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A Sermon in Stone (clip 2)

The restoration of Iona Abbey

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1960s documentary with pithy narration tells the story of the origins of the Iona Community in Glasgow in the 1930s and the restoration of Iona Abbey. This film commences by bemoaning the secular nature of society in the 1930s and the need to bring humanity and spiritualism back to Glaswegian society. The answer they came up with was first to found the Iona Community in Glasgow, then recruit men and women to rebuild Iona Abbey with the support of shipbuilder James Lithgow. This fascinating second clip bemoans the cynical black and white world into which we must all go. It then turns into a polemical attack on arms spending and the moral madness of the Cold War and the Western World’s ‘I’m alright Jack’ mentality. Notable shots from this clip include: the cross from Iona Abbey; shocking footage of poverty in Govan; refugees in South East Asia shown in ill health; starving people in Africa; beggars in India; starving people fighting for food handouts; the navy on manoeuvres; montage of H-bomb nuclear bomb testing in Pacific; general views of workers in factories; a woman walks by advertising hoardings; a woman walks out of Polling station carrying her broom; ms Denis Healey as Labour candidate in Leeds election. The clip also uses a sound clip from a speech by Martin Luther King.

Questions & Activities


  • What has changed since 1966?
  • How do people protest against war? What can you do?
  • Have you ever been involved in a protest? What do people do to become involved? What protest groups do you know?
  • Who was the politician speaking at the beginning of the film?
  • Why is there such a level of poverty in the developing world and what economic systems perpetuate it?
  • Why have they chosen to put this second clip of the film in black and white as opposed to colour. How have they used archive footage?
  • What message are they portraying and is it successful?


Would the combined defence budgets of the world be able to feed it? Compare the desires of this film to Make Poverty History.

Are Christian principles the answer?

Debate different ideologies and how their solutions for world poverty.

Look at the choice of shots and the use of music. How does the film successfully convey its message?

Research what people mean by 'poverty'. We are concerned with poverty in Scotland -€“ have things improved? Have things improved in the third world?

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-002-069-C
Resource Rights Holder Courtesy of the Iona Community / National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 0473
Date 1966
Genre Documentary
School Subject Religious and Moral Education, Economics, Modern Studies
Subject Matter International Education, Citizenship
Who Lord Macleod of Fuinary (narrator), The Iona Community (sponsor/producer)
Where Iona
Event Construction, Building
Attributes Black and White, Colour, Sound
Clip Length 2:53
Film Length 34:13
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