The wisdom of the ugly duckling

The wisdom of the ugly duckling

At the foot of Strandgade, Christianshavn, the old rococo church Christians Kirke opens its doors to international people who seek a deeper understanding of the Danish cultural heritage – and an exploration of perhaps the most difficult question of them all: what it means to be. a human

In the years of the golden age, one could hardly walk along the streets or walls of Copenhagen without passing by one great artist, thinker or writer one after the other! Time was a spiritual and intellectual melting pot, and new ideas and thoughts flowed into all questions of existence. But three great thinkers were especially important for the spiritual and religious flourishing of this time: HC Andersen, Søren Kierkegaard and Nicolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig.

These are the three great thinkers international citizens are invited to explore during a series of events in Christians Church, Christianshavn.

Pia Søltoft, pastor at Christians Kirke and host of each evening, explains the vision behind the concept and the rationale for highlighting these three great thinkers to an international audience who are eager to gain a deeper understanding of Danish culture. Read more about the event here.


Why are these three thinkers appointed to lay the foundation for the events of Christian Church?
C. Andersen, Kierkegaard and NFS Grundtvig are all essential for understanding Danish culture and our cultural heritage. This heritage is inseparable from Christianity and the role that the church and Christian values ​​play in the way we see and understand ourselves, even on an unconscious or unspoken level. From this perspective, it is only natural for the church to host a series of events that introduce these three thinkers to international citizens.

Can you give some examples of how each of these thinkers was influenced by Christian values ​​- and vice versa?
The world-famous fairy tales by HC Andersen always make an ethical point and spring from a religious way of thinking expressed in a new literary form. In addition, his writing has had a significant influence on what is considered morally good and bad in Danish society to this day. IN The ugly Ducklingfor example, we learn the message that intrinsic values ​​are what really counts. IN The Emperor’s New Clothes we are reminded that arrogant pride will be revealed and bring you down.

The pastor and the famous hymn poet NFS Grundtvig has undoubtedly had a great impact on the role that trust and community play in Danish society today. His influence on the folk high schools’ idea and concept and his legacy in Danish hymn writing is without comparison – just as his influence on the liturgy in the Christian worship service in Denmark and on the concept of the Danish national church itself.

Søren Kierkegaard’s views on individual choices and matters of faith have probably not shaped the general public consciousness as much as Andersen and Grundtvig. Globally, however, his works have greatly influenced how we – philosophically, religiously and existentially – think about human nature as well as the nature of anxiety and love. From Kierkegaard we have also learned about personal responsibility – and that faith and love are experienced in the same way: as throwing oneself into the water “70,000 arms deep”.

The wisdom of the ugly duckling
“The doors are open, and we can not wait to share this beautiful room with international citizens based in Copenhagen and beyond during the upcoming events,” says Pia Søltoft, pastor at Christians Church since December 2017

The concept combines short introductions with group discussions. Why?
During these evenings, we not only bring ideas and thoughts forward in the golden age. The concept itself also dates from that era. Back then, members of the esteemed part of society would gather around food and wine and share conversations – but not focus on personal and social issues. Instead, the focus of these conversations was specific topics that were pre-selected.

This concept has laid the foundation for the coming evenings in Christians Church. Here we will begin with an introduction to the work and heritage of that thinker. Each evening, we have invited a highly esteemed researcher to introduce us to the most important aspects of the thinker’s work and their biographical and historical background. The participants are then divided into small groups and asked to share their thoughts on a number of existential questions, selected in advance and handed out to them. It could be questions exploring the nature of free will, despair, sorrow, or love.

You have extensive experience hosting these types of events at Christians Church and other churches. What makes the concept and the location of the church go so well together?
Due to its unique and rare architectural style, Christians Church is ideal for this type of gathering. The galleries of individual seats invite to share one’s thoughts in a safe and almost homely atmosphere. After the group discussions, we gather for a light serving of cheese and wine in the open church room – and bring the different thoughts that are shared in the smaller groups out into the open.

But in addition to all the architectural features, the church offers a space for all the big questions in life – regardless of what religious observance one may have or not. The Danish National Church is characterized by a high degree of openness – and in Christians Church we hope to open the doors for international citizens not only for important parts of Danish cultural heritage, but also for the open space where we can all get a deeper understanding of who we are are like humans.

Source: The Nordic Page


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