Ebor Lectures

The Ebor Lectures 2020

2020 Vision: Sharpening our Focus


Anyone who has had an eye test with an optician will probably have heard of the term 2020 vision, even if they don’t actually know what it means. 2020 vision is in fact the term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet. So, if you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance. If you have 20/100 vision, it means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with ‘normal’ vision can see at 100 feet. All sorts of factors affect the clarity or sharpness of our vision, but if our vision deteriorates from 20/20 vision for whatever reason, it’s possible for this to be corrected in many instances by the use of spectacles or contact lenses. How and what we see is, in this case, a matter of seeing – literally – with and through the correct lens.

There’s a well-known proverb in the Bible that runs as follows: ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29:18). The notion of seeing clearly, therefore, is an important spiritual, theological, philosophical, political, sociological, psychological, moral and intellectual matter. Without vision, without constantly seeking to sharpen our focus, we stumble around in confusion. Our vision is, of course, shaped by all sorts of things: our conditioning, the culture in which we grow and develop, our education, our experience of being part of the establishment or of being excluded, the belief structure we inherit or choose, poverty and so much more. Sharpening our focus requires that we give our attention to how others see the world, that we listen to what they have to say, that we become aware of our own prejudices and seek to see more clearly. 

The year 2020 marks a significant opportunity to sharpen our focus, to look again and see what we might have missed, and to see what is before us now as well as in the future. This year’s series of lectures invites us to look afresh and with greater urgency, perhaps, at the major issue facing us in our own time: climate change. Close on the heels of this, after the years of wrangling over the UK’s relationship with the European Union, space will be provided to address the ‘what now’ after Brexit and see what the future might look like. Looking back at the years of apartheid in South Africa will encourage us to reflect on this appalling blind spot in the history of humanity. And the launch night of the Festival of Ideas held at York Minster, in which we’re delighted to be a partner, will help to forge a new vision, in which barriers and pigeon-holes are transcended in an imaginative and exciting event drawing together the European Space Agency, specially commissioned music and climate scientists. Now if that doesn’t whet your appetite, what will?


Wednesday 1 April 2020 (Cancelled)

Professor Tim Gorringe 


Thursday 11 June 2020 (Cancelled)

Peter Ludlow


Thursday 17 September 2020 (Cancelled)

Dr Celia Deane-Drummond 


This free series of lectures aims to promote a conversation between theology and public issues, and to contribute to the creation of personal and collective decision making in economic, political and social spheres. Speakers range from leaders in their fields to those with an important story to tell. The lectures provide people with an opportunity to engage with current issues such as politics, economics, contemporary culture, religion, spirituality, and globalisation. The Ebor lectures offer a space for dialogue between theology and a range of communities such as educational institutions, public interest groups, religious groups and anyone with an interest in contemporary issues within society.

The Ebor Lectures is an ecumenical project jointly organised by York Minster, York St John University, The Order of CarmelitesThe Yorkshire North and East District of the Methodist Church and The C. & J. B. Morrell Trust.

View all previous lectures in our Lecture Archive.

Ebor Lecture Series

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