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Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness (SPCK Classic) Paperback – 16 May 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: SPCK Publishing; SPCK Classic edition (16 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0281070733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0281070732
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 402,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'John Hull goes a long way toward taking us with him through his descent into total blindness . . . He lets us see with no trace of self-pity or self-praise how blindness has become for him a genuine acquisition, an unforeseeably rich gift that has made of him what so few of us are: excellent watchers and hearers of the world . . . triumphant in the teeth of ruin.' --Reynolds Price, American novelist (1933 2011)

'The observation is minute, and equally it is profound: everything is pondered, explored, to its limit - every experience turned this way and that until it yields its full harvest of meanings. The incisiveness of Hull's observation, the beauty of his language, make this book poetry; the depth of his reflection turns it into phenomenology or philosophy.' --Oliver Sacks, neurologist and bestselling author, from the Foreword

About the Author

John M. Hull is Emeritus Professor of Religious Education at the University of Birmingham, and Honorary Professor of Practical Theology in The Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham. He is the author of a number of books and many articles in the fields of religious education, practical theology, and disability.


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Format: Paperback
This book describes what it is like to go gradually blind. John Hull is a professor of religious education in Birmingham and is regarded as a guru by most British religious education teachers. He has a profound Christian faith which is so secure that it allows him to ask frank and terrifying questions in search of truth. He describes the psychological, physical and spiritual changes which took place in his life over the period of a few years when he lost his remaining sight. The descriptions are startling and fascinating. Reading the book has changed the way I relate to blind people. Passages include the importance/irrelevance of smiling and eye contact, the way a rainstorm lights up a usually silent landscape, the development of a sixth sense which can tell you when you walk past a lamp post, the use of a child to scoop a tiny peanut from the floor, the changes in dreams and a blind persons analysis of Psalm 139. Professor Hulls book has since been republished under a new title, "On sight insight" and his most recent book "In the beginning was Darkness" is due out soon; a blind person's perspective on the bible. John Hull's writings are wise, perceptive and illuminating. Ignore him at peril to your soul!
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Format: Paperback
We in the Religious Education world owe so much to the author, who died last week, aged 80, after a serious fall at his home. He came to our attention when Birmingham became the focus of progressive, multi-faith RE (it has since regressed) and was also an Anglican Lay Reader and campaigner for nuclear disarmament.

As a young university lecturer in the early '80s, Hull had adapted to cataracts and the early signs of retinal detachment brought on by numerous surgeries. He continued to read with the aid of magnifiers and walked to work following the yellow lines in the street.
As a resilient teen, Hull even taught himself Braille during a period of blindness between surgeries, devouring Bible passages while in the hospital. For years, Hull meticulously marked and measured the black shadows that drifted in and out of his vision. In 1983, he lost the last bit of light perception. It was then that John Hull realized he was no longer just a visitor to the condition of blindness. "I had taken up residence in another world."

Not wanting to burden his family with his inner turmoil and the grief of his loss, Hull began to record an audio diary on cassette tape where he meditates on the transformative experience of blindness. In this diary, he contemplates a world where smiles are not received and gazes cannot be met and observes the insensitivity of persons who are sighted. Most poignantly he reflects on how blindness impacts his relationships. Hull feared blindness would rob him of the intimacy he shared with his wife and he was pained by the laughter of his son Thomas at play knowing he couldn’t interact with him the way he used to.

The title comes from an experience he had at Iona.
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Bought this book for a current research project, and read it over quite a while. It's an extremely fascinating series of observations and anecdotes, so if you are interested in knowing more about the multi sensory body, I definitely recommend that you read it.
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I was recommended this book following an injury to my own sight. I began reading small snippets - all I could manage at the time. It provided some interesting facts for me but I was struck at how the author seemed not to be 'accepting' his blindless despite the fact that he repeatedly records saying how he is completely blind. All becomes clear near the end of the account when he finally admits that he was hanging on to dreams of regaining at least some sensation from his one eye - the eye that finally failed after operations before the start of the account in 1983. The book is really a diary of despair, of little events of great personal meaning, of experiencing emotional overload equivalent to high blood sugar comas in diabetics. It is a curious account that can depress and uplift according to your own state of being. Nevertheless, one does get a sense that John Hull is in fact a happy and friendly individual and can find humour in his personal hurts. I loved his description of "collecting the post" - curtesy of two of his children.
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