ever evolving world by sharing insights and experiences. Here Archbishop Jackson reflects on the second day of the NECC.
The second day began with a celebration of The Eucharist in the cathedral. The preacher brought us back to the opening of St John’s Gospel and described life and light as the ground of our being, with the image of St John flying as an eagle through time and space.
We proceeded to the Kulturen Museum. The Director outlined for us how the Museum had blazed a trail in urban archaeology. Two lectures followed. One was by Christine Wamsler, Professor of Sustainability Science at Lund University, the other by Josefine de Gregorio, Literary Scholar and Author. The former spoke of our current times being a VUCA world, characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. She went on to speak of our tendency to externalize the problems facing us in a world under significant threat and thereby to disempower ourselves in the face of them.
She encouraged us to create a new understanding of the inner qualities required to break the vicious cycle of defeatism by establishing inner development goals. The latter described herself as living with OCD and offered to us the need for narrative coherence in maintaining mental health in order to facilitate functionality. She went on to say that storytelling is an antidote to uncertainty. She substantiated what she said by references to Holy Scripture.
The afternoon offered a range of workshops. It was possible to attend two. I attended one entitled: Blessings and Burdens, Cathedral perspective on diaconal work in uncertain times. This gave us a perspective on the response of the cathedral along with the Roman Catholic Parish of St Thomas to caring for Ukrainian refugees in the city of Lund. The second was entitled: The Cathedral, a treasure chest for learning and hope. It explained the outreach of the cathedral to schools and to other groups in terms of delineating the history of the cathedral across nine centuries by historical characters played by actors.
The day finished with a lecture on the topic of unfinished literature and how it draws in and holds its readership, given by the author and literary critic Kristoffer
Leandoer. This complemented the sense the people of Lund have that the cathedral is never finished and is always growing. This left me with a very powerful sense of the affection for and loyalty to the cathedral felt by the people of Lund to their cathedral along with their pride in it.