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John Hull (1935-2015)

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 2 August 2015

John Hull, Emeritus Professor of Religious Education at the University of Birmingham, and our speaker at our Disability Conference weekend in 2013, died this week.

In many ways he articulated, through reflecting on his experience of his own blindness, the aspirations of our inclusion work here at St Martin’s.

To give a sense of what the kingdom gained and we had the chance to discover through him, here he is in his own words, describing his loss of sight.

‘It was a massive challenge to the imagination more than anything else. Because previously, as sighted people do, I had thought of God in terms of the imagery of light of which the Bible is so full. I hadn’t thought of God in terms of darkness. Strangely enough, losing my sight made me think very concretely about God and about life. My thinking became more picturesque, more vivid, more immediate, particularly as I began to challenge the visual imagery of our language and of scripture.

‘My relationship to God has become more intimate, but I had to overcome the sense that darkness is an alienating experience. I began to think of darkness as a time of intimacy, warmth, enclosure. It is in the darkness that we are with the ones we love and trust. Gradually, my image of Jesus Christ, my spiritual understanding of discipleship underwent a change as I fastened my imagination upon certain incidents in the life of Jesus, principally the blindfolded Christ.

‘I began to regard Jesus not as my sighted or powerful Lord, but as my blind brother, who leads me as one blind person leads another one. I felt close and sympathetic toward the blind Christ and that affected me.’

We salute a pioneer and mourn a friend.

Sam Wells