The purpose of this book is to give visitors an aesthetic and dramatic encounter with some of the important words spoken from the pulpit at St Mary’s Church, Oxford.
Quote from William Temple, Archbishop of York
This book is a fixture at St Mary's Church, Oxford showing six extracts from significant sermons turned into calligraphic artworks by Kirsten Burke, each with its own double page spread in the book.
John Keble , Assize Day Sermon 14 July 1833
Through the sermons given from this pulpit, St. Mary’s contributes to the intellectual life of the University as well as its spiritual welfare. The church has been redesigned to include work such as this book of sermons. This book has a calligraphic piece on each page designed by Kirsten Burke, from the words of famous sermons given here in the past .
"The point really to be considered is, whether, according to the coolest estimate, the fashionable liberality of this generation be not ascribable, in a great measure, to the same temper which led the Jews voluntarily to set about degrading themselves to a level with the idolatrous Gentiles? And, if it be true anywhere, that such enactments are forced on the Legislature by public opinion, is APOSTASY too hard a word to describe the temper of that nation?" John Keble
Kirsten Burke turns Keble's sermon into a piece of modern calligraphy. Using the negative space of Roman capitals to look like stained glass windows, she adds a scratchy calligraphic scrawl over the top to symbolise unrest.
"We used to have universities in South Africa reserved for whites. The entry qualification was not academic ability but a biological irrelevance. Let’s say...the quality that determined whether you could enter was size of nose. If you had a small nose and you wanted to attend the university for large noses only, then you would have to apply to the Minister of Small Nose Affairs for permission to attend the Large Nose University. One does not have to take a God's-eye perspective to see that this is absolutely and utterly ridiculous." Desmond Tutu
The book's layout
Alternating with the sermon quotations are interpretive pages which provide brief information about the key speakers, their connection with St Mary's and the specific relevance or impact of their words.
Rowan Williams detail
"A student at the university may be working at Modern Languages, Biochemistry, Business Studies or Media Studies; but…he or she ought above all to be developing a vigorous sense of good argument and of the risks in the public sphere of shoddy and manipulative language…They should be developing a skeptical eye for the demagogue, the columnist, the campaigning obsessive, for those who dogmatize beyond their proper skills – and so yes, of course, for the preacher too." Rowan Williams
Wisdom and Innocence
"May He support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done! Then in His mercy may He give us safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last!"
John Henry Newman, 19 February 1843
The Weight of Glory
"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals, whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."