Life & Faith: Notes on Blindness

An unusual new film tracks theologian John Hull’s experience of losing his sight.

John Hull began losing his sight in his mid-forties. He describes it as a dark black disc that slowly progressed over his field of vision.

“Do remember that day when I caught a glimpse of a church spire?” the Australian theologian asks his wife, Marilyn, in the documentary film, Notes on Blindness. “I think that's the last thing you ever saw,” she replies.

As John was losing his sight, he was intent on understanding blindness and started recording an audio diary. “I had to think about blindness because if I didn't understand it, it would defeat me,” he explains.

On these tapes, he records his daily “notes” on blindness, his frustration and fears, and candid conversations with his children about blindness and why “God doesn’t help him get his eyes back”.

Thirty years later, these tapes have become the basis for a documentary created by Peter Middleton and James Spinney, Notes on Blindness. The film takes viewers into the experience of what it was like for John Hull to lose his sight, and how he ultimately came to consider his blindness as a gift.

In this episode of Life & Faith, Natasha Moore speaks with Peter Middleton, about the documentary, the life of John Hull, and how his audio diaries continue to shape our understanding of blindness.


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