The Tactile Heart

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English
82 Pages
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The Tactile Heart is a collection of theological essays on relating blindness and faith and developing a theology of blindness that makes a constructive contribution to the wider field of disability theology. John Hull looks at key texts in the Christian tradition, such as the Bible, written as a text for sighted people, and at hymns, which often use blindness as a metaphor for ignorance and explores how these can be read by blind people.

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Published 28 July 2014
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EAN13 9780334049432
Language English

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The Tactile Heart
Also by John M. Hull
Sense and Nonsense About God Hellenistic Magic and the Synoptic Tradition School Worship – An Obituary Studies in Religion and Education What Prevents Christian Adults from Learning? The Act Unpacked: The Meaning of the 1988 Education Reform Act for ReligiousEducation Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness God-Talk with Young Children Mishmash: Religious Education in Multi-Cultural Britain, A Study in Metaphor On Sight and Insight: A Journey into the World of Blindness Utopian Whispers: Moral, Religious and Spiritual Values in Schools In the Beginning There Was Darkness: A Blind Person’s Conversations with the Bible Mission-Shaped Church: A Theological Response
The Tactile Heart
Blindness and Faith
John M. Hull
© John M. Hull 2013 Published in 2013 by SCM Press Editorial office 3rd Floor Invicta House 108–114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG SCM Press is an imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd (a registered charity) 13A Hellesdon Park Road Norwich NR6 5DR, UK www.scmpress.co.uk All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, SCM Press. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission. The Author has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the Author of this Work British Library Cataloguing in Publication data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library 978 0 334 04933 3 Typeset by Regent Typesetting, London Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon
Preface
Contents
1. The Tactile Heart 2. Milton,Paradise Lostand Blindness 3. The Material Spirituality of Blindness and Money 4. Open Letter from a Blind Disciple to a Sighted Saviour: Text and Discussion 5. Blindness and the Face of God: Toward a Theology of Disability 6. A Spirituality of Disability: The Christian Heritage as Both Problem and Potential 7. Is Blindness a World? From Theology of Impairment to Theology of Disability 8. The Broken Body in a Broken World: A Contribution to a Christian Doctrine of the Person from a Disabled Point of View 9. ‘Sight to the Inly Blind’? Attitudes to Blindness in the Hymnbooks 10. ‘Lord, I was Deaf’: Images of Disability in the Hymnbooks 11. Teaching as a Trans-world Activity
Acknowledgements of Previous Publication
For Marilyn I hate all sighted things but for your sake I love them. It was because of you that I embraced blindness; You gave me strength to turn from the world of nostalgic images And face the dark future where you are. I hate the darkness that hides me from you And I hate the light which hides you from me. I love both worlds, yours and mine And so across the worlds, I love you.
Preface
I became a registered blind person in August 1980. It did not occur to me that there was anything particularly interesting or remarkable about blindness; it was all perfectly straightforward although admittedly most inconvenient: blindness is when your eyes don’t work and you need to find other ways of doing things. Three years later my attitude changed. The last traces of light sensation had faded, and the lingering hope of some slight improvement had been crushed. I was now disorientated in the world, not only by what blindness was doing to me but by the nature of blindness itself. I did not set out to write about blindness. My first book on this subject,Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness (1990), was based upon a series of tape recordings made over a number of years in order to enable me to monitor and meditate upon the changes that were taking place. These original recordings from the mid-1980s have now been retrieved by Fee Fie Foe Films, who are using them as the basis of a film about blindness which will be released in 2014 or 2015 under the titleInto Darkness. An enlarged second edition of Touching the Rockwas published in 1997 under the titleOn Sight and Insight.The originalTouching the Rockwas republished as an SPCK Classic in May 2013. Although the experience of blindness changed the way I thought of God, it was not a challenge to my faith, so much as to my imagination. The imagery of light was replaced by the more intimate meanings of darkness. When I read the Bible as a blind person, however, it was a different matter.In the Beginning There was Darkness: A Blind Person’s Conversations with the Bibledescribes how I came to (2001) realize that the Bible was mostly written by sighted people. The disturbing fact that the Gospels portrayed Jesus as a sighted person sharing the usual first-century attitudes towards blindness came as a shock. My earlier reflections had been of a personal nature but now the foundations were laid for a more thoughtful theology of blindness. This took the shape of a number of reflections upon Christian faith including some analysis of the phenomenology of the blind condition and its significance for social and ethical living. This present book,The Tactile Heart: Studies in Blindness and Faith, is a collection of these studies, most of which have been published as book chapters and periodical articles although a couple are appearing here for the first time. These meditations on sightlessness, now spread over 30 years, have moved from the autobiographical, in which I tried to understand myself, to the biblical, in which I tried to understand Scripture, and now to a more mature but still fragmentary series of reflections upon the deeper meaning of blindness for the religious life. I am grateful to the RNIB who in 2012 presented me with a lifetime achievement award for contributions to the literature of blindness, and to The Allan & Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust and the Westhill Endowment Trust, whose generous support has made this work possible. I am also grateful to Natalie Watson of the SCM Press for her careful work in preparing the text. These writings on blindness have been the subject of music, drama, poetry and works of art, which have given a wider scope to my intentions of bridging the blind and sighted worlds and of interpreting one to the other. The most profound and redemptive experience of these two worlds has been my relationship with Marilyn, to whom this book is dedicated.
John M. Hull The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education Birmingham